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TAI 

OF 

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TALES 
OF THE 
KLONDYKE 






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"WIWWWWPII?" 



TALES OF THE 
KLONDYKE 



EY 



T. MULLETT ELLIS 




TORONTO 
THE COPP CLARK COMPANY LIMITED 

MDCCCXCVIII 



■*i>>iiM»iWiiiMni ««tfi»ifti-jW-w* 



NOTE 

Several of the following Stories were 
originally told in To-Day, 



: iiiii^fifkrtiiii^i; 






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DEDICJTIOC^ 



TO 



ELVI RA 



THE CONSTANT COMPANION OF MY HOURS 
ON THE KLONDVKB 



T. M. E. 



Crkkk House, Shehpbrton-on-Thames, 
January 1898. 




C( 



V 



; ^fwr'-.N» 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. 

I. 'Ow David Smith and Me Discovered Klon 

DYKE 

II. My First Winter in Klondyke 

III. The Key of the Treasure 

IV. Klondyke in London 
V. From London to Klondyke 

VI. An Extraordinary Woman 
VII. A Raid on the Gold 
VIII. How Sandy M'Queen Paid his Rent 
IX. Bow-Legged Jim's Marriage . 



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TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



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CHAPTER *opr DjrjT) smith and me 

FIRST "DISCOVERED KLONDTKE 

nr^HE boom! Yes. Klondyke's a boom 
now. The only mystery to me is, ow 
we kep' it secret so long. 

Why, it's more than six — seven — why, 
blowed if it ain't eleven years ago! It was 
in 'd^y thet I diskivered Klondyke — leastways, 
David Smith and me. 

David Smith 'ad done pretty well every- 
think 'e 'adn't oughter — incloodin' time. Seven 
years' hard at Portland was only a bit of it. 
He'd done a bit o' soldierin', an' a bit o' navi- 
gatin', an' a bit o* mining. Gawd only knows 
wot 'e 'adn't done a bit of! I doan' quite like 
to talk of it, but trewly 'e done a murder or 
two which 'adn't counted. Yes, he had thet I 

A pal of mine I Wal, you kin call 'im a 
pal if you like. I'm not goin' to round on 'im 
now. 'E was a good pal to me. Anyway, 



to 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



he was with me in British Columbia, and 
nobody but him and me and Injuns for a 
hundred miles around. 

It was like this we met. We was out arter fur. 
I am a pure Cockney, I am — leastways, I 
was afore I went out West. At fust I didn't 
think no great shakes of Canada. But I cayn't 
breathe in towns now. The bully mountains 
for me ! The Rockies for choice ! Wal, I 
was a-sayin', we was out arter fur. We was 
four, all told. One was left sick at Odinotchka, 
and the three of us went on. The other two 
and me had a quarrel, an' we parted. So I 
was left absolutely alone. I went to the 
nearest place there was, sixty mile away. Sel- 
kirk was its name. I went into a bar. There 
was only one, an' th'Vs where I met David. 

'E was a-sittir' har by 'isself, an* w'en I come 
in, 'e ses : " Strang' ," 'e ses, *' 'ave a drink .•* " 

"It's wot I've cc e in 'ere to get," ses I. 

Wal, we had anotner and another, and some 
more arter thet, and from thet hour to the day 
'e went 'ome, David Smith and me was 
pardners — true pardners for life. 

'E was by 'isself, and I was by myself. 'E 
was arter fur and I was arter fur, so it was we 
became pals. 

I didn't know nt fust what a bad lot he was. 
We was togitlier for months afore I know'd 
he'd done time — an' wuss. Ah ! but wot a 



'OW WE DISCOVERED KLONDYKE 



II 



heart he had, poor old Dave Smith! The 
best pal, the very best tarnation pal I ever 
'ad, David was ! 

We got on tidy wal together from the fust, 
considering my temper, which ain't honey — 
not by no manner of means. I used to slang 
David at the beginning, an' almost came to 
blows once or twice. But 'e 'ad a patient way 
with him, and w'en we got to know each 
other's ways, we jogged along as easy as a 
man and a barrer. We was more than pals. 
We was pardners, Dave Smith and me 
was. 

Wal, we got a good bit of fur — nice 
skins too. Dave was a better shot than me — 
though I reckon I kin shoot. We made eleven 
thousand dollars between us in three months, 
wot with our two guns, and a bit o' traffic we 
'ad with the Injuns, sho ! Thet was so. Dave 
was the boy to traffic. Gosh ! He could 
deal, that could David ! Bargain ! Ah ! the 
'ardest and cleverest 'ead at a chop I ever 
knowed. 'E was so ! 

The season was gettin' on, when I 'ad some 
bad luck. I got ill. I *ad to lay up with 
nothink to shelter me but a 'ole in the rock — 
still, a cave and furs in plenty is cosier than you 
may think, you folks in the Old Country ; an' then 
it was I learnt two things, w'en I was ill, I did. 
I learnt as 'ow my pal and pardner, David 



la 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



i 1 



Smith, was a convic*, and I learnt as *ow there's 
a spark o' the Divine — aye, and a deal o' the 
kindhness of human natur' — even in the breast 
of a man wot's been convicted of a crime. 

I was that ill — wal, no need to describe 
iv'ry shiver that come into my bones. I was 
cold as an icicle. David Smith made me 
warm. The tears froze on my cheeks. David 
Smith kissed 'em away. Ah ! yew don't 
understand what it is to be a thousand miles 
away from yewr fellow-creatures, in a land 
where the ice is a foot thick ; where the winds 
bite like dogs, and the very stars shine cold ! 
We two v/as all the world to each other. Wal, 
I had delicacies. I had gruel ; I had delicious 
soup ; I had bear jelly ; wild-duck, cooked as 
dainty as any invalid ivver tasted, for David 
Smith could do anythink with 'is fingers, an' 
a'most anything with 'is 'ead. But I was 
powerful bad, and oftens couldn't eat — no, 
not nothink at all, for all the care Dave took 
to make nice dishes for me. Encourage me 
howsomever he would, I couldn't eat, an' I 
grew that cold — ugh ! I shudder w'en I thinks 
of it. 

Still, all the time w'en I was betwix' life 
and death — as the say in' is — David was as kind 
as a woman to me. There ain't none too much 
fuel in the Rockies, but Dave found plenty 
for me. 'E must 'ave slaved 'ard to git the 



\ 



NDYKE 



'OW WE DISCOVERED KLONDYKE 



13 



w there's 
al o' the 
le breast 
le. 

describe 
I was 
ade me 
David 
V don't 
id miles 

a land 
e winds 
ie cold! 
. Wal, 
elicious 
bked as 

David 
ers, an' 
I was 
at — no, 
^e took 
ige me 

an' I 

thinks 

ix life 
IS kind 
)much 
plenty 
fit the 



big logs 'e brought up to our cave. Night an' 
day 'e kep' a reg'lar bonfire goin', and but for 
'im and the fires 'e made, I shouldn't be 'ere 
a-tellin* yew 'ow we discovered Klondyke. 

The districk where we was is a blank on 
this 'ere map. They calls it British Columbia, 
but it was just the wildest country yew ivver 
see. It was south of the Porcupine branch 
of the Yukon ; it was south of Jigger's Gulch 
— not azackly in the Rockies, nor yet not out 
of 'em, but in a sort of a way *alf in the 'ills 
and 'alf in the plains, but the whole of it set 
to cop the full whiff of all the four blarsted 
winds that ivver blew. That's the Klondyke, 
as they calls it now. D'ye 'ear ? — the 
Klondyke — an' a one-hoss place it is. 

" It's as bleak as the North Pole," ses I to 
Dave one day, when I was a-gettin' better, 
"and as raw as the 'ighest pint on the 
Rockies." 

*' It s none so cold or raw as it used to be 
at Portland," ses Dave. 'E bit his lip as soon 
as ivver 'e said it. Then I marked 'im look at 
me cautious out o' the tail of 'is eye, an' then 
he looks away. 

So I thinks, 'an I thinks again, an' one or 
two funny things that I'd seed David a-doin' 
of, an' that I'd 'eard 'im say forgetful — incloodin' 
summat 'e let drop about the Stone Jug — oc- 
curred to me. So I puts two an' two togither, 



ImSS^Mf- 



14 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



M' 



an* it all come to me like a revelation. By 
this time I could sit up a bit. 

Wal, I puts my 'and on 'is, an' I ses : 
'* Dave," I ses, " Gawd knows, there's many a 
villain in Portland, an' many an honest man. 
Whichever you are," I ses, "or a bit of both, 
David, it may be, by Gawd yew're a true man 
to me," I ses ; " an* there's my 'and, David 
Smith. You're better pardner to me than my 
own brother," I ses. " It may be I'm a dying 
man. But for yew I should be dead. Yew 
can trust me through an' through. So long as 
there's a ghost of a breath in me, I'll be a true 
pal to yew, David Smith, come what may," 
an' I shook 'is 'and. 

Wal, he tells me all 'is story — the sad, wild 
story of 'is life. Forgery and theft — aye, and 
murders too — was in it. It was a shocking 
thing to 'ear 'im tell, an' I ses, wonderful 
solemn: "David," I ses, "Gawd is a-listenin' 
to me and yew. Git down upon yewr knees." 

'E looks at me very funny an' suspicious 
out o' the tail of 'is eye, but I takes 'is 'and 
again in mine, and down I goes on my knees — 
he doin' of the same through me a-draggin' of 
'im, an' there we kneels side by side. 

P'raps for a 'undred square miles around, all 
in them rugged peaks, there way n't no other 
human beings to look at but us two. Peaks ! 
Wal, there was peaks all above us, but we 



m^ 



^imtummmM 



'OW WE DISCOVERED KLONDYKE 



IS 



was down in the gulch. In the gulch us two 
was all alone together in the quiet — all alone 
with Gawd in the silence. 

I don't know azackly what I ses, but my 
spirit seemed to be a-lifted up, an' I flings my 
arms up to Gawd, who was a-listenin', I tell yen 
I knowed 'E was a-listenin'.. Bits o' the 
collicks, an' the litany, an' scraps o' the old 
prayers wot we used to say in church at 'ome, 
all got mixed up togither with " miserable 
sinners," an' all them pious words which I'd 
almost forgot, though I'd heard 'em in 'Frisco, 
turned wrong side up ; an' w'en I looks at 
David Smith, blowed if he wayn't bowed down 
all of a heap and a-blubberin' like a baby ! 



Dave an' me was truer pals than ivver arter 
that. 

In not no long time I took to my feet again, 
an' got to 'andlin' my rifle, an' soon I gits an 
appetite, an' picks up wonderful. 

So we left that there cave. Seven weeks 
I was there, nearer death than I shall ever be 
again — bar one. 

"Now, we'll git back to Selkirk," ses Dave 
— for I was still weak on my pins, an' a touch 
of the scurvy comin' on. 

So we sets off, not over the rocks, but down 
towards the valley. 



x6 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



It was easier climbin' in the high lands, but 
lower down it wayn't so bleak. Yet, what 
with avoidin' boulders and goin' through beach, 
an' wading rivers, we should 'ave got on 
quicker atop the table-land, for all there was 
snow. 

But if we had, hist'ry would 'ave been 
different, cos, mark yer, the gold of British 
Columbia is goin' to revolutionise the whole 
world. An' that's wot we was a-findin' of — 
the gold of British Columbia, though we wasn't 
so much as even a-lookin' for it, mind yer. 
No — nor even dreamin' of lookin' for it, w'en 
we come plump upon it, unbeknown. 

Wot we found down in the valley was this. 
Yes, I wears it 'ere in my pin. That's the 
first bit o' gold found in Klondyke. It's only 
a litde nugget, ain't it? Wal, I jest keeps 
that for my necktie. Pretty, jh ? 

It was Dave wot found it. 'E says : *' Strike 



ere? 



An 



me ! " says 'e. " Wot's this 
jumps in the air like a madman. In a jiffy 'e 
was down on 'is belly, washin' of it in the 
stream. Nex' moment 'e gits it in his teeth 
a-bitin' of it. Then he slaps me on the back, 
fit to break me in 'alf *• It's gold ! " 'e says. 
"I tell yer, mate, it's gold ! " An' 'e falls a- 
laughin'. 

A minit arter that 'e looks at 'is feet. " This 
*ere is pay dirt we're a-treadin' on," 'e ses 



"li^UA:^: ■ • .■-i^:i2Mk'iil'..'iiiiA 



'^^^-ffi^i'^^^^'^^ 



'OW WE DISCOVERED KLONDYKE 



17 



very solemn. Then 'e cocks 'is eye around up 
an' down the valley. "There's a lot of it," 
he ses. Then he looks up at the mountain 
ranges. " I don't see no quartz," 'e ses, kinder 
disappinted like. Then 'e looks at wot we 
was a-walkin' in, an' fallin' down on 'is 'ands 
an' knees, began to scratch up the ground 
like a dawg arter a rat. Wal, I stood a- 
watchin' of 'im, an' soon he strides off to the 
stream again with both his hands full o* dirt, 
and *e washes it mighty particular and slow. 
Then 'e waves to me, lookin' around as though 
'e was fair dazed. 

" Pardner," ses 'e, "look! These little 
specks is gold," 'e ses. 

"They're so bloomin' small, I can't hardly 
not see 'em," I ses, kinder sneerin' at 'im. 

•* Oh, no, they ain't ! " 'e ses. " All these 
little specks, matey, will shake up to a lot. 
This is only a little handful, pardner, and 
there's hundreds of miles of the stuff." An' 
again 'e looks around. " 'Undreds of miles ! " 

With that I falls on my knees too, and I 
scoops up a 'andful, and lor! there was a 
bully nugget the size of a kidney bean, shining 
like a little light'ouse in the palm of my 
'and. 

" Strike me lucky ! " 'e ses, 'is eyes a- 
glittering; "Mate! Gold! Gold! Gold!! 
Gold!!! An' 'e sits down on the ground, an' 

B 



mtk 



i8 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



I I 



i :: 



chucks 'is legs in the air, well nigh a-standin' 
on 'is 'ead. 

Well, then, I sets down too, an' mighty 
solemn I feels, pinchin* 'ard old of the nugget 
wot I 'ad in my 'and — as big as a hegg it 
were. It way n't the nugget — I soon forgets that, 
but my eyes was a-rovin* an' a-rovin' over the 
miles and miles of pay dirt all around ; an' 
besides, there was David, with 'is eyes full 
of a glitterin', unnatural light, starin' at the 
'ills. 

It was the 'ills I was a-thinkin' of too, 'cos 
there wos where the gold wos washed from — 
the 'ills where I knowed the gold lay solid. 
That's wot David was thinkin' of an' all. 

We gave up goin' arter fur, in coorse, an' 
off we went right away to Selkirk. But jest 
afore we gets to ole Jake's store, I feels David's 
'and acrost my face, a-holdin' of my jaw. An* 
'e got 'is mouth to my ear, a-hissin' out this 
'ere threat. " Pardner," 'e ses ; " yew jis' say 
one word of our find — yew jis' say one word 
in Selkirk about gold, an' I'll shoot yew dead." 

Then 'e takes 'is 'and away from my mouth, 
an* he jis' gives me one look — jis' one look, 
that's all. 

So I nods back, knowin* it was a proper 
caution. " All right, pardner," I ses. " Mum 
is the word." 

An' right secret we kep' it. We traded 



»0W We discovered KLONt)YKR 



iO 



an 

full 

the 



an 



away all our skins. An' we bought some 
sieves an' some skips, an* some spades and 
pickaxes, an we loaded up a cart with stores, 
an' a keg of raw spirit, an' we bought a 
spavinned ole boss, wot we a'most 'ad to carry, 
'cos the road was too rough for 'im. 'Owever, 
we puts 'im in the sharfs an' made tracks, an' 
we went right away again back out of Selkirk 
into Klondyke, where we knew the gold lay. 
The horse — wal, he jis' larsted out the journey. 
The road was rough on 'im, an' 'e died. 
Wal, we traced up a bit into the 'ills, an' we 
tried here an' tried there, in the solid rock, 
but nary a nob of gold did we come on to. 

So Dave ses, " Let's take to washin' of the 
dirt," 'e says. " 'Cos there it is, an' we knows it." 

So we does that, an' blow me, ef we didn't 
come acrost a very nuggetty lay. Why, there 
the stuff was ! — some as big as peppercorns, an' 
some as big as peas, an' sometimes a lump like 
a bullet, and any amount of it in little specks — 
jis' dust of gold. 

The winter was comin' on, but, by Gosh ! we 
jis' went at it, we two, puttin' the stuff through 
the sieve as long as we could stand, 

David felt the cold more'n me. I was right 
agin now — as strong as any boss. But Dave, 'e 
took to corfin'. 

We'd got a pile of stuff by this time ; we got 
it in bags, and buried it 'gain* a tree. 



HHP 



i!^ 



mm 



io 



tALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



" Dave," I ses, " yewr corf is powerful bad," 
I ses. " We'll stow it for the winter, an' start 
agin in the spring." 

•' Pard," 'e ses, " Corf or no corf, I means to 
work for this winter, an' all the winter — night 
an' day. An' it's the last winter I means to 
work. I shall then retire." Them was his 
words. '* I shall then retire." 

Well then, we works arder than ivver, both on 
us. Ah, cold ! Cold ain't the word. 'Twayn't 
so much w'en it fruz ; it was t' thaw we 
felt. 

Wal, arter one thaw there come a freshet. 
It nearly washed away our little works — sieves, 
an' troughs, an' barrers, an* spades, an' all. We 
was up to our middle arterwards a-trying to 
unbury the gold. But the water got deeper 
an* deeper, an' then it all fruz over as tight as 
steel. 

"Wal," I ses to Dave, "it's in sacks. It's 
safe anew, I reckon. It's at the foot o' that thar 
tree." It wos a fir, an' I gets up the tree with 
a hachet an* I blazes it. 

" We kin find thet thar in the spring," I ses ; 
" I guess an' kalkilate it's safe thar." 

We didn't like leavin' it, but thar wayn't no 
help for it. We 'ad to go. 

Dave stood a-lookin' at it an' 'e fell a-corfin', 
an' 'e shakes *is 'ead an' comes along of me. 

It wos in sacks, an' safe it lay under the fir- 



i 



^>^^JM'' 



'OW WE DISCOVERED KLONDYKE 



»i 



t 
irt 

to 

:ht 

to 

Ihis 



no 



tree. We couldn't do no more. Dave's corf 
was wuss. So we went to the 'ills. 

I guess Dave caught a chill. Anyway, now 
I 'ad to nuss *im. 

We made a little *ome in a cave up in the 'ills 
at Klondyke. We 'ad plenty of stores ; we 'ad 
skins enough for bedding, an' our guns was 
loaded up for bear. I kep' the fire a-goin', an' 
the pot was never empty. I rubbed David's 
chest with whisky, but somehow, nuss 'im ivver 
so careful, I couldn't 'old 'im, for whilst I was 
a-rubbin' of 'im gendy, poor old Dave pegged 
out. 

At fust I kep' 'im there where he lay, but I was 
a-forced to put 'im outside, an' next day 'e was 
fruz as stiff as iron. 

I tried to dig a grave, but the ground was 
that 'ard, it on'y turned the pint o' the pick. 

So I went along to the far end o' the cave, 
an' I begins to work out a hole for Dave — a 
hole in the solid rock, where he could sleep 
peaceful until the great Resurrection Day. Gawd 
rest his soul ! Wal, it did take me a bit o' time, 
but I'd nothink else to do, an' sakes ; I'd a-done 
anythink for pore ole Dave. 

I was all alone by myself — all alone 'cep' for 
the corpse o* that frozen man. So I worked away 
an' cut out the solid grave. It was all dark, on'y 
I got a lantern there to work by so I could see. 
So I finished the grave. 



93 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



Vval then I 
frozen corpse 



goes out an* I brings in the 
in my arms, tender-like, not 
forgetiin' ow David ad nussed me. 'E was 
frorsted all over like with silver spangles all 
a-sparklin*, but as stiff as a figger of cast iron. 
I takes 'im up, an' I lays the poor body down in 
the 'ole, quite comf'table. Only the 'ead, the 
*ead didn't seem to rest quite easy. 

So I walks all round the grave 'oldin' my 
lantern around me, an* I thinks, thinks I — wal, 
that ead ought to be more comf'table, any- 
way. I'd like pore ole Dave to lay easy in 'is 
grave. 

Consequently, I lifts up the corpse tender-like, 
alius remembering as 'ow David 'ad nussed me 
better than 'ow I'd nussed 'im — or, leastways, 
more successful, an' I lays the corpse a-one side 
of the grave, an' gits into the grave, an' I takes 
my pick to work a more comf'table kind of a 
pillow in the rock for David to lie easy on. 
Wal, I takes my pick and — slosh ! 

Wal ! d'yew know, I jus' turns my quid and I 
spits it out, fr I was that took aback I had to 
expectorate. I had to, I tell yer, for at the fust 
blow of my pick out comes a bit of rock — a bit 
of rock ! — a bit of gold ! — a bit of solid gold — 
a block of the solid stuff itself — so help me ! 

Gold ! It was gold, I tell yer !— Gold !— Gold ! 
I'd got into the mass of it! — into the womb of 
the airth. My pick had struck it solid, The 






i£;s;t£t^iv;;gmf^9»!^ 



')«i1f^i?^f^!;ir! 






•OW WE DISCOVERED KLONDYKE t$ 

real bully ore. The solid gold where it lay in 
veins, in lumps, and in chunks-the real s uff 
thick in the lode. Tain't no he I rn telhn 

^^That was 'ow we diskivered Klondyke, David 
Smith an' me. 



g »l l.fc»K lfclWt>i« « <«> h *A •L-'i^^ 



CHAPTER 
SECOND 



^r FIRST WINTER 
IN KLONDTKE 



"1X7" EN I wos away in the hills with my ole 
' "^ pal and pardner, David Smith, a-lookin' 
for solid gold w'ich we knowed wal was some- 
wheres thar or nigh-bye, I 'ad to bury of David 
cos *e took on sick, an' petered out. 

That lef me all alone, but it was whilst I 
was a-buryin' of 'im that I found gold — least- 
ways me an' 'im did atwixt us ; we found it 
solid, but thar was on'y me lef to get it, an' 
the winter was not only comin' — it *ad come. 

Wal, thar I was alone up in them hills, the 
wind as sharp as knives, an' me alone. 

Not but thar wayn't plenty to eat in the 
cave — stores an' sich like, smoked moose, 
which is the reg'lar food up there, an' very 
sustainin', ship's biscuits, a keg of whisky, 
some black twist, an' my own an' late pardner's 
rifle, both loaded up for bear. 

Not only 'ad I not got no pal, but there 
wayn't no livin' soul about thar. No, not so 






^•UrHJi^-' 



MY FIRST WINTER IN KLONDYKE 



25 






^ 



much as a skunk of an Injun, nary a one. 
The nighest bar was at Selkirk, sixty mile 
away. 

Sixty winter miles, mind yer ! Drifts ten or 
twenty foot deep, nary a road, not a bull's 
track, an' snow an' ice iverywhere. My little 
'ome — my lonesome cave up in them peaks — 
was a prison. I couldn't git out nohow, not 
for many a long month. I was snowed up, I 
guess, dn' fruz in. 

Durin' the first few weeks my ears got 
frorst-bit, so I 'ad to be careful arterwards. It 
was jis' a caution to me. I wrapped wal up for 
the res' o' the winter — you can pawn your shirt 
on that ! 

Gosh ! The cold, the hice, the snow ! The 
snow, I reckon, was a mercy. I a'most buried 
up the mouth of my cave with snow. I guess 
it was that as kep* me pretty comf 'table. But 
warn't I lonely ? Didn't I pray for the voice of 
a man ? 

Wal, I jis' simply works. The gold was 
thar, I was right on it, and nary a soul but 
Gawd and me knowed thar was gold right 
thar. 

I was the first man, mind yer, to find gold in 
the hull of that region, and if so be as gold was 
known afore my time in British Columbia, thar 
was precious little of it, mind, afore my time. 
It was we wot diskivered Klondyke — leastways, 



I /»« *«»«>*■«.■ wv 



HialHNttianM 



26 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



, ! 
i 



me an' my poor ole pal, Dave — 'im wot I 
buried in the cave. 

Wal, I guess, for a man all alone by 'is lone- 
some, I stuck to it commendable. I was at it 
pretty nigh alius 'cep* w'en I was sleepin'. I 
wakes an' I takes up my pick. I gits a good 
pile. I sorts out the stuff an' I feels 'ungry. 
I teks up my gun. Air there a bird ? There 
ain't. Wal, then, I chews some dried moose or 
'as a biscuit. Arter thet I works again. I 
carries out skips of the stuff an' shoots it in the 
snow. I sees a hare. I teks my gun an' treks 
thet thar hare. I ketches 'im, I roasts 'im, I 
eats 'im, an' I 'as a pipe a-digestin' of 'im, an* 
mebbe a nap arterwards ; an' then I works 
again till I'm ready to drop, an' the long black 
night, the blessid blinkin' stars, my only pals. 

Thet was one day, an' all the days o* thet 
long, lonesome winter was much alike. But 
the cold ! Ah, don't go for to talk about that. 
The cold was sharper'n butcher's knives. 

But my thoughts ! Ah ! All alone, I had 
my thoughts, you bet ! 

W'en fust I struck gold — wal, I jis' 'ad a pain 
in my ab^<?men. It st "uck me 'ere — right 'ere, 
an' I felt kind o' muzzy — kind o' silly. Sho 
now, thet's 'ow I felt. 

Then I simply went fair mad. I went for 
thet rock with my pick. I fetched the quartz 
down — rotten quartz it was — I fetched it down 



'1l'»!»'-> i Ji. 



MY FIRST WINTER IN KLONDYKE 



27 



; It 



ire 
or 



all of a 'eap, all tumblin* about my shins. I 
worked like mad, I did, sparks in my heyes an' 
j^^old sparklin' at my feet, till I was fair dizzy. 

Then I sot down, an* I thinks. 

An I ses to myself: "J. T. Piatt," I ses, 
" the worth o' this ere find of yewrs is more 
than undreds of pounds. It's foolish to say 
'undreds ; it must be thousan's. But 'ow many 
thousan's, J. T. Piatt, yew ain't got noddle 
anew to know. Yew cayn't kalkilate that." 

I ses to myself : " Wot does it mean to yew, 
J. T. Piatt?" An' thet's the riddle I used to 
think out in them long winter nights. Thet's 
the conundrum I used to guess under them 
bright, blinkin' stars. 

Then I used to think o' that gal of Boffin's — 
the second gal ; the gal wot I used to take to 
Rosherville ; the gal as worked in the match 
factory, Sally Boffin, whose wavin' *andkerchief 
wus the last sight I see w'en I leaves old 
England, an* whose las' words was : "I'll wait 
for yo i — I'll wait for you, if I 'as to wait 
ten year." 

Thet was eight year ago. An' I reckons. 
Ah ! mebbe she's petered out by this, 'cos she 
was a bit delicate, was Sal. But ef so be she 
ain't, Sal will 'ave waited for me accordin' to 
her word, and " Sal," I ses, " you shall have a 
kerridge and an 'ouse in the pretty meadows 
with the daisies a-peepin' at yer, an' servants, 



ir 



38 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



' 



an' ponies, an' fine feathers, an' all, an* I'll 'ave a 
tall yaller dawg-cart for myself an' pr Is, an' 
we'll drive to Rosherville. By Gosh ! we'll 
drive there 'ansom ! " 

'Cos iv'ry day I saw 'ow rich I was, an' more 
partic'lar towards the spring, w'en I'd got out a 
bit in the 'ills purspectin' around, when I could 
test the lay of the lode, and try the "hading" 
and its depth. I 'ad got into the solid ore — 
brown ore, in which gold is usual very plentiful. 
In the brown ore, which was extror'nary 
rich, the gold was in yaller threads an' in 
flakes, an' likewise it was there, as well I 
knowed, inwisible. In the rotten quartz there 
was 'ole bunches of it, but wot pleased me most 
was to find it lay reg'lar an' thick in a bed forty 
foot wide, an' findin' it again lower down whar 
it cropped out so as I could measure the strata. 
Then I went about all around chippin' 'ere and 
thar. Wot 'appened was this 'ere. I found 
more quartz ten mile or more away from 
Davy's Cave, and I leaves my rifle and goes 
for my pick, an' Lord luv yer, I diskivered the 
gold in the new lode I found of, was as thick 
a'most as the other. Why, there was jis' 
miles of this gold! It wayn't one vein only; 
there was mountains of it — disseminated in 
coorse. 

So I ses, "J. T. Piatt," I ses — for as thar was 
nary a soul to talk to, I used to talk to myself 



jm^jm;;:iVf^'i'iat>j,^'-n</^>''^ 



MV FIRST WINTER IN KLONDYKE 



a$ 



e a 
an' 



r,,i I 



by my own name — "J. T. Piatt," I ses, "yew 
air a millionaire." 

Thar couldn't be no manner of doubt about 
that. 

It was a long winter, it seemed fifty year, 
nary a soul to talk to, an' the hicicles sometimes 
'angin' from my moustaches as though my own 
voice was to be closed up by gratin's. I kep* 
a kind o' register of the months by rememberin* 
the moons, but I lorst proper account of time. 

I did lose heart, to tell the trewth. There 
was some days w'en my spirit was jis* clean 
broke. I sat down mis'rable lookin' at my 
fire, roasted one side, fruz the other, though I 
'ad skins piled all round me. 

Arter a time the sun seemed a-strengthenin' 
an' the days lengthenin', an' I got more cheer- 
fuller with the hope of gittin' into sight again 
of human faces, an' also with the knollidge 
thet I was rich anew to be Lord Mayor — me, 
J. T. Piatt, wot 'ad bin a packer in 'is Wuship's 
own ware'us' in Sin Paul's Churchyard, an' 
now, very like, could buy 'im up. At the 
thought o' that, I got workin' again, until 
iv'ry day, with the sun a-peepin' an' the spring 
a-comin', I begins to fidget to git away to 
Selkirk, or to git in some other way to the trail 
over the mountains towards Stuart's River, 
somewheres 'twixt the waters of the Peel and 
Porcupine, a-thinkin* I'd strike the Mackenzie 



30 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



(' 



River, near Fort M'Pherson, and so by the 
Great Slave Lake, an' home by the Hudson, 
without so much as puttin' a foot in Alaska. 
There wayn't no Canadian Pacific Railway in 
them days, mind yen 

But 'ow was I to carry my stuff? 'Ere was 
I, the only man in the hull Continent who 
knowed that thar was all these mountains of 
gold in Klondyke. 'Ow was I to git off with 
wot I 'ad got ; the sacks of stuff wot oughter 
tew go to the Stamps. 'Ow was I tew git off 
with the swag? — me wot 'adn't no pardner. 

P'raps with summer a-comin', I could easy 
run against sum Injuns, an' pay 'em to give 
me a lift, purvidin' only they didn't know I'd 
gotten gold. Ef they knew it was gold in my 
sacks, they'd put a bullet threw me as easy as 
grease. The more I thought an' kalkilated, 
the more I wished I 'ad a trusty pal. 

So I guv up usin' my pick, an' I was out 
from sunrise till long be'ind sunset arter fur. 
I got a bear an' cub, an' with their skins an' 
some other fur lyin' by, I kivered up an' hid 
away a tidy bit of the gold wot I'd a'ready 
sewn up in sacks. I set a lot o' traps an' got 
a fair lot of skins. Nary a day but I got 
somethink to my gun, an' I was thinkin' 'ow 
I'd bury some of the stuff, an' start off with 
what I could carry towards Selkirk. 

I was anxious not to blow the gaff about 



i*Atf iii'V 1 



:^«<^8«;ia!«fe?'-.' 



' «t»»'.'#srfi»'>^.''5-*'' 



MY FIRST WINTER IN KLONDYKE 



31 



my find, but to keep dark, an' 'old my secret 
tight as wax, cos I know'd well that ef I once 
gave scent it would spread all over the 
Do-minion. Wuss than that, it would boom 
all over the States, an' I should 'ave iv'ry 
rough from 'Frisco, an' iv'ry derned skunk 
from the Californian mines — incloodin' cow-boys 
and Chinese — beatin' me 'ollow at my own 
gaime, an' takin' my rights away, p'raps afore 
I'd 'ad time to make good my claim. 

Not bein' no miner, I didn' quite know 'ow 
to set about makin' a claim. Wot knollidge 
I 'ad, I'd a got from my poor ole deceased 
pardner. Many a long talk me an' 'im 'ad 
togither w'en we was in the damp an' dirt 
lookin' for nuggets in the alloovial. It was 'im 
as put me up to lookin' for the solid ore, 
though it doan' look so sparklin' — the solid ore 
don't — as the stuff we huddled for in the drift. 

Wal, not bein' no miner, I didn' understan' 
makin' a claim, but I gits some pitch — it took 
some gittin' — an' I marks up the crorses of a 
Union Jack, and under it the letters, J. T. P. 
I marks this in Davy's Cave and iv'rywhar whar 
I'd bin with my pick, an' found gold ; whariver 
I'd pecked I marked up the Union Jack. 

Then orf I starts with all the gold I could 
carry — an' it wasn't no feather weight I lifted — 
not by no manner of means. It was sixty mile 
to Selkirk, an a derned rough road at that. 



t 



3« 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



f! 



!ii: 



nil 



It way n't on'y solid gold I took an' big 
nuggets, but some of the brown ore an' 
decomposed quartz, w'ich my poor ole pardner 
'ad taught me as 'ow that was the best, 'cos, 
though it ain't nothink much to look at, w'en 
it's scrunched up by stamps an' worked 
scientific, that's the stuff as brings the big 
fortunes — ef it's yaller, ef the threads of gold 
is thar — an' thar they sartinly was. 

Lor ! but it's 'eavy stuff to carry, yew make 
no mistake ! 

Incloodin' climbin', I carried it best part 
of 'arf the way, an' then into Selkirk it's a 
fair even trail. So I reckoned I'd hide that lot 
away an' go fetch the rest, w'ich is wot I did. 

So I goes back to my cave, w'ich I reaches 
one day afore sunset, an' there lyin' on my 
skins, eatin' my biscuits, an' drinkin' out o' my 
keg, was three men, mighty calm, cookin' 
pemmican in my pot. 

So my dander riz, 'cos, mind yer, not on'y 
was they eatin* my biskits, but they was a- 
settin' on my pile of gold, w'ich I was orful 
anxious tew keep dark. So I ses, drawin' my 
Derringer! "Strangers," I ses, "yew kin git. 
This y'ere camp is mine." 

Right away they starts to their feet, all a- 
cussin' at once, an' three revolvers was pinting 
at my 'ead. 

" 'Old 'ard ! " I ses, borrowin' a notion from 



i!ti*HH<*B-ii«ift^'«w»fw»sfli^>a«a.'^'''**»i^'»'W«» -.'V- ■ •^»it---:-.^r>" 



MY FIRST WINTER IN KLONDYKE 



33 



my wits. " My mates will be comin' along 
direckly, six of em," an' I looks over my 
shoulder, as though they was close be'ind 

me. 

" Put down your shooters," I ses. " Let's 

'ave a palaver. Who air you ? " 

''We air trappers," ses one, an' they all 
sets down again as cool as ice. 

*' We 'ave been arter fur," ses another. 

The third one 'e larfs a narsty, sarkastic larf, 
an' 'e says, "We 'ave been arter fur ontil now, 
but we air after gold henceforrud. Ain't we, 
pardners — I guess gold is our mark for the 
future, eh?" 

Wal, I wuz thet took aback I wuz sick 
— an' I ses nothink at all — not a derned 
word. 

"This little pile o' skins I'm a-settin' on," 
ses the sarkustic chap, ''is rayther heavy fur 
bear. I 'ave investigated its inside, an' I 
compliment yew, stranger, on 'avin' diskivered 
one o' the pruttiest nuggets as I've ivver seed 
outside 'Frisco." 

" I bows tew yew," I ses. 

"Yew may," 'e says, a-larfin' cruel. ''Yew 
may bow, an' yeur six mates, too — w'en yew finds 
'em. Tell me, stranger. Thar's yeur trail," 
an' he pints to my footmarks in the snow. 
"Thar's yeur trail out — a single pair o' 





34 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



footmarks with the toes a-turnin' in — an' thar's 
yeur trail home — the same pair of footmarks 
inturned as afore. Wal, whar's the treck o* 
yeur mates ? Thar ain't none. Yew ain't got 
no mates." 'E paused, grinnin' sarkustic, an' 
lookin' at the others. 

" Yew air mighty secret, yew air. Wal, et's 
a good find. We 'ave been a-watchin' of you 
a-peckin' these rocks for more'n a week. Yew 
'ave diskivered gold. Bully for us — 'cos we 
'ave diskivered yew." 

My temper ain't all 'oney at the best of times, 
but now my dander so riz, wot with his ex- 
asperatin' larf, and them a-findin' out my lay, 
that I couldn' stan' it no longer, so I jis' chips 
in, an' I ses, probably a-swearin', I ses: "Enough 
o' this jaw," I ses. "This y'ere is my pitch, an' 
out you go, all on yer. You kin clar." 

'' Hark to 'im ! " ses the little 'un. " Thet 
now is jis' wot I ses. The courts will grant 
'im 'Is claim, 'cos ef we comes to squarin' with 
'im the jedge will say it were compulsion." 
Then they talks mighty solemn in their French 
lingo, confirmin' my surmise that they was 
Canadians of the ole French stock, excep' the 
tall, bony man, who I took to be a Yank, an' 
who seemed, by wot 'e was a-sayin' of, to be 
a-takin' my part a bit. But I could read this 
clear — it was my life they was a-talkin' of; an' 



MY FIRST WINTER IN KLONDYKE 



35 



») 



whether they should spare me, or square me, 
was wot they was whisperin' over an' argufyin' 
of. 

Wal, I stood thar grindin' my teeth, but 
determined to sell my life at a dear price, for 
I was in a tight place, an' I knowed it. They 
was three to one. Probable I looked fierce, 
*cos the little 'un ses, risin' an comin' towards 
me — 

" Look 'ere, stranger, anyway, we'll disarm 
yew. 'And over thet Derringer." 

"Not till she's spoken," I ses, an I knowed 
now it was fight or die, so I riz my six-shooter 
like greased lightnin'. A'most in a second I 
seed the round red hole in 'is forehead as 'e 
fell at my feet. Immejate a bullet from 'is 
pardner's pistol whistled by my ear an' scarred 
the rock above me. My 'and was to 'is throat, 
'im an' me a-wrestlin' an' grapplin' on the 
p-round. Here's his second shot — this 'ole in 
my arm. It's healed pretty, eh ? Wal, I let fly 
another cartridge ; it missed, 'cos we was still 
a-strugglin' like wild cats, an' bullets whizzing 
in the piles of ore. I was a better shot than 
w^ot he was, 'cos w'en I straddled up, 'e lay 
there dyin', the blood oozin' from 'is breast. 
Then I looks roun', wondering what 'ad become 
of the third man, fur I'd only dealt with two 
on 'em. So I looks in the shadder, an' thar 



36 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



sat the Vank pintin' of 'is drawn revolver 
straight in my ^^^yes. My Derringer was done. 
I'd nary a shot left. I feels for my knife, but 
my belt 'ad been tore off in the struggle. 

" I'll give yew time tew load," ses the Yank, 
" then I guess we shell see who is the real boss 
of this mine. Air that fair ? " 

" Oncommon fair," I ses. 

" Yew might fust give that pore, dyin' critter 
a glass o' water, or a nip o' spirit," ses he, still 
sittin' partik'ler calm on a pile of rock. 

Wal, I goes to the keg, stridin' over the body 
of the first man as I'd shot dead, an' I gits the 
spirit an' raises the head of Number Two, an' 
pours a drain of whiskey down is throat, but 
'e was parst the 'elp of spirit. I held him 
against my shoulder an' thar — wal, that was 
the end. 

" Now, you kin slide in yeur cartridges," sed 
the Yank, " an' me an' yew will settle this thing 
right out. Three to one was long odds. So I 
set out. Wen yew've loaded up, we shell be 
man against man. Thet will be fair." 

" Yew air mighty gen'rous," I .ses. *' Afore 
I put in this bung, will you 'ave a liquor ? " 

♦'Why not?" ses 'e. 

So I tilts the keg, an' 'im an' me Stan's 
lookin' at each other over our gl .rses. 

" It seems on common strange," I ses. " For 






MY FIRST WINTER IN KLONDYKE 



37 






six months, all through the bleak, bitter winter, 
I ave been 'ere alone an longin' for a pardner. 
I 'ave been longin' to see a human face, or even 
a dawg's — I 'ave been wanting a pardner bad — 
prayin' to Gawd for a pardner — or even to 'ear 
the voicv". of a livin' man. At the fust sirht 
of my fellow-critters we takes to killin' of each 
other," an' I looks at the two dead men lyin' 
thar in a pool of blood. " Wal," I ses, 
'• 'ere is tu yew ! " I ses, an I drinks to the 
Yank. 

" Britisher?" ses he. 

I nodded. " You air from the States ? " 

" N' York originally, late of 'Frisco. It was 
me fust noticed this," an' 'e nods 'is 'ead at the 
pile of stuff from the ore. *' D'yew know," 'e 
ses, "why I set out instead of jinin' in the 
fight ? " 

"'Cos yew was a Yank," I ses, "an' a 'ero, 
an' three to one ain't fair." 

" Becos them two, w'en they 'ad tuk yeur 
Derringer, 'ad meant to murder yew, an' we 
three was to claim yeur mine." 

" I thought as much," I ses. " I thought as 
much at the time." 

Ses he, " At trapping I was game to them an' 
true, but I ain't no murderer," ses the Yank ; 
*'so onless yew wishes of it we'll adjourn our 
shootin' match sine die. My name is Colonel 



C 



w 



m 



38 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



Silas Jay. Yew kin trust me. I shan't let on 
about yeur mine. To-night, by yeur leave, I 
shell put up along of yew ; to-morrow I shell 
make t^'acks fur Dawson s Storey 

" Colonel Silas Jay," I ses, holdin' out my 
'and, "you air an 'onest man, an' I could 
trust yew with my life." 

" Yew hev," he ses smilin'. 

" An' look 'ere," I ses, " if so be, as yew 
would be pardners with me — onconditionally 
— I reckon et would be a square deal. Is it 
a bargain ? " 

** You bet," 'e ses. 

**Then we air pardners," ses I. An' I goes 
on to tell him in detail about what I'd found 
there in Kiondyke. " Now, what might you 
reckon is the worth of our firm ? " ses I. 

"Wal," he ses, "wot yeur half is worth, I 
cayn't quite reckon up, but I wouldn't swop my 
half for — wal, not for a China orange. Gi'mme 
a pick. Let's give them two men civil burial." 



CHAPTER 
THIRD 



THE KEY OF 
THE TREJSURE 



TTT'HEN the first Klondyke gold was dls- 
^^ covered, and Colonel Silas Jay went 
halves with the lucky finder, J. T. Piatt, they 
agreed that they would thoroughly prove the 
worth of the find before they made the 
discovery a fact of public notoriety. 

Piatt was an excellent illustration of the old 
saw, that it is better to be born lucky than rich. 
He WIS merely a loafer who had tried his hand 
at many an occupation before he happened to 
strike gold — a loafer, though not an idle loafer — 
a worker, though not a skilled workman — an 
ignorant, but not a foolish man. 

Silas Jay, on the other hand, was a truly 
experienced, shrewd man of the world, who had 
never come across a big stroke of luck in his 
life until he met Piatt and became " his pardner." 
He was grizzled, shrewd, and intelligent, and 
had a practical knowledge of mining both 
before and after the great American War. 



39 






11; 



iit ::' 



i 

1 
, it 



40 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



I 



In his earlier clays he had made money, but 
he had not kept it, and, later in life, his chances 
had not turned out very happily. However, 
as a trapper, he had made good money, and 
was accumulating it in a small way when he 
met Piatt, the lonely discoverer of the great 
Klondyke lode, in need of a chum, and equally 
in need of practical guidance and advice. 

Piatt told his new chum how the first gold 
he had found was not far away at the foot of 
the hills in the alluvial ; how at first he had 
washed the dirt and found it rich in specks and 
nuggets of gold, when a flood had swollen the 
stream and rendered further work impossible 
until after the winter ; how the discovery of 
solid ore had followed, through a fluke, by a 
lucky stroke of his pick in Davy's Cave ; how 
he had made subsequent and successful efforts 
to test the lay of the lode ; and how he had 
found other evidence of gold in the surrounding 
district. 

All this interesting story Piatt told to Colonel 
Silas Jay on the spot, and the two together 
essayed to test the value of the discovery by 
investigating the geological structure of the 
rocks by proving the depth, thickness, and 
workability of the lode, or rather lodes, which 
had been found, and by an assay, roughly and 
imperfectly made, of the ore. 






THE KEY OF THE TREASURE 



41 



' 



All this work was undertaken by Piatt's new 
partner with an increasing energy and an 
industrious interest which, in itself, was an 
indication of the grizzled old minei's opinion 
of the value of the find, and though he was 
chary of expressing sanguine ideas, he could 
not refrain from exhibiting symptoms of 
delight, as day by day indications of the 
character of the discovery were revealed in 
detail. 

"What do yew reckon now is the worth of 
et, eh Colonel ? What do yew kalkilate we air 
worth — us two ? " Piatt would continually ask, 
in that Americanised Cockney dialect which he 
had deviated into through circumstance and 
travel ; a question which the experienced old 
miner usually answered by a French-Canadian 
shrug of his shoulders, alleviated, however, by 
a confident smile. 

But after many days of prospecting, after 
laborious examination with pick and hammer of 
many a rugged peak and summit, followed by 
equally tiring shovel work in the detritus at the 
foot of the hills, the old miner-trapper, who had 
long been ruminating, expectorated his quid 
and broke his long silence. 

"J. T. Piatt, yew hev made a great discovery 
of gold. 

•' Gold hes been discovered in similar great 



42 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 






importance to this twice only during my 
memory and experience. 

"It was discovered in 1848 on the American 
fork of the Californian Range, near the 
Sacramento, in the drift of the river-valleys, 
through a fluke by Colonel Sutter. He had 
erected a saw-mill, and on the very first rush 
of water along the newly-built mill-race, specks 
and glitterin's of gold were seen stickin' to the 
rough edge of the newly-sawn planks. Them 
specks was gold. It was not long, though 
Colonel Sutter endeavoured to keep the find 
secret, afore 'Frisco stood an empty town, and 
all the distric' roun' was flockin' to Sutter's 
Mill. When the Governor of California hurried 
thar, instead o' findin' a desolate valley, thar 
wuz 4000 men up to thar necks in pay dirt, 
earning eight dollars a day a-piece. 

" A little later on all the world wuz there, 
an' 50,000 men workin' at the diggin's. 
Statistics shewed the yield for the year '50 
was 40,000,000 dollars. 

" I was there myself in the seventies, an' also 
afore the war. The yield I personally got 
from three years' tremendous hard work, 
including gambling and saloons, was practically 
nil — cypher, J. T. Piatt. Do yew hear? 

** And yet, through the discovery by Colonel 
Sutter — through the accidental discovery, mind 






THE KEY OF THE TREASIJRE 



43 



yew, owing to glitterln' specks of gold happen- 
ing to catch on the splinters of his new-sawn 
wood in the mill-race — statistics shew that 
1,200,000,000 dollars — or to compute it in 
British sovereigns, — ;^3oo,ooo,ooo sterling — 
hev been taken out of California between the 
year 1848 until now. 

"Turn yeur eyes, J. T. Piatt, from this 
continent of America to Australia. I crorsed 
the Pacific soon after the war to try my luck 
in Australia. 

" Gold was fust found in New South Wales 
by Count Strzelecki, when the country was 
chockful of convicks. The find was hushed 
up at the earnest solicitations of the Governor, 
Sir G. Gipps, on account of its being a penal 
settlement. Thet were in 1839. Some years 
afterwards it was struck rich, and ther was the 
great rush for gold which affected all the world. 
Many millions of gold hev since been taken 
out of Ballarat alone. I myself raised about 
30,000 dollars of it, an' brought back a part of 
my litde pile through Europe to N' York. But 
Paris is a melting-pot for dollars, and London, 
which is the cheapest city on airth, is likewise 
somehow a place where yew spends more 
money than any place in the tarnation globe. 

" Now, J. T. Piatt, did Colonel Sutter, who 
descovered California, benefit consid'rable ? 



It 5 



:i 









h 



1 i 



44 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



Not by no means. Did the noble Count in 
Australia ? Not much. 

*' According to my kalkilations, you an' me, 
J. T. Piatt, are h'y'ah in a distric' w'ich will 
boom. Klondyke will some day be recog- 
nised throughout the tarnation world as THE 
Champion Gold Country of the Universe. 

"What shell me an' you git out of the 
diskivery ? 

*' I will tell yew, Pardner Piatt. We may 
get nuthin' at all — nuthin' considerable." 

"What's that you're a-s'yin' of, Colonel?" 
exclaimed Piatt, as clouds came over his dreams 
of fortune. " Nothink ! Nothink ! Why, look 
at all this 'ere ! Miles of It ! Ain't it ourn ? " 

" I don't reckon it air for certain." 

" Not ourn ? " exclaimed Piatt, blank dis- 
appointment paling his face. " Then, instead 
of bein' millionaires, you reckon we're jis' worth 
nothink." 

" For myself, I hev about 32,000 dollars 
in Van Roon & Wheeler's bank at 'Frisco, 
all of which, considering the handsome way 
you've acted, I am prepared to put into the 
firm of Jay & Piatt, in the hopes we shall be 
millionaires ten or twelve years hence, if we 
are oncommon prudent, if we work like niggers, 
if we are loyal pardners, and, above all, if we 
have luck. Luck, that's the desideratum." 



1 1 



THE KEY OF THE TREASURE 



45 



in 



" Ho ! " exclaimed Piatt in a disappointed 
tone, "then I cay n't drive a coach -an' -six 
up the Strand to-morrer ? " 

'' Nor for many a long year, boy. No. 
Listen to me. Yew see thet muddy river glint- 
ing in the distance yonder, with the pretty, 
wooded islands dotted in it ? That's the Yukon. 
It will be a famous river soon. These thou- 
sands of years it has hardly seen a living soul 
excep' Injuns, but, owing to the lucky strike of 
your pick, cities will spring up along that river. 
All these hills will swarm with miners' camps. 
Down there along the riverside, and in all the 
creeks and tributary streams, which are full 
of auriferous drift, there will be hundreds an' 
thousands of diggers washing the alluvial. 
Here, where the ore is solid and true, there 
will be crushers, and jiggers, and stamps, and 
the shaft of many a mine. These things are 
bound to be. Gold, like murder, will out. You 
can't keep it secret. This desolate hole, only 
good enough for martens, an' foxes, an' moose, 
will be thronged, summer and winter, by a mob 
of the tailings of the world. In the long winter 
which you know they will be starved ; they will 
be fruz : an' in the summer they will be baked 
brown, an' biled, and bit up by mosquitoes. But 
they will come, J. T. Piatt, though at present 
only us two knows the secret. It's that strike 



46 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



\ i 



I 



of your pick that will have done it, but where's 
the benefit of that to you, if the land ain't 
yourn ? " 

'• It's a burning shy me ! " said Piatt hotly. 

" Our game is this. First, we must keep it 
as dark as ever we can. We'll take just a few 
specimens, just a few, and shovel back the rest. 
We'll obliterate every sign of the find, and we 
will be as silent as the grave. Not a word in 
Selkirk." 

•' Nary a word," echoed Piatt solemnly. 

" Only it's impossible to keep it dark entirely. 
We must let the cat out of the bag in order to 
get our capital." 

" Capital ! " exclaimed Piatt, tossing up a 
nugget and catching it again. " What is 
capital if this ain't ? " 

"You are right, J. T. That is capital. 
Solid gold like that blazin' specimen is capital 
anywhere. Only, as soon as you come to swop 
it about our secret is out, an' all the unhung 
rascals in North America will swarm round 
our claim like hornets." 

" Wal, 'ow can we jis' git 'old of the land an' 
let 'em work for us — let 'em pay us tew dig on 
our land ? " 

*'You are right again, J. T. That is just 
my idea. Listen to me very careful now. If 
you an* me liked to set to work washing dirt in 



THE KEY OF THE TREASURE 



47 



the alluvial we could make a tidy little pile 
without its gettin' wind. But I ain't satisfied 
with a little pile, considerin' the tremenjous 
value of our find. I want to git to work on the 
ore. I want to hev stamps here an' machinery. 
I want to have an interest in all the work that 
others will do here. I have sat on a bank- 
stool myself. I have seen how the real pull is 
got by people in cities. I wants a royalty on 
all the hundreds of millions that will be took 
out of Klondyke." 

'''Undreds of millions! " echoed Piatt, cross- 
ing his biindy legs nervously. "'Undreds of 
millions. Colonel Silas ! Say that agen ! " 

*' Now, this is my scheme. Shovel back all 
the ore you've took out. Cover up the cave 
with brushwood ; obliterate all signs of your 
pick an' shovel ; take back with us as many 
small parcels of specimens as we can carry, 
an' we will hook it straight away out of these 
parts altogether, an' into the centre of civilisa- 
tion." 

"Go on, Colonel. I guess I'm with yew." 

** By the centre of civilisation, I mean a 
centre. I mean Montreal ; I mean N' York ; 
I mean Ottawa — or, best of all, the metropolis 
of the airth — London. 

"Then I guess we will interview some great 



ir" 






48 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



:h 



il I 



Ci 



capitalist, some millionaire banker — Rothschild 
for choice. 

"We will go halves with him. He shell 
help us, an' we'll hev the biggest machinery 
and the greatest and most scientific gold- 
producin' factory in the entire universe." 

A flush of excitement glowed through the 
old trapper's veins, and his voice grew tremu- 
lous with enthusiasm. The younger man, 
carried away by the eloquence of his partner, 
leapt in the air and cut all manner of capers, 
his mind lost in boundless transports and 
golden visions. 

A long silence ensued, during which Colonel 
Silas Jay produced a twist of black tobacco, 
from which he proceeded to cut off a quid for 
immediate consumption. 

" I'm kalkilatin' how to make good our 
claim, partner. Where are we ? " 

" About sixty miles from Selkirk. Yon is 
the Yukon. That far-awye glitterin' water — 
that's Muddy - Bend River. This y'ere is 
Klondyke. Dawson's is over thar, an' about 
five mile " 

"Yes, yes. But what territory are we 



mr 



?" 



"Territory? Blowed if I know! Ontil I 
found gold here with my pick, nary a soul 
cared. Territory! It's the territory of the 



THE KEY OF THE TREASURE 



49 



we 

:il I 

soul 

the 






deer, of the bear, of the Injun trapper. Thet's 
whose territory it is, I reckon." 

"What I mean is — air we in the United 
States, or air we in the Dominion of Canada ? 
Or is it Alaska — an', if so, whose government 
is it ? The Czar of Russia's or the Stars and 
Stripes? Or is it yeur Queen's.-* Upon my 
soul, J. T. Piatt, we hev a lot to learn afore we 
set about makin' a claim. We're somewhere 
near the border, I du know that, but who is 
sovereign of these golden mountains — who 
owns these golden streams .'* " 

" Du it matter, Colonel ? " 

** It matters consid'rable. All roun' about 
here, this is virgin land. It's an ice-desert 
now ; in the summer it's barren rock. Nobody, 
I reckon, cares to hev it or hes ever thought 
of making a claim to it from any government. 
Wal, when we know our latitood, and, p'raps 
still more important, our longitood, we kin easy 
find out who rules over this desolation — what 
government rules, or who is monarch of this 
realm. Then we kin spread out our sacks of 
specimens, we kin say : * Do you see them 
nuggets ? Do you like 'em, an' would you like 
some more? If so, we can tell you what part 
of yeur territory you can find 'em in, providin' 
you grant us a little claim of, say, a hundred 
square miles, an' there will still be thousan's of 

P 



5° 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



miles lef* for you. Give us a grant, an' we can 
jis* hand over to yeu some hundreds of millions 
of money.' 

" Some hundreds of millions — that's what 
you've struck, J. T. Piatt. I tell yew that, 
sitting h'yah now on the Klondyke ; that, or 
suthin' like it, es the value of the natural 
treasure locked up in these rocks an' in these 
streams and gulches. But the key of the 
treasure ain't here ; the key is in London." 

The old trapper finished his long monologue, 
and, slipping a quid of tobacco in his mouth, 
he proceeded to chew in thoughtful silence. 



! 



CHAPTER 
FOURTH 



KLONDTKE IC^ 
LONDON 



Y^ARS before the name of Klonclyke had 
been whispered in New York, years 
before the Klondyke boom had filled all Wall 
Street with feverish excitement, and sent men 
by the thousands flocking to the new diggings 
in the snow-capped mountains by the muddy 
Yukon River, two sunburnt, seedy -looking, 
strangely-dressed men were seated in the outer 
office of the great financial house of the 
Rosenthal, the well-known bankers of Lombard 
Street. 

They had been sitting there for two and a 
half ^ hours, from half-past one till four, when a 
fashionably dressed young man, one of the 
junior clerks, whose clothes were so expensive 
that he was unable to afford lunch, and who 
was consequently in a hurry to get home to 
what he called ''dinner," looked at his watch, 
and, observing that it was precisely four o'clock,' 
shut his ledger with a bang, and exclaimed to 

n 



ggJB^^^Wl 



J I 






Ji li 



1 



52 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



another junior clerk who, if possible, was even 
more beautifully dressed than himself : "Closing 
time." 

Each of these faultlessly attired young men 
then proceeded to remove a sheet of writing 
paper from his wristbands, after which both 
disappeared for a few ininutes, to emerge in 
polished hats, light gloves, and beflowered 
button-holes, the costume appropriate for the 
worship of a certain feminine deity whose 
customary adoration culminated at half-past 
four, libations being offered at her shrine at a 
glass and marble temple known in the city as 
'' Nob's." 

Eager to sally forth to their rites, the clerk 
aforesaid approaching the men from Klondyke 
asked superciliously : 

" Have you an appointment with Sir Jacob 
Rosenthal ? " 

The men from Klondyke assented. 

'* Your name is " 

" Jay and Piatt." 

"And what time is your appointment with 
Sir Jacob ? " 

*' Half-past one." 

*' Ah ! — well it's now four — we close at four. 
Sir Jacob cannot possibly see you now. Will 
you call again to-morrow ? " 

" What time, young man ? " 









i 



ii' 



KLONDYKE IN LONDON 



53 



" I'll see what appointments Sir Jacob has," 
tv^plied the clerk, going to a telephone, and 
applying his ear for an answer. " Hum ! Ha ! 
What? Repeat. Oh yes. Very well. Now? 
To-morrow ? No. Yes — what ? Very well. 
Sir Jacob will see them then. Oh? Yes — 
immediately ? Very well." 

" Sir Jacob will see you now," said the young 
clerk, hurriedly divesting himself of his gloves, 
flower, hat, and stick. " This way if you please. 
Colonel Silas Jay, sir — Mr J. T. Piatt, sir." 

The two men from Kiondyke suddenly 
found themselves in a very large room, where 
a handsome old gentleman, none other than 
the great Sir Jacob Rosenthal himself, was 
seated at a very large table covered with 
papers. 

At another sat a middle-aged man, Sir 
Jacob's private secretary. 

Sir Jacob looked up as the two men entered. 

The secretary rose, and welcomed them to 
chairs by his table. "Your name is Colonel 
Piatt— No ? Ah ! Colonel Jay and Mr Piatt. 
Ur. Yes. I remember. We have a letter 
of introduction from your bankers in San 
Francisco, Colonel Jay, Messrs Van Roon and 
Wheeler. Well, what is it ? " 

** We have discovered a gold mine," replied 
Colonel Silas jay, determined not to waste 



i 



HB 



54 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



f! 



time with unnecessary introductory matter, 
"and we want capital to erect stamps and 
machinery." 

" Gold mine ! " exclaimed Sir Jacob quickly 
from the other table, " no good ! Dozens of 
men come here every week with gold mines." 
" But this is extraordinary rich, Sir Jacob." 
" They all are," said Sir Jacob testily* 
** They all are extraordinarily rich. Everybody 
who brings a mine to me has the most wonder- 
ful property that was ever kx.^wn. Our pigeon- 
holes are full of wonderful mines. I have had 
reports about three — or is it fouri* — this very 
day." 

" Well, our mine really is the richest, the 

most " 

" And you have samples of it in those sacks, 
eh ? I know. Oh, don't open them, for good- 
ness sake! I have seen enough samples of 
ore of late to sink a ship." 

"Wal! thar's jis' a proof then, anyway," ex- 
claimed Piatt, suddenly producing from his 
pocket a nugget of solid gold as big as a good- 
sized potato. You kin look at thet, Sir Jycob 
Rosenthal. It will convince yew — eh? What! 
no ! Doan that fetch yer ? " 

" I have dozens of them, my good man. 
Nuggets! Mr Davis, just open that cupboard 
and show these gentlemen." 



V 






KLONDYKE IN LONDON 



55 



The secretary slid open a door, and, taking 
out a larger nugget than that which had been 
produced by the men from Klondyke, exhibited 
it to them. 

" What is it labelled, Mr Davis ? " 

" Mount Kalgoaroo." 

** Ah ! I remember. That came from West 
Australia. We did examine into that. It is 
a genuine nugget. We sent out a surveyor. 
All the claims near it were staked out by 
others. It came too late to us. Too small 
altogether — not worth our while, Colonel Jay. 
Where do you say yours is.^* Klondyke? 
Where's that ? On the kiver Klondyke, eh ? 
Well, point it out on the map. Where ? 
North- West Canada — dreadful place — Siberian. 
Arctic ! W^hy, you're pointing to the Arctic 
circle ! " 

" It's not marked on this map, Sir Jycob," 
said Colonel Jay, studying the map which 
Mr Davis had opened for him. " It's a good 
map, sir, but the fact is, the whole place is new ; 
it is not surveyed ; the river«^ are not marked. 
The place is a desert, in fact. But it air 
rich, Sir Jycob. Wal, there's just millions 
of it!" 

" I daresay," said the great financier in a 
sceptical tone. "What proof have I of 
that ? " 



m 






56 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



" Our word," said Colonel Jay, with a certain 
impressive sedateness of manner. 

Sir Jacob looked at the two men, his eye 
lingering on Piatt's frayed waistcoat and worn 
fingers. 

"An honest workman's word is often more 
to be relied upon than the affidavit of a mining 
engineer," said the great financier, with an 
endeavour to speak courteously, "still, I want 
more proof than a man's word. But all that 
district — the North-West Territory — Alaska — 
it's an impossible district. It's ice-bound." 

" The winter is nine months long," said 
Colonel Jay; "the temperature is 50 degrees 
below zero, but there are lodes of gold ore, 
twenty yards broad. I cannot say how 
deep." 

"Exactly! You do not know. It has not 
been tested. You have had no machinery to 
sink shafts. You have only had your pickaxes. 
You have picked out some rich ore. Yes, you 
have the proof of it in your sacks. But you 
have not been able to drive adits into the lode ; 
you have had no boring implements ; you 
cannot have truly proved what is there. That is 
what you want me to do. You want me to send 
out machinery. You want me to sink a fortune 
in attempting a discovery." 

" We hev discovered it, Sir Jacob." 



\ 



' % 



ji 



! 



KLONDYKE IN LONDON 



57 



" I know. I believe you. But there is 
hardly a country in the world where gold does 
not exist. Everybody thinks his find is the 
richest imaginable. The people who come 
here to me are mostly genuine. There is gold 
everywhere almost. Eastern America as well 
as North- West, Central- Brazil, Venezuela, New 
Brunswick. Why, I had an enthusiast here 
from Ireland the other day. Ireland! and on 
that shelf you can see the sample. It's quite 
genuine. He quite believed he rould settle 
the whole Irish questic;: if I would let 
him have ;^20,ooo for mining operations, 
and, strange to say, gentlemen," continued 
Sir Jacob Rosenthal, rising amiably, " the 
very best assay of gold I ever saw in my 
life came from — where do you think? Eh? 
From Wales. Yes, Wales in Great Britain. 
Not far — no. Between here and Liverpool. 
I would show you Mr Forbes' analysis, but, 
really, gentlemen — time passes — numerous 
engagements. Delighted to have seen you. 
It was a beautiful nugget you showed me. 
So much obliged to you. Mr Davis will write 
to Messrs Van Roon & Wheeler, and thank 
them for this interesting interview — and, ur — 
Good-day." 

" Discouraging," was Colonel Jay's remark, 
as the two men were making their way in a 



il 



58 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



»M: 



four-wheeler to the little hotel in the Waterloo 
Road where they were staying. 

" Wal ! Yis ! But that man, pardner, was 
jis' sick of gold," said Piatt. 

" He is the richest man in the world, Jim — 
the very richest man in the world," said Colonel 

Jay. 

"An' still he ain't tired of keepin' shop, eh? 
Wal, we hev brought him a gold mine second 
to none, an' he wayn't no buyer. Wal, that 
was it. 'Tain't no good offerin' food to a 
man wot's got 'is belly full. He was jis' sick 
of gold. He couldn't digest no more of it. 
Now, wot air we to do ? " 

" I guess there's hundreds of capitalists in 
London besides the Rosenthals," said Colonel 
Jay. *' We must see somebody else." 

Every day, week after week, the two men 
from Klondyke were interviewing bankers, 
financiers, financial agents, and company pro- 
moters, ascending and descending omnibuses, 
going up and down lifts, waiting in dismal 
offices, and occasionally spending long hours 
in the ante-rooms of banks, until they grew 
quite familiar with the city of London, and 
with its huge blocks of offices, each a city in 
itself, with its streets of corridors, its devious 
courts and passages, its light basements, and 
strange electric-lit underground life, but they 



KLONDYKE IN LONDON 



59 



and 
they 



made no headway towards fortune. They 
made clear statements, they were ready with 
their maps, they had now got papers proving 
their claim, they had good specimens and an 
excellent assay, but nobody cared to specu- 
late. 

" Gold mines are a drug in the market," said 
one great firm of company promoters. " Bring 
us a patent bicycle, and we will give you fifty 
thousand for it — but the public won't look at 
gold mines. No, no, thanks. Don't produce 
your ore. Excellent specimens, no doubt, 
but we don't want to see them. The public 
won't touch gold mines just now." 

"H'm!" said another firm, ** where is your 
mine ? Canada. Now if it had been in South 
Africa we might have dealt with you. Things 
must be South African now. Eh? What ? 
Foolish! All fashion. Yes, but there is a 
fashion in investments, you know, so we have 
to follow the fashion, too, like other people." 

" Oh, another gold-mine ! " exclaimed the 

great Mr B . "Take it away. London has 

sunk more in gold in mines than it has ever 
taken out of them. Let me have a solid home 
industry for my money, well established, and 
showing good profits." 

They got very tired of these wearying 
disappointments, and eventually they fell 



6o 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



r 51 i 



victims to a sharp-witted company-promoter 
of the baser sort. True, a company was 
brought out, the preliminary expenses of which 
swallowed up nearly the whole of the available 
moneys our two honest adventurers from 
Klondyke possessed, but the public did not 
subscribe, though it was advertised in very 
large type, and although the directorate was 
on modern model lines, consisting of an 
impecunious peer, a shrewd Scot, a wily Jew, 
and two major-generals in the brave British 
army. 

They had now wasted many months in 
London, and were becoming seedier every 
day. Vexation, excitement, and worry were 
wearing them down more even than the hard 
weather of the Yukon district, or the long and 
dismal hours of the interminable Klondyke 
winter. They decided to make one final effort, 
and, having succeeded in getting a new letter 
of introduction to a firm of excellent standing 
whom they had not hitherto approached, they 
duly presented themselves at an hour previously 
appointed. 

" Colonel Jay," said the principal of the firm, 
after he had afforded a patient hearing to his 
visitor, **do you know how many men there 
are in the city of London going about from 
firm to firm hawking gold mines ? You do not. 






KLONDYKE IN LONDON 



6i 



Then I will tell you," he continued, after a 
pause, "probably about two thousand." 

"Yes," struck in his partner savagely, "and 
our time is valuable. But there is one striking 
similarity about all these men who go about 
with gold mines in their pockets — they have no 
heels to their boots." 

" I hevn't got none on mine," said J. T. 
Piatt, looking at his feet. He had indeed 
worn them through, and was footsore with 
walking on the London asphalt. '* But mark 
my words," he continued, looking up with a 
desperate air, "though I hevn't got no heels to 
my boots, an' though I 'aven't got no money, 
I've got mountains of the stuff it's made on; 
an' I've got a bit of paper in my pocket wot 
can some day buy up yew and yeur bank an* 
the Lord Mayor of London 'isself. An' the day 
will come when yew will be proud to shake my 
'and. Yes, that's wot I tell yew." 



Tom 



I 



I 



Hi 



( : 






11 



CHAPTER 
FIFTH 



FROS\I LONDON 
TO KLONDTKE 



TXT'HEN Colonel Jay an' me couldn't get no 
capital for our Klondyke mine anywhar 
in the whole city of London, I felt a kinder 
sick thet I hed to own up I was a Cockney — 
though I hed since got Americanised in the 
Stytes, an' wuz only a Cockney by bairth, an' 
by reason of the fac', thet I was for years a 
packer in one of the best 'ouses in St Paul's 
Churchyard, w'ich wuz a Lord Mayor. 

We 'ad come tew London a puppos for 
tew git money tew work our mines. An' we 
couldn't git none. Nary a dollar ! 

"Wal," ses I to my pard, "there's a gal 
down Lime'us wot I knowed — Sally Boffin. 
I alius meant to go an' claim her rich ; I alius 
meant to drive down 'ansom, to take her a 
kerridge full o' presents, to say : ' Sally, my 
gal, I've bin away eight year. I didn't think 
tew be so long, but I've worked 'ard for yew, 



62 



FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



63 



gal 
loffin. 
all 



us 



ler a 

my 

Ithink 

yew, 



an' I've made a fortune for yew. Yew *ave 
waited for me, and this y'ere cartload of 
trinkets is wot I've brought yew.' 

" Wal, I cay n't dew that thar, Colonel. So 
I shell go down to Lime'us, ragged has I am, 
an* I shall say : ' Sally, I cayn't wait no longer, 
yew mus' cum' along o' me now. I've struck 
riches, but gold air proverbially eludin'.'" 

So I goes down to Lime'us, an' I calls on 'er 
par. But lor ! he'd bin took home these four 
or five year. So I ses : ** Well, then, whar is 
Sally ? " 

It was fortunit I foun' 'ur so heasy. She 
'adn't gone not far, only as fur as number two- 
'undred-an'-heighteen, so I pulls the trigger of 
the bell, wot was broke, an' then I knocks my 
knuckles agin the door, an' I ses : "Is Sally 
in?" 

" No, she ain't ; she ain't come home from 
school yut," ses a well-knowed voice w'ich was 
turnin' a mangle. So I pipt in, an' I ses : 
"Corn!" I ses, ** why there you air yourself! 
I knowed yer voice in a minnit. Sally," 
sez I, " Sally Boffin, don't yer know me ? 
I'm Jim Piatt." 

*'Sakes!" she cries, a-screechin', "don't you 
come foolin' 'ere! Wot — eh? Jim! Bow- 
legged Jim ! Why, it is you! Lor', then you 
ain't dead ! Wot 'ave you bin a-doin' of, an' 



64 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



.^ I 



Lhh 



{ I- 



i 



what for didn't you write back to me, Jim — 
an' me writin' so orfen. O Lord ! O dear ! if 
Bill a-sees yer inside 'is 'ouse, there will be 
bloodshed — s'elp me, there will ! " 

''Who's Bill?" sez I. 

"Bill Ogg," she ses, "the cat's-meat man," 
she ses. " My 'usband," she ses. 

"O Lor'!" ses I, "but the ten year ain't 
up yet," I ses. "Ah! Sally, I've wyted for 
you," I ses, reproachful, and a-settin' down, for 
I was that took aback I couldn't stan' up no 
longer. 

" Doan set down on the cat's meat," she 
hollers. " Bill's that conscientious about the 
meat — if it was goin' to human Christians he 
couldn't be not more particular." 

"An' so yew air a married woman," I ses, 
wipin' the seat o* my trousers. " May Gawd 
forgive yew, Sally ! I wouldn't 'ave believed 
it — nut if nobody 'ad gorn an* tole me." 

With that she blubbers. 

Wal, I 'ardened myself, an' I looks at her, 
an' I reckons — wal, she ain't the same Sally as 
I knowed, an' I swore at her, an' as I leaves 'er 
door I shouts : " Yew ain't Sally Boffin, yew 
air Sally Ogg. Bad luck to yew an' tew yeur 
cat's-meat an' yeur mangle !" an' I slams the door 
behind me. An' I goes down the street, an' 
thar the pruttiest luttle gal you ever see comes 



i 



KE 



FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



6$ 



im — 
ar! if 
ill be 



man, 

r ain't 
sd for 
^n, for 
up no 

/' she 
It the 
ms he 

I ses, 
Gawd 
ilieved 



at her, 
ally as 
ves 'er 
yew 
V yeur 
le door 
et, an' 
comes 



1 



trippin' along with a skippin' rope — an* I 
knowed *ur in a second, fur all I was half 
blind with blubbering, for the picture of my 
old Sally that she used to was, an' I picks her 
up an' I harsks 'ur name, to w'ich she 
answers : 

" Sally Ogg." 

"Right yew air, Sally Ogg," I ses. " Wal, 
an' dew yew like torfee ? " I ses ; so she sticks 
her finger up her nose, as though it was a 
periwinkle, an' cocks 'er 'ead o' one side, an' 
she looks so funny comic that I fell a-larfin', an' 
then I jis hugs 'er close, an' I cuddles 'er tight, 
an' I kisses 'er about forty times all over 'er 
prutty face, fur she was the picture of my Sally 
— my own old Sally — she was her minyachoor, 
an' I sets 'er down, an' I whips my nugget out 
o' my pocket, for I 'adn't got nothix k else left, 
an' I claps it in 'er dirty little 'ands, a-s'yin' : 
" There yew air, Sally ; thet's a lump o' gold — 
that is. I've 'undreds and thousan's o' lumps 
like that on my proputty at 'ome ; yew kin tell 
yeur mother that, it will make 'er grizzle," 
I ses. 

Then I futted it back to the Waterloo Road, 
for I 'adn't got nary a cent in my pocket — no, 
not a bloomin' brown. 

Wal, w'en I sees my pardner, I jis' feels a 
trifle dizzy — I doan' mean Dizzy the statesman 

£ 



66 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



11! 






but dizzy in my 'ead — 'cos Silas was a-packin' 
up our traps, an' orf back to Klondyke. 

*' How is Sally? " ses he, a-smilin' sarkustic, 
as though he knowed what was a- comin'. 

" Don't you mention 'er," I ses, "she's some- 
body else ; she's married a cat's-meat man, an' 
turns a mangle." 

He shakes my 'and sympathetic. 'E 'ad a 
tender 'art, 'ad my pard. " Wimmen is 
wimmen," 'e ses, "an' they alius will be." 

" Gorn ! " I ses, though I was beginning to 
think the same as 'im. 

"Wen you knows as much about wimmen 
as I do, you won't want to hev no traffick with 
'em," ses he. " I hev got a wife myself. You 
hev net ; J. T. Piatt, I congratulate yew." 

" Pardner," ses I, " I didn't know yew was 
a married m.an." 

" But I am," ses he, "tho' I doan' mind tellin' 
yew I gave my missus the slip in British 
Columbia. However, we won't talk about 'er. 
She ain't worth it." 

"Wal, confession's good for us both," I ses. 
" There's our last nugget," I ses. " I bin an' 
gorn an' give it away to Sally's little gal." 

" The jeuce you 'ave ! " 'e ses. " Well, 'ow 
air we to pay our little bill.-* We owe three 
months' board an' lodgin'." 

" Chalk it up ! " ses I ; "we kin pay with a 



FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



67 



Hi-ho-u ! Ain't we millionaires, though we 
ain't got the ready ? " 

So we chalked it up, in order tew w'ich we 
'ad to go downstairs precious silent early in the 
mornin', with our parcels on our shoulders, an' 
they wasn't not very 'eavy — not by no manner 
of means. But we wos honest, an' we lef our 
Hi-ho-u be'ind us for one 'undred poun's. We 
puts it along with the account both upon the 
tyble, an' we goes off silent on tiptoe. 

It was comf table to think we'd settled that 
little account honest. Then we starts to get 
back to Klondyke ; we works our way afore the 
mast, a wonderful roun'-about way ; fust to Rio, 
an' then roun' by Cape 'Orn, now in o..a craft, 
an' now in another, spendin' two year a-doin' of 
it ; right up the west coast of the two Amerikas 
to Vancouver, an' then it took us a bit of time 
to fetch Klondyke. 

We lef Victoria, whar every one starts from 
now, an' went up to Juneau aboard the Pacific 
steamer, The Queen. We 'ad a narrow escape 
of the dangers of the Muir glacier, a thousand 
feet of it tumbling into the water, close to our 
steamer, an' breakin' up into hicebergs hall 
around us. Destruction was himminent, but 
we only thought wot a lovely picture of 
grandeur them sheer solid cliffs of hice was. 
They wuz eight 'undred to a thousand feet 'igh, 



' 



68 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



mind yew, an' we didn't know of our danger 
for lookin' at the bewty of the gorgeous colours 
in them almighty bergs. That glacier ain't 
far off Juneau. Juneau is an Injun city, and 
that's whar we sez good-bye to civilisation. 
Colonel Silas, he ses to me . " It's a miner's city 
now, becos they have thar the Great Treadwell 
Mine, w'ich is the biggest mine in the world. 
We see its smoke from the deck of our steamer 
— the smoke of the chlorination works of the 
Treadwell. They quarry the gold ore thar, 
downright quarry it in an open quarry — only 
it's a very low grade ore — about three dollars 
to the ton. But it has a mill of 500 stamps, 
and that's the biggest in the world. It works' 
night and day. Some day we shall 'ave a mill 
like that at Klondyke. Some day ! — next year, 
I 'ope. Then shan't we show the world some- 
think? Somethink! Lor! it will beat all the 
dreams of gold that ever was ! You wate a 
bit ! You'll 'ear of me." 

We went by the rout that they calls the 
new rout now, we went by Skagway Bay an* 
Muddy Lake an' by the rapids. Only, mind 
yew, instead of goin' by the White Pass, which 
is mighty bad, we went by the Chilkoot w'ich 
is ten times wuss. 

My pard was very near fruz to death afore 
we got tew the Chilkoot. 'Owever, we got 






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FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



69 



over the steep, I doan' rightly know how ; every 
cent we 'ad earnt wuz spent in sledges, an' 
sail, an' dawgs, an bisket, an' moose, an' tackle, 
an' we should 'ave stayed thar an' petered out 
an' been fruz into human icebergs only it wos 
not our turn. 

It was bad enough to the foot of the summit, 
snow ivvrywhar — without w'ich, in fac', we 
should hev hed not no chanst at all, fur, of 
course, we wuz trailin' on sledges, an' with 
dawgs. We 'ad to draw all our tackle over 
the snow, an' now it was a-thawin', for it was 
towards the end of April. The thaw was 
fearful, an' the blizzard, an' the wet, an' slush, 
an' sleet, an' blarsted drizzle ! 

'Owever, we went on, 'cos we knowed we 
mus' git through on the snow, fur to draw our 
necessaries over the bare ground would be on- 
possible ; so we went, an' the dawgs begins a- 
sniffin' an' a-whinin', an' soon we comes to a 
most 'orrible sight ! It was a dead man — 
corrupt. 'E 'ad bin fruz to death, an' now in 
the thaw his corpse was corruptin' accordin' 
to Nature. 

Wal, we stopped nigh by that fearful 
sickenin' horror. My pard's face was drord, 
an' 'is eyes holler, an' I reckons 'e kalkilated 'e 
woul' be a dyin' man 'isself soon, fur 'e turns 
'is back an' couldn't chew 'is quid. No. 'Ow- 



f( 



70 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



!^ 1 



11 1 



ever, 'e puts 'is shoulder to the sleigh, an' we 
travels on. 

Even the dawgs was frightened, but we 
went on tho' our feet was leaf to drop. 

Wen we anchors for the night, an' pitches 
our tent, an' makes a fire, rh — the cold o' that 
night at the foot o' the steep ! The thaw below 
us, the hice and the snow towerin' above us, 
an' the blindln' blizzard! 

We was there three days under our tent, 
an* nivver moved, an' my pard ses : " Wal, any- 
how, that is kivered up now." 

So I ses : *' Wot is kivered ? " 

An' he ses : "Ah! The snow hes kivered 
up that thar ! " an' he shudders. 

Wal, then, when the blizzard was done we 
went on. We 'ad to scale the summit o' the 
Chilkoot. I think the three days' rest we 'ad 
made us a bit stronger, but we hed to port 
every think up. It was too steep for the dawgs 
to use the sleighs. 'Owever we did it is a 
licker to me to this day. 

There's a bit o' shelter at the top, a kind 
of second summit, an' as we turns roun' a rock 
— Gawd 'ave mercy upon us ! there wuz a 
dreadful thing ! Death in the snow. Ther 
was a whole camp fruz — there wuz nine 
men fruz into statues of hice, an' the snow 
heapt up a-top of 'em. They wuz all dead, 



\ 






FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



71 






only ther dawgs — the dawgs, sum of 'em, was 
alive. 

Only, horror! — but I cayn't tell you ov it 
excep' I shivers — the dawgs, for food, ad 
worrited the frozen dead ! 

Thar was one man a-settin' down near wot 
'ad bin a fire, an' a woman leanin' agin 'im 
fruz dead ; there 'ad bin a tent, but the storm 
'ad blown it away ; there wuz siveral snow 
'eaps a-lyin' roun' about. Altogether there wuz 
nine — all dead ! All fruz, an' stiff, like men 
cut in sparkling stone. 

But the dawgs 'ad made the horror of it a 
more loathsome sight than I can tell. It wuz 
gruesome ! It made me right sick. 

Wal, there was two sledges w'ich we couldn't 
go for to overhaul then. But pard, 'e gives a 
great sware, an' he ses : *' Sakes ! is our secret 
out, matey ? There's picks an' shovels in them 
sleighs, an' these nine dead men is miners. 
D'ye hear — miners ! " 

For all the horror of the deaths, the idea 
that they 'ad been arter our gold took the 
horror away, but pard, 'e ses : " Let's harness 
up the dawgs, an' take their sledge along of us ; 
it will compensate us for what we've 'ad to 
leave behind." So we harnesses the dawgs, an' 
on we goes forrud. 

It was the most difficultest tarsk we ivver 



\ 



72 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



L 



ii 



done in our lives goin* up the Chilkoot summit. 
I ain't told you — I cayn't tell all the fearful days; 
the rotten ice, the squelch, the 'unger, the 
'ardships, the privations — food we 'ad with us, 
but under canvas, an' we too dawg-tired to 
unpack an' rig up the stove an' cook it, 'cos 
part of the stove'd bin an' lorst itself through 
thawin' the ice, an' so slipped through — an' we 
wos that fatigued with drorin' our sleigh — 
collar-work for days, it wos — the dawgs done 
up. An* my pard, stiff with rheumatics, a-losin' 
of his grit, made me lose mine, 'cos w'en 'e 
ses : "Shoot me, Jim, I'd like to die!" I 
knowed 'is mind was wanderin'. I was that 
depressed myself — the etarnal blue of the snow 
ivvrywhar, 'cos blue et was through our 
spectacles. An' then bein' short of fodder for 
the dawgs, an' the climbin', the carryin', the 
lifting, an* portage up them etarnal heights of 
hice, an' the abandoning of necessaries, wot we 
couldn't lift nohow an' yit couldn't do without — 
things we 'ad worked our passage acrors the 
seas to buy — it broke our 'earts. We wus 
bankrup' — body and soul. 

Thet was our condition w'en we reached the 
Chilkoot summit, an' went acrors the plain 
whar the frozen camp was, an' all them stiff 
'uns. But, hevin' got thar, it put grit into me, 
an' so it did to my pard, for he ses : " Let's 'ave 



FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



73 



a long drain o' whiskey," 'e says, "an' go on 
for another spell ontil we drop. Let's get 
away from these dead 'uns. The wind 'ere is 
like razors." 

So we each 'ad a stiff dose of whiskey. It 
seemed to liven us, an', w'en we went on, 
arter a bit, thar was a slope, an' the drorin' was 
more easy, an' we could leave it to the dawgs. 
An' soon the slope became a steep, and almost 
afore we knowed it, we wos a-tobogganing 
down. We wos goin' thru the snow like 
lightnin', the wind rushin' in our ears, we 
holdin' on to our sledges, w'ich went down like 
shot, an' we scudding down like a house o' 
fire, dropping down, snooting down, through 
the frozen snow. It took us a few minutes to 
reach the bottom ; it 'ad taken us a week to git 
up the same height t'other side. 

We picks ourselves up breathless. The 
other sledges, too — they came all of a heap. 
We wos thru the Chilkoot! Thar was sum 
narsty road yit — 'undreds of miles of it — but 
we 'ad got thru the wust of it. We 'ad got 
thru the Chilkoot, so we pitched our camp, 
chucked some fodder to the dawgs, chewed a 
bit o' raw moose, 'cos we'd got no wood for 
lightin' the stove, and thar we set a-shiverin' 
till we slep'. 

In the mornin' I thought my pard was goin' 



74 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 






1 . 

I 



to die, 'e was that ill, an* 'e would 'ave bin a 
stiff 'un, but we wuz picked up by a party of 
prospectors and miners who ketched us up an' 
wuz goin' our way, an' well-equipped they 
wuz. 

We wuz surprised to find miners goin' up 
thar, an' the Colonel, ill though he was, 
whispers to me : " Munts the word about our 
findy But it turns out sum scientific chap — 
a gologist — 'ad bin out near by that way even 
afore we was, as the Dominion Gov'ment 'ad 
sent 'im, an' 'e 'ad reported fav'rable. It was 
'im wot gave 'is nyme to Dawson City. 

This lot wot ketched us up at the foot of 
the Chilkoot was off to Forty Mile Creek, whar 
gold had been already found consid'rable 
whilst we wuz away in Europe, an' the news 
of that 'ad spread, an' they telled us that 
miners wuz a-flockin' thar. So we was a-gittin' 
warm, as pard ses to me. Still our find was 
many a long way from theirn. 

Long afore this we 'ad got our claim 
agreed by Gov'ment, so, in a way, it didn't 
matter to us ef our secret wos out ; still, our 
gyme wos tew keep our find dark if so we 
could, an', as a fac', we did not blow the gaff to 
our new mytes wot ketched us up at the foot of 
the Cnilkoot, but kep' it strict to ourselves. 
Pard petered on an' didn't peg out, but with 



FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



75 



the kind treatment he got from our new pals 
got better in a wonderful short time, an' soon 
was strong as ivver. 

As fur all the story of our journey to 
Dawson City, I reckon it would fill a book — 
crorsin' frozen lakes on our sleighs, with sails 
rigged up out of the tarpaulin, boat builaing — 
fur we 'ad to turn to an' build our own boat to 
crors Lake Bennett — more frorst, more hice, 
more snow, but still with our new chums it was 
quite a different thing from the 'ardships we 
'ad gone thru. 

We 'ad a long palaver with some Injuns 
near Tagish Houses — w'ich is a very sacred 
place to the Redskins, and very sullent they 
was. We 'ad quite a day's spree, shootin' 
jack-snipe an' swans on Lake Marsh, so we 
got plenty of fresh eatin', w'ich did pard a lot o' 
good, but more especially the Spring, w'ich now 
was showin' green, an' the sun gettin' warm. 
We passed Mud Lake and down the Lewes 
River, snow-capped mountains still all around 
us, but vegetation close to, and Spring — 
bewtiful Spring ! — mykin' our 'arts glad, an' the 
mosquitos beginnin*. Then thar wos the 
canyon ! We 'ad to shoot that, an' likewise 
White Horse Rapids, an' so to Lake Lebarge. 
The weather by now hed got simply sweet, an' 
our camp on the Koolalinqua was a dream. 



I 



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76 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



We went through a lot of rapids, an' the Big 
an' Little Salmon Rivers, Five-Finger Rapids, 
Rush Rapids, Rink Rapids, and all the boilin' 
water churnin' roun' the boat and all. They 
air pretty dangerous to shoot Yew jis' shuts 
yeur eyes an' go ; the boat v les down ; the 
rocks fly by ; it's hit or miss, .w s life or death, 
I tell yew. Them rapids is like soapsuds for 
frorth, an' they air like greased lightnin' fur 
speed, an' when yew gits thru, yew takes 
a long breath. Yew du so. Yew thank 
Gawd. 

Sech fun as that to be 'ad ! — an' me for 
years content to be a bloomin' packer in St 
Paul's Church'ard ! 

Wal, we gits on to the Yukon, an' passes 
the Stewart River, an' comes to Selkirk, whar 
we was known, an' pardner nudges me, an' 
whispers : " Mum is the word." 

Because, mind yer, we was now beginnin' 
to see signs of mining. We met parties of 'em 
at work. We sees supplies a-bein' took up. 
We 'ears talk of payin' placers in the creeks 
and gulches of the Stewart, an' we 'eard of 
a Jew, Solomon Davis, wot 'ad opened a bank 
at Dawson City. 

'Owiver, we goes on, and passes Klondyke 
River, and pardner gives me a nudge, but not 
a soul spoke, and nary a soul in the whole 



fKE 



FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



77 



e Big 
apids, 
Doilin' 
They 
shuts 
; the 
death, 
Is for 
n' fur 
takes 
thank 

tie for 
in St 

passes 
:, whar 
le, an' 



•_» 



ginnin 
of 'em 

ok up. 
creeks 

iard of 

a bank 

Dndyke 

but not 

whole 






party took no notice not at all, and not a 
mother s son of 'em guessed what we knowed, 
that thar the great solid bed of gold was — and 
is now, a quarry of it. 

But we goes right by the Klondyke, the 
purspecting party wot ad ketched us up at the 
foot of the Chilkoot bein' bound for Forty Mile 
Creek, whar sum of 'em had been afore, an' 
was talkin' of wot they 'ad found, but it was 
nuthink like ourn. 

Wal, we 'ad our las' camp together, us an' 
the purspecting party, in a pretty little island 
whar we camped, 'cos we thought p'raps we 
should be out o' the way of mosquitos in mid- 
stream. Everybody was all excitement, 'cos 
we was nearing gold. Our boats was all 
moored close togither, an' we 'ad a game of 
poker afore turnin' in — 'cos now we didn't 
care one dump ef we was cleaned out of our 
las' cent. We knowed whar we could git some 
nuggets to trade with anyway. Pard an' I did 
a waltz afore turnin' in. We wuz as merry as 
flies. It'd taken us four year to get to Europe 
an' back — four wasted years. Now we wuz 
back in the land of gold, we was close handy 
to our own claim, whar we know'd the solid 
coarse stuff was. We wuz on the eve of bein' 
rich, an' we knowed it. 

W'en niornin' come, the others was in sich 



I 



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t 



78 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



a hurry to git to Forty Mile Creek that they 
got on, an' we wuz jis' left whar we wanted to 
be, close to the Klondyke. 

Wal, to conclood, the funniest thing occurs. 
I was very 'appy a-whistlin', puttin' all our 
stores in purfick order, cussin' the mosquitos, 
an' enjoyin' of the sun, thinkin' jis' a wee bit of 
Sally, who 'ad jilted me for Bill Ogg — bad luck 
to her ! Oppysite, ther wos three log cabins on 
the bother bank, an' pard ses to me : " Jim, let's 
see ef we kin buy a sack or two ov flour — thet 
we kin take along." 

So I went to one cabin, an' pard, 'e goes 
to the other, but they wuz both empty. So I 
knocks at the middle one, an' I ses: " Du 
anybody live h'yar ? " 

An ugly old woman comes a-scowlin' out, 
an' she ses : " I du," she ses. 

" Yeur name ? " ses I. 

"I am the Widow Jay," ses she, "at least 
I 'ope an' trust so — ef not, bad scran to 
the masther!" she ses, bein' as Irish as a 

pig- 

"Oh," I ses, "my pardner's name is Jay. 

Colonel Silas Jay. He's a-comin' along. This 

• »• >» 

IS im. 



As soon as she 'ears me an' sees 'im, she 
ketches 'old of a wooden spoon orf the table, 
an', as soon as 'e sees her, 'e takes to 'is feet an* 



FROM LONDON TO KLONDYKE 



79 



out, 






'e runs to the boat at the top of 'is speed, she 
a-follerin' after. 

She follers 'im an' jumps into the boat, an' 
she ketches 'im by the < )llar, an' she pastes in 
to 'im proper with ur wooden spoon, all the 
time a-slangin' of 'im in an Irish brogue, clack- 
clack-clack, like a mill-wheel. It wayn't no 
sham pasting she giv' 'im neither. She let 'im 
'ave it, she did. She pelted into him. She 
giv' it 'im 'ot. 

Now, du yew think we could git that thar 
widow to git out an' quit ? Not by no manner 
of means. She wayn't no widow, she was my 
pard's own lawful missus. My pardner 'ad 
giv' her the slip four year ago, but she stuck to 
'im now, an' she wouldn't leave — she wouldn't 
quit nohow. So we hed to take her along to 
our diggin's. 

But lor ! the conversytion ! 

No wonder them two cabins each side of 
'er was empty ! Nobody couldn't bear bein' 
anigh 'er. 'Er temper was just sour milk. 
Anyway, sometimes it was sour milk ontil she 
got narsty, an' then it was K. N. Pepper. 

Still she made a good third, did Mrs Jay. 
She jis' bossed the Klondyke. She did so. 



i 



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if 



I 7 



H I 



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IN' I ! 

K' : ' 



1 

1 


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CHAPTER 
SIXTH 



JN EXTRJ- 
ORDINART WOMAN 



JAY and Piatt, who constituted the firm 
afterwards so celebrated in the history of 
the Klondyke boom, were not now set on 
actual mining. They had no machinery, not 
even a jigger or a buddle ; nothing to crush ore 
with, nor appliances with v/hich to sink a shaft. 
Although they had struck a rich lode in the 
quartz where the "coarse stuff" was, and had 
established their right to a large claim whence 
ore of extraordinary quality could eventually be 
taken, they had for a time to be satisfied with 
washing the rich auriferous drift in a gulch on 
the Klondyke — the gulch now so well known 
as " Bowleg's Gulch." 

Mrs Jay — ill though her temper was — 
assisted the two adventurers materially. 
Whilst they were cutting logs, she was not 
above helping to carry them. She worked as 
hard as any man when she chose, and it was 



80 



AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN 



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not long before a cabin was built, the "cut" 
dug, sluice-ways formed, and ''tailings" all in 
order for working the alluvial. Nor was it 
any slight advantage to the two men to be re- 
lieved of the trouble of preparing and cooking 
their food, a duty which Mrs Jay performed 
admirably. 

Whilst the two men were digging they be- 
came aware that a tribe of Indians had their 
eyes upon them. The news of the discovery 
of gold had spread amongst the Redskins, and 
a whole tribe of the Dog Ribbed Indians, who 
had roved and hunted, as their ancestors for 
untold generations had done before, throughout 
the wild and inclement desert on either side of 
those branches of the Rocky Mountain range 
which extend into the North-West Territory of 
Canada, and who had been almost undisturbed 
for centuries in their bleak, and inhospitable 
country, now came to gaze at the dreaded Pale- 
faces. Canaf^'an trappers and hunters and 
traders they knew ; men who, like themselves, 
cleared the deer, the (ox, and the bear ; men 
who, like themselves, traded in skins and sold 
them fire-water. Brethren of the chase were 
these, though pale their faces. But who were 
these strange men now coming from the South, 
who dug in the earth, who were settling on 
many of their erst secluded rivers and creeks, 

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TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



making dams like beavers, and fouling the 
streams which their salmon loved ;;o spawn in ? 
It was not with calm eyes that they watched 
the diggers and the placers. Angry words 
spread in secret from tribe to tribe, and soft 
footsteps followed the Palefaces even to the 
doors of the cabins where the diggers sat or 
slept beside their cabin fires. 

The Paleface has long ceased to fear the 
Indian, or to regard him even as a foe. The 
fight has supposed to have gone out of the 
once brave itinerant abori<nne. The race has 
become degenerate, and the surviving tribes 
are regarded as effete and harmless, except for 
their thieving. Doubtless, the advance of 
" civilisation," encroaching year by year upon 
the few tribes still left in these remote and ice- 
bound domains, tends to humiliate and debase 
even the nobler remnants of the Indian brave. 
Throughout the United States no red men 
are left but ''skunks," degraded by whiskey, 
cheated, kicked, and "potted" by the superior 
race which surely and swiftly is driving them 
to utter extinction. But in the extreme and 
desolate regions of North-West Canada, the 
Hare Indians, the Dog Ribs, the Copper 
Indians, the Taismians, and still further north, 
within the Arctic Circle, on the shores of the 
Arctic Ocean, the Esquimaux Indians have, 






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AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN 



83 



until this year of grace, remained. Degraded 
these are, too, in comparison with their proud 
and independent ancestors, for fire-water — that 
irresistible foe which is to them a deadly poison 
— ravages and decimates them. Yet, till now, 
these Northern tribes have retained more than 
a spark of their ancient courage and dignity, 
and all the astuteness, the cunning, the stealth, 
which centuries of experience as trappers, and 
fishermen, and hunters in a region kept as a 
preserve by Nature for wild beasts and birds 
has imparted to them. Is the discovery of 
gold to wipe out these lingering survivals of a 
great race also, even as their brethren of the 
South have vanished, even as the buffalo on 
which they fed ? 

No such thought occured to J. T. Piatt. 
All he knew was that a tribe of dirty gipsies, as 
he called them (with more correctness, perhaps, 
than the reader will be disposed to admit), 
were outside the cabin one morning when he 
turned out rather earlier than usual, and that 
they forthwith began, with many elaborate 
salaams, to offer skins for whiskey, and, upon 
refusal of that, to beg. 

Their voices brought out Colonel Jay, who 
swore at them roundly and told them to 
begone, and soon Mrs Jay peered out, 
unkempt and with arms akimbo, storming 



if '' 



84 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



them, to whom the Indians made effusive and 
abject bows, and shyly held out their hands for 
bread. 

An altercation then commenced, and eventu- 
ally, a happy thought occurring to Mrs Jay, she 
offered them work at the sluices. If they 
chose to "take off their petticoats" and work, 
they should have whiskey, tea, flour, and a 
dollar a day a head. Mrs Jay had the thrift of 
several years put by, and, as her husband and 
Piatt, in digging the cut, had already come 
across several sizeable nuggets, she, although 
originally sceptical and scornful, had caught 
the gold fever, and was prepared to stake her 
all in the venture. 

This idea of Mrs Jay's was warmly backed 
up by the two partners — the two other partners, 
one might call them, as Mrs Jay had at once 
established herself as the head of the firm, and 
Piatt was even more afraid of her than her 
husband was — if that were possible. Indians 
will fish, hunt, trap, or even trade, but work 
they will not, so the negotiations fell through, 
although the whole tribe still loitered near the 
cabin. 

So Jay and Piatt set to for their early 
morning spell. They had already dug the 
"cut," and were beginning to wash. There 
was plenty of water, and they had a wonderful 



AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN 



85 



find before breakfast — three large nuggets, and 
a number of smaller ones close together, almost 
"conglomerate." The Indians saw what was 

o 

going on, and were holding a high palaver. 

'' We shall have trouble with them skunks 
if we don't take care," said Colonel Jay, when 
he went into breakfast, and he loaded his 
rifle. 

They talked to ''the missus" of their find, 
and the three big nuggets were placed upon the 
table. They lay there like golden fruit. Mrs 
Jay got quite excited, handling them fondly, 
weighing them in the palm of her hand, 
appraising their value, and expressing her fear 
lest they should be lost or stolen. As soon as 
breakfast was done, the two men wanted to put 
them in their pockets whilst they went out to 
work, but Mrs Jay secured them, scolding her 
husband, and hiding them away by dropping 
them in a pot of pickled onions. They had 
not been at work long before Mrs Jay came 
out and joined them. It was exhilarating 
work, and they were all so gay over it, for they 
continued to have truly wonderful success, that 
peace reigned all the morning. About an 
hour before noon, Mrs Jay went back to the 
cabin to get dinner ready, and Jay w^hispered 
to Piatt that it was ** wonderful what a change 
had come over the missus." To which Piatt 



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TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



replied, with unconscious cockney ism of tone, 
that she was " A derned useful partner — no 
mistyke ! Grub and gold ain't no or'nery luck. 
This gyme du give yew a happitite, derned ef 
et don't ! " 

They went on washing, but with many 
an exclamation. " Stri' me. Colonel ! Look 



y ere 



t" 



** Gosh ! Thet's nothing. Now, that's what 
I call a nugget, Jim," and a lump as big as a 
potato was held up. 

It was sunny, too, and they were merry as 
crickets. The sluice they had rigged up 
consisted of a series of troughs made of rough 
boards on trestles, placed at a very slight slope 
for having abundance of water — they had 
intercepted a spring — they were able to wash 
the dirt very effectually ; indeed, Colonel Jay, 
being a miner of experience, had fixed a false 
bottom with perforations and cross riffles in the 
sluice, and a good deal of small dust was thus 
collected. He could not expect that such 
nuggets as they had found early in the morning 
would occur often. Piatt was singing and 
chirruping like a London sparrow, and the 
Colonel kept saying dry things, full of that 
sub-acid humour which all Americans seem 
to have ready on occasion, but they rarely 
interrupted their laborious work, even when 



« 



AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN 



87 



roaring with laughter. They were now 
engaged in throwing the wash dirt into the 
sluice, and their backs ached. Jay had to stop 
to stretch himself straight, when he saw on 
the bank beside the "cut" the whole tribe of 
Indians, silently watching their every move- 
ment. 

" You derned skunks ! " shouted Jay. " You 
jis' clar! D'ye hear. Git!" and throwing 
down his shovel, he shook his fist at them. 

They shrank back a few paces, and in half a 
minute Jay looked up again : they were closer 
than ever. 

" Now, you liste -> to me," said Colonel Jay, 
with that quiet c^c ._ *;':on which is never to 
be trifled with. *' 1 hev' my Derringer here. 
If you don't quit, I'll shoot." i 

He stood looking at them with a calm gleaim 
in his eye that they deemed dangerous. Slowly 
they shrunk back and moved away. In the 
distance behind was Mrs Jay at the cabin door. 
Hearing her husband's shout, she had left the 
pudding she was engaged in making, and came 
out to look around. i 

She realised the situation at once, and st^od 
for some time watching. Now and then J|ay, 
who felt the spell of her eye, looked up and 
glanced at her. \ 

''Things air changing, Jim," he said in an 



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88 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



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undertone. " I'm shouting, and the missus is 
silent. I didn't use to dare to speak." 

" She ain't speakin', Colonel," said Piatt, "but 
ain't she a-scowlin' ! Oh no ! " and he grinned. 

They went on shovelling the wash dirt into 
the sluice. Piatt picked up another nugget, the 
size of a small bean, which rang against his 
spade. The Colonel, who had not had a " find " 
for half an hour, slogged away jealously into 
*'the material " harder than ever. 

Then they both looked up, for they heard a 
cry. The Indians had again advanced, and 
the Colonel, drawing his Derringer, sprang up 
the bank, Piatt following. 

But the Indians were taken in rear. "The 
missus " had not been watching in vain. See- 
ing the obtrusive strangers again advancing 
towards the sluice, she had bounded out from 
the cabin, and catching the tallest of the braves 
by his ear, she was administering to him a ' 
sound drudging with a rolling-pin. It was his 
cry that the miners had heard, and now he lay 
still on the ground, stunned by her blows, but 
she had another by his throat, and was be- 
labouring him without mercy. With a sudden 
wrench he escaped, leaving his blanket in her 
left hand, and all the troop took to their heels, 
but she was after them, and had yet another 
victim before they were in full flight. All the 



/ 



AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN 



89 



while she was wielding the rolling-pin her 
tongue was abusing them roundly. She ran 
after them for a long way, whilst they fled 
before her like chaff before the wind, and when 
no longer able to follow, stood shaking her fist 
and shrieking threats upon them. As long as 
they remained within earshot she stood with 
her hair flying, flourishing her arms, rating 
them in her high, strident voice, and calling 
them all the vermin and skunks, and all the 
fusty names in her voluminous Irish vocabulary. 
Walking back, though they were out of sight, 
she stopped frequently to howl more curses 
upon them, and when her husband and Piatt 
appeared at the cabin door, for it was about 
dinner-time, she turned her objurgations upon 
them, calling them a couple of curs to let a few 
skunks of Injuns hang about them whilst at 
work, so that whatever was found could be seen. 
Once excited, her nagging tongue never stopped, 
although the two men praised her openly for 
her defence of the camp. Indeed, they were 
in such excellent spirits that her incessant 
torrent of abuse for once afforded them amuse- 
ment rather than annoyance, and they were 
truly and heartily grateful to her, for, as more 
than a week passed without the reappearance 
of the Indians, it seemed probable that they 
would give no more trouble. 



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90 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



' 



So the two partners continued to work. All 
that they wanted was paid labour to become 
really and speedily rich. They took out so 
much gold in actual nuggets, that the missus 
was at her wits' end to know how she could 
securely hide them away. Many loose char- 
acters were about, and there was danger that 
they might be attacked and plundered at any 
time, so their rifles were always kept loaded. 
There was not any one place sufficiently safe 
in Mrs Jay's opinion where she could stow the 
swag ; she hid it, therefore, covertly in various 
pans and baskets, and Silas and Jim would 
occasionally find their nuggets a second time 
at the bottom of a bowl of fresh eggs, or in the 
corner of a biscuit tin, the laughter which 
saluted these re-discoveries bringing down upon 
them a volume of vituperation, accompanied 
sometimes by the sound blows of the termagant's 
toasting-fork, or such other culinary weapon as 
she had in hand, her favourite being a heavy 
iron spoon. 

This was a weapon for which she had other 
uses. On the cleaning-up days Mrs Jay would 
take her place at the sluice, and the two men 
would lazy for a few hours, and loll by the 
edge of the cut, smoking in the sun to keep off 
the mosquitoes, or perhaps go into the woods 
in search of game. The missus was then 



AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN 



91 



accustomed to take up the riffle bars in the 
sluice, and scoop up the gold dust with her 
spoon. This she placed in a pan, and, subject- 
ing it to a thorough washing, separated all the 
gold which she carefully stored in some odd 
hiding-place. 

Everything now went so smoothly that all 
they wanted was more labour, which could 
nowhere be obtained, and Mrs Jay repented 
that she had so effectually driven the Indians 
away. 

*' But I'll find such skulking vagabonds as 
thim ! " she exclaimed, with a flourish of her 
spoon. '' Shure they'll be loiterin' about where 
the gold is — bad scran to 'em! — smokin* an' 
dozin' away their lives — the thieves. Faix ! is 
it our work they mean to fatten by intoirely, 
the stealin', slippery blayguards ! I'll make 'em 
work. You lave it to me nieself. You lave 
it to Biddy Jay — bad luck to her name ! " 

The idea of Indians working was too much 
for Silas, and he laughed his scorn. 

But this e ^ordinary woman effected that 
miracle. They tvere not difficult to find, but 
they were shy, and shy especially of Mrs Jay. 
However, with the aid of whiskey they became 
more approachable, and eventually they suc- 
cumbed. To the surprise of the two miners 
she led a whole dozen of them one morning 



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TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



into the cut to the sluices, and set them to work, 
under a contract with their chief, one Leather- 
tongue, at a dollar a day, and a glass of whiskey 
each if they worked well. 

Mrs Jay herself superintended them with a 
loaded gun, and she watched them very closely 
indeed, not forgetting to search every man of 
them at the end of each day's work — for they 
are adept pilferers, and it is not difficult to 
hide a nugget. 

Well watched though they were, no doubt, 
they did thieve, but the general average of 
their yield was a gauge of their honesty, and 
their work showed results which paid our 
adventurers well. 

Jim and Silas working in their midst, or 
behind them, had them in view, and the missus 
in front, had her sharp eye upon them continu- 
ally. Still thefts occurred under their very eyes. 

Almost every man of them had been dis- 
covered in the act of theft one day, and the 
yield was much below the average. 

Before they were allowed to go into camp 
for the night. Colonel Jay summoned the men. 
He did not waste words. With the assistance 
of his wife and partner, he searched each man 
thoroughly, one by one. Quite a haul of gold 
was the result ; it was secreted about them 
everywhere. 






AN EXTRAORDINARY WOMAN 



93 



Then the Colonel spoke, with a freedom 
from the Yankee colloquialisms into which he 
dropped when talking with Piatt — for he was 
an educated man, and when in his serious 
moods spoke correct English. 

'* Leathertongue, chief of the Dog Ribs, and 
you Blackhand, his son, and you also, Indians, 
my brothers, it is the law amongst white men 
in all parts of the world where they flock to 
find gold, that if any man be discovered in the 
act of theft, he is forthwith hung to the nearest 
tree. The next man who steals I shall hang." 

Before noon the next day a wretched man 
was discovered secreting gold in his mocassins. 
For days afterwards his body dangled from a 
solitary pine which overlooked the gulch. 

That was how the first pioneers on the 
Klondyke dealt with the labour difficulty. 



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11 



CHAPTER 
SEVENTH 



J RAID ON 
THE gOLT> 



" T'VE a dhrop of the rebel in me meself, for 
I'm Irish to the core, an' a soft heart for 
all rebels. It's meself I'm tarkin* of, Jim 
Piatt, but divil a bit of the rebel have them 
skunks of Injuns in ahl their tarnation skins at 
all ! Ochone ! They want a firm shtr-r-r-r-ong 
hand to make thim work, the lazy divils ! an* 
thin they're all asleep intoirely. Get up, you 
spalpeens ! it's afther sunrise ; an' if I catch ony 
ave ye thieving I'll shtring ye up, for it's me 
cord I have ready. Oh yis, an' yis, an' yis. 
It's Mrs Jay a-tarkin' to ye — bad luck to her 
for changing her name from Biddy O'Grady ! " 
It was a lovely morning, and the bright, clear 
air was full of scent of pine. The brown rocks 
of the hills showed every tuft of grass, and 
every scar and stain of moss or lichen a mile 
away. The muddy waters of the Klondyke 
River looked bright and blue in the dancing 
sunshine, but there was a crisp, autumnal 

94 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



95 



sharpness in the smell of the morning that 
boded the approach of the long, long winter. 

The Indians, roused from their slumber, got 
up lazily and stretched themselves. 

''Begorra! It's the precious toime I'm 
thinkin' av intoirely, an' not thim lazy skunks, 
at ahl, at ahl ! " said Mrs Jay to her husband, 
whose grizzled head now peered out of the 
cabin. " Och, ye bag-o'-bones ! You only jis' 
up, an' here it is the middle o' the mornin'. 
There's Jim a-settin av ye an example, washin' 
in the sluices this hour or more, more shame to 
ye, Silas Jay ! Ye can smell the winter in the 
cowldair, Silas — ye varmint! — this marnin', an' 
it's carryin' the gould safe into Selkirk I'm 
thinkin' av, ye sleepy-eyed ould blackguard! 
Faix, would ye lave it hid here all the winter 
among these thievin' Injuns — the dirty vaga- 
bonds! — an' have all our labour stole, begorra?" 

Colonel Silas Jay seemed to be of the same 
mind as his wife. No doubt the winter was 
approaching fast, and it would be well to carry 
in to store all the dust and nuggets they had 
already taken. The gang of Indians whose 
labour they had hired had been suspiciously 
docile of late, and their patience under Mrs 
Jay's vituperous tongue and scathing blows was 
in itself suggestive and threatening. Their 
conduct of late had been too perfect, their work 



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96 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



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exemplary, and the silent disappearanc*^ of one 
of their number was inexplicable. 

I'hey were in doubt what to do. They had 
got out a lot of gold. Early and late had they 
worked all through the spring and summer, 
and the tribe of Indians whom they had 
employed had enabled them to put thousands 
of cubic yards of dirt through the sluice, so 
that their takings were heavy. Jim Piatt had 
been over to Dawson City — which was increas- 
ing* marvellously day by day ; houses, stores, 
and caches were springing up like mushrooms — 
but the price the Jews were offering for pure 
dust and bullion nuggets was absurd. There 
was a store at Selkirk where a better price 
could be obtained, or there was the alternative 
of going right away to Seatde, 2640 miles 
distant, which involved the voyage down the 
whole length of the Yukon River to St 
Michael's, and then the sea voyage across 
Behring Sea and along the coast of Alaska into 
Washington State. Long though that voyage 
was, it was safe and easy, but it involved their 
being away from Klondyke during the winter, 
and that was not their plan. Jay and Piatt had 
come to stay. 

The two men discussed the position as they 
worked together at the cut. They had recently 
noticed the strangely good conduct of their 



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A RAID ON THE GOLD 



97 



Indian labourers, and they entertained sus- 
picions of them. When Silas went off to 
breakfast he winked at Piatt, and, buryincj a 
very large nugget in the pay dirt where he had 
been working, beckoned to Leathertongue. 

The Indian chief came up salaaming. 

" Now look hyah, see you," said Silas, " we 
air going to breakfast. Just take along and 
shovel up this dirt ; there ain't likely to be 
much in it excep' a litde fine dust, but just put 
it in the pan an' wash it through, an' then you 
go to your breakfasts-only wash this first, mind 
yew." 

"They can't miss that nugget, Jim," said 
Silas Jay, going off with his arm on his partner's. 
" They must come to it, an' they must know 
they can steal it easy. No Injun could resist 
stealing a nugget like that. If they hand it 
over it means something igly ; it means they 
intend having not that nugget only, but all the 
gold we've took. It means that Saginaw — the 
cove who deserted Thursday — has gone to 
bring a score of others to raid our camp. Don't 
let on to the missus." 

They went in to the cabin and breakfasted. 
They had coffee, salmon, onions, excellent 
bread, an omelette — Mrs Jay had a poultry- 
yard behind the cabin — and some small sour 
apples. 



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98 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



Silas talked about moving the gold, and 
said all the hidden nuggets would have to be 
got together soon. Then the two men lit their 
pipes, swore at the mosquitoes, which are a 
perfect pest on the Klondyke, and went back 
to the cut. 

•* I thought so," said Silas. ** Look at that 
sneaking skunk, Leathertongue ! There will 
be some ugly business soon." 

The Indian chief was approaching, his teeth, 
dyed black, all smiles. He bore himself 
with accustomed dignity, holding in his hand 
the large nugget — the same one that Silas put 
there — and some smaller ones besides, newly 
discovered. 

" All from one pan, great master! Big fader 
lump — little children lumps — much gold lumps," 
and he bowed obsequiously, and kissed the 
Colonel's hand. 

"Ah! honest Injun," said Colonel Jay, al- 
though, prepared as he was, he couldn*t conceal 
the sarcasm of his inflection. "Go to break- 
fast, my good Leathertongue. Most worthy 
Leathertongue ! Most honest Leathertongue ! " 

Then, turning to his partner, he continued : 

•'What did I tell you, Jim? Now, if he had 
stuck to that nugget I'd have forgiven him. 
He looked real nice, and bland, and guileless, 
didn't he ? The sly rogue. Ah ! you can bet 






A RAID ON THE GOLD 



99 



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your bottom dollar they mean raiding us ; they 
mean having every speck of gold we've laboured 
for and paid them for getting. It's our lives 
we shall have to look out for as well as our 
gold." 

"Wal, Colonel, I guess we'd better clar. 
Let's make tracks right away for Dawson's. 
Though we shan't get the half of what our stuff 
is worth from that derned old Jew, Solomon 
Davis, we kin convert it into paper and bank it 
safe away." 

" An* we can soon get than" 

"And back, Colonel." 

"And back, Jim, as you say. There's all 
winter to come, an' though old Solomon won't 
give us half the worth of our takings, we shall 
soon be back taking out more. Eh ? " 

"We air both of one idee, pardner. Wal, 
thar's my shovel. We needn't lose not a 
derned minit — nary a one ! Let's pack up." 

"And let's load up, too, Jim. I'll tell the 
missus. We'll jis' pack up the bullion and 
treck, as we used to say in Buluwayo." 

Quietly, and without any fuss or trouble. 
Colonel Jay and his wife brought out the 
golden harvest. It had already ^en carefully 
sewn up in sizeable parcels covered with 
blanket. Some contained fine gold dust only, 
other parcels consisted of rough lumps like 



'5 



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100 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



sifted j^ravel, and the nuggets were sewn up 
in a sack, corded several times across, and then 
covered again with skins. All these were now 
placed in blankets and tarpaulin, and large 
bundles were made up, each of about the weight 
that a man could conveniently carry. As soon 
as these were packed they were piled up to- 
gether outside the cabin, and Mrs Jay herself 
sat on the top of the heap with a loaded rifle 
over her shoulder. 

The Indians, who were unaware of the 
sudden intended departure of their masters, 
were still at work at the sluices, and the bottom 
and riffles had not been taken out for some days. 
Jay and Piatt, each with an empty jar in one 
hand, and a spoon in the other, went down to 
spend an hour or two in clearing up. After that 
they would go without delay. Mrs Jay was not 
to get a regular meal for them. They would 
have biscuit and milk, and they would lose 
no time any way. There was possible danger 
in the air, and it was not far to Dawson City. 

They took the perforated bottom out of the 
sluices, and scooped up and washed the gold 
that had collected there. There was some in 
the tailings, but they decided to chance that. 
It would be there probably when they returned, 
if somebody stole it — well, better lose the 
tailings than the whole takings. 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



lOI 



So they came up out of the cut. At the 
edge of it stood a stranger — a Jew. 

" Another lot of ye here, eh ? Holy Moses ! 
What a lod of gold there is about this Yukon 
River!" said the Jew, looking up and down the 
gulch. The Indians looked up at the sound 
of his voice, but took no notice of the intruder. 

••Who air you.'*" cried Jim Piatt, with one 
hand on his Derringer. 

The Yank said nothing but he drew his. 

'• Pud em down, gents — pud 'em down ! I 
hevn't got so much as a pop- gun od my whole 
d'body. Nod a weapon of any sort, so help me, 
Moses ! I'm ath harmless as a babe ! " 

•• Stop your prating and say who you air." 

'• Nathan, my tear — Isaac Nathan of Selkirk. 
Nobody touches I key Nathan. Vy, you couldn't 
live withoud me ! I'm the best margid aboud 
here ; all the diggers knows I key Nathan. You 
works — veil, I banks it. Got much, eh ? Thad's 
bedder; pud away the pisdols." 

••Then, if yew air a banker I guess it's 
welcome yew air to Bowleg's Gulch — and that's 
me," said Jim Piatt, looking at his nether 
limbs, which were rather bandy. "They 

wouldn't stop a pig in a passage, they dew 

»» 
say. 

•' But this ain't the way from Selkirk," 

interrupted Silas, suspiciously. 









103 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



11 



L: 



I 



f III 

I :, 
I 



I ! 



" Bless ye, my tear, of courthe it ain't. I 
hevn't come from Selkirk. I'm lookin' round 
to thee the boys. I've bin to Circle City, and 
Forty Mile Creek, and Dawson's. I'm lookin' 
out for bizness. Dad's all. Vy you air 
clearin' to go. Got much, eh ? " 

'* So so." 

"Vere air you goin' to tague it? Dawson 
City? No! Holy Moses! Nod to Misder 
Davis. He won't give you a third of wod id's 
worth. Solomon Davis is the worst margid 
for diggers in Alathga. Show me vod you've 
got." 

"Well, mate, why shouldn't we deal with 
this man, anyhow ? " 

"Why not, Colonel, if he air honest. I 
reckon we want tew git best valew for our 
swag. That is our only consarn. Wot air 
yeur terms. Mister Nathan ? Thet thar is our 
little heap." 

" Holy Moses 1 " 

" Yis, et's a tidy pile, Mr Nathan. An' wot 
will you buy that for — hyah as it Stan's." 

"No, I'm dot dealing. You brig it id to 
Selkirk, an' I'll give you de best price in de 
margid. I'll give you ten dollars an ounce for 
pure colour — if it ain't pure it depends on 
assay. Dere can't be nothin' fairer dan dat. 
You tague it into Selkirk. Don't go to 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



103 



Dawson's. You would be foolish to tague it to 
Dawson's." 

So, with more talk of that Kind, the diggers 
decided they would go to Selkirk instead of to 
Dawson City, and that they would start without 
delay. Silas summoned Leathertongue, and 
gave orders to have the picks and shovels 
carried into their wigwams, which were to be 
left standing. Nobody was to be left in 
charge. They were to go to Selkirk right 
away by forced march, and get there as soon 
as possible. The Indians were to feed and be 
ready in an hour's time. 

This sudden decision, and the haste with 
which they were to proceed, did not suit 
Leathertongue. He raised all sorts of diffi- 
culties, and, when it was time to start, all the 
tribe were squatting round their camp fire, and 
had made no progress at all towards departure. 

"You stir 'em up, boss," said Silas to his 
wife; "the sooner we start — the sooner we 
reach Selkirk." 

It did not take Mrs Jay long to make them 
stir about. She had one of them, Petchwah- 
well, by his ear, and, dragging him to his feet, 
slung one of the packages on to his back. 
Having started him, the others were got into 
line, Piatt standing in front of them all, with 
two loaded rifles over his shoulder. 



f 

'■!i 

ri 



a 



'if 

Si V 
■I 






i 



104 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



When all were ready to start Leathertongue 
still hunor back talking to Blackhand, his son. 
He and his tribe had agreed to work in digging 
and washing at the places, but it was not part 
of their contract to port and carry sacks to 
Selkirk. The statement was true, and the 
argument just. Silas reasoned with him, 
pointed out the necessity of carrying their 
treasure before the winter set in — explained 
how it was the custom with Palefaces to 
exchange solid gold into a convenient symbol 
by means of paper and writing — the value 
remaining, and the security increasing — 
although there would be no more weight to 
carry, and all would be represented by a little 
document that could be put in the waistcoat 
pocket, though it nv^',, be worth hundreds of 
thousands of dollai ^. '~ his intensely interested 
Leathertongue, and * ich time was consumed 
in explaining it to lim. Still the Indian 
argued that, in the eyes of his brothers, the 
Palefaces, a contract was a contract, and he 
appealed to the Jew on that point. The 
Indians laid down their packages and gathered 
round, joining in the palaver. When Leather- 
tongue was exhausted Blackhand renewed the 
argument. Piatt looked up at the sun. Time 
was fleeting- 

•'Yes. Well. But wnv so much haste?" 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



I OS 



ime 



argued Leathertongue. Besides, it was too 
late to start for so long a journey so late 
in the day. Better leave it till to-morrow 
and start at sunrise. What did Mr Nathan 
think ? 

Mr Nathan thought that as there was no 
contract on the part of the Indians to become 
carriers, and as it would be a pity to have such 
a valuable load in the hands of unwilling 
porters, it would be best if one of the two 
partners went to Dawson City to try and 
secure some other porters. 

This idea, which if followed out would have 
gained two or three days to the Indians, was 
warmly applauded and led to new discussion. 

All this debating occupied till noon, and 
Leathertongue called off his men to their 
mid-day meal. This was a long affair, for 
they had somehow lit the fire with green wood 
and it kept going out. The afternoon was 
wearing and still they had not started. Silas 
began to think it would be better to give way 
to ihe murmurs of the Indians, and arrange 
to go next day at sunrise amicably ; to let 
them spend the remainder of the half-wasted 
day smoking and dozing before the camp fire, 
in the lazy fashion that the Indian loves, and 
to salve them with whiskey and tobacco. 

" Tabakky ! " exclaimed Mrs Jay, whose 






mmm 



io6 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



m 



patience was exhausted. '• I'll give 'em 
tabakky. An' you, ye blind-eyed ijiot! you 
a trapper ! A foine trapper, an' ahl ! Ah, and 
down't ye see the thrap they're layin' for ye 
entoirely ! It's to gain toime they're wanting, 
and to lose toime. Oh yis. an' yis, an' yis ! 
I understan' their maning — sure it's clear 
enough ! And where's that dhirty, sneaking, 
divil, Saginaw, if he hasn't gone to raise another 
thieviu' tribe to come raiding the camp, 
murthering us ahl, and robbing the gowld — and 
why delay at ahl, at ahl, but to wait for the 
tarnation thieves! It's playing their game we 
are, Silas, you blind-eyed owl ! And as for you, 
ye spalpeen — you narsty, schemin', hook-nosed 
Jew ! — I down't like the looks of ye at ahl, ye 
blaggard ! " 

" Right you air, boss," exclaimed Piatt, ad- 
dressing Mrs Jay by the title she deserved. 
" I was a-guessin' jis' like yew, this hyah delay's 
a ruse. Git up, you Injun niggers, you schemin' 
varmints ! Git up, now, an' port them skins. 
Eh, what, you won't ! Wal, then, the boss and 
me, we'll make you." 

Laying down his two rifles Piatt unhinged 
the dog-whip which he wore round his waist, 
and, cracking it two or three times in the air 
over Leathertongue's head, touched another of 
the Indians on the flank, The Indians saw 



KE 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



107 



em 

you 
, and 
)r ye 
uing, 

yis ! 
clear 
iking, 
lother 
camp, 
— and 
:>r the 
me we 
)r you, 
-nosed 
ahl, ye 

tt, ad- 
fcerved. 
delay's 
hem in 
skins. 
)ss and 

ihinged 

waist, 

Ithe air 

)ther of 

Ins saw 






that the Palefaces were not to be trifled with 
any longer, and with sullen looks and murmured 
threats they shouldered the baggage which had 
been assigned to them. 

When the start was made the sun had al- 
ready sunk low, but, once under weigh, the 
lethargy of the Indians was permitted no longer. 
The moving of the large quantity of loose gold, 
which had been secured after so much labour 
and hardship, was obviously a task of difficulty 
and danger. Silas and Piatt were armed to 
the teeth, and Mrs Jay not only carried her 
share of the load, but a rifle was slung over 
her shoulder, and her waistbelt was stuck with 
pistols. Leathertongue and the three other 
red men went first, groaning under the weight 
they were forced to carry. Then Piatt followed, 
keeping his eye upon the men in front. Then 
four more Redskins, including Blackhand, cap- 
tained by Mrs Jay. The Jew, Nathan, unarmed, 
and carrying only a light burden, was also of 
her party; the remaining Indians followed, and, 
behind all, marched Silas, his cold grey eye 
surveying the whole gang. 

The track from Bowleg's Gulch involved 
climbing at the very beginning of the march, 
and now it was obvious that the plan of the 
Indians was to separate the gang, but Silas 
was on his guard against this. The word was 



/ - 



7 



r 1 ; 



':i 



Kl- ; ) . 



1 08 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



passed that the men were to be kept together, 
and the Indians were warned that if any 
attempted to break away from the rest, or to 
steal off with the treasure, he would be immedi- 
ately shot. The Indians had been carefully 
searched before starting, and had no weapons 
with them. The partners knew that their 
enterprise was a difficult one, and the circum- 
stances warranted a strict and armed oversight. 
They were attempting to carry into Selkirk a 
very heavy taking of the precious metal, and 
even if they were not raided en route^ it would 
not be an easy task to prevent some of the 
Indians at least from furtively making off with 
the treasure they carried. 

After having traversed some miles of rocky 
wilderness, a halt was called, and moose-meat 
was served out all round. The various packages 
were examined, for a thought had occurred to 
Silas that the carriers might be artful enough 
to shed the contents of their burden at some 
spot they might afterwards recognise, and bear 
the wrappers only into Selkirk. But they had 
not yet resorted to this device, and the value 
of the packages remained at present intact. 
The moon had risen, but it was yet low, and 
after a short rest they proceeded on their way, 
Jim enlivening the journey with a modern 
variety of so-called comic songs, sung in a 



, 



KE 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



tOQ 



tther, 

any 
or to 
medi- 
efuUy 
apons 

their 
rcum- 
•sight. 
iirk a 
l1, and 
would 
of the 
f with 

rocky 

i-meat 

cages 

ed to 

nough 

some 

bear 
y had 

value 
intact. 

, and 

r way, 

lodern 

in a 



w 



tone so doleful that a humour was thereby 
imparted to them which the words themselves 
lacked. 

They now came to forests, and although the 
moon was bright, the thick growth of pine and 
fir obscured the light, and they had to trust to 
the Indians and follow in the darkness. 

Silas was on the alert, and again ordered 
a halt. For a while they proceeded in close, 
single file, their line not being allowed to ex- 
ceed a space of four or five yards. So they 
journeyed for many miles through the thick 
growth. Sometimes Silas took supreme charge, 
sometimes his wife or Jim Piatt. Occasion- 
ally one of them would go to the front, and, 
standing aside in the gloom, would count all 
the men as they passed some moonlit glade 
in the forest. 

In time, the route they were taking — there 
was no path — trended suddenly down hill, the 
trees were sparser, and the undergrowth more 
scanty, but the moss, which grew so high that 
their feet sank in it below their ankles, was 
full of moisture. But for this, Silas would have 
ordered a long halt for the night, yet they 
plodded on, although the Indians were 
beginning to show signs of fatigue. 

Now the route became broken and rocky, 
but the moon was by this time high above 




no 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



1 



^( i ' 






'1 



ill )i : 



them, and though the gang was more extended, 
there was no chance of any one csciiping, for 
the air was clear, the night quite bright and 
cloudless, and all the men could be seen for a 
long distance. The turbulent waters of the 
Haha River were now visible, glinting two or 
three miles away in the moonlight, and the 
roar of the rapids could be distinctly heard. 
Silas decided to push on and cross the river 
before camping for sleep, although Leather- 
tongue began to complain that his men would 
drop through fatigue. In order to prevent 
these complaints from being pressed, Piatt 
hurried on with his advance gang, and a space 
was also kept between the party captained by 
Mrs Jay and that under Silas's immediate 
control. Jay and Piatt, fortunately, knew the 
route well, for the Indians made a pretence 
of not knowing the ford, hoping, by this 
means, to create a long delay, and the fact 
of their pretending ignorance on this point, 
in a country which they had scoured for 
generations, was an additional proof that they 
meant mischief. 

However, as Leathertongue and all his tribe 
assumed to have no knowledge of the ford, 
which was quite an easy one, Silas permitted 
them to demonstrate their falsity, then, heading 
the file, he led the way across himself, and, 



YKE 

snded, 
ig, for 
It and 

1 for a 
of the 
two or 
id the 
heard. 

2 river 
eather- 

would 
prevent 
, Piatt 
a. space 
red by 
nediate 
2w the 
etence 
y this 
e fact 
point, 
d for 
t they 

Is tribe 
ford, 

Imitted 
jading 
f, and, 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



iti 



i I 



assembling them for the night, rallied them in 
a good-humoured speech, telling them quite 
frankly that he knew they meant treachery and 
theft, but that the first man who was up to 
tricks would be instantly shot. 

They were now assembled on the banks of 
the Haha, at a spot quite suitable for camping. 
The packs of gold were stacked, and upon 
them Mrs Jay quietly stretched herself at full 
length for the night. A meal of dried meat and 
a ration of whiskey was served. Piatt went 
into the higher rocks where he could command 
a view of the camp, and having flourished his 
rifle, quickly went off to sleep, as had been 
quietly pre-arranged, for Silas mounted guard 
and kept a particularly sharp lookout till 
sunrise. 

By noon next day they had made a forced 
march of nearly thirty miles, which, considering 
the nature of the ground, the heaviness of 
their burdens, and the unwillingness of the 
carriers, was admirable. Silas decided to have 
two hours' mid-day rest. Mrs Jay guarded the 
camp, sitting astride the bags of gold, whilst 
Piatt and Silas slept. If the Indians thought 
they could take advantage of this opportunity, 
they were mistaken, for she kept her keen old 
Irish eyes on every man in turn, and if any one 
of them showed signs of restlessness she 






112 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



'PI 



i 



levelled her rifle at him immediately, and 
opened upon him a volume of abuse from her 
inexhaustible vocabulary, which was even 
more terrifying than the levelled barrel of her 
gun. 

Again they resumed their journey. Silas, 
gaping after his short sleep, left the main duty 
of surveillance to his wife. They went on 
with occasional brief halts till long after 
nightfall, and when they eventually camped 
for their night's sleep, a long distance seemed 
to have been placed between them and 
dancjer. 

Piatt was on guard for the night, and took 
care not to sleep a wink. There seemed some 
restlessness on the part of the Indians, and the 
conduct of Blackhand was peculiar. He had 
certainly a knife in his hand, and was moving 
stealthily towards Silas. Indeed, Piatt was 
sufficiently suspicious to let off his rifle — not to 
injure the Redskin, but to alarm him and arouse 
his companions. Immediately the shot was 
fired everybody jumped up, but it seemed to 
be a false alarm, and morning dawned without 
further disturbance. 

By sunset of the third day they had accom- 
plished all but ten miles of their journey ; they 
were, however, footsore and weary, and they 
had the arduous task before them of threading 



YKE 

^. and 
)m her 
even 
of her 

Silas, 
in duty 
^rent on 
g after 

camped 

seemed 
sm and | 

and took 
led some 
,, and the 
He had 
moving 
latt was 
e — not to 
,nd arouse 
shot was 
,eemed to 
[d without 

id accom- 
ley ; they 
and they 
threading 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



»»3 



Selkirk beach — where the loose boulders and 
pebbles are fatiguing to pedestrians even when 
free from burden. Our travellers, however, 
were full of good spirits, for they had done 
better than they expected, and the especial 
danger they had feared now seemed unlikely to 
happen. 

So they pushed on. At any rate, an ambush 
was out of the question, and the peril they had 
dreaded most — the peril of an attack from 
armed Indians in pursuit of them — would have 
now been deemed absurd, if it were not that 
Leathertongue was again making desperate 
efforts to cause delay. He could go no further ; 
his legs would not carry him. He had a thorn 
in his foot ; he was weary and past further 
travel ; the burdens were beyond the power of 
his men to bear. The Redskin had not the 
strength of the Palefaces. A long rest was 
now a necessity. The more obedient of his 
tribe followed his example. They all murmured. 
They laid down their packages ; they could not 
or they would not move. They were deaf to 
orders, deaf even to the objurgations of Mrs 
Jay, whom they certainly feared more than 
either of the two men ; in vain did she scold ; 
in vain were promises of increased reward 
held out to them ; in vain were the most terrible 
threats. The men declared they were utterly 

u 



114 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



done and could not resume their march until 
they had rested — and there seemed some 
warrant for their excuses, for the Palefaces had 
to confess to themselves that they were nearly 
as exhausted as the Redskins declared them- 
selves to be. Silas, however, was still of 
opinion that Selkirk could be reached by 
midnight, and in view of the immense value of 
their treasure, he disliked to contemplate any 
risk of it now that they were so near the goal. 
Mrs Jay was convinced that the men could be 
made to take it in, and after serving out the 
last of the whiskey, she entreated, cajoled, and 
threatened the men until their stolidity angered 
her beyond endurance, and she had resort to 
her whip. 

But even the lash did not effect her purpose ; 
budge the men would not. "^hey whimpered 
and murmured, but nothing would induce them 
to move on. 

Piatt gave it up altogether, and Silas sat 
down on a rock begging Mrs Jay to try no 
more, when the travellers had a piece of 
unexpected luck. 

Some strangers met them who were on their 
way to Dawson City. 

They were going there to make it their 
headquarters. They intended to make placer 
claims somewhere round about, because, if 






I 



&E 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



"5 



until 
iome 

had 
early 
hem- 
11 of 
d by 
ue of 
e any 

goal, 
lid be 
•ut the 
d, and 
igered 
sort to 

rpose ; 
ipered 
them 

las sat 
try no 
lece 



of 



m 



their 



their 



pla 
Luse, 






cer 



if 



gold could be got at Forty Mile Creek, why 
not elsewhere, in some of the other rivers and 
streams flowing into the Yukon. 

They had with them picks, pans, shovels, 
and provisions for the winter, also a good lot of 
stores that they meant to trade at Dawson's. 
They were a firm — they were. All staunch 
partners come to make money — as best they 
could. Yes, that was their canoe — the Saucy 
Jane. She had carried them all the way from 
Lake Lebarge. They were carrying her 
now — and this was Saucy Jane herself. They 
were well known all the way up. They had 
come through the White Pass. Everybody 
knew them as the Saucy Jane boys. 

And who was Jay, and the lady, and Piatt, 
and the Jew, and all these Indians i* — and would 
they have a drink } — and what had they got in 
all their baggage ? 

Metal, eh } — aw ! Ah ! Ammunition. Ah ! 
A heavy load ! 

. So they talked — half a dozen at once and 
altogether. Jay and his wife sat on the heap 
of treasure, and Piatt, reclining on a rock, was 
holding out his cup which one of the new 
arrivals, several of whom stood around, was 
filling with whiskey, Saucy Jane was seated 
by Piatt, with her hand familiarly upon his 
shoulder, and the two gangs, meeting so happily 



11 



ii6 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



( f 



in the forest, had thoroughly fraternised, when 
a loud whoop sounded close in their ears, 
and the crack of a rifle, followed by a regular 
volley, came from the thicket. Three of the 
Saticy Jane boys, who were standing about, 
fell. 

In a second jay was on his feet. From 
three sides came loud yells and shrill cries, 
mingling in a howl and a war whoop, and into 
the open space dashed a whole tribe of Red- 
skins, firing as they advanced. 

Colonel Jay's first shot killed his man. 
Piatt was a sure aim, and ably seconded his 
leader. They both carried repeating rifles, and 
the Indians fell like flies. One of the Saucy 
Jane boys, not knowing how skilful Mrs Jay 
was, had seized her rifle, and was doing execu- 
tion with it, regardless of the abusive tongue of 
the virago. An Indian, steal thier than the rest, 
advanced in the shadow, and was raising his 
weapon, but Mrs Jay shot him dead. The 
attack had failed. The surprise was turned 
into a defeat. The shrill cries ceased. The 
Indians showed their backs, and the Saticy 
Jane boys were after them. Pistol shots echoed 
in the forest. 

In the excitement Piatt and Jay followed, 
using their Derringers with deadly effect. 
Then they hurried back to look after the 



A RAID ON THF. GOLD 



J17 



treasure, but Mrs Jay was astride it, 
spreading her petticoats over It, like a 
hen covering her nest. Ten paces away 
the corpse of Blackhand sprawled on the 
ground, his fingers clutching one of the 
packages of gold. The rest of the Indians 
had fled. 

Explanations followed. The Saucy Jane 
boys came back wondering. Raid ! Thought 
I ndian raids were things of the past. Treachery ! 
Gold ! What } All them thar packages gold I 
Sakes ! No. Stan' away ! Poor Hiram ! 
Poor ole pardner ! Dead, by God ! Bullet 
clean through his heart. Ah, Bunting, an' you ? 
Thank Heaven not so bad. But a bad wound 
through your neck, Bunting. Serious ? Should 
rather think so. Ah ! Washington, my boy, 
you we shall pull through. Wash it with 
whiskey. Water! bring water, mate, and a 
pillow. Softly, pard — softly. How the pore 
chap bleeds ! 

" Faix ! the divils are stealin' round agin. 
I heard a footfall. Begorra ! There, Silas," 
and the woman fired in the direction of the 
sound which had arrested her attention. 

The boys rushed again into the darkness. 
The Jew, Nathan, was disappearing in the 
shade of some firs, and would hav< nade good 
his escape but Mrs Jay did not lose sight of 



ii8 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



/ ! 



him, and as she denounced him in smoking hot 
Irish, Colonel Jay followed the direction of 
her finger, and in a few minutes brought him 
back trembling with fright, and protesting his 
innocence. 

But the men's blood was fired. Their com- 
rades lay dead and dying upon the ground. It 
was no time for justice or for mercy. There 
was a short altercation in which the Jew's guilt 
was made sufficiently clear. In a few minutes 
he was hoisted to a tree, and his corpse, 
dangling over the heads of the camp, swayed 
to and fro in the rising wind. 

All now turned their attention to the two 
wounded men, one of whom was dying, choked 
by the flow of blood from the wound in his 
throat. Nor did he last long. In less than 
an hour's time he lay white and ghastly and 
almost bloodless, for the shot, which was his 
death, had pierced the main artery. A hand- 
kerchief was thrown over his face, and his 
body moved from the red pool in which he 
had lain. 

The third man's injury was not serious, and 
after bandages had been applied, he pronounced 
himself a cure, and although his wound was 
more dangerous than he knew, he pooh-poohed 
it as a trifle, and went about with the others, 
doing what he could, until his mates prevented 



A RAID ON THE GOLD 



119 



him, and made him lie down on a pillow of 
dried moss. 

Conversation eventually returned to the 
carrying of the treasure into Selkirk. Colonel 
Jay wanted it in without delay. It was danger- 
ous to life to dally with it on the way. Every- 
body was wide-awake after the excitement of 
the fight. If the Saucy Jane boys would leave 
tv D of their number with the wounded man, 
and the rest would turn porters, they should 
have a hundred dollars apiece to assist in 
carrying the swag to Selkirk. 

But the wounded man wouldn't be left 
behind. 

So with little further delay they were off, 
singing, shouting, laughing, and uproarious. 
Saucy Jane was crying, for she had been very 
fond of Hiram, and all the boys were keenly 
sorry for both the lost men. Vengeance on 
the whole tribe of the Dog Ribs was sworn in 
many a fierce oath, and a vow was taken that 
if Leathertongue were found, no matter when 
or where, he should have short shrift. 

They reached Selkirk before dawn, and stood 
guard over the gold outside the door of the 
North-West Territories Office. Isaac Nathan's 
Bank was a fabrication. The Jew was un- 
questionably in league with the Indians, and 
had led them away from Dawson's for plunder. 



t 



i^ 



tl' 



151 I 



I ! 



n 






120 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



But they had no difficulty in finding a market 
for their gold, and though the price paid was 
below value, they were well satisfied, for, as a 
result of their summer's labour, they had netted 
no less a sum than 300,000 dollars. 



LE 



rket 
was 
as a 
itted 



' 



CHAPTER 
EIGHTH 



HOPF SJNT>r MCQUEEN 
PAW HIS RENT 



" I ^HE secret was out. The first haul of 
^ gold taken from the Klondyke was so 
enormous, the nuggets were so large, and the 
find so rich, that the news of the discovery 
spread far and wide. In Selkirk, every man, 
woman, and child in the town saw the great 
pile of glittering metal with their own eyes. 
For two days it was on view at a merchant's 
store, but it created so much excitement that 
it had to be guarded by a detachment of the 
North-West Territories police. Arrangements 
were then made to send it from the dealers 
under a strong escort to Fort Cudahy, whence 
it was transferred to a steamer and passed 
down the Yukon to St Michael's. Thence it 
went by the ss. Portland to Seattle, and there 
again excitement raged. News of the unlimited 
treasure left behind also circulated, and was 
telegraphed to the ends of the earth. There 
was amazement at this Arctic treasure, and at 

121 



\ 



122 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



the conviction that the greatest gold-fields in 
the world had been found in tiiis bleak, 
inhospitable, and almost inaccessible corner of 
the world. 

From Forty Mile Creek, from Dawson's, 
from Circle City, places comparatively near 
to the Riondyke River, flocked those digger 
pioneers, who were able to contend with the 
difficulties of Arctic mining by reason of their 
equipment for the work and the climate. 
From Seattle and a score of other settlements, 
from camps on the Stewart and Lewes Rivers, 
from Juneau, even from Vancouver and Wash- 
ington, crowds pushed their way to the new 
El Dorado in spite of hardships and dangers at 
which the bravest might quail, and when the 
news was unquestionably proved, Klondyke 
had become a name and a byword in the 
world, and from every city in Europe, and 
every centre in America, the strong, the poor, 
the unemployed, the adventurous, the ne'er-do- 
weel, sent a quota to that terrible region where 
Nature guards her treasure behind gates of ice. 

The rich — for such there were — soon turned 
back because money could not buy their 
essential needs ; the strong — if strong in mind as 
well as body — pushed on, but often failed by the 
way; the adventurous and the heroic fought 
with Nature, step by step, through the White 



EBB 



M 



KE 

ds in 
)leak, 
ler of 

son's, 
near 
ligger 
;h the 
■ their 
imate. 
ments, 
livers, 
Wash- 
e new 
gers at 
len the 
Dndyke 
the 
and 
e poor, 
er-do- 
where 
of ice. 
turned 
their 
Tiind as 
1 by the 
fought 
White 



in 
e, 



HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 123 

Pass, or over the fearful and famous ascent of 
the Chilkoot, through the Grand Caiion Rapids, 
and so by the lakes to their frosty haven, but 
the poor, ill-equipped, enduring hardship and 
privation beyond the strength of man, eventually, 
almost inevitably, succumbed, and died on that 
dreadful unmade road of frost and hunger. 

For a few days. Jay and Piatt, the original 
pioneers of the Klondyke, stayed in Fort 
Selkirk. They had been so long toiling at the 
sluices that the sight of a few white faces made 
them weep with joy, and the noisy gaiety of a 
drinking saloon an irresistible delight. Mrs 
Jay, the heroine of the Klondyke, was treated 
to "a dhrop of the Irish" so often that **she 
got a jag on,' and after pasting her husband 
with a broken bottle, and spoiling the beauty of 
Saucy Jane by pulling enough of her hair out 
to stuff a pillow, she was carried off by a 
drunken gang of **the bhoys," and deposited 
amongst some empty barrels, where she was 
left to sleep in alcoholic bliss, with a bottle of 
" comfort " beside her, to be ready to her lips 
when she awoke. Saucy Jane soon followed 
suit and was laid by Biddy's side, and bets 
were made as to which of the two would first 
wake up to go for the bottle. ** The bhoys" 
sat up night after night at poker, with stakes 
of gold dust on the table. The talking, hoarse 



H 






I 

i 



■ih. 



V. I 



1), 



I 



1 



I 



'i / 
; I 



124 



TALES OF THE KIONDYKE 



laughing, and hard drinking all progressed 
together ; there was furious gambling, oaths 
were hot and constant, and, for emphasis, they 
had six-shooters. A free fight broke out, the 
table was upset, the floor was littered with 
packs of cards and broken glasses ; all the men 
were drunk and the women maudlin. There 
was a row about a mirror accused of cheating ; 
it was probably innocent, but suspicion doomed 
it to destruction. A bottle of champagne was 
hurled at it, and there was a smash ; chairs and 
empty casks were hurled about, the gold dust 
went flying. There was a general crash and 
scramble, horrible oaths and hysterical shrieks 
mingled in the bedlam of din, and the sharp 
crack of a pistol, echoed by a score of answering 
shots, and fierce voices, betokened grave 
mischief. There was a lull. A stream of blood, 
pumping from a man's chest, ran in crimson 
channels, soaking into the sawdust, when the 
police came on the scene and cleared the bar. 

Then the pioneers, Jay and Piatt, went back 
to Bowleg's Gulch. But already a crowd 
was there. Miners from Circle City and Forty 
Mile Creek had flocked to Klondyke. Men 
who had been digging gold in the Yukon 
district for years, and who had been getting it 
in no inconsiderable quantity, threw up their 
claims to work on the Klondyke River. The 



I 



T 



[DYKE 

Dgressed 
y, oaths 
sis, they 
out, the 
ed with 
the men 

There 
heating ; 
doomed 
Lgne was 
lairs and 
old dust 
rash and 
1 shrieks 
be sharp 
iiswering 
[ grave 
of blood, 
crimson 
hen the 
le bar. 
snt back 

crowd 
id Forty 
e. Men 

Yukon 
etting it 
up their 
tr. The 



HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 125 

gold was there in wonderful richness. One man 
washed out of one pan no less than 500 dollars. 
The fact was vouched for by a Government 
official, and telegraphed the whole world over, 
for nothing like that had ever been heard of 
before in the history of gold mining. Nothing 
like the marvellous haul which Jay and Piatt 
had carried into Selkirk had ever been known 
even in California or Australia. The wealth of 
Klondyke came on the financial world as a 
great surprise, and the proof of the wealth 
heralded it. 

The excitement caused by the news of the 
find was equalled by the rapidity with which 
men flocked to that almost inaccessible spot. 
They established themselves upon the banks of 
the river, fitting up sluices and making cuts 
" in less than no time." The change that 
came over the face of the landscape, the 
clearings in the forest growth, the " caches " and 
log-cabins that sprang up as though by magic, 
were the natural consequences of the new 
mining craze — but they were none the less 
astonishing. 

None were more surprised than Jay and 
Piatt. They had left the Klondyke a desolate 
and lonely river — even the canoe of the Indian 
was rarely to be seen, abundant though the 
salmon were known to be in its swirling 



1! 



I 



I I 



126 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



waters — its banks were an utter wilderness, 
untenanted, remote even from the casual 
footstep of the trapper. 

During the entire summer they had been 
absolutely cut off from human intercourse 
except with the tribe of wandering Indians 
whose labour they had hired, and their absence, 
whilst they were in Selkirk, had been but for a 
few days. In less than a fortnight they were 
back again at Bowleg's Gulch, and the change 
in the aspect took their breath away. A 
mushroom city had sprung up actually upon 
their claim ; a saw-mill had been established 
close to their own cabin ; the forest was dotted 
with clearings ; the merry click . of the axe 
resounded through the woods ; the ground was 
littered with poles and fallen trees ; rival stores 
were doing a roaring trade in coffee, tea, bacon, 
cheese, salt, sugar, axes, nails, spectacles, and 
all kinds of commodities. A whiskey saloon 
was in course of construction, and casks, where 
liquor was sold, stood close by, outside a tent 
on which was inscribed : — 

"M'QUEEN'S BAR. 
" Forty-rod Whiskey, a dollar a drink. Champagne 
and cigars of the choicest brands. Gold dust taken in 
exchange at $17 an ounce." 

A pile of wine cases stood on end, stencilled 
with the name of Perrier Jouet, 1884. 



/ 



YKE 

^rness, 
casual 

I been 
-course 
ndians 
bsence, 
It for a 
iy were 
change 
ay. A 
y upon 
iblished 
J dotted 
he axe 
md was 
,1 stores 
, bacon, 
lies, and 
saloon 
where 
a tent 



lampagne 
taken in 



lencilled 



HOW SANDY MCQUEEN PAID HIS RENT 127 

Even another more marked change had 
occurred in the short space of their eventful 
fortnight. Winter had set in. The air was 
chill and raw. Everybody wore fur, there 
were fires everywhere, and the dense smoke 
from the green wood filled the valley. 

" Blowed if this ain't a transformation scene 
at the pantomime ! " said Piatt, looking at the 
landscape in amazement. " Ther'll be blue 
and pink fire directly, a yaller dragon, and the 
ladies of the bally. W'y it's Droory Lyne ! " 

" Wot I'm thinkin*, pard, is this," said Colonel 
Jay, voiding his quid : *' these chaps air on 
our claim." 

"Yuss, an' they're tykin' our gold," said 
Piatt. 

" But et doan' matter, Jim. The more that 
comes, the better for our royalty. We hev got 
the title-deeds to all this, an' whoever works 
on our land must jis' pay us ; besides, thar'll 
be plenty of labour for the winter. All we hev 
to du now is tu look on. Our old motto's 
again a good 'un — ' Mum is the word.' " 

So for a day or two Jay and Piatt did 
nothing but look around. They visited every 
camp, and inspected the diggers who were all 
v,s busy as bees, not taking notice of anything 
but their work. 

The stores were doing a great business, and 



; 



r 



128 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



I" 






the saloon-keeper, Sandy M 'Queen, who had 
engaged all the labour he could get, was making 
great progress with the erection of his building. 
Every hour it increased in importance ; the 
floor was now being nailed down, and a bar 
was being rigged up. Jay and Piatt looking 
on with relish. 

On the third or fourth day, at dusk, the 
Saucy Jane boys came into camp. They knew 
Jay and Piatt as the pioneers of the Klondyke, 
and knew, too, what a huge haul they had made 
during the summer, for they had helped to 
carry it into Selkirk, so that in an hour or two 
Jay and Piatt became universally known and 
respected. To Colonel Jay the time seemed 
ripe to assert his claim — an act that might lead 
to some trouble. Through the Saucy Jane 
boys, a report was spread that there would be 
free drinks an hour after sunset, at Sandy 
McQueen's saloon. Hooch was to be on tap. 

So everybody flocked to the saloon. Sawyers 
and carpenters were still at work in the light 
of flaring oil-lamps. M 'Queen, with a chisel 
and hammer in hand, was unpacking a case of 
tin cans behind the temporary bar consisting of 
planks on barrels. Colonel Jay strolled in with 
a quid of tobacco in his cheek, and sat down 
as cool as a cucumber on a wine case. Piatt 
was with him, 



YKE 

o had 
laking 
lilding. 
e; the 
a bar 
ooking 

sk, the 
y knew 
)ndyke, 
d made 
Iped to 
or two 
wn and 
seemed 
rht lead 
:y Jane 
ould be 
Sandy 
n tap. 
Sawyers 
le light 
chisel 
case of 
sting of 
in with 
It down 
Piatt 



HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 12$ 

" Them thar's the two that made the find," 
whispered a voice in the crowd. '• They've 
been hyar days, an* done nary a stroke. 
Three hundred dollars — thet's the figger o* 
thar strike." 

Said Colonel Jay : "An' it's free drinks you 
want boys, eh ? Wal, you kin hev 'em. Walk 
in!" 

A crowd stood at the bar. M 'Queen was 
smiling like the sunshine in June. 

"Jim, just knock the head off that case. 
Help yourselves, boys. Pomery and Greno's 
'84 is the tackle. Guess it takes some beating." 

The diggers soon had it out. Bottles were 
in every hand, corks popped in all directions, 
and the cups, foaming with the froth of cham- 
pagne, went gaily round. 

" Now, boys, success to our saloon ! That 
air a fair toast, I reckon. Success to our 
saloon, an' to Klondyke ! " 

It was drunk uproariously. 

" Boys, I will jis' tell you. Since me an' my 
pard made our first find miracles hev happened. 
Everything seems extro'rnary. Our luck — 
why, it's mi-rac-u-lous ! The solid gold what 
my Pardner Jim an' me took was wonderful. 
But when we came back hyar, our luck was 
still luckier. You see this hyar saloon ."^ It's 
a pretty saloon now, ain*t it ? " 



\ 






\ 



I 



hi ' 



I 



130 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



Colo ^1 Jay looked around at it admiringly. 
It was far from finished, but it was stoutly 
built as far as it went with sawn trees and fir 
logs. Sandy M 'Queen, with his arms on his 
hips, and his chest swelling, looked it up and 
down also, his face beaming with smiles. 

'•Wal! did we build this saloon? Nary a 
log. Did we pay for it to be built? Nary 
a dollar. No. It fell out of Gawd's Heaven 
on to our land, jis' as you see it now. It's 
mi-rac-u-lous ! " 

A cloud of perplexity seemed to gloom 
over M 'Queen's face, and his smile vanished. 
Colonel Jay glanced at him for a moment, and 
continued : 

" Fill up, boys ! Thar's plenty more bottles 
in the cases. Here's tu you all ! Here's luck 
to you an' to Klondyke ! " 

The toast was drunk uproariously. Every- 
body's cup was filled and emptied in less time 
than it takes to tell it. The floor of the saloon 
was littered with empty bottles. 

** Yu see, that's our luck. This saloon is 
our luck. We just find it here on our land. 
Built up for us without costing us a red cent. 
It's got the name of M 'Queen outside it, 
but no matter for that it belongs tu Jay and 
Piatt." 

*'Wad ye jus' saay thaat ower again?" ex- 



YKE 

ringly. 
stoutly 
ind fir 
on his 
ip and 

slary a 

Nary 

ieaven 

V. It's 

gloom 
inished. 
mt, and 

bottles 
's luck 

Every- 
ess time 
e saloon 

aloon is 
ur land, 
ed cent, 
side it, 
Jay and 

in?" ex- 



HOW SANDY M'^UEEN PAID HIS RENT 131 

claimed M 'Queen, in a broad Scotch accent, 
with a dazed look on his face. 

*• Did you not hear me?" asked Silas Jay, in 
a tone of exasperating calm. 

** I beared ye, mon, but I dinna ken wha' ye 
mean." 

" Mane ! " cried Biddy Jay, appearing at the 
doorway, with a saucepan in her hand, which 
she brought down on a barrel end with a 
sounding whack. " Mane ! My husband spakes 
what he sis, an' what he sis he manes. This 
bar doesn't belong to any dirty Scotsman, 
begorra! It's the property of Jay & Piatt." 

'* Ye owd scarecrow ! " cried Sandy. " I built 
this saloon mysel'. D'ye want me to tak' it 
awa .'' 

•' Not a log of it," said Silas Jay calmly. 
" Everything on this land is ours. You may 
pay us a rent and stay, or you kin clar out an' 
git. Only, if you du go, you leave the saloon 
behind for the reasons I hev said." 

"Oho!" exclaimed the Scotsman, "and 
how maun I ken ye are the reet man to tak* 
the rent ? " 

" This hyah paper bearing the stamp of the 
Dominion an' the seal of the Gover'ment, is 
our tide to this land, and all so ever upon it. 
Thar's four posts — north, east, south, and west 
of it. Them posts, an' this paper, marks the 






132 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



II v: 



boundaries of Jay & Piatt's little bit of terri- 
tory, an' any one working on our claim is 
welcome so to du, as the paid hands of our 
firm at five dollars a day. Boys, I will take 
another drink with you." 

The response was not quite so cordial as 
before. Mrs Jay stood scowling in the door- 
way still, and it gradually began to dawn on 
the minds of many of those men there present 
that they had possibly settled on land to 
which Colonel Jay might have a prior claim. 
They began to whisper amongst each other 
ominously. 

" Boys, there need be no fuss," said Colonel 
Jay. " We hev been here years, an' we hev 
found whar the gold is. We hev worked hard 
for our own. Some of you hev settled on 
our land. Wal, no matter fur that. What 
you've took out till now you may keep. Also, 
you may remove yeur barrers, yeur skips, yeur 
sluices, and yeur trestling — or our firm will buy 
'em at a valuation. You kin stay thar an' pay 
us a rent, or you kin stay an' our firm will pay 
you wages for what you find — five dollars a 
day — or you kin clar out an' git, an' you can 
squat somewhere else on the Klondyke. I 
cayn't speak no fairer than that. The Saucy 
Jane boys are quite satisfied to work for me ; 
they're goin' to take their five dollars a day. 



,\\\ i\ 



terri- 

im is 

f our 

take 

ial as 
door- 
vn on 
resent 
nd to 
claim, 
other 

'olonel 
^e hev 
i hard 
led on 
What 
Also, 
IS, yeur 
i^ill buy 
an' pay 
vill pay 
ollars a 
yrou can 
rke. I 
e Saucy 
for me ; 
, a day. 



HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 133 

They'll start tu-morrer, an' what they find 
they'll hand over. Come along, Jim, come 
along, missus — an', boys, good-night ! " 

A hubbub arose as the partners left the men 
to stomach these tidings, but there was not a 
very great deal of trouble, as it happened. 
The example of the Smicy Jane boys, who 
were not only out of funds but short of actual 
necessities, and who were consequently quite 
willing to work at the rate of wages offered 
them by Colonel Jay, was largely followed. 
Many of the miners preferred for the time 
being to take a regular wage, and some even 
sold their wheelbarrows and trestles, so that 
the pioneer firm was soon in control of a largo 
gang of men who were digging on various 
parts of the property, thus enabling the partners 
to test the value of several areas. 

Now that the cold weather had set in, it 
became necessary to thaw the ground continu- 
ally. They had to melt the frozen dirt in the 
pan. They had to melt the earth itself before 
they could dig it, and deep down though they 
went they still had to thaw the frozen ground. 
Roaring fires were kept up all over the camp, 
and the glow of burning faggots enabled the 
men to work during the dreary hours of the 
long Klondyke night. 

M 'Queen, the Scotch bar-keeper, was the 



i 



134 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



only one who was disputatious. The miners 
had already begun to pay for drinks in gold- 
dust, and the shrewd purveyor of whiskey 
foresaw a harvest for the saloon if he stayed. 
But to pay 3650 dollars a year rent — the 
amount which Jay & Piatt had fixed — was 
gall and bitterness to the thrifty Scotsman. 

"Ten dollars a day I" exclaimed M'Queen. 
" It's owre much ! I winna pay it ! An' if I'd 
only pitched the hoose a few hundred steps 
further up I should have no sic rent. Nay, 
not a bawbee at all, an' no landlord. I'll tak' 
it doon, log by log, an' build it oot o' th* auld 
pieces again." 

" Yu cayn't du that," said Colonel Jay ; " the 
logs air off our land, therefore they air our 
logs. It's our bar, land, and logs — the whole 

il m. 

"Ay, ay, Colonel Jay. That puts you 
further awa'. I'll lave the hoose and build 
anither, an' nivver pay a bawbee for rent to 
ony mon." 

•' Then our firm will run a saloon hyah 
ourselves." 

"You canna," said M'Queen angrily; "you 
have eneuch to do getting the dross wi'out 
managing a public." 

" I shall put in Mrs Jay as boss, and engage 
Saucy Jane as barmaid." 



II 



KE 



HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 135 



liners 

gold- 

iskey 

ayed. 

—the 

—was 

an. 

'ueen. 

if rd 

steps 

Nay, 

11 tak' 

' auld 

"the 
r our 
whole 

s you 

build 

ent to 

hyah 

; "you 
wiout 

engage 



" They'll scrat each other's eyes oot," said 
the Scot. " That young lassie will have a' the 
lads glegging at her, syne your guidwife — the 
ugly hussey ! — aw, I canna tell ye for the laugh 
aliint my heart a-choking me at sic a thocht ! " 

Suddenly the Scotsman paused and grew 
grave. ''Aweel! I'll consider it, Colonel. I'll 
let ye know the morning." 

Then he turned and went off savagely. 
Pausing after a few paces, he turned fiercely : 
" Ye're a dour mon. Colonel Jay. I sair doubt 
ye'll no be saved at the Day o' Judgment. 
Damn ye for a magerful body ! " 

When Colonel Jay went into the saloon next 
day, M'Queen looked up at him out of the 
tail-end of his sandy eyelashes. 

There was a twinkle in the glance, and the 
Yankee, who had all the American love of 
driving a smart bargain, wondered what it 
might forebode. He cast a look around, 
observed a new rough pinewood counter and 
other fixings, and reckoned with smart quick- 
ness that the Scot meant to stay. He 
determined not to budge an inch, nor to 
reduce the rent a single dollar. 

"Well, Mac, hev you considered ?" 

"'Deed I have. Colonel Jay! I am settling 
to stay. It's a good pitch, an' a' the lads ken 
I sell the reet stuff, but I shall want more 



r 



li 






M 



136 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



land around. A bit yard, maybe — a place 
for casks — room to add, if need be, wi' a 
stable for the sleds and dog- teams." 

The Colonel turned over his quid in his 
customary silence. 

" Nows and nans the laddies get to drinking, 
an' a bit of a singing saloon for the long winter 
nichts, and it may be a bit o* groun' for a 
summer gairden " 

"You air foreseeing, Sandy M'Queen." 

"Ay — ay mon ! Wad ye hae me as blind 
as a mole? Aweel, let's mark oot the 
boondaries. Three thousand sax hundred 
and feefty dollars a year ! I'm daft to think 
o' sic a rent ! Ah ! God have maircy upon ye, 
Colonel Jay ! — ye have none on me. V/ill 
ye tak a liquor the now? — though it's the 
landlord's reet to pay." 

" Let's first slosh out the lines of yeur 
holding, M'Queen. You want a block of 
land for the kegs ? That's only fair — drive 
in that post, eh ? Now take it fifty yards. 
What, no tape? Wal, I guess we kin step 
it." 

" Make it saxty, mon — make it saxty ! " 

"Guess that will do," said Colonel Jay, 
taking an additional stride or two. 

" Eh, mon, mon ! had ye nivver a 
mither — or was she a hard ane, too? Tak' 



1: M 



mm 



^ 



Jay, 



HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 137 

anither step or twa. Here, gi me the post," 
and M'Oueen, suiting the action to the 
word, carried the stake three or four yards 
further along. " Shall that be the boondary ? 

Ay." 

•• Not a yard further than that," answered 
Colonel Jay, bringing the stake back a pace 
or two, and driving it in with an oath. " And 
now for the south side ; I'll pace out a hundred 
and fifty steps." 

"Nay, mon, I'll step it mysel'," said the 
Scotsman, who forthwith proceeded to step 
it with strides that nearly split him in two at 
every pace. The Yankee watched him with 
an amused smile. 

" Now come back ten for over-stepping," he 
shouted. 

" Ower-stepping!" echoed M'Queen foolishly, 
" I didna ken I ower-stepped." 

"The post goes in thar!" said Colonel Jay 
decidedly, striding back a few paces. 

" Ye're a hard man. Colonel Jay," said 
M 'Queen, shaking his red head sorrowfully. 
"Let me mind you it's not siller I'm paying 
for rent, but gowld." 

*'An' it's not siller yew will be taking for 
drinks but gold — an' nuggets at that," replied 
the Yankee smardy. "An' thar you air. 
Theer' 



yeur 



posts. One, two, three, 



138 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



f 



t 



; 



! 



-' 



\l 



I 1 i 



four ! See ? Thar's your boundaries. Now, 
let's liquor." 

" If I pay for these two drinks, Colonel, 
wad ye move the two end posts just a wee 
stride further oot ? " 

" Not a denied inch ! " 

" Ye're ower muckle magerful, Colonel Jay. 
A bit more land " 

" Yu bet them four posts is druv. Not a 
bit more land shall you hev, M 'Queen. Yu 
can pawn yeur soul on that ! " 

" There'll na be room for the wee shed 
I'd be building for the teams o' doggies." 

" Then put *em in the cellar." 

The Scotsman's shrewd eyes glistened. 

" Ye'll not be mindin' if I dig oot a cellar ? " 

"Ye kin dig down to hell," replied the 
Yankee, with an emphasis which is usual 
in the conversation of Klondyke miners. 
" Inside them four posts you kin du what 
you like, but not a yard outside the boundary. 
Is that a bet ? " 

The Scotsman looked at the extended 
hand of the Yankee and held up his own 
persuasively. 

"Ye'll mak' the rent even money — three 
thousand dollars, Colonel Jay ? Tak' a drink 
noo an' dinna be tight. I'm gey auld, an' 
flour fifteen dollars a sack, an' claothes are 






shed 



?" 






HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 139 

dear on the Klondyke, an' whuskey tak's 
gettin' to this driech hole. It's no' a' profit." 

" I reckon it ought to be even money, Sandy 
M'Queen. I reckon the rent of this shanty 
ought to be four thousand dollars a " 

" Four thousand dollars ! Mon alive ! " 
interrupted the Scotsman in genuine surprise. 
" I meant ye to knock aff the sax hundred 
an' feefty — an' when ye said even money I 
meant three thousand dollars — an' that will 
starve me." 

" Four thousand dollars would be a fair 
rent, but I said three six-fifty. That's ten 
dollars a day, an', if I move from that, God 
strike me dead ! " 

M 'Queen bent his head at the shocking 
blasphemy. The fight was over. 

"We'll have no parchment on this deal, 
M 'Queen. Gi'mme a whiskey straight, an' 
if it's a bet thar's my hand. If it ain't I'll 
stand you a drink an' you kin git. Air that 
fair ? " 

"It ain't fair. Colonel— but " 

"Air it a bet.-*" said Colonel Jay with a 
decisive oath. 

M 'Queen took the extended hand and gripped 
it. " It's a bet — and a bargain," he said. 

Then he laughed. 

There^was something of meaning in that 



y 



t^-JtW^-^W^-WT--^ I I'tgl \tm»^ 



I40 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



I 



■ i 






i 



:l ■ 



laugh. It was a complacent, not to say a 
crowing laugh. M 'Queen was at least well 
satisfied. 

" Faix ! " cried Mrs Jay, who had been 
hovering about during the whole deal, "the 
Scotsman seems mighty plazed with his 
bargain. Perhaps he'd like to make it a 
permanent dale for twinty-one years." 

" He may if he likes," said Silas solemnly. 

" Verra weel," said Sandy ; " so let it be. 
I'll not turn up my nose at the owd woman's 
suggestion," and he laughed again. 

" Ould woman it is, am I ? " cried Mrs Jay 
bridling. " Shure I shall be young enough to 
boss you, Sandy M'Queen, when the rint day 
comes due. Ye'll howld a civil tongue in that 
Scotch head of yeurs when I come collecting 
the rint. It's an ould Irish woman you'll find 
me thin, Sandy M'Queen, but young enough 
entoirely to have my due." 

" The rent will be aye ready," said Sandy 
with another laugh. 

" Mac ! " said Colonel Jay, looking into his 
tin cup stolidly, " there's suthin' sarcustic in 
yeur laugh thet makes me think ^'ve been 
done over. But if you hev bested me in this 
deal I am content. Thar's my hand." 

" Colonel Jay," replied the Scotsman smiling 
still, " I just can't keep it to mysel'. I want 



- 



- 



HOW SANDY M'QUEEN PAID HIS RENT 141 

to pay you your rent right away now — you or 
your ould woman. Although it is the Sawbath 
Day, hand me yon pick." 

The pick-axe was handed over the counter, 
and M 'Queen, spitting on his hands before 
commencing, set to work with a will on the 
ground the other side of the bar. It was not 
floored over. The earth was soon loosed and 
he laid aside his pick for the shovel. In a few 
minutes he hauled out a great nugget, then 
another and another. 

"This is what I came to accidentally when I 
was building the counter," exclaimed M 'Queen. 
" The ground is just paved with em solid. It's 
a fine cellar I'll be having, though I'll not dig 
so deep, Colonel Jay, as you gi' me title to, ah ! 
— an' I've got the rights of it for twenty -one 
years! There's another lump of the stuff. 
Weigh it up, mon! Weigh it up, Mrs Jay! Tak' 
your rent oot o' that. I can pay your year's 
rent in half an hour's digging, an' I hope, 
madam, I say it civil, if it's a drop of 
whuskey ye'll be takin' noo, shall it be Scotch 
or Irish ? " 



^■a»wmam>tt-tv s iui <m r<> »fi im».,h 



1: 



i 



CHAPTER 
NINTH 



'BOIV-LEGGED jmfS 
MARRIAGE 



HE original discoverers of the Klondyke 
'*' had become rich "beyond the dreams of 
avarice." But though they were richer than 
they dreamed, and richer than they knew, they 
were still unsatisfied. The ore itself was as 
yet untouched. To quarry and mill this was 
now their great aim. 

The vast wealth of Messrs Jay & Piatt was 
soon noised abroad. Travellers from great 
engineering firms, with the characteristic 
enterprise of the Anglo-Saxon trader, had 
surmounted the incredible difficulties of the 
journey, and had come to Klondyke on purpose 
to take their orders. 

The partners decided they would lay down 
machinery and plant of the most approved type, 
and they gave their orders for stamps, and mills, 
and other appliances on a spirited scale that 

112 



/ 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



M3 



(M'S 



)ndyke 
ims of 
r than 
w, they 
vas as 
s was 

,tt was 
great 
eristic 
•, had 
3f the 
irpose 

down 
1 type, 

mills, 
i that 



amply repaid those enterprising travellers for 
their long and perilous journey. 

Meanwhile the partners had to proceed as 
best they could without machinery. They 
were busy from day to day superintending their 
properties, and they had plenty to do in 
furthering the aims for which they now lived. 
Our various ambitions give interest to our 
lives. One would be rich, another powerful, 
another famous. This man looks over his 
neighbour's hedge every day, and is watchful 
for years to gain his neighbour's field ; that 
one waits for half his lifetime to fill a dead 
man's shoes ; and what is your petty dream or 
mine ? But whether our aims be small or great 
— and the greatest of them are so puny, that 
they make laughter for the gods — it is our 
ambitions only which make life endurable. 

Colonel Jay, intent on being rich, had no 
care for anything but the making of his pile. 
Piatt, who had stumbled casually into wealth, 
but who had never yet experienced the joys 
of even a moderate competency, or comfortable 
income, repaired frequently to Dawson City, 
desiring only to enjoy the elusive cup of 
happiness, and willing and ready to squander 
a tithe of his earnings in gambling and saloons. 
All he wanted was fun. But the opportunities 
for fun were few and rare in the twenty-two 



-—>.-,» >«j!«>M. '...r^T-giMBWMWiBawwimi'iwwi mi». 



144 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



\i 



n 



If' 



hours of darkness which form a substantial 
portion of a Klondyke day. Drinking, cards, 
and dancing were the only joys of Dawson 
City. The drink was bad, the cards were 
dirty, and the dancing dissolute. Any one 
of these might bring a man to ruin, but Saucy 
Jane, having certain designs on this eligible 
bachelor, became his good angel. Having 
been temperate for many years, and possessing 
a sound constitution, Piatt was able " to lift 
his elbow " pretty freely without apparent 
inconvenience. At cards he was '* a rank 
duffer," but, thanks to Saucy Jane's candid 
tongue, he knew it, and thanks to her influence, 
he refrained from very high play. Besides, 
he had worked for his wealth too hard, 
he had endured privations in his poverty 
too severe, to squander his money like a 
boy. 

Dancinp was his especial weakness. As 
soon as s fiddle began Bow-legged Jim 

had ' .ni round some woman's waist and 
was gyrating in the mazy waltz, or hopping 
through a polka, or, best of all, airing his 
susceptible heart among the changing partners 
of a square dance. He cut a queer figure, 
but he had an ear for a tune, and a nimble 
pair of feet, notwithstanding his bandy legs. 
He caused a great deal of chaff and amuse- 



^"F 



"»?■ 



)YKE 

stantial 

cards, 
)awson 
J were 
riy one 

Saucy 
eligible 
Having 
;sessing 
'to lift 
pparent 
a rank 

candid 
fluence, 
Besides, 
hard, 
poverty 

like a 

3S. As 

ed Jim 
St and 
opping 
ng his 
lartners 
figure, 
nimble 
J legs, 
amuse- 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



MS 



ment amongst the denizens of the low saloons 
he frequented, but as he was known to be 
rich, he had many flatterers who ministered to 
his good-humour, large store of which he had 
by nature ; and Saucy Jane, whose original 
regard for him was rooted on a financial 
basis, eventually came to like him for his 
strong good sense and his many excellent 
qualities. He was lavish in hospitality, and 
generous with money, and all women like 
generous men. They know there must be 
something for them to acquire, and they dream 
of acquiring all there is. 

Women have strong mining instincts. 
Indeed, at heart, all women are diggers. They 
love to scrape up the gold if they do not care 
to wield the pick. But man is the mine they 
work. He is so much ''pay dirt" in their 
eyes. How will he "pan out".-* What is 
there in "the cut".-* Will the gold run well 
through the sluices? Will it collect on the 
riffles freely, and dribble nicely through the 
perforations ? Can they make " a placer claim " 
on him, or are there "conflicting claims".** 
Or is he stony, difficult to work, hard-grained, 
obstinate in the ore? If a woman looks with 
curious interest at a man she is not thinking, 
be sure, of his straight nose or his large eyes, 
she is reckoning up how many ounces he will 



i*«W*oi,-:<jF.^ 



I* 



If 
I) 



■ I 



i' 



I f. 






'i 



146 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



grade to the ton, and how she can effect a 
" big strike." God bless all women ! 

For this care of the sex of our belongings 
is very beneficial to us all. Women take 
care of our purses better than we can do 
ourselves, and Saucy Jane, having decided to 
take care of J. T ?latt's, staked out her claim 
in the precincts of his pectoral region, and 
eventually conducted him to the altar. 

Their wedding was an open-air event, for 
there was no church either at Dawson City 
or at the gulch. But a parson was discovered 
amongst the miners ; although malicious 
rumour said he had absconded to Klondyke 
with the subscriptions for a proposed new 
church. Whether this was true or not cannot 
be proved or contradicted, but it can be safely 
stated that he brought none of it with him to 
the camp. He was the poorest man on the 
Klondyke, and, at that date, the only gentleman. 
He had already started a subscription list, of 
course, but at the present there were no names 
down on it except his own. 

The ceremony was solemnised gaily outside 
M 'Queen's saloon. There was not half room 
enough inside for the crowd. A mob of miners, 
clad in fur up to their ears, stood in their india- 
rubber boots in a great circle on the frozen 
snow, chaffing and husding each other in 



■.-_sn«»'^s^:,,V, ; 



DYKE 
effect a 

Dngings 
;n take 
can do 
:ided to 
if claim 
on, and 

ent, for 
ion City 
scovered 
nalicious 
llondyke 
ed new 
t cannot 
)e safely 
him to 
on the 
ntleman. 
list, of 
names 

outside 
ilf room 

miners, 

;ir india- 

le frozen 

)ther in 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



147 



their efforts to get a front view. Fires were 
blazing away everywhere, and the smoke was 
thick and heavy. It was dark and even dingy 
overhead but as the twilight came, the flickering 
lights of the Aurora Borealis began to wave 
and flutter in the northern heavens. Pink, 
green, and violet flames shot up into the starry 
sky, lighting the horizon, and rendering visible 
even the distant waters of the Yukon, which 
shone beneath the brilliant flames of the 
Aurora with a roseate sheen. In the light 
of the waving ribbons of the Aurora, the 
miners' lanterns paled their ineffectual fires, 
and the ceremony was performed before the 
whole camp. All the Bonanza was there. 

The bride, arrayed in a low-necked dress 
of white satin, procured from one of the 
saloons at Dawson City, with a long tulle 
veil, and orange blossoms in her hair, shivered 
by the bridegroom's side. But she wore a neck- 
lace of nuggets which created such a warmth 
of envy that she was careless of the cold. 
Jim was in mixed attire. He wore a white 
waistcoat, from the pocket of which suspended 
a heavy gold chain, but he had thick fur 
clothes underneath the vest. He had 
managed to procure somehow, at a fabulous 
price, a tall top hat, but his bandy legs were 
encased to above the knee in miners' jack 



14$ 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



)>• 



:,i 



boots. The parson had donned a regular 
clerical garb. It is wonderful what one can 
get at Klondyke, or anywhere else, when 
needs must. Colonel Jay was his partner's 
best man. There was a paucity of women 
in the district, but everything of the feminine 
gender for miles around was there. There 
were costumes, too, such as have never been 
seen even in Regent Street. Saucy Jane had 
no false pride, and ♦^wo notorious ladies from 
Aaron Goschen's saloon, gorgeously arrayed 
in light blue satin, acted as bridesmaids. 
Their noses were blue, too, owing to the 
cold, but their cheeks were a most ex- 
pensive pink, for only one pot of rouge 
could be got, and that had to be sent for 
to Circle City. There were no flowers but 
they made up for it in feathers, and had 
enough of these to supply all the Princes 
of Wales for many genei ations. 

Mrs Jay, although a married woman, in- 
sisted on being an additional bridesmaid 
herself, and threatened to strip the other 
women of their finery if some wasn't forth- 
coming for her. It was duly provided, and 
when she was fully arrayed she formed a 
sight fit to make glad the heart of man. 

There was a hitch at the commencement 
of the ceremony because no prayer-book 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



149 



could be found anywhere, and the parson 
could not remember the service. Abe, the 
fiddler, scraped out some waltz music, but 
this seeming inappropriate, as lacking solemnity, 
somebody, who had a concertina, struck up 
one of Moody and Sankey's hymns which 
had a refrain that the miners sang heartily ; 
and then a Bible was discovered and handed 
up to the officiating clergyman ; from this 
a psalm was read. That concluded, there 
was a pause, for the question was what came 
next. Jim produced a ring, and the clergyman, 
remembering the effective part of the ceremony, 
said in a sober voice : 

"James T. Piatt, wilt thou have this 
woman to be thy wedded wife ? Wilt thou love 
her, comfort her, honour and keep her, in 
sickness and in health, so long as ye both 
shall live ? " 

"Forsaking all other," exclaimed a voice 
on the fringe of the crowd, "you have 
omitted that, * forsaking all other, keep thou 
only unto her. ' " 

" I will," said Bow-legged Jim with fervour. 

"Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded 
husband, to live together in the holy estate 
of matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, love, 
honour, and keep him in sickness and in 
health, and, forsaking all other^ keep thee 



\ 






i'i 



« 



I !l ^ 



y 






150 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



only unto him so long as ye both shall 
live." 

*' I will," said Saucy Jane, her eyes twinkling. 
** Jim, give the gentleman the ring." 

So the ring was put on Saucy Jane's finger, 
with the appropriate words, and the man 
with the concertina wound up the ceremony 
with a tune, Abe accentuating such parts of 
it as caught his ear upon the violin. 

As soon as the concertina lulled, the sot 
disant parson held up his hand in sign of 
silence, and producing a bag from the tail 
of his coat, he solemnly announced; "This 
service will now conclude with the usual 
collection." His announcement seemed to be 
quite in accordance with propriety, and nobody 
seemed in the least astonished ; so he quietly 
went round the circle, which was beginning 
to dissolve, holding out his bag, into which 
many small nuggets were dropped, for there 
was a lack of coin on the gulch, and this 
was the usual currency. 

Then there was a great deal of handshaking, 
and embracing, and kissing of the bridesmaids, 
even Mrs Jay allowing this salutation from a 
favoured few, and M 'Queen's saloon, which 
was crowded before, was packed full and 
jammed tight with noisy miners. Champagne 
corks began to fly. M 'Queen was having a 



)YKE 
I shall 

nkling. 

finger, 
: man 
emony 
arts of 

:he sot 

ign of 

le tail 

"This 

usual 

to be 

nobody 

quietly 

ginning 

which 

r there 

id this 

baking, 
smaids, 
from a 
which 
ill and 
npagne 
ving a 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



151 



glorious harvest. Nuggets were raining into 
the bar. Barrels were set on end outside the 
saloon in the snow, and a new bar was ex- 
temporised to deal with the crowd who could 
not be accommodated within. Free drinks 
were announced by order of the bridegroom, 
and whiskey flowed like water. Songs were 
sung, especially those with choruses, and "Home, 
sweet Home ! " was twice encored ; but whilst 
" Father wouldn't buy me a Bow-wow, Bow- 
wow ! " was being chanted, the man with the 
concertina, who was playing the accompani- 
ment, came to a dead stop, for some one had 
whispered to him that the wedding breakfast 
was in progress. The rumour quickly spread, 
and there was a rush to the log-cabin specially 
erected for the occasion. Those who could 
not get inside picnicked outside. There was 
plenty and to spare, but it had to be scrambled 
for, because there was a lack, not so much of 
waiters, as of plates, but various joints were 
brought out, hunks of which were cut or torn 
off and handed round. 

The speech - making began before the 
breakfast was half over. Bow-legged Jim, a 
Cockney to the core, was as glib as butter in 
responding for the bride. The health of the 
bridesmaids, proposed by M 'Queen, was drunk 
enthusiastically, and there were loud calls for 



15^ 



TALES OF THE KLONDVKE 



:!' 



I u 



Mrs Jay. She had got rather mellow, and was 
on her feet at once. 

" It's a bride meself I was, an' shure it's not 
long ago when I married that man, an' bad 
luck to him ! or I might have had Bow-legged 
Jim to my own. Shure he's the best partner 
av the two av ye. Faix ! an' why should I be 
a bridesmaid at ahl, at ahl, ye' re axin'. Have 
I anything to be ashamed of for bein' an honest 
woman ? — an honest married woman, plaze the 
pigs! Bedad ! I'm fitter to be a bridesmaid 
than thim two bridesmaids from Dawson City ! " 
(Disturbance.) **Ah, ye may well put your 
hands over their potaty-traps ! Howld their 
tongues, the sassy jades ! It's mey meself a- 
tarkin', an' she's a clane-mouthed woman, is 
Biddy Jay ! I wouldn't hev them be spakin'. 
Begorra! It was enough to hear that dirty 
Scotsman, Sandy M 'Queen, beslavering them 
in his slimy spache ! I repate it: I'm fitter 
for a bridesmaid than either the pair of them 
together ! Besides, that man," — here Biddy 
shook her finger at her calm-visaged husband, 
— "that man, Silas Jay, ran away from me for five 
year, an' I was his widder all the time. There's 
not a woman in the room can say as much, 
and as for Saucy Jane herself — begging her 
pardon — it's Mrs Piatt, I mane " ^ 

** Set yerself down, Mrs Jay," exclaimed the 



.•81^%; 



*i;.*rite«.,«aife,fl:s«^At;'aSi-- 



DVKE 
,nd was 

it's not 
in' bad 
-legged 
partner 
lid I be 

Have 
honest 
aze the 
lesmaid 
City ! " 
It your 
i their 
2self a- 
nan, is 
>pakin*. 
t dirty 
y them 
n fitter 
)f them 

Biddy 
isband, 
for five 
rhere's 

much, 
ig her 

led the 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



JS3 



bridegroom tactfully, springing to his feet with 
alacrity. " Boys, here's to Mrs Jay ! There 
eyen't another like 'er on the tarnation airth 
— an' thank Gawd! Sandy M 'Queen, you will 
second that ? " 

"The vairtue of Mrs Jay," said the Scots- 
man, rising with ponderous solemnity, " seems 
to give bairth to some distairbance. Ye 
winna listen. Och, but ye a' ken she's a 
spunky woman — a woman o' sperrit ! There's 
a mash of people in the saloon, an' I canna hear 
mysen talk if ye mak sic a din. Sit ye doon 
there by the door! What's all the fluster 

for? The mair I Eh, are ye a' fou syne 

the last toast ? Wha's that, mon, ye are a- 
carrym ? 

Everybody in the room had risen to his feet, 
for some commotion had been caused at the 
door, and a man was being carried in — a man 
so weak and pallid that his white face attracted 
everybody's eye. 

"Sit down!" shouted a score of voices at 
once. But the hubbub increased. 

" Sit down !" exclaimed Colonel Jay ; " stow 
all this flap-doodle ! What's the matter with — 
Eh ! the man's starving, you say. Who ? 
Forty of them ! What, the whole provision 
gang ? At Crystal Creek ! Forty hours ago ! 
They'll be lost to a man ! " 






II 



*S4 



Tales of the klondyke 



1 ' 
J-' 



r.' 



ij. 



M 
t ' 



I!) 



J : i 



The breakfast party broke up. The news 
that reached the gulch was terribly grave. 
The provision party, on which they depended 
for their winter needs, was lost in the snow. 
A disaster of dire gravity had happened, and 
the men whose fate was questioned in this 
hour of festivity were probably already dead. 

All was excitement at the gulch. A relief 
party was immediately organised. Colonel 
Jay at once sent off a pioneer gang of half-a- 
dozen men. They left the camp on sledges 
immediately, taking only the barest neces- 
saries — blankets, a stove, brandy, and biscuits. 
Colonel Jay followed with another gang an 
hour afterwards, with provisions, tents, ropes, 
furs, snow-shoes, and all sorts of articles that 
seemed likely to be required. 

Now, Crystal Creek is only ten miles from 
Bowleg's Gulch, and, in summer-time, progress 
by that route is feasible. Not so in winter. 
Its waters, wonderfully clear and comparatively 
warm, renowned for the fish which may be 
seen sporting in its green depths, are fed from 
a number of springs bubbling from the bottom 
of the creek, and the surface rarely freezes, 
except with a thin coating of ice. The 
provision party, unaware that this thin ice is 
rarely strong enough to bear, had made an 
effort not simply to cross the creek, but to 



/I 



'«>y^'-'*.'>:c -isj^s^.t- - V. I ln>lii WIgMiinMllfl 



^DYKE 

he news 

grave. 

epended 

le snow. 

led, and 

in this 

ly dead. 

A relief 

Colonel 

f half-a- 

sledges 

neces- 

biscuits. 

jang an 

;, ropes, 

:les that 

les from 
progress 

winter, 
ratively 
may be 
"ed from 

bottom 

freezes, 

The 

1 ice is 

lade an 

but to 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



iSS 



travel down it on the ice. At the portion of 
the creek on which they had started the ice 
is stronger, and, travelling at a good speed, 
they had traversed this part of it when the 
first sledge suddenly fell through — dogs, and 
men, and stores, and sledges, precipitately, 
never a vestige of them being seen again. 
The second sledge — there were three in all — 
following close upon the other, pulled up 
quickly at the sudden disappearance of the 
first, but they, too, were immersed, and every 
man and dog of them were drowned. The 
third sledge, being some little distance behind, 
pulled up in horror, but although the ice was 
strong enough to bear them whilst they were pro- 
ceeding quickly, it gave way when they halted. 
Their sledge and dogs soon foundered, but 
the men, a number of whom accompanied 
the sledge on foot, mostly wearing snow-shoes, 
made desperate efforts to save themselves. 
The majority of them, however, fell through 
the thin ice, and though they struggled bravely 
to get out, the ice invariably broke as they 
endeavoured to flounder out of the water. 
At last, exhausted by repeated efforts, the 
greater number of them, one after another, 
succumbed. Beneath the thin, treacherous 
surface there was a very rapid current, so 
that once in the water, there was little chance 



■"H*^^'' ^^.^■•■'^•ifmmtKfmmmmm 



ir I- 



P 



156 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



ill li'i . 



Bl| 



N 



! I 



'I I 



■ I 



i: I 



for them. The current bore them further 
and further away from the stronger ice, until 
eventually they were borne lower down the 
creek, under a surface that became thinner 
and thinner, until eventually it brought them 
into that portion of the creek which had no 
frozen surface at all. So it was that their 
strongly equipped party, with the provisions 
intended for the camp on the Klondyke, were 
lost. A few only, managed to reach an island 
in mid-stream, and one who gained the 
further bank was able, although terribly 
exhausted, wet through, and frost-bitten, to 
reach Bowleg's Gulch, and to announce his 
fearful story of disaster. 

This is the true account of that awful 
calamity, but the man who brought the 
terrible news of it could not tell whether 
any but himself were saved. They had now 
reached a time when it was light only for one 
or two hours in the twenty-four, and soon it 
would be perpetual night. He had come on 
to the gulch in the darkness, finding his 
way after failure and difficulty, and had more 
than once despaired of ever reaching his 
destination. 

When Colonel Jay reached the scene of the 
disaster he believed that every one was lost. 
He divided his men into several separate 



4r.>j|N*«,,, 



►NDYKE 

1 further 
ice, until 
lown the 
t thinner 
ght them 
1 had no 
hat their 
)rovisions 
^ke, were 
an island 
ined the 
terribly 
bitten, to 
)unce his 

at awful 
ght the 
whether 
had now 
y for one 
soon it 
come on 
iing his 
ad more 
ling his 

le of the 
ivas lost, 
separate 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



157 



parties of three, who searched up and down the 
Creek, shouting and waving their lanterns, and 
then listening intently for any reply. News 
was at last brought to him that answering 
voices were believed to come from Safety 
Island — as the place was afterwards christened, 
it had borne no name before. The voices on 
the island were again heard, or so it was be- 
lieved. The question then was how to reach 
the men whom they hoped were there. There 
was no boat or canoe of any kind, and it would 
take too long to build one. An attempt was 
made to send a rope across by shooting an 
arrow with a thread attached, but the distance 
was too great, the island being beyond bow- 
shot. Trees were felled, cut into logs, and a 
paddle improvised. Each log was then manned 
by a volunteer, and launched into the stream, 
but this expedient failed, as the current was 
very strong, and every log swirled past the 
island, in spite of manful efforts to reach it. 
A peninsula of ice jutted out into the stream, 
and the logs, one after another, when floating- 
down, were arrested by this point of ice, but 
the current then mastered the ill-equipped 
navigators, and invariably deflected the course 
of the logs, so that they were floated past the 
island. But it was now certain that two, if 
not three or more men were there. The 



iW» «•■?" 



v.' 



IJ! 



I 



■ ' 






tt 



'58 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



sledge was forthwith lightened of its load, and 
by means of logs a raft was in course of rapid 
construction. It required nothing more than 
to be corded to the logs. Whilst this was 
being finished, news came to the rescue party. 
Piatt now arrived with his newly-married wife. 
He brought information that eight men of the 
wrecked provision boys had reached Bowleg's 
Gulch. They had witnessed so much of the 
disaster to their mates as the darkness had 
permitted, and had heard the cries and shrieks 
of the drowning. They were well behind the 
others, and terrified by the shouts of their 
unhappy mates, they had abandoned the 
endeavour to cross Crystal Creek at all, but 
making a detour, they had reached Bowleg's 
Gulch by the Beaver Dam — a route which 
had brought them into Bowleg's Gulch in 
forty-five hours. Piatt having welcomed the 
party left them in charge of M 'Queen, and, 
horrified at this terrible confirmation of the 
news, hurried off at once to join Colonel Jay 
and the rescue party. His wife, Saucy 
Jane, insisted on coming with him, and they 
had accomplished the journey quickly in a 
sledge. 

'* When did they arrive at the gulch — these 
eight men ? " asked Colonel Jay. 

" Three hours after you left — dog-tired they 



NDYKE 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



159 



load, and 

of rapid 

ore than 

this was 

ue party. 

ied wife. 

m of the 

Bowleg's 

h of the 

less had 

i shrieks 

hind the 

of their 

tied the 

; all, but 

Bowleg's 

e which 

irulch in 

ned the 

n, and, 

of the 

>nel Jay 

Saucy 

nd they 

Y In a. 

— these 

id they 



was. Not so bad as the first pore chap, but 
terrible weak they was." 

" And you left them with Sandy M 'Queen ? " 

•'And with Mrs Jay, Silas. Lor! You 
wouldn't hev knowed 'er. She was that 
affechshunit and tender to 'em. She was 
their own mother to the eight of 'em — nursin' 
of 'em, giving 'em brorth an' brandy, wrapping 
of 'em up, an' coddlin' 'em. Lor ! Silas, she's 
a treasure, is Biddy Jay." 

" What d'ye think I got spliced to her 
for if I didn't know that," exclaimed Colonel 
Jay with a frown. " But who's looking 
after the camp.-* Who's minding the 
gold ? " 

"Why — your missus is, in course. She's 
alius the boss. Never you mind, Colonel. 
Look here ! No sooner *ad she done a-coddlin' 
up those eight men — pore fellers ! — than she was 
orf roun' the camp with her wooden spoon. 
Ah ! she's a treasure, she is. She goes to every 
camp fire on the gulch. She does so — a 
scoldin 'ere, blazin' away there, and layin' on 
with 'er wooden spoon, jist like her own 
nat'ral self fust time I saw 'er. The gold's 
all right ; she's a-watchin' of it. An' not only 
that. What do you think now, Colonel ? 
What do you think ? She's a thoughtful one, 
she is. She ses to me : ' If all the provisions 



-•-**'»i»sr-i-^^'^^iimimBmmtmmgm 



t 



i 



i I 



I' 



1 1 



L: 



l!(l 



160 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



is lorst, Jiin, 'ow would it be jis' to 'op over 
to Dawson City an' buy up hevery sack o' 
flour, an' hevery side o' bacon you can lay 
hands to, for purwisions will be dear if this 
disaster's true. Thar's a fortune in it ! Yis,* 
she ses, 'an' be quick abart it, or else Sandy 
will step in fust, an' I don't like bein' second 
fiddle to Sandy M'Queen. '" 

" VVal, Jim, that's for the future. I can't 
think of making fortunes now. I'm thinking 
of these pore chaps — God help 'em ! — on the 
island." 

'* Wot are you doin' of, then ? " 

" Making this sledge into a raft." 

-What for?" 

"To gfet across to thet island. There's three 
or four men there — all that's saved of a score 
or more." 

"Why don't you get a rope over to the 
island ? " 

"We can't. It's too far." 

" And you can't paddle over ? " 

"That's what I'm going to try to do with 
this sledge, but the current is so derned 
ricketiy, I fear we shan't manage it." 

'* Then, why don't some one walk acrorst the 
icej^ 

'' It's too thin. We've been trying it. Two 
or three of us have had a ducking over it. I 



NDYKE 

'op over 
sack o' 
can lay 

r if this 

it! Yis,' 
;e Sandy 
\ second 

I can't 

thinking 

— on the 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



i6i 



re's three 
f a score 

r to the 



do with 
I derned 

:rorst the 

it. Two 
^er it. I 



wish we could. A boy might do it — a light 
weight, but it would be risky." 

'* I'm light ; try me!" said Saucy Jane. 

*'You!" exclaimed Colonel Jay, looking the 
frail little woman up and down with the 
lantern in his hand. **Wal, you air a saucy 
one, you air ! Get away ! you ought to be on 
your honeymoon. This is no place for women 
— especially brides. It's a cemetery. It's chok 
full of dead bodies — only we can't find 'em." 

There was a pair of skates in one of the 
pockets of the sledge, Saucy Jane — or to term 
her by her new name, Mrs Piatt — was already 
quietly fastening these to her little feet. Over 
her shoulders she slung a long c 1 of stout 
twine. 

"Jim," she called to her husband, ** catch 
hold of the shore end of this coil, and when 
I signal you fasten it to a rope, and send the 
sledge over. You understand ? " 

'* Sakes no ! I jis' don't understand, Jenny. 
Whar air you a-goin' with them skates on ? " 

"To the island," cried Jenny, laughing gaily. 
"When I wave this lantern you'll know I'm 
thar." 

Snatching up a lantern she was off. Jim 
ran after her but she .as too nimble for him. 
She was a good skater and struck out boldly. 
The ice cracked ominously as she started. 



l62 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 



1 



The men, crowding to the edge of the Ice, 
saluted her with a loud cheer. 

"Merciful Gawd!" exclaimed Jim, sinking 
on his knees, " she'll be drowned for a moral ! 
Come back, Jenny, come back, my awn 
darling! The ice won't bear, you little fool. 
Come back ! Ain't thar enough drowned 
already ? " 

But she was skimming over the ice in the 
darkness regardless of all warning. They 
watched her in intense excitement, visible now 
in the distance by the light of her lantern. 

" She may reach it, Jim," said Colonel Jay. 

" Pray Heaven she may. She's a lightweight. 

But " 

*' May happen she'll skim across before the 

ice has time to crack under her," said one of 
the bystanders, endeavouring to reassure her 
distracted husband, for he was nearly frantic 
with apprehension, and he had to be held 
back or he would have followed in a fool- 
hardy effort to accompany his plucky little 
wife. 

" She's by the big hole now whar t'others 
fell in ! " " More to the right, litde 'un ! " 
"Sakes! She's past that, anyway." "Ah! 
she's by the edge of the water." *' It's a 
hundred to one she'll be in ! " These and a 
score of other exclamations broke from the 



1 



DYKE 
the Ice, 

sinking 
moral ! 
ly awn 
;le fool. 
Irowned 

in the 
They 
ble now 
•n. 

lel Jay. 
weight. 

fore the 
I one of 
Lire her 

frantic 
be held 

a fool- 
:y little 

t'others 
5 'un!" 

"Ah! 
*'It's a 

and a 
om the 



BOW-LEGGED JIM'S MARRIAGE 



163 



excited crowd of onlookers as they watched 
her progress. 

•* Bet she wayn't git thar ! " 

"I'll lay evens on her ! " 

" A hundred dollars she wayn't ! " 

" Done with yew! " 

•' She's thar ! She is thar ! " cried Jim gaily, 
and dancing with delight, " My saucy litde 

Jenny ! " 

Her lantern was waving from left to right. 
She had reached the island, paying out cord as 
she went. A loud cheer broke from the crowd. 
The rope attached to the twine was being 
rapidly hauled over. The communication was 
effected. 

A litde later and the raft attached to the 
cord was launched. Jim Piatt, with others 
manning the raft, were hauled over to the 
island. 

There was an anxious interval during which 
the banks were thoroughly searched again 
for possible survivors. None were found. 

After a while the waving of the lantern on 
the island signalled the return of the raft. It 
was hauled back hand over hand. Five men 
were saved. They sat huddled together on the 
raft ; almost frozen together ; sore to bleeding 
in their stiff and frozen clothes, injured for life 
by the rigours of the last two days, but tended 



164 



TALES OF THE KLONDYKE 






',/, !; 



i'. 



now by kindly hands and hearts that ached 
over their agonies. 

" But whar's Saucy Jane ? " cried Silas Jay, 
before the men were landed, for it was obvious 
she was not upon the raft. 

** Oh, we've done her this time, ave we ? " 
replied Jim with a grunt, as he shipped his 
paddle. '* She started t*. skate back, the saucy 
puss ! an' bet me a thousand dollars she'd land 
afore me. We've done 'er this time." 

" 'Ow no, you ain't ! " exclaimed Saucy Jane 
from the shore. "You've jis' lorst yeur 
bet, Jim darling. I've been back this two 
minutes, an' helpin* with the rest of the boys 
here to haul you back. Now, let's git home. 
This ain't no place for wimmen," she added 
in her own cheeky manner, with a glance at 
Colonel Jay. "No, it certainly ain't no place 
for wimmen — especially brides." 



THE END. 



K 



PRINTED AT THE EDINBURGH PRESS, 9 AND II YOUNG STREET. 



INDYKE 
lat ached 

)ilas Jay, 
5 obvious 

ve we ? '* 
pped his 
he saucy 
iie'd land 

ucy Jane 
rst yeur 
this two 
the boys 
it home. 
le added 
glance at 
no place 



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