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´╗┐Title: A Woman who went to Alaska
Author: Sullivan, May Kellogg
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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by the Library of Congress)



[Illustration: MAY KELLOGG SULLIVAN IN ALASKA DRESS.]



        A WOMAN WHO
        WENT ----
        TO ALASKA


 By May Kellogg Sullivan


       ILLUSTRATED


         Boston:
 James H. Earle & Company
  178 Washington Street



     _Copyright, 1902_
 _By MAY KELLOGG SULLIVAN_

   _All Rights Reserved_



CONTENTS.


 CHAPTER                                         PAGE

     I Under Way                                    9
    II Midnight on a Yukon Steamer                 19
   III Dawson                                      28
    IV The Rush                                    36
     V At The Arctic Circle                        48
    VI Companions                                  58
   VII Going to Nome                               78
  VIII Fresh Danger                                81
    IX Nome                                        94
     X The Four Sisters                           109
    XI Life in a Mining Camp                      131
   XII Bar-Room Disturbances                      149
  XIII Off For Golovin Bay                        162
   XIV Life at Golovin                            184
    XV Winter in the Mission                      199
   XVI The Retired Sea Captain                    215
  XVII How the Long Days Passed                   231
 XVIII Swarming                                   247
   XIX New Quarters                               261
    XX Christmas in Alaska                        275
   XXI My First Gold Claims                       292
  XXII The Little Sick Child                      311
 XXIII Lights and Shadows of the Mining Camp      325
  XXIV An Unpleasant Adventure                    340
   XXV Stones and Dynamite                        354
  XXVI Good-bye to Golovin Bay                    374
 XXVII Going Outside                              379



Transcriber's Note

    Obvious printer errors have been corrected. All other
    inconsistencies remain as printed.

    A list of illustrations, though not present in the original, has
    been provided below:

      MAY KELLOGG SULLIVAN IN ALASKA DRESS.
      DAWSON, Y. T.
      CITY HALL AT SKAGWAY.
      PORCUPINE CANYON, WHITE PASS.
      MILES CANYON.
      UPPER YUKON STEAMER.
      FIVE FINGER RAPIDS.
      GOING TO DAWSON IN WINTER.
      A KLONDYKE CLAIM.
      EAGLE CITY, ON THE YUKON, IN 1899.
      YUKON STEAMER "HANNAH."
      FELLOW TRAVELERS.
      ESKIMOS.
      UNALASKA.
      STEAMSHIP ST. PAUL.
      NOME.
      LIFE AT NOME.
      CLAIM NUMBER NINE, ANVIL CREEK.
      CLAIM NUMBER FOUR, ANVIL CREEK, NOME.
      MAP OF ALASKA.
      ESKIMO DOGS.
      WINTER PROSPECTING.
      AT CHINIK. THE MISSION.
      CLAIM ON BONANZA CREEK.
      ON BONANZA CREEK.
      SKAGWAY RIVER, FROM THE TRAIN.



PREFACE


This unpretentious little book is the outcome of my own experiences and
adventures in Alaska. Two trips, covering a period of eighteen months
and a distance of over twelve thousand miles were made practically
alone.

In answer to the oft-repeated question of why I went to Alaska I can
only give the same reply that so many others give: I wanted to go in
search of my fortune which had been successfully eluding my grasp for a
good many years. Neither home nor children claimed my attention. No good
reason, I thought, stood in the way of my going to Alaska; for my
husband, traveling constantly at his work had long ago allowed me carte
blanche as to my inclinations and movements. To be sure, there was no
money in the bank upon which to draw, and an account with certain
friends whose kindness and generosity cannot be forgotten, was opened up
to pay passage money; but so far neither they nor I have regretted
making the venture.

I had first-class health and made up in endurance what I lacked in
avoirdupois, along with a firm determination to take up the first honest
work that presented itself, regardless of choice, and in the meantime to
secure a few gold claims, the fame of which had for two years reached my
ears.

In regard to the truthfulness of this record I have tried faithfully to
relate my experiences as they took place. Not all, of course, have been
included, for numerous and varied trials came to me, of which I have not
written, else a far more thrilling story could have been told.

Enough has, however, been noted to give my readers a fair idea of a
woman's life during a period of eighteen months in a few of the roughest
mining camps in the world; and that many may be interested, and to some
extent possibly instructed by the perusal of my little book, is the
sincere wish of the author.

                                                   MAY KELLOGG SULLIVAN.



A WOMAN WHO WENT--TO ALASKA.



CHAPTER I.

UNDER WAY.


My first trip from California to Alaska was made in the summer of 1899.
I went alone to Dawson to my father and brother, surprising them greatly
when I quietly walked up to shake hands with them at their work. The
amazement of my father knew no bounds,--and yet I could see a lot of
quiet amusement beneath all when he introduced me to his friends, which
plainly said:

"Here is my venturesome daughter, who is really a 'chip off the old
block,' so you must not be surprised at her coming to Alaska."

Father had gone to the Klondyke a year before at the age of sixty-four,
climbing Chilkoot Pass in the primitive way and "running" Miles Canyon
and White Horse Rapids in a small boat which came near being swamped in
the passage.

My brother's entrance to the famous gold fields was made in the same
dangerous manner a year before; but I had waited until trains over the
White Pass and Yukon Railroad had been crossing the mountains daily for
two weeks before myself attempting to get into Alaska's interior. At
that time it was only a three hours' ride, including stops, over the
Pass to Lake Bennett, the terminus of this new railroad, the first in
Alaska. A couple of rude open flat cars with springless seats along the
sides were all the accommodation we had as passengers from the summit of
White Pass to Lake Bennett; we having paid handsomely for the privilege
of riding in this manner and thinking ourselves fortunate, considering
the fact that our route was, during the entire distance of about
forty-five miles, strewn with the bleaching bones of earlier argonauts
and their beasts of burden.

Naturally, my traveling companions interested me exceedingly. There were
few women. Two ladies with their husbands were going to Dawson on
business. About eight or ten other women belonging to the rapid class of
individuals journeyed at the same time. We had all nationalities and
classes. There were two women from Europe with luggage covered with
foreign stickers, and a spoken jargon which was neither German nor
French, but sounded like a clever admixture of both.

Then there was the woman who went by the name of Mrs. Somebody or other
who wore a seal-skin coat, diamond earrings and silver-mounted umbrella.
She had been placed in the same stateroom with me on the steamer at
Seattle, and upon making her preparations to retire for the night had
offered me a glass of brandy, while imbibing one herself, which I
energetically, though politely, refused. At midnight a second woman of
the same caste had been ushered into my room to occupy the third and
last berth, whereupon next morning I had waited upon the purser of the
ship, and modestly but firmly requested a change of location. In a
gentlemanly way he informed me that the only vacant stateroom was a
small one next the engine room below, but if I could endure the noise
and wished to take it, I could do so. I preferred the proximity and
whirr of machinery along with closer quarters to the company of the two
adventuresses, so while both women slept late next morning I quietly and
thankfully moved all my belongings below. Here I enjoyed the luxury of a
room by myself for forty-eight hours, or until we reached Skagway,
completely oblivious to the fact that never for one instant did the
pounding of the great engines eight feet distant cease either day or
night.

[Illustration: DAWSON, Y. T.]

A United States Judge, an English aristocrat and lady, a Seattle lawyer,
sober, thoughtful and of middle age, who had been introduced to me by a
friend upon sailing, and who kindly kept me in sight when we changed
steamers or trains on the trip without specially appearing to do so; a
nice old gentleman going to search for the body of his son lost in the
Klondyke River a few weeks before, and a good many rough miners as well
as nondescripts made up our unique company to Dawson. Some had been over
the route before when mules and horses had been the only means of
transportation over the Passes, and stories of the trials and dangers of
former trips were heard upon deck each day, with accompaniments of oaths
and slang phrases, and punctuated by splashes of tobacco juice.

On the voyage to Skagway there was little seasickness among the
passengers, as we kept to the inland passage among the islands. At a
short distance away we viewed the great Treadwell gold mines on Douglass
Island, and peered out through a veil of mist and rain at Juneau under
the hills. Here we left a few of our best and most pleasant passengers,
and watched the old Indian women drive sharp bargains in curios, beaded
moccasins, bags, etc., with tourists who were impervious to the great
rain drops which are here always falling as easily from the clouds as
leaves from a maple tree in October.

Our landing at Skagway under the towering mountains upon beautiful Lynn
Canal was more uneventful than our experience in the Customs House at
that place, for we were about to cross the line into Canadian territory.
Here we presented an interesting and animated scene. Probably one
hundred and fifty persons crowded the small station and baggage room,
each one pushing his way as far as possible toward the officials, who
with muttered curses hustled the tags upon each box and trunk as it was
hastily unlocked and examined. Ropes and straps were flung about the
floor, bags thrown with bunches of keys promiscuously, while transfer
men perspiring from every pore tumbled great mountains of luggage hither
and thither.

[Illustration: CITY HALL AT SKAGWAY.]

Two ponderous Germans there were, who, in checked steamer caps enveloped
in cigar smoke of the best brand, protested vigorously at the opening of
their trunks by the officers, but their protests seemed only the more to
whet the appetites of these dignitaries. The big Germans had their
revenge, however. In the box of one of these men was found with other
things a lot of Limburger cheese, the pungent odor of which drove the
women screaming to the doors, and men protesting indignantly after them;
while those unable to reach the air prayed earnestly for a good stiff
breeze off Lynn Canal to revive them. The Germans laughed till tears ran
down their cheeks, and cheerfully paid the duty imposed.

Skagway was interesting chiefly from its historical associations as a
port where so many struggling men had landed, suffered and passed on
over that trail of hardship and blood two years before.

Our little narrow gauge coaches were crowded to their utmost, men
standing in aisles and on platforms, and sitting upon wood boxes and
hand luggage near the doors.

It was July, and the sight of fresh fruit in the hands of those lunching
in the next seat almost brought tears to my eyes, for we were now going
far beyond the land of fruits and all other delicacies.

"Pick it up, old man, pick it up and eat it," said one rough fellow of
evident experience in Alaska to one who had dropped a cherry upon the
floor, "for you won't get another while you stay in this country, if it
is four years!"

"But," said another, "he can eat 'Alaska strawberries' to his heart's
content, summer and winter, and I'll be bound when he gets home to the
States he won't thank anyone for puttin' a plate of beans in front of
him, he'll be that sick of 'em! I et beans or 'Alaska strawberries' for
nine months one season, day in and day out, and I'm a peaceable man, but
at the end of that time I'd have put a bullet through the man who
offered me beans to eat, now you can bet your life on that! Don't never
insult an old timer by puttin' beans before him, is my advice if you do
try to sugar-coat 'em by calling 'em strawberries!" and the man thumped
his old cob pipe with force enough upon the wood box to empty the ashes
from its bowl and to break it into fragments had it not been well
seasoned.

Upon the summit of White Pass we alighted from the train and boarded
another. This time it was the open flat cars, and the Germans came near
being left. As the conductor shouted "all aboard" they both scrambled,
with great puffing and blowing owing to their avoirdupois, to the rear
end of the last car, and with faces purple from exertion plumped
themselves down almost in the laps of some women who were laughing at
them.

[Illustration: PORCUPINE CANYON, WHITE PASS.]

We had now a dizzy descent to make to Lake Bennett. Conductor and
brakeman were on the alert. With their hands upon the brakes these men
stood with nerves and muscles tense. All talking ceased. Some of us
thought of home and loved ones, but none flinched. Slowly at first, then
faster and faster the train rolled over the rails until lakes, hills and
mountains fairly flew past us as we descended. At last the train's speed
was slackened, and we moved more leisurely along the foot of the
mountains. We were in the beautiful green "Meadows" where pretty and
fragrant wild flowers nodded in clusters among the tall grass.

At Bennett our trunks were again opened, and we left the train. We were
to take a small steamer down the lakes and river for Dawson. We were no
longer crowded, as passengers scattered to different boats, some going
east to Atlin. With little trouble I secured a lodging for one night
with the stewardess of the small steamer which would carry us as far as
Miles Canyon or the Camp, Canyon City. From there we were obliged to
walk five miles over the trail. It was midsummer, and the woods through
which we passed were green. Wild flowers, grasses and moss carpeted our
path which lay along the eastern bank of the great gorge called Miles
Canyon, only at times winding away too far for the roar of its rushing
waters to reach our ears. No sound of civilization came to us, and no
life was to be seen unless a crow chanced to fly overhead in search of
some morsel of food. Large forest trees there were none. Tall, straight
saplings of poplar, spruce and pine pointed their slender fingers
heavenward, and seemed proudly to say:

"See what fortitude we have to plant ourselves in this lonely Northland
with our roots and sap ice-bound most of the year. Do you not admire
us?" And we did admire wonderingly. Then, again, nearing the banks of
Miles Canyon we forged our way on up hill and down, across wet spots,
over boulders and logs, listening to the roar of the mighty torrent
dashing between towering, many-colored walls of rock, where the volume
of water one hundred feet in width with a current of fifteen miles an
hour, and a distance of five-eighths of a mile rushes insistently
onward, as it has, no doubt, done for ages past. Then at last widening,
this torrent is no longer confined by precipitous cliffs but between
sparsely wooded banks, and now passes under the name of "White Horse
Rapids," from so strangely resembling white horses as the waters are
dashed over and about the huge boulders in mid-stream. Here many of the
earlier argonauts found watery graves as they journeyed in small boats
or rafts down the streams to the Klondyke in their mad haste to reach
the newly discovered gold fields.

After leaving White Horse Rapids we traveled for days down the river. My
little stateroom next the galley or kitchen of the steamer was
frequently like an oven, so great was the heat from the big cooking
range. The room contained nothing but two berths, made up with blankets
and upon wire springs, and the door did not boast of a lock of any
description. Upon application to the purser for a chair I received a
camp stool. Luckily I had brushes, combs, soap and towels in my bag, for
none of these things were furnished with the stateroom. In the stern of
the boat there was a small room where tin wash basins and roller towels
awaited the pleasure of the women passengers, the water for their
ablutions being kept in a barrel, upon which hung an old dipper. To
clean one's teeth over the deck rail might seem to some an unusual
undertaking, but I soon learned to do this with complacency, it being
something of gain not to lose sight of passing scenery while performing
the operation.

[Illustration: MILES CANYON.]

At Lake La Barge we enjoyed a magnificent panorama. Bathed in the rosy
glow of a departing sunset, this beautiful body of water sparkled like
diamonds on all sides of us. Around us on every hand lay the green and
quiet hills. Near the waters' edge they appeared a deep green, but grew
lighter in the distance. Long bars of crimson, grey and gold streaked
the western horizon, while higher up tints of purple and pink blended
harmoniously with the soft blue sky. As the sun slowly settled the
colors deepened. Darker and darker they grew. The warm soft glow had
departed, and all was purple and black, including the waters beneath us;
and as we passed through the northern end or outlet of the lake into
Thirty Mile River we seemed to be entering a gate, so narrow did the
entrance to the river appear between the hills.

At night our steamer was frequently tied up to a wood pile along the
banks of the river. No signs of civilization met our eyes, except,
perhaps, a rude log hut or cabin among the trees, where at night, his
solitary candle twinkling in his window and his dogs baying at the moon,
some lonely settler had established himself.

The Semenow Hills country is a lonely one. Range upon range of rolling,
partly wooded, hills meet the eye of the traveler until it grows weary
and seeks relief in sleep.

Five Finger Rapids was the next point of interest on our route, and I am
here reminded of a short story which is not altogether one of fiction,
and which is entitled: Midnight on a Yukon Steamer.



CHAPTER II.

MIDNIGHT ON A YUKON STEAMER.


The bright and yellow full moon drifted slowly upward. The sun had just
set at nine in the evening, casting a warm and beautiful glow over all
the lonely landscape, for it was the most dreary spot in all the dreary
wilderness through which the mighty Yukon passes.

The steamer had tied up for wood, and now the brawny stevedores with
blackened hands and arms were pitching it to the deck.

To the passengers, of whom there were a goodly number, time hung
heavily, and the younger ones had proposed a dance. Musical instruments
were not numerous, but such as there were, were brought out, and two
non-professionals with an accordion and a banjo, were doing their very
best.

A small number of sober ones were to be seen on deck pacing restlessly
back and forth, for the ruthless mosquito was distinctly on evidence,
and threatened to outgeneral the quiet ones, if not the orchestra and
the hilarious dancers.

On the upper deck, a lady, clad in warm cloak and thick veil, walked
tirelessly to and fro. A big stump-tailed dog of the Malemute tribe at
times followed at her heels, but when she had patted his head and
spoken kindly to him he appeared satisfied, and lay down again with his
head between his paws. Then sounds from the dancers below, the shrill
laughter of the women mingled with the strum of the banjo and the wheezy
accordion seemed to disturb the dog's slumber, and he would again pace
up and down at the lady's heels.

At times there would come a lull in the tumult, and the click of the
glasses or crash of a fallen pitcher would make a variety of
entertainment for the lady and her dog on the upper deck; but the short
and dusky midnight was well passed before the dancing ceased and partial
quiet and order were restored.

Two figures remained near the stern of the boat. One, a young woman with
a profusion of long auburn hair, the other a man with flushed face and
thick breath.

"I cannot tell now which one it will be," said the girl coquettishly,
"but if you wait you will see."

"No more waitin' in it," he growled. "I have waited long enough, and too
long, and you must choose between us now. You know we will soon be at
'Five Fingers,' and you must be good or they may get you," with a wicked
leer and clutch at her arm calculated to startle her as she carelessly
sat on the deck rail.

"I'm not afraid of 'Five Fingers' or any other fingers, and I'm not
afraid of your two hands either," making her muscles very tense, and
sitting rigidly upright, "and you can't scare me a bit; I'll do as I
like, so there!"

By this time the moon shone high above the tops of the tall slender
pines, and spread its soft light over all the swift and swirling waters.
To the west, the hills faded first from green to blue, then to purple,
and lastly to black, silhouetted as they were against the quiet sky.

The swift flowing current pushed the waters up among the weeds and
bushes along the river's edge and the loose rocks were washed quite
smooth. Now and then might be heard the bark of a wood-chopper's dog
stationed outside his master's cabin, and the steady thud of the steamer
never stopped. At two o'clock it was growing light again, and still the
young man pleaded with the girl on the deck. She was stubborn and
silent.

Swiftly now the boat neared the "Five Fingers." Only a few miles
remained before the huge boulders forming the narrow and tortuous
channels called the "Five Fingers" would be reached, and the face of the
pilot was stern. It was a most dangerous piece of water and many boats
had already been wrecked at this point.

Suddenly above the noise of the waters and the steamer's regular
breathing there arose on the quiet air a shrill shriek at the stern of
the boat.

The lady on the upper deck had retired. The captain was sleeping off his
too frequent potations, and only the pilot on the lookout knew that the
scream came from a woman; but it was not repeated.

The pilot's assistant was off watch, and his own duty lay at the wheel;
so it happened that a guilty man who had been standing by the deck rail
crept silently, unnoticed, and now thoroughly sobered, to his stateroom.

His companion was nowhere to be seen.

A small steamer following next day in the wake of the first boat, came
to Five Finger Rapids.

"See the pretty red seaweed on the rocks, mamma," cried a little boy,
pointing to the low ledge on the bank of the east channel.

Those who looked in the direction indicated by the boy saw, as the
steamer crept carefully up to the whirlpool, a woman's white face in the
water, above which streamed a mass of long auburn hair, caught firmly on
the rocks.

Standing by the side of his pilot, the captain's keen eye caught sight
of the head and hair.

"It's only Dolly Duncan," he said, with a shrug of his shoulders. "No
one else has such hair; but it's no great loss anyway; there are many
more of such as she, you know."

[Illustration: UPPER YUKON STEAMER.]



CHAPTER III.

DAWSON.


By this time we had passed the Hootalingua, Big Salmon, Little Salmon
and Lewes rivers, and were nearing the mouth of Pelley River, all
flowing into one stream from the east and uniting to form the Upper
Yukon. Many smaller rivers and creeks from the west as well as the east
empty into this river which gathers momentum and volume constantly until
it reaches a swiftness of five miles an hour between Five Finger Rapids
and Fort Selkirk.

This latter fort is an old Canadian Post where mounted police and other
officers and soldiers are stationed. Never shall I forget my first
experience at Fort Selkirk. We arrived about one o'clock in the
afternoon and were told that our steamer would remain there an hour,
giving us all a chance to run about on shore for a change. Taking my
sunshade, and attracted by the wide green fields dotted with pretty wild
flowers of various colors, I rambled around alone for an hour, all the
time keeping our steamer in plain sight not many hundred yards away.
Curious to learn the meaning of a group of peculiar stakes driven into
the ground, some of which were surrounded by rude little fences, I made
my way in a narrow path through the deep grass to the place, and soon
discovered an Indian burial ground. There were, perhaps, twenty little
mounds or graves, a few much sunken below the level as if made long
years before, but all were marked in some manner by rude head boards.

These were notched, and had at one time been fancifully stained or
colored by the Ayan Indians, the stains and funny little inscriptions
being, for the most part, obliterated by the elements. Dainty wild roses
here nodded gracefully to each other, their pretty blooms being weighted
down at times by some venturesome, big honey bee or insolent fly; both
insects with many others, some of them unknown to me, buzzing
contentedly in the sunshine overhead.

Daisies and buttercups grew wild. Flowering beans and peas trailed their
sprays upon the ground. Blue bells, paint brush, and other posies fairly
bewildered me, so surprised was I to find them here in this far
Northland. Without this happiness and cheer given me by my sweet little
floral friends I might not have been so well prepared to endure the
rudeness that was awaiting me.

Upon my return to the steamer I found all in confusion. I could see no
signs of departure and no one of whom I cared to make inquiries. Men and
women were coming and going, but none appeared sober, while many with
flushed faces were loudly laughing and joking. A few Canadian police in
red coats scattered here and there were fully as rollicking as any,
and the steamer's captain and purser, arm in arm with a big, burly
Canadian official, were as drunk as bad liquor could well make them.

[Illustration: FIVE FINGER RAPIDS.]

Going to my stateroom I sat down to read, and, if possible, hide my
anxiety. As there was no window or other ventilator, and it was a warm
day, I could not close the door. While sitting thus the doorway was
darkened, and looking up I saw before me the drunken Canadian official,
leering at me with a horrible grin, and just about to speak.

At that instant there stepped to his side the tall form of the only
really sober man on board--the Seattle lawyer, who, in his most
dignified manner motioned the officer on, and he went; the gentlemanly
lawyer, tossing his half-consumed cigar overboard in an emphatic way as
if giving vent to his inward perturbation, marched moodily on. Catching
a glimpse of his face as he passed, I concluded that the situation was
fully as bad or worse than I had at first feared. Already we had been
several hours at Fort Selkirk and should have been miles on toward
Dawson.

The captain and crew were too drunk to know what they were doing, and
they were hourly growing more so. Many were gambling and drinking in the
salon or dining room and others came from the liquor store on shore a
few rods away. The voices of the women were keyed to the highest pitch
as they shouted with laughter at the rough jokes or losing games of the
men, while red-faced, perspiring waiters hurried back and forth with
trays laden with bottles and glasses. Now and then the crash of a fallen
pitcher or plate, followed by the shrieks of the women would reach me,
and looking through the great cracks in the board partition which was
the only thing separating me from the drunken crowd, I could see most of
the carousal, for such it now was.

My anxiety increased. I feared the danger of a night on board in a tiny
stateroom, without lock or weapon, and entirely alone.

"Mr. H----," said I quietly, a little later, to the man from Seattle, as
I stepped up to him while he smoked near the deck rail. "When do you
think the steamer will leave this place?"

"Tomorrow, most likely," in a tone of deep disgust.

"Do you not think that the captain will push on tonight?" I asked in
great anxiety.

"I doubt if there is a man on board with enough sense left to run the
engine, and the captain--look there!" pointing to a maudlin and
dishevelled Canadian wearing a captain's cap, and just then trying to
preserve his equilibrium on a wooden settle near the railing. "It would
be a blessing if the brute tumbled overboard, and we were well rid of
him," said the gentleman savagely in a low tone. Then, seeing my
consternation, he added: "I'll see what can be done, however," and I
returned to my room.

What should I do! I knew of no place of safety on shore for me during
the night if the steamer remained, and I dared not stay in my stateroom.
I had no revolver, no key to my door. I might be murdered before
morning, and my friends would never know what had become of me. There
was no one on board to whom I could appeal but the lawyer, and he might
be powerless to protect me in such a drunken rabble. With a prayer in my
heart I made my nerves as tense as possible and shut my teeth tightly
together. It was best to appear unconcerned. I did it. Suggesting away
all fright from my face I watched proceedings in the dining room through
the cracks in the wall. It was a sight such as I had never before seen.
It was six o'clock and dinner was being served by the flushed and
flustered waiters. Probably a hundred persons sat at the tables in all
stages of intoxication. Hilarity ran high. Most of them were wildly
jolly and gushingly full of good will; but all seemed hungry, and the
odors from the kitchen were appetizing.

I now hoped that the dinner, and especially the hot tea and coffee would
restore some of these people to their senses in order that they might
get up steam in the engines and pull out of this terrible place before
they were too far gone. Dinner was well over in the dining room and I
had not yet eaten. A waiter passed my door. He stopped.

"Have you eaten dinner?"

"No, I have not."

"Don't you want some?"

"Well, yes. I think I could eat something."

"I'll bring you some." And he was gone.

A few minutes later he entered my stateroom with a big tray, and putting
it upon the edge of the upper berth he left me. I ate my dinner from the
tray while standing, and felt better.

An hour afterward the drunken officials had been coaxed into going
ashore; the furnace in the engine room was crammed with wood; the
partially sobered pilot resumed his place at the wheel; the captain had
pulled himself together as best he could under the threats of the lawyer
from Seattle, and the steamer moved away from the bank, going with the
current swiftly towards Dawson. Nothing of further importance occurred
until next morning when our steamer pulled up alongside the dock at
Dawson. It was Monday morning, the thirtieth of July, 1899, and the
weather was beautifully clear. I had been fourteen days coming from
Seattle. Hundreds of people waited upon the dock to see us land, and to
get a glimpse of a new lot of "Chechakos," as all newcomers are called.

Soon after landing I met upon the street an old Seattle friend of my
parents, who knew me instantly and directed me to my father. This man's
kind offer to look up my baggage was accepted, and I trudged down
through the town towards the Klondyke River, where my father and brother
lived. I had no difficulty in finding father, and after the first
surprise and our luncheon were over we proceeded to find my brother at
his work. His astonishment was as great as my father's, and I cannot
truthfully state that either of them were overcome with joy at seeing me
in Dawson. At any other time or place they undoubtedly would have been
delighted, but they were too well acquainted with conditions to wish
another member of their family there in what was probably then the
largest and roughest mining camp in the world. The situation that
presented itself was this. Instead of finding my relatives comfortably
settled in a large and commodious log cabin of their own on the banks of
the Klondyke River, as they had written they were, I found them in the
act of moving all their belongings into a big covered scow or barge
drawn close to the river bank and securely fastened. Cooking utensils,
boxes, bags of provisions consisting of flour, beans and meal, as well
as canned goods of every description, along with firewood and numerous
other things, were dumped in one big heap upon the banks of the Klondyke
River near the barge.

The small sheet iron box with door and lid, called a Yukon stove, had
been set up close in one corner of the living room, which in size was
about eight by ten feet. Two bunks, one above the other in the opposite
corner, had been lately constructed by father, who at the moment of my
arrival was busy screwing a small drop leaf to the wall to be used as a
dining table when supported by a couple of rather uncertain adjustable
legs underneath.

The meaning of all this commotion was not long to find. Father and
brother had, along with many more as peaceable and law-abiding citizens,
been ordered out of their log cabins, built at a great out-lay of time,
money and strength, so that their homes should be pulled down in
accordance with an order given by the Governor. This land, as the city
had grown, had increased in value and was coveted by those high in
authority. No redress was made the settlers, no money was paid them,
nothing for them but insulting commands and black looks from the
Canadian police enforcing the order of the governor.

"Never again," said my father repeatedly, "will I build or own a home in
the Klondyke. This scow will shelter me until I make what money I want,
and then good-bye to such a country and its oppressive officials."

Other men cursed and swore, and mutterings of a serious nature were
heard; but there was nothing to be done, and the row of comfortable,
completed log cabins was torn down, and we settled ourselves elsewhere
by degrees. A bunk with calico curtains hung around it was made for me,
and I was constituted cook of the camp. Then such a scouring of tins,
kettles and pails as I had! Shelves were nailed in place for all such
utensils, and a spot was found for almost everything, after which the
struggle was begun to keep these things in their places. Then I baked
and boiled and stewed and patched and mended, between times writing in
my note book, sending letters to friends or taking kodak pictures.

I was now living in a new world! Nothing like the town of Dawson had I
ever seen. Crooked, rough and dirty streets; rude, narrow board walks or
none at all; dog-teams hauling all manner of loads on small carts, and
donkeys or "burros" bowing beneath great loads of supplies starting out
on the trail for the gold mines.

"Don't do that!" shouted a man to me one day, as I attempted to
"snap-shot" his pack train of twenty horses and mules as they passed us.
Two of the animals had grown tired and attempted to lie down, thus
causing the flour sacks with which they were loaded to burst open and
the flour to fly in clouds around them. "Don't do that," he entreated,
"for we are having too much trouble!"

Some of the drivers were lashing the mules to make them rise, and this
spread a panic through most of the train, so that one horse, evidently
new to the business and not of a serious turn of mind, ran swiftly away,
kicking up his heels in the dust behind him. There were also hams and
sides of bacon dangling in greasy yellow covers over the backs of the
pack animals, along with "grub" boxes and bags of canned goods of every
description. Pick axes, shovels, gold pans and Yukon stoves with bundles
of stove pipe tied together with ropes, rolls of blankets, bedding,
rubber boots, canvas tents, ad infinitum.

There was one method used by "packers," as the drivers of these pack
trains were called, which worked well in some instances. If the animals
of his train were all sober and given to honestly doing their work, then
the halter or rope around the neck of a mule could be tied to the tail
of the one preceding him, and so on again until they were all really
hitched together tandem. But woe unto the poor brute who was followed by
a balky fellow or a shirk! The consequences were, at times, under
certain circumstances, almost too serious to be recounted in this story,
at least this can be said of the emphatic language used by the packers
in such predicament.

One warm, bright day soon after my arrival in Dawson, and when order had
been brought out of chaos in the scow--our home--I went to call upon an
old friend, formerly of Seattle. Carrie N. was three or four years
younger than myself, had been a nurse for a time after the death of her
husband, but grew tired of that work, and decided in the winter of 1897
and 1898 to go into the Klondyke. A party of forty men and women going
to Dawson was made up in Seattle, and she joined them. For weeks they
were busily engaged in making their preparations. Living near me, as she
did at the time, I was often with Carrie N. and was much interested in
her movements and accompanied her to the Alaska steamer the day she
sailed. It was the little ship "Alki" upon which she went away, and it
was crowded with passengers and loaded heavily with freight for the trip
to Dyea, as Skagway and the dreaded White Pass had been voted out of the
plans of the Seattle party of forty.

[Illustration: GOING TO DAWSON IN WINTER.]

Now in Dawson I called upon Carrie N. eighteen months later, and heard
her tell the story of her trip to the Klondyke. They had landed, she
said, at Dyea from the "Alki" with their many tons of provisions and
supplies, all of which had to be dumped upon the beach where no dock or
wharf had ever been constructed. Here with dog-teams and sleds, a few
horses and men "packers," their supplies were hauled up the mountain as
far as "Sheep Camp," some ten miles up the mountain side. It was early
springtime and the snow lay deep upon the mountains and in the gorges,
which, in the vicinity of Chilkoot Pass at the summit of the mountain
are frightfully high and precipitous.

The weather was not cold, and the moving of this large party of forty
persons with their entire outfit was progressing as favorably as could
be expected. A camp had been made at Dyea as the base of operations;
another was made at Sheep Camp. At each place the women of the party did
the cooking in tents while men gathered wood, built fires, and brought
water. Other men worked steadily at the hauling, and most of their
supplies had already been transported to the upper camp; when there
occurred a tragedy so frightful as to make itself a part of
never-to-be-forgotten Alaskan history.

It was on Sunday, and a snow storm was raging, but the weather was warm.
Hundreds of people thronged the trails both going up and coming down the
mountain in their effort to quickly transport their outfits over to the
other side, and thus make the best possible time in reaching the gold
fields. Here a difference of opinion arose among the people of our
Seattle party, for some, more daring than the others, wished to push on
over the summit regardless of the storm; while the more cautious ones
demurred and held back, thinking it the part of discretion to wait for
better weather. A few venturesome ones kept to their purpose and started
on ahead, promising to meet the laggards at Lake Bennett with boats of
their own making in which to journey down the river and lakes to Dawson.

Their promises were never fulfilled.

While they, in company with hundreds of others as venturesome, trudged
heavily up the narrow trail, a roar as of an earthquake suddenly sounded
their death-knell. Swiftly down the mountain side above them tore the
terrible avalanche, a monster formation of ice, snow and rock, the
latter loosened and ground off the face of old Chilkoot by the rushing
force of the moving snowslide urged on by a mighty wind. In an instant's
time a hundred men and women were brushed, like flies from a ceiling,
off the face of the mountain into their death below, leaving a space
cleared of all to the bare earth where only a few seconds before had
stood the patient toilers on the trail.

Only one thing remained for the living to do, and that was to drop all
else and rescue, if possible, the dying and engulfed ones. This they
did. When the wind had died away the snow in the air cleared, and
hundreds of men threw themselves into the rescue work. Many were injured
but lived. Some were buried in snow but found their way to light again.
One man was entirely covered except one arm which he used energetically
to inform those above him of his whereabouts. He was taken out unharmed,
and lived to welcome the writer of this to Dawson, where he carted and
delivered her trunk faithfully.

But Carrie N. had remained at Sheep Camp and was safe. Then her
experience in nursing stood her in good stead; and while men brought the
dead to camp, she, with others, for hours performed the services which
made the bodies ready for burial. It was a heart-rending undertaking and
required a cool head and steady hand, both of which Carrie N. possessed.
Two men of her party thus lost their lives, and it was not until days
afterward that the last of the poor unfortunates were found. Nearly one
hundred lives were lost in this terrible disaster, but there were
undoubtedly those whose bodies were never found, and whose death still
remains a mystery.



CHAPTER IV.

THE RUSH.


Since the discovery of gold by George Carmack on Bonanza Creek in
September, 1896, the growth of this country has been phenomenal, more
especially so to the one who has visited and is familiar with Dawson and
the Klondyke mining section.

As to the entire yield of gold from the Klondyke Creeks, none can say
except approximately; for the ten per cent. royalty imposed by the
Canadian government has always met a phase of human nature which prompts
to concealment and dishonesty, so that a truthful estimate cannot be
made.

The Canadian Dominion government is very oppressive. Mining laws are
very arbitrary and strictly enforced. A person wishing to prospect for
gold must first procure a miner's license, paying ten dollars for it. If
anything is discovered, and he wishes to locate a claim, he visits the
recorder's office, states his business, and is told to call again. In
the meantime, men are sent to examine the locality and if anything of
value is found, the man wishing to record the claim is told that it is
already located. The officials seize it. The man has no way of
ascertaining if the land was properly located, and so has no redress. If
the claim is thought to be poor, he can locate it by the payment of a
fifteen dollar fee.

One half of all mining land is reserved for the crown, a quarter or more
is gobbled by corrupt officials, and a meagre share left for the daring
miners who, by braving hardship and death, develop the mines and open up
the country.

"Any one going into the country has no right to cut wood for any
purpose, or to kill any game or catch any fish, without a license for
which a fee of ten dollars must be paid. With such a license it is
unlawful to sell a stick of wood for any purpose, or a pound of fish or
game." The law is strictly enforced. To do anything, one must have a
special permit, and for every such permit he must pay roundly.

The story is told of a miner in a hospital who was about to die. He
requested that the Governor be sent for. Being asked what he wanted with
the Governor, he replied: "I haven't any permit, and if I should
undertake to die without a permit, I should get myself arrested."

It is a well-known fact that many claims on Eldorado, Hunker and Bonanza
Creeks have turned out hundreds of thousands of dollars. One pan of
gravel on Eldorado Creek yielded $2100. Frank Dinsmore on Bonanza Creek
took out ninety pounds of solid gold or $24,480 in a single day. On
Aleck McDonald's claim on Eldorado, one man shoveled in $20,000 in
twelve hours. McDonald, in two years, dug from the frozen ground
$2,207,893. Charley Anderson, on Eldorado, panned out $700 in three
hours. T. S. Lippy is said to have paid the Canadian government $65,000
in royalties for the year 1898 and Clarence Berry about the same.

On Skukum Gulch $30,000 were taken from two boxes of dirt. Frank
Phiscator of Michigan, after a few months' work, brought home $100,000
in gold, selling one-third of his claim interests for $1,333,000, or at
the rate of $5,000,000 for the whole.

When a man is compelled to pay one thousand dollars out of every ten
thousand he digs from the ground, he will boast little of large
"clean-ups"; and for this reason it is hard to estimate the real amount
of gold extracted from the Klondyke mines.

Captain James Kennedy, an old pioneer and conservative mining man,
estimates the output for the season of 1899 as $25,000,000, or fifty
tons of dust and nuggets.

The most commendable thing about the Canadian Government is their strict
enforcement of order. Stealing is an almost unheard of thing, and petty
thieving does not exist. Mounted police in their brown uniforms and
soldiers in their red coats are everywhere seen in and around Dawson,
and they practice methods, which, to the uninitiated, make them very
nearly omnipresent.

While walking down street in Dawson one morning about nine o'clock, I
passed a group of men all wearing sober faces. "They're done for now,"
said a rough miner, glancing in the direction of the Barracks, where a
black flag was fluttering at the top of a staff.

"How so?" asked another, just come up to the group.

"Three men hung over there, an hour ago. They're goin' to bury 'em now,"
and the speaker twitched his thumbs first toward the Barracks, then
farther east, where a rough stretch of ground lay unused. Here could be
seen policemen and soldiers, evidently in the midst of some performance
not on their daily routine.

A number of prisoners wearing the regulation garb of
convicts,--pantaloons of heavy mackinaw, one leg of yellow and the other
of black,--were carrying long, rough boxes, while others were digging
shallow graves.

Upon inquiry I found that what the miner had said was true. Three
prisoners, two of them Indian murderers, with another man notoriously
bad, had indeed been hung about eight o'clock that morning in the
barracks courtyard. In less than two hours afterward they were interred,
and in as many days they were forgotten.

By the middle of July, 1899, the steamers leaving Dawson on their way
down the Yukon to St. Michael and the new gold fields at Nome, were well
filled with those who were anxious to try their luck in Uncle Sam's
territory where they can breathe, dig, fish, hunt, or die without buying
a license.

By August the steamers coming from St. Michael brought such glowing
accounts of the Nome gold fields, that while few people came in, they
carried as many out as they could accommodate.

By September the rush down the Yukon was tremendous, and of the twelve
thousand people in Dawson many hundreds left for Nome.

When, after six weeks spent in curiously studying conditions and
things,--not to say people,--in the great mining camp, it was decided
that I should accompany my brother down the Yukon to Cape Nome, and so
"out" home to San Francisco, I felt a very distinct sense of
disappointment. The novelty of everything, the excitement which came
each day in some form or other, was as agreeable as the beautiful summer
weather with the long, quiet evenings only settling into darkness at
midnight.

In September came the frosts. Men living in tents moved their little
Yukon stoves inside, and brought fresh sawdust and shavings from the
mills for their beds. Others packed their few possessions into small
boats, hauled down their tents, whistled to their dogs, and rolling up
their sleeves, pulled laboriously up the swift little Klondyke to their
winter "lays" in the mines.

Hundreds were also leaving for the outside. Steamers, both large and
small, going to White Horse and Bennett, carried those who had
joyfully packed their bags and smilingly said good-bye; for they were
going home to the "States." How we strained our eyes from our cabin
window or from the higher bank above, to see the people on the decks of
the out-going boats. How the name of each tug and even freight-carrier
became a familiar household word, and how many were the conjectures as
to whether "she" would get through to White Horse Rapids in the low
water before a freeze-up!

[Illustration: A KLONDYKE CLAIM.]

One day our own steamer came. She was a magnificently equipped river
boat called the "Hannah," belonging to the Alaska Commercial Company,
and had cost one hundred thousand dollars. This was to be her last trip
for the season, and with us it was "home now, or here all winter," and
we made ready to leave. My kodak had been emptied and filled again,
calls on acquaintances made, and good-byes said. My battered and broken
trunk, which, at the hands of the English customs officials had suffered
much, had now to be repaired and put to a good long test. This box was
in a state of total collapse; rollers all gone, covering torn and bent,
screws and nails lost, sides split, bottom entirely dropped out, but it
must go; so my big brother was wheedled into putting it into some kind
of shape again, and it came out stronger than before.

No lunches were needed. The cuisine of the Hannah was said to be as
perfect as could be in this far away corner of the globe, and we trusted
to that.

On September sixteenth the Hannah sounded her whistle--all was hurry and
bustle, and such a sight! If hundreds had stood on the docks to welcome
us as we entered the city, there were thousands now. It was pleasant. We
felt flattered, especially as the band struck up our own national airs,
giving us a medley of "Yankee Doodle," "America," "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp,"
and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." They felt constrained, however,
to wind up with "Sweet Marie," and rag-time dances, one old fellow in
slouch hat and with a few drinks too many, stepping the jigs off in
lively and comical fashion.

Our pride was perceptibly lessened afterward, when we learned that we
had on board a dance hall outfit, and the band belonged to the Monte
Carlo saloon!

We were now in the midst of a group, cosmopolitan beyond our wildest
dreams. Pushing their way through the crowd to the gangplank came men,
women and dogs, carrying grips, kodaks, tin cash boxes, musical
instruments, army sacks, fur robes, and rolls of blankets. Struggling
under the weight of canvas tents, poles, Yukon stoves and sleds, as well
as every conceivable thing, they climbed the stairway to the deck. Here,
and in the main saloon, all was deposited for the time being.

There was a woman with a fine grey cat, for which she had been offered
fifty dollars, wrapped in a warm shawl, much to pussy's disgust. A
number of women had dogs and were weeping, probably at leaving other
canines behind. Several persons carried little grips so heavy that they
tugged along--evidently "Chechako," or paper money, was more scarce with
them than dust and nuggets.

As freight, there was a piano, many iron-bound boxes containing gold
bullion, securely sealed and labeled, and tons of supplies for the
consumption of the passengers, of whom there were now five hundred.

Then the whistle again sounded--the gangplank was hauled in,
handkerchiefs fluttered, the band struck up "Home Sweet Home"--we were
headed down the Yukon River and toward the Arctic Circle.

       *       *       *       *       *

We had now a journey of seventeen hundred miles before us. We were to
traverse a country almost unknown to man. We were two of a party of five
hundred persons, the majority of whom, if not actually desperadoes, were
reckless and given over to the pursuit of gold regardless of the manner
of its getting. There were loose characters of the town by hundreds;
there were gamblers running a variety of games both day and night; there
were dance house girls and musicians; there were drunks and toughs, and
one prize fighter. No firearms or knives were seen, though many, no
doubt, had them.

With the enormous amount of gold on board (for the steamer's safe was
overflowing, and the purser's room well packed with the precious stuff),
with the numbers of hard characters we carried, and the now increasing
remoteness from centres of government, there were dangers, we were
forced to confess, but which we only admitted in whispers.

Three hours after leaving Dawson we were taking on wood at Forty Mile.
This is the oldest camp on the Yukon River, and the early home of Jack
McQuestion. The river banks were lined with canoes; many natives stood
looking at us from the shore, and while stevedores handled the wood,
many passengers visited the town. It was not long before they came back
with hands full of turnips, just pulled from the ground, which, had they
been the most luscious fruit, could not have been eaten with more
relish.

I then tried to buy one of a young man, but he had evidently been long
away from such luxuries, for he refused to sell; afterward, his
gallantry getting the better of him, he politely offered me one-half of
the vegetable, which I took with thanks.

As my brother peeled the precious turnip, I asked him how long since he
had eaten one. "Two years," he promptly replied. Knowing that he was
especially fond of such things, I ate a small slice, and gave him the
remainder. It is needless to say he enjoyed it.

To the right of the landing at Forty Mile, just across a small stream
which runs into the Yukon, is Fort Cudahy, containing the stores and
warehouses of one of the large companies, as well as a post-office.

[Illustration: EAGLE CITY, ON THE YUKON, IN 1899.]

But we were soon off again, steaming along between hills yellow with
fading poplar leaves and green streaked with pines. Many rocky spurs
towered grandly heavenward, with tops, like silvered heads, covered with
newly fallen snow. The Yukon is here very crooked and narrow, and abrupt
banks hedged our steamer in on all sides.

Next morning early we arrived at Eagle City, Alaska. We were now in
Uncle Sam's land, and breathed more freely. We felt at home. We cheered
and waved our handkerchiefs to the blue uniformed soldiers on the river
bank who had come to see us.

We went ashore and called upon lieutenant L., lately from his home in
Connecticut and campaigning in Cuba. Taking us into a log house near by,
he pointed out forty thousand rounds of ammunition and one hundred and
fifteen Krag-Jorgensen rifles of the latest pattern.

Here were stationed one hundred and fifteen men, some of them at that
time out moose hunting and fishing. Captain Ray, an old white-haired
gentleman, stood outside his cabin door. At Eagle we saw the new
government barracks just being finished, the logs and shingles having
been sawed at the government saw-mill near by, at the mouth of Mission
Creek.

We were particularly struck with the very youthful appearance of our
soldiers, and their wistful faces as they watched our preparations for
departure.

The lieutenant had said that life in Cuba, or in almost any old place
was preferable to that at Eagle, with the long winter staring them in
the face, and we could see that the poor fellow longed for home. We were
quite touched, but tried to cheer him as best we could.

Circle City, on a big bend of the river from which it derives its name,
was reached the following evening. Here all hands crowded over the
gangplank and into the stores. In less time than it takes to write it,
these places were filled with miners, each man pulling away at his
strong, old pipe, the companion of many weary months perhaps; while over
the counters they handed their gold dust in payment for the "best plug
cut," chewing gum, candy, or whatever else they saw that looked
tempting. Here we bought two pairs of beaded moccasins for seven
dollars.

As a heavy fog settled down upon us, our captain thought best to tie up
the steamer over night, and did so. Next morning by daylight we saw the
offices of the United States marshal; both log cabins with dirt roofs,
upon which bunches of tall weeds were going to seed. We hoped this was
not symbolical of the state of Uncle Sam's affairs in the interior, but
feared it might be, as the places seemed deserted.

Many of the one thousand cabins at Circle were now vacant, but it is the
largest town next to Dawson on the Yukon River.

During the whole of the next day our pilots steered cautiously over the
Yukon Flats.

This is a stretch of about four hundred miles of low, swampy country,
where the Yukon evidently loses its courage to run swiftly, for it
spreads out indolently in all directions between treacherous and
shifting sand-bars, fairly disheartening to all not familiar with its
many peculiarities.

We now learned for the first time that we were practically in the hands
of three pilots, two of whom were Eskimos, one of them on a salary of
five hundred dollars per month. This man was perfectly familiar with the
entire river, being an expert pilot, as he proved during this trip to
the satisfaction of all.

Owing to the near approach of winter, and the extremely low water at
this point, the captain, crew, and many others, wore anxious faces until
the Flats were well passed. Should our steamer stick fast on a sand-bar,
or take fire, we might easily be landed; but to be left in such a bleak
and barren place, with cold weather approaching, snow beginning to fall,
no shelter, and only provisions for a few days, with traveling
companions of the very worst type, and no passing steamers to pick us
up, we would indeed meet a hard fate, and one even the prospect of which
was well calculated to make strong men shudder.



CHAPTER V

AT THE ARCTIC CIRCLE.


We were now at the Arctic Circle. For three days we had no sunshine, and
flurries of snow were frequent. The mountain tops, as well as the banks
and sand-bars of the river, were spread with a thin covering of snow;
enough at least to give a wintry aspect. This added to the leaden sky
above, made the warmth of big coal fires acceptable indoors, and fur
coats comfortable on the decks.

At Fort Yukon the low water prevented our landing. We were told,
however, that the place contained one hundred log houses, as well as an
old Episcopal Mission, in which Mrs. Bumpus had lived and taught the
natives for twenty years. Many of the Eskimo girls are trained as
children's nurses and make very satisfactory ones.

Into the Yukon Flats empty the Porcupine River, Birch Creek and other
streams. Fort Yukon was established by the Hudson Bay Company many years
ago, all supplies coming in and shipments of furs going out by way of
the McKensie River and the great Canadian Lakes.

Toward evening one day, while the stevedores were busy handling wood, we
went ashore and visited an Eskimo family in their hut. It was built on
the high river bank among the trees, quite near the steamer's landing.
On the roof of the hut, there lay, stretched on sticks to dry, a large
brown bear skin. Near by we saw the head of a freshly killed moose, with
the hoofs of the animal still bloody.

[Illustration: YUKON STEAMER "HANNAH."]

As we stooped to enter the low door of the cabin, we felt the warmth
from the fire in the little Yukon stove which was placed in the corner
of the room. Next to this was a rude table, on which lay a quarter of
moose meat, looking more or less tempting to travelers living on canned
goods.

A bed stood in one corner, upon which two or three little children were
playing, and upon a pile of rags and skins on the floor sat an old
Eskimo woman, wrinkled and brown. These were her children and
grandchildren, and she was spending her life on the floor of the cabin,
watching the little ones play around her, for she was paralyzed.

There were no chairs in the cabin, and but few rude utensils and
playthings. A box or tin can, which had contained provisions, was now
and then utilized.

After a few moments with the Eskimos, we backed out into the open air
again, for the atmosphere of the hut was peculiar, and not altogether
agreeable to our southern olfactories. It reminded us of Mrs. Peary's
description of native smells in Greenland.

The short path back to our steamer lay through a poplar grove, and
under our feet was spread a carpet of brown and yellow leaves, which, in
the cool night air, smelled ripe and woodsy.

Next came Fort Hamlin, where we again saw some of Uncle Sam's boys, and
where we trudged out through the soft light snow and took some kodak
views.

Rampart City was reached in the early evening. One long row of houses
upon the south bank of the Yukon, near the mouth of the Big Minook Creek
constitutes the town. Here empty the Little Minook, Alder, Hunter, and
many other gold-bearing creeks, and a bustling town sprung up only to be
almost depopulated during the Nome excitement.

By this time several inches of snow had fallen, and the ground was
freezing. We managed here to climb the slippery steps of the log store
building in the dusk and buy a pound of ordinary candy, for which we
paid one dollar.

Again we were in deep water. This time so very smooth that the hills,
peaks, trees and islands were all mirrored on its surface, and very
beautiful.

The days were now quite short. About five in the afternoon the electric
lights were turned on through the steamer, fresh coal again piled on the
fires, and we reminded ourselves how comfortably we were traveling.

Then the dinner bell rang, and we sat down to dinner. Some attempt at
decoration had been made, for tall glasses stood in the centre of the
tables filled with ripe grasses and pretty autumn leaves, but, strange
to relate, we were more interested in the contents of our soup plates
and what was to follow. The cold and bracing air during our short walks
on deck had given us all famous appetites, and we relished everything.

After hot soup with crackers, we ate of fresh fish, three kinds of
canned meats, baked or boiled potatoes, with one other kind of
vegetable, canned tomatoes, corn or beans. Side dishes consisted of
pickles, olives, cheese, sardines, canned fruits, fancy crackers or
biscuits, and afterward came pudding and pie. These last were made from
various canned fruits, and with the rice, sago or tapioca pudding,
formed most enjoyable desserts. On Sunday nuts and raisins or apples
were added to the menu.

If we ate with keen appetites, we were not too much occupied to take
note of the passengers around us. Nearly opposite sat a beautiful woman
with a profusion of auburn hair piled high on her head. She was
fashionably dressed in black silk or satin, and her white fingers were
loaded with costly rings. As she handed a dish to the man beside her,
her diamonds and other gems sparkled brightly. Her companion, much
older, had a hard and villainous face. A heavy frown of displeasure
habitually rested upon his brow, and his glance was shifting and
evasive. He was a professional gambler, kept his game running
continually, and was going to Nome.

At the end of the table sat a tall and pleasant mannered young
Englishman, with blue eyes and ruddy cheeks. He represented mining
interests in the Klondyke amounting to millions, and was on his way to
London. He was fond of wine, and consorted chiefly with those who were
fast bringing him down to their level.

There was the girl with pretty black eyes, lady-like movements, low
voice, and exquisite toilettes. A blue-eyed, pretty little blonde, with
infantile complexion, small hands and feet, and wearing a tailor-made
suit attracted considerable attention. She was fond of cigarettes and
smoked many times a day, though she only looked "sweet sixteen." They
were both dance-house girls.

There was a young and handsome Englishman in the triggest of dude
toggery, but having a squaw wife and three children, as well as older
men at the head of similar broods.

The long tables were spread two or three times at each meal, as several
hundred people were to be fed.

A different class, and a worst one if possible, was met with at these
late meals. Do you see that short, fat woman over there with the bleared
eyes, and the neck of a prize fighter? She is a Dawson saloon keeper,
and is now on her way to Nome.

But there were a number of people on the steamer not properly
belonging to this set, and after supper a few usually gathered in one
corner to listen to each other's experiences in the far Northwest. Some
were tales of hardship, sickness and death; some of hair-breadth escapes
from the jaws of an Arctic winter, or from shipwreck. One told of
having, two years before, paid $175 for five sacks of flour in the
Klondyke; selling the same, a few days later, for $500. Stories of rich
strikes were related; how one man, while drunk, was persuaded by his
associates to trade a valuable claim for one apparently worthless; his
indescribable feelings the next day and until he had prospected the
so-called worthless claim, when it proved ten times richer than the
first one.

[Illustration: FELLOW TRAVELERS.]

A little middle-aged Norwegian woman told her story with great gusto.
She had sailed from Seattle two years before with Mayor Woods'
expedition, getting as far as a point on the Yukon River two hundred
miles below Rampart City. Here the low water prevented their going
farther. She, in company with others, made her way to Rampart as best
she could, rested and "outfitted" for a trip to Dawson over the ice.
Finally, with sleds and provisions, eight dogs and four men, she
started. It was a journey of about eight hundred miles. Before leaving
Rampart she experimented with fur sleeping bags, and finally made one in
which she could sleep comfortably on the ice and snow. Rice and tea were
their staple articles of diet, being more quickly prepared in hasty
camps at night, and being found most nourishing. After a perilous trip
of thirty-five days in the dead of winter, they reached Dawson in good
shape, two days ahead of a party of men with whom a wager had been made.
With these, and similar stories, we whiled away the long evening hours
by the fire. Many short stops were made along the river. A few little
settlements were passed during the night. At Holy Cross and Russian
Mission we saw flourishing Catholic schools for the natives.

The Yukon was now getting wider and wider, the water was shallow and
more shallow, then suddenly we felt a heavy jar. The big stern wheel
refused to move,--we were stuck fast on a sand-bar! Here we remained all
day, dreading a hard freeze which was liable to settle down upon us at
any time, fixing our boat and us in the ice indefinitely. But we were
now in the Aphoon, or eastern mouth of the Yukon, and near enough to
Behring Sea to get the benefit of the tides; so that in the early
evening we again heard the thud of the big machines,--the steamer
quivered,--the stern wheel again revolved,--we had entered the Behring
Sea!

By four o'clock next morning we were in St. Michael Bay, having covered
the sixty miles from the mouth of the river during the night. Snow was
falling heavily through which we saw the lights of the harbor, and a
number of vessels at anchor. By daylight we counted eleven ships and
two revenue cutters lying under the lee of the island.

Breakfast was served on board, and an hour later we went ashore. We now
sought the steamer company's hotel, and had no difficulty in getting
good rooms and seats at table; for we were still in their care, having
bought through tickets to San Francisco. Here we were to wait for the
ocean steamer "Bertha," which was now nearly due from that place, and we
anxiously watched the weather signs hoping all would be favorable, and
that she would very soon put in her appearance.

Our hotel was a new frame building of about forty rooms, lighted by
electricity, having large halls, pleasant double parlors overlooking the
bay, with a good view of incoming ships from the north. Just across the
street stood an old block house or fort containing the funny little
cannon used by the Russians over a hundred years ago. The antiquated
lock on the door, the hundreds of bullet holes in the outer walls, were
all quaintly interesting.

Half a mile south were stores, a hotel, another large company's dock,
and in good weather we tramped over there or north the same distance to
the headquarters of a third company. These three were small settlements
by themselves, and constituted, with their employees, natives and dogs,
the whole population of St. Michael. Good sidewalks connected these
different stations and commanded fine and extensive views of the
surrounding water.

St. Michael, as an island, is not large, and is entirely without trees
or timber. However, there is deep, wet moss or tundra everywhere, as one
soon discovers to his sorrow if he attempts to leave the plank walks.
St. Michael Bay, lying between the island and the mainland on the east,
is a fine body of water. The coast line is well defined with ranges of
mountains zigzagging their cold and snowy peaks, blue tinted or purple
during the day, and pink in the setting sun.

St. Michael is the windiest place on earth. After a few days spent in
studying the native dress of the Eskimos, and in trying to adapt my own
dress to the freakish breezes I concluded that if I stayed at St.
Michael I should dress as they did. If I started for the eating room
with my hat properly placed on hair arranged with ever so much care, a
heavy beaver cape, and dress of walking length, I was completely
demoralized in appearance five minutes later on reaching the mess-house.
With a twisting motion which was so sudden as to totally surprise me, my
dress was wound around my feet, my cape was flung as if by spiteful
hands entirely over my head, causing me to step in my confusion from the
plank walk; while my hat was perched sidewise anywhere above or on my
shoulder. One unfortunate woman wearing an overskirt covering a striped
cambric sham, was seen daily struggling, with intense disgust on her
face, up the steps of the eating house, with her unruly overskirt
waving wildly in the wind.

But this wind did not keep the Eskimo women and children at home.
Dressed in their fur parkies, which are a sort of long blouse with hood
attachment, short skirts and muckluks, or skin boots, they trotted down
to the beach daily to fish, standing on the wet and slippery rocks,
regardless of wind, spray or snow. Here they flung their fish lines out
into the water and hauled the little fish up dexterously; when, with a
curious twitch they disengaged the finny fellows and tossed them into a
big pan. Little Eskimo children ran on in front of their mothers, and
shaggy dogs followed close behind at the smell of the fish.



CHAPTER VI

COMPANIONS.


But there were passengers arriving at St. Michael each day from
different points bound for Nome.

At last the side-wheeler "Sadie" was to leave for Nome, and what a
commotion! Men in fur coats, caps and mittens, leading dogs of all
colors and sizes, some barking, but all hustled along with no thought of
anything except to reach Cape Nome as quickly as possible. At last they
were off. A rough, and in some instances a drunken lot, but all
hopefully happy and sure that they would "strike it rich" in the new
gold fields. Many, no doubt, were going to their death, many to
hardships and disappointments undreamed of, while a few would find gold
almost inexhaustible.

Still we waited day after day for the ocean steamer "Bertha." One Sunday
morning we looked from the hotel windows to see a clear, cold sky, with
sun and high wind. About ten o'clock we heard a steamer whistling for
assistance. She was small and used for errands by one of the steamship
companies. Still none went to the rescue, as the gale was terrific. A
steam tug started out, but she passed by on the other side, not caring
to act the part of good Samaritan to a rival. In a few moments the
fires of the little steamer were out,--she was sinking. Through a glass
we saw three men on the roof of the craft--then they clung to the
smokestack. A larger steamer, though herself disabled, finally reached
the three drowning men. It was not a moment too soon, for the water was
icy, the gale fearful. They were then hauled in, almost exhausted and
frozen.

It was a wild day. Soon after noon, one of the two big covered barges in
tow by the "Lackme," already loaded for a start for Nome, began to sink.
The wind came from the north, and little by little the barge became
unmanageable, until at last she was cut loose and deserted. For an hour
we watched the barge, until, she too, sank out of sight beneath the
waters of the bay.

Small steamers still came straggling in from Dawson crowded with
passengers going to the new gold fields, and our tired cooks and
stewards in the kitchens were rushed both day and night. Here the price
of a meal, to all but those having through tickets to San Francisco, was
one dollar, and fifteen hundred meals a day were frequently served.

In this hotel we waited two weeks, patiently at times, restlessly at
other times. What would we do if the Bertha failed to appear? Possibly
she was lost, and now drifting, a worthless derelict, at the mercy of
the winds! Not another boat would or could carry us, tickets on each one
having long ago been sold. If we should be frozen in all winter, with
no way of letting our friends at home know of our whereabouts for six
months, how terrible would be their anxiety, how hard for us in this
exposed spot near the Arctic Sea! Many times a day and in the night did
this emergency present itself to us, and we shuddered. Each day we
climbed the hill a quarter of a mile away to look, Robinson Crusoe like,
over the ocean to see if we could discover the "Bertha."

In the meantime, with note book and pencil in hand I often sat in the
parlor; and, while occupied to a certain extent, I gathered sundry bits
of information regarding the gold fields in this wonderful new Golconda.
Two million dollars, it was said, had already been extracted from the
beach at Nome, and no estimate could be made on what was still there.
The pay streak ran to the water's edge, and even farther, but just how
far, no one knew.

Back of this beach spread the tundra, an expanse of marsh, ice and
water, which extends some four miles inland. The size of the claims
allowed by law is one thousand three hundred and twenty feet in length,
and six hundred and sixty feet in width; or about twenty acres of land.
The insignificant sum of $2.50 is required to be paid the recorder.

In the York District the area allowed for claims is smaller, being five
hundred feet in width, and the length depending on the geographical
formation or creek upon which the claim is situated.

North of Nome there are ninety to one hundred miles of gold-bearing
beach to be worked, and again to the south a vast stretch of like
character extending to Norton Bay. The tundra, which is nothing but the
old beach, follows the present shore, and is fully as rich as the
surf-washed sands. More productive and larger than all is the inland
region traversed by rivers and creeks that form a veritable network of
streams, all bordered by gold-producing soil.

Anvil Creek, Sunset Gulch, Snow Gulch and Dexter Creek, near Nome, are
all exceedingly rich; one claim on Snow Gulch having been sold for
$185,000, and another for $13,000.

Golovin Bay District is situated eighty-five miles east of Nome City,
and is large and very rich. Fish River is the principal one in this
section, and has innumerable small tributaries running into it, most of
which are also rich in gold.

Casa de Paga is a tributary of the Neukluk River, and very rich. On
Ophir Creek, claim No. four, above Discovery, $48,000 was taken out in
nineteen days by the Dusty Diamond Company working seventeen men. On
number twenty-nine above Discovery on Ophir Creek, seventeen dollars
were taken out a day per man, who dug out frozen gravel, thawed it by
the heat of a coal-oil stove, and afterward rocked it.

There was much discussion over the rights of those claiming mining lands
located by the power of attorney; though the majority of men here
seemed to believe they would hold good, and many such papers were made
out in due legal form.

At last, on the morning of October ninth, the "Bertha" really appeared.
It was a clear, cold day, sunny and calm. I ran in high spirits to the
top of the hill overlooking the bay to get a good view. Sure enough,
there lay the "Bertha" on the bright waters as though she had always
been there. How rejoiced everyone was! How relieved were those who
intended to remain here because of the additions to the winter's
supplies, and how rejoiced were those waiting to get away? How we all
bustled about, packing up, buying papers and magazines just from the
steamer, sealing and stamping letters, making notes in diaries, taking
kodak views, saying good-bye to acquaintances, ad infinitum.

All were willing to leave. Finally on the afternoon of the tenth we were
stowed into the big covered barge which was to take us out to the
"Bertha." It was cold and draughty inside, so we found a sheltered place
in the sun on some piles of luggage, and sat there. As the "Bertha" was
reached, a gangplank was thrown over to the barge, which came as close
alongside as possible, and up this steep and narrow board we climbed,
clinging to a rope held by men on both decks.

Our trouble had now begun. We were overjoyed at making a start at last,
but under what conditions! The river steamer "Hannah" had been a model
of neatness as compared with this one. On deck there were coops of
chickens, and pens of live sheep and pigs brought from San Francisco to
be put off at Nome, as well as a full passenger list for the same place.
On the way here a landing had been attempted at Nome, but the surf had
been so tremendous that it could not be accomplished, and passengers
still occupied the staterooms that we were to have. However, we were
temporarily sandwiched in, and, about four P. M., said good-bye to St.
Michael.

It was a lovely day and the waters of the bay were very calm. Along
shore in the most sheltered places were numbers of river steamers and
smaller craft being snugly tucked up for the winter. From three tall
flagstaffs on shore there floated gracefully as many American flags as
though to wish us well on our long journey out to civilization.

That night on board was simply pandemonium. Hundreds of people had no
beds, and were obliged to sit or walk about, many sitting in corners on
the floor, or on piles of luggage or lying under or upon the tables.
Every seat and berth were taken. Many of the staterooms below were
filled from floor to ceiling with flour in sacks for Nome, as well as
every foot of space in passage-ways or pantries. Many men were so
disorderly from drink that they kept constantly swearing and quarreling,
and one man, in a brawl, was almost toppled into the sea. To make
things worse, the stench from the pens of the animals on deck became
almost unbearable, and the wind came up, making the water rough.

There was no sleep for us that night. We longed to reach Nome that we
might be rid of some of these objectionable things, and hoped for an
improvement afterward.

From St. Michael to Nome, the distance is about one hundred and
twenty-five miles, and the latter place was reached about eight A. M. A
little before daylight we had been startled by a series of four sudden
shocks or jars, the first being accompanied by a very distinct creaking
of timbers of the ship, so that some of us rose and dressed; but the
ship had apparently sustained no injury, and we proceeded on our way.
Whether we had struck a rock, or only a sand-bar, we never knew, for the
ship's men laughed and evaded our questions; but the passengers believed
that the boat had touched a reef or rock, hidden, perhaps, beneath the
surface of the sea.

By daylight the animals had been removed to a barge, and soon after
breakfast the Nome passengers were taken ashore in like manner, for the
surf was so heavy on the beach, and there being no docks or wharves, it
was impossible for a large steamer to get nearer.

Away in the distance to the north lay the famous new gold camp of
Nome. Stretched for miles along the beach could be seen the little white
tents of the beach miners, back of which lay the town proper, and still
back, the rolling hills now partly covered with snow. Not a tree or
shrub could be seen, though we strained our eyes through a strong glass
in an effort to find them. A few wooden buildings larger than the rest
were pointed out as the Alaska Commercial Company's warehouses and
offices, near where the loaded barges were tossed by the huge breakers
toward the beach.

[Illustration: ESKIMOS.]

Passengers now went ashore to visit the camps, but to my great
disappointment I was not allowed to do so on account of the tremendous
surf. When, after watching others, seeing their little boats tossed like
cockle shells upon the sands, and hearing how thoroughly drenched with
salt water many of the people were while landing, I gave it up, and
remained on board.

For five days we lay anchored outside, while stevedores loaded supplies
from the "Bertha" on barges towed ashore by the side-wheeler "Sadie."
For hours the wind would blow and the breakers and surf run so high that
nothing could be done; then at sundown, perhaps, the wind would die
away, and men were put to work unloading again. The calls of those
lifting and tugging, the rattle of pulleys and chains, never were
stilled night or day if the water was passably smooth, and we learned to
sleep soundly amid all the confusion.

Next morning the steamer "Cleveland" cast anchor near the "Bertha."
Presently we saw a small boat lowered over the side and two women were
handed down into it, four men following and seating themselves at the
oars. The ship on which the women had first sailed had been wrecked on
St. George's Island; from there they were rescued by the revenue cutter
"Bear," transferred to the "Cleveland," and were now going ashore at
Nome, their destination. As they passed us we noticed that they sat
upright in the middle of the lifeboat, the hoods of their cloaks drawn
quite over their heads. We were told that one of these women had come to
meet her lover and be married, and we felt like cheering such heroism.

Next day the bodies of several men were picked up on the beach near
town. They had started for Cape Prince of Wales in a small boat and been
overtaken by disaster. Many were dying of fever on shore, and nurses,
doctors and drugs were in great demand.

Many tales of interest now reached our ears, but not many can here be
given.

One of the first American children to open his eyes to the light of day
in this bleak and barren place--Nome City--was Little Willie S. His
parents lived in a poor board shack or house which his father had built
just back of the golden beach sands. Here the surf, all foam-tipped,
spread itself at the rising and falling of the tides, and here the
miners toiled day after day washing out the precious gold.

It was here that Willie's papa, soon after the baby came, sickened and
died. He had worked too long in the wind and rain, and they laid him
under the tundra at the foot of the hill.

For a time the baby grew. The mother and child were now dependent upon
the community for support, but the burly and generous miners did not
allow them to want. Willie was a great pet in the mining camp; the men
being delighted with a peep of his tiny, round face and pink fingers.

The little child could have easily had his weight in gold dust, or
anything else, had he wanted it. Big, shining nuggets had already been
given him to cut his teeth upon when the time came, but that time never
came.

Willie died one day in his mother's arms, while her hot tears fell like
rain upon his face.

Then they laid him to sleep beside his papa under the tundra, where the
shining wheat-gold clung to the moss roots and sparkled as brightly as
the frost and snow which soon covered everything.

When spring came Willie's mamma found the baby's tiny grave, and put
wild flowers and grasses upon it, and there they nodded their pretty
heads above the spot where Willie and his papa quietly sleep.

Passengers for San Francisco were now coming on board with their
luggage. Several men were brought on board on spring beds, being ill
with no contagious disease. A box containing the body of a man, who had
shot himself the day before, was placed upon the hurricane deck, lashed
down, and covered with tarpaulins. Strong boxes of gold bullion, with
long, stout ropes and boards attached in case of accident, were stowed
away in as safe a place as could be found. Copies of the first issue of
the "Nome News" were bought at fifty cents a copy; size, four pages
about a foot square. Beach sand and pebbles, were handed about in many
funny receptacles,--pickle jars, tin cans, flour sacks,--any old thing
would do if only we had the pleasure of seeing the golden sand.

One night about three o'clock the barge brought the last passengers and
freight. The water was smooth, the moon shone brightly, there was no
wind, and the captain and his mate gave their orders in quick, stern
tones. They were in haste to leave. They had lingered here too long
already. All were soon hustled on board; the "Sadie" and her barges
moved away; we took a last, long look at Nome as she stretched herself
on the golden sands of the beach under her electric lights; the "Bertha"
whistled, stuck her nose into the rollers and steamed away.

A more majestic old body of water than Behring Sea would be hard to
find; and we remember it with thanksgiving, for we had no storms or
rough weather during the eight hundred and fifty miles to Unalaska.

Right glad was I that we were fortunate in having a pleasant little
party of eight or ten persons, and our evenings were spent in visiting,
spinning yarns, and singing songs, while some hours each day were passed
on the hurricane deck. Here we became familiar with the sea phrases
commonly used, and watched the old salts "bracing the mast arms,"
"hoisting the jibs," or "tacking," and could tell when we had a "cross
sea," a "beam sea," or a "sou' wester." As we neared Unalaska on the
Aleutian Islands, the sea became rough, and we had more wind, but we
joyfully sighted high hills or rocks to the east, and bade good-bye to
old Behring. For three and a half days he had behaved well, and never
will we quietly hear him maligned.

Unalaska, sweet isle of the sea! How beautiful she looked to our eyes
which had only seen water for days! Its bold and rocky cliffs, its
towering peaks snow capped; its sequestered and winding valleys, and
bright, sparkling waterfalls; its hillsides in all the artistic shades
of red, brown, yellow, green, purple, black and white; its water in all
the tints of blue and azure, reflecting sky that looked

   "As though an angel in his upward flight,
    Had left his mantle floating in mid-air."

All, all, greeted the eye of the worn voyager most restfully.

Clusters of quaint red buildings were soon seen nestling under the
mountain--that was Dutch Harbor, and a mile farther on we arrived at the
dock at Unalaska. We would be here twenty-four hours taking on fresh
water, coal, and food, they told us, and we all ran out like sheep from
a pen, or school children at intermission. We drank fresh water from the
spring under the green hillside; we bought apples and oranges at the
store, and furs of the furrier; we rowed in a skiff and scampered over
the hills to Dutch Harbor; we watched jelly-fish and pink star-fish in
the water; we saw white reindeer apparently as tame as cows browsing on
the slopes; we visited an old Greek church, and were kept from the very
holiest place where only men were allowed to go, retaliating when we
came to the cash box at the door--we dropped nothing in; we climbed the
highest mountain near by, and staked imaginary gold claims after
drinking in the beauties of the views which encompassed us; we snapped
our kodaks repeatedly, and then, having reached the limit of our time
and strength, wended our way back to the steamer now ready to sail.

Leaving the harbor, we all stayed on deck as long as possible trying to
fix the grandeur of the scenery in our minds so it could not slip away,
and then Priest Rock was passed, we had turned about eastward, and were
in Unimak Pass. Here the wind blew a gale from the west, on account of
which we were obliged to go below to our staterooms after watching the
sailors lash everything on the hurricane deck well down in case of
storm. After a few hours we left the Pass, with its precipitous cliffs,
its barren and rocky slopes, its cones of extinct volcanoes, its rough
and deep water, and headed due southeast for "Frisco."

Many unpleasant people and things we found on board as we proceeded, for
not all of these had been left at Nome; but with a philosopher's
fortitude we studied to overlook everything disagreeable, and partly
succeeded. That our efforts were not a complete success was due partly,
at least, to our early education and large stock of ideality, and we
were really not so much to blame.

The remainder of our journey was somewhat monotonous, broken only by
drunken brawls at midnight on deck, waking us from sound slumbers; or
the sight of a whale spouting during the day. Sometimes a breeze would
spring up from the wrong direction, rolling us for a few hours, causing
us to prefer a reclining posture instead of an upright one, and giving
our complexions a still deeper lemonish cast; sometimes we were well
inclined to feed the fishes in the sea, and did not; but at all times we
were thankful that matters were no worse.

Then, after many days out from Unalaska we began to look for land.
Seagulls and goonies had followed in the wake of our ship, and rested
themselves each day aloft in the rigging. Sails were now and then seen
in the distance, like the spreading white wings of enormous swans
gliding quietly over the bosom of the deep, and we realized that we were
nearing land. In the darkness one night there came to us a little white
boat containing three men,--one was a pilot to guide us safely through
the beautiful Golden Gate; the light on Point Bonita was sighted--we
were almost home.

We were now six weeks out from Dawson and twenty-one days from Nome; we
had no storms, accidents or deaths on board, and carried five hundred
passengers, as well as three million dollars in gold. I had been away
from home four months without a day's illness, and during my trip
through Alaska had traveled seventy-five hundred miles, nearly one-half
of this distance alone.

[Illustration: UNALASKA.]



CHAPTER VII.

GOING TO NOME.


One beautiful day in the spring of 1900 I sailed again for Alaska--this
time for Nome from San Francisco. An English family consisting of the
mother, one son and a daughter were to accompany me, and we had spent
weeks in making our preparations. We were taking supplies of clothing,
food, tents and bedding sufficient to last until some of our numerous
plans of work after our arrival brought in returns. My hope was to meet
my father there, for he had written that he thought he should go to the
new gold fields, where he could do beach mining.

I was not above doing any honest work, and felt confident that I could
make my way if I could gain an entrance into that country. The English
people were all workers, and I had known them for ten years or more.

Our steamer was the good ship "St. Paul," belonging to the Alaska
Commercial Company, and was advertised to sail on May twenty-fifth. When
I laughingly called the attention of one of the owners of the ship to
the fact that that date fell upon Friday, and many persons objected to
sailing upon that day, he postponed the starting of the "St. Paul" to
May twenty-sixth, and we left the dock on Saturday afternoon amid the
cheers and hand-waving of thousands of people who had come to see the
big boat off for Nome.

The steamer was well fitted out, spick and span in fresh carpets and
paint, and crowded to the utmost capacity for comfort. Every stateroom
was full; each seat at the tables occupied. Not a foot of space above or
below decks was left unused, but provision was made for all, and the
ship was well manned.

I was now much gratified to learn that there were many on board whom I
had met before; that the steward, stewardess and several of the waiters
had been on duty on the steamer "Bertha" during my trip out from Alaska
the fall before, while I was upon speaking terms with a dozen or more of
the passengers with whom I had traveled from the same place. Of
passengers we had, all told, four hundred and eighty-seven. Of these
thirty-five were women. There was only one child on board, and that was
the little black-eyed girl with her Eskimo mother and white father from
Golovin Bay whom I had seen at St. Michael some months before, and who
was now going back to her northern home. She wore a sailor suit of navy
blue serge, trimmed with white braid, and was as coy and cunning as
ever, not speaking often to strangers, but laughing and running away to
her mother when addressed.

From the day we sailed from San Francisco until we reached Nome I missed
no meals in the dining salon, a pace which my English friends and others
could not follow, for they were uncomfortably ill in the region of their
digestive apparatus for several days. I slept for hours each day and
thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

During the nine days' sail from San Francisco to Unalaska, a distance of
two thousand three hundred and sixty-eight miles, I studied well the
passengers. We had preachers on board, as well as doctors, lawyers,
merchants and miners, and there were women going to Nome to start eating
houses, hotels and mercantile shops. There were several Swedish
missionaries; one, a zealous young woman from San Francisco, going to
the Swedish Mission at Golovin Bay.

This young person was pretty and pleasant, and I was glad to make her
acquaintance as well as that of three other women speaking the same
tongue and occupying the next stateroom to mine. The last named were
going to start a restaurant in Nome. As they were sociable, jolly, and
good sailors for the most part, I enjoyed their society. They had all
lived in San Francisco for years, and though not related to each other,
were firm friends of long standing and were uniting their little
fortunes in the hope of making greater ones.

The young missionary was a friend to the other three, and I found no
better or more congenial companions on board the ship than these four
honest, hard-working women, so full of hope, courage and good sense as
well as Christianity. Little did I then think that these people, placed
by a seeming chance in an adjoining stateroom, were to be my
fellow-workers and true friends, not only for the coming months in that
Arctic land to which we were going, but, as the sequel will show,
perhaps for years to come.

Not many days had passed when we found that we had on board what few
steamers can boast of, and that was an orchestra of professional
musicians among the waiters. These were men going, with all the others,
to seek their fortunes in the new gold fields, working their passage as
waiters on the ship to Nome, where they intended to leave it. Three
evenings in the week these musicians, with the help of several singers
on board, gave concerts in the dining salon, which, though impromptu,
were very enjoyable.

A sweet and trained singer was the English girl of our company, and she
sang many times, accompanied by the stringed instruments of the
musicians, much to the delight of the assembled passengers. When she
sang, one evening, in her clear sympathetic voice the selection, "Oh,
Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight," there was not a dry eye in the room,
and the mind of many a man went back to his old home and praying mother
in some far distant state, making him resolve to write oftener to her
that she might be comforted with a knowledge of his whereabouts and
welfare. These evenings were sometimes varied by recitations from an
elocutionist on board; and a practised clog dancer excited the risibles
of the company to the extent that they usually shouted with laughter at
his exhibition of flying heels.

Day after day passed. Those who were continually seasick had diversion
enough. It was useless for us to tell them a pathetic tale of some one,
who, at some time, had been more ill than they, because they would not
believe a word of it, and it was equally useless to recommend an
antidote for mal de mer such as theirs. "No one was ever so ill before,"
they said. They knew they should die and be buried at sea, and hoped
they would if that would put an end to their sufferings. We tried at
last to give them comfort by recommending out of former experiences
ship's biscuit, dry toast and pop-corn as remedies, but only received
black looks as our reward. We then concluded that a diet of tea, coffee
and soup was exactly such a one as the fishes would recommend could they
speak, these favorite and much used liquids keeping up a continual
"swishing" in one's interior regions, and causing one to truthfully
speak of the same as "infernal" instead of internal. But they were all
tree physical as well as free moral agents and decided these things for
themselves.

At last we entered the Japan current and the weather was warmer and
more enjoyable. On Monday, June fourth, we saw from the deck a few
drifting logs and a quantity of seaweed, and these, with the presence of
gulls and goonies flying overhead, convinced us that we were nearing
land.

We were not mistaken. After eating an excellent six o'clock dinner we
went above to find ourselves between high, rocky cliffs, which loomed up
into mountains not far distant, and we knew we were again at the
Aleutian Islands and in the rough waters of Unimak Pass. As we drew
nearer and entered the harbor so well land-locked, the sun dipped low
into yellow-red western waters, thereby casting long shadows aslant our
pathway so delicately shaded in greens.

The little hamlet of Dutch Harbor nestled cosily at the foot of the
mountains which bordered the bay, and here numbers of ships lay anchored
at rest. Passing along easily beyond another high mountain, we were soon
at the dock of Unalaska, beside other great ships in port. Both groups
of craft were evidently waiting for the ice to clear from Behring Sea
before proceeding on their way northward, and we counted sixteen ships
of different kinds and sizes, the majority of them large steamers. All
were loaded with passengers and freight for Nome. Scout boats had
already been sent out to investigate and find, if possible, a passage
through the ice fields, and the return of these scouts with good news
was anxiously watched and waited for, as the most desired thing at that
time was a speedy and safe landing on the supposedly golden beach sands
of Nome.

At Unalaska we spent four days taking on fresh water and coal, during
which time passengers visited back and forth from the waiting steamers,
many persons having friends on other boats and each having a curiosity
to see if they were faring as well or ill as he, comparing notes as to
the expense of traveling with the different companies, etc. Passengers
on the "St. Paul" agreed that they had "no kick comin'," which was one
of the commonest slang phrases, intended to mean that they had no fault
to find with the Alaska Commercial Company and their steamer "St. Paul."
All were well cared for and satisfied, as well they might be, with the
service of the ship's men.

Leaving Unalaska the sun shone clear and cold upon the mountains where
in places the sides looked black from the late fires started in the deep
tundra by miscreants. The tops of the mountains were covered with snow.
Down deep gorges dashed mountain waters of melting snow and ice,
hurrying to leap off gullied and rocky cliffs into the sea. Their
progress was never impeded. No tree nor shrub obstructed the way with
gnarled old trunks, twisted roots, or low hanging branches, for none
grow in Unalaska, and the bold dignity and grandeur of the mountains is
never diminished by these lesser objects.

As our ship sailed out into Behring Sea we were closely followed by the
steamer "George W. Elder," whose master, an old friend of our captain,
had decided to follow in our wake, he being less familiar than the
latter with Alaskan waters, and having confidence in the ability of his
friend to successfully pilot both ships to Cape Nome.

[Illustration: STEAMSHIP ST. PAUL.]



CHAPTER VIII.

FRESH DANGER.


At this plan all the passengers appeared pleased. We were now entering
upon the most dangerous part of our voyage. No one knew what was before
us. If our ship should receive serious damage from the ice floes or
bergs with which we were almost sure to come in contact, it would be
well if we were accompanied by a sister ship which could render
assistance. If she were in trouble and we unharmed, we could lend a
helping hand to her; and so none murmured at the unique arrangement.

Nothing, however, was seen of the much dreaded ice until about noon on
Sunday, June tenth. The air had been steadily growing colder so that
woolen clothing and fur wraps were in demand. Men thrust their hands
into their pockets, or drew on gloves while they stamped their feet upon
deck to keep themselves warm in the open air. Soon to our right lay a
great semi-circular field of ice, in places piled high, looking cold,
jagged and dangerous. In the distance those having field-glasses saw two
clumsy, slow-moving objects which they could easily distinguish as polar
bears on floating cakes of ice.

By the latter we were soon surrounded, and were obliged, slowly and
cautiously, to pick our way through towards the narrowest spot, or where
the nearest open water could be seen beyond. Floating ice now lay all
around us, appearing only a few feet above the water; below it the bergs
extended many times that distance. Sometimes they were small and looked
harmless enough; but many were large, massive, and full of death-dealing
power if urged against the sides of a ship by the wind or struck
accidentally. Carefully we picked our way along, watched as we were by
every soul aboard the "Elder" following, until we had successfully made
our way through the ice pack and glided out into the blue waters beyond.
Then came a great shout from the throats of spectators on both ships,
and praises for the master and his crew who were doing such good work
were loudly sung.

Immediately our manoeuvres were repeated by the "Elder," and we watched
her with interest equal to their own; then as she passed the danger
point and swung safely through the ice bergs and out, both ships, like
fresh, uncaged birds, sped lightly and swiftly over the water northward.

In a few hours we were awakened from afternoon naps by the ringing of
the ship's bell and found ourselves again surrounded by floating bergs.
A man in the bow was taking soundings with lead and line, calling out
every few seconds. "No bottom! No bottom!" and then hauling in the lead
again as the ship crept carefully along. From submerged floes there was
now the greatest danger, but we gradually drew away from all floating
ice and sailed safely away as before.

Each Sunday on board the "St. Paul" had been marked by some religious
service conducted by one of the preachers, while an improvised quartet
of voices led the singing. June tenth service had been held in the
forenoon, when a short sermon had followed the singing of a few familiar
old hymns by the assembled passengers. Now in the early evening, while I
sat with a few friends in the dining salon rehearsing hymns for the
coming service, suddenly the ship's bell rang out upon the still night
air. Instantly there came a jar, a quiver, and all rushed out upon deck
to see what had happened. We had been rudely jostled by an unseen ice
floe while the eyes of the pilot had been occupied by the ones visible.
Several times this happened. We were in the midst of a sea of ice floes.
There was no visible egress ahead; we must back out, if possible, as we
had come.

Soon our steamer was stopped for the night, and religious services were
begun in the dining salon. About one hundred persons were present. Our
quartet sang five or six selections, "Rock of Ages" and "Throw Out the
Life-line" among others. The preacher offered prayer, read Scripture
promises, and spoke feelingly for twenty minutes. He talked of our lives
being only short spans, the length of which depends upon the will of
God; and it is the duty of each soul, he said, to be prepared to meet
its Maker.

It was a solemn moment for all. Outside the ice drifted slowly about,
thick fog settled over us, the ship's whistle sounded, and night came
on. The loneliness increased.

When the speaker had closed his remarks he asked that the quartet sing
"Nearer My God to Thee," and we sang it. Sweet and firm was the voice of
the English girl now, and when, with uplifted arm and softly spoken
benediction, the minister dismissed us, it was to go upon deck feeling
stronger and much comforted.

There was yet no breath of wind stirring. For this we thanked a kind
Providence, for, had the wind risen, our lives would have been in
jeopardy indeed. In that case the massive ice cakes would have been
blown swiftly and heavily about to crush all ships like egg-shells and
send them to the bottom of the sea.

For breakfast we ate yellow corn-bread and bacon with a relish such as
it never gave at home, and even those who had been seasick for days were
beginning to "get away" with their rations. At eight in the morning the
anchor with its rattling chain was dropped and we lay in an open spot.
An hour later there was no perceptible motion of the ship, the sea was
smooth as a carpet, and our tired captain had gone to bed. For
forty-eight hours he had not slept, nor scarcely left the bridge, and
the rest was badly needed.

Two days we lay anchored in a dead calm, waiting for the passing ice to
open a way for us through to Nome. Three ships lay near us, as well as
two larger ones out farther in the ice-fields; but the fog hung grey and
persistent over our heads and we could do nothing but wait. Another
concert was given by the musicians, and as the steamer lay gently
rocking upon the waters of the great sea, through the open front windows
there floated out to our sister ship the sweet and pleasing strains of
the violins and mandolins.

Were they telling in lively allegretto movements of our safe landing on
golden shores, and of our successful achievements followed by a safe and
happy return to home and loved ones? Or were the adagios mournfully
predicting perils, coming disaster and death? Who could tell? For
myself, I felt that whatever came to me would be in accordance with the
will and wish of a Higher Power, and it would be all right in any case.
My choice was, of course, from the human standpoint, for life, happiness
and success in the pursuit of gold; but this with me was not an
obstinate nor rebellious sentiment. Should all these good things be
denied me, I could say, it is well. I felt satisfied that the way for my
going to Alaska had been wonderfully opened by an Unseen Influence which
I had been taught from earliest childhood to recognize, and this
belief, which was a firm and abiding one, held me calm and contented.
Night after night I slept in my berth as soundly as though at home in my
bed, and not even the sudden jolt and quiver of the icebergs coming
often into collision with the ship caused me to waken.

The night of June twelfth, about eleven o'clock, just after having
retired, but being still awake, I heard a sudden and piercing scream.
The English madam with me, being still dressed, rushed upon deck to find
out the cause of the disturbance. Rushing towards her with pale and
frightened face was her daughter who had been lunching in the dining
salon. An iceberg of immense proportions and greater height than usual
had struck the ship with a crash, coming up suddenly and most
unexpectedly from underneath the fog bank so that the watchful pilot was
taken unawares. The English girl said the berg, when alongside the ship,
reached the height of the upper deck and appeared like a huge mountain
of ice from her place at the window. It was consternation at the sight
of what was apparently sure and speedy destruction which had caused the
woman's scream.

Investigation was immediately made of the ship's plates, which, though
considerably dented by the ice, were still, thanks to a kind Providence,
intact; and again I settled myself for the night and slept.

Next day men were restless. They wanted to be on their way to Nome. It
was not for this that they had paid a large price for their tickets and
assurances that they would arrive early at Nome; and they agreed that
there was no more danger in steaming ahead than in lying anchored with
the ice bumping into us and liable to break through the ship's sides at
any moment.

"Will you sign a petition to the captain asking that he proceed on his
way to Nome without further delay?" asked a friend of me while the "St.
Paul" was anchored and the ice still drifting around us.

"They are circulating such a petition, and have a good many signers, or
those who are willing to sign it, and I wanted to know how you feel
about it," said my friend.

"What is the matter with the captain? Did they not announce their
confidence in him by coming aboard this steamer, and has he done
anything to cause them to lose faith in his ability to pilot them safely
through? Has he not brought them on their voyage thus far without
accident?" I asked.

"Oh, yes, certainly."

"Then I, for one, shall abide by the captain's judgment, and remain
anchored here so long as he sees fit to order it. You can say to the
others that I will sign no petition," said I.

Whether my decision and firmness in the matter had any weight with
others, I know not; but the petition was dropped, and the captain
probably never knew that such a thing had been proposed.

The morning of June thirteenth the sun shone out clear and bright. Great
fields of ice surrounded us, and many other ships were also hemmed in at
different places. The "Elder" lay contentedly beside us. It was not so
cold when the fog had lifted, and the clearer atmosphere made it
possible to see for many miles over the berg-strewn waters. Men were
walking restlessly about on deck trying to keep their impatience down
and their hands and feet warm. They feared that other ships with
hundreds of passengers would land at Nome before they could, and that
would mean loss, perhaps in many ways, to them. We were less than two
hundred miles from Nome and could easily make the run in a day if
allowed a free sea.

By this time the face of the steward began to show anxiety and he
watched the horizon with interest. Serving, as he did, nearly fifteen
hundred meals daily, he feared a shortage of supplies if the ship was
delayed many days longer. Ten sacks of flour, and fifteen hundred pounds
of meat were used daily, and other things in proportion. For breakfast
one day ninety dozen eggs were fed to the people.

High overhead the stars and stripes were now hoisted to announce our joy
at being delivered from so many dangers, and at leading the way for
others to follow. No one could pass us, and we would, after all, be
among the first, if not the very first, to reach Nome.

The captain looked jaded and worn, but happy and relieved, being able
now to get some of the much-needed rest so long denied him when in the
ice fields. When congratulated by the passengers upon his skill, for by
this time they had entirely forgotten their discontent of the previous
days and were willing to give him and his crew due praise, he smiled and
thanked them kindly, then went away to rest.

Early next morning anchor was dropped at Nome. At last we had reached
our destination. We had traveled thirty-one hundred and thirty-nine
miles in nineteen days and could have done it in much shorter time had
it not been for the ice. Several small ships lay at anchor before us,
but we were immediately followed by many large steamers bringing
thousands of people to Nome. The weather was splendid. Many of the
passengers were in such haste to reach shore than they left without
breakfast; but we waited until ten in the morning before boarding the
"lighter," and I donned a dress suitable to the occasion. This was cut
short, and was worn with high, stout boots, leggings, warm coat, cap and
veil, with extra wraps for the trip of two miles to shore.

Certainly we now presented a very unique spectacle. We were really a
sort of Noah's Ark collection, with the roof of the Ark omitted. Women
in abbreviated skirts, long rubber boots, golf capes, caps and sweaters;
men covered in long "raglans," fur coats, "jumpers," or whatever
happened to be at hand; and all rushing pell-mell in the direction of
the lighter, by means of which they hoped to land on the golden beach of
Nome. Baggage there was in stacks. There were boxes, grips, trunks, army
sacks; everything but babies, bird cages and band wagons. Passage for an
automobile had been engaged in San Francisco, but at the last moment the
lady accompanying the big machine was suddenly indisposed and obliged to
allow the "St. Paul" to sail without her.

The sea was now quite rough. The lighter was brought close alongside.
The rope ladder was thrown over the side of the ship with its lower end
dangling upon the lighter's deck, and we were told we could now go
ashore.

This was the moment for which we had longed, and all were ready, like
Cassibianca, minus the fire and peanuts. The fat widow of the company
tied her bonnet more tightly under her chin, clutched at her pudgy
skirts, and grasping the deck rail, placed her foot upon the rope ladder
to descend.

"Don't look down!" shouted some one to her, fearing she might grow dizzy
if she did so.

"Don't hurry; take your time!" called out another.

"Keep cool and you're all right!" instructed another, at which time the
widow, with fluttering veil, pale face and eyes starting from their
sockets with fright reached the lowest round of the ladder and stepped
to the deck of the lighter. Her bonnet was awry, the belt of her dress
had become unfastened, while her skirts were twisted around her in some
unaccountable way and her teeth chattering; but she only drew a long
sigh as she sank in a limp heap upon an army sack marked with big black
letters, and said gaspingly: "This is terrible!" Others followed her
example. Some protested they would rather stay on the ship or go back to
San Francisco than scramble down that "beastly rope ladder" swaying as
it did back and forth with every motion of the ship to which it was
attached. For myself, I had never posed as especially courageous, and
wondered how I should get on. But I said nothing. From watching the
others I had learned that to "make haste slowly" was a good method to
follow in the present case, as a misstep without a firm hand grip upon
the sides of the ladder while descending would be likely to send one
without warning into the yard wide gulf of boiling waters between the
ship's side and the lighter, as the barge was literally dancing
attendance upon the vessel in the rough sea.

Finally everything was ready. All passengers had left the ship. The
lighter was crowded to the last inch of space; baggage and freight along
the sides, and passengers in the middle, sitting wherever they could
find a box or bag upon which to sit. A tug boat made fast to the
lighter--we said good-bye to the "St. Paul" and moved away.

"We are bidding good-bye to all comforts now!" exclaimed an old Nomeite
dubiously, "for we won't find any on shore; leastwise not unless it has
improved more in the last ten months than I think it has. It was a tough
place enough last summer, and that's no josh either!" looking around him
at the ladies of the party and evidently wondering what they would think
of the celebrated mining town.

Many by this time looked sober, but it was not a hard camp that they
feared. They had expected to find a typical camp with all the attendant
evils usual in such a place, and now they were almost there. In fact
they looked out over the heaps of baggage towards shore at the long fine
of white tents, buildings of every description from a board shack to a
hotel or large store, and it seemed good in their eyes--very good. For
some unseen reason, as the barge, following as it did at the end of the
long line from the tug, rode first upon the top of a big breaker and
then below in the trough, there was a decided longing on the part of
some to be on land. It did not much matter where it was--Europe, Asia,
Africa or "any old place"; but as for this "confounded, zig-zaggin',
heavin' old hulk which is tryin' its best to take us to Honolulu
sideways--I want no more of it!" growled one man.

"Give me Nome or I die!" gasped another.

"No more big water in mine for two years, and mebbe by that time they
will have air ships to fly in," muttered a little man as he lay on his
back among a pile of bags and gulped at something in his throat he was
trying to keep down.

So the barge bobbed up and down among the breakers, riding to the crest
of a wave with a gliding, graceful motion, only to reach out beyond it,
and then, as the waters underneath receded, dropping heavily with a thud
and a splash, making one feel that he was being dealt with most
unceremoniously.

The same thing was again and again repeated, until we rode as close to
the shore as the tug could take us, then the line was cut, a rope was
thrown us from shore, and with a steam windlass or other contrivance, we
were hauled upon the sands.

Then a gangplank was speedily pushed out over the intervening watery
space which the passengers took their turns in crossing until all stood
upon the beach; a few, to be sure, with wet feet, damp clothing and
soggy tempers if some vicious, big breaker in parting had dashed its
white foam-tipped waters over their heads, but all glad and thankful to
arrive in Nome at last.



CHAPTER IX.

NOME.


The man who had predicted that we would find no comforts in Nome proved
himself a true prophet. There were none. Crowded, dirty, disorderly,
full of saloons and gambling houses, with a few fourth-class restaurants
and one or two mediocre hotels, we found the new mining camp a typical
one in every respect. Prices were sky high. One even paid for a drink of
water. Having our newly found Alaska appetites with us, we at once, upon
landing, made our way to an eating house, the best to be found.

Here a cup of poor tea, a plate of thin soup and questionable meat stew
with bread were served us upon nicked china, soiled table linen and with
blackened steel knives and forks, for the enormous sum of one dollar a
head; which so dumbfounded us that we paid it without a murmur, backed
out the door and blankly gazed into each other's faces.

"Such prices will ruin us!" gasped the madam.

"That table linen! Ugh!" shuddered the young man.

"Fifteen cents in California for such a meal!" growled the English girl
in her matter-of-fact way, and with wide distended eyes; while I found
such amusement in watching the three faces before me that I barely
found breath to remind them of the two tons of nice things in their own
packing cases at the landing.

"If only they are soon landed," groaned madam, and we set off at our
best gait to find the cases.

But we did not succeed. The freight was being unloaded from the ship, we
were told, as rapidly as it was possible to handle it, but one lighter
and small tug boat in a very rough sea, unloading a ship two miles off
the beach, must have time; and we waited. Only two or three lighters
were to be had at Nome. Other large steamers were being unloaded, and
hundreds of people were hourly being landed upon the beach. There was no
shelter for them anywhere, every building was full, and confusion was
badly confounded. To make matters worse it began to rain. If we could
only find our freight and get our tents, beds, supplies, etc., we would
be all right, but it would be impossible that day we found, after making
repeated excursions through the freight house and numberless inquiries
at the office.

Something must be done, but what? I now remembered some Dawson
acquaintances in town made the fall before while coming down the Yukon
River with my brother. To one family of these I made my way. They were
in the grocery and bakery business on a prominent corner on First street
and their signboard caught my eye.

Blessings on the heads of kind Mr. and Mrs. M. of Nome City! They were
delighted to see me. They lived back of the store in one room, which
contained their bed, stove, cupboard, baby-organ, table, chairs and
trunks; but they also owned a one-room shack next door, which was vacant
for a few days, being already rented to a dentist who would make some
repairs before taking possession. I could bring my friends and baggage
into this without charge, if I wished, until we secured our freight,
Mrs. M. said kindly, and I pressed her hand in real gratitude with many
thanks.

"I am almost ashamed to show you the room," said the kind little woman,
as she unlocked the door of the shack and stepped inside, "but it is
better than no shelter in this rain, and you can have a fire in the
stove," pointing to a small and rusty coal heater in one corner. "I wish
I had some blankets or fur robes to lend you, but everything I have is
in use. You are welcome to bring in as many friends as you like if they
will share the poor place with you; and you are quite safe here, too,
for you see the barracks are just opposite," pointing across the muddy
little alley down which a few boards had been laid for a sidewalk; "and
the soldiers are here to keep order, though they do sometimes find it
rather a hard job."

Then I thanked the little woman again most heartily, and, as I took from
her hands the door-key and stepped outside into the rain to bring my
waiting friends and baggage from the freight house, I offered a little
prayer of thanks to our good Father, and hurried away.

[Illustration: NOME.]

At the steamer's landing all was hurly-burly and noise. It was now late
in the afternoon, still raining at intervals, and muddy under foot,
though the weather was not cold. Finding my English friends I told them
of Mrs. M.'s kindness and offer of her room, which they were well
pleased to accept with me, and we gathered up our luggage and started
for the place. Passing through the freight house on our way to the
street, madam said, pointing to the figures of two woman huddled in a
corner:

"See! Judge R. from the St. Paul has not found a room yet, and Mrs. R.
and her friend, the nurse, are sitting there, waiting for the judge to
return! His wife is nearly sick, and they have no idea where they can
get a room. Judge R. has been looking hours for one without success,"
she said, in a sympathetic tone.

"Let us speak to them," said I, going over to where the ladies sat.

Hearing their story, and seeing for myself that both women were cold,
hungry and disheartened, I decided on the spot to share Mrs. M.'s
hospitality with them; made the proposal, which they very thankfully
accepted, and we trailed off up the street laden with luggage.

Then madam's son was found, informed of the situation, asked to bring
Judge R. and a few loaves of bread from the shop, along with the
remaining luggage, to our new camping place in the little board shack
near the barracks.

Seeing us arrive, and that the three elderly ladies looked worn and
travel-stained, Mrs. M. urged us to come into her room and take tea and
crackers which she had already placed upon the table. This invitation
the older ladies gladly accepted, while the English girl and myself
looked after our new lodgings.

Here now was a state of things indeed! The entire stock of luggage for
seven grown persons was soon deposited in the middle of the floor. The
room of which the shack consisted was about eight by ten feet square,
set directly upon the ground, from which the water oozed at every step
of the foot. Two small windows, a front and back door, with the small
stove--that was all. These were our accommodations for the night, and
perhaps several nights and days.

Then we two set to work with a will. We swept the floor, we gathered
sticks for a fire, we threw boards down outside the door upon which to
walk instead of in the mud, a pail of water was brought from a hydrant
after paying twenty-five cents for it, and a box was converted into a
table. Luggage was sorted, lunch baskets were ransacked, while tin cups,
coffee pot, knives, forks and spoons were found, with a fresh white
cloth upon which to spread the food.

When Judge R. finally appeared, it was supper time. He carried a tin
fry-pan under one arm, a bag containing one dozen eggs, and a few slices
of ham on a paper plate, for which articles he had paid the goodly sum
of one dollar and seventy-five cents.

Waving the fry-pan above his old grey head, the jolly judge shouted:
"See, the conquering hero comes! Oh, but I'm hungry! Say, how in the
world did you get this place? I hunted four mortal hours and failed to
find a shack, room, or tent for the night. Four thousand people landed
here today, and still they come. Jerusalem crickets! What a crowd!
Everybody is in from Dan to Beersheba! We will have fifteen thousand
people here soon if they don't stop coming, and no shelter for 'em!"
Then changing his tone and glancing toward his wife:

"And how is my dear little wifey by this time?" tenderly patting Mrs.
R.'s white hand, which belonged to a woman tipping the beam at two
hundred.

"Aren't you glad we came? I am." Then rattling on without giving his
wife a chance to speak, for her eyes had filled with tears:

"I think I've got a 'case' already. Claim number four on D. Creek jumped
last winter while owner was away--jumper won't leave--talked with owner
today--think I'll get the job," said the hopeful old judge, sitting on
an empty cracker box and eating bread and cheese from his fingers.

"Eat your supper, dear," to his wife, who was taking nothing, "and you
shall have a bed tonight--the best in Nome City. See! There it is now,"
pointing to a big roll of dark brown canvas done up with a few varnished
sticks.

"A folding cot--new patent--good and strong. (It'll need to be strong to
hold you up, won't it, dearie?) Now, please take your tea like a good
girl, to brace up your courage. Or would you like a drop of sherry?"

To all this Mrs. R. shook her head, but she did not speak, neither did
she attempt to eat, for there was a big lump in her throat which
prevented.

The rest of our party enjoyed the supper. Some sat on boxes, others
stood up, but we ate ham and eggs, bread, butter and cheese, tea and
crackers, pickles, jellies and jams, as being the greatest "comforts" we
could find in the camp, and we made them speedily disappear.

At last the supper things were cleared away, and remaining food repacked
in the baskets. The patent cot was unrolled, set up and made ready for
Mrs. R., who was the only one favored with a bed. The others finally
faced the proposition and prepared, as best they could, their chosen
floor spaces for their beds.

All slept in their clothing, for we had no bedding and the night was
cold. The two men were banished to the outer air, where together they
smoked and talked of affairs of the day, while we women unbuttoned our
shoes, took out a few hairpins, cold-creamed our sunburned faces, and
then, between jokes, stories and giggling, we settled ourselves, with
much difficulty and hard snuggling, among our bags, raincoats, steamer
rugs and wraps on the rough board floor for the night.

Coming in later, the judge spread his borrowed fur robe upon the floor
beside his wife's cot, covered himself with one-half of the same,
chuckling as he did so.

"I'm glad my bones are well cushioned with fat, and that I'm old and
tough and like this sort of thing. I say, wife, isn't it jolly?" And the
portly and sunny old judge dropped off to sleep to keep me awake most of
the night by his snoring.

If I slept little that night I did not waste my time. My brain was busy
forming plans of action. It was not wise to have only one plan, for that
one might fail. Better to have several, and some one of these would
probably succeed. I felt a good deal of anxiety to know whether my
father or brother had or would come to Nome. If either or both of them
came I would have no further difficulty because I would work for and
with them, but if they did not come what was I to do?

I had little money. I would not go home. I would work. I was a good
cook, though I had never done such work except for our own home folks. I
knew that cooking was the kind of service most in demand in this country
from women, for my travels in Alaska the year before had taught me
that. I could teach music, and I could paint passably in water colors
and oils; in fact, I had been a teacher of all three, but in Alaska
these luxuries were not in demand. I could not expect to do anything in
these directions, for men and women had come to Nome for gold, expected
to get lots of it, and that quickly. They had no time for Beethoven's
sonatas or water color drawings.

It was now an urgent question of food, shelter and work with all, and
the man or woman who could the quickest devise ways and means, the one
who saw the needs of the time and place and was able to supply those
needs, was the one who could make the most money. Of course, being a
woman, I was unable to do beach mining as could a man, and as many men
expected to do. Those who brought large outfits and plenty of money with
them were immediately obliged to hire help, but it was generally a man's
help, like carpenter work, hauling and handling supplies or machinery,
making gold washers and sluice boxes, or digging out the gold in the
creeks. None of these could I do. On the steamer all these things had
been well talked over among ourselves, for others besides myself were
wondering which way they should turn when they found themselves in Nome.

As to there being any disgrace connected with work of any sort--it never
entered my head. From a child I had been taught that work was honorable,
and especially for a woman housework and cooking were respectable and
healthy service. So I had no pride whatever in the matter; it was only a
question of finding the work, and I did not doubt my ability to find it
somewhere.

On the voyage from San Francisco I had thought well of the three Swedish
women, and believed they would succeed in their proposed plan of
restaurant work. I said to myself that if I were obliged to seek work I
should like to be with them if possible; or, at least, with some of the
"lucky Swedes," as the rich Anvil Creek mine owners were usually
designated. These miners all hired cooks for their camps, as they kept
large numbers of men at work day and night on the Anvil Creek claims,
the season being so short for placer mining in this country. Anvil Creek
was only four miles away and the "Star Restaurant," as my friends had
already named their proposed eating-house, would be headquarters for all
the Scandinavians on Anvil and the entire district. For this reason, and
because the three had so many acquaintances who would bring them
patronage, and because their pleasant faces and agreeable manners always
made friends for them, I felt sure that they would be able to give me
work if they chose and I so desired. Then, too, there were the several
Dawson families of my acquaintance here, and I would find them; possibly
some of them might give me work if I asked them.

However, the first move to be made was to find our freight and baggage,
and a spot upon which to pitch our tents, and the sooner that was done
the better, as the test and cleanest camping places were fast being
appropriated by the newcomers hourly landing. It was not easy to find a
clean, dry spot for a tent, as I had found the day before that the
black, soggy soil was hardly free from frost a foot down, and this made
it everywhere marshy, as the water could not keep down nor run off where
it was level. Some one on the steamer who had been in Nome before had
advised us to pitch our tents on the "Sandspit" at the mouth of Snake
River, as that was the cleanest, driest and most healthful spot near
fresh water that we could find; and my mind was made up that it was to
the Sandspit I would go. Many had been the warnings from friends before
leaving home about drinking impure water, getting typhoid fever and
other deadly diseases, and without having any particular fear as to
these things I still earnestly desired a clean and healthful camping
place.

This, then, was the way I planned during most of the first night after
landing at Nome. If I slept it was towards morning, when I had become
accustomed to the regular and stentorian snores of the old judge; or
when, for a few moments, after turning in his sleep, his snorts and
wheezes had not yet reached their loudest pitch; and when my wishes had
shaped themselves so distinctly into plans for work that I felt relieved
and full of confidence, and so slept a little.

[Illustration: LIFE AT NOME.]

Next day I looked for my father. At the landing, on the streets, in the
stores, at all times I was on the lookout, though it was a difficult
matter to find any one in a crowd such as that in Nome. I saw several
acquaintances from Dawson the year before, and people from different
steamers that I knew, but not my father. At nine o'clock next morning
three of us started out to find the Sandspit, with, if possible, a good
camping spot to which we could take our freight as soon as it was
landed, and part of our number was detailed to stay at the landing while
we investigated. Down through the principal thoroughfare we pushed our
way, now on plank sidewalk, now in the middle of the street if the walks
were too crowded; but going to the west end of town till we came to
Snake River Bridge, where we crossed to the Sandspit. At the toll-gate
we easily passed, as all women were allowed to go over free, men only
being charged ten cents toll. Here we quickly found a clean, dry place
on the river bank a hundred feet below the bridge and two hundred feet
from the ocean, which we chose for our tents. Now arose the question,
would any one have any objection to our pitching our tents temporarily?
Seeing some men striking camp near by we asked them. They told us that
we could get permission, they thought, from an old captain near by on a
stranded boat, now being used as an eating-house, and to him we went. He
was not in.

Going back to the Sandspit, it was decided that I should remain upon
the spot, while my companions went back to the landing. I was to remain
there till some of them came back. This I did, sitting on a box in the
sunshine with my kodak, umbrella and lunch basket beside me for hours.
When madam returned, saying their search for their freight was still
unavailing, I left her in my place and again called upon the captain.

Calling the third time at his boat, I found him and secured his ready
permission to temporarily pitch our tents upon the sands, for he was an
Alderman with adjoining "town lots," he told us.

By six o'clock that afternoon a part of madam's baggage and freight was
found, hauled by dog-team through town to the Sandspit and deposited
upon the ground. Then we bestirred ourselves to get a tent up in which
we could sleep, as I, for one, was determined not to be kept awake by
the judge's snores another night if I had to work till morning. The
others shared my feelings, and we worked like beavers till midnight. By
that time a small tent had been put up, boxes of bedding unpacked, as
well as cooking utensils, oil-stoves and foods, so that we could begin
cooking.

At the continuous daylight we were much pleased. Coming gradually into
it, as we had done on the steamer, we were prepared for it, but the
advantage of a continuous day to a busy, hustling camp like this one,
had not presented itself to us until we ourselves attempted to work half
the night; then we realized it fully. At nine in the evening a
beautiful twilight enveloped all, restful to nerves and eyes, but still
light enough to read by.

At ten o'clock it was lighter, and upon the placid waters of Snake
River, only fifteen feet away, lay quiet shadows cast from the opposite
side, clearly and beautifully reflected. A few small steamers lay
further down stream near the river's mouth, row boats were tied along
the edge of the water, and on the Sandspit below us was a camp of
Eskimos, their tiny canoes and larger skin boats being hauled upon shore
beside them for safety. At midnight the sun was almost shining, the air
was salt, fresh and clear, while the sky seemed to hang low and lovingly
above our heads.

After eating a midnight lunch of our own getting of bread and butter
with hot tea, we deposited ourselves, still dressed, upon the tops of
madam's big packing cases, from which had been taken pillows and
blankets, and slept soundly till morning, notwithstanding the fact that
the hammers of hundreds of carpenters were busy around us all night.

Next morning all felt fresh and invigorated. The sun shone brightly. In
the roadstead two miles away lay several newly arrived steamers, their
deep-toned whistles frequently sounding over the intervening waters. It
was a beautiful sight and welcome sound. How easily the long and
graceful breakers rolled and broke upon the sands. With what music the
foam-tipped wavelets spread their edges, like the lace-trimmed ruffles
on some lady's gown, upon the smooth and glistening beach. How the white
tents everywhere looked like doves of peace just alighted, and the
little boats danced up and down on the river. I was glad to be there. I
enjoyed it. Nothing, not even the hard work, the storms, nor the bitter
Arctic winter which came afterwards ever effaced from my memory the
beautiful pictures of river, sea and sky repeatedly displayed during
those first novel and busy days at Nome.



CHAPTER X.

THE FOUR SISTERS.


It was during the first excitement of the gold discoveries in the
Klondyke that four sisters left their home in Chicago and started for
Dawson. They were young, hopeful, ambitious and handsome. They owned a
town lot in the city, but they had not the means with which to erect a
building upon it, and the money would never be forthcoming if they
remained where they were. The ordinary salary of a working woman in
office or store was not sufficient to allow them more than a trifle
above necessary living expenses, and they could see themselves old,
wrinkled and grey before they could hope to attain their desired object.

Reaching Dawson safely, as they did after weeks of peril and many novel
experiences, they set to work at what seemed to them at the moment the
most lucrative labor of which they were capable. They were fitted for
laundry work only by being well and strong physically, and by having a
willingness to do whatever they first found to do.

This proved to be work at the wash-tub. Here the four women labored
month after month with a will, with the result that at the end of a year
their bank account was not insignificant, they owned several gold
claims, and in all the mining camp there were none who did not respect
the four sisters.

Then came their first dark days. It was midsummer. Down among the grass
roots and between the rocks of the hillside back of the famous camp,
there trickled numerous fresh water springs, pure and cold when they
left their sequestered sources among the seams and fissures, but gaining
nothing of purity when spread out upon the little plain now thickly
dotted with cabins.

Here in the hurry and rush of the fast growing camp, when fortunes came
quickly, and men lived at a rapid pace, there was little time for
sanitary precautions, and so it presently happened that a shadow, like a
huge black bird of ill omen, suddenly hovered above the camp, sending a
shudder through its entire length. A tiny germ, so small as to pass
unnoticed and unheeded by, and yet withal so deadly as to be called a
plague, crept along, insinuating itself into the streamlets making their
way as best they could to their father, the Yukon; and the fever laid
low many victims.

Early and late had the sisters toiled, never in a half-hearted way, but
untiringly, day after day, until one of their number, being perhaps less
strong, or more weary from work to which she had been unaccustomed, and
more susceptible to disease, was stricken with fever, and after only a
few days' illness, whispered her loving good-byes.

This happened in the summer of 1899, and rumors of the great gold strike
at Nome now reached Dawson. One sister had been persuaded by a member of
the Dawson Bar to make for him a happy home during the remainder of his
life, and she was married.

Again their party numbered the original four, though there were now only
three sisters.

The excitement in Dawson regarding the new Nome gold fields daily
increased, and it was stated by reliable steamer men from St. Michael
that the new strike rivaled that of the Klondyke.

The little party of four decided to go to Nome. In a short time their
business was arranged, sales made, gold claims placed in charge of
agents, and everything made in readiness for their journey to Nome.

It was the middle of September. The last boats were leaving Dawson, both
for points on the Upper Yukon and for St. Michael. People leaving Dawson
by boat in the fall seldom linger beyond the third or fourth week in
September, for then the river may freeze at any time and they be
prisoners in the camp indefinitely.

The lower river steamer "Hannah" was about to push from the dock at
Dawson when a friend introduced me to the three sisters, and during the
following days on board an acquaintance sprung up which I much enjoyed.
Little did we know that this friendship would afterwards be renewed
nearly two thousand miles away, and under circumstances vastly different
from any with which we had before become familiar.

Landing safely from the "Hannah" at St. Michael, a few days were spent
by the sisters waiting for stormy weather to subside, and they then
sailed for Nome. Here they landed during the last days of September,
amid falling snow, bleak winds and boiling surf, upon the sands of the
most inhospitable beach in all that dreary Northland. No tree was to be
seen. Not a rock under whose friendly shelter one might hide from the
storms. There was almost no lumber in the camp with which to build
houses, and no incoming steamers expected. A few rude shacks, tents and
saloons, with two or three companies' buildings--of these was the town
composed. Many were rushing for the steamers in waiting, determined only
upon one thing--to get home to the States. Some carried heavy sacks of
gold, others went empty-handed. There was the summer's accumulation of
filth in the camp, too young as yet for cleanly conditions, and these
brought their sure accompaniment--the fever. Many suffered for weeks
with it, and then died.

Again came the dread plague to the sisters. Scarcely had they unpacked
their trunks or found shelter for the winter when the younger of the
sisters was stricken down. For days she raved in delirium, and all
feared she would die. Night and day they watched anxiously by her
bedside. Everything was done for her recovery and comfort that could be
done in a new and rough camp like the one at Nome; for all who knew the
beautiful little sister loved her well.

Then came the time when all the long and heavy yellow hair had to be cut
from the lovely head in obedience to the doctor's orders. But the little
sister lived. Their prayers were answered, the worst was over, the
danger past.

Then followed long and weary weeks of convalescing, while the winter
storms raged outside the little cabin, and the sun retreated farther
from the Arctic Circle and Nome, but the sisters thanked God, and again
took courage.

Months after came the welcome springtime. With the earliest fine weather
and revival of business in the camp the sisters erected a store building
and warehouse on the beach near by. Into the latter they moved
temporarily, hoping to rent the store to some of the numerous
"tenderfeet" sure to arrive on the first passenger steamers.

It was here I found the sisters on my arrival at Nome from San Francisco
in June, 1900. Little sister was well and strong again, growing a fresh
crop of roses and lilies on her cheeks, and a new head covering of
lovely, wavy yellow hair. On her lips she wore the same sweet, old
smiles, however, and I knew her well by these. Since her recovery from
the fever the hands of the sisters had not been idle, and they had
become expert at sewing furs. This had kept them busy as bees all
winter, and many were the caps, coats, mittens and capes made by their
industrious fingers, which brought them a good income, while their rooms
were always the rendezvous of friends than which a jollier lot could not
be discovered.

Of the good influence going out through the rough mining camp during the
long and dreary winter from the home of these sweet and Christian women,
no account has probably ever been kept, except by the recording angel,
who never forgets.

The day after we landed at Nome I secured work. Not, however, to begin
immediately, which pleased me well, as I should then have a little time
to look for father, inspect the camp, study conditions and take notes
and kodak views.

"Can you cook for a gang of men?" asked Mr. A. kindly smiling down at me
when I had stopped him on the street and asked for work in his camp for
the English girl and myself, as we wished to be together.

"Indeed, I can. I will do my very best, Mr. A., and I feel sure we can
please you. My friend is an extra good cook, as you will discover if you
give us work. Will you try us?"

"I will," he replied.

"At what wages, please?"

"Five dollars per day, each, with board," promptly answered the
gentleman whose two gold claims on famous Anvil Creek made him one of
the richest men in Alaska.

So it was settled. Claim number nine, Anvil, was about seven miles from
Nome, and one of the most noted claims in the district. Mr. A., a former
Swedish missionary at Golovin Bay, had, with his doctor brother, voyaged
to Nome on the "St. Paul" when we did, so we already had a slight
acquaintance with both gentlemen and were pleased to get the work.

Anvil Creek claims had been worked the summer before. Gold had first
been discovered in the fall of 1898 by Mr. Hultberg, a Swedish
missionary, who learned of the precious metal around Nome from the
Eskimos. His mission was stationed at Golovin Bay, and he notified the
Swedes, Brynteson, Hagalin, Lindbloom and Linderberg, who in turn saw G.
W. Price and induced him to go with them, as he was the only one there
experienced in mining. Price was on his way to Kodiak over the ice by
dog-team en route to California, as the representative of C. D. Lane,
the San Francisco mining man and millionaire.

The most of Anvil Creek was staked by this party before they returned to
the mines at Council City, fifty miles up Fish River from Golovin Bay.

"On July second, 1899, a second cleanup was made on number one above
Discovery Claim, Anvil Creek, the property of J. Linderberg. The result
of four men shovelling out of the creek bed from a cut five feet to
bedrock for twenty hours amounted to fourteen thousand dollars in gold
dust. The men shovelled all the gravel from the moss down to bedrock
into the sluice box as it was all pay gravel. The owner refused five
hundred thousand dollars for the property without considering the
offer."

Tierney is authority for the statement that this claim produced four
hundred thousand dollars that season.

From this time the discoverers were known by the sobriquet of the "Lucky
Swedes," for Anvil Creek was all good, there being no really "poor dirt"
in it, and number nine, above Discovery Claim, proved itself, the first
summer, also a banner winner.

It was here that we expected to work, as soon as supplies could be
hauled to the claim, the monotony of bread making and dish washing to be
varied by the new and strange sights on an enormously rich gold claim
not far from the Arctic Circle.

Everywhere around us were carpenter's hammers in operation, and tents
were rapidly going up. We found great difficulty in reserving ground
space enough for another tent, as others found the Sandspit as desirable
for tenting as we did, and elbowed us closely. Along the river's edge
and the beach near by many were digging and panning in the sands
searching for "colors." Dog-teams were hauling freight and baggage, with
their swearing and perspiring drivers at their heels, and while the big
black-snake whips flourished in air above the dogs or upon their
straining backs, the tongues of the faithful brutes hung from their
mouths, and their wide open eyes looked appealingly at bystanders. My
heart ached for the animals, but there were no humane societies in
Alaska.

About five o'clock on Sunday afternoon it began to snow. This was the
first June snowstorm I had ever seen. Our little tent leaked badly, as
it had been hastily pitched, and the snow melted as it fell. Small
rivers of water were soon dropping upon our heads. Rain coats, oil
cloth, and opened umbrellas were utilized to protect the clothing and
the bedding.

An hour of this experience would have been enough for one time, but
troubles seldom come singly, and so the wind began to blow. Donning her
rain coat and rubbers the English girl did her best to tighten ropes and
make the tent taut, for madam's son had not returned from town.
Presently, to our great joy, we saw him coming with a loaded dog-team of
freight, and best of all, with a man friend to assist him, whose strong
arms and broad shoulders were well fitted to tent pitching. Hastily the
cart was unloaded and the large canvas tent unrolled and laid upon the
sand. Stakes were driven, poles adjusted, ropes stretched with much
straining, as the wind whistled more vigorously, and snow still fell;
and the two men, both wet and cold, huddled into the little tent for a
cup of hot tea which was waiting.

Then strong hands opened more boxes and a large oil stove, carpets, rugs
and many other necessary things were hustled into the new tent, as well
as trunks, bedding, and the contents of the small tent, with the
exception of canned goods and such things as water would not injure. The
sands were clean but wet, and if we were thankful for a stout canvas
cover over our heads we would have also been glad of a dry place under
foot. However, carpets and rugs were spread down, stoves lighted, and
the tent door flap fastened as securely as possible.

As well as we could we arranged all for the night, but we expected to
sleep little, for the storm was now fearful. Rain, snow and hail, each
came down by turns, accompanied by a high wind which drove the surf in
roaring rage upon the beach. How thankful we were that we had chosen
this spot instead of one directly in reach of the great rollers with
their mist and spray; though we had the roar and boom of the surf in our
ears continually. Sometimes it seemed that the wind had lulled, and then
with increased violence it again screamed above our heads, threatening
us each moment with disaster.

At midnight a supper of hot macaroni, cocoa, bread, butter and cheese,
with canned meat and jam, was heartily eaten by all, including the
visiting friend from Sitka who had assisted. A low box was used for a
table and we all sat upon the mats, eating from tin cups and plates with
the keenest appetites.

The weather was now awful. The storm had increased until it seemed each
moment that the tent would be torn from its fastenings, and we be left
without any protection whatever. The ropes and stakes had frequently to
be looked after and made stronger. The snow had turned to rain, which
beat heavily upon the stout canvas resisting well the water without
leaking.

By one o'clock the wind showed signs of abating, and we were so much in
need of sleep, that, all dressed as we were, we rolled ourselves in our
blankets and dozed on the rugs close to the oil stoves. For an hour I
lay uneasily dreaming, or listening to the royal cannonading of the
heavy surf upon the beach. From my diary I quote the following extract:

"Monday, four in the morning, June eighteenth, 1900.--It is four in the
morning and we are sitting around the oil stoves in the middle of the
tent. We have just had hot cocoa and crackers. The surf still booms, but
it does not rain, and the wind has died down. We are better off than
many people. Tomorrow we will put up the other tent and get more
settled. We are thankful not to be on the sea beach, where so many are
camped. A. wishes herself home again. People around our tent all night
were talking, moving, afraid of the storm, but the big ships are still
here and they would put out to sea if it were necessary for their
safety. They say we have smallpox in town from the steamer 'Ohio,' and
yesterday Mrs. H., who came up on the 'St. Paul,' was reported to be
dying from pneumonia. The nurse, Mrs. Judge R.'s friend, is caring for
her. Judge R. and wife are still in Mrs. M.'s shack near the barracks.
It has been daylight all night. I hope to hear from father soon, and get
my freight. My friends here have all theirs. The two men are smoking and
talking while I write, and the Eskimo dogs not far away are howling in
their usual interesting nightly manner. I will now try to get a little
more sleep."

We had heard much of beach mining at Nome, but saw little of it. Stories
were told of men who, in the summer of 1899, had taken hundreds of
dollars in gold dust from the beach sands by the crudest methods, and
thousands of men were now flocking into the camp for the purpose of
doing beach mining. They were sadly disappointed. Not, however, because
there was no gold in the beach sands, but because it was so
infinitesimally tiny that they had no means of securing it. No hand
rocker, copper plate, nor amalgam had been used with success, neither
did any of the myriads of prospective miners bring anything with them
which promised better results. Great heaps of machinery called by
hopeful promoters "gold dredgers" were being daily dumped upon the beach
from the ships, signboards were covered with pictures of things similar,
while the papers continually bloomed with advertisements of machines,
which, if speedily secured by the miners, would, according to the
imaginative advertiser, soon cause all to literally roll in riches.

One flaming dodger ran in large letters thus: "Calling millions from the
vasty deep. A fortune in one hundred days. Our dredger will work three
thousand yards of sand in heavy surf at Cape Nome. It will take out
twenty-four thousand dollars in a day. You can make more money with us
than by taking flyers in wild-cat oil schemes, etc." The poster was
illustrated by a huge machine gotten up on the centipede plan; at least,
it resembled that hated insect from having attached to its frame two
sets of wheels of different sizes along the sides like the legs of a
centipede, but with a steam boiler for a head, and a big pipe for a
throat from which the salt water was disgorged to wash out this immense
amount of sand and give the gold to the miner. It did not save the gold.

Thousands of dollars of good, hard-earned money were dumped upon the
beach in the shape of heavy machines of different kinds, which were
worse than useless, and only brought bitter disappointment to their
owners. Men had stripped the beach the summer before of all coarse gold
which had, perhaps, been ages in washing up from the ocean's bed, or
down the creeks from the hills, and only the fine, or "flour gold," as
it was called, remained.

By the newcomers men were cursed for spreading abroad tales of beach
mining of the year before, but this was unjust, for conditions were not
the same. The waters bringing the gold to the beach could not, in one
season, replenish and leave the sands as rich as they had been after
long years, perhaps ages of action, and blame could not rightly be
attached to any one. Almost without exception, the men who did the
cursing were the men who had never been hard workers, and did not intend
to be, and so, after becoming satisfied that the nuggets were not there
to be simply picked up and pocketed, they turned, looked backward, and
went home. It was well for the new camp that they did.

There was also much trouble over real estate. Land was very high in
price. Some Swedes, who, the year before, had paid seven hundred dollars
for a town lot three hundred by fifty feet in size, now sold one-half of
it for ten thousand dollars. It is small wonder, then, where "possession
is nine points of the law" that men who rightfully claimed ground were
ready to fight to keep it, and those who were wrongfully in possession
many times stood guard with firearms.

In pitching our tents upon the sandy beach, especially after gaining
permission of the old captain who told us we would be in the street if
ever a street should be opened through on the Sandspit, but that was not
likely, and he had given us his full and free consent to our camping
temporarily there next his lots, we expected to have no trouble. Here we
miscalculated. Though the captain was kind and reasonable, he had a
partner who was just the reverse, and this person gave us infinite
trouble.

Scarcely had our first load of baggage been put upon the ground when he
began to tramp fussily about at all times of day and night. After our
stakes were driven he would come quietly in the night and pull them up,
so we would find our canvas flapping in the morning breeze when we
waked. Or, after we had retired for the night, he would come with some
other, stand within hearing distance, and threaten us if we did not move
away.

One morning, upon rising, we found that he had moved a long carpenter's
bench directly upon the spot next madam's tent, which I was trying to
reserve for my own tent as soon as I succeeded in getting my things from
the steamer. This disappointed me much, but I said nothing; and when my
tent finally came I pitched it on the other side, with my door directly
opposite hers and only six feet from her entrance.

As to appearance this old man was a jolly sight. He wore long and
tangled hair which had once been curly, but now hung in unkempt and
dirty shreds upon his shoulders, while his hat was an antiquated relic
of a former life in the States. A pair of old trousers generally hung by
one suspender over a colored shirt, which, the summer before, possibly,
had had a wash-tub experience, but not later; his footwear was
altogether unmentionable. He was called well-to-do, and there was no
necessity for him to cut such an abominable figure, so he soon became a
by-word, and was designated as "sour dough." At all events, he was sour
enough, and kept up a continual siege of torment until he received a
temporary quietus.

We three women were sitting in the tent one morning when there came a
voice at the door. Going forward to enquire what was wanted, a man said
gruffly, thrusting a piece of paper into my hand.

"A notice from the chief of police."

"For what?" I inquired.

"For you, to vacate these premises without delay."

"Indeed! Are they to open a street? Will the other campers about here
move also?" I asked.

"I don't know. My orders are that you shall move immediately. See that
you do it," said the man rudely.

While holding the paper in my hands I glanced over it hastily, and saw
the marks of a spurious document. It was poorly constructed, and bore
no official signs. I recognized it as a counterfeit.

"We have had permission from captain S., one of the aldermen, to put our
tents here, and we shall stay unless he orders us away," said I stoutly.

"You have permission from captain S.?" he asked in surprise.

"Yes, sir, from captain S. himself, and you can say to the chief of
police that we shall stay here until the captain orders us to leave,"
saying which I stepped back into the tent.

The man retreated, muttering to himself as he went, for he was utterly
routed, and never returned; neither did we hear any more for some time
about moving our tents. It was as I suspected. Mr. Sourdough had thought
to frighten us away, and the order from the chief of police was utterly
bogus.

Some time afterward, when madam attempted to put a floor into her tent,
"Sourdough" again put in an appearance. He threatened, but she held out,
when the obstinate and perverse old man trotted off down town and
secured an officer and four soldiers to come and put her off. The
officer looked the ground over, inquired if there was room for teams to
pass if necessary, and seeing her tent in line with many others, he
turned to the old man and said:

"This tent takes up no more of the street than the others. This lady has
as much right to be here as any one else. What is the matter with you?
Let the women alone," and he and his soldiers marched away.

Mr. Sourdough tore his hair. He was wild with anger. The floor of
madam's tent went down and stayed.

Each day I was in the habit of giving my Swedish friends a call, and
found them finally ready to set up their restaurant tent. A large floor
was laid on Second street near the post-office, the large canvas
stretched over the frame, tables and seats provided, a corner
partitioned off for a kitchen, dishes placed upon shelves, and they
began serving meals. At this juncture I happened in one day just before
noon and found them rushed with work and unable to fill their meal
orders for lack of help. Mary was peeling potatoes in haste, while
trying to do other things at the same time, and Ricka and Alma were
flying like bees.

"Let me peel those potatoes for you," said I, taking the knife from
Mary's hand; and when she demurred, I told her I really had nothing to
do, and would be glad to assist.

When the potatoes were peeled, dishes were heaped up to be cleaned, and
I quickly washed them, feeling that I was of some service, and not
heeding the surprised looks of a few acquaintances who chanced to catch
a glimpse of me at work in the kitchen through the door.

This I did each day, coming over after I had eaten my breakfast, and
rolling up my sleeves to my elbows, drove them deep into the dish pan
and hot water.

Many were the jolly times we now had. How the jokes flew past each other
over the puddings, and the crisp pies needed almost no other seasoning.
How cheerfully "the boys" brought wood and water and counted it reward
enough if they only received a smile from little Alma. Many a man was
glad enough, too, to render such service for a meal or lunch of hot
coffee and doughnuts, especially such good, big, motherly ones as Mary
made, and there was no lack of men helpers. How the coffee steamed, the
hot bread and meats smoked, and the soup odors tantalized the
olfactories of hundreds of "tenderfeet" with their lusty Alaska
appetites, which were increased by an open air life such as all in those
days were living.

When at last we were summoned to our work, on Number Nine, the Swedish
women pressed my hand cordially, leaving a good-sized bill in it at the
same time, saying: "When you get through on Number Nine come back to us;
we need you." I thanked them gratefully and said good-bye.

The English girl and myself were soon settled in our little tent with
its clean new floor on the hillside of claim Number Nine. No tree was to
be seen on the long, rolling hills, and only an occasional boulder on
some summit like Anvil Peak, perched as a sentinel above us. A few wild
flowers bloomed on the tundra, and the waters of the little stream
gurgled over the soft slate pebbles that strewed its course; but the
season so far was a dry one, and more water was needed before much could
be done at sluicing. Miners were not happy at the prospect of a dry
season, which meant a stoppage of all mining operations, and eagerly
scanned the heavens for rain indications. A small force of men were at
work night and day. On Thursday, July twelfth, eleven hundred dollars in
gold dust was taken from the sluice boxes in the creek, and two days
afterwards twelve thousand dollars, with which the owner of the claim
was much dissatisfied, calling them small clean-ups.

A few hundred feet up stream, on Number Ten, the machinery of C. D. Lane
whirred constantly. On the upper end of Number Nine a small new machine
called a separator was put in by some men from New York who had taken a
lay on the claim; but this scheme was not successful.

Seeing men at work prospecting along the "benches," as the banks of a
stream or hillsides are called by miners, and having a woman's
proverbial curiosity, after my work was done I climbed the hill to
investigate. The prospectors had left after digging a hole about six
feet deep and four square, evidently having satisfied themselves as to
what the ground contained. Into this hole I descended to feel of the
cold, wet earth and inspect the walls.

The miners had reached the frost line and gone, taking with them samples
of pretty white quartz rock, as much of the debris at the bottom of the
hole plainly showed, but whether it contained gold I knew not. As yet I
was a tenderfoot; but something satisfactory was without doubt found
here and in the vicinity, as quartz claims were staked over the placer
claims the whole length of Anvil Creek that summer.

While rambling about in search of flowers during our afternoon rests, we
found many interesting spots. To the northwest, over the high, bare
ridge, lay Snow Gulch, from which fabulous sums had the summer before
been taken, the blue and winding waters of famous Glacier Creek lying
just beyond. Walking through the dry, deep tundra over the hills was
warm, hard work, though we wore short skirts and high, stout boots, and
womanlike, we were always filled to the brim with questions and ready to
rest if we chanced to meet any one, which was not often.

Wherever we went, and whatever the hour, we met with no incivility. Hats
were lifted, and men rested a moment upon their shovels to look after us
as we passed, while frequently some rough miner swallowed the lump in
his throat or wiped a tear, as he thought of his wife, daughter or
sweetheart far away. We were the only women in the mines for miles
around, but felt no fear whatever, and indeed we were as safe there as
at home, and there was no occasion for anxiety.

Life was extremely interesting. Our work was not hard the first few
weeks; after that the force of men was increased. Rich pans of dirt (two
shovels full to a pan) were daily being brought to light. One pan
contained seventy-two dollars and seventy-five cents, one eighty-three
dollars and thirty-five cents. Big, fat nuggets already melted into
wondrous shapes, but iron rusted, as all Anvil Creek gold is, for some
reason, was discovered each day. One nugget tipped the scales at
thirty-nine dollars, one at twenty dollars, and one at fifty dollars,
with many others of like value.

Wednesday, August eighth, the following entry was made in my diary:
"Today has been the banner day for gold dust. The night's cleanup of
twelve hours' work was a big one--three pans full of gold. Later--Still
more yet. A cleanup of nine thousand dollars and three of the largest
nuggets I ever saw has just been made this evening. Two of the nuggets
were long and flat, as large as a tree-toad, and much the shape of one.
The men took the first load of gold dust to town--seventy-five
pounds--but the bank was closed before they could get the remainder
there. The foreman says they are prepared to keep it here safely over
night, however, and I believe they are, judging by the big protuberances
on their hip pockets."



CHAPTER XI.

LIFE IN A MINING CAMP.


As the rains came to facilitate the sluicing, more men were added to the
force shovelling in the creeks, and this made our work heavier. An
exceedingly cranky foreigner, as head cook, presided over the big coal
range in the mess-house, and we women "played second fiddle," so to
speak. However, we all had enough hard work, as a midnight supper for
the second force had to be prepared and regularly served, and at this we
labored alternately.

Strange to relate, the men at the long tables soon began to exhibit a
very great partiality for the dishes prepared by the English girl and
myself, to the end that the foreign fellow's black eyes snapped with
anger, and he swore deeply under his breath.

"He vill eat vat I gif heem. He moose eat it ven he hoongry, else he
starve himsel'. I care not he no like it, he get nothing other!" the
angry man would exclaim, as the untouched plates of the men were scraped
into the waste box. He would then, fearing that we would cook some dish
more palatable to the miners, hide the best food, or forbid us to use
certain ingredients as we wished.

Of the culinary stores provided there never could be a complaint.
Everything that money could buy in the way of fresh meat, potatoes,
onions, canned and dried fruits and vegetables, flour, corn and
oatmeals, were stacked up in the greatest profusion. From canned
oysters, clams and French sardines, to fine cocoa and cream, all was
here found in quantities, after being hauled in a wagon behind powerful
horses over the seven miles of heavy roads from Nome. By the time the
goods reached camp they were almost worth their weight in gold, but one
might have supposed them dirt cheap, for we, as hungry miners and cooks,
were never limited.

Week after week the patient animals and their driver were kept measuring
the distance between the city and the claim, even though the wet tundra
in low places grew sodden and boggy, and the wheels repeatedly sank to
the hubs. At times more horses were attached to haul them out of some
hole, or if these were not at hand, certain heavy cases were dumped off
until the reeking, straining brutes had successfully extricated the
load. Covered with mud and sweat, his high-topped rubber boots each
weighing a number of pounds, and his stomach too empty to allow of
conversation, after a long, hard day's work, the driver of this team
would fling himself upon one of the benches alongside our table and
say:

"Yes, I'm ready to eat anything. Been caved in for two hours."

This young man, as well as the night foreman, was a cousin of Mr. A.,
both farmer boys, honest, kind and true. No oaths fell from their lips,
and no language was used which their own mothers would ever blush to
hear.

The second of these, the foreman, was dressed also in great rubber
boots, dark blue sweater, and broad-brimmed felt hat, with a quick eye
and ear for all around him, though he was a man of few words, which he
weighed well before using. His hip pocket always contained a loaded
revolver, and he was obliged to sleep days after being on duty nights.

To eyes so unaccustomed as ours to the sight, how strange it all looked
at midnight. From the big tent door which faced south and towards Nome
City we could see the blue waters of Behring Sea away in the distance.
Great ships lying there at anchor, lately arrived from the outside world
or just about to leave, laden with treasure, at this long range looked
like mere dots on the horizon. Between them and us there straggled over
the beach in a westerly direction, a confused group of objects we well
knew to be the famous and fast growing camp on the yellow sands. To our
right, as well as our left, rolled the softly undulating hills, glowing
in tender tints of purples and greys, or, if the moon hung low above our
heads, there were warmer and lighter shades which were doubly
entrancing.

Accompanying the low moon twinkled the silver stars with their olden
time coyness of expression. Little birds, not knowing when to sleep in
the endless daylight, hopped among the dewy wild flowers of the tundra,
calling to their mates or nestlings, twittering a song appropriate to
the time and place because entirely unfamiliar.

No other sound was to be heard except the picks of the miners at work in
the stream. No word was spoken unless the foreman gave some order. Those
sleeping in nearby tents must not be wakened, and besides the men at the
shovels and picks did no loitering. There were the long sluice boxes to
be filled with what was once the creek bed, from which the water was now
turned in another direction to await the morning's cleanup of gold.

At that time the water would be conducted into the long boxes to wash
away the dirt and gravel, leaving the heavier gold in the bottom. Either
Mr. A. or his brother, with the foreman, attended to cleaning up the
gold. When all the dirt and gravel, or rock, had been washed out of the
sluices, a whisk broom was used to brush the gold into a corner of the
box, a dustpan conveyed it to broad-mouthed gold pans close at hand, and
these were carried into the kitchen.

Here the pans were placed upon the iron range, big mush spoons were
utilized for stirring, and the precious metal was well dried before
being weighed. As soon as possible afterward it was taken to the Bank of
Nome. A tall, black horse was purchased for this purpose alone, and
after a few such trips the intelligent creature most reluctantly
approached the office where the gold was kept, having learned of the
grievous burden he would have to bear. Sometimes he would snort, throw
himself and pull back, and in every way show his unwillingness to
proceed.

But no shirk was allowed here. The horse was led close to the steps of
the office tent, and a gunny sack tied in the middle brought out by two
men and laid over the back of the unwilling beast. A rain coat or
blanket was flung over the sack, and the man at the halter started for
town, leading the horse, which walked slowly and resignedly after being
compelled to go.

A second man, well armed with revolvers like the first, always
accompanied the pair, and when the three had returned to the claim
another cleanup awaited them. Enormous sums of money were taken from
this claim while we were there, averaging ten thousand to twenty
thousand dollars per day. Seventy men worked for a time when the water
was at its best, part of that number on the day force and part at night.

In August the west bank of the creek was accidentally pricked and found
to be far richer than the bed of the stream. Nuggets worth many dollars
were continually unearthed, the largest one that summer amounting to
ninety dollars. The richest pans contained sixty-four dollars,
seventy-two dollars and seventy-five cents and eighty-four dollars, with
others ranging all the way below.

From a bench claim next to Number Eleven on this creek, and only
one-fourth of a mile above us, great heaps of gold were taken from the
ground, no pan carrying less, it was said, than five hundred dollars.

From seventy men to wait upon when the stream was at high water mark, to
twenty-five when it was lower, at any time our lot was hard. We worked
with chapped, bleeding hands and aching backs. We worked until our tired
limbs sometimes refused to carry us further. By the middle of August the
nights began to grow dark at nine o'clock, and a hold-up or two took
place on the creek. The weather was rainy and cold, with frosty nights
between, and as we were all in tents, and these sometimes leaked, which
did not improve the head cook's temper and he grew almost abusive; we
retired, went to town, and left him alone to meditate. Here he hastily
and angrily for a few days longer tossed up nondescript messes for the
men, which none could eat, and was then discharged in disgrace.

In all there were fifteen placer claims staked on Anvil. Some of these
were scarcely touched that summer, but from those operated fully two
million five hundred thousand dollars were taken in three months.

[Illustration: CLAIM NUMBER NINE, ANVIL CREEK.]

During the six weeks we had spent at Number Nine, many improvements had
been made along the route and in Nome. Where before we had traveled
seven miles we now walked only two, riding on the new narrow gauge
railroad, spoken of there as Mr. Lane's, the remainder of the way.

At Discovery Claim, instead of a few straggling tents, there were eating
houses, saloons, store-houses, a ticket and post-office, and the nucleus
of a town. The cars we boarded were open, flat cars, with seats along
the sides, to be sure, but they were crowded at one dollar per head to
Nome. After waiting a little time for a start, the whistle blew shrilly,
the conductor shouted "all aboard!" and we trundled along behind a
smoky, sturdy engine in almost civilized style.

This was the first railroad in Alaska with the exception of the White
Pass and Yukon road, and will eventually extend to the southern coast
and Iliamna.

Next morning, after spending the night on the Sandspit with madam, I
called, bright and early, upon my Swedish friends in their restaurant.

"Good morning, Mrs. Sullivan!" cried Mary in a hearty voice, as she
stirred the steaming mush on the kitchen range.

"Good morning!" said Ricka more quietly, but with a pleasant, welcoming
smile. "Did you come from Number Nine?"

"Good morning!" from Alma, as she poured a cup of hot coffee for a
waiting customer. "Do you want to help us? We have plenty of work."

"That's what I came for," said I, laying aside my hat and coat. "Will
you lend me an apron till I get mine?" glancing toward the kitchen sink
full of unwashed dishes, and the cupboard shelves quite demoralized.

"I'll lend you six if you will only help us. We are so busy serving
meals we cannot take time to get settled," said Mary. "Yes, we moved
from the tent last week," she said in reply to my question.

"We like this much better. The tent leaked during the hard rains, and
flapped so much in the wind that we were afraid it would come down upon
our heads. We have had this kitchen built on, and shall keep open till
the last boats are gone for the winter. That will be two months longer,
likely," and Mary talked on as she dished up the griddle cakes and the
two others waited upon the tables.

I felt quite happy to have found work so soon, and that too among
friends, and without any particular responsibility attached to the
position. I would dignify my labor, doing it well and acceptably,
carrying always a sunny face and pleasing mood. The work was of a kind
despised by hundreds of women, who, after landing at Nome, had not found
agreeable and genteel situations, and so had gone back home, or, in
some cases, done even worse.

To be sure, the pay was not large, the work tiresome, and I would be
snubbed by many persons, but I had not come to Alaska for my health.
That was excellent. Then I had good food in sufficient quantities, which
was always a thing to be considered in that country. I had a purpose in
view which I never lost. I would get some gold claims.

The Swedish people were brave and fearless, as well as patient and
strong. I had many acquaintances among them already. I felt they were
good people to stay with, and they were congenial. To be sure, a few
spoke English with an accent, and there were no small, white hands among
them; but if the hearts and lives were clean and true, and so far as I
could judge they were so, I was satisfied.

The missionaries from Golovin, including the young lady who had come up
on the "St. Paul," had, with my three friends here, called at Number
Nine at different times during the six weeks of our stay there. Already
a plan had been considerably discussed which would take a party of us to
Golovin to winter, either in the Swedish mission or near it, and of all
things in mind so far this prospect most pleased me.

We would then be fifty miles from the rich Council City mines on the
Fish River Creeks, and only half that distance from the Topkok diggings,
of which we now heard considerable. Every creek within many miles
around Nome was entirely staked, but in the vicinity of Golovin we might
hope to secure claims, or, at least, be in a good position to learn of
new gold strikes if any were made during the coming winter.

"But we will keep a roadhouse if we go there," said Alma, "and be making
some money. I am sure there will be many people traveling through
Golovin all winter, and we can make a few dollars that way as well as
any one else. Then we will not forget how to cook," and the young woman,
with eyes always open to the main chance for "making money," as she
called it, laughed at the bare possibility of such a thing.

"We might do that and help in the mission, too, there are so many of us.
I would like to work in the mission for a change, I think," said Ricka,
who was very religiously inclined and quiet generally.

"What would you like to do, Mrs. Sullivan?" asked Mary. "You say so
little, and we talk so much. I want to know what you think."

"Well, there are three of you to talk, and I am only one," said I,
laughing, as I placed the cups and saucers, all clean and shining, on
the cupboard shelves. "I should like the mission plan better than
anything, for I have had some experience in mission work; but if they do
not need us there, then I should like the roadhouse well enough, though
I think if eight or ten of us, each having enough supplies for himself
for the winter, should form a club and live under one roof, we could do
so more cheaply and comfortably than any other way, and have a real
jolly, good time in the bargain. These young men, many of them, are
intending to winter here somewhere, and all hate to cook for themselves,
I know, while they would gladly get the wood, water, and shovel snow, if
we did the cooking and housework. None need to work hard, and if a rich
gold strike were reported, somebody might want to go and do some
staking. In that way we might get some gold claims," I reasoned, while
all three listened during a lull in the work.

"That's what we all came to Alaska for--gold claims. I want three,"
remarked Alma with complacency, "and besides, there is plenty of
driftwood at Golovin on the beach which we could have for nothing, and
save buying coal at three dollars a sack as we do here," glancing at the
scuttle near the range reproachfully, as if the poor, inanimate thing
was to blame for prices.

Little Alma was keen at a bargain. There was nothing slow about the grey
matter in her cranium. If there was buying to do, or a commodity to
sell, Alma was the one of the restaurant firm to do it, enjoying well
the bargaining, where she was seldom outwitted.

So in the intervals between meals, or at night when the day's work was
done, we discussed our plans outside the kitchen door next the sea
beach, watching the shipping in the roadstead, admiring the lovely sky
tints left by the setting sun, or gazing at the softly rolling breakers
under a silver-bowed moon.

If we had plenty of hard work, with its not altogether desirable phases,
we also enjoyed much beside the novelty. Some one we knew was always in
from the creeks, principally Anvil, to bring latest news, as well as to
collect the same, and the kitchen as well as the dining-room, was the
constant rendezvous of friends of one or all of us. Those prospecting
among the hills or on the beach at some distance from town came in often
for supplies and to visit the post-office, giving the "Star" a call for
hot coffee, if not a supper, before leaving. Jokes and stories flew
about over the tables, and interesting incidents were always occurring.
Good humor and good cheer flowed on every side along with the cordial
greeting, and tea and coffee, though nothing stronger in the way of
drinks was ever placed upon the tables.

In the kitchen we did not lack voluntary assistants when work pushed, or
there was what we called "a rush." One young man would fill the water
buckets at a neighboring hydrant, another would bring in coal, and some
other would carry away refuse.

Happy, indeed, were the great numbers of dogs fed from the "Star"
kitchen. No beggar was ever turned away. No homeless and discouraged
soul, whether man or woman, sober or drunken, was allowed to leave as
forlorn as he entered. Men often sat down at the tables, who, when
filled with good food and hot drink, in a warm and comfortable room fell
asleep from the effects of previous stimulants and sank to the floor.
When this happened some strong and helpful arm assisted such a one with
friendly advice, to the street.

The two sisters were now our nearest neighbors, the third and married
one having gone with her husband to live in a new cottage of their own
in another part of the town. The eldest of the two had kindly offered me
lodging in the back part of their store building of which our restaurant
rooms were a half, and from which we were only separated by a board
partition. This was a temporary arrangement until I could find something
that suited me close at hand, as I chose to be near my work on account
of going to my room in the evening after my duties were done. The
sisters themselves still lived in their large warehouse a few feet back
from the store, and between it and the surf which rolled ceaselessly
upon the sands.

I was now more comfortably lodged than since I had landed at Nome. My
canvas cot, placed in the back of the store, vacant except for a few
rolls of carpeting, matting and oil cloth on sale by the sisters, stood
not far from the large coal heater in which fire was kept during the
day, making the room warm and dry when I came in at night. Near the
foot of my cot a good window admitted light and sunshine, and a door
opened upon a flight of six stairs into a tiny square yard before one
entered the warehouse, where lived the sisters. This latter building was
made of corrugated iron, on piles, with windows and a door in the south
end looking directly out upon the water only a few feet away, and was
fitted cosily enough for the summer, but not intended for anything
further except storage purposes. A second door in the north end,
opposite the one in the store, and only separated from it by the little
yard was the door generally used. At this time lodgings without fire
were worth dollars a night in crowded Nome, and one's next neighbors
might prove themselves anything but desirable.

Meanwhile we worked steadily. Many of the Anvil Creek mine owners and
their men took meals at the "Star" whenever in town. Some of their
office employees came regularly. Hundreds were "going outside" on boats,
and all was bustle and excitement. At least twenty-five thousand people
had landed at Nome during the summer, and fully one-half of them had
gone home discouraged.

On Sunday, September second, there came up a most terrible storm, which,
for the velocity of its gales, tremendous downfall of rain, terrific
surf, accompanied by great loss of life, as well as length of duration,
had not been equalled for over twenty years. Never before was the
property loss so great on the Behring Sea coast.

By nine o'clock Sunday morning the large steamers at anchor had put far
out to sea for safety. The wind rose, the rain poured. The surf was
growing more rough. At dinner time those who came in reported the dead
bodies of nine men picked up on the beach. They had attempted to land
from a steamer, and their small boat was swamped. One of the men drowned
was the mate of the vessel. For days the storm lasted and our work
increased. It was not long before the continuous rain had penetrated our
little kitchen roof and walls, roughly built as they were of boards, and
from that on we worked in rubber boots and short skirts tucked still
higher. With the storm at its hardest, I donned a regular "sou'wester,"
or water proof hat, rather than stand with the rain dripping upon my
head, and a cape of the same material covered my shoulders.

People living in tents when the storm began--and there were
thousands--had been washed out, or been obliged to leave them, and could
not get their own meals. The "Star" swarmed with hundreds who had never
been there before, as well as those in the habit of coming. Ten days
passed. Sometimes there would be a lull in the storm for a few hours and
we hoped it was over, but the surf ran high and could not return before
the wind again lashed it into fury.

One midnight, when I was sleeping soundly after an unusually hard day's
duties in the kitchen, there came a hasty knock at my door.

"Let me in quick Mrs. Sullivan, the warehouse, we fear, is going. We
must come in here. We will bring some more of our things," and little
sister dropped the armful of clothing she carried and ran back for more.

Sure enough, as I looked, the water surged up under the warehouse to the
foot of the steps. When she returned with another load I offered to
dress and assist them, but she said they would only bring the clothing
and bedding, and I better go back to bed.

Breathlessly the sisters worked for a time, until the tide prevented
them from again entering the warehouse, and they made their bed near me
on the floor. When, after watching the waters, they felt satisfied that
they receded, they retired, weary and troubled, hoping that before
another high tide the storm would have subsided and the danger would be
past.

By September twelfth the surf was the worst we had ever seen it, and
Snake River had overflowed its banks. Most of those on the Sandspit were
obliged to flee for their lives. Hundreds were homeless on the streets.
The town's whole water-front was washed away. Tents not only went down
by hundreds, but buildings of every description were swept away and
flung by the angry surf high up on the sands.

Anchored lighters and barges were loosened from their moorings and came
ashore, as did schooners broken and disabled. Dead bodies were each day
picked up on the beach, which was strewn with wreckage.

One dark night, when the rain had ceased for a time to give place to a
fearful gale which tossed the maddened waters higher and higher, there
appeared upon the horizon a dim, portentous shape. At first it was only
a form, indistinct and uncertain. As we watched longer, it gradually
assumed the semblance of a ship. Keen eyes soon discerned a huge, black
hulk, of monstrous size when riding the crest of the breakers, smaller
and partially lost to sight when buried at intervals in the trough of
the sea.

A ship was drifting helplessly, entirely at the mercy of the elements,
and must soon be cast upon the beach at our feet. Approaching swiftly as
she was, in the heavy sea, as the violence of the wind bore her onward,
lights appeared as signals of distress, telling of souls on board in
fearful danger.

In dismay we watched the helpless, on-coming vessel. We were in direct
line of her path as she was now drifting. If by chance the mountain of
water should, by an awful upheaval, rear the wreck upon its crest at
landing, we would be engulfed in a moment of time. No power could save
the buildings which would be instantly shivered to heaps of floating
debris.

Should we flee for our lives? Or would the wind, quickly, by some
miracle, change its course, and thereby send the menacing vessel to one
side of us or the other? Groups of patrolmen and soldiers everywhere
watched with anxious eyes, and friends stood with us to encourage and
assist if needed.

God alone could avert the awful, impending disaster. He could do so, and
did.

When only a few hundred feet from shore, the huge black mass, rearing
and tossing like a thing of life in the raging sea, swerved to the west
by a sudden veer of the wind, and then, amid the roar of breakers angry
to ferocity, she, with a boom as of cannon in battle, plunged into the
sands of the beach only a hundred and fifty feet away.

The earth trembled. With one long, quivering motion, like some dumb
brute in its death struggle, the ship settled, its great timbers parting
as it did so, and the floods pouring clean over its decks. Then began
the work of rescuing those on board, which was finally, after many
hours, successfully accomplished.



CHAPTER XII.

BAR-ROOM DISTURBANCES.


"Girls, O girls!" shouted Mary from the kitchen door in order to be
heard above the waters, "Do come inside!" Then, as we answered her call
and closed the door behind us, she said: "The danger is over now, and
you can't help those poor people in the wreck. There are plenty of men
to do that. See! it is nearly midnight, and we shall have another hard
day's work tomorrow. Go to bed like good children, do."

"How about yourself, ma?" said Ricka, carrying out the farce of mother
and children as we often did, Mary being the eldest of the four.

"I'm going too, as soon as I get this pancake batter made, for I'm dead
tired. We will hear the particulars of the wreck at breakfast," replied
Mary.

"Poor things! How I pity them. What an awful experience for women if
there were any on board," said sympathetic Ricka, and I left them
talking it over, to roll into my cot, weary from twelve hours of hard
work and excitement.

No anxiety, and no thundering of the breakers could now keep me awake,
and for hours I slept heavily.

Suddenly I was wide awake. No dream or unusual sound had roused me. Some
new danger must be impending. My pulses throbbed. The clock at the head
of my cot ticked regularly, and its hands pointed to four. The sisters
slept peacefully side by side. The whole town seemed resting after the
intense and continued anxiety caused by the storm, and I wondered why I
had wakened.

However, something impelled me to get up, and, rising quietly from my
cot in order not to arouse the others, I went to the south window and
peered out.

My heart fairly stood still.

The waters were upon us! They had already covered the lower steps at the
door not six feet from the cot on which I had slept. I stood motionless.
If I knew that the waters were receding, I would go quietly to bed,
allowing the others to sleep an hour longer; but if they were rising
there was no time to lose. None could reckon on the tides now, for all
previous records had been recently broken. I would wait and watch a few
minutes, I decided, and I wrapped a blanket around me, for my teeth
chattered, and I shivered.

How cruel the water looked as I watched it creep closer and closer. How
quietly now it swept at flood tide up through the piles under the
warehouse, covering the little back yard and the kitchen steps of the
restaurant. With the cunning of a thief it was creeping upon us in the
darkness when we were asleep and helpless.

Would the resistless waters persist in our destruction? Where should we
go in the storm if obliged to fly for our lives?

Twenty minutes passed.

Another step was covered while I watched--the tide was rising.

Crossing the room now to where my friends lay sleeping, I touched little
sister upon the shoulder.

"Wake up! Wake up! The tide is coming,--the water is almost at the door!
I have been watching it for twenty minutes, and I'm sure we ought to be
dressed," said I, trying to keep my voice steady so as neither to betray
my fright nor startle them unnecessarily.

Springing from their bed they hurried to the window and looked out.

"I should say so!" exclaimed the younger lady in dismay.

"These treacherous waters will not give us up. They want us, and all we
possess, and are literally pursuing us, I believe," groaned Miss S., the
older sister, struggling to get hastily into her clothing. "But we must
waken the girls," she said, rapping on the intervening wall, and calling
loudly for the three other women who still slept soundly from fatigue.

With that, we all dressed, and began to pack our belongings; I putting
my rubber blanket upon the floor and rolling my bedding in that. This I
tied securely, and dragged to the street door, packing my bags and trunk
quickly for removal if necessary.

In the restaurant none knew exactly what to do. The water had covered
the back steps, and the spray was dashing against the kitchen door.
Underneath, the little cellar, dug in the dry sand weeks before, and
used as a storing place for tents, chairs, vegetables and coal sacks,
was filled with water which now came within a foot of the floors. From
sheer force of habit, Mary began building a fire in the range, and I to
pack the spoons, knives and forks in a basket for removal. Ricka thought
this a wise thing to do, but Alma remonstrated.

"The water will not come in. You need not be afraid. If it does, we will
only run out into the street, leaving everything. Let us get breakfast
now, the people are coming in to eat," and this very matter-of-fact
young woman began laying the tables for the morning meal. It was six
o'clock. The men soon began to pour into the dining room hungry, wet,
and cold. Many had been out all night assisting in the rescue work or
patrolling the beach, inspecting each heap of wreckage in search of dead
bodies and valuables, for many among the missing were supposed to have
perished in the storm.

Three men engaged in rescuing the survivors of the big wreck of the
night previous, had been swept from the barge alongside, and gone down
in the boiling surf. Searching parties were out trying to locate a
number of men who had started two days before, during a lull in the
storm, against the warnings of friends, for Topkok to the east. They
were never again seen.

I had now to find other lodgings, for the sisters needed their room.
Leaving my work for an hour in the forenoon I tramped about in the mud
looking everywhere within two blocks of the "Star," for I did not wish
to go further away.

After calling at a number of places, I was directed to a small hotel or
lodging house across the street from the "Star," and about one and a
half blocks further east. A man and his wife kept the house, which
consisted of eating room and kitchen on the east side of the lower
floor, and a big bar-room or saloon on the west side. The second floor
was divided by a long narrow hall into two rows of small rooms for rent
to lodgers. The woman showed me a little room with one window on the
west side.

"I wish to rent by the week, as I am expecting to leave town before
long," said I, after telling her my business, and where I was at work.
"What rent do you charge?"

"Five dollars per week, unfurnished," said she.

I caught my breath. The room was about eight feet square, and as bare as
my hand. Not even a shade hung at the window. It was ceiled with boards
around and overhead. I asked if she would put up a window shade. She
said she would when her husband returned, as she expected him in a few
days from Norton Sound.

After talking with the little woman she seemed to wish me to take the
room, assuring me that there were only quiet, decent people in the
house, and the saloon below was closed each day at midnight. There was a
billiard table and piano in the bar-room; but no window shades, shutters
nor screens of any sort, she said. Her own room was next this one, and
she was always there after nine o'clock in the evening, so I need not
feel timid.

Upon reflection, I took the room, and paid the rent. My things could not
stand in the street, and I must have a place in which to sleep at night.
It was high and dry, and far enough away from the surf, so that I need
not fear being washed out. I would not be in my room during the day, and
it was only for a few weeks anyway. It suited my needs better than
anything I could find elsewhere, and as for furnishings, I could do
without.

I went back to my work, and had my baggage and cot sent to the room. I
could settle things in a few minutes in the evening before retiring.

The surf still boomed upon the beach, and rain and mist continued all
day, but without wind. For hours the waters kept close to our floors,
but did not quite reach them. Floating wreckage washed up at our feet,
and two lighters, loose from their moorings, lodged beside the warehouse
at the mercy of the surf. We were in constant fear that they would shove
the warehouse off the piles against our buildings, and that would be,
without doubt, the finale.

In the meantime there was "a rush" indoors such as we never before had.
Many carried hearts saddened by the loss of friends or property. Some
had not slept for days. At the tables, at one time, sat two beggars, and
a number of millionaires. Some who had reckoned themselves rich a few
days previous were now beggared. The great wreck of the night before was
going rapidly to pieces. With a mighty force, the still angry breakers
dashed high over the decks of the ship. Masts and rigging went down
hourly, and ropes dangled in mid-air, while men unloading coal and
lumber worked like beavers at windlass and derrick, which creaked loudly
above the noise of the waters.

More and more was the ship dismantled. When the storm cleared, and the
sun came out next day, the scene was one of wondrous grandeur. Nothing
more magnificent had I ever before beheld. Great masses of water,
mountain high, rolled continually landward, their snowy crests
surmounted by veils of mist and spray, delicate as the tracery on some
frosted window pane. As the sun lifted his head above the horizon,
throwing his beams widely over all, each mist-veil was instantly
transformed into a thing of surpassing beauty. It could only be compared
to strings of diamonds, rubies and pearls. With a fairy's witchery, or a
magician's spell, the whole face of the waters was changed. Each wrecked
craft along the shore, partially buried in sand, masts gone, keel
broken, and anchor dragged, with the surf breaking over all, was
transformed under the brilliant sunshine, until no painting could be
more artistically beautiful. Under the fascination of it all we forgot
the anxiety, the labor, and suspense of the last days and weeks, and
every moment of interval between work we spent at our door next the
beach, or after the falling of the tide, further out upon the sands.

Many wrecks lay strewn along the beach. Schooners, barges, and tugs lay
broken and helpless. Untold quantities of debris, lumber, pieces of
buildings, tents, boxes, and barrels, all testified to the sad and
tremendous havoc made by this great storm.

In my little room I rested quietly when my day's work was done. The
landlady had taken down an old black shawl I had pinned to the window,
and hung a green cloth shade of ugly color, and too wide by several
inches. It was better than no shade, and I said nothing. For a bed I had
my own cot; for a washstand, a box. At the head of my cot stood two
small boxes, one above the other, and upon these I placed my clock,
matches, pincushion, brush and combs, while below were stowed away other
little things. A few nails on the wall held my dresses, but my trunk
remained packed. A candle, tin wash basin, and bucket completed my room
furnishings, simple and homely enough to satisfy the asceticism of a
cloistered nun or monk.

On September twenty-seventh there fell the first snow of the season. A
little had for days been lying upon the hilltops of Anvil, but none
nearer. The only fire in my room was an oil lamp upon which I heated
water upon going home at night; but with plenty of blankets and wool
clothing I was comfortable with the window open.

One evening while going to my room I heard some one singing in the
bar-room. I hurried up the stairs on the outside of the building, which
was the only way of entrance to the second floor, and entered my room.
Depositing my lighted lantern upon the floor, I listened. The singing
continued. It was a youthful woman's voice. I would see for myself.
Going quietly out the door, and down part way to a window crossed by the
stairs, I sat down upon a step and looked into the room below. It was
the big bar-room. It was pleasant and warm, with lights and fire. Upon
the bright green cloth of the billiard table lay a few gay balls, but no
game was then in progress. The big piano waited open near by. The
bartender stood behind the bar, backed by rows of bottles, shining
glasses and trays. A mirror reflected the occupants of the room, some of
whom were leaning against the counter in various attitudes, but the
central figure stood facing them.

It was a beautiful young girl who was singing.

A few feet from, and directly in front of the girl, was her companion, a
well dressed and good looking young man a little older. Both were
intoxicated, and trying to dance a cake walk, accompanying themselves by
singing, "I'd Leave my Happy Home for You."

She was singing in a tipsy, disconnected way the senseless ditty,
swaying back and forth to the imaginary music. Beautiful as a dream,
with dark hair, and great melting eyes, her skin was like lilies, and
each cheek a luscious peach. Her tall, graceful figure, clad in long,
sweeping black draperies, with white jeweled fingers daintily lifting
her skirts while she stepped backward and forward, made a picture both
fascinating and horrible.

I sat gazing like one petrified. The girl's laugh rang through the room.
"I'd Leave my Happy Home for You, ou--ou," she was singing still,
weaving and swaying now from side to side as if about to fall. Her
companion approached and attempted to place his arm about her shoulders,
but she gave him a playful push which sent him sprawling, at which she
shouted in great glee, dropping her drapery and flinging her lovely arms
above her head. How the diamonds sparkled on her little hands I How the
men in the bar-room clapped, swearing she was a good one, and must have
another drink. Someone gave an order, and the bartender handed out a
small tray upon which stood slender-necked amber-colored glasses filled
to the brim.

As the girl quickly tossed off the liquor, I groaned aloud, awaked from
my trance, and fled to my room, where I bolted the door, and fell upon
my knees. God forgive her! What a sight! I wanted to rush into the
bar-room, seize the young girl, and lead her away from the place and her
companions, but I could not. I had barely enough room for myself. I had
little money. What could I do for her? Absolutely nothing. If I went in
and attempted to talk with her it would do no good, for she was drunk,
and a drunken person cannot reason. The men would jeer at me, and I
might be ejected from the place.

Finally I went to bed. At midnight the singing and shouting ceased, the
people dispersed, the bartender put out the lights, and locked the
doors.

For the first time since reaching Nome, my pillow was wet with tears,
and I prayed for gold with which to help lift these, my sisters, from
their awful degradation.

It was well towards midnight, and I had been asleep for some time. My
subjective mind, ever on the alert as usual, and ready to share
enjoyment as well as pain with my objective senses, began gradually to
inform me that there was music in the air. Softly and sweetly, like
rippling summer waters over mossy stones, the notes floated upward to my
ears. The hands of an artist lay upon the keyboard of the instrument in
the room beneath.

I listened drowsily.

With the singing of brooks, I heard the twitter of little birds, the
rustle of leaves on the trees, and saw the maiden-hair nodding in the
glen. I was a little child far away in the Badger State. Again I was
rambling through green fields, and plucking the pretty wild flowers. How
sweet and tender the blue skies above! How gentle the far-away voice of
my mother as she called me!

They were singing softly now,--men's voices, well trained, and in
sweetest harmony:

   "I'm coming, I'm coming,
      My ear is bending low.
    I hear the angel's voices calling
      Old Black Joe."

They sang the whole song through, and I was now wide awake.

Familiar songs and old ballads followed, the master hand at the keys
accompanying.

"We are going outside on the Ohio tomorrow," said one in an interval of
the music, "and then, ho! for home again, so I'm happy," and a momentary
clog dance pounded the board floor.

"Have a drink on it, boys?" asked a generous bystander who had been
enjoying the music.

"No, thanks, we never drink. Let's have a lively song now for variety,"
and the musician struck up a coon song, which they sang lustily. Then
followed "America," "Auld Lang Syne," and "'Mid Pleasures and Palaces,"
the dear old "Home, Sweet Home" coming with intense sweetness and pathos
to my listening ear. No sound disturbed the singers, and others filed
quietly out when they had gone away. "God bless them, and give them a
safe voyage home to their dear ones," I breathed, with tears slipping
from under wet lashes, and a great lump in my throat.

"Thank God for those who are above temptation, even in far-away Alaska,"
and again I turned, and slept peacefully.



CHAPTER XIII.

OFF FOR GOLOVIN BAY.


By October twelfth the weather began to be quite wintry, with snow
flurries, cold wind, and a freezing ground. All now felt their time
short in which to prepare for winter, change residence, and get settled.
After many days of planning, in which eight or ten persons were
concerned, it was finally decided that we should go to Golovin Bay. The
head missionary, and one or two of his assistants from that place, had
been with us part of the time during the great storm, so we were quite
well acquainted, and we would be near the Mission.

The "boys," as we called the young men for short, would build a cabin in
which the funds of the women were also to be pooled. Three of the boys
had gone, some weeks before, to Golovin to assist in the erection of a
new Mission Home, twelve miles further down the coast; but as a shipload
of mission supplies had been lost at sea, including building materials,
their work was much hampered, and it was not expected that the new home
would be completed, though sadly needed for the accommodation of the
constantly increasing numbers of Eskimo children for which it was
intended.

In this case, no new helpers could be added to the missionary force,
though Miss L., a tall, intelligent young woman, was to be placed in the
Home kitchen as cook, and would accompany us to Golovin. It was decided,
then, that the restaurant be closed immediately before the last boat
left Nome for Golovin, as it would be impossible to get there after the
last steamer had gone until the ice was solid, and winter trails were
good over the hills. Most of us did not care to remain so long where we
were, and made ready to sail on the small coast steamer "Elk," scheduled
to leave Nome October eighteenth.

On the evening of the sixteenth the doors of the "Star" were formally
closed. We had had a rush up to the last moment, and all hands were
completely tired out. It had been a long pull, and a steady pull, and
the thought uppermost in the minds of us four women was to get to
Golovin and rest. Even Alma sighed for a vacation from hard work,
feeling that the roadhouse, if they opened one, must wait until she was
rested.

Mary wished to remain at Nome for a while, and come later by dog-team
when the trails were good. She would take a day after we had gone to
finish storing away the "Star" outfit for the next summer, and make the
rooms tidy, afterwards visiting acquaintances, and doing shopping.

For two days after closing the "Star" we were busy as bees, but at a
change of occupation. We bought food supplies, coal-oil, and warm
clothing, receiving parcels of the latter, including yarns for winter
knitting, at the hands of the stewardess of the "St. Paul," who had
kindly made our purchases in San Francisco at better prices (for us)
than we found at Nome. Some bought furs, when they could find them,
though these were scarce and costly, and each person carried his own
bedding. Letters to the outside were written and posted, mails
collected, freight and other bills paid, and tickets secured on the
steamer.

For my own part, I now found some kindly helper with strong arms
whenever I had a trunk, bag, or box to lift or transfer, and no
remuneration for services thus rendered beyond a smiling, "thank you
very much," was ever accepted.

What a strong, hearty, clean, and good-natured lot were these Swedes.
How helpful, sympathetic, and jolly withal. It was easy for them to see
the clear, bright side of everything, and to turn an innocent joke on
themselves occasionally; for one told on another is never so effective
and enjoyable as a joke on oneself; but there were often those with
tears in their eyes, and a homesick feeling at their heart upon bidding
farewell to friends who were leaving for the outside.

With the approach of a long, hard winter in the Arctic, so unknown and
untried by many, with a distance of thousands of miles of ocean soon to
roll between them, it was many times difficult to say a careless
good-bye. For those remaining in Alaska, who could foresee the future?
Was it to be a fortunate and happy one, or would it disclose only
misfortune, with, perchance, sickness and death? Would these partings be
followed by future happy meetings, or were they now final? Who could
tell?

Among those constantly sailing for the outside were those who left
regretfully, and those who left joyfully; there was the husband and
father returning to his loved ones with "pokes," well filled with
nuggets, and the wherewithal to make them more happy than ever before.

There were those returning to sweethearts who daily watched and waited
longingly for their home-coming which would be more than joyful. There
were those leaving who would come again when the long winter was over,
to renew their search for gold already successfully begun; and they were
satisfied.

There were many who left the gold fields with discouragement depicted
upon their every feature. They had been entirely unable to adapt
themselves to circumstances so different to any they had before known,
and they had not possessed the foresight and judgment to decide affairs
when the critical moments came. Perhaps a fondness for home, and dear
ones, pulled too persistently upon the heartstrings; nothing here
looked good to them, and they went home disgusted with the whole world.
Unless a man or woman can quickly adjust himself or herself to changed
conditions, and has a willingness to turn his or her hand to any
honorable labor, he would better remain at home, and allow others to go
to Alaska.

If a man goes there with pockets already well lined, intending to
operate in mining stocks, he still needs the adjustable spirit, because
of the new, crude, and compulsory manners of living. He must be able to
forget the luxury of silver spoons, delicate hands, soft beds, and steam
heat; enjoying, or at least accommodating himself to the use of tin
spoons, coarse food, no bed, and less heat, if his place and
circumstances for a time demand such loss of memory.

A bountiful supply of hopefulness is also necessary, in order, at times,
to make the darkness and discomfort of the present endurable, and this
will wonderfully cheer and create patience. Thousands of persons who
were ill qualified in these and other respects had journeyed to Alaska,
only to return, homesick, penniless, and completely discouraged, who
never should have left their home firesides.

Not so with the Swedish people. They are accustomed to a cold climate,
hard work, and conditions needing patience and perseverance, without
great luxuries in their homes, and being strong and hearty physically,
they are well fitted, both by nature and practice, for life in the new
gold fields of Alaska. There were more reasons than one for their
success in the far Northwest, and a little study of cause and effect
would disclose the truth, when it will be found that it was not all
"luck" which made so many successful.

Our last day at Nome is a confused memory of trunks, boxes, bags,
barrels, dog-teams, tickets, bills, lunches, tables, dishes, and
numerous other things. Tramping hurriedly through busy, dirty streets,
and heavy, sandy beach, with arms loaded with small baggage (we had
neither parrots nor poodles) making inquiries at stores and offices,
doing innumerable errands, saying good-byes, and having good-luck wishes
called after us; and then, when the sun had disappeared for the day, and
night was almost upon us, we turned our backs upon our summer camp, and
hastened to our winter home.

At the water's edge small pieces of ice washed up and down with a
clicking sound upon the sands, as if to give us notice of approaching
winter, but the ocean was almost as smooth as a floor. No breath of wind
disturbed the surface, and only a gentle swell came landward at
intervals to remind us of its still mighty, though hidden, power.

Then we were all in readiness to leave. A little boat was drawn upon the
sand. Into it all small baggage was tossed. It was then pushed out
farther by men in high rubber boots standing in the water.

"I cannot get into the boat," laughed Little Alma, "I will get my feet
wet."

"Not if I can help it," answered a stalwart sailor, who immediately
picked her up bodily and set her down in the boat, repeating the
operation three times, in spite of the screams and laughter of Miss L.,
Ricka and myself. Ricka and I were only of medium height, but Miss L.
was a good six-footer, and when we were safely in the boat, and she had
been picked up in the sailor's strong arms, if she did not scream for
herself, some of us did it for her, thinking she would certainly go head
first into the water; but no, she was carefully placed, like the rest of
us, in the boat.

After getting settled, and the final good-byes were waved, the men
sprang in, those on shore pushed the boat off; we were again on the
bosom of old Behring Sea. Smaller and fainter grew all forms upon the
shore. Darker and deeper grew the waters beneath us. The lights of a few
belated steamers, twinkled in the distance, their reflections, beautiful
as jewels, quietly fixed upon the placid waters. Like a thing of sense,
it seemed to me, the great ocean, full of turmoil, rage, and fury so
recently, it would show us, before we left, how lamblike, upon
occasions, it could be; and all old scores against it were then and
there forgotten.

A dark form soon lay just before us. "Where is the 'Elk,'" I asked of
a sailor rowing, looking about in the gathering darkness which had
rapidly fallen.

[Illustration: CLAIM NUMBER FOUR, ANVIL CREEK, NOME.]

"There it is," pointing to a black hulk which lay sullenly, without a
spark of light visible, close to us.

"But do they not know we are coming? Have they no light on board? How
can we get upon deck?" we asked anxiously.

"O, they will bring a lantern, I guess," laughed the sailor, then
thinking to put us at our ease, he called lustily as he rested himself
at his oars. Not getting a reply, he shouted again.

Presently two men appeared with as many lanterns.

"Here, you fellows, get a move on, and help these ladies on board, will
you? Were you asleep, hey?"

"Wall, no, not 'zactly, sah, but I'se done been working hard today," it
was the colored cook replying, as he rubbed his sleepy eyes.

"Haul up alongside this dory," said the other man as he put his lantern
down, "and let the ladies get into that first, then we'll help 'em up
here."

With that we climbed out as we best could in the darkness, one after
another, the boys assisting, until we all stood laughing in the little
cabin, and counted noses.

"Are we all here?" asked Mr. G., who, as usual had a thoughtful care
over all.

"All here, I think, but the baggage. How about that?" said I.

"I'll see to that," and he was already on deck, while I continued
counting.

"Alma, Ricka, Miss L., Mr. G., Mr. L., Mr. B., and myself--the lucky
number of seven. How fortunate we are. We are sure to have good luck.
Too bad Mary is not here, but then we would not be seven," and we were
all laughing and talking at the same time.

In the cabin there was only one lamp, and that was swung over the table,
looking in all its smoky smelliness as if it had hung there for ages
without a scrubbing. The table was covered with dirty dishes scattered
upon an oilcloth spread. The room smelled of fish, tobacco, and
coal-oil, and we were obliged to go to the door now and then for fresh
air. There was no fire, nor heat, neither was there a place for any.
Rows of berths in two tiers lined each side of the cabin, but they were
supplied with mattresses only. Dark curtains hung on wires before the
berths, and these would furnish us with our only privacy on the trip.

Finally we selected our berths, assorted our luggage, and sat down to
rest. We were disappointed in the "Elk." She was not a "St. Paul," that
was certain. The colored cook soon entered. His apologies were profuse.

"Hope de ladies will 'scuze de state ob dis year room, but I'se done
been mighty busy today, and will hab tings fine tomorer."

"That's all right, Jim, if you only give us a good dinner tomorrow. Can
you do it?" asked Mr. L.

"Yas, sah, dis chile good cook when de tings are gibben him to cook, but
when dere's no taters, no fresh meat, no chicken, no fruit, den it's
mighty hard to set up fine meals. Dat's de truf!" and Jim nodded his
woolly head emphatically at the frequent undesirable state of his
larder.

"Prices high heah, sah, but dis old man almos' fru wid de business; de
las' trip ob de 'Elk' dis summah, an' I'se glad of it," and he
disappeared in the galley carrying his arms full of dishes.

When the table was cleared and Jim had spread an old and much rumpled
red cover over it, I took from my basket a small square clock, and
winding it up with its little key, started it going. It was a musical
clock I had purchased when in Nome, of a small boy about to leave for
the outside. It had been given him by a lady, and he had grown tired of
it, his mind being so much upon his contemplated long journey. He would
sell it for three dollars, he said, and I paid the money, needing a time
piece, and having none. So now the little music box ticked off its music
to the entertainment of all.

However, we were all tired and the place was cold, so after we had taken
our last look at the lights of Nome, scattered as they were along the
shore for miles in the darkness, we turned in for the night, all
dressed as we were, and drew the curtains around us. The long,
deep-toned whistle of the "Elk," had sounded some time before, and we
were headed east, making our way quietly over the smooth waters.

Another chapter of our lives had begun. What would the end be, I
wondered.

During the night I was awakened by men running and shouting on deck. The
steamer stopped. Somebody went out to inquire the cause. In a little
while he returned, saying that four men had been picked up, nearly
frozen, in an open boat which was leaking badly, and they were found
just in time. Dry clothes, with food and hot drinks, and they would be
all right again; so I turned over and tried to sleep, but the men
lounged about, smoking and talking with the captain a good share of the
night, so that sleep was almost out of the question.

How I wished for fresh air! How I hated the tobacco smoke! But we could
say nothing, for the men had no beds, no other place to sit, and it was
too cold on deck. We must be patient, and I was patient, feeling
thankful that the lives of the four men had been saved, if each one did
smoke like a volcano and come near choking us to death.

After a while there was another commotion. What now? Their five dogs had
been left in the leaking dory, which was trailing behind us, the boat
was swamping, and the animals were almost drowned. They were whining,
crying, and soaking wet; so the "Elk" was again stopped, the dogs taken
on board, along with some of the miners' outfits, and we again started
on our way.

The men said their dory had been blown ten miles out to sea by a wind
many hours before, and had then sprung a leak, wetting their food, and
threatening them with destruction, when the "Elk" appeared and took them
aboard in the night.

"Wall, yes, we had given ourselves up for lost, though none said much
about it," remarked one of the saved men next day, in speaking of their
experience. "Some one mentioned God Almighty, I believe, and I could
almost have spoken to Him myself, but it does look like He had done
something for us, don't it?" said the miner, laughing quietly, in a
pleased, relieved way as he finished.

We were exceedingly glad for their deliverance from a watery grave, but
we pitied ourselves for our discomforts, until we pictured ourselves in
their forlorn condition, far out from land, at night, in a leaky boat,
without food and freezing; then I found myself feeling really grateful
for the privilege of sailing on the "Elk," and not discontented as at
first. We would get fresh air enough this winter, no doubt, to drive
away all remembrances of the air in the little steamer's cabin, which
was cold as well as foul. There were no windows or ports that we could
see; there was doubtless a closed skylight somewhere, but to keep warm
even in our berths required management. In my hand luggage I carried a
bright woolen Indian blanket, a souvenir of St. Michael the year before,
in which I now rolled myself, already dressed in my warmest clothing and
heavy coat.

A light-weight grey blanket was loaned me by the cook, who had purloined
it from the pilot's bunk, he being on duty and not needing it that
night. This I was rather chary of using, for reasons of my own, but it
was that or nothing, only the mattress being underneath. On my head I
wore a pink crocheted affair, called sometimes a "fascinator," which was
now used simply and solely for service, I assured my friends, and not
from any lighter motive,--but my feet! How I should keep them
comfortable while on board was a question. With my feet cold I would be
perfectly miserable, and although I wore wool hose and high, stout laced
boots, I soon found on going aboard the "Elk" that to be comfortable I
must make a change.

I said nothing, but turned the situation well over in mind. At last I
found a solution. Going to my bags once more, on the aside I drew out my
new reindeer skin muckluks, or high fur boots, and looked at them. What
enormous footgear, to be sure. Could I wear those things? I had put five
good, hard-earned dollars into them, and they were said to be warm and
very comfortable when worn properly, with hay in the bottoms, and Arctic
socks over one's hose, but I had no hay and could not get any.

I had the socks in my trunk, but that was in the hold of the ship, or
somewhere out of my reach. I held the muckluks in my hands, and slowly
turned them round. Suddenly a bright thought came. I would pull them on
over my shoes. I did it. They went on easily. I drew the strings
attached at the back of the ankle forward over the instep, crossed them,
carried them back, crossed them a second time and tied them in front, in
order to use up the strings so they would not trip me in walking. Just
below the knees I pulled a woolen drawstring which was run into the
green flannel, inch-wide heading, and tied this loosely; then I studied
them. Shades of my buried ancestry! What a fright! My own mother would
never know me. I wanted to scream with laughter, but could not, for I
had performed the operation in a most surreptitious manner, behind
closed doors (bunk curtains), after the others had retired.

I had no compunctions of conscience as to putting my shoes upon the bed,
for the mattress was both sombre and lonely, and as for the muckluks,
they had never been worn by man (and were surely never made for woman).
The most that I could do was to lie back upon my bed, cram my fascinator
into my mouth, and struggle to suppress my risibles.

After a time I succeeded, and lay enjoying the new sensation of feet
and limbs warm and cozy as if in my mother's warm parlor at home; and
then I slept.

Next morning I kept my berth late. My sleep had been much broken, and
the place was cold. The bad air had taken my appetite, and there were
already too many in the small cabin for convenience. Four or five men
and three women besides our own party of seven, crowded in between the
dining table and the berths, filled the small cabin quite beyond
comfort.

The main question in my mind, however, was how to prevent the company
from seeing my feet. I would put off the evil hour as long as possible,
for they were sure to laugh heartily when they saw my muckluks, and to
take them off--I would not. Some one brought me a sandwich finally,
inquiring at the same time for my health, but I assured them it was
first class,--I was only resting. Watching my opportunity, toward noon I
slipped out of my berth quietly and made myself ready for dinner,
keeping my feet well out of sight, for cook Jim had promised a fine
spread for the two o'clock meal.

When it came I was ready. It is said that hunger is a good sauce, and I
believe this is true, for otherwise I could never have eaten the dinner
that day. Upon a soiled and rumpled white (?) cloth Jim placed his "big
spread," which consisted of whole jacketed boiled and baked potatoes,
meat stew (no questions allowed), dried prunes stewed, biscuits, and
fourth rate butter, with tea and coffee.

[Illustration: MAP OF ALASKA.]

[Illustration: MAP OF ALASKA.]

At only one camp was there a stop made. There were two or three
passengers on board for Bluff City, a new and prosperous mining camp,
composed chiefly, though so late in the season, of tents. Lumber and
supplies of different kinds had to be put off. As the entrance to the
hold of the ship where the stores were kept was in our cabin, we had
plenty of fresh air while the doors were all open, along with the
mustiness from below, for several hours. However, I managed to keep
pretty comfortable and snug in "fascinator" and muckluks, enveloped as I
was in my Indian blanket.

Hearing a bluff, hearty voice which sounded familiar, I looked around,
and in walked a man whom I had seen at St. Michael the fall before. He
had charge of the eating house there, where my brother and I had taken
our meals for two weeks. I had not forgotten his kindness in giving me
sore throat medicine when there had been nothing of the sort to buy, and
I was suffering.

This man remembered me well, and sat down to chat for a little while
with us. He was a miner now, and a successful one, he said, for he was
taking out "big money" from his lay on Daniels Creek, only five minutes'
walk from the beach. I had been informed of his good fortune before
meeting him, so was ready with congratulations.

He told me of his cabin building, his winter's stores and fuel, and
seemed in high spirits. Of course I could not ask him what he meant by
"big money," or what he had taken from his claim, although it would not
here, as in the Klondyke, be a breach of etiquette to inquire. After a
few minutes chat the man bade us good-bye, and descended to the small
boat alongside, which was to carry him and his freight ashore.

It was nearly dark by this time, and another night must be passed on
board. Some were complaining of the cold. Others were shuffling their
feet to get them warm.

"My feet are awfully cold," said Alma, moving them uneasily about.
"Aren't yours, Mrs. Sullivan?"

"Not at all," I replied, trying to look unconcerned, at the same time
putting my feet further under my skirts, which were not the very short
ones I had worn at Nome. "You know what having cold feet in this country
means, I suppose, Alma?"

"O, I am not in the least homesick, if that is what you mean. I am
perfectly happy; but--" (here she glanced down upon the floor in the
direction of my feet) "what have you over your shoes, any way, to keep
so warm, Mrs. Sullivan?"

There was no help for it, and the muckluks had to come to light, and
did. At sight of them they all shouted, and Alma laughed till the tears
ran down her cheeks.

"And you have had these on all day without our seeing them? Where have
you kept your feet, in your pocket?" she persisted.

"Well, no, not exactly, but of course, under the circumstances, you
could hardly expect me to hang a signboard out to call attention to
them, could you?" I laughed.

"I should say not. Will we all look like that in muckluks? Is there
nothing else we can wear this winter? They will make our feet look so
awfully large, you see?"

"That's the way we will all look, only a good deal worse, for some of us
have no skirts to cover them with, as you have," spoke up Mr. G. for the
first time.

"I thought the 'Elk' leaned to the land side more today than usual,"
said Mr. B. with a twinkle, "but now it is explained."

"Bad boy! My muckluks were on that side of the ship from the first, only
they were in my bag for a while. They are no heavier now than they were
then. You shall have no supper," said I, with mock severity.

So I kept the fur boots on, in spite of their jokes, wondering what they
would say when I arrived at Golovin and removed my fascinator (another
surprise I was keeping for them), and contented myself by thinking I had
the laugh on them, when they complained of cold feet, and my own were so
perfectly comfortable.

At last, on the morning of October twentieth, with the sun just rising
over the snowy hills surrounding the water, the cliffs on both sides of
the entrance standing out clear and sharp in the cold morning light, and
with one ship already there, we dropped anchor, being in Golovin Bay.
The settlement, a score of houses, a hotel, a flagstaff or two, and the
Mission.

I now waked the girls, who turned out of their bunks, dressed as they
had been since coming on board the "Elk," and we made ready to go
ashore. We were out in deep water, still some distance from the beach,
and must again get out into a small boat, probably for the last time
this year. Not all could get into the boat; we must take turns, but we
were bundled into it some way, and soon we were upon the sands, a dozen
feet from dry land. Again we were transferred by one man power, as at
Nome, to the sands, which were here frozen quite hard, and upon which I
had the sensation, at first, of walking with a gunboat attached to each
foot.

Some one conducted us to the Mission House, only a few hundred yards
from our landing place, while the boat went back to the "Elk" for the
others. Miss E., who had come up on the "St. Paul" with us, and now the
housekeeper here, came running out to welcome all cordially. By her we
were shown into the cozy little parlor, so tidy, bright and warm that we
immediately felt ourselves again in civilization. Soon Mr. H., the head
missionary, whom I had already met in Nome, came in with Miss J., the
teacher of the Mission children. She also had spent some days with us at
Nome. These all made us very welcome, and our party of seven was soon
sitting together before a good, smoking hot breakfast, to which we did
real justice.

When entering the house I had, upon first removing my wraps and
"fascinator," given my friends another surprise equal to the one of the
muckluks on the steamer. The day before leaving Nome I had
(surreptitiously again) made a visit to the hairdresser, and when I left
her room I appeared another woman. My head now, instead of being covered
with long, thin hair, done up hastily in a twist at the back, had short
hair and curled all over, a great improvement, they all voted, when the
first surprise was over.

My hair, all summer, had been like that of most women when first in
Alaska, falling out so rapidly that I feared total baldness if something
was not done to prevent. This was the only sure remedy for the trouble,
as I knew from former experience, and as I again proved, for it entirely
stopped coming out. Ricka soon followed my example, and we, with Miss
J., who had been relieved of her hair by fever the year before, made
almost a colony of short-haired women, much to the amusement of some of
our party.

After we had eaten our breakfasts, several of us set to work at writing
letters to send out to Nome by the "Elk," which would remain a few hours
unloading freight, as this might be our last opportunity for many weeks,
or until the winter mails were carried by dog-teams over the trails. We
fancied our friends on the outside would be glad to hear that we had
arrived safely at Golovin, and our pens flew rapidly over the paper.
These letters, finally collected, were placed in the hands of one of the
"Elk's" crew for mailing at Nome, and the steamer sailed away.

Not all, however, wrote letters. The business head of the "Star" firm
had not been idle, nor writing letters, and while I wrote Alma was
deeply engaged, well seconded by Ricka, in making arrangements with Mr.
H. by which we could remain in this Mission House all winter. Before
noon it was decided that we should stay, assisting the missionaries all
in our power until such time as they could move to their new station, as
soon as the ice was firm enough in the bay to travel upon and the Home
was far enough toward completion. It was impossible to finish the
building now, but so far as practicable it would be made habitable, and
all necessary and movable articles of furniture would be carried to the
Home, though many large pieces would be left for our use.

This arrangement included our party of seven, Mary at Nome, and the
three boys at work at this time on the new Home building, and would do
away with all necessity for building a cabin, lumber being expensive and
good logs scarce.

This intelligence came just in time for insertion in our home letters
sent away on the "Elk," and it was a day of rejoicing for at least seven
persons (Miss L. was to go to the Home, but Mary was to come to us from
Nome), who already considered themselves a "lucky number."



CHAPTER XIV.

LIFE AT GOLOVIN.


Our first duty after arriving at Golovin was to look up our freight,
which seemed to be in a general mix-up. Each person was searching on the
beach and in the warehouse for something. For my part, I was greatly
concerned over the probable loss of a case of coal oil, and a box
containing wool blankets, feather pillow, and other things too precious
to lose after paying freight, especially as some of the articles could
not be replaced, and all were useful and necessary. The "Elk's" crew had
dumped the freight promiscuously upon the frozen sands, considering
their duty at that point done, and no assurance was given us that the
freight was all there, or that it was in good condition. The risk was
all ours. We could find it or lose it--that did not concern the "Elk."
As we had no idea as to the honesty of the community in which we had
come to reside, and little confidence in some of the "Elk's" passengers
who were also receiving freight, we visited the beach a number of times
during the first two days. While at Nome and packing up to leave I had
remembered the story of the person who, going to market, put all the
eggs into one basket, and for that reason, when an accident occurred,
she lost the whole lot; while, if she had placed them in two baskets,
one-half might have-been saved. For this reason I then packed my
blankets in two boxes, and now as one was missing I was glad I had done
so, for to be entering upon a cold, long winter without woolen blankets
would be hard lines indeed.

The first day was spent by the boys in hauling baggage and freight into
the old school house, near the mission, which was to be our store room
for a time. This building was made of logs, sod and mud plaster, with
small doors and windows, and thatched roof, now overgrown with grass and
weeds.

It had long-been deserted, or given over to storing purposes, as the new
school and church building was put up alongside, and was being used at
the present time. We would unpack as little as possible, while the
Mission family remained, as their house was too small to accommodate
comfortably so many. Mr. H. was like the old woman who lived in a shoe,
for he really had such a family that he was puzzled as to what
disposition he should make of them. However, the men were all lodged in
the new school building, as it was vacation time, and no session; trunks
and baggage, except bedding, were put in the store house.

The Eskimo children and the women occupied the second floor of the
mission. Mr. H. had his room on the first floor, oftentimes shared with
some visiting missionary or friend, and I was the best lodged of all.
The big velvet couch in the sitting-room by the fire was allotted to me,
and I slept luxuriously, as well as comfortably. The newest and most
modern article of furniture in the establishment, this couch, was soft,
wide, and in a warm, cozy corner of the room.

From being lodged above a bar-room in Nome, I had come to a parlor in
the Mission, and I was well pleased with the changed atmosphere, as well
as the reduction of charges; for, whereas I had paid five dollars per
week for my small, unfurnished room there, I now paid nothing, except
such help as I could give the women in the house.

I felt, too, that I had earned, by my hard work during the summer, all
the rest and comfort I could get, and I thoroughly enjoyed the change.
Where among the drones and laggards is one who can find such sweets as
well-earned rest and comfort after labor? What satisfaction to feel the
joy all one's own. None assisted in the earning, and consequently none
expected a division of reward. It was all my own. If this is
selfishness, it is surely a refined sort, and excusable.

I was not, however, the only one in the Mission who enjoyed a
well-earned rest. Each one of our party of seven had worked for months
as hard and harder than I, and all found a vacation as pleasing, while
the Mission people had the same round of work and as much as they could
accomplish all the year round.

The day after our arrival at Golovin was Sunday. The weather was clear
and sunny, but cold. We were now not only to have a vacation ourselves,
but could give our working clothes a rest as well, and I took great
pleasure in unearthing a good black dress which was not abbreviated as
to length, surprising my friends by my height, after being in short
skirts so long. It was really Sunday now, and we wore our Sunday clothes
for the first time in months, not having had an opportunity for Sabbath
observance in the work we had done at Nome.

To complete our enjoyment of the good day, there was the organ in the
sitting-room, and upon my first entering the room, and seeing the
instrument I had drawn a deep sigh of inward delight. To find an organ,
yes, two of them, for there was also one standing in the schoolroom, or
little church, was to feel sure of many bright and happy hours during
the coming winter, and I felt more than ever that for strangers in the
Arctic world we were, indeed, highly favored.

It was not long before I discovered that with at least two of our party
of seven music was a passion, for Ricka, as well as Mr. B., could never
have enough, and it was a pleasure to see the real and unaffected
delight upon their faces when I played. We were really quite well
supplied with musical instruments, for there were now in the Mission
two guitars, one mandolin, a violin and a few harmonicas, besides the
two organs, while as for vocalists everybody sang from Mr. H. down to
the Eskimo boys, girls and the baby.

But this day's climax was the three o'clock dinner, prepared by Miss E.
Could anything be more restful to three tired restaurant workers than to
sit quietly in easy chairs, allow others to prepare the meal and invite
them to partake, without having given a thought to the preparation of
the same, gaining, as we did, a knowledge of what was coming only by the
pleasant odors proceeding from the kitchen? Certainly not, and the
increased appetite that comes with this rest is only a part of the
enjoyment. So when we were seated at the table on Sunday, the second day
of our arrival at Golovin, before us fresh roast mutton, baked potatoes,
stewed tomatoes, coffee, bread and butter, with pickles, and a most
delicious soup made of dried prunes, apricots, raisins and tapioca for
dessert, we were about the happiest people in Alaska and appreciated it
immensely. What bread Miss E. did make, with slices as large as saucers,
not too thin, snowy, but fresh and sweet. What coffee from the big pot,
with Eagle brand cream from the pint can having two small holes in the
top, one to admit air and the other to let the cream out. Nothing had
tasted so good to us since we had come home, as hungry children, from
school. As then, we were care-free, if only for a little while, and we
were a jolly, happy crowd.

In the evening, when the children were once in bed, we all gathered in
the sitting-room for music, stories and plans for the future, including
the placing of a few new strings on the musical instruments and tuning
of the same. Mr. H. had gone to the Home the afternoon before, so there
had been no preaching service as ordinarily in the little schoolhouse
across the road. The boys were talking of going to the Home across the
bay next day in a boat, but a wind came up which finally developed into
a stout southwester, and Monday was a most disagreeable day. Alma worked
on a fur cap, to practise, she said, on some one before making her own.
Ricka mended mittens and other garments for the boys, while I sewed on
night clothes for the little Eskimo baby.

The child was probably between three and four years old, but nobody knew
exactly, for she was picked up on the beach, half dead, a year before,
by the missionary, where she was dying of neglect. Her mother was dead,
and her grandfather was giving her the least attention possible, so that
she was sickly, dirty and starved. She had well repaid the kind people
who took her into the Mission, being now fat and healthy, as well as
quite intelligent. She was a real pet with all the women immediately,
being the youngest of this brood of twenty youngsters and having many
cunning little ways. In appearance she looked like a Japanese, as, in
fact, all Eskimos do, having straight black hair, and eyes shaped much
like those of these people, while all are short and thick of stature,
with few exceptions.

Among this score of little natives there were some who were very bright.
All were called by English names, and Peter, John, Mary, Ellen and
Susan, as well as Garfield, Lincoln and George Washington, with many
others, became familiar household words, though the two last named were
grown men, and now gone out from the Mission into houses of their own.

As to the dressing of these children, it was also in English fashion,
except for boots, which were always muckluks, and parkies of fur for
outside garments, including, perhaps, drill parkies for mild weather, or
to pull on over the furs, when it rained or snowed, to keep out the
water. As the weather grew more severe, heavy cloth or fur mittens were
worn, and little calico and gingham waists and dresses were discarded
for flannel ones.

The children, for weeks after our arrival, ran out often to play,
bareheaded and without wraps, having frequently to be reminded when the
weather was severe, to put them on. In the kitchen they had their own
table, where they were separately served, though at the same time as
their elders at another table in the room. To preserve the health of the
little ones, not taking entirely away their native foods of seal meat
and oil, tom-cod (small fish), reindeer meat and wild game, these were
fed to them on certain days of the week, as well as other native dishes
dear to the Eskimo palate, but they were well fed at all times, and grew
fat and hearty as well as happy.

As we sewed contentedly in the sitting-room on Monday the storm
continued, snowing and blowing a gale from the southwest, which, though
not disturbing us even slightly, we felt sure would be bad for those at
sea and at Nome; our own experiences at that place giving us always a
large sympathy for others in similar plight. Long afterwards we learned
that in this storm the "Elk" had been blown ashore at Nome, and was
pretty thoroughly disabled, if not entirely wrecked, and we wondered if
poor cook Jim had "done been mighty busy, sah, gittin' tings fixed" ever
since.

When evening came the children and Baby Bessie were put to bed; work,
indoors and out, was finished for that day, and we were twelve in the
sitting-room, as merry a crowd as one could find in all Alaska. Miss J.
had taken a lesson on the organ in the afternoon and was all interested
in making progress on that instrument, assuring her friends who declared
she would never practise her lessons, that she certainly would do so, as
they would afterwards learn.

The winds might sigh and moan, and whirl the falling snow in the
darkness as they liked; waters congeal under the fingers of the frost
king, closing the mouth of innumerable creeks, rivers, and bays; but
here under cover we had light, health, warmth and food, without a single
care. In my cozy, soft bed under the blankets, the firelight playing on
the walls, the fine organ open and ready for use, I lay often with wide
open eyes, wondering if I were myself or another.

In one corner of the room stood a case containing books enough to supply
us with reading matter for a year, those printed in Swedish being, of
course, of no use to me, but a variety of subjects were here presented
in English, ranging from Drummond's "Natural Law in the Spiritual World"
to nursery rhymes for the children. Volumes on medicine, law, science,
travels, stories, ethics and religion--all were here for the instruction
and edification of inmates of the Mission. In another corner there was a
large case of medicines, and here were remedies in powders, liquids,
salves and pills, drawers filled with lint, bandages, cotton, and books
of instruction teaching the uses of all. Even surgical instruments were
found here, as well as appliances for emergencies, from broken and
frozen limbs, mad-dog bites, and "capital operations," to a scratched
finger or the nose-bleed.

This outfit was for the use of any and all, without charge, who should
be so unfortunate as to require assistance of this sort in this region.
Without money and without price, the only case of remedies for many
miles around, this Mission provided for all suffering ones who applied,
and during the winter many were relieved and assisted toward recovery.

In the third corner of this room stood the large cabinet organ, nearly
new, and in good condition. Instruction books, hymnals, "Gospel Hymns,"
small collections of words without music, Swedish songs--all were here
in abundance.

The fourth corner contained my couch-bed. A heating stove, made of sheet
iron, a table with its pretty spread, a large student lamp, easy chairs,
a pretty ingrain rug covering the floor, window shades and lace
curtains, with pictures and Scripture texts upon the wall, completed the
room furnishings, making a homey place, which for years had been a haven
of refuge for the homeless Eskimo children. Besides these, it had given
food, shelter and clothing to many a white-faced wanderer, who came
penniless, hungry and cold, perhaps ill and starving.

About seven years before this unpretending, now weather-beaten house had
been erected, and the kindly little dark-eyed man put in charge was at
once at home. He was blessed with rare versatility and patience, as well
as a great heart of love for all mankind, including the dark-skinned,
seal-eating races of the Arctic.

From a door-latch to a baby's cradle, from a log-house to a sail-boat
rigged with runners on the ice, he planned, contrived and executed,
principally for others, for years. Here we found, in one room, from his
hands a bedstead, a table, and a washstand commode, all made in white
wood, of regulation size, shape and pattern, though without paint or
staining. Relegated now to an upper room, since the velvet couch had
arrived, was a long, wooden settle, with back, ends and sliding seat,
the latter to be pushed forward upon legs and made into double bed at
night.

One day in the winter, when searching for open places under the roof
through which the snow was sifting, wetting the ceiling of the room
below, I found in the attic a number of curious things, and among them a
child's cradle. Not all the thought of the good man had been given to
the needs of the "grown-ups," but the small, weak and helpless ones of
his flock had received their equal share of attention. The cradle was
well made with solid high sides and ends, and curved upper edges,
swinging low and easily upon its two strong rockers. All was smooth,
well finished, and rounded, though there was no paint nor varnish, these
articles being doubtless unprocurable and not deemed strictly essential.
Near by were the remnants of a white fox robe fitting the cradle. It was
made of baby fox skin, fine, soft and pretty. A flannel lining with a
pinked-out edge completed what had once been a lovely cover for baby,
whether with white face or black, and I fell to wishing I might have
seen the complete outfit in its former days.

From the rafters of the attic hung articles of wearing apparel of
curious make and pattern, sometimes of skins of the wild reindeer or
spotted seal. Of old mittens and muckluks there were numbers, still
preserved for the good they had done or might yet do at piecing out
somewhere. There were things for which I had not yet learned the uses,
but might do so before the cold winter had passed. There were also many
fur skins, and new articles of value stored in the attic.

Tuesday, October twenty-third, the weather was not cold, but snow fell
part of the day, and it grew dark about half-past four in the afternoon.
The gale of Monday had subsided, and the sky was overcast. The steamer
"Sadie" of the Alaska Commercial Company surprised us by coming into
Golovin, and again suddenly we fell to letter writing in order to send
them out by her, remaining several hours as she always did to unload
freight and baggage, for this would positively be our last steamer.
Outside the boys worked as industriously as we women. In the old
log-house, a hundred feet from our door, was the building now used for a
woodshed. Here, upon a big "double-decker" saw-buck, two of the boys,
with the big saw between them, worked away, hour after hour, at the
great logs of driftwood brought from the beach, as this was the only
kind of fuel here used, and much was needed for the winter fires.

When I had finished my work of sewing, and it grew too dark to thread
needles, between that hour and the one for the lamp lighting, I was
usually seated at the organ, and our music was not all Hymns from the
Hymnals, certainly. There were marches and polkas, and sprightly
waltzes, too, and nothing was ever tabooed, though these classic
selections were always omitted on Sunday. None ever minded how long I
sat at the organ, or how many times a day a certain piece was played,
and a few could never be sated; but I took good care that my work never
lagged, and a duty was never neglected for such pleasure, thereby making
it always the recreation and enjoyable exercise it was intended to be
and not tiresome.

Miss J. now took a lesson on the instrument each day for a half hour
after the lamps were lighted, and as she had already had a few lessons,
and could play a few hymns, she was much interested in acquiring a
further knowledge which would be helpful in church and Sunday school
services. Miss E., too, thought of beginning lessons if she could find
time from her manifold duties as house-mother of the numerous flock, and
did take a few lessons before they moved away.

In the evening there was always singing, for some were sure to be
present then, who had been absent during the day. Perhaps Mr. H. had
arrived with a Christian native from the Home, to spend the night before
going back on the morrow, with supplies of some sort for the completion
of his new house. He now headed the two establishments and vibrated
between them, simply camping at the new place and enjoying everything of
home life possible in the Mission. At jokes and repartee he was as good
as the best of them, and always enjoyed a laugh like the youngest.

A level head and firm hand had this Swedish missionary of long
experience. From a dozen or more years at Yakutat, in southern Alaska,
where he had done invaluable work for that Mission, he had come about
two years before to Golovin Bay, and now had, besides the Eskimo
children in that place, over four hundred government reindeer in charge.
For these he kept a number of experienced and trusty native drivers, and
these either lived in his Mission or with their families near at hand,
as a few of them now were married.

This herd of animals was kept upon the hills where the reindeer moss
grew in plenty, for they could not, and would not, eat anything else if
they literally starved to death, and they were now five miles away. To
remove this great family of a score and more with their belongings over
the ice, a distance of twelve miles in winter by dog-team, getting
settled in a large frame building, unplastered, and upon a bleak,
unprotected shore, was an undertaking which would have discouraged most
men; especially as a shipload of needed supplies for their new Home,
including furniture, had been lost at sea, leaving them short of many
such necessities. But this was not all. The whole reindeer herd and
their drivers, with their several families, were also to be moved near
the new Home, and to fresh moss pastures.

Near the Home was a good-sized creek of fresh and pure water, which ran
singing along through the hills to the ocean, and for this reason the
site had been selected and built upon.



CHAPTER XV.

WINTER IN THE MISSION.


The first few garments I made for Little Bessie were not a great
success. I had told Miss E. that I would be delighted to assist her in
any way that I could, never dreaming what would come; and she being more
in need of warm clothing for the children than anything else, with rolls
of uncut flannels, and baskets piled high with materials to be made into
underwear, said immediately that I might help with their sewing.

She then brought a piece of Canton flannel, and the shears, and put them
into my hands, saying that I might make two pairs of night-trowsers for
the baby. My heart sank within me in a moment. I made a desperate effort
to collect myself, however, and quietly asked if she had a pattern. No,
she had none. The child, she said, kicked the cover off her in the night
so often, and the weather was growing so cold, that she and Miss J.
thought a garment of the trouser description, taking in the feet at the
same time, would very well answer her needs, and this I was requested to
originate, pattern and all. Whatever should I do? I could more easily
have climbed Mt. McKinley! If she had told me to concoct a new pudding,
write an essay, or make a trip to Kotzebue, I should not have been so
much dismayed; but to make a garment like that, out of "whole cloth," so
to speak, from my own design--that was really an utter impossibility.

"O, well," she said, "I am sure you can do this well enough. It is not
such a very particular job; just make something in which to keep the
child warm nights, you know. That is all I care for," kindly added she,
as she closed the door behind her and went back to the kitchen.

Finally I appealed to Alma. She was busy. She had never cut out anything
of the sort, neither had Ricka nor Miss L., but I being a married woman
was supposed to have a superior knowledge of all such things. I admitted
that I might have a theory on the subject, but a "working hypothesis,"
alas, I had none.

Still I hung around Alma, who was an expert dressmaker of years'
standing in San Francisco.

"No, I can't cut them out, really; but why don't you make a pattern from
some garment on hand?"

Here was an idea. Something to build upon.

"But there are the feet, and the waist?" I said still anxiously.

"O, build them on to your pattern," she said carelessly; as if anyone
with half an eye and one hand could do that sort of building, and she
left the room for more important matters.

There was nothing else for me to do. I secured a suit of the baby's
clothing throughout, and, taking the cloth, the shears, and an old
newspaper, I went upstairs to Miss J.'s room and closed the door. I
wanted to be alone. I longed to have my dear old mother there for just
one short hour, for in that time I felt certain she would have cut out
these as well as other garments, enough to keep us for weeks sewing, as
her own babies had kept her at one time.

However, there was no help for me, and I went to work. For an hour I cut
and whittled on that old newspaper, along with a number of others,
before I got a pattern that I fancied might do. Then I submitted it to
Miss J. herself, who told me to go ahead and cut it out. It appeared all
right, so far as she could see. Then I cut, and basted, and tried the
garment on Bessie. It was too wide across the chest, too short in the
legs, and the feet were monstrosities. What was to be done, I asked of
the others?

"Make new feet, and sew them on around the ankle," said Miss J.,
thoughtfully, surveying her little charge from all sides, as the child
stood first on one foot, then on the other, "then you can lengthen the
legs a little if you want to," careful not to offend by criticising
abruptly, but still feeling that the height of the gearing should be
increased.

"Dear me, that's easy enough," suggested Alma, "just put a wide box
plait down the front, like that in a shirtwaist, and it will be all
right."

"The back can be taken out in the placket," and Ricka folded and lapped
the cloth on the little child's shoulders, and then we called Miss E.
from the kitchen. After making a few suggestions in a very conservative
way, as if they did not come readily because the garment was just about
right; she left the room hastily, saying her bread would burn in the
oven; and I thought I heard her giggling with Miss L. in Swedish until
she ran away out into the woodshed, ostensibly for an armful of wood;
though if her bread were already burning I wondered what she wanted of
more fire.

I did not blame her; I laughed too. The little child looked exceedingly
funny as she stood there in that wonderful garment, with black eyes
shining like beads, and face perfectly unsmiling, as she nearly always
looks, wondering why it was we were laughing.

October twenty-fourth the boys worked all day at making the house more
comfortable for winter, nailing tar paper upon the north side, where
some clapboards were missing, putting on storm or double windows outside
of the others, and filling the cracks with putty. A couple of the boys
also worked at hauling supplies of apples and potatoes from the
warehouse by dog-team, putting the eatables into the cellar under the
kitchen, which was well packed in with hay. This cellar was a rude one,
and in summer frequently filled with water from the surface and the hill
above the house, making it not altogether wholesome at times, but by
management, it was still being used for some things, and of course, in
cold weather, it made no difference, for everything was solidly frozen.

Snow enough had fallen by this time, a little coming quietly down every
few hours, to make fair roads for the sleds, the ground being quite
hard; while Fish River and adjoining creeks were fast freezing over, as
were also the waters of the bay.

In the evening Mr. H. came in, and we all gathered in the sitting room,
some sewing, some mending, but all chatting pleasantly. The missionary
had just been informed, he told us, of a gold strike on the Kuskokquim
River, some one having only recently returned from St. Michael, and
brought the report. From that place men were leaving for the new
diggings each day, and it might or might not prove a bona fide strike.
With reindeer, on a good winter trail, this distance would not be a
formidable trip, Mr. H. told us.

This was the information we wanted to hear, and it probably started a
train of golden dreams that night in more than one head, which was long
in stopping, especially when he informed us that every acre of land
around us was then staked out in quartz claims, though no extensive
prospecting had yet been done, and we were pleased at finding ourselves
"so near" even though we were "yet so far."

Today was a birthday for Mr. G., and he was teased unmercifully for his
age, but would not give it, so those who had known him the longest tried
their best to figure it out from incidents in his life and from
narratives of his own, and made it out to their satisfaction as about
thirty-two years, though he refused (like a woman) to the very last, to
tell them if they were guessing correctly.

The next day it still snowed a little at intervals between clouds and
sunshine, and all "tenderfeet" were more comfortable indoors. Miss E.
and Ricka had gone the day before with the boys and Mr. H. to the Home
on a scow-load of lumber, though we feared it was pretty cold for them
without shelter on the water; but with the wind in the right direction,
they wanted to attempt it, and so started. They were to look the new
building over for the first time, Miss E. being much interested in the
inside arrangement of rooms, naturally, as it was to be her home and
field of labor, and rightly thinking a womanly suggestion, perhaps,
might make the kitchens more handy.

In their absence the rest of us continued our sewing, Miss L. taking
Miss E.'s place in the kitchen, with help from the larger Eskimo girls
at dish washing. The latter were docile and smiling, and one little girl
called Ellen was always exceedingly careful to put each cup and saucer,
spoon and dish in its proper place after drying it, showing a
commendable systematic instinct, which Miss E. was trying to foster.

Between times, their school not yet being in session, they played about,
either up in their rooms if it was too stormy outside, or out of doors
if the weather permitted; though, for that matter, they seldom hesitated
to do anything they wished on account of the weather, as it was not so
cold to the natives as to us. They played with balls, both large and
small, and sleds of all descriptions; and if the latter were not to be
had, or all in use, a barrel stave or board would be made to answer the
same purpose. It was a rush past the window down the hill, first by a
pair of muckluked feet, then a barrel stave and a boy, sometimes little
Pete, and sometimes John. One barrel stave would hold only one coaster,
and there were usually enough for the boys, but if by chance the little
girls laid hands upon the sleds before they did, the staves were then
their only resource. If a child rolled, by accident, upon the ground, it
never seemed to matter, for in furs he was well protected. The snow was
soft, and he, being as much at home there as anywhere, seemed rather to
like it.

If he was seen to fall, it was the signal for some other to roll and
tumble him, keeping him under as long as possible, and it was a frequent
sight to see three or four small boys tumbling about like kittens,
locked in each other's arms, and all kicking and shouting
good-naturedly. Snowballing, too, was their delight, and their balls
were not always velvety, either, as the one stopping its course could
affirm.

These children did little quarreling. I cannot remember seeing Eskimo
boys angry or fighting, a thing quite noticeable among them, for nowhere
in the world, perhaps, could the same number of white children be found
living so quietly and harmoniously together as did these twelve little
dark-faced Eskimos in the Mission.

Our days were now growing much shorter, and it was necessary to light
the lamps at four o'clock in the afternoon, the sun having set some time
before. The sunset skies were lovely in bright and tender colors,
reflecting themselves as they did in the water of the bay, and tinting
delicately all surrounding hilltops. What a beautiful sight it was, and
how sadly we remembered that very soon the water would have disappeared
under the solid ice, there to remain for long months imprisoned. Little
did we then know that the heavenly beauty of the Arctic sky is never
lacking, but close upon the departure of one season, another, no less
beautiful, takes its place.

Diary of October twenty-sixth: Alma and I called today upon two
neighbors in the old schoolhouse next the church, by name Dr. H. and
wife. They claim to have come from Dawson not very long ago, being
shipwrecked on the way, and losing their outfit. She seems a chatty,
pleasant little body, and inclined to make the best of everything, her
hard lot included, and she is baking and selling bread to the miners.
She is a brave little woman, and could teach many a pampered and
helpless one lessons of great usefulness and patience. Miss L. is ill
with quincy and suffering very much, so Alma makes the bread.

I have just made four large aprons for Miss J., cutting them out and
making them, and they look really well, so I am quite proud of myself,
especially as Ricka has "set up" my knitting on needles for me, and I am
going to make some hose. I usually knit evenings, between times at the
organ, for my new yarn received from San Francisco is very nice, and
will make warm winter stockings.

Saturday, October twenty-seventh: We have four inches of snow on the
ground, and more coming. Miss L. is quite ill with her throat, and did
not get up today. Alma, too, is very pouty, with a swollen, pudgy face,
and feels badly. They both say they think they took cold coming from
Nome on the "Elk," and I don't doubt it, for I would have done so myself
only for my great caution in taking care of my newly shingled head and
in applying a thorough dose of fur muckluks to my feet, but, thanks to
them, I am the most "chipper" one at present.

Miss J. had Dr. H. examine Bessie today, and he says she has bronchitis,
but told the teacher what to do for her.

The two girls came back from the Home with Mr. H. and Mr. L. about four
o'clock after we had begun to be worried about them. They were hungry,
and Alma and I got dinner for them, when Mr. H. started back immediately
in a small boat alone, after it had begun to grow dark. We begged him
not to attempt it, but he insisted on going, as he must be there
tomorrow to push the work on the building, and the ice is floating, so
he fears it will freeze the bay over. The sun shone out beautifully for
three or four hours, and it is just one week today since we landed in
Golovin, a most pleasant week to us all (pattern making not included).

Later.--I helped with the housework and made two more aprons for Miss J.
There is nothing like feeling of some use in the world, is there?

Sunday, October twenty-eight: A clear, bright morning, growing cloudy
about noon, and dark at four in the afternoon, when lamps were lighted.
We had a long, restful day indoors, both Miss E. and Ricka being very
lame from their long walk of fifteen miles over the stony beach and
tundra covered hills from the Home, Mr. H.'s boat being too small for
four persons. By water the distance is called a dozen miles, but by land
and on foot it is much farther, as the girls have found by sad
experience; and they were very glad it was Sunday, and they could rest.
Miss E. said laughingly that we would play we were at home in the States
again, and so she spread the breakfast table daintily in the
sitting-room, with white cover, pretty embroidered centre-piece, and
snowy napkins, bringing real comfort to our hearts, accustomed as we had
been for so many months to bare necessities and none of the luxuries. A
fashionable breakfast hour for Sunday in the States was also affected in
order to make the plan complete, and because the mornings, growing
darker as they are continually doing, nobody felt in haste to leave
their beds. Of course every one wore his Sunday clothes and I put on my
very best waist of olive green satin with a good black skirt, which had
a little train, thereby effectively hiding my uncouth feet, still clad
as they are in the ungainly muckluks.

The ice is moving in the bay, and we hear that still another steamer may
come in, so we can send mail out to Nome, and write to have in
readiness. There have been no church services today, as Mr. H. is away
at the Home, but we had music and singing frequently, and Swedish hymns
all evening, which I play, but do not understand.

Monday, October twenty-ninth: This has been a bright, sunny morning
until a little after noon, when it grew cloudy, as it often does. Miss
E. was still very lame from her long tramp of last Saturday, and Ricka
and I assisted in the kitchen. Alma has cut out a pretty brown cloth
dress for Miss J. and is making it. Miss L.'s throat is better, and she
is out of her room again, after a siege of severe suffering with
quinsy, which caused a gathering. About nine in the evening Mr. H. came
in from the Home, having walked the whole distance, a boat being now
unsafe in the floating ice. After drinking some hot coffee, he related
to us his adventure of Friday night in the Peterborough canoe. He had
left us quite late in the afternoon of that day to go to the Home, and
it was already beginning to grow dark. For a while, he said, he found
open water, and made good time at the paddle, but presently found
himself alongside of and soon after crowded by floating ice.

It was young ice, and he did not have much fear of it. He kept on
paddling, but finally found himself entirely surrounded, and manage as
he would, he could not free his canoe. A breeze came up from the north,
which pushed him along with the ice out toward sea, for he was near the
mouth of the bay. There was nothing to do but wait. For an hour he
waited.

It was well on towards midnight, and he could see no escape. The
missionary, in relating the incident to us, did not dwell upon this part
of his story, but he said he had given himself up for lost, and only
prayed and waited. By and by the breeze died away, the ice quietly
parted, and drifted away from him, and he paddled safely ashore.

Tuesday, October thirty: A brand new experience today--that of watching
the natives and others fish through the ice. Little holes are made in
the ice, which is now quite strong in the north end of the bay near the
cliff, and the Eskimos sit there patiently for hours, fishing for
tom-cod. These are small fish, but quite tasty, one of the principal
means of subsistence for the natives, and are also much used by others.
No pole is needed on the line except a short one of three or four feet,
and when a bite is felt by the fisherman, the line is quickly drawn out,
given a sudden twitch, which frees the tom-cod, and he is summarily
dispatched with a few raps from the fishing stick kept at hand for the
purpose.

Several river boats, including small steamers, are laid up under the
cliff for the winter, dismantled of loose gear and light machinery, and
I did get a few views which should prove of some value. The weather was
good all day, the sun setting at three in the afternoon, and it being
nearly dark an hour later. Mr. H. dressed himself from top to toe in
furs, hitched three dogs to a sled, took a lunch for himself, a few
supplies of eatables for the Home camp to which he was going, and
started out, on a longer, but we trusted a less venturesome and
dangerous route than by Peterborough canoe. Our evening was pleasantly,
and at the same time more or less profitably spent by our party in the
sitting-room, Alma sewing on Miss J.'s new dress, Ricka and I knitting,
and the others either mending or busying themselves at something. This
something frequently covers a good deal of ground, for with one or two
of the boys it means pranks or roguishness of some sort, which really
enlivens the whole household and keeps our risibles from growing rusty
by disuse.

Wednesday, October thirty-one: I find no difficulty in running the
sewing machine here, which is a new and good one, and I like to use it
very well. Just how they could get along without it is more than I can
tell, with so much sewing to do for each of the children, not to mention
the others who are waiting to come into the Mission at the earliest
possible moment. During the day Mr. L. busied himself usefully in
several ways as he always does, and finally mended Miss J.'s guitar.
After supper we counted ourselves and found six women and a lot of
children, but he was the only man in the establishment, the others being
at the Home, and we hazed him considerably, all of which was taken most
good-naturedly. The bay is freezing more and more each day, with an
increasing depth of snow upon the ground.

A very unpleasant day as to weather was Friday, November second. Snow,
high tide, and wind from the south, which blew the water further yet
upon the beach; but we sewed all day, though I did not get much
accomplished. I gave Miss E. her first lesson on the organ today. Alma
is making herself a new dress skirt, as she has Miss J.'s wool dress
nearly finished, and it looks exceedingly well, fitting, as some one
remarks, "like the paper on the wall." Alma likes dressmaking, and does
it well, but draws the line at baby clothes.

Each day Miss J., the teacher, is now holding a little prayer meeting in
the kitchen for the natives. When the supper is cleared away, one of the
boys goes out and rings the bell, which is only a big, iron triangle
hung under three posts in the ground. A piece of iron is picked up and
put through the triangle, hitting it on both sides, and making a
ringing, vibrating sound which calls in the natives, who come
immediately, just as they are, and range themselves on the benches along
the walls. Those who can sing sit at the long table upon which are the
lamps and English song books, those used being principally Gospel songs.
One of the grown boys called Ivan is a very fair singer, and loves music
of all kinds. He is the interpreter for all meetings, understanding
English and speaking it quite well. None of the Eskimos are taught
Swedish--nothing but English.

Miss J. reads a song which she wishes them to learn, and Ivan interprets
it into Eskimo, verse by verse, afterwards singing it. Tunes are learned
more quickly than words, but they get the meaning from Ivan. Then Miss
J. reads the Scripture, Ivan interpreting verse by verse. She next
offers prayer in English, and calls upon some older native Christian to
pray in his language, after which they sing several songs with which
they are familiar. Having selected beforehand some passage from the
Bible, she reads and expounds that, being interpreted by Ivan; there is
a short benediction and the meeting is over. They seem to like very well
to come, and are never eager to go, but say little, not being great
talkers, even in their own tongue.

When the last Eskimo has departed, and the children are settled in bed,
the cozy hour of the day has arrived. For a good, old-fashioned tale of
love, fright and adventure, there is no time like a winter's night, when
the wind shrieks down the chimney and whirling snow cuddles into corners
and crannies. When supper is over, and the kitchen is well cleared, the
women of the house may take their yarn and bright needles, while the men
toast their feet at the fire and spin--other yarns, without needles,
which are, perhaps, not so essential, but far more entertaining to
listeners.

This is what we did that winter at Chinik, the home of the Eskimo, in
that far away spot near the Arctic Sea. There were tales of the Norsemen
and Vikings, told by their hardy descendants sitting beside us, as well
as the stories of Ituk and Moses, the aged, called "Uncle," Punni
Churah, big Koki, and "Lowri."

To the verity of the following narrative all these and many others can
willingly vouch.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE RETIRED SEA CAPTAIN.


Many years ago, close under the shadow of old Plymouth Rock, there was
born one day a fair-skinned, blue-eyed baby. Whether from heredity, or
environment, or both, the reason of his spirit will perhaps never
plainly appear, but as the child grew into manhood he seemed filled with
the same adventurous aspirations which had actuated his forefathers,
causing them to leave their homes in old England, and come to foreign
shores. Scarcely had he passed into his teens before he was devouring
tales of pirates, and kindred old sea yarns, and his heart was fired
with ambition to own a vessel and sail the high seas. Not that he
thirsted for a pirate's life, but a seafaring man's adventures he longed
for and decided he must have.

Under these conditions a close application at his desk in the village
school was an unheard-of consequence; and, having repeatedly smarted
under the schoolmaster's ferule, not to mention his good mother's
switches plucked from the big lilac bush by her door, he decided to run
away to the great harbor, and ship upon some vessel bound for a foreign
land.

This he did. Then followed the usual hard, rough life of a boy among
sailors in distant ports; the knotted rope's end, the lip blackening
language and curses, storms, shipwrecks and misfortunes; all followed as
a part of the life so hastily chosen by the adventurous young lad, until
he acquired familiarity with all that appertained thereto, and he was a
man.

Years passed. To say that fortune never came to him would not be true,
because she is always a fickle dame, and cannot change her character for
sailor men. So it came about that he finally stood on the captain's
bridge of different sorts of craft, and gave orders to those beneath
him.

And a typical sea captain was he. Gruff when occasion required,
rollicking as any when it pleased him, he was generous to a fault, and a
man of naturally good impulses. If he drank, he was never tipsy; if he
swore, he always had reason; and thus he excused himself when he thought
of his good old mother's early Bible teaching.

From Montevideo to Canton, from Gibraltar to San Francisco, from Cape of
Good Hope to the Arctic Ocean; thus ran his itinerary year after year.
Crossing Behring Strait from Siberia in the summer of 18--, he landed,
with his little crew, at Cape Prince of Wales, for the purpose of
trading with the natives. The furs of the animals of this region were
found to be exceptionally fine, thick and glossy, and the Eskimos easily
parted with them. For flour, tobacco and woolen cloth they willingly
gave their furs to the sailors, who looked admiringly upon the skins of
the polar bear, sea otter, beaver, silver, black and white fox, as well
as those of many other animals. These furs were sold in San Francisco,
and other trips were made to the Arctic Northwest.

Along the south coast of the Seward Peninsula there are few bays or
natural harbors. Golovin Bay is one of them. Here for many years the
Eskimos have subsisted upon the fine fish and game. The flesh and oils
of the white whale, seal and walrus being principally sought for, the
natives came to this bay from all directions.

After many years of wandering, and when the ambitions of the captain for
a seafaring life had been satisfied, an incident occurred which changed
the current of his life and decided him to settle permanently at Golovin
Bay.

During his visits on the peninsula his attention had been directed to a
bright and intelligent young Eskimo woman, lithe and lively, a good
swimmer, trapper and hunter. Like a typical Indian, she had a clear,
keen eye, steady nerves and common sense. She was a good gunner and
seldom missed her mark. She was fearless on land or sea, loved her free
out-door life, and was a true child of nature. Her name was Mollie.

One day in the early springtime, nearly a dozen years ago, when the
winter's ice was still imprisoned in the bays and sounds of Behring
Sea, though the warm sun had for weeks been shining and already seams
appeared upon the ice in many places, the captain attempted the trip by
dog-team from St. Michael to Golovin Bay. With him were four trusty
natives, and three dog-teams, the animals being of the hardy Eskimo
breed, and well-nigh impervious to cold, their long, thick hair making
an effective protection.

His men were experienced, knowing the country perfectly, including a
knowledge of winter trails and methods of traveling such as all Eskimos
possess, and though the weather was not just what the captain might have
wished, he decided to make the start, and left St. Michael in good shape
for the long trip. The strong sleds with high-back handle bar and railed
sides were firmly packed with freight, which was securely lashed down.
The dogs were driven in pairs, eleven to a sled, the eleventh being in
each case a fine leader and called such, besides having his own Eskimo
name, as did also the four men who were warmly dressed in furs from head
to foot. These natives were familiar with little English, but as the
captain had made himself acquainted with their language they had no
difficulty in making each other understood.

Early in the evening of that day they reached the Mission station of
Unalaklik, on the mainland, about fifty miles northeast of the island,
where they spent the night. In this settlement were white traders, as
well as missionaries and numbers of Eskimos, it being an old port of
considerable importance.

In the cold grey morning light Punni Churah and the men called to the
malemutes, patting their furry heads and talking kindly to them, for
many a weary, long mile of snow trail stretched northward for them that
day before they could rest and eat. Only at night, when their day's work
was done, were these faithful creatures ever fed on seal, fish, whale,
or walrus meat, for otherwise they would be drowsy, and not willing to
travel; so they were called early from their snow beds in a drift or
hollow, where they liked best to sleep, and made ready for the start.

Dressed in their squirrel skin parkies, with wide-bordered hoods upon
their heads, reindeer muckluks on their feet and mittens of skin upon
their hands, stood Ah Chugor Ruk, Ung Kah Ah Ruk, Iamkiluk and Punni
Churah, long lashed whips in hand, and waiting.

On one of the sleds, dressed and enveloped in furs, sat the captain,
before giving the order to start. At the word from him, the dogs sprang
to their collars, the little bells jingled, and away they all dashed.
Team after team, over the well-trodden trail they went, keeping up a
continuous and sprightly trot for hours, while behind at the handle bars
ran the natives, and rocks, hills and mountains were passed all
unnoticed.

That night another Eskimo village was reached, and sixty miles of snow
trail were left behind. Shaktolik lay on the shore southeast of a
portage which would have to be made over a small point of land jutting
out into Norton Bay.

During the night a storm came up which would necessarily much impede
their progress, being called in the western world a "blizzard." This
storm fiend, once met, is never forgotten. None but the man in the
Arctic has seen him. None know so well how to elude him. Like a Peele,
or a "tremblor" this Arctic king gathers his forces, more mighty than
armies in battle, and sweeps all opponents before him. To resist means
death. To crouch, cower or bow down to this implacable lord of the polar
world is the only way to evade his wrath when he rides abroad, and woe
to the man who thinks otherwise.

Not long had the wind and snow been blowing when the little train
prepared to move. Ahead they could see the sled tracks of other
"mushers" (travelers by dog-team), and the captain concluded to hurry
along, notwithstanding that Ah Chugor Ruk shook his head, and spat
tobacco juice upon the ground, and Ung Kah Ah Ruk demurred stoutly in
few words. Punni Churah thought as the rest, but would go ahead if the
captain so ordered, and they headed northwest for the portage.

On the dogs trotted for hours. The snow and sleet were blinding, the
wind had risen to a gale. The dogs traveled less rapidly now, and their
faces were covered with frost, the moisture freezing as they breathed.

By this time the natives wanted to camp where they were, or head about
northeast for another Eskimo village called Ungaliktulik, which would
make the journey longer by twenty-five miles, but the captain decided to
keep on as they were going.

By the middle of the afternoon the gale had increased to fury, causing
the thermometer to fall with great rapidity, while the snow was
blinding. The dogs were curling up in the wind like leaves before a
blaze.

Ah Chugor Ruk was ahead with his team. His leader suddenly halted.

"Muk-a-muk!" cried the Eskimo.

"Muk!" echoed Punni Churah, running up alongside to look, and then back
to the captain's sled, where he shouted something loudly in order to be
heard above the storm.

An ice crack crossed their trail. There was no help for it. There it
lay, dark and cold--the dreaded water.

In the blinding blizzard they could not see the width of the chasm. It
was too wide for them to bridge; it was death to remain where they
were--they must turn back, and they did so. The wind was not now in
their faces as before, which made traveling some easier, but they had
not gone far when: "Muk-a-muk!" from Punni this time, who was ahead.

Again the dogs stopped. Again Punni Churah came back, and reported.

They were adrift on a cake of ice. Wind from the northeast was blowing a
hurricane, carrying them on their ice cake directly out to sea; but the
snow was drifting in hummocks, and in one of them the natives began
digging a hole for a hut. When this was of sufficient size, they pitched
a sled cover of canvas over it, made the sleighs fast outside, and
crawled underneath. Once inside their temporary igloo, they made a fire
of white drilling and bacon, taken from the sled loads of merchandise;
melted snow for water, and boiled coffee, being nearly famished. Then
for hours they all slept heavily, the dogs being huddled together in the
snow, as is their habit, but the blizzard raged frightfully, and drove
the dogs nearer the men in the hut.

Crawling upon the canvas for more warmth, the poor, freezing creatures,
struggling for shelter, with the weight of their bodies caused the hut
to collapse, and all fell, in one writhing heap, upon the heads of the
unfortunates below. Howling, barking, struggling to free themselves from
the tangle, the pack of brutes added torment to the lot of the men; but
the storm raged with such terrific force that all lay as they fell,
until morning, under the snow.

None now disputed the storm king's sway. All were laid low before him.
With the united fury of fiends of Hades, he laughed in demoniacal glee
at the desperation of the Arctic travelers under his heel. The whole
world was now his. Far from the icy and unknown wastes of the interior,
around the great Circle and Rockies, riding above the heads of rivers
and mountains, he came from the Koyuk and Koyukuk. Like a child at play,
as if weary of so long holding them in his cold embrace, he drove the
massive ice floes out into ocean, only, perhaps, in childish fitfulness,
to bring them back directly, by gales quite contrary.

When morning dawned, the captain and his men crawled out of the crushed
snow hut, and, with hard work, made a new cave in the snow drift,
burying the sleighs in the old one. The dogs were starving, and, to
appease their appetites, were purloining bacon from the sled's stores;
but Providence, for once, was kind to them, and a large, fat seal of
several hundred pounds weight was shot that day on the edge of the ice
cake upon which they were camped, and this gave them food and fuel. Dogs
and natives were then well fed on the fresh seal meat and blubber, their
natural and favorite viands. From tin dishes upon the sleds, the natives
made little stoves, or lamps, using drilling for wicks, seal oil for
fuel, and their coffee was made. Among the stores on the sleds were
canned goods, beans, sausages, flour and other things, and on these the
captain subsisted.

Day after day passed. The storm gradually died away, and the sun came
out. Then watches were set to keep a lookout, and the captain took his
turn with his men. Walking about in the cold morning air, he could see
the mainland to the northwest, many miles away, and his heart sank
within him. Would he ever put his foot upon that shore again? How long
could they live on the ice cake if they floated far out in the Behring
Sea? To him the outlook was growing darker each day, though the natives
seemed not to be troubled.

Nearly two weeks passed. One night the captain was awakened by a hand on
his shoulder. It was Ung Kah Ah Ruk. The wind, he said, was blowing
steadily from the southwest, and if it continued they might be able to
reach the shore ice and the mainland. Anxiously together then they
watched and waited for long, weary hours, getting the sleds loaded, and
in readiness for a start; then, with bitterest disappointment, they
found the wind again changed to the southwest, which would carry them
out to sea as before.

What were they to do? This might be their best and only chance to
escape. The shore ice lay near them, but, as yet, beyond their reach.
This treacherous wind might continue for days and even weeks. From
experience they knew that the wind blew where he listed, regardless of
the forlorn creatures under him, and with the thermometer at forty
degrees below zero, as it was, swimming was out of the question. The
crack appeared a dozen or so feet in width, and escape was only
possible by reaching the other side.

Their strait was a desperate one. The captain decided to make the leap.
Removing his furs, he rolled them tightly, and threw them across the
chasm. It was now a positive dash for life, as without his furs he would
soon perish with the cold.

He made the run and leaped. At that instant one of the natives, from
intense interest, or from a desire to assist, gave a loud Eskimo whoop,
which startled the captain, and he missed his footing, falling forward
upon the ice, but with his lower limbs in the water.

The natives now bestirred themselves and threw to the captain a large
hunting knife and rifle, attached to their long sled lashings. With a
good deal of exertion, the captain crawled upon the ice, and with the
knife he chopped a hole, and inserted the rifle barrel, fastening the
lashings to it and holding it firmly in place. The natives then pulled
with united strength on the line, bringing the ice cake slowly up toward
the captain until within a few feet of the shore ice, when, using a sled
for a bridge, they and the dogs crossed safely over, without so much as
wetting their feet. To all, this was a matter for great rejoicing, and
no regretful farewells were given to the ice floe which had been their
prison house so long. They were not yet out of danger, however, for the
shore ice upon which they stood might, in the gale, at any moment be
loosened and carry them, like the other, out into the ocean. So with all
haste possible, they proceeded to get away. Punni Churah brought the
captain's fur sleeping bag and robes, in which he was stowed away in one
of the sleds, though his wet clothing was now frozen. There was no time
nor place to make a change, with the thermometer nearly forty degrees
below zero.

Hours afterward they reached the mainland. How good once more to step
foot on terra firma! The dogs barked, and the natives hallooed
cheerfully to each other, for they were now going home. A deserted
native village was soon entered, an igloo in passable condition taken
possession of, and the dogs tied up for the night.

The natives now worked rapidly and cheerfully, two putting up their camp
stove, another bringing snow for water with which to make the coffee,
and Punni Churah looking after the captain, who tried to remove his
clothing, but to no purpose. Muckluks and trousers were frozen together,
and as fast as the ice melted sufficiently they were cut away. Contrary
to his expectations, he was not severely frozen, a white patch, the size
of his hand, appearing upon each limb above the knee. With these they
did the best they could, and dry clothing from the sleds was put on.

Their supper that night was a feast of rejoicing. They were now on the
home trail, and would soon be among friends. One more day of travel and
their long, hazardous, and eventful trip of two hundred miles over an
Arctic waste would be successfully accomplished. As they rolled
themselves in their furs at midnight for a few hours of needed rest and
sleep, they could almost fancy themselves at home again and happy. The
dogs huddled in the snow outside, now and then barking in their usual
way, but the tired men in the igloo did not hear them, for their sleep
was oblivion, after the strain of the last two weeks.

Next morning, after traveling for several hours, a halt was made, and a
lunch was taken in an Eskimo camp; but the captain, by this time, was
suffering from exposure and frosted limbs, the trail was bad, and he
concluded to hurry on ahead of the teams. The way was familiar, and only
one low mountain, called the Portage, was to be crossed. It was early in
the day, and his teams would follow immediately; so on his snowshoes the
captain hastened toward home.

God help the man who travels alone in the Arctic in winter! Little
matters it if the sun shines brightly at starting, and the sky appears
clear as a summer pool. In one short hour the aspect of all may be
changed, heavens overcast, snow flying, and wind rapidly driving. Under
the gathering darkness and whirling snowflakes the narrow trail is soon
obscured, or entirely obliterated, the icy wind congeals the traveler's
breath and courage simultaneously, he becomes confused and goes round
and round in a circle, until, benumbed by the frost, he sinks down to
die. This was what now happened to the captain.

Another storm was upon him when he reached the hill portage, and as he
expected his natives momentarily, and beyond this point the trail was
good, so that he could ride behind the dogs, he waited until they should
come up to him. Hour after hour he waited. Night came on, and the
blizzard increased in severity. Hungry, cold and already frost-bitten,
he must spend the night on the mountain alone. Still he listened for the
bells on the malemutes, and the calls of his Eskimo drivers.

They did not come. Nothing but snow, and the shriek of that storm king
whose rage he had so recently encountered while drifting to sea on the
ice floe, and from whom only cruelty was ever expected, now whistled in
his ears.

He knew he must keep on walking, so removing his snowshoes he stuck one
in the snow drift and fastened a seal rope at the top. Taking the end of
this in his hand, he circled round and round for hours to keep himself
moving. At last he grew weary, and closed his eyes, still walking as
before. It was more pleasant to keep his eyes closed, for then he saw
visions of bright, warm rooms, blazing fires and cozy couches, and
smelled the odors of appetizing foods. There were flowers, sweet music
and children, and he was again in far-off sunny lands.

He grew drowsy. He would only rest a little in a soft white drift, and
then go on again. Making a place in the bank with the snowshoe, while
the wind whistled horribly and the whirling snow bewildered him, he lay
down to----

Some men, one night, drove their dog-teams into Chinik. They had come
from St. Michael, two hundred miles over the trail. They said the
captain and his party left there many days before them, and by this they
were surely dead, unless drifted out to sea, which really meant the same
thing, as no man could live upon the ice during the recent great
blizzard. An Eskimo woman heard what they said. She was a cousin to
Punni Churah, but she said nothing.

An hour later, the woman and two men with dogs and sleds left Chinik for
the Portage, going east. It was storming, but it was not dark, and they
knew each foot of the way. At first, on the level, the woman rode in one
of the sleds, but when it grew hilly, she trudged behind. Her sharp eyes
now keenly searched every dark or obscure spot along the hillside trail.
The wind lessened somewhat, and the moon came out behind the clouds.

The dogs finally stopped, throwing back their heads and howling; then,
in more excitement, gave the short, quick bark of the chase.

The natives began poking about with sticks in the drifts, and Mollie
(for it was she) soon found the unconscious man in the snow.

Quick work then they made of the return trip. They were only a few miles
from home now, and the malemutes seemed to comprehend. Every nerve in
their bodies tingled. Every tiny bell on their harnesses jingled, and
the fleet-footed natives sped rapidly behind. The dogs needed no
guidance, for they were going home, and well knew it. The voice of big
Ituk, as he gave out his Eskimo calls, the sleigh-bells, and the creak
of the sled runners over the frosty snow, were the only sounds heard on
the clear morning air.

The life of the captain was saved.

The sequel of his story is not long. With the best care known to a
native woman, brought up near and inside a Mission station, the captain
was tended and brought back to life, though weeks passed before he was
well. In fact, he was never strong again, and, needing a life-long
nurse, decided, with Mollie's consent, to take her for his wife, and so
the missionary married them. Then they settled permanently at Golovin
Bay, where a trading post was already established, and where they are
living happily to this day.



CHAPTER XVII.

HOW THE LONG DAYS PASSED.


On Saturday, November third, began a great sewing of fur caps,
children's clothes, and also garments for the teacher. For the caps, a
pattern had to be made before beginning, but Alma and not I did it.
About four in the afternoon Mr. H., Mr. G. and Mr. B. came in from the
Home, having worked all day at collecting driftwood as they came along,
piling it upon end so it will not be buried in the snow, for that is the
only fuel we will have this winter, and it must be gathered and hauled
by the boys.

While in the sitting room after supper three gentlemen and the wife of
one of them called to spend the evening from the A. E. Company's
establishment. One was the manager and head of the company's store here,
another was his clerk, and the man and his wife were neighbors.

We soon found out that the young clerk had been up the Koyuk River
prospecting, and wanted to go again. The boys want to go there
themselves, and we gathered considerable information from our callers
regarding the country, manner of getting there, the best route, etc.,
and spent a pleasant evening, as they seemed also to do.

Sunday, November fourth, was marked as the first time of holding church
service in the schoolhouse since our arrival, and a good number were
present. Twenty-two Eskimos and ten white people made a cozy little
audience for Mr. H. and his interpreter, Ivan. I played the organ, and
they all sang from Gospel songs. For some reason a lump would come up in
my throat when I played the old home songs that I had so many times
played under widely differing circumstances, thousands of miles away;
but under the current of sadness there was one also of thanksgiving for
protection and guidance all the way.

It was a motley crowd listening to the preacher that day, from various
and widely separated countries, Sweden, Norway, Finland, United States,
Alaska and possibly some others, were represented at this service as
well as at the one of the evening held in the Mission House which needed
no extra lights nor warming. A few more natives came in at this time,
and Mollie, the captain's wife, was there with her mother. Again I
played the instrument, while the rest sang. The little sitting-room and
hall were crowded, seats having been brought in from the kitchen, and
some were standing at the doors. One old Eskimo woman seemed in deep
trouble, for she wiped her eyes a great deal, and she, with some others,
were very dirty, at least if odors tell stories without lying.

Monday, November fifth: This has been a fine day, and brought with it a
new lot of experiences. I took a few kodak views of a dog-team and
fur-dressed people in front of the Mission. After supper four neighbors
came (the same who called on us the other evening) with their horse to
take us out for a moonlight ride, and it proved a very novel one. A big,
grey horse, with long legs supporting his great hulk, and carrying him
away up above us as we sat on the sled; the conveyance, a home-made
"bob" sled upon which had been placed rough boards piled with hay and
fur robes for the comfort of passengers, and the harness home-made like
the "rig," was ingeniously constructed of odds and ends of old rope of
different colors which the men assured us, when interrogated upon the
point, were perfectly strong and secure.

In it were knots, loops, twists, and coils, with traces spliced at great
length in order to keep us clear of the horse's heels, but which
frequently got him entangled, so that he had to be released by the
footman (the clerk). When this occurred, the latter, with an Indian
war-whoop, leaped off the sledge, flourished and cracked his big "black
snake" whip in air to encourage the animal to run faster, and I, sitting
with the driver on the front seat, gripped for dear life the board upon
which I sat. No Jehu, I feel sure, ever drove as did our driver tonight,
assisted by the whooping footman with his black snake. Through drifts
and over the pond, which was frozen, down steep banks to the beach,
through snow deep and still deeper, helter-skelter they drove,
skurrying, shouting, urging the poor beast on until he was wild of eye,
short of breath, weary in limb, and reeking.

Overhead the air was clear as crystal, stars bright, and a perfect full
moon shining with brilliant whiteness over all. Only the jingle of the
bells upon the horse, the shrieks of our footman and driver, and the
laughter of the passengers on the "bob" broke the stillness of the
quiet, frosty air, which, in its intense purity and lightness seemed
fairly to vibrate with electricity as we breathed.

November sixth: I have spent the day at making a warm winter hood for
myself. Finding that Mr. H. had grey squirrel skins, I bought six of him
for twenty-five cents apiece, for a lining for hood and mittens. The
hood I made pretty large every way, sewing two red fox tails around the
face for a border to keep the wind off my face, as is the Eskimo
fashion.

During the day G. and B. went out over the beach to collect driftwood
for winter, and G. came home finally without his companion. It was
thought that B. went on to the Home, as he found himself not so far from
that as from the Mission, where he would probably remain all night, and
come over next day. Two natives, with as many reindeer and sleds, came
for flour and other things, taking Mr. H.'s trunk of clothing with them
for the missionary. The little Eskimos were delighted to see the deer,
and ran out to them, petting and talking to them. Then they rattled on
among themselves about the animals, inspecting and feeling of their
horns, patting their fat sides, calling their names, and showing their
pleasure at seeing the pretty creatures in various ways. I did not know
which were of most interest, the deer with long, branching antlers,
sleek spotted sides and funny heads, or the group of odd little Eskimo
children, with their plump dark faces, dressed in furry parkies and
boots, tumbling gleefully around in the snow.

Wednesday, November seventh: The weather is beautifully clear and sunny
today, with charming sky effects at sunrise and sunset. Red, yellow and
crimson lines stretched far along the eastern horizon, cut by vertical
ones of lighter tints, until a big golden ball climbed up higher, and by
his increased strength warmed the whole snowy landscape. A few hours
later, this great yellow ball, looking bright and clear-cut, like
copper, sank gently beneath the long banks of purple-red clouds massed
in artistic and majestic confusion. Everything, at this time, was
enveloped in the cooler, quieter tints of purple and blue, and hills,
peaks, and icy bay all lay bathed in exquisite color.

The two Eskimos brought the reindeer back from the Home today, stopped
for lunch, and then went on their way to the herd again. Ricka, Alma
and Miss J. went out as far as the cliff for a ride on the sleds behind
the deer, but I felt safer indoors. Ricka says when the animals dashed
over the big bank, out upon the ice near the cliff, she thought her last
hour had come. At first the deer trotted steadily along on the trail,
but going faster and faster they rushed headlong through the drifts,
dragging the sleds on one runner, and tearing up the snow like a
blizzard as they went, until it seemed to the two girls, unused to such
riding as they were, that the animals were running away, and they would
be certainly killed.

Miss J. was quite used to this kind of traveling, and made no outcry,
but Alma and Ricka finally got the natives to stop the deer and let them
get off and walk home, saying it might be great fun when one was
accustomed to it.

The sleds used by the natives are called reindeer sleds because made
especially for use when driving deer. They are close to the ground, and
very strongly built, as they could not otherwise stand the wear and tear
of such "rapid transit." Side rails are put on, but no high handle-bar
at the back, and when a load is placed upon the sled it is lashed
securely on with ropes or thongs made of seal or walrus hide; otherwise
there would be no load before the journey was completed.

Mr. H. says he has long experience with them, but never feels quite sure
that an animal will do what is wanted of him, though when driven by
natives who are well used to their tricks and antics, especially if the
animals have reached mature age, they make good travelers, and get over
the ground very fast. A hundred miles a day is nothing to them if the
snow is not too deep and their load reasonable.

Men and dog-teams are coming into camp from Nome each day now, and say
that the trails are in first-class condition. We hope for mail soon from
Nome. Mr. H. came, bringing with him a Swedish preacher who is wintering
here, though not officially connected with the Mission. He is a sweet
singer, liking well to accompany his Swedish songs upon the guitar or
organ, for he plays both instruments.

Mr. L. left at six in the morning for the Home, walked there and back,
and arrived at six in the evening. He went to ask Mr. H. if he and the
others could have reindeer with which to go to Koyuk River on a
prospecting trip. He gave his consent and they think of starting next
week. They think there may be some good creek up there that would do to
stake, and the clerk is going with them.

We have jolly times each evening singing, visiting and knitting. My
black stocking grows under my needles a few inches each day, and will be
warm and comfortable footwear under my muckluks surely.

November eighth: Some ptarmigan were brought in today, which are the
first birds of the kind I have seen, and they are beautiful. They look
like snow-white doves, only larger, with silky feathers and lovely
wings. They are soon to be cooked, for they are the Arctic winter birds
and make good eating. We are all blessed with ravenous appetites.

A man was killed with a club last night in a drunken brawl, in a hotel
near by. He only lived a few hours after getting hurt, but it is said
that the other killed him in self defense. Both the United States
marshal and the commissioner were away at the time. It is a pity they
were not at home, for the affair, perhaps, would then have been
prevented. There are probably not more than one hundred white persons in
the camp altogether, but there must be fully half as many Eskimos, and
they are always coming and going. There are several saloons (one kept by
a woman), a large hotel and one or two smaller ones, besides two or
three company's stores and a few log cabins and native huts, besides the
Mission.

The boys want to get off as soon as possible for Koyuk, but fear they
will have to go to Nome for camp stoves and pipe, as there are none to
buy here. They brought wood from the beach today on the sleds, and there
is no lack of fuel here, nor of strong, willing arms to gather it. It
seems a long, long time to wait without hearing from the home folks. I
wonder how it seems to them. I only wish they could see how comfortably
and happily we are situated, and what jolly times we have, for it would
do their hearts good. Few are so favored in all Alaska, of that I am
certain.

Saturday, November tenth: I have sewed all day on a canvas coat for Mr.
B., Alma helping with the cutting. He wants it to put on over his fur
parkie to keep the snow and rain off it, and has himself made the loops
and fastenings. He whittled out the buttons from small pieces of wood,
twisted cord to loop over them, and put them all firmly on the coat so
that it looks well, and will be serviceable. I put a good-sized hood of
the same, with a fur border around the face, on the coat, and it will be
a good garment to hunt ptarmigan in, for it is the color of snow, and
the birds cannot see him.

The visiting preacher has had an experience in being in the water, and
from it has contracted rheumatism in one limb, which he is nursing, so
he sits by the fire and plays and sings for us while we sew. He is very
pleasant, and all seem to like him. The weather is not cold and Miss J.
and Mr. H. started out with reindeer for the Home at seven in the
morning. It was a singular sight to see them when leaving. All the
little natives in fur parkies stood around, watching. The two sleds were
loaded with baggage, and Miss J. sat on the top of one of them, holding
the rope that went under the body of the deer and around his Head and
horns for a harness. This deer was tied to the back of the sled in
front of him, and Mr. H. went ahead having hold of the rope that was
fastened to the first deer.

Sunday, November eleventh: We are having a heavy and wet snow storm. All
stayed in until three in the afternoon, when we attended church service
in the schoolhouse. I played the organ, the Swedish preacher read the
Scriptures, and Ivan interpreted. We sang hymns and songs, and the hour
was enjoyed by all, though the preacher did not feel quite well enough
acquainted with the English to preach in that tongue, and Mr. H. was
away. There were about twenty natives present, and ten or twelve white
people, Miss E. remaining at home to get the dinner. I went in thought
over the great waters to my southern home, where today the churches are
decorated with palms and floral beauties, and I saw the friends in their
accustomed seats--but I was not there. Thousands of miles away to the
frozen north we have come, and little do we know if we shall ever see
home again. Tears came to my eyes, but I kept them hidden, for none
shall say I am homesick; I am glad to be here. I have faith to believe
that the Father's loving watch-care will be still further extended, and
I shall reach my homeland and friends some time in the future.

November thirteenth: Weather is warm, wet, and sunny. Water is running
in the bay and snow is soft under foot. I worked this afternoon on a
mitten pattern for myself, assisted by Alma. Evidently pattern making
was intended for others to do, for though my spirit is as willing as
possible, the flesh is very weak in that direction; but I did finally
get a mitten, thumb and all, that looks not half bad. This was banner
day for my laundry work, and my handkerchiefs have been ironed for the
first time since I sailed from San Francisco. Heretofore I was in luck
to get a time and place in which to wash them. At half-past four o'clock
in the afternoon, when it was too dark to sew longer, Alma, Ricka and I
went out upon the beach to meet the boys who had been gathering wood,
and we walked a half mile over the rough trail of ice blocks, drifts and
hummocks.

We floundered on through all until we saw them coming, and then sat
resting on some logs until they came up. Two of Mr. H.'s dogs, Fido and
Muckaleta, had followed us, and ran at our heels playing in the snow,
which was more than one foot deep in places. The boys had found a long
ladder on the beach, probably from some wreck, and they had brought it
on the sled with the wood. It was most difficult work hauling the sled
over the uneven trail, and all were puffing and perspiring when they
reached home.

A little prayer meeting was afterwards held in the kitchen during which
Mr. H. and Miss J. came in from the Home with reindeer, tired and
hungry. We spent a pleasant evening visiting, singing and knitting.

A man has come from Nome, and says that the steamer bringing Mission
supplies from San Francisco was obliged during the last hard storm to
throw some of its cargo overboard, and part of the Mission's stores were
thus lost. All are sorry to hear this, as it means a shortage of
necessary things, like furniture for the Home, where much is needed.

November fourteenth: Miss J. has taken in two more little Eskimos, a
girl and a boy. First of all, she cuts their hair close to their heads,
then each has a good bath in the tub, and they are dressed in clean
clothing from head to foot, and fed plentifully. This was their program,
and they look very happy after it, and evidently feel as well and look
better. This boy seems to be about ten years old, and the girl a little
older, but it is not customary among the Eskimos to keep account of
their ages, and so nobody really knows how old any one is.

Alma has cut over a big reindeer skin parkie for the visiting preacher,
and a fur sleeping bag for Miss J., while Ricka has made a fine cap for
Mr. H. of dog's skin, lined with cloth. This morning when the men went
out to the hills where their two reindeer had been tied in the moss, the
animals were gone, and Ivan returned fearing that they had been stolen,
but when Mr. H., G. and B. went to look, they found no men's footprints,
and concluded that they had broken away and gone back to the herd, as
their tracks went in that direction. Mr. H. went on after them, and the
two boys came home wet with perspiration from floundering about in the
deep, soft snow, and wearing their heavy rubber boots. I gave them
coffee when they got back.

I have sewed on my new mittens, and done some knitting, besides tending
the baby, who runs quickly from one thing to another like any other
mischievous child, getting into first one thing, and then some other,
which must be coaxed away from her by management. I usually do this by
giving her some new plaything, if I can possibly find any article she
has never yet had. A box of needles, buttons and thread she likes best
of anything I have yet found, and a grand reckoning day will come before
long when Alma finds the little Eskimo has been amusing herself with her
property.

Mr. G. found a part of somebody's outfit, consisting of clothing and tin
dishes, on the beach today. Miss J. held a little meeting again in the
kitchen for the natives after supper, and is very happy over having the
two new little Eskimos.

This is our fourth week in the Mission, and pleasant and happy ones they
have been, at least, if there have been vexations to some, they have
succeeded admirably in keeping them out of sight.

November fifteenth: The weather is still warm, wet and slippery under
foot. This morning a young man called from Nome, with a letter from
Mary, saying she is coming by dog-team as soon as the trails are good.

The commissioner called today to get the preacher to officiate at the
funeral of the man who was killed, but it was postponed until tomorrow,
because the grave could not be finished before dark. The commissioner
sat for half an hour, and chatted in the sitting room.

November sixteenth: All hands are at work now for the children, and
overalls, waists and shirts for the little boys as well as garments for
the girls are on the docket. The big boys fished, and got smelt and
tom-cod. B. sewed at mittens for himself, and G. took the church organ
to pieces to clean and repair it. Mr. M., who has been at work on the
Home, has come here to spend the winter. I wish he would set to work and
catch some of the mice which infest the house, and run over me when I am
asleep in the night time.

A meeting for the natives in the house again tonight, and the doors had
to be left open on account of the pungent seal oil perfume from the
garments of the Eskimos.

The man who was killed was buried today in the edge of the little
graveyard on the hillside. The Swedish preacher was asked to go to the
grave, and he did so, reading a Psalm, and offering a prayer. Only four
or five men were present. It is a stony, lonely place, without a tree in
sight; the few scattering graves having only wooden slabs for head
boards. Being just above the beach, the spot commands a view of the bay
in front, but it is now all a snow and ice desert, and the most dreary
place imaginable. Very little was known of the murdered man, and no good
could be said of him, but it is supposed that he has a wife and children
somewhere.

What a dreadful ending! Will his family ever know what has become of
him, and is his mother still living? If so, I hope they may never learn
of his horrid death and worthless life in Alaska. He was never conscious
for a moment after being hurt, so they know nothing as to where to write
to his relatives. It makes one shudder to think of it! He may have been
a good and bright child, beloved by parents and brothers, but the drink
curse claimed him for its own.

The weather is clear, with sunshine and frost. The visiting preacher has
been making himself useful for a few days by helping us in cutting out
overalls and blouses for the Eskimo boys. Down on his knees upon the
floor, with shears, rolls of denim, and a pair of small trousers to
pattern by, he has wielded the little steel instrument to good purpose,
and encouraged and assisted us greatly.

With their new clothes, the children are all quite well pleased, for
they are fresh and sweet. The missionaries are trying very hard to teach
them cleanliness among other things, and they sometimes come and stand
in the doorway and look at us sewing, their faces always good natured,
and showing more or less curiosity. When told to run away to play, they
obey quickly, and little Pete and the others like to keep the wood boxes
filled to help us. The older girls being from ten to twelve years of
age, are often caring for and amusing Bessie, and she is fond of them,
until, like any other child, she cannot have her own way, and then she
disapproves of them by kicking and screaming till Miss J. comes to
settle the business.



CHAPTER XVIII.

SWARMING.


Arctic explorers have always found it a difficult matter to keep
pleasantly and profitably employed during the long winter months, and I
have often wondered how it would be with ourselves. So far, there seems
to be no scarcity of employment for all hands, neither is there any
prospect of it. For the men there is always the beach-wood to collect,
haul and saw up into firewood, not to mention the splitting with an axe,
which is, I believe, as hard work as any of it, and there is water to
bring in barrels each day or two from Chinik Creek, a mile away, for
drinking and cooking purposes. The barrels are put upon sleds and hauled
by the men themselves, or by the dogs if they happen to be here, and are
not at work. As to the reindeer, of course there can be no such thing as
making them haul either wood or water, for none could be found steady
enough, and should the experiment be tried, there are ten chances to one
that not a stick of wood would remain upon the sleds, nor a drop of
water in the barrels, while the distance between creek and Mission was
being made.

Of course there is always enough for women to do if they are
housekeeping, and with sewing, knitting and what recreation we take out
of doors, we fill in the time very well. It is much better and
pleasanter to be employed, and the time passes much more rapidly than
when one is idle, and I for one enjoy the change of work and the
winter's outlook immensely. Compared to what we have done in Nome during
the summer, this is child's play, and the boys who have worked at real
mining say the same thing.

November seventeenth: We have had our first lady visitor today who came
from White Mountain about fifteen miles away. She is the lady doctor who
brought Miss J. through typhoid fever last fall, and is much at home
here. She was sent for by a sick woman in the hotel, and will spend the
night with Miss J., who is very kind to her. The visiting preacher left
for the Home this morning very early, going with a native and reindeer.
Mr. L. and B. were called in to the jury trial of the murderer who
killed the man in the hotel the other night, and they got home late. The
girls were out upon the ice in the evening for exercise, getting tired
of being indoors all day long, and needing fresh air. When all were in
at half-past eleven in the evening, coffee and crackers were taken by
all but me, but I have had to leave off drinking coffee, taking hot
water with cream and sugar instead. B. says he thinks the latter too
stimulating.

[Illustration: ESKIMO DOGS.]

This has been a bright and cold Sunday for November eighteenth. Mr. H.
walked in to nine o'clock breakfast from the Home, coming by dog-team,
and looked well dressed and smiling. No service was held until evening,
so we went out for a walk upon the hill behind the house. B. and L. left
us to go and examine some wood that natives were hauling away from the
beach, thinking it was some of theirs, for each stick is marked, so they
know their own; but it proved not to be their wood, and the two then
came home another way.

While out, we walked through the small burial ground, and saw the
new-made grave of the murdered man. O, how desolate was that spot! A few
mounds, stones, snow and bleak winds forever blowing. Here we read a
headboard, upon which was the name and age of good old Dr. Bingham of
New England, who died here years ago, and whose wife planted wild roses
upon the grave. I wonder if we will see them in bloom next summer, or
will we be under the snow ourselves like these others.

For our dinner today we ate fried tom-cod, baked potatoes, tomatoes,
pickles, bread and butter, and rice pudding. I feel positive that
nothing could have tasted better to our home folks in the States who
have more fruit and vegetables than did this plain and homely meal to
us, eaten with the heartiest appetites gotten out of doors while walking
in the snow. The ice in the bay is getting firmer, and will continue to
grow thicker all winter, being in the spring at breaking-up time many
feet through, no doubt, as it was in Minnesota in the Red River of the
North when I lived there. I am glad that I am a cold climate creature,
and was born in winter in a wintry state, for I will be sure to endure
Alaska weather better than I otherwise would.

This evening we had service again in the church or schoolhouse, and the
room was quite filled. The woman doctor was there, also the storekeeper
and the United States Marshal, besides our own family, and a good many
natives. Mr. H. preached, and was interpreted in Eskimo as usual. I wish
some of my fastidious friends on the outside could have seen the
cosmopolitan company of tonight.

The refined and serious face of the storekeeper, the black-eyed doctor
(woman), the fair-faced Swedes, and the square-jawed, determined
official, made a striking contrast to the Eskimos dressed in fur
parkies, and smelling of seal oil. Many of the latter continually carry
small children on their backs underneath their parkies, a heavy belt or
girdle of some sort keeping the youngster from falling to the ground,
but the smaller ones are seldom brought out in the evening. These women
squat upon the floor as often as they sit upon a chair, and when a baby
cries from hunger he is promptly fed on ahmahmuk, (mother's milk,)
regardless of the assembled company. With an Eskimo mother nothing
comes before the child's wishes, and if the latter only succeeds in
making his desires known to her, she will obey them to the letter. That
there are unruly Eskimo youngsters, goes without saying, as a child does
not need a white skin to help him understand this, and arrange his
tactics accordingly.

The Mission is crowded to its utmost, but I believe the hearts of the
good missionaries are made of elastic.

When we reached the house after service this evening we heard that a
mail was expected, and would leave for Dawson tomorrow, so we set to
work to write letters, and then found it all a mistake, for it is only
going to Nome from Unalaklik, and we were all disappointed.

The weather today, November seventeenth, is a great surprise to us. It
is raining, and so icy underfoot as to be positively dangerous to life
and limb. I had occasion to go out for a while this forenoon, and knew
no better than to wear my muckluks, which are smooth as glass on the
bottoms. To make things more lively, the wind blew a gale from the
northeast.

When I left the house, I was going in the same direction as the wind,
and though I nearly fell many times I kept stubbornly on, determined not
to be vanquished. On my return--then came the "tug of war." Near the
warehouse a gust of wind took me unawares, and, whisk! in a minute I
was sprawling flat upon the ice. I had gone out with my Indian blanket
over my head and shoulders, and this blew out like a sail, upsetting my
tall and slippery footed craft, and bumping me ignominiously.

I now tried to rise, but could not. Turn as I would, using my hands to
steady me, I only made a vain effort to get upon my feet, as I slipped
each time quite flat again. Thinking to turn first, and get upon my
knees, I tried that, but rolled like a fuzzy caterpillar in a ball upon
the ice. Then, alas, I regret to relate it, but I really began to feel a
little vexed. I began calling loudly, supposing that someone in the
house would hear me, and come to my assistance; but the wind carried my
voice away faster than I could throw it, and that availed me nothing. At
no other time since my arrival at the Mission I felt certain had there
been so long a lull between the passing of its inmates through its
doors; but now, because of my present strait, they all remained indoors.

In the meantime I had thrown my hands out suddenly into water which
stood in little pools in depressions of the ice around me, and I lay
there getting more vexed than ever. Again I tried to rise, but failed. A
stranger would suppose me tipsy, to be sure, and I glanced around to
make certain no one saw me. Finally the door opened, and Miss L. came
out.

"What is the matter?" and she began laughing at my predicament.

"Matter enough!" I shouted. "Can't you see? I can't get up to save my
life. Do come and help me," and I began struggling upon my slippery bed
again to convince her.

Still she only laughed, standing in the wind with her hands upon her
hips in order to keep her balance.

"Do come and help me," I begged, "or go in and send one of the boys, for
I shall stay here all day if you do not."

When she had her laugh out, she came forward and assisted me to my feet,
and into the house, where I finally smoothed my ruffled feathers, and
recovered my equanimity, telling Miss L. I would pay her back in her own
coin when I got the opportunity.

A native has come with reindeer to carry a load of goods to the Home,
but cannot leave on account of the icy trail until tomorrow, or whenever
it freezes again.

Today is November twenty-first, and the weather is still soft and bad
under foot, so the family cannot move to the Home until the trail is in
better condition. B. shot more ptarmigan, and we had a dinner of them,
which was excellent. They almost seem too pretty to kill, but fresh meat
is scarce nowadays, and we must take it when we can get it.

November twenty-second has come, and with it colder weather. It is five
degrees below zero, and the sun shines. The doctor from White Mountain
has been helping Miss J. pack her large medicine chest ready for moving,
as many of these supplies will be left in this house.

Since the days are colder we have most beautiful skies at sunrise,
though we now keep the lamps burning until half-past eight in the
morning.

We have heard that the Nome mail is in, but it brought nothing to me. We
are writing letters to send out the first chance we get, whenever that
will be, but nobody knows so far.

The Commissioner called today and told us of a new strike at the
headwaters of Fish River; a man and woman coming down to record a bunch
of twenty claims having given the information. The woman runs a
roadhouse on the Neukluk River, and wants to take an Eskimo boy to
raise, and teach to work--probably it is mostly the latter, though she
seemed a kindly person. Miss J. told her that she had no boy to give
away.

The Marshal and the man in the old schoolhouse started with dogs to
Norton Bay today for a short trip, so we hear. The wife of the man went
with small Eskimo boys to the bay to fish for tom-cod.

Alma is making a fur sleeping bag of reindeer skins for the teacher, so
when she travels she can have it to sleep in nights. It is very heavy
to hold and handle while sewing.

Two men called who have been shipwrecked in Norton Bay, and told of the
H. family, consisting of the father, mother, and little daughter whom I
have seen in Nome. They lost all their clothing, but saved part of their
"grub," and we have made up a package of clothing to send to the woman
and child by the men who are going back there. In the darkness, one
night, they say the schooner "Lady George" went aground on the mud flats
of Norton Bay, the tide rising soon after, and all having to flee for
their lives to nearby ice, from which they went ashore to a log hut long
ago deserted. The child, who is about twelve years old, is now without
clothing, and winter is coming on.

The fates are hard on some people, surely, and this little girl lately
from San Francisco, the public school, and piano lessons, is left with
her parents in an Arctic wilderness in winter without clothing or
shelter, except a poor broken hut, and a few men's garments generously
donated. The men say that her mother is almost wild over it, and they
thought at first that she would go insane, but the brave little child
does all she can do to comfort her mother, and the men begged us to send
them some things. Among the clothing we sent I put in a few school
books, a slate, some pencils, and a Bible, which may be of use in
lonely hours. They may read the good book now if they never have
before. They are Swedish people.

It is three degrees below zero today, November twenty-fifth, clear,
bright and cold. Mr. H. came with a man and his dog-teams to move the
whole family tomorrow to the Home. All are delighted to go there, as we
are to remain here. The shipwrecked men called again to tell us more
fully about their experiences, and are now going back to their camp.
They certainly had an awful time, but they are glad and thankful to have
come out alive, and we are also glad for their sakes.

Two of the Commissioners have been here, one from fifty miles away,
wanting to buy a reindeer for his Thanksgiving dinner, but Mr. H. would
not sell one. He has been very urgent, and called a number of times, but
Mr. H. is firm in refusing. Our good dinner today was made up of mutton
stew with onions, baked potatoes, tomatoes, fruit soup, bread, butter
and coffee. I have taken a few kodak views today of Miss J. and the
Eskimo baby, Bessie, and hope they will be good.

November twenty-sixth: It is ten degrees below zero, but the whole
household was up early this morning to move over the ice to the new
Home. Four big dog sleds were piled high with household things, the baby
was tucked into a fur sleeping-bag with only her head out, at which she
howled lustily, Miss J. running beside the team to comfort her, while
Mr. H., his assistant and Ivan, with Mr. G. of our party, ran ahead of
the dogs. Breakfast was eaten at eight o'clock in the morning, and all
was hurly burly and excitement till they had gone. Ricka, Alma and I ran
out to the beach to see them off upon the ice, as then they would have
fair traveling, but we were afraid they would tip everything over at the
bank where the drifts are high, and blocks of ice piled in places.
Everything was lashed tightly down, however, and no accident occurred.
All the children but Bessie ran alongside the sleds to keep warm, and
they had lunches with them to eat when they were hungry. When the
smaller ones grew tired, I suppose they rode for a while on the sleds.
It was eleven o'clock in the morning, and the bright sun shone directly
in our faces as we stood waving good-bye to them, really sorry to see
them leave us. The hills, almost bare of snow, lay pink and lovely under
the sunshine.

After lunch M. went out, slipped on the ice and fractured his collar
bone. The Dawson man in the old schoolhouse, (who claims to be a
doctor), brought him indoors, but poor M. was pretty pale. The man, with
G.'s help, attended to his hurt, put his arm in a sling, and he is lying
on the lounge looking serious, but not discontented nor suffering
severely.

We were not to have so small a family many hours, as we found at about
five o'clock in the afternoon today, when there was a great commotion at
the door. There were men's voices, a woman's jolly laughter, and the
quick barking of dogs, glad to reach their journey's end, and when we
opened the door to those knocking, there were Mary and two friends from
Nome with their dog-teams. In they came, laughing, talking and brushing
the frost off their parkies, glad to get here, and hungry from
traveling, so we gave them a warm welcome, and good hot coffee and
supper.

Then Mary, (real Viking that she is, and from Tromso, in Norway,)
related the story of her journey by dog-team. Eighty-five miles, they
call it, from Nome by water to Chinik, but overland it is probably
farther. Nights were spent in the roadhouses, she said, but there was
little sleep to be had in them, for they were crowded and noisy, and she
was thankful the trip was now ended, and she had safely arrived.

The two young men who came with her seem nice, honest fellows, and I am
acquainted with one of them from seeing him at the "Star" many times,
where he often ground coffee to help evenings, or chatted in the kitchen
when we worked.

From Nome they had brought two sled loads, on one of them a cook stove
for the winter, as the big range in use here now will go later to the
Home, besides which they had food supplies and stove pipes.

At night Mr. L. came back from the reindeer station, saying that they
can have four reindeer for their prospecting trip to the Koyuk River,
and they are making up their party to go there.

November twenty-seventh: I was washing the dishes this morning in the
kitchen, when Mr. L. came quietly to say he will take my attorney paper
and stake a gold claim for me. He will do his best, he says, for me as
well as the others, for which I cordially thanked him, and flew on wings
to get the desired paper made out, as the others were also doing.

At half-past three o'clock in the afternoon today the lamps were
lighted, and at four o'clock in the afternoon a mail got in from Nome,
but brought no letters for me, as all steamers have long since stopped
running, and I am not corresponding with any one at Nome. I wonder when
I will hear from my home folks?

Our legal documents cost us each $2.50.

November twenty-eighth: This has been a fine day out of doors, and a
busy one indoors. Mr. H. with a man and two natives came with the
dog-teams to take what household stuff they could carry, and they took
the organ with the rest. I hated to see it go, but we are to have the
one in the church, which G. has just cleaned and brought into the house,
as the frost in that building is bad for it. They loaded their sleds,
then ate a lunch at half-past eleven o'clock in the morning, and
started. The two boys from Nome also left for that place, they being
quite rested, as well as their dogs. Drilling parkies they wore to
"mush" in, their furs and other traps being lashed to the sleds; and
bidding us good-bye, one ran ahead, and the other behind the dogs.



CHAPTER XIX.

NEW QUARTERS.


After thinking for some time of doing so, I finally decided to call at
the hotel and ask the captain and his wife if I might not teach their
little black-eyed girl English, as Miss J.'s leaving deprives her of a
teacher. The woman was not in when I called, but the child's father
seemed to think favorably of my plan, and said he would consult with his
wife, so I hope to get the child for a pupil.

B. and G. have moved all their things into the house from the
schoolroom, and Ricka hung the clothes she has been all day washing out
there to dry. There is a small stove in which a fire is often made to
dry them more quickly. It is most convenient to have such a place for
drying clothes, as it is impossible to get them dry outside on the lines
in the frost and snow.

We spent the evening pleasantly together in the sitting room, listening
to B.'s jokes, and Mary's stories of Nome and the "trail."

For our Thanksgiving dinner we had canned turkey, potatoes, tomatoes,
pickles, fruit, soup, bread, butter, and coffee, trying hard not to
think of our home friends and their roast turkeys and cranberries.
However, the dinner was a good one for Alaska, eaten with relish, and
all were jolly and very thankful, even M., with his sore collar-bone,
laughing with the rest.

November thirtieth: Mr. H. came with a man, two natives, seven reindeer
and four sleds to take more furniture away. They all ate dinner here,
and I took some kodak views of the animals with Alma, Ricka, Mary, G.
and a native driver in the sunshine in front of the Mission. Mary goes
up to the animals and pets them, as does Ricka, but I keep a good way
off from their horns, as they look ugly, and one old deer has lost his
antlers, with the exception of one bare, straight one a yard long,
which, with an angry beast behind it, would, however, be strong enough
to toss a person in mid-air if the creature was so minded.

There has been some hitch in the arrangements of the men going to the
Koyuk River, and there is a delay, but they will get off some day,
because L. never gives up anything he attempts to do, and I like him for
that. If more people were like this, they being always certain that they
were started in the right direction, the world would be the better for
it.

December first: Mr. B. is making bunks in two rooms upstairs, as the
house is so full all the time. This will give quite a little more
lodging room, for cots cannot be provided for all, neither is there
room for so many, but with bunks, one above another, it will furnish
lodgings for all who come.

Our two fisher women went out again this afternoon, and got tom-cod
through the ice by the cliff, near the snow-buried river steamers.

About four o'clock in the afternoon I called on the captain's wife, and
found her sewing furs. For her helper she had her cousin Alice, the coy,
plump Eskimo girl, who traveled to San Francisco with her last year.
Both women sat upon fur rugs on the floor, as is their custom when
sewing, and they were sorting bright beads, and cutting moosehide into
moccasins and gauntlet gloves, to be decorated with beads in the fashion
of the Yukon River Indians.

I had no difficulty in arranging for lessons with the captain's wife,
who would also study with her little girl, she said, and she showed me
school books, slates, etc., they had already been using. If their piano
were only here, the child, who is a pretty little thing, with a sweet
smile, might take music lessons, but it cannot be brought over the
winter trail.

We had snow today, but no church service. We rested, sang, read, ate and
slept. A fine dinner of reindeer roast, with good gravy, mashed
potatoes, etc., for our two o'clock meal, was eaten and well relished;
but in spite of all the day seemed a long one for some reason. We wonder
how things are going on the outside and if the friends we love but
cannot hear from are well, happy, and think sometimes of us.

The Commissioner came to say that he would bring the Recorder, or
Commissioner, from the Koyuk district with him to call this evening, and
he did so. The latter is a middle-aged man, whose family lives in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, he himself being a native born Norwegian, but
having lived in the States for twenty years. They brought two United
States marshals with them, and one of them played on the guitar quite
well, though I thought I detected a scent of the bottle when he sang his
songs. He has a good voice, but untrained.

Yesterday it was fifteen degrees below zero, but grew warmer toward
night, and began snowing. Today it snowed quite hard until dark. Along
the shore huge blocks of ice lay heaped promiscuously, and deep drifts
rolled smoothly everywhere. When I grew tired walking I stopped a moment
and listened. There was no sound but the beating of my own heart. This
then was our new Arctic world. How wonderfully beautiful it was in its
purity and stillness. Look whichever way I would, all was perfect
whiteness and silence. When I walked the snow scarcely creaked under my
feet. Above, beneath, around, it was everywhere the same. It was a
solemn stillness, but ineffably sweet and tender. It was good to live. A
feeling of sweetest peace and happiness swept over me, and tears sprang
to my eyes. Was this heaven? It almost seemed like it, but glancing
toward the grave of the murdered man on the hillside I remembered that
this could not be. Farther down the shore line, when I started to go
home, I saw the smoke of the cabins, through the veil of the snowflakes.

[Illustration: WINTER PROSPECTING.]

While giving Jennie her lessons this afternoon the Commissioner came in
to say that he would like me to do some copying for him, for as yet he
has no clerk, and needs one. I told him I would do the work if I might
take it home, and could get a quiet corner by myself. I hardly see how I
am to manage that while there are so many people in the house, but I
shall try it, for I would like to earn the money.

This morning it was three degrees above zero; yesterday it was fifteen
below.

A full moon hung high in the sky this morning until nine o'clock.
Weather is warm and beautiful, with rosy clouds at sunrise, but it grew
colder by noon.

Among other things Mary has brought from Nome is her little hand sewing
machine, which is an old-fashioned thing, to be fastened to a table and
the wheel turned by hand. It was brought from the old country, and looks
quite well worn, but is still useful and far better than no machine, if
it does have a chain stitch which is liable to rip easily. We have a lot
of amusement with this machine, for when Alma is sewing and one of the
boys happens to be idle about her she makes him turn the wheel while
she guides the cloth and watches the needle.

Others besides myself are wearing muckluks by this time, though not all
have come to them, the felt shoes being worn in the house some by the
girls until severe cold forces them into the native boots of reindeer
skin.

In her rooms at the hotel Mollie sits with Alice each day on the fur
rugs, cutting, sewing and beading moccasins and moosehide gloves. A
regular workshop it is. Boxes of thread, beads, scraps of fur, whole
otter skins, paper patterns, shears, bits of hair and fur scattered upon
the floor, and the walls covered with hanging fur garments; this is the
sewing-room of the captain's wife as it is now each day when I go there.
The room contains two large windows, one on the north side and one on
the west, at which hang calico curtains tied back with blue ribbons in
daytime. These women work very rapidly, with the thimble upon the first
finger and by pushing the three-cornered skin needle deftly through
skins they are sewing. The thread they use for this work is made by them
from the sinews of reindeer, and takes hours of patient picking and
rolling between fingers and palms to get spliced and properly twisted,
but when finished is very strong and lasting. Their sewing and bead work
is quite pretty and unique, and is done with exceeding neatness and
care, though not much attention is bestowed upon colors.

Friday, December seventh, has been a busy day all round. L. and B.
started off early after breakfast on a prospecting trip, and the girls
kept at their sewing. Mr. H. came from the Home to get the sewing
machine and some lumber, and was packing up nearly all day, so that we
are still quite unsettled, but it is much pleasanter for him to come to
a warm house and where he gets hot meals after his twelve miles over the
ice with the deer or dogs.

He left here at four in the afternoon and had been gone only an hour
when Mr. F. and another man came from Nome, on the way to the Koyuk.
Getting well warmed and eating a hearty supper, which was much enjoyed
after some days on the trail, they started with two reindeer and as many
sleds for the Home, which is on the way to Koyuk. Another hour passed
and two women and their guide from White Mountain came in, these
belonging to the same party as the last men going to the Koyuk, and
these three had to remain over night as it was too late to push on
further. The men brought their fur robes and blankets from their sleds,
threw them into the bunks in the west room, and called it a good lodging
place compared to the cramped and disorderly roadhouses upon the trails.

December eighth: We had a fire fright this morning, which was not
enjoyed by any one in the Mission. Mary had gotten up early, and two
fires were already going, one in the kitchen range and one in the
sitting room heater near my bed. It was still dark at half-past seven
and I was awake, thinking seriously of dressing myself, though there was
no hurry, for Mary was the only one yet up, when I saw a shower of large
sparks of fire or burning cinders falling to the ground outside the
window. I rushed into the kitchen telling Mary what I had seen, and she
ran outside and looked up toward the chimney. Fire, smoke and cinders
poured out in a stream, but she satisfied herself it was soot burning in
the sitting-room chimney.

Coming in, she pulled most of the wood from the heater, scattered salt
upon the coals, and by this time all in the house were down stairs,
asking what had happened.

M. says he will also take my attorney paper and stake a claim for me, as
he has decided to go to the Koyuk with the men who came last night from
Nome. They have a horse, but as it is almost worn to the bone and nearly
starved, they hardly think he can travel much farther. M. wants me to
get him some location notices from the Commissioner when I see him. When
coming home from Jennie's lesson this afternoon I was turning the corner
of the hotel when the wind took me backward toward the bay for thirty
feet or more, and deposited me against an old wheelbarrow turned bottom
upwards in the snow. To this I clung desperately, keeping my presence of
mind enough to realize my danger if blown out upon the ice fifty feet
away and below me, where I would be unable to make myself either seen
or heard in the blinding storm and would soon be buried in the snow
drifts and frozen.

In my right hand I carried my small leather handbag containing a dozen
or more deeds and other documents to be recorded for the Commissioner,
and if the wind blew this from my hand for an instant I was surely
undone, for it would never be recovered. I now clung to the barrow until
I had regained my breath and then made a quick dash for the lee or south
side of the hotel out of the gale, and into the living-room again. Here
I sat down to rest, trembling and breathless, to consider the best way
to get home. It was now dark, the snow blinding, and the gale from the
northeast fearful. A stout young Eskimo sat near me, and I finally asked
him to take me home, to which he consented.

The Mission was only a few hundred feet away, but to reach it we had to
go directly into the teeth of the storm, which was coming from the
northeast.

Not six feet ahead of us could we see, but I trusted to the sense of my
Eskimo guide to lead me safely home, and he did it. Motioning me to
follow him, he proceeded to pass through the building and out the east
end entrance, notwithstanding that he led me directly through the
bar-room of the hotel, where the idlers stared wonderingly at me. Once
outside the door, he grasped my right arm firmly and we started, but he
kept his body a little ahead of me, and with side turned from the
blizzard instead of facing it.

In this sidelong way we struggled on with all our strength, through snow
drifts, against the elements in the darkness, with breath blown from our
bodies, and eyes blinded by whirling snow. Now and again I was forced to
stop to gain breath for a fresh struggle, and when we reached the
Mission we staggered into the door as if drunken. I now found that all
my clothing was blown so full of fine snow that the latter seemed fairly
a part of the cloth, would not be shaken out, and only a thorough drying
would answer. A good, hot cup of coffee was handed to each of us, and my
Eskimo guide sat until rested, but I think I shall take Alma's sage
advice, and in future remain at home during blizzards.

Of course M. and the other men could not leave for the Koyuk as they
intended, but they do not appear to be discontented at having to remain
under our roof longer, as they seem to be enjoying themselves very well,
and say it is all really home-like here in the Mission.

I am working on the Recorder's books, and like the work fairly well.

This is a stormy Sunday, December ninth, but the weather is not so bad
as yesterday, and B. and L. came back from the Home. We have eight men
here today, including the two young fellows who have been at work on the
Home building, and who came over from Nome weeks before the rest of us.
This is the first time they have been here since we arrived. They, too,
are Swedes, as are all these men but M., who is a Finlander.

For dinner we had reindeer roast with flour gravy, potatoes, plum
butter, rye and white bread and butter, coffee and tapioca pudding. The
potatoes taste pretty sweet from being frozen, but are better than none.
We have had music from the guitar, mandolin and organ, besides vocal
exercise without limit, and with all this I found time to do some Sunday
reading in Drummond's Year Book, and have well enjoyed the day.

The thermometer registers thirteen degrees below zero, and at half-past
eight in the evening the wind was not blowing much; enough blizzard for
this time certainly.

While talking with one of the men from Nome I asked if he supposed there
was gold in the Koyuk country, and he thought there was. As he was up
there all last summer, he ought to know the prospects. It appears that
there is a split in his party, or a disagreement of some kind, as is
quite the fashion in Alaska, and some of the men are to remain behind.
As soon as the weather clears sufficiently they will go to the Home, and
from there leave for Koyuk River.

Monday, December tenth: The Commissioner, the Marshal, and three of
their friends came in to spend the evening with us, and one of the
strangers sang well, accompanying himself on the organ. He also belongs
to a party made up to go to Koyuk, but failed to reach that point, and
they are staying in Chinik.

I bought two red fox skins today for ten dollars, but will have to pay
five dollars more for their cleaning by a native woman, to whom I have
given them for that purpose. It is the only kind of fur I can find of
which to make a coat, and I must have one of skins, as the wind goes
straight through cloth, no matter how thick it is.

Six of our household went out today to get wood with the old horse and
sled, but the poor creature would not go, probably because it could not.
They had to unload a good many times and were gone five hours. Alma and
Ricka went with the four boys for an outing, but all came home tired and
voting the horse a great failure.

This morning our house was astir very early, and the men were getting
ready to "mush on" towards the Koyuk. Mr. L. goes with the Marshal, the
clerk, and two others, taking seven dogs and sleds loaded with
provisions. It is a sight to see the preparations. There are sacks of
frozen tom-cod for the dogs, tents, Yukon stoves, tin dishes, snow
shoes, sleeping bags and robes, coffee pots, axes, picks, gold pans and
boxes, cans and bags of grub, ad infinitum.

G. and B. stay behind to make another camp stove but will leave soon
for Nome. B. cleaned his gun today, and looked after his ammunition.

[Illustration: AT CHINIK. THE MISSION.]

Wednesday, December twelfth: Our sunset was very lovely today at one in
the afternoon, and at three o'clock, when I began with little Jennie's
lessons, we had to light the lamp. I usually go into the sewing-room for
a little while either before or after the lesson to watch the women sew
furs.

Alice, the younger, is as quiet as a mouse, but the captain's wife is a
little more talkative, though not particularly given to conversation.
Now and then, while she sews, something is said with which she does not
agree, and she bites her thread off with a snap, with some terse remark
offsetting the other, or with a bit of cynicism, which, with a quick
glance of her black eyes and curl of the lip, is well calculated to
settle forever the offender; for the captain's wife is as keen as a
briar, and reads human nature quickly. I should say she is gifted with
wonderful intuitive powers, and these have been sharpened by her
constant effort to understand the words and lives of those around her,
these being to such an extent English speaking people, while she is an
Eskimo. Let none flatter themselves that they can deceive Mollie, for
they would better abandon that idea before they begin. She impresses me
as a thoroughly good and honest woman, and I am getting to respect her
greatly.

Two of the boys from the Home spent the night in the Mission, and helped
with sawing wood all forenoon today. They went from Nome to assist at
building the Home, and came over here for the first time yesterday. They
are jolly fellows, and used often to assist us in the "Star" at Nome,
one always lightening our load of work by his cheery voice and pleasant,
hopeful smile. He, too, is a sweet singer, and a great favorite with
all. After a lunch they started to mush back to the Home over the ice,
promising to come again at Christmas. B. and G. finally got started on
their long, cold trip to Nome on business.



CHAPTER XX.

CHRISTMAS IN ALASKA.


Thursday, December thirteenth: The old Eskimo whom I call "grandpa" came
from the Home with one of Mr. H.'s assistants for a load of supplies for
the place, and arrived in time for breakfast at half-past nine. They
loaded up the sleds, took hot coffee, and started back at eleven in the
morning. Mr. M. came back alone before noon, having given up his trip to
the Koyuk because his shoulder hurts him. The old horse had finally to
be killed, and Mr. M. decided that he did not want to take his place at
hauling, so turned back after selling part of his supplies to the
others. The weather is fine indeed. A little snow is falling this
afternoon, but there was a beautiful sky at sunrise and sunset, the
latter at half-past one o'clock.

While giving Jennie her lesson today I was introduced for the first time
to little Charlie, who spends a good deal of time with Jennie. He is
four years old, and a bright and beautiful child. His papa is an
Englishman, and his Eskimo mother is dead. After the lesson I read
stories to the two children, holding the little boy upon my lap, while
Jennie sat beside us in the lamplight, her big black eyes shining like
stars. She wore a brown serge dress, trimmed with narrow red trimming,
her hair neatly braided in two braids down her back, and tied with red
ribbons. Both children wore little reindeer muckluks on their feet, the
boy being dressed in flannel blouse waist and knee pants. They are a
very pretty pair of children.

Such a charming, soft-tinted, red, purple and blue sky today, stretching
along in bars above the snow-topped mountains. It makes one glad to be
here, and feel full of pity for those who cannot enjoy it with us. It is
good to enjoy everything possible as one goes along, for nobody knows
how long anything will hold out and what will come next. At noon two
hungry Eskimo children came, dirty, forlorn and cold, and we fed them.

Mr. H. came again toward evening with reindeer to get a load of
supplies, and the girls and M. went fishing. They had great sport, all
dressed in fur, with short fish poles, hooks, bait and gunny sack for
the game, coming in frosty and rosy after dark, and calling for hot
coffee.

I am quite interested in getting the fox skins for my coat. I have paid
the Eskimo girl five dollars for tanning my fur skins, and hope to have
a warm coat. My first three skins cost me twelve dollars, the next two
ten dollars, and now five dollars for tanning, but I have a lining, and
Mollie will make it for me next week.

After supper we had a caller who has been here once before with others.
He is a finely trained baritone singer, and comes from one of the
Southern States. He sang and played entertainingly on the organ for an
hour, while we sewed and knitted as we do each evening.

Saturday, December fifteenth: Eight weeks today since we landed at
Golovin Bay. Weather good, skies beautiful, but days are short. Sunset
at half-past one in the afternoon; sunrise about ten in the morning.

The Commissioner came with legal documents and customary jokes, and I
try to get the copying done in between times. He is going to Nome for
Christmas, and wants the papers all finished before he leaves. He is
considered a very "rapid" young man, and looks like it.

Sunday, December sixteenth: We had breakfast today at sunrise (ten in
the morning) and I went for a walk alone upon the ice in a southerly
direction, where the natives were fishing. There was a good trail which
has been made by a horse-team hauling wood from the other shore, and the
air was fine, so that I enjoyed it very much, though my hood was soon
frosty around my face. For a while I watched the natives haul tom-cod up
through the ice holes, but having no place to sit except upon the ice,
as they did, I returned after having been gone two hours, and was soon
dressed for dinner in Sunday suit.

After dinner Mr. H. arrived with the teacher to hold an evening service
in the kitchen, the latter taking Ricka and Mary with her to call upon
some native families, two of whose members were sick. When they returned
Ricka was full of laughter at the way they had entered the native
igloos, especially Mary, who is a large woman and could barely squeeze
in through the small opening called by courtesy a door. Ricka says it
was more like crawling through a hole than anything else, and at one
time Mary was so tightly jammed in that she wondered seriously how she
was ever to get out.

"Ugh!" said Ricka, when Mary related the incident, "that was not the
worst of it. I wanted to keep the good dinner I had eaten, but the smell
of the igloo almost made me lose it then and there, and as I was inside
already, and Mary stuck fast in the door so I could not get out, we were
both in a bad plight. When I tried to help her she would not let me, but
only laughed at me."

"Next time we will send Mrs. Sullivan," said Alma, laughing.

"And you go along with me," said I, knowing that I could stand as long
as Alma the smell of the Eskimo huts and their seal oil. So that was
settled, Miss J., I presume, thinking us all very foolish to make so
much fuss over a little thing like that in Alaska.

This evening, when the kitchen was filled with natives, their service
had begun, and while some of us sat in the sitting-room to leave more
chairs for the others, there came a knock at the door, and in walked the
Commissioner and the young baritone singer, who was persuaded to sing a
few solos after the meeting was through in the kitchen.

Monday, December seventeenth: Mollie is cutting my fur coat for me, but
says I must have one or two more skins to make it large enough. She says
she is too busy to study before Christmas, but will afterwards. The
Commissioner brought more copying for me to do, and told me I could have
the money for my work at any time. Some tell me he never pays anything
he owes, and that I must look sharp or I will not get anything. The
other Commissioner has invited me to go to a New Year's party at
Council, fifty miles away, saying he will take me there and back behind
his best dogs, but I refused, telling him that I never dance, and that I
am a married woman. At that he laughed, said he was also married, with a
wife in the States, but that does not debar him from having a good time.

Word comes of a new gold strike not far away, but I think we are not
really sure that it is bona fide, and must not put too much dependence
on what we hear. The Commissioner comes with his copying, and is full of
jokes.

Wednesday, December nineteenth: A man came from the Home yesterday who
has persuaded M. to go with him on a short staking expedition. They
think they know of a new "find" very near home, and I ran over to the
Recorder's to get two attorney papers made out for them to take as they
say they will stake for the girls and me. The Commissioner paid me
twenty dollars on copying, and said he would settle the remainder when
he got back from Nome, as he and the other Commissioner were just
setting out with a dog-team for that place. I have had to buy another
fox skin for my coat, making twenty-seven dollars paid out on the
garment thus far.

Right sorry I was today that Mr. H. carried away the big velvet couch
yesterday that I have slept on nights since coming here, and I tried
last night the wooden settle brought down from upstairs to the
sitting-room. I found it a most uncomfortable thing to sleep on, as my
feet hung at least six inches over the end of the lounge, and they were
icy when I wakened in the morning. I then decided to go upstairs to one
of the canvas bunks in the northeast room, and I find it much better
every way. The bunk is long, wide and warm enough with a reindeer skin
under me, and all my blankets and comforters over me, while I have the
room alone, temporarily, at least.

Saturday, December twenty-second: This is the middle shortest day of
winter, and a fine one, too, though we had not more than three and a
half hours daylight. The skies are beautiful, with many bright colors
blended in a most wonderful way.

The girls are hard at work cooking for Christmas, and while the boys
were all away today and we needed wood brought into the house, I rigged
myself in rag-time costume and fetched several loads in my arms. How the
girls laughed when they saw me, and declared they would fetch the kodak,
but I ran away again.

This afternoon M. and the other man returned from their little trip,
looking bright and happy over having staked some claims for themselves
and us not very far away. These are our first claims staked, and we
naturally feel more than usually set up, though the men say of course
there may be nothing of value in them.

When I went to give Jennie her lesson I heard her father and another man
talking of a party of five persons who have been taken out to sea on the
ice, near Topkok. They started about three days ago from here, and one
was the sick woman who has been at the hotel, all on their way to Nome
by dog-team.

There were two women and three men, two dog-teams and sleds. They were
crossing the ice between two points of land while upon the winter trail
to Nome, the wind had loosened the ice, and when they tried to get upon
shore again they found it impossible, and they were blown directly out
to sea. Without food or shelter, and with the nights as cold as they
are, how can they live on the ice at sea? Some men have arrived bringing
the news, and say that two men went out in a boat to their rescue, but
broke their oars, the ice closed in on them, they were soaked through,
and were obliged to use their best efforts to save themselves.

The following night was very cold, and all think the unfortunates must
have perished. What a terrible fate, and one that may happen to any one
traveling in this country, though it does seem as if this ice should
soon freeze solidly.

Sunday, December twenty-third: Soon after breakfast today a man came to
our door asking for iodine, or remedies for a dog bite. A mad dog had
rushed upon a man sleeping in a tent in the night and bitten him quite
severely upon the hands and leg. Mary and I put on our furs immediately
and started out with the man, who piloted us into a small saloon, where
the poor fellow sat by the stove with a white and pinched face.

Several other men were standing about, after having done all they could
for the injured man, but Mary washed the torn flesh in strong carbolic
acid water, and tied it up in sterilized bandages, for which he seemed
very thankful.

The little saloon was neat and clean, containing a big stove, six or
eight bunks across the back end, and a long table, upon which were
spread tin plates, cups and spoons. A short bar ran along one side by
the door. The men said that the mad dog had been shot immediately after
the accident, but there were others around in the camp, they feared.

I could easily see that the injured man was badly frightened as to the
after-effects of the dog bite, and both Mary and I did all in our power
to suggest away his fear, knowing well that this was as harmful as the
injury. I told him that the missionary, Mr. H., had had a great deal of
experience with such accidents, but never yet had seen a person thus
bitten suffer from hydrophobia, which appeared to comfort him greatly.

When we left the place he seemed more cheerful, though still very pale,
and Mary promised to come again to see him. He belongs to a party of
three men bound for Koyuk River. The young man who sings so well
sometimes at the Mission is one of the three, but the other I have not
yet seen.

Later on Mary and I called upon Alice, the Eskimo girl, who lives with
her mother, near the hotel, and who is suffering with quinsy. I found
Jennie and Charlie there, and took them out for a walk down on the
beach, where the little girl's aunt was cutting ice. As we passed the A.
E. Store I noticed a dog lying on the porch having a bloody mouth, but
as he lay quietly I did not think much about it. After we had passed
down the trail for a block or so, I heard a commotion behind us, and
looking back saw a young man rush out into the trail and shoot a dog,
the one, as I afterwards learned, that I had seen on the porch. It had
been mad, and snapping around all day, but the men could not find it
earlier, and the two little children and I had passed within a few feet
of it without being conscious of danger.

Mr. H. came in to supper, also two others from the camp of the
shipwrecked people, thirty miles away to the east of us. At supper one
of the men offered to stake some claims for us over near their camp,
where they think there is gold. They took our names on paper, and said
that after prospecting, if they found gold, they would let us into the
strike before any others. They will remain over night, and leave early
in the morning. Mr. H. and Mary called after supper to see the man who
was bitten by the mad dog, and found him looking better, and not so
worried as this morning. His friend was playing on the banjo, and all
were sitting quietly around the fire.

Monday, December twenty-fourth: The two boys, G. and B., came in late
last evening, tired and hungry, from the Nome trail, glad to arrive at
home in time for Christmas.

Early this morning Mary dressed herself up hideously as Santa Claus,
bringing a big box of presents in while we sat at the breakfast table
and distributing them. Of course there were the regulation number of
fake packages, containing funny things for the boys, but each one had a
present of something, and I had a souvenir spoon just from Nome, an
ivory paper knife of Eskimo make from the girls, and later a white silk
handkerchief.

Going into the sitting-room after breakfast, we were met by the fumes
of burnt cork, hair or cotton, and upon inquiry were told that Santa
Claus had had a little mishap; his whiskers had been singed by coming
into contact with the lamp chimney and that it had delayed matters
somewhat until Ricka, his assistant, could find more cotton on the
medicine shelves; but the end of all was hearty laughter and a jolly
good time; an effort to forget, for the present, the day in our own
homes thousands of miles away.

This morning, before noon, all in the Mission went to the Home to the
Christmas tree and exercises, leaving me alone to keep house, the first
time this has happened in Alaska. Mr. H. had left the dog-teams, two
reindeer, and three sleds, with which they were to drive over, and a
merry party they were. When they had gone I worked for some time at
getting the rooms in order, and making all as tidy and snug as possible,
but I had no holly berries nor greens with which to decorate. All was
snowy and white out of doors, and a cheerful fire inside was most to be
desired. In the afternoon I gave Jennie her lesson as usual. I am
invited to eat Christmas dinner tomorrow with Mollie, the captain and
little Jennie, and shall accept. A good many in camp have been invited,
I understand, and I am wondering what kind of a gathering it will be.

Tuesday, December twenty-fifth: Christmas Day, and I was alone in the
Mission all night, so I had to build my own fires this morning. I did
not get up until ten o'clock, as it was cold and dark, and I had
nothing especial to do. There is plenty of wood and water, and
everything in the house, so I do not have to go out of doors for
anything.

By noon I had finished my work, put on my best dress, and sat down at
the organ to play. I went over all the church music and voluntaries I
could find at hand, read a number of psalms aloud, and as far as
possible for one person I went through my Christmas exercises.

If a certain longing for things and people far away came near possessing
me, I would not allow it to make me miserable, for longing is not
necessarily unhappiness, and I had set my mind like a flint against
being dissatisfied with my present state. With what knowledge I possess
of the laws of auto-suggestion, I have so far since my arrival in Alaska
managed the ego within most successfully, and tears and discontent are
not encouraged nor allowed.

We are creatures of voluntary habits, as well as involuntary ones, and
habitual discontent and discouragement, gnawing at one's vitals are
truly death-dealing. The study of human nature is, in Alaska,
particularly interesting in these directions, to the one with his mind's
eye open to such things, and I am resolved, come what will, that I will
keep the upper hand of my spirit, that it shall do as I direct, and not
harbor "blues" nor discouragement.

About two in the afternoon in came M. and one of the visiting Swedes,
after having walked from the Home, where they had attended the Christmas
party, and they were well covered with icicles. I prepared a hot lunch
for them, and ate something myself. Later a native was sent by Mollie to
fetch me over to the hotel to dinner, it being dark, and as I was
already dressed for the occasion, I went with him.

When I arrived at the dining-room they were just seated at table, and
the waiters were bringing in the first course. Twenty-five persons sat
at the Christmas board, at one end of which sat the captain as host with
his wife and little Jennie at his left. At his right sat the young
musician, who had entertained us at the Mission several times with his
singing, and the storekeeper, but with a place between them reserved for
me.

After a quiet Christmas greeting to those around me, I took my seat, and
the dinner was then served. A bottle of wine was ordered by the host for
me, and brought by the waiter, who placed it with a glass beside my
plate. At each plate there had already been placed the same
accompaniments to the dinner, with which great care had been taken by
the two French cooks in the kitchen, and upon which no expense had been
spared by the captain, who was host. While the waiters were serving the
courses, and conversation around the table near me became quite general,
on the aside I studied the company. It was cosmopolitan to the last
degree. Opposite me sat the hostess (Mollie) with her little Jennie,
dressed in their very best, the woman wearing a fashionable trained
skirt, pink silk waist and diamond brooch, while the little child wore
light tan cloth in city fashion, and looked very pretty. Below them sat
the regular boarders at the hotel, hotel clerk, the bartender, miners,
traders and the woman who kept the saloon. The latter appeared about
thirty years of age, dark, petite and pretty, richly and becomingly
gowned in garments which might have come along with her native tongue
from Paris. On our side of the long table, and opposite this woman, sat
the only other white woman besides myself present, and she, with her
husband, the two neighbors who had given us our first sleigh ride behind
the grey horse. On this side sat more miners and the few travelers who
happened to be at the hotel at this time. The clerk, next his employer,
who sat at my right, and the musician on my left, completed the number
of guests, with the exception of the one at the farther end of the
board, opposite the host. This was a young man in a heavy fur coat, his
head drooping low over his plate.

"Don't let H. fall upon the floor, boys," said the captain, as he saw
the pitiable plight of the young man. "Poor fellow, he has been
celebrating Christmas with a vengeance, and it was too much for him,
evidently. It don't take much to knock him out, though, and this wine,"
taking up his wine glass and looking through the liquid it contained,
"won't hurt a baby."

"Do you never take wine?" politely inquired the musician of me, as he
noticed that my wine glass remained untouched, and a glass of cold water
was my only beverage.

"I never do," said I firmly, but with a smile, as I noticed that both he
and the gentleman at my right barely touched theirs, while others drank
freely.

"Waiter, bring Mellie another bottle of that wine," called the
bartender, from the other side of the table, "those bottles don't hold
nothin' anyway, and a woman who can't empty more'n one of 'em ain't
much," and a second bottle was handed the female dispenser of grog, a
connoisseur of long standing, and one who could "stand up" under as much
as the next person. By this time the woman opposite her was considerably
along the road to hilarity, and shouts and laughter came from both,
called forth by the jests of their companions alongside.

Meanwhile the dinner progressed. The turkey was bona fide bird, and not
a few gull's bones from a tin quart can, while the cake and ice cream
with which my meal was ended, were all that could be desired in Alaska.
All voted that the cooks had "done themselves proud," and no one could
say that Christmas dinners could not be served in Chinik.

Before rising from the table, at the close of the meal, toasts to the
host and hostess were drunk by those at the bottles, and Christmas
presents were distributed to many, principally to members of the family
and from boarders of the house. There were silk handkerchiefs, red
neckties, "boiled shirts," and mittens, and in some instances moosehide
gloves and moccasins, made by the Eskimo hostess herself, while "Mellie"
came in for a share, including a large black bottle of "choice
Burgundy."

Upon leaving the dining table, the company separated, most of the men
going into the bar-room and store, while the family and invited guests
repaired to the living-room. Here a good-sized Christmas tree had been
arranged for Jennie and Charlie, and their presents were displayed and
talked over. In the meantime, the long dining table was cleared and
spread again for the Eskimos, who soon flocked into the room in numbers.

Some one proposed that we go to the Mission and have some songs by the
musician, to which all assented, and nine of us, including the captain,
his wife and Jennie, started over about half-past eight o'clock. There
we found the rooms bright and warm, the two men keeping house in my
absence having escaped to the upper rooms on hearing the party
approaching. Here a pleasant hour or two were passed in listening to the
songs of the musician, who always accompanies himself on his
instrument, whether banjo or organ. He sang the "Lost Chord," "Old
Kentucky Home," and many other dear old songs, closing with "God Be With
You Till We Meet Again," and the doxology. After that they pulled on
their parkies and fur coats and went out into the snow storm (for by
this time the snow was falling heavily), and to their homes, while I sat
down alone in the firelight to review the events of the day--my first
Christmas Day in Alaska. How different from any other I have ever spent.
What a disclosure of the shady side of human nature this is,--and yet
there is some good intermingled with it all.

Many here cannot endure the stress of the current, nor pull against it,
and so float easily on towards the rapids and destruction. Here is a
field for the Christian worker, though Mr. H. says he moved his little
flock twelve miles across the bay in order to get it farther away from
this iniquitous camp.



CHAPTER XXI.

MY FIRST GOLD CLAIMS.


Christmas is over for another year, and this is December twenty-sixth
with its daily winter routine. After I had given the two men their
breakfast, I went out for a walk upon the beach. A few snowflakes fell
upon my face as I walked, and it was not cold but pleasant. There was a
red and glowing, eastern sky, but no sunshine, and I looked out over the
ice to see if possibly the girls were returning. Seeing nothing of them,
I went home again. About two o'clock M. came in, saying that they could
be seen far out upon the ice, and we must build the fires and get dinner
started, which we then did. Soon Alma came riding on a reindeer sled,
with a native driver, getting in ahead of the others, who arrived half
an hour later.

Mr. H. has come with two of his assistants and Miss E. by reindeer team
from the Home on their way to the station, where the animals are herded
in the hills, and all had a good lunch. After spending two hours in
packing, talking and resting, they left again, Miss E. on a sled behind
a reindeer, which was driven by a native, and which tore up the snow in
clouds as he dashed over the ice northward to the hills. I ran out upon
the cliff to see them on their way, being quite contented that it was
not myself.

I have learned that the five persons who drifted out to sea on the ice
were brought back by the wind and tide, and escaped safely to land,
after being at sea several days, but were unharmed, and went on to Nome.
I was very glad to hear this, as they have had a narrow escape from
death.

Friday, December twenty-eighth: The musician and his friend who was
bitten by the mad dog called this forenoon at the Mission to get the
man's wounds dressed by Mary, the nurse. His hands are much better, but
the wounded leg may yet give him trouble. Mary did her best for the man,
who seems to be growing more cheerful, and we do all possible to
encourage and help him, lending him reading matter of various kinds with
which to pass his time. A good many are going to the New Year's party at
Council, among them the captain and his wife, and the musician; but I
shall not go, though both commissioners have urged me to accept their
invitations, and did not enjoy overmuch my refusals. I was playing ball
with Jennie and Charlie before our lessons today when the party started
out with the dog-teams, for the nights are very moonlight and clear, and
they can travel for many hours. A cousin of Mollie's, by name Ageetuk,
went with her. Jennie is to stay with her auntie until her mamma's
return, and I will give her the afternoon lessons just the same, only at
her auntie's house. When the lesson was finished I led Charlie to
Ageetuk's house, where her mother cares for him in the night time, and
left Jennie with her auntie, Apuk. This woman has a neat little cabin of
three small rooms, furnished in comfortable fashion, with a pretty
Brussels rug covering the floor of her best room, in which is a white
iron bedstead, a good small table with a pretty cover, a large lamp,
white dimity curtains at the windows over the shades, and in the next
room there are white dishes upon the shelves.

Sunday, December thirtieth: It is ten weeks yesterday since we arrived
at Golovin, or Chinik, as is the Eskimo name for the settlement, and
pronounced Cheenik, a creek of the same name flowing into the bay a mile
east of this camp. During the day I went to look after Jennie and
brought the child home with me, giving her candy and nuts, and playing
for her on the organ.

This evening we all went out upon the ice for a walk. We took the trail
to White Mountain, going in a northwesterly direction, and enjoyed it
very much. We passed the cliff, and the boats, the snow creaking at
every step, and the moonlight clear and beautiful. We were out for two
hours, and felt better for the fresh air and exercise. All old timers
say that it is bad for one's health to remain indoors too much in
Alaska, and people should get out every day for exercise. There is far
more danger of getting scurvy by remaining in the house too much than
from any kinds of food we have to eat, and none of us wish to be ill
with that troublesome disease.

About five o'clock Miss E. came in with a native from the station where
the reindeer are kept, having grown tired of staying in a native hut
with the Eskimo women while the missionary was busy at work. She started
early this morning when the weather was fine. Lincoln, the experienced
native who came with her, knew the way perfectly, and they expected to
make the twelve or fifteen miles and get into the Mission early, but the
weather suddenly changed, as it knows so well how to do in this country,
the wind blew, snow fell and drifted and though they came safely through
the hills, they lost their way upon the bay while crossing to Chinik,
and wandered for hours in the snow storm.

Having no lunch, tent, nor compass, and no extra furs, they found
themselves in a disagreeable plight, especially as the snow was very
soft and wet. They kept on traveling, however, until they were satisfied
that they were going in circles, as do all when lost in a snow storm,
and were making no progress; then they halted.

Here they were overtaken by two white men, lost like themselves, who,
when the matter had been talked over, would not follow the native,
thinking they knew better than he the way to Chinik, and they went off
by themselves. Miss E. says that both she and Lincoln had given up hope
of getting here today, but she knelt upon the ice and prayed that they
might find their way safely, then trusted that they would do so, and
started. After going on for a time in the storm, they saw a small,
deserted cabin not far from them which Lincoln instantly recognized as
one upon the point of land only a quarter of a mile west of Chinik, and
they were happy.

They soon came into the Mission, full of gratitude, though wet, tired
and hungry, for it is so warm that there is water on the ice in places,
and the snow is very heavy. They had only one deer with them.

The two lost men came into camp an hour after Miss E. arrived, having
gone past the cabin and camp, and southward too far in their reckoning.
It is never safe to travel without a compass of some sort in this
country. Mr. H. and his two men have, besides attending to the herd,
staked some gold claims while away, not far from our claims. The wind
has died down, and there is no snow falling tonight at half-past eight.

This is New Year's Eve, and the girls and boys are singing, and having a
good time in the sitting-room while I write. We are going to sit up to
watch the old year out and the new year in, and have a little song
service at midnight.

This is the last day of nineteen hundred, and a memorable year it has
been. How many new scenes and how great the changes through which we
have passed! What will the New Year bring? Where will we be next year at
this time? It is probably better that we do not know the future.

New Year's Day, nineteen hundred and one. This has been a good day all
around, after our midnight watch meeting, when seven of the eight
persons present took a part, and we sang many songs with the organ. At
half-past twelve I retired, but the others remained up until two
o'clock.

This evening the storekeeper and two others from White Mountain called
to see if we did not care to go out coasting on the hill behind the
Mission, and five or six of us went. When we got to the top of the hill
the wind was so strong that I could hardly stand, and after a few trips
down the Hill we gave it up, part of our number going out to walk upon
the ice, and the rest of us going indoors. The men were invited into the
Mission, and stayed for an hour, chatting pleasantly, as there is no
place for them to go except to the saloons. It is a great pity that
there is no reading room with papers and books for the miners, with the
long winter before them, and nothing to do. There is a crying need for
something in this line, and if they do not employ their time pleasantly
and profitably, they will spend it unprofitably in some saloon or
gambling place. I wish I had a thousand good magazines to scatter, but I
have none.

I gave Jennie her lesson, and amused both children for a time this
afternoon. Yesterday the snow drifted badly, and I fear the people who
went to Council will not have a good trail on the way home.

January second: It is pleasant to have a corner by myself in which to
write and be sometimes alone. The little northeast corner room where I
sleep has a tile pipe coming up from the kitchen, making the room warm
enough except in the coldest weather. It has a north window with no
double one outside, and when the wind comes from the north I expect it
will be extremely cold. From this window I can see (when the glass is
free from frost) out upon the trail to Nome and White Mountain. Today
there is water on the ice, and it has been raining and blowing. Three of
the boys returned from a four days' prospecting trip to the west, and as
two of them had been sick the whole time since they left here, they came
in wet, tired and hungry, without having much good luck to relate. I
told them it was something to get back at all again, and they agreed
heartily, while eating a hot supper. An hour later and Mr. H. with the
visiting preacher came in from the reindeer station, and their staking
trip, in the same condition as the three boys had been; so a supper for
them was also prepared.

Our kitchen looks like a junk shop these days, and a wet one at that,
for the numbers of muckluks, fur parkies, mittens, and other garments
hung around the stove to dry are almost past counting, and the odor is
stifling; but the clothing must be dried somewhere, and there is no
other place. An engine room would be the very best spot I know for
drying so many wet furs, and I wish we had one here.

In speaking to one of the men today about prospecting my claim, I told
him I would furnish the grub, but he said very kindly, "I wouldn't take
any grub from you. I've got enough, and shall be at work there any way,
so it won't take long to sink some holes in your claim," which I thought
was very good of him. I hope they will "strike it" rich.

January third: A wet, sloppy, snowy day, our "January thaw," Mr. H.
says. I took the two children out on the sled upon the ice and pushed at
the handle-bars until I was reeking with perspiration, afterwards giving
Jennie her lesson at her auntie's.

There are twelve of us under the Mission roof tonight, including Miss E.
and the native.

January fourth: These are great days. We have a houseful of men, nine in
all, and some are getting ready to leave tomorrow to do some staking of
claims up near the station. M. said if the musician were only here, and
they could get a dog-team, he would like to get him to go with him on a
staking trip not far away. This man returned soon afterward, and M.
wanted me to ask him if he would go. I did so, and he replied that he
would go, and furnish dogs if possible; but the ones he tried to get
were engaged, and that plan fell through, much to his discouragement.
Learning this, I determined to go to the captain at the hotel, and see
if I could procure dogs from him for the trip. He said yes, I could have
his best dogs, and that a mail carrier is here resting who will lend us
his dogs, so that was all arranged.

Location papers then had to be written out, grub boxes packed, a tent
looked up, and many things attended to before they left, so that others
in camp got an inkling of what was being done and wanted to go along.
Then M. and the musician decided to put off going until midnight, when
they would sneak quietly out of camp with their dogs and scamper away
among the hills without the others knowing it, but it could not be done,
and two or three sleds followed them at midnight in the moonlight, as is
the custom with Alaska "stampeders."

January fifth: Mollie asked me today to go with her to visit her fox
traps, and I immediately decided to go. We started about half-past one
in the afternoon, on foot past the cliff, but when we had gone a short
distance Mollie stopped to call back to the house. Some native boys were
cutting wood at the north door, and she motioned one to come to her.
When he came, she spoke to him in Eskimo, and he, assenting to what she
said, ran back again.

"I tell Muky to come with dog-team, bring us home, you get tired by and
by," she said thoughtfully, as we trudged on again over and through the
snow. The woman wore a reindeer parkie, short skirt, and muckluks, and
carried a gun on her shoulder. The snow was quite a foot deep, with a
crust on top which we broke at almost every step, and which made it hard
walking. On we "mushed," past the cliff, the boats, and out upon the
ice. The traps had been set by Mollie a week before on the northeast
shore of the bay among a few low bushes, and this was our objective
point. When we reached the first trap, which was buried in snow, but
found by a certain shrub which Mollie had in some way marked and now
recognized, I threw myself upon the snow to rest and watch her
movements.

Around us we saw plenty of ptarmigan tracks, but no signs of foxes. A
foot below the snow's surface, Mollie found her trap, and proceeded to
reset it. Carefully covering the trap with a very little light snow and
smoothing it nicely over, she chipped off bits of reindeer meat from a
scrap she had brought with her, scattering them invitingly around.

The scene about us was a very quiet one and wintry in the extreme. Long,
low hills stretched out on every side of the bay, and the whole earth
was a great snow heap. The sky and cloud effects were charming, fading
sunshine on the hilltops making them softly pink, and very lovely; but
with deep reddish purple tints over all as the sun-ball disappeared.

One after another, four fox traps in different places were reset by
Mollie, while I mushed on behind her.

At last we saw the dog-team and Muky coming on the bay. Five dogs he had
hitched to his sled, and each wore a tiny bell at its throat, making a
pretty din as they trotted. When the woman had finished her trapping, we
both climbed into the sled, the native running and calling to the dogs,
and they started for home. It was not a long ride, probably not more
than a mile and a half as we went, but while tramping through the snow
crust to the traps it seemed much longer.

I now thoroughly enjoyed the novel ride. In the dusky twilight the dogs
trotted cheerfully homeward, obeying the musical calls of their driver,
and the little bells jingled merrily. Darker and more purple grew the
skies until they tinted the snow over which we were passing, and by the
time we had halted before the hotel door it was really night.

By the clock it was fifteen minutes past four and the thermometer
registered fifteen degrees below zero. Then we toasted our feet before
the big heater, removed and shook out our frosty furs, and answered the
two children's questions. To these Mollie gave her explanations in
Eskimo, and I told of the ptarmigan tracks I had seen on the snow
drifts.

Sunday, January sixth: Yesterday I moved into the little southeast room
which was formerly Miss J.'s. It has pretty paper on the walls, and a
small heater in one corner, besides a single cot, and I soon settled
quite comfortably. The room with the bunks was needed for the men, of
whom there are so many most of the time. The room I now have has a south
window, but not a double one, and gets heavy with frost, which remains
on the panes; but I can have a fire when I want one, as the stove burns
chips and short wood, of which there are always quantities in the shed.
B. tells me to use all the wood I want, as there is no shortage of fuel,
nor men to haul and cut it, which I think is very kind. A little fire
while I am dressing nights and mornings, however, is all I shall try to
keep burning.

Miss J. came with Ivan, bringing several native children to visit their
parents for a few hours, but took them back with her after supper when
the meeting was over, which she had held in the kitchen. We had sixteen
to supper, including natives. Afterward we went down to the beach to see
the party off for the Home. Ivan led the dogs, five in number, hitched
to the big sled. Miss J. ran alongside, the visiting preacher at the
handle bar, and the little children on the sled. After watching them
off, we came home and then took a walk of a mile out upon the ice on the
White Mountain trail, which was in fairly good condition. There were
six of us. When we got back to the house, I played by request on the
organ, for the three Swedish visitors from Council.

The weather is bright and beautiful, and sixteen degrees below zero.

Monday, January seventh: The boys came in from their stampede to the
creeks, and M. says they staked us all rich if there is anything good in
the ground. My claim is Number Ten, below Discovery, on H. Creek, and
sounds well, if nothing more. Of course we women are all much elated,
and talk of "our claims" very glibly, but a few sunken prospect holes
will tell the story of success or failure better than anything else.

This has been a busy day in the house until I went at half-past two in
the afternoon to Mollie's to find her ill in bed with a very bad throat.
I gave Jennie and Charlie two hours of my time, and went home, to return
in the evening at Mollie's request. The poor woman was suffering
severely, and I did what I could for her, rubbing her throat with
camphorated oil and turpentine and wrapping it in thick, hot flannels.
Then I assisted her to bed, rubbing her aching bones, and left her less
feverish than when I went in. The thermometer is above zero, and the
weather is pleasant.

Two men from Topkok came in to see the Recorder's books, and searched
all through them without finding what they wanted and expected to find,
and then went away with sober and disappointed faces. "Curses not loud
but deep" come to our ears each day about the Commissioner's work of
recording, and many say he is now deep in dissipation at Nome, instead
of attending here to his business as he should. Miners declare him
unfitted in every way for his position, and affirm that they will depose
him from office.

I went out this morning and bought a student lamp at the store, paying
six dollars and a half for it. This, with my case of coal oil, will
light my room nicely, besides giving a good deal of heat.

The Marshal and men are home from the Koyuk River, after four weeks of
winter "mushing," and say nothing about their trip. They did not manage
to pull harmoniously together, and Mr. L. returned before them.

January ninth: When I went today to the hotel to teach my pupils, I
found the men in the room cleaning the big heater, and ashes and dirt
drove us out of the place, so we went upstairs to another room in which
Mollie sometimes sews, and where we found her at work on a white parkie
for the musician. I played with Jennie for a time before the lesson, and
Ageetuk came in on an errand, while Polly, the Eskimo servant, jabbered
in a funny way and wabbled over the floor like a duck, as is her habit
when walking. This girl is short, fat and shapeless, with beady black
eyes, and a crafty expression, certainly not to be relied on if there is
truth in physiognomy.

At the hotel all is excitement and bustle, getting the men off for the
Kuskokquim River, where the new strikes are reported. Strong new sleds
have been made by the natives, grub is being packed and dogs gotten into
condition, besides a thousand other things which must be done before the
expedition is ready to start. Seeing them make such extensive
preparations reminded me that perhaps I might get the men to carry my
paper and stake something for me, so, plucking up my courage, I asked
the promoter of the expedition, whom I know, if I could do this, and was
readily given permission. In a few minutes paper, pen and ink were
brought in, a clerk was instructed to draw up the paper in proper shape,
which he did, and it was signed and witnessed in due form, Mollie
subscribing her name as one of the witnesses. For this I tendered my
heartiest thanks, and ran home with a light heart, already imagining
myself a lucky claim owner in a new and rich gold section on the
Kuskokquim. The party of five men are to leave tomorrow morning for the
long trip of several hundred miles over the ice and snow.

Mollie advises me to have another pair of muckluks made smaller, and to
keep these I am wearing for traveling, when I will wear more inside
them, so I will take my materials over tomorrow and she will have Alice
cut and sew them for me. I hope they will not make my feet look so
clumsy as do these, my first ones.

January tenth: This was a cold and windy morning, so the men at the
hotel could not start out for the Kuskokquim as they intended. Some men
came to the Mission to see if they could rent the old schoolhouse to
live in, the doctor and his plucky little wife having left some weeks
ago for a camp many miles east of Chinik. After looking it over, the men
have concluded to take it, and move in soon. There are no buildings to
buy or rent in this camp, nor anything with which to build, so it is
hard lines for strangers coming to Chinik. This afternoon Alma went over
with me to the hotel to stitch on Mollie's sewing machine, and I carried
the deerskin for my new footgear which Alice will make acceptably, no
doubt, as she is very expert.

Mr. H., two natives and two white men, were here to supper tonight on
their way to Nome by dog-team, and are wishing to start at three in the
morning in order to make the trip in two days. M. and L. are also here,
so we had seven men to supper. We had fried ham, beans, stewed prunes,
tea, and bread and butter.

This morning it was two degrees below zero, with a strong, cold wind;
tonight it is fourteen degrees below zero with no wind, and is warmer
now than then. No moonlight till nearly morning, but the stars shine
brightly.

January eleventh: Mary sat up all night baking bread, and starting the
men off for Nome between three and four in the morning. I got up at
nine o'clock and enjoyed the magnificent sunrise. I went out with Ricka
while she tried at the three stores to find a lining for her fur coat,
but one clerk told us that no provision for women was made by the
companies, and they had nothing on their shelves she wanted. At the
hotel store she found some dark green calico at twenty-five cents a
yard, which she was obliged to take for her lining.

While I gave Jennie her lesson her mother came from her hunting, and had
shot six ptarmigan, having hurt her finger on the trigger of the gun.
Mollie studies a little while each day, when Jennie has finished her
lesson.

There is a sick Eskimo woman here now who was brought in from the
reindeer camp yesterday, and Mollie has her upstairs in the sewing room
on a cot. Mary, the nurse, went over with me to see her, and says she
has rheumatic fever. She seems to be suffering very much, and cannot
move her hands or limbs.

January twelfth: At eight o'clock today the thermometer stood at
forty-one degrees below zero, but registered thirty-two degrees during
the middle of the day, and the houses are not so warm as they have been.

When I called for Jennie at the hotel today I found her crying with pain
in her leg, so she could not take a lesson, but I sent out for little
Charlie who came running to me with outstretched arms. He is a dear
little child, and I am getting very fond of him. It is some weeks since
Jennie first began crying occasionally with pain, and her parents cannot
understand it, unless it is caused by a fall she had on the steamer
coming from San Francisco last summer, and of which they thought nothing
at the time. I sincerely hope she is not going to be very ill, with no
doctor nearer than White Mountain. The sick woman still suffers, though
they are doing what they can for her. The captain requested me to bring
our medical books over, or send them, that he can look up remedies and
treatment of rheumatic fever, for that is what she no doubt has.

While seated at the organ an hour later, in came the storekeeper and his
clerk, followed soon after by the captain and musician. Then we had
music and solos by the last named gentleman, and the knitting needles
kept rapidly flying. At eleven o'clock they went out into the intense
cold, which sparkled like diamonds, but which pinched like nippers the
exposed faces and hands.

Here is another cold, quiet day, with the thermometer at thirty-five
degrees below zero, and it is a first class one to spend by the fire. We
have read, slept, eaten, and fed the fires; with only one man, three
girls and myself in the house. At ten in the evening G. and B. came in
from a five days "mushing" trip on the trails, being nearly starved and
frozen. They were covered with snow and icicles, their shirts and coats
stiff with frost from steam of their bodies, as they ran behind the
sled to keep warm. A hot supper of chicken (canned), coffee, and bread
and butter was prepared in haste for them, and they toasted themselves
until bedtime.



CHAPTER XXII.

THE LITTLE SICK CHILD.


The winter is rapidly passing, and so far without monotony, though what
it will bring to us before spring remains to be seen. Little Jennie has
been suffering more and more with her leg of late, and her papa sent for
the doctor at White Mountain, who came today by dog-team. The child's
mother has had a spring cot made for her, and she was put to bed by the
doctor, who says the knee trouble is a very serious one, and she must
have good nursing, attention being also paid to her diet. The Eskimos
are all exceedingly fond of seal and reindeer meat, and Jennie's Auntie
Apuk or grandmother will often bring choice tidbits to the child at
bedtime, or between meals, when she ought not to eat anything, much less
such hearty food. When the little child sees the good things, she, of
course, wants them, and having been humored in every whim, she must
still be, she thinks, especially when she is ill. A problem then is here
presented which I may help to solve for them. Jennie and I are growing
very fond of each other, and she will do some things for me which she
will not do for others who have obeyed her wishes so long. I begin by
round-about coaxing and reasoning, and get some other idea into her
mind, until the plate of seal meat is partially forgotten, and does not
seem so attractive at nine in the evening as when presented with loving
smiles by her old grandmother, who does sometimes resent the
alternative, but is still exceedingly solicitous that the little girl
should recover. As grandmother understands English imperfectly, Mollie
is obliged to reiterate the doctor's orders in Eskimo, making them as
imperative as possible, and the poor old Eskimo woman goes home with the
promise that Jennie shall have some of the dainties at meal-time on the
morrow.

In appearance grandmother is still somewhat rugged, being a large woman,
with an intelligent face, which expresses very forcibly her inner
feelings, and being, probably, somewhere between sixty and seventy years
of age. Her husband, who has been dead only a year or two, was much
beloved by her, and no reference to him is ever made in her presence,
without a flow of tears from her eyes. Her love of home and kindred
seems very strong, and her devotion to little Jennie amounts almost to
idolatry, so the solicitude expressed by the good woman is only a part
of what she really feels, but which is shown in hundreds of ways. When
the doctor settled the little girl in her bed she adjusted a heavy
weight to the foot on the limb which has given her so much trouble, and
now the grief of Mollie and her mother is unbounded. Poor old
grandmother wipes her eyes continually, leaving the house quickly at
times to rush home and mourn alone, as she is so constrained to do, her
sorrow for her darling's sufferings being very sincere. Later she comes
in after doing her best at courage building, tiptoes her way in to see
if her pet is sleeping or awake, and bringing something if possible,
with which to amuse or interest the invalid. However great is the grief
of the women, that of the child's papa is equally sad to see, and he,
poor man, is forced to face the probability of a long and dreary winter,
if not a lifetime of suffering for his darling child. One cannot help
seeing his misery, though he tries like a Trojan to hide it, and keeps
as cheerful as possible to encourage others. He is always an invalid
himself.

The main topic of interest to Jennie now is the little stranger who has
come to live with her Auntie Apuk, and whom she is so desirous of seeing
that she almost forgets her trouble and suffering, asking constantly
about its size, color, eyes, hair, hands and feet. She counts the days
before she can see it, and puzzles greatly over the fact of its not
possessing a name, her big black eyes getting larger and blacker as she
wonders where one will be found. Little Charlie is allowed in to see
Jennie at times, and wonders greatly to find her always in bed, asking
many questions in his childish Eskimo treble, and patting her hand
sympathetically while standing at her side.

"Mamma," said he the other day to Mollie in Eskimo, with a pleased smile
on his face, and when the two were alone, "the ladie loves me."

"How do you know?" asked Mollie.

"Because," he said shyly, putting his little arms about her neck,
"because she kissed me." Whereupon Mollie did the same, and assured him
of her own love, always providing, of course, that he was a good boy,
and did what papa and mamma told him to do.

This conversation Mollie reported to me a few days after it took place,
and I assured her with tears welling up in my eyes that the little child
had made no mistake. Strange action of the subjective mind of one person
over another, even to the understanding by this Eskimo baby of a
stranger heart, and that one so unresponsive as mine. The child,
deprived as he was of an own mother's love, still hungered and thirsted
for it, and he was quick to discern in my eyes and voice the secret for
which he was looking. How I should enjoy giving my whole time to these
two children, and they really do need me to teach and care for them; but
I am dividing myself between them and the Mission, and the winter days
are very short.

The thermometer today registered fourteen degrees below zero, against
twenty-eight yesterday and thirty below the day before that.

Mr. H. has returned from Nome, bringing me a package of kodak films sent
from Oakland, Cal., last August, and which I never expected to receive
after so long a time. I was delighted to get them, and now I can kodak
this whole district, above and below.

Mollie is trying to study English a little, but with many interruptions
on every hand. The big living room is light and warm, our only study
place, and yet the rendezvous of all who care to drop in, regardless of
invitations, making it somewhat difficult for us to concentrate our
attention on the lessons. The Marshal, the bartender, the clerks, cooks,
miners, natives, strangers and all come into this room to chat, see and
inquire for Jennie, play with Charlie, and get warm by the fire. Here is
an opportunity of a lifetime to study human nature, and I am glad, for
it is a subject always full of interest to me, though I frequently feel
literally choked with tobacco smoke, and wish often for a private
sitting-room.

Sunday, January twentieth: We are snuggled indoors by the fires under
the most terrible blizzard of the season so far, with furious gales,
falling and drifting snow, and intense cold. It is impossible to keep
the house as warm as usual, and I have eaten my meals today dressed in
my fur coat, my seat at table being at the end with my back close to the
frosty north window. Though this is the place of honor at the board, and
the missionary's seat when he eats in the Mission, still it is a chilly
berth on occasions, and this is decidedly one.

The dining-room contains, besides the north window, one on the south
side as well, and though both are covered with storm windows, the frost
and ice is several inches thick upon the panes, precluding any
possibility of receiving light from either quarter unless the sun shines
very brightly indeed, and then only a subdued light is admitted. During
the night the house shook constantly in the terrific gale, rattling
loose boards and shingles, and I was kept awake for several hours.

At night I am in the habit of tossing my fur coat upon my bed for the
warmth there is in it, as I am not the possessor of a fur robe, as all
persons should be who winter here. Furs are the only things to keep the
intense cold out in such weather as we are now having, but with some
management I get along fairly well.

A reindeer skin not in use from the attic makes my bed soft and warm
underneath, my coat over my blankets answers the same purpose, and the
white fox baby robe from the old wooden cradle upstairs makes a soft,
warm rug on the floor upon which to step out in the morning. Wool
slippers are never off my feet when my muckluks are resting, and I
manage by keeping a supply of kindlings and small wood in my box by the
stove, to have a warm fire by which to dress.

These days we do not often rise early, and ten o'clock frequently finds
us at breakfast, but we retire correspondingly late, and midnight is
quite a customary hour lately. Today we passed the time in eating,
sleeping, singing, and reading. A visiting Swedish preacher came over a
few days ago from the Home, and is storm-bound in the Mission. He is a
large, heavy man, with a hearty voice and hand grip, and is a graduate
of Yale College, using the best of English, having filled one of the
vacant Nome pulpits for several weeks last fall before coming to
Golovin.

Today he has read one of Talmage's sermons to us, and we have sung
Gospel songs galore, in both Swedish and English, with myself as
organist. When this is tired of, the smaller instruments are taken out,
and Ricka has the greatest difficulty in preventing Alma from amusing
the assembled company with her mandolin solo, "Johnny Get Your Hair
Cut," the young lady's red lips growing quite prominent while she
insists upon playing it.

"Good music is always acceptable, Ricka, and on Sunday as well as on any
other day, so I cannot see why you will not let me play as I want to. I
do not think it a sin to play on the mandolin on Sunday. Do you, Pastor
F.?" asked Alma of the preacher, appealingly, and in all innocence.

What could he say to her? He laughed.

"O, no," said Ricka, "I do not say that mandolin music is sinful on
Sunday, and if you would play 'Nearer My God to Thee,' or some such
piece, and not play 'Johnny,' I should not object." And she now looked
at the preacher and me for reinforcements.

Alma is not, however, easily put down, and the contest usually winds up
with Ricka going into the kitchen where she cannot hear the silly
strains of "Johnny," which Alma is picking abstractedly from the strings
of the instrument, while the preacher continues his reading, and I go
off to my room.

Mr. Q., a Swedish missionary, and his native preacher called Rock, have
arrived from Unalaklik, with the two visiting preachers at the Home, and
they held an evening service in the schoolhouse, which was fairly well
attended. There were seven white men, the three women in this house and
myself, besides many natives of both sexes. Grandmother was there with
Alice, Ageetuk and others, and the missionary spoke well and feelingly
in English, interpreted by Rock into Eskimo. One of the preachers sang a
solo, and presided at the organ. Some of the native women present had
with them their babies, and these, away from home in the evening,
contrary to their usual habit, cried and nestled around a good deal, and
had to be comforted in various ways, both substantial and otherwise,
during the evening; but the speakers were accustomed to all that, and
were thankful to have as listeners the poor mothers, who probably could
not have come without the youngsters.

Considerable will power and auto-suggestion is needed to enable me to
endure the fumes of seal oil along with other smells which are
constantly arising from the furs and bodies of the Eskimos, made damp,
perhaps, by the snow which has lodged upon them before entering the
room. Fire we must have. Those who are continually with the natives in
these gatherings do get "acclimated," but I am having a hard struggle
along these lines.

The three Swedish and one Eskimo preacher left today for the Home, after
I had taken a kodak view of them, and their dog-team. As the wind blew
cold and stiffly from the northwest, they hoisted a sail made of an old
blanket upon their sled.

There are many who are ingenious, and who are glad to help the sick
child, Jennie, pass her time pleasantly, and among them is the musician.
Being a clever artist as well as musician, he goes often to sit beside
Jennie, and then slate and pencils are brought out, and the drawing
begins. Indian heads, Eskimo children in fur parkies, summer landscapes,
anything and everything takes its turn upon the slate, which appears a
real kaleidoscope under the artist's hands. Jennie often laughs till the
tears run down her face at some comical drawing or story, or the
musician's efforts to speak Eskimo as she does, and both enjoy
themselves immensely.

Yesterday Mollie went out to hunt for ptarmigan. She is exceedingly
fond of gunning, has great success, and she and the child relish these
tasty birds better than anything else at this season. Ageetuk also is a
good hunter and trapper, and brought in two red foxes from her traps
yesterday, when she came home from her outing with Mollie. Little
Charlie ran up to Mollie on her return from her hunt, and cried in a
mixture of Eskimo and English:

"Foxes peeluk, Mamma?" meaning to ask if she did not secure any animals,
appearing disappointed when told by his mamma (for such she calls
herself to the child) that she did not find anything today but
ptarmigan.

It was twenty degrees below zero this morning, and the sun was
beautifully bright. The days are growing longer, and it is quite light
at eight o'clock in the morning. The short days have never been tiresome
to me because we have not lacked for fuel and lights, and have kept
occupied.

One of the Commissioners and two or three other men have been trying for
a long time to get their meals here, but the girls have pleaded too
little room, and other excuses, until now the Commissioner has returned,
and renewed his requests. Today he came over and left word that he and
two others would be here to six o'clock supper, at which the girls were
wrathy.

"I guess he will wait a long time before I cook his meals for him,"
sputtered Alma, who disliked the coming of the official to the house,
and under no consideration would she consent to board him.

"My time is too short to cook for a man like that," declared Mary, with
a toss of her head, as she settled herself in the big arm chair in the
sitting room, and poor Ricka, whose turn it was this week to prepare the
meals, found herself in the embarrassing position of compulsory cook for
at least two of the men she most heartily despised in the camp, and this
too under the displeasure of both Alma and Mary.

"What shall I do?" groaned Ricka, appealing to me in her extremity.
"Will you sit at table with them tonight, Mrs. Sullivan? because Alma
and Mary will not, and I must pour the coffee. O, dear, what shall I
have for supper?" and the poor girl looked fairly bowed down with
anxiety.

"O, never mind them, Ricka," said I, "just give them what you had
intended to give the rest of us. I suppose they think this is a
roadhouse, and, if so, they can as well board here as others; but if
Alma refuses to take them, I do not see what they can do but keep away,"
argued I, knowing both Alma and Mary too well by this time to expect
them to change their verdict, as, indeed, I had no desire for them to
do.

"I'm sure it is not a roadhouse for men of their class," growled Alma,
biting her thread off with a snap, for she was sewing on Mollie's dress,
and did not wish to be hindered. "I'll not eat my supper tonight till
they have eaten; will you, Mary?"

"Indeed, I will not," was the reply from a pair of very set lips, at
which Ricka and I retired to the kitchen to consult together, and
prepare the much-talked-of meal.

Then I proceeded to spread the table with a white cloth and napkins,
arrange the best chairs, and make the kitchen as presentable as I could
with lamps, while Ricka went to work at the range. We had a passable
supper, but not nearly so good as we usually have, for the official had
not only taken us by surprise, but had come unbidden, and was not, (by
the express orders of the business head of the restaurant firm), to be
made welcome.

At any rate, Ricka and I did the best we could under the circumstances,
the meal passed in some way, and the official then renewed his request
to be allowed to take all his meals in the Mission, meeting with nothing
but an unqualified refusal, much to his evident disappointment.

I doubt very much now the probability of my getting any more copying to
do for him, as he says I could have persuaded Alma to board him if I had
been so inclined; but then I never was so inclined, and have about
decided that I do not want his work at any price.

January twenty-fifth: This has been a very cold, windy day, but three of
the men came in from prospecting on the creeks, and have little to
report. To think of living in tents, or even native igloos, in such
weather for any length of time whatever, is enough to freeze one's
marrow, and I think the men deserve to "strike it rich" to repay them
for so much discomfort and suffering. Mr. L. and B. walked to the Home
and back today--twenty-four miles in the cold. I bought two more fox
skins of the storekeeper with which to make my coat longer.

Mr. H. and Miss J. came to hold a meeting in the kitchen for the
natives, and Mollie interpreted for them, as Ivan was not present. They
all enjoy singing very much, and are trying to learn some new songs.
Contrary to my expectations, they learn the tunes before they do the
words, which are English, of course.

Later the musician came over and sang and played for an hour and a half
at the organ, which all in the house enjoyed; but he is worried about
his friend, who was bitten by the mad-dog, and is in poor health, he
told us tonight. They have lately moved into the old schoolhouse, and
like there better than their former lodgings, which were very cold.
There are three of them in the schoolhouse, or rather cabin, for it is
an old log building, with dirt roof, upon which the grass and weeds grow
tall in summer, and under the eaves of the new schoolhouse, a frame
structure with a small pointed tower.

Sunday, January twenty-seventh: The missionaries held a meeting in the
sitting room this forenoon at which the Commissioner was present, not
because he was interested in the service, Alma says. I suppose he had
nothing else to do, and happened to get up earlier than usual. I
presided at the organ, and Miss J. led the singing. The day was a very
bright one, but the thermometer registered thirty degrees below zero.

The missionaries have taken Alma with them to visit for a few days, and
do some sewing at the Home. We all ran out upon the ice with them, but
did not go far, as it was very cold. For a low mercury these people do
not stay indoors, but go about as they like dressed from top to toe in
furs, and do not suffer; but let the wind blow a stiff gale, and it is
not the same proposition.

Four men came from the camp of the shipwrecked people, the father of
Freda, the little girl, being one. They say the child and her mother are
well, and as comfortable as they can be made for the present, but in the
spring they will go back to Nome.



CHAPTER XXIII.

LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF THE MINING CAMP.


Again the boys are starting for the Koyuk River country. Although it is
the twenty-eighth of January, and between twenty-five and thirty degrees
below zero, nothing can deter Mr. L., who has made up his mind to go to
the headwaters of the big river regardless of weather. L., B. and a
native are to compose the party, and this time they are going with
reindeer. They will take with them a tent, stove, fur sleeping bags,
matches, "grub," guns and ammunition, not to mention fry pans and a few
tins for cooking purposes. Then they must each take a change of wearing
apparel in case of accident, and make the loads as light as possible. B.
has made it a point to look well at his guns and cartridges, and has
been for days cleaning, rubbing and polishing, while hunting knives have
also received attention. The party may have, in some way, to depend upon
these weapons for their lives before their return.

January twenty-ninth: Twenty-five degrees below zero, but without wind,
and the boys have started off on their long trip up the Koyuk. The
reindeer were fresh and lively, and when everything was loaded and
lashed upon the three sleds, the animals were hitched to them, when,
presto! the scene was changed in a moment. Each deer ran in several
directions at the same time as if demented, overturning sleds and men,
tossing up the snow like dust under their hoofs, and flinging their
antlers about like implements of battle. Now each man was put to his
wit's end to keep hold of the rope attached to the horns of the deer he
was driving, and we who had gone out upon the ice to watch the departure
feared greatly for the lives of the men interested.

At one time Mr. H., who was kindly assisting, was flung upon the ground,
while a rearing, plunging animal was poised in mid-air above him; and I
uttered a shriek of terror at the sight, thinking he would be instantly
killed. However, he was upon his feet in an instant, and pursuing the
animals, still clinging to the rope, as the deer must never, under any
consideration, be allowed to get away with the loaded sleds.

When one of the boys attempted to sit upon a load, holding the rope as a
guide in his hands, there would be a whisk, a whirl, and quicker than a
flash over would go the load, sled and man, rolling over and over like a
football on a college campus.

At this time the sun shone out brightly, tinting rosily the distant
hills, and spreading a carpet of light under our feet upon the
ice-covered surface of the bay. The clear, cold air we breathed was
fairly exhilarating, sparkling like diamonds in the sun-beams, and
causing the feathery snowflakes under our feet to crackle with a
delightful crispness.

When the elasticity of the reindeer's spirits had been somewhat lessened
by exercise, a real start was made, and we watched them until only small
dots on the distant trail could be distinguished.

Something unpleasant has happened. M., the Finlander, told me this
morning that he wants the room I occupy upstairs, and, of course, I will
have to give it up. As the other rooms upstairs must be left for the
men, of whom there are such numbers, there is no place for me except on
the old wooden settle in the sitting room. To be sure, this is in a warm
corner, but there are many and serious inconveniences, one being that I
must of necessity be the last one to retire, and this is usually
midnight.

For some time past I have been turning over in my mind the advisability
of asking for the situation of nurse and teacher to Jennie and Charlie,
and living in the hotel. Supplies are growing shorter in the Mission as
the weeks go by, and my own are about exhausted, as is also my money.
The children need me, and there is plenty of room in the hotel, though I
am not fond of living in one.

I have consulted Mr. H., who sees no harm in my doing this if I want to.
Meals are one dollar each everywhere in Chinik, and most kinds of
"grub" one dollar a pound, while for a lodging the same is charged. To
earn my board and room in the hotel by teaching and taking care of the
two children I should be making an equivalent to four dollars a day, and
I could have a room, at last, to myself. This is the way I have figured
it out; whether Mollie and the Captain will see it in the same light
remains to be seen.

Later: I ran over to see Mollie and her husband, and to present my plan
to them. They both assented quickly, the Captain saying he does not want
Jennie to stop her studies, and she is fond of having me with her.
Besides, her mother wants to spend a good deal of time out hunting and
trapping, as she thinks it better for Jennie, Charlie and herself to
have fresh game, of which they are so fond, than to eat canned meats. I
think it is better for them, and shall not object to some of the same
fare myself when it is plenty. I am very glad, indeed, of the
opportunity to earn my board and room in this way, for my work will only
be with and for the two children, and I love them very much.

January thirtieth: A bad storm came up this afternoon with wind and
snow. At the Mission one of the newcomers is making two strong reindeer
sleds. He says he is used to Alaska winters, has been up into the
Kotzebue Sound country, and is now going again with reindeer as soon as
his sleds are finished. He is exceedingly fond of music, and enjoys my
playing. I wonder if he will offer to stake a claim for me! I will not
ask him.

January thirty-first: This terrible storm continues with snow drifting
badly, and with wind most bitter cold. What about the boys on the Koyuk
trail? I fear they will freeze to death. I have finished six drill
parkies for the storekeeper, but cannot get them to him in the blizzard.

February first: I found when calling upon Jennie today that her mother
was sick in bed with a very bad throat, so I spent most of the day and
evening there. I did all I could for Jennie as well as Mollie, doing my
best to amuse the child, who is still strapped down on her bed, and must
find the day long, though she has a good deal of company. I had a
first-class six o'clock dinner at the hotel tonight,--that is, for
Alaska, at this season of the year.

February second: This is my birthday, and I have been thinking of my
dear old mother so far away, who never forgets the date of her only
daughter's birth, even if I do. I should like to see her, or, at least,
have her know how well I am situated, and how contented I am, with a
prospect before me which is as bright as that of most persons in this
vicinity. If I could send my mother a telegram of a dozen words, I think
they would read like this: "I am well and happy, with fair prospects.
God is good." I think that would cheer her considerably.

It is beginning to seem a little like spring, and the water is running
down the walls and off the windows in rivers upon the floors of the
Mission, which we are glad are bare of carpets; the snow having sifted
into the attic and melted. The warm rain comes down at intervals, and we
are hoping for an early spring.

Mollie is really very sick, and must have a doctor, her throat being
terribly swollen on one side. The pain and fever is intense, and though
we are doing all we know how to do, she gets no better. Some men started
out for the doctor at White Mountain, but there was too much water on
the ice, and they returned.

February sixth: The man who made the two reindeer sleds for his Kotzebue
trip has gone at last with two loads and three reindeer. He wanted his
drill parkie hood bordered with fur, as I had done some belonging to
others, and I furnished the fox tails, and sewed them on for him.

"Shall I stake a claim for you?" asked the man with a smile the day
before he left the Mission.

"O, I would like it so much!" said I, really delighted. "I did not wish
to ask you, because I thought you had promised so many."

"So I have," he replied, "but I guess I can stake for one more, and if I
find anything good I will remember you."

"Shall I have a paper made out?" I inquired, feeling it would be safer
and better from a business point of view to do so.

"You may if you like. I will take it," said he; and I thanked him very
cordially, and hastened to the Commissioner to have the paper drawn up.
It did not take long, and the man has taken it, and gone. Being an old
mail carrier and stampeder of experience in this country, he ought to
know how to travel, and, being a Norwegian, he is well used to the snow
and the cold. He says he always travels alone, though I told him he
might sometime get lost in a storm and freeze to death, at which he only
laughed, and said he was not at all afraid. Two years afterwards he was
frozen to death on the trail near Teller City, northwest of Nome. He was
an expert on snowshoes or ski, both of which he learned to use when a
boy in Norway.

February tenth: The two young men, B. and L., have returned from the
Koyuk trip, having been able to travel only three days of the eleven
since they left here on account of blizzards, but they will not give it
up in this way.

Mollie and Jennie are better, the doctor having been here two days. For
the little invalid there is nothing of such interest as Apuk's baby, and
as the child is well wrapped and brought in often to see her, she is
highly delighted. She holds the baby in her arms, and hushes it to sleep
as any old woman might, lifting a warning finger if one enters the room
with noise, for fear of waking it. Little Charlie cries with whooping
cough a great deal and is taken to Ageetuk's house when he gets
troublesome, as he worries both Mollie and Jennie. Under no
consideration is Charlie to come near enough to Jennie to give her the
whooping-cough, for she coughs badly already. She and I make paper dolls
by the dozen, and cloth dresses for her real dolls, which, so late in
the season, are getting quite dilapidated and look as though they had
been in the wars.

Many natives are now bringing beautiful furs into camp for sale, and
among others one man brought a cross fox which was black, tipped with
yellow, another which was a lovely brown, and a black fox valued at two
hundred dollars which the owner refused to sell for less, though offered
one hundred for it. I have never seen more lovely furs anywhere, and I
longed to possess them.

It seems almost like having a hospital here now, for we have another
patient added to our sick list. Joe, the cook, is ill, and thinks he
will die, though the doctor smiles quizzically as she doses him,
thinking as she does so that a few days in bed and away from the saloons
will be as beneficial as her prescriptions.

Today the hills surrounding the bay were lovely in the warm sunshine
both morning and evening, pink tinted in the sunrise and purple as
night approached.

Mail came in by dog-team from Nome, going to Dawson and the outside, so
I mailed several letters. I wonder if they will be carried two thousand
miles by dogs--the whole length of the Yukon, and finally reach Skagway
and Seattle.

What a wicked world this is anyway! My two fox skins were stolen from
the living room of the hotel last night, where I hung them, not far from
the stove, after having had them tanned, and forgetting to take them to
my room. I can get no trace of them, and am exceedingly sorry to lose
them. The captain thinks the skins will be returned, but I do not.

The Commissioner from Council came into the hotel, and he, with the
resident official, proceeded to celebrate the occasion by getting
uproariously drunk, or going, as it is here called, "on a toot," which
is very truthfully expressive, to say the least.

February eighteenth: The doctor went home several days ago. Mollie is
better, and wore, at the Sunday dinner yesterday, her new grey plaid
dress made by Alma, which fits well and looks quite stylish. I sat with
her at the long table which was filled with guests, employees and
boarders--a public place for me, which I do not like over much, but what
can I do? The two Commissioners are sobered, look sickly, and more or
less repentant; the resident official declaring to me he would now quit
drinking entirely, and buy me a new silk dress if he is ever seen to
take liquor again.

I had nothing to say to him, except to look disgusted, and he took that
as a rebuke. The other Commissioner was exceedingly polite to me when he
came into the living room to bid all good-bye, and said if, at any time,
there was anything in the way of business transactions he could do for
me, to let him know; he would be delighted--as if I would ever ask any
favor of him!

The weather is blustery, like March in Wisconsin. Mollie asked me to go
upstairs with her, look at rooms, and select one for myself, which I
did, deciding to take a small unfurnished one (except for a spring cot,
mirror, and granite wash bowl and pitcher), as this will be easily
warmed by my big lamp, and it has a west window, through which I will
get the afternoon sun.

I cleaned the floor, and tacked up a white tablecloth which I had in my
trunk, for a curtain; spread my one deer skin rug upon the floor, made
up the cot bed with my blankets, opened my trunk, hung up a few
garments, and was settled. This is the first spring bed I have slept
upon since Mr. H. took the velvet couch away from the Mission. I found
the boarded walls very damp, as was also the floor after cleaning, but
my large lamp, kept burning for two hours, dried them sufficiently, and
I am quite well satisfied.

Ageetuk has been papering the sewing-room with fresh wall paper, and it
looks better, but it has made a good deal of confusion all round, and
there are numbers of people, both native and white, coming and going all
day long.

February twenty-third: Yesterday was Washington's Birthday, but quiet
here. Today Mollie and I took Jennie and Charlie out on a sled with Muky
to push behind at the handle-bar through the soft, deep snow. Mollie sat
upon the sled, and rode down hill twice with the children, Muky hopping
on behind; but I took a few kodak views of them, which I hope will be
good. I also received some mail from the outside which was written last
November.

Some of the men in the hotel have tried to play what they call "a joke"
on me. The steward of the house has a key which unfastens the lock on my
door, as well as others; so they went into my room and tied a string to
the foot of my bed, first boring a hole through the boards into the
hall, and running the string through it. This string, I suppose, they
intended to pull in the night and frighten me; but Mollie and I happened
to go up there for something and found it.

I was indignant, but everybody of whom Mollie inquired denied knowing
anything of it, and I said very little. Going to my trunk afterwards, I
found that the lock had been picked and broken,--a pretty severe "joke,"
and one I do not relish, as now I have no place in which to keep
anything from these men. If they enter my room whenever they choose in
the daytime, what is to prevent them when I am asleep? I took Mollie
upstairs and showed her the broken lock, and she stooped to brush some
white hairs from her dark wool skirt.

"Where they come from?" she asked suddenly. Then, picking at the
reindeer skin upon the floor under her feet, she said, nodding her head
decidedly, "I know. He--Sim--come to me in sewing-room,--hair all same
this on two knees of blank pants. I say, 'Where you get white reindeer
hair on you, Sim?' He say, 'I don't know.' Sim make hole in wall, and
string on bed for you, Mrs. Sullivan. He make lock peeluk, too," and
Mollie's face wore a serious and worried expression.

"O, well, Mollie," said I, "don't worry. I shall say nothing to any of
the men as they are mad at me now."

Mollie nodded significantly and said: "Your fox skins peeluk, Mrs.
Sullivan. Sim knows where--he never tell--sell for whiskey, maybe," and
Mollie turned to go, as though he were a hopeless case, and beyond her
government.

"Yes, Mollie, I think so; but you can not help what these bad men do. I
know that, and do not blame you."

"My husband very sorry 'bout fox skins. He cannot find--he no blame,"
and she seemed to fear that I would attach some blame to the captain.

"No, indeed, Mollie, I don't think your husband can help what they do. I
should not have left my fox skins hanging in that room, and will be
careful in future, but if they come into my room they may steal other
things, and I do not like it."

"I know, I know,--Sim no good--Joe no good--Bub no good," and she went
away in a very depressed state of mind to Jennie and Apuk's baby.

Of course Mollie told all to the captain, who immediately accused the
men in the bar-room, and they all swore vengeance upon me from that on,
so I suppose they will do all they can to torment me.

We are having a sensation in Chinik. The "bloomin' Commissioner" is
about to be deposed from office, for unfitness, neglect of duty, and
dissipation; and a petition is being handed around the camp by the
Marshal, praying the Nome authorities that he be retained. The honest
storekeeper refused to sign it, as have many of the Swedes. The
Commissioner swears by all that is good and great to quit drinking, and
be decent. Time will tell--but I have no faith in him.

Mollie goes often these days to look for foxes and to shoot ptarmigan,
taking with her a dog-team, and a native boy or two with their guns.
When it is bright and sunny, I take the two little children out in the
fur robes on the sled, with a native to push the latter, and I enjoy the
outing fully as well as they. Jennie is put to bed again on her return,
and the weight--a sand bag--attached to her foot, according to the
doctor's orders.

The weather is very springlike, and we have wind "emeliktuk," as little
Charlie says when he has a plenty of anything. Snow storms are
sandwiched nicely in between, but many "mushers" are on the trails.
Mollie gets now and then a fox, either white or crossed, and one day she
brought in a black one.

Liquor is doing its fiendish work in camp each hour of the twenty-four.
Some are going rapidly down the broad road to destruction; a few turn
their backs upon it, and seek the straighter way. Some half dozen of the
men headed by Sim and Bub are drinking heavily most of the time,
gambling between spells for the money with which to buy the poison.

Very late one night a party of drunken men pounded with their fists upon
my door.

"She's in--hic--there, boys," said one of the men in a halting way
customary with tipplers.

"Bust in the door!" blurted another.

"Drive her out'n here, Bub, ye fool!" yawned another, almost too sleepy
for utterance.

In the meantime I lay perfectly still. Not a sound escaped me, for
although my heart beat like a sledge hammer, and I was trembling all
over, I knew it was best not to speak. After a little more parleying
they all went off to finish their "spree" elsewhere. Next day I reported
the affair to the captain, who, with his wife, in their ground floor
apartments in the farther end of the building, had not heard the noise
of the night before. Of course the men were now furious, denying
everything, calling me a "liar," ad infinitum.

A fine-looking young man, a dentist and doctor, claiming to come from an
eastern city, while sitting at the table last evening, after much insane
gibberish, fell back intoxicated upon the floor, and lay insensible for
some time. He was finally, when the others had finished eating, dragged
off to bed in a most inglorious condition, to suffer later for his
dissipation. O, how my heart ached for his dear old mother so far away!
If she had seen him as I saw him, I think she would have died. It is
better for her to believe him dead than to know the truth.



CHAPTER XXIV.

AN UNPLEASANT ADVENTURE.


When Sunday comes, Jennie and I always wear our best clothes, neither
sewing, studying, nor doing any work, but we read Bible stories, learn
verses, look at pictures, and keep the big music box going a good share
of the time. Sometimes if it is bright and warm, I take the two children
out for a ride, and Jennie likes to call upon her grandmother.

The long front porch of the hotel has been opened again, the sides
having been taken off, and the ice and snow cut away from the steps, so
the little ones often play upon the porch in the sun for an hour or two.
There are now a number of little puppies to be fed and brought up, some
of them of pure Eskimo breed, and Charlie likes to frolic with them by
the hour. They are very cunning, especially when Mollie puts a little
harness which she has made upon each one, making them pull the sticks of
wood she fastens behind in order to teach them to haul a load. Mollie is
frequently gone for two days hunting, and if she does not find what she
looks for the first day she sleeps upon her sled a few hours rolled in
her furs, then rises and "mushes" on again.

Far and near she is known and respected, and the name of "Mollie" in
this country is the synonym of all that is brave, true and womanly;
hunting and trapping being for an Eskimo woman some of the most
legitimate of pursuits. The name of Angahsheock, which means a leader of
women in her native tongue, was given her by her parents, as those who
know her acknowledge.

In severe contrast to the character of Mollie is Polly, who has
developed an insane jealousy of me on the children's account, and who
never loses an opportunity to annoy and insult me, much to my surprise.
One day she will hide my books, pour soup over my dress in the kitchen,
slam the door in my face, and make jeering remarks in Eskimo, causing
the native boys to giggle; and worst of all, telling Charlie in her
language that I will kill and eat him, thus making him scream when I
attempt to wash or dress him.

However, there is another and principal reason for her ill treatment of
me, which is far reaching, for Polly and Sim are cronies, and the girl
does what he tells her to do, and that is to torment me as much as
possible.

For these reasons and others I decided some time ago to carry my meals
into the living room on a tray when I give the children theirs;
especially when Mollie is away, and the rough element does not feel the
restraint of her presence at table. There are no other white women in
the house, unless, perhaps, one comes in from the trail with the men for
a day, and these are, as a rule, not the kind of women to inspire the
respect of any one. So I spread Charlie's and my food upon a small
table, and Jennie's on her own tray, for after each little outing she is
strapped and weighted down in bed as before, and we would be very happy
if it were not for Polly, Sim, and a few other "toughs" in the hotel and
vicinity.

Each day I manage, when Jennie is busy with Apuk's baby, O Duk Dok, the
deaf girl, grandmother, and her other numerous Eskimo friends, to slip
away and run out for a little fresh air, and into the Mission for a few
minutes. Then I sit down at the organ for a while, or hear of those
coming and going on the trails, perhaps climbing the hill behind the
Mission for more exercise before going back to Jennie.

The first week in April has been pleasant, and sunny for the most of the
time, but last night the eighth of the month, the thermometer, with a
high wind, fell to thirty degrees below zero, and froze ice two inches
thick in my room upstairs.

Mr. L. and B. have returned from their Koyuk trip, having staked one
creek upon which they found colors, and which they were informed by
natives was a gold bearing creek. Their supply of grub would not allow
them to remain longer. They have staked a claim for me, with the
others. Number Fourteen, above Discovery, is mine, but they do not give
out the name of the creek until they have been up there and staked
another stream near the first one. When I get my papers recorded I shall
feel quite proud of this, my best claim, perhaps, so far; and I am
thankful and quite happy, except for the disagreeable features of hotel
life, which I am always hoping will be soon changed. So long, however,
as the deadly liquor is sold in almost every store and cabin, the cause
of disturbances will remain, and men's active brains, continually fired
with poison as they are, will concoct schemes diabolical enough to shame
a Mephistopheles.

Today, after due deliberation regarding the matter, I asked B., on the
aside, if he would lend me a revolver. He gave me a quick and searching
look.

"Do you want it loaded?" he asked.

"Yes, please, and I will call after supper for it," said I, in a low
tone, while going out the door.

Early this morning, putting on my furs and carrying a small shoe box
under my arm, I ran over to the Mission. In the hall I was met by B., to
whom I handed the box. He took it quietly and went directly to his room,
reappearing in a moment and handing it back to me, saying significantly
as he did so: "Three doses of that are better than one, if any are
needed," which remark I understood without further explanation.

I have brought the box to my room and have placed it under the head of
my cot upon the floor, where, in case of emergency, it may be of
service. It is not a pretty plaything, and will not be used as such by
me, but I shall feel safer to know it is near at hand.

Little did I know when I selected my room the day Mollie brought me
upstairs that on the other side of the board partition slept the man who
had killed another in the early winter; and, though the murderer has so
far never molested me in any way, still he sometimes gets what they call
"crazy drunk," and is as liable to kill some other as he was to kill the
first; then, too, thin board walls have ears, and I have heard the
mutterings and threats of these wretches for a number of weeks.

I have been exceedingly sorry for a month past to see the preparations
my friends, the Swedish women in the Mission, are making to go to Nome,
and now they expect to start tomorrow. They must be in town to put
everything in readiness for the opening of the "Star" when the first
steamers arrive from the outside. The weather is bright and pretty cold
today, making the trails good, but in a thaw they are bad and are now
liable to break up at any time. Quite a party will go to Nome, Mr. L.,
M. and others, and they will travel with dogs. I dread to see my Swedish
friends, the only white women in this camp with whom I can be friendly,
leave Chinik, for I shall then be more alone than ever. If this
tiresome ice in the bay would only move out so the boats could get in,
we should have others, but there is no telling when that will be. Many
are now betting on the breaking up of the ice, and all hope it will be
very soon.

May second: My Swedish friends left very early today for Nome, and only
Miss L. from the Home is there, sweeping out the place; but B. and the
visiting preacher will go with her to the Home today, closing the
hospitable doors of the Mission for a time. This evening they held a
meeting for the natives in camp, and I attended, but it seemed like a
funeral without the friends now "mushing" on the Nome trail.

A woman has come to live at Mellie's, and is a study in beaver coat,
dyed brown hair (which should be grey, according to her age), and with,
it is reported, a bank account of one hundred and fifty thousand
dollars, after having lived in Alaska nearly five years. She is called a
good "stampeder," has a pleasant, smiling face, but is usually
designated "notorious."

May tenth: Mollie went out early with Muky, her dog-team and guns, to
escort Ageetuk, Alice and Punni Churah, with their mother, who is
Mollie's aunt, to their new hunting camp in the mountains. At seven in
the evening Mollie returned with wet feet. Tomorrow she will take a net,
and some other things they have forgotten. They have gone to take their
annual spring vacation and hunt grey squirrels for a month, living in a
hut in the meantime. The weather is warm and springlike.

May thirteenth: The captain has been obliged to go to Nome on business,
weak and ill though he is, and has been for months. It did not seem to
me that he could live through the winter, and he is far too weak to take
this long trip over the trail, but he says he is obliged to go, and will
return at the earliest possible moment. He has taken Fred, the Russian
boy, and a team of nine dogs, leaving after supper, and intending to
travel night and day, as we now have no darkness.

The dissipated men around camp, idle and drunken most of the time, with
nothing to occupy their attention after the long, tedious winter, still
spend their hours in gossiping, swearing, drinking, and gambling,
knowing no day and no night, but making both hideous to those around
them. As a destroyer of man's self-respect, independence, and dignity,
there is nothing to compare with the accursed liquor. There are numbers
of instances in camp proving the truth of this statement. There is the
English clergyman's tall and handsome son, well educated, musical and of
agreeable manners--fitted to grace the best society, but--liquor is to
blame for his present condition, which is about as low as man can sink.

It is ten in the evening and I am in my little room upstairs, the only
white woman in the camp except Mellie and two like her. Down stairs in
the bar-room the men are singing, first coon songs and then church
hymns, with all the drunken energy they can muster. The crash of broken
glass, angry oaths, and the slamming of doors reaches my ears so
frequently as to cause little surprise, the French cooks in the kitchen
adding their share to the disturbance. In a distant part of the hotel
lies the little sick girl, her cot rolled each night close to the
bedside of her mother, who tries to soothe her in her pain, Mollie and
the wicked little Eskimo servant being the only women besides myself in
the house. The noise and confusion increases down stairs, and I shall
sleep little tonight. I will look at my revolver and see that its
contents have not been removed.

May fifteenth: Here I am alone with the little children, a bad native
girl, and a gang of the worst men in Alaska, Mollie having gone out
hunting. At midnight Sim, Mellie and several others left for a dance at
White Mountain, but it was two o'clock in the morning before the house
was quiet. While I lay perfectly still, and trying to sleep, a man's
stealthy footstep passed my door. He walked in his stocking feet--bare
floors and walls echo the slightest sound, and my ears are keen. Was it
a friend or foe? What was his object? My heart beat with a heavy thud,
but I remembered the loaded revolver under my bed, and thanked God for
it.

After a long time I slept a fitful, uneasy sleep for an hour, and
dressed myself as usual at half-past six o'clock, feeling badly for want
of needed sleep. Afterwards I washed, dressed and fed the children,
amusing and entertaining them in my accustomed way. Ageetuk's house
being closed, little Charlie is kept here all the time, Polly looking
after him nights. A saloon keeper named Fitts, villainous in reality as
well as in looks, is hanging around continually, wearing the blackest of
looks at every one, having been in trouble nearly all winter, and
closing out his saloon a few weeks ago. A big Dutchman, burly as a
blacksmith and well soaked in whiskey, lounges about in blue denim and
skull cap, winking his bleared eyes at Polly and swearing soundly at his
native wife when she steps inside the doors to look after him.

All went well for a while today after Mollie's leaving, Jennie coaxing
to be carried to her grandmother's for a visit, to which I consented,
until Charlie and I sat down to supper, which I had spread, as is my
habit, in the living room. During the day I had turned matters well over
in mind, and decided, with Mollie's advice, to sleep in her bed
alongside of Jennie's cot, and to have grandmother stay with us, locking
the doors of the rooms, as they should be. To my consternation, when I
chanced to look for the keys in the doors, there were none, showing
plainly that they had been removed.

This looked like a trap. There was nothing to do, much as I disliked
it, but to ask for the keys, as I would never spend the night in the
house without them. Soon afterward the steward entered, and I very
calmly and politely asked for the door keys of the two rooms, saying
that I would spend the night with Jennie. With cool insolence he replied
that he would lock them himself.

Again the trap. I made no reply. I saw that he had been drinking--that
he was not himself, and that it was useless to argue with him.

After waiting for an answer, and getting none, the man went out
carelessly, leaving the door ajar behind him. At that moment the supper
bell rang and he, with others, sat down to the table.

"She wants the keys to the doors, she says," drawled the man I had
spoken with regarding them.

"What did ye tell her?" demanded one of the ruffians.

"I told her I would lock the doors myself," said the fellow.

"What does she want of keys? Who is she afraid of? It must be you, Bub;
'tain't me," said one.

"You're a liar!" shouted Bub. "It's the genial dispenser of booze here
beside me she's afraid of."

"I'll see to her after supper, you bet!" shouted an official voice, at
which I shuddered. A general hubbub now ensued; among others I could
distinguish the word "black-snake whip," but I had heard enough.

I was planning as I listened. Leaning forward I kissed the little child
beside me, and said softly, "Eat all your supper, dear, and then go to
Polly. 'Sully' is going to grandma's."

Throwing a light wrap over my head, I ran out of the front door, and
around the west end of the house, careful not to pass the dining-room
windows, where the men would see me, and hastened to grandmother's
cabin, knowing that I should there find Jennie. Grandmother lived alone
except for O Duk Dok, the deaf girl, and they must give me shelter for
the night.

Here I found Jennie quite happy, with her deaf friend sitting on the
edge of the bed beside her, while her grandmother was busy with her
work.

In a few words I explained to the old woman the situation, and I was
made welcome, Jennie being pleased to remain in the cabin all night. I
knew Polly would put Charlie to bed when the time came, and the boy was
safe enough where he was. I did not believe the gang would disturb me in
grandmothers' cabin, but I feared they would loot my room in my absence.

Here Jennie could assist me. I now asked her to have O Duk Dok go out
for the native named Koki, and bring him to me, which she did, the deaf
girl understanding by the motion of the child's lips what was being
said.

O Duk Dok then drew on her parkie, and went out.

"Koki," said I, when the native had entered the room a few minutes
later, and closed the door behind him, "will you go to my room--Number
three--in the hotel, and get some things for me?"

"Yes," was the laconic reply of the man.

"Here is the key of the door. Between the mattresses of the bed you will
find two books, and in the shoe box on the floor there is a revolver.
Bring them to me under your parkie so no one shall see what you have.
Take this little key, lock my trunk and be sure you fasten the door
behind you. You won't forget?"

"All right. I no forget," and Koki grinned, and went out.

He did not forget. In about twenty minutes he returned, bringing the
keys, revolver, and diaries which I had kept hidden for fear the lawless
fellows might find and destroy them.

I now felt much relieved. I did not think the gang would come to the
cabin, but in case they did there was the revolver, and grandmother's
two doors had locks, which if not the very strongest, were better than
none, and I fastened them immediately after Koki's departure.

May eighteenth: The night I slept in grandmother's cabin with Jennie
passed quietly for us. I slept in my clothes and muckluks, an old quilt
and fur parkie on some boards being my bed, though grandmother finally
gave me a double blanket for covering when I asked for it.

It was long past midnight before we slept. The child was restless, and
urged her grandmother to tell her Eskimo stories. O Duk Dok slept
heavily, unconscious of all around her. My own senses were on the alert.
I listened intently to catch every sound, but we were too far away from
the hotel to hear the carousal that I well knew was there in progress.
The mushers from the dance were hourly expected home, and would then add
their part to the midnight orgies. The low droning of the old Eskimo
woman, telling her tales of the Innuits, of the Polar bear, the seal and
the walrus, of the birds, their habits and nestlings; this was the only
sound I heard.

After a time the others slept and I went to the window and looked out.
At my right, only a stone's throw away, was the Mission, its windows and
doors all fastened, and its occupants gone. I felt a heart-sinking
sensation as I thought of the friends who were there lately. Across the
way was the old schoolhouse, in which were the musician, his partner and
the deaf man, who had been bitten by the mad dog. They were within
calling distance, and for that I felt thankful. I had dreaded the night
in the cabin for fear that I should suffer for fresh air, but seeing a
broken pane of glass into which some cloth had been stuffed, I removed
the latter, and allowed the pure air to enter. Of course the place was
scented with seal oil, but grandmother's cabin was comparatively tidy
and clean.

Next morning, when we knew that breakfast was over, we went in a body to
the hotel, grandmother carrying Jennie on her back, according to Eskimo
custom. Some of the men were still sleeping off their dissipation of the
night before. Nothing was said about our remaining away, and the Eskimo
women spent the day with us. Others also came, called quietly in to see
Jennie, and remained to the meals I was glad to give them for their
company.

When six o'clock arrived, and still we saw nothing of Mollie, I felt
anxious. If she did not return it meant another night in the native hut
for us. Eight, nine, ten o'clock--thank God! She had come at last. I
could have hugged her for joy. She had nearly one hundred ptarmigan,
enough to last till the captain came home, and would not leave us again
alone.

Later: The captain returned from Nome, having made the trip of
eighty-five miles and back by dog-team in four days and nights, a very
quick trip indeed. The "toughs" have subsided, and are on their good
behavior for the present, at least, fearing what the captain will say
and do when their last doings are reported, but I understand that most
of them are mortally offended at my remaining at grandmother's, as no
one takes offense so easily as a rogue when his honesty is doubted.



CHAPTER XXV.

STONES AND DYNAMITE.


The last week of May has finally come, and with it real spring weather.
The children play out in the sand heap on the south side of the house
for hours together, enjoying the warm sunshine and pleasant air, the
little girl clothed from head to foot in furs. Never has a springtime
been so welcome to me, perhaps because in striking contrast to the long,
cold winter through which we have just passed. From the hillside behind
the Mission, the snow is slowly disappearing, first from the most
exposed spots and rocks, the gullies keeping their drifts and ice
longer. Mosses are everywhere peeping cheerfully up at me in all their
tints of gorgeous green, some that I found recently being tipped with
the daintiest of little red cups. This, with other treasures, I brought
in my basket to Jennie when I returned from my daily walk upon the hill,
and together we studied them closely under the magnifying glass.

To examine the treasures brought in by Mollie, however, we needed no
glass. They are sand-pipers, ptarmigan, squirrels, and occasionally a
wild goose, shot, perhaps, in the act of flying over the hunter's head,
as these birds are now often seen and heard going north. In the evening
I see from my window the neighboring Eskimo children playing with their
sleds, and sometimes they light a bonfire, shouting and chattering in
their own unique way. All "mushers" now travel at night when the trail
is frozen, as it is too soft in the daytime, and the glare of the sun
often causes snow-blindness. Then, too, there is water on the ice in
places, which we are glad to see, and pools of the same are standing
around the Mission and schoolhouse. I can no longer go out in my
muckluks, but must wear my long rubber boots and short skirts.

Today I went out for an hour, walking to Chinik Creek over the tundra,
from which the snow has almost disappeared, and returned by the hill-top
path. The tundra was beautiful with mosses, birds were singing, and the
rushing and roaring of the creek waters fairly made my head swim, they
were such unusual sounds. The water was cutting a channel in the sands
where it empties into the bay. Here it was flowing over the ice, helping
to loosen the edge and allow it to drift out to sea.

There is little change in the manners and dispositions of the rough men
in camp. There are the same things with which to contend day after day,
the same annoyances and trials to endure, with new ones in addition
quite frequently.

June has come at last, and all the world should be happy, but, alas,
there is always some worm in the bud to do the blasting. This morning
about three o'clock I was wakened by the sound of drunken voices outside
my window, followed by stones hurled against the side of the house.
Quickly rising, I cautiously peeped out from behind the curtain, but was
not surprised at what I saw. There, about a hundred feet away, were four
men, all well known to me as members of the gang, and all in the most
advanced stages of intoxication. On the step of a neighboring cabin sat
the murderer, Ford, hugging in a maudlin way a big black bottle.

On the ground, in the dirt, there rolled two young men, the Englishman
underneath, and Big Bub over him. Sim, the leader, had aimed four stones
at my window, but missed it, and felt the need of more stimulant, so he
took the bottle from Ford, carried it to the lumber pile, a few feet
away, sat down, put it to his lips and drank heavily. Again and again he
tipped up the bottle while he drank, but finally threw it away empty.
Then, with much exertion, he stooped to pick up a stone.

He was aiming at my window. I dodged into a corner, but the box
washstand stood partly in my way. Would he hit his mark? I did not
believe it. He was too drunk. Crack! came the stone against the house.

I waited. Another followed. In the meantime the other men had paid no
attention to him, as Ford was watching the two tumblers, the lumber
pile being between them and Sim; and the three started for the front
door around the south side of the house. Sim followed them. I now hoped
he would forget his stone throwing. When they were all out of sight I
breathed more freely. Surely now the trouble was over, I thought, and I
threw off my fur coat which I had hastily pulled on over my wrapper,
crept into bed and covered my head with the blankets.

I now thought quickly. Even if Sim should forget to throw more stones,
would he not soon come upstairs and perhaps give me more trouble? Would
it not be better to dress myself and be prepared for any emergency? I
was hurriedly deliberating upon the matter--my head still covered with
the blankets--when there was a loud crash and shivered glass covered the
floor and the bed clothes. Instantly throwing the latter back, I looked
around me. I could see no stone, and I had heard none fall upon the
floor, but it must be there somewhere.

I now stepped carefully out of bed, in order to avoid the glass, my feet
being already in knit, wool slippers, with thick, warm soles--and again
looked out.

There was no one to be seen. Sim had done his dastardly work, and gone
indoors. Would this end it? My teeth shattered, and I felt cold. I must
keep my nerve, however, and I did so, dressing myself carefully even to
my stout shoes which I laced up in front and tied. Then I drew on my
fur coat and sat down to wait.

Below the four men were poking around in the kitchen, trying to find
something to eat or drink. It was not long before I heard them coming
upstairs, and all tumbled into the next room, which was occupied by
Ford.

If they came to molest me further there was yet one way of escape which
I would try before using my revolver. The weapon I did not want to use
unless driven to it. There was the staging outside my window which had
never been removed since the house was built, the year before. I could
very easily step out upon it, and walk to the end of the house, but then
I must either jump or remain, for there was no ladder. This staging was,
perhaps, twenty feet from the ground, and the latter frozen. To slide
down a post would tear my hands fearfully.

I had not long to wait. To go peaceably to bed seemed to be the last
thing these men thought of, and one picked up a gun, which, for hunting
purposes, every man in the house kept close at hand.

"I zay, now, Bub, put up zat gun. Zis ain't no place for shootin',"
drawled a thick, sleepy voice which I recognized instantly.

"Shut yer gab! Who's hurtin' you?" answered Bub, the biggest of the
four, and one of the ugliest when intoxicated.

"Mrs. Sullivan's in the next room. You wouldn't shoot her, would you?"
asked Sim sneeringly in a loud tone, for he could stand up under great
quantities of liquor.

"Sh! Keep still a minute, you fool!" in a harsh whisper from Bub.

I was now thankful that I was dressed. I waited no longer. Opening the
door I ran down stairs to Mollie and the captain, knocking loudly upon
their door.

"Hang those brutes!" exclaimed the captain angrily, when I had finished
telling him what had happened. "What is the matter with them, any way?"

"Whiskey," said I. "They are all as drunk as pirates."

"Show me your room and window," demanded the captain, who by this time
had gotten into some of his clothing, and stepped into the living room
where I was.

I then led the way upstairs, and threw open my door. What a sight!
Broken glass covered the floor and bed, the cool morning air pouring in
through the broken pane of which there was little left in the sash.

That was enough for the captain. He made straight for the next room,
where all was now perfectly still, only Ford remaining in it, the others
having had sense enough to sneak off to their own places, after hearing
me run down stairs to report.

Seizing my blankets I closed and locked the door and made my way down
stairs to Mollie. Above we could hear the captain's voice in angry
altercation with the men, they denying everything, of course, even the
stone throwing, with the window as evidence against them. It was
half-past four and I had slept little. There was no fire in the house,
and I was cold; so, throwing down a few skins in a corner of the
sewing-room, with my blankets upon them, I covered myself to get warm.

At last the house was once more quiet, and I slept for an hour, only to
meet black and angry looks from the men all day, accompanied by threats
and curses, though I said nothing to them. I picked up the stone from my
reindeer rug, where it had fallen after shattering the window pane, and
it lay only two feet from my head. It was about the size of an egg.

Of course it is impossible for me to leave Chinik, as the winter trails
are broken up, the ice has not left the bay, and no steamers can enter;
so we are practically prisoners. O, how I long to get away from this
terrible place! Never since I came to Chinik have I given these men one
cross word, and yet they hate me with a bitter, jealous hatred, such as
I have never before seen. Some weeks ago I pinned a slip of paper into
my Bible, upon which I have written the address of my parents, in case
anything should happen to me. O, to be once more safe at home with them!
God grant that I may be before many months shall have passed.

A splendid warm, bright day, June thirteenth, the most of which the
children and I have spent upon the sandy beach in front of the hotel.
Little Jennie lies and plays on the warm, dry sand, though, of course,
she does not stand on her feet nor walk. Other small Eskimos come to
play with them, for Charlie is always on hand for a play spell on the
sand, and I doze and read under my umbrella in the meantime, with an eye
always upon them. They make sand pies, native igloos, and many imaginary
things and places, but more than any other thing is my mind upon the
coming of the steamers, when I hope to get away.

Mollie came in last night from a seal hunt upon the ice, and she, with
the three native boys, secured a white seal, and eight others, but did
not bring all with them. There is a great deal of water on the ice at
this time, and none but natives like to travel upon it. Ducks and geese
are flying northward in flocks above our heads, and we feast daily upon
them. They are very large and tasty, and the cook knows well how to
serve them.

We now see a line of blue water out beyond the ice, and even distinguish
white breakers in the distance. Today I took a field glass, and climbing
the hill behind the Mission to look as far out as possible, strained my
eyes to see a steamer. As I stood upon the point to get a better view,
the whole world around seemed waking from a long, long sleep.

At my left was Chinik Creek, pouring its rushing waters out over the bay
ice with a cheerful, rapid roaring. Farther away south stretched the
Darby Cape into blue water which looked like indigo, surmounted by long
rolling breakers with combs of white, all being fully fourteen miles
away. To the northwest of the sand-spit upon which Chinik is built, and
which cuts Golovin Bay almost in two, the Fish River is also emptying
itself, as is Keechawik Creek and other smaller streams. Over all the
welcome sunshine is flooded, warming the buds and roots on the hillside,
and making all beautiful.

June seventeenth: This is Bunker Hill Day in New England, and the men
have been celebrating on their own account, setting off a fifty pounds
box of dynamite in the neighborhood to frighten the women, I suppose.
The shock was terrific, breaking windows, lamp shades, and jarring
bottles and other articles off the shelves. Jennie was dreadfully
frightened, and screamed for a few minutes, while the living room soon
filled with men inquiring the cause of the explosion. By and by a man
came in saying that another box of giant powder would be set off, but
with that the Marshal left the room with a determined face, and we heard
no more dynamiting. The men, as usual, were intoxicated.

I have just had a pleasant little outing at the Home, going with Mollie,
who invited me to go with her. She was going out seal hunting on the
ice, would leave me at the Home for a short visit, and pick me up on her
return. Ageetuk and grandmother would take good care of Jennie for so
short a time, and I needed the change, so I ran up to my room, threw
some things hastily into a small bag to take with me, locked my trunk,
(I had long ago put a package consisting of papers and diaries into the
safe in the kind storekeeper's care), dressed myself in my shortest
skirts and longest rubber boots, and we started. The weather was too
warm for furs in sunshine, or while running behind a sled, so I wore a
thick jacket, black straw hat with thick veil, and kid gloves.

We left the hotel about half-past seven o'clock in the evening, but with
the sun still high and warm. Mollie had her small sled and three dogs,
with Muky and Punni Churah and their guns. The other sled was a large
one, and to it were hitched seven good dogs, accompanied by Ituk and
Koki. Upon the sleds were furs, guns, bags and fishing tackle. Along
shore there was considerable water on the ice, in a few spots the latter
had disappeared, and we could see the sandy beach, but farther east the
ice was firmer, and Mollie, who made for the best looking places, led
the way, I running closely in her footsteps.

Behind us came the men and teams, the calls of the Eskimos to their dogs
sounding musically on the quiet evening air. Mollie and I were now
leaping over water-filled cracks or lanes in the ice, she having assured
me that after getting away from the shore it would be better traveling,
and we could ride on the sleds when we were tired, but I felt
considerable pride in keeping up with her, and soon grew very warm from
the stiff exercise, unaccustomed as I was, while she was well used to
it.

After we had left the shore some distance behind us we halted for the
sleds to come up, Mollie seating herself upon the small one, I waiting
for the other a little later. There I ran at the handle-bars for a time,
but at last I threw myself upon the sled among the furs, and pulled a
parkie over me. We were now in the water a foot deep most of the time,
the dogs picking their way along over the narrowest water lanes, Ituk
and Koki shouting to them to gee and haw, and with Eskimo calls and
whip-snapping, urging them on continually.

Soon we left the smaller sled behind; Mollie, Muky and Punni making the
air ring with laughter and Eskimo songs. As we started out from home the
sun shone brightly upon us, but as we left the land at our backs, and
made our way farther out upon the bay, the sun dropped lower and lower,
the sky became a mass of crimson and yellow, and the whole world seemed
modestly blushing.

Along the east shore the rolling hills lay almost bare of snow, the
brown tundra appearing softly and most artistically colored. To the
north the mountains were still tipped with snow, as was also the
promontory--Cape Darby, at the extreme southeast point. This was spotted
and streaked with white, its rocky cliff black in shadow by contrast.
Our eyes eagerly scanned the horizon for steamers, and a schooner had
been reported off Darby loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, but we
could not see it.

By and by we were past most of the water lanes, and the ice was better.
At half-past nine o'clock in the evening the sky was exceedingly grand,
and a song of gratitude welled up in my heart, for this was another
world from the one we had just left, and I no longer wondered at
Mollie's love of hunting in the fresh air, under the beautiful skies,
and with her freedom to travel wherever she liked.

With her I felt perfectly safe. No harm could come to me when Mollie led
the way, and my confidence in the native men was equally strong; for
were they not as familiar with ice and water as with land? I soon saw
that we were headed toward the island, though I did not know why, and by
this time Mollie was far ahead, also that we were being followed by a
dog-team from Chinik, which puzzled me, for I had not heard that others
were going out hunting for seal, or starting for the Home, which was my
destination.

When we reached the north end of the small island Mollie ran up the path
like a deer, I following, as did the natives, leaving the dogs to rest
upon the ice. From a hole in the rocks Koki now hauled his kyak or
small skin boat, where he had left it from a former trip, and dragging
it down upon the ice, he lashed it upon the small sled to be carried
still farther.

The dog-team, which I had seen following in the distance, had now come
up with us, and I heard one man say to the other: "There is Mrs.
Sullivan," but I did not recognize the voice. When they came nearer, we
found it to be two men from camp who were going out to the schooners to
buy fruit and vegetables, and they wanted to get a dog belonging to them
which Mollie had borrowed and had hitched into her team. A change of
dogs was then made, and we started--Mollie and I on her big sled, the
other two following.

We now skirted the rocky cliffs, and found the ice hummocky between
great, deep cracks where the water was no longer white, but dark and
forbidding. Sometimes Koki suddenly started the dogs to one side to
avoid dark-looking holes in the ice, the dogs leaping over seams which
quickly lay beneath us as the fore and hinder parts of our sled bridged
the crevasse of ugly water.

Now the sled swayed from side to side as the dogs made sudden curves or
dashes, then a big hummock of ice and snow had to be crossed, and one
end of the sled went up while the other went down. I was holding to the
side rails with both hands, and knowing that the sled was a good, strong
one, I had no fear of its breaking, but my feet were cold in my rubber
boots, and I had drawn some furs over me.

Mollie is not a great talker, she seldom explains anything, and one has
only to wait and see the outcome of her movements, and this I did, when
she suddenly with Ituk left the sleds and climbed the rocks of the
island again on the south side. Then I saw them gathering sticks and
small driftwood, and knew that they would make a fire upon the ice at
midnight, while preparing to hunt for seals.

Coming to a rough place, with high-piled ice between great, ugly seams
over which the sagacious dogs dragged the sleds always in a straight
line, not slantwise, I climbed out, and Mollie and Ituk came with their
driftwood, which they threw upon the sled; the two men making for the
schooner forging ahead in the direction of Cape Darby.

Ituk and Muky now made ready to go with me to the Home, a half mile away
to the east where they were also to get some bread, this important item
having been forgotten in the hurry of departure from Chinik. In the
meantime Mollie, not to lose a moment of time, as is her method, had
gotten out her fishing tackle and was already fishing for tom-cod
through a hole in the ice. Bidding her Beoqua (good-bye), we started for
the Home, Ituk politely taking my little bag, and Muky leaping lightly
over the rocks toward the mainland. Along the shore of the island I was
fearful of cutting my boots on the jagged rocks and rubble thickly
strewn over the sands, and had to proceed cautiously for a time, but
Ituk, perceiving my difficulty, led to a smoother path, and we were soon
on the mainland, and upon the soft tundra, when it was only a few
minutes walk to the Home.

It was eleven o'clock in the evening, and we found the missionaries just
returned from a trip to the schooner, where they had secured fresh
potatoes and onions. The smell and taste of an onion was never so good
to me before, and the potatoes were the first we had seen in six months.

I had been in the Home in the early spring for a day, and now, as then,
met with a warm welcome from the missionaries. They now had double the
number of native children they had in Chinik, and their house is large
and commodious, though unfinished.

I was assigned the velvet couch upon which I had spent a good many
nights, and the two natives returned to Mollie after securing some bread
from Miss E. for their lunches.

Next day we visited, and I rested considerably, finding again how good
it was to be in a safe and quiet place with no fear of stone throwers or
giant powder.

About half-past ten o'clock in the evening, just after the sun had set,
we started on our return trip, Mollie having arrived with her dog-teams
and natives. The sunset sky was exceedingly beautiful, but beneath our
feet we had only very bad ice and water. Near the island great ice cakes
were floating, interspersed with dark seams and lanes wider than we had
before seen. Sometimes I rode on one of the sleds or walked, ran or
leaped over the water holes to keep up with the rest until too tired and
heated, when I threw myself upon a sled again; but as we proceeded we
found firmer ice and less water. Mollie and I had both to ride upon one
sled now, for Ituk had lashed the kyak upon the little one, and they
were one dog short, as an animal had run away while they were eating
supper at the Home. Finally, pitying the dogs upon the large sled, who
seemed to have a heavy load (although only one seal, as they had met
with little success in hunting), I motioned to Ituk to wait for me,
which he did.

"Ituk," I called, as I came nearer, "let me ride in the kyak, will you?"

"You ride in kyak?" asked the man in surprise.

"Yes, let me get in, I will hold on tight," and, as he made no
objection, I climbed upon the boat, crept into the hole made for that
purpose and sat down.

"All right, Ituk; I am ready," I said.

The man laughed, cracked his whip, and the dogs started.

I had not before realized that I would be sitting so high up, and that
at each dip in a crack or depression of the ice, when the sled runner
ran a little higher than the other, I should stand a grand chance of
being spilled into the water, but my feet were so cold in my rubber
boots that I was thinking to get them under cover would be agreeable,
and though Ituk probably well knew what the outcome of my ride would be,
he very patiently agreed to allow me to try it.

We had not gone far when our dogs made a sudden dash or turn, the
right-hand runner slipped lengthwise into a seam, and over we went,
sled, kyak, woman and all upon the ice in a sorry heap. The dogs halted
instantly, and Ituk, who had been running on the left-hand side of them,
came back at my call.

"O, Ituk, come here and help me! I cannot get out of the kyak," I cried
lustily. "I will not get into it again," and I rubbed my wrist upon
which the skin had been slightly bruised, and he assisted me to my feet.

The native laughed.

"Kyak no good--riding--heap better run," he said.

"That's so, Ituk, but my feet are very cold."

"Get warm quick--you running," was his reply, and we started on again.

When five or six miles from Chinik the water became more troublesome,
and our progress was slow. We were wading through holes, leaping over
seams, and treading through slush and water. It was colder than the
night before, a thin skin of ice was forming, but not firm enough to
hold one up. I was cold and cuddled into the sled with Mollie, but the
two natives running alongside were continually sitting upon the rail to
get a short ride instead of walking, thus loading the sled too heavily
upon one side, and we were soon all tumbled into water a foot deep.

As I went over I threw out my arm to save myself, and my sleeve was
soaked through in an instant. Koki and Muky thought it great fun, and
laughed and shouted in glee, but to me it was a little too serious. My
clothes were wet through on my right side, and I was now obliged to run
whether I wanted to do so or not, for we were fully a mile from home. My
gloves and handkerchief were soaked with water, and I threw them away,
thrusting my hands into my jacket pockets and running to keep up with
the others.

We were now wading and leaping across frequent lanes, and were more in
the water than upon the ice. The sharp eyes of the natives had discerned
the shore line well bordered by open water, and they were wondering how
they would get across. Finally we could get no farther, and were a
hundred feet from the beach.

"Dogs can swim," said Mollie, sententiously, as was her habit.

"How will you and I get on shore, Mollie?" I asked anxiously.

"Ituk, big man,--he carry you, may be," answered Mollie, roguishly, with
a twinkle.

"But," I continued seriously, "how deep is the water, anyway, Koki?"
seeing that he had been wading in to find out.

"Him not much deep. We walk all right,--'bout up here," and the native
placed his hand half way between his knee and thigh to show the depth,
then walking a little farther down towards the hotel he seemed to find a
better place, and called for all to follow, which we did.

The men waded across to the shore, stepping upon stones which now and
then, at this point, were embedded in the sand, Mollie boldly following
their example. All wore high-skin boots, coming far above their knees,
and water-tight, but my rubber-boots had never been put to a test like
this, only coming a little above my knees, where the soft tops were
confined by a drawstring, and this water was very cold, as I had good
reason to know.

However, there was nothing to do but go on, first watching the others,
and then plunging boldly in. I drew my boot-tops higher, fastened the
strings securely, picked up my short skirts and wound them closely about
me, but not in a manner to impede my progress, and stepped in.

By this time the dogs and men were upon the sands, and making for home,
only a few rods away, but I took my time, walking slowly in order that
the water should not slop over the tops of my boots, and we finally
reached the beach and the house safely.



CHAPTER XXVI.

GOOD-BYE TO GOLOVIN BAY.


On the morning of the twenty-sixth of June I awoke to find that the ice
had drifted out to sea in the night, eight days after Mollie and I had
taken our twelve miles trip across the bay and return. Then came hard
rain and wind, that, for several days, blew the ice back into the bay,
first to one side, and then to the other, so that the steamers waiting
to come in could not do so for fear of the drifting floes. By the
thirtieth of June schooners were coming into the bay with passengers and
freight, and the coast steamers, "Elmore" and "Dora," had begun to make
regular trips to and from Nome.

With them came mails from the outside, with newspapers and tidings of
friends in the States. Then our fingers trembled at opening our letters
until we found that all our dear ones were well, and we heartily thanked
the Lord. There were other white women in camp by this time, and many
strangers at the hotel, among others, officials, and those in authority.

Since the stone-throwing episode the Marshal had been doing duty as
watchman, sleeping during the day and guarding the house nights, the
heavy iron "bracelets" in his inner coat pocket weighing scarcely more
than the loaded revolver in his belt.

Our little sick girl being obliged now to keep her bed continually, with
no more playing in the sand and sunshine, although her cough had left
her, was still the same sweet, patient child she had been through all
her illness, and my whole time was given to her. Before one of the sunny
south windows of the living room we placed her cot each morning, and
here she received her numerous friends, both Eskimo and white, and their
names were legion. They came from the east, west, north and south, all
sorry to know of her illness, and bringing presents with them.

Sometimes it was a little live bird or squirrel, a delicious salmon
trout or wild fowl for her supper; sometimes it was candy, nuts, or
fresh fruit from Nome, and with everything she was well pleased and
joyous. Friends soon came in from the outside, bringing city dolls
dressed in ribbons and laces; there were tiny dishes, chairs, tables,--a
hundred things dear to a little girl's heart, and all pleased her
immensely, but all were laid quickly aside for a basket of wild flowers
or mosses, for a fish, bird, animal or baby, showing plainly her taste
for the things of nature in preference to art. Her love for her
birthplace, with its hills, streams and ocean is a sincere one, and,
young as she is, and having seen the great city by the Golden Gate,
with many of its wonders, she is happiest in Chinik.

Here lives her dear, old grandmother, her cousins and aunts, not to
mention the little calico-capped baby belonging to Apuk, for which she
has a whole heartful of love, and the sight of which is better to her
than medicine.

During the month of July we eagerly watched the incoming steamers, and
welcomed all new comers who landed in Chinik. Many were simply passing
through on their way up Fish River to the mines, and praise of the land
of the "Ophir" gold was sung on all sides. A few remained for the
summer. Here men built boats, and rowed away to Keechawik and Neukluk,
carrying supplies for hunting or prospecting.

The captain's vegetable garden in the sand was growing rapidly, and was
watched with eager eyes by everyone. We ate lettuce and radishes, picked
fresh from the garden beds where they had been sown by the captain's own
hands, and we found Ageetuk and Mollie to be quite famous cooks. Nothing
so delicious as their salads (for the French cooks had long ago gone,
the hotel management being changed, and Mollie had a nice little kitchen
of her own), and with fresh salmon trout, wild fowl, fresh meats and
vegetables, we made up for many months of winter dieting.

All this time I longed to get away. I was going each day to the hill-top
to watch for the steamers which would bring the letters for which I
waited. Affairs connected with my gold claims were, with much anxiety
and trouble, arranged as well as possible, and when I boarded the
steamer, I would carry with me, at least, three deeds to as many claims,
with a fair prospect of others; but I could not decide to remain another
winter. I was determined to go to St. Michael, up the Yukon to Dawson,
and "outside," and laid my plans accordingly. Letters from my father and
brother in Dawson had been received.

[Illustration: CLAIM ON BONANZA CREEK.]

How my heart ached when I thought of leaving the little sick girl and
Charlie, the latter now grown wilful, but still so bright and pretty. I
wanted to take both with me, but, no, I could not.

The little girl's work was not ended. Hers is a wonderful mission, and
she is surely about to fulfill it. Born as she was in a rough mining
camp at the foot of the barren hills, she was given the Eskimo name of
Yahkuk, meaning a little hill, and she, like an oasis in a desert place,
is left here to cheer, love, and help others.

Many times I have seen evidence of the sweet and gentle influences going
out from the life of little Yahkuk as she lies upon her cot of pain. A
tall, brown miner enters the living room, goes to the little bed by the
window, speaks softly, and, bending over the tiny girl, kisses her. Then
her big, black eyes glance brightly into blue ones looking down from
above, full red lips part in a cordial smile, while the one solitary
dimple in the smooth, round cheek pricks its way still deeper, and small
arms go up around his neck. When the man turns, his face wears a soft
and tender expression as though he were looking at some beautiful sight
far away, and, perhaps, he is. God grant that the sweet memory of that
little child's kiss may be so lasting that all their lives, he and
others, may be purer and better men.

When August came I sailed away. The "Dora" had entered the bay in the
morning and found my trunk packed and waiting; it was then only the work
of a little time to make ready to leave. To my good missionary friends I
had already said good-bye, and the captain and Mollie were kindly
regretful. With tears in my eyes, but with real pain in my heart I bade
Jennie good-bye, and stepped into the little boat which was to carry me
to the "Dora."

Farewell, then, to Chinik, the home of the north wind and blizzard.
Farewell to the ice fields of Golovin, so tardy in leaving in summer,
and to Keechawik and Chinik, whose clear rushing waters so cheered us in
spring time. Farewell to the moss-covered hills and paths thickly
bordered with blossoms. Farewell to my white-faced friends, and to the
dark-skinned ones, "Beoqua."



CHAPTER XXVII.

GOING OUTSIDE.

   "Do I sleep? Do I dream?
      Do I wonder and doubt?
    Are things what they seem?
      Or are visions about?"


I was now actually on my way home. It was not a dream, for here I was on
board the snug little ocean steamer "Dora," belonging to the Alaska
Commercial Company, and I was on my way to St. Michael and Dawson. For
ocean travel our steamer was a perfect one in all its appointments,
being staunch and reliable, with accommodating officers. After taking a
last look at Chinik, I went to my stateroom. Only one stop was made
before we reached St. Michael, that being at Port Denbeigh, a new mining
camp where for some hours freight was unloaded. In about twenty-two
hours from the time we left Chinik we were in St. Michael harbor,
climbing down upon a covered barge which took us ashore.

It was nearly two years since I had first landed at this dock,--then in
a snow storm, now in the rain,--then with my brother, now alone. Not at
all like Nome is this quiet little hamlet of St. Michael by the sea.
Neither saloons nor disorderly places are allowed upon the island. What
was formerly a canteen for soldiers was now a small but tidy restaurant,
where I ate a good dinner of beef-steak with an appetite allowable in
Alaska.

Upon the streets and about the barracks were many boys in blue, while
the hotel parlors swarmed at dinner time with officers and their wives
and daughters, all richly and fashionably attired. At the parlor piano
two ladies performed a duet, while the silken skirts of others rustled
in an aristocratic manner over the thick carpet, and gentlemen in dress
suits and gold-laced uniforms gracefully posed and chatted.

For my own part, a little homesick feeling had to be resolutely put down
as I pulled on my old rain coat, and with umbrella and handbag trudged
out in the darkness and rain to look for my baggage. I had already
secured my transportation at the steamship office, where, at the hands
of the kindly manager of the Alaska Commercial Company's affairs in this
country I had received the most courteous treatment I could desire. With
little delay I found my trunk and went on board the Yukon steamer T. C.
Power.

Some months before a consolidation of the three largest transportation
companies in Alaska had been effected, including the Alaska Commercial
Company, and I was now traveling with the latter under the name of the
Northern Commercial Company, but I felt a security like that of being
in charge of an old and trustworthy friend, and was quite content.

I had a long journey before me. We should reach Dawson in fourteen days
unless we met with delays, but a fast rising wind warned us that we
might encounter something of the sort where we were, and we did. For two
days and nights our steamer lay under the lee of the island, not daring
to venture out in the teeth of the gale which buffeted us. Straining,
creaking, swaying, first one way and then the other, we lay waiting for
the storm to abate. No river steamer with stern wheel and of shallow
draught, could safely weather the rough sea for sixty miles to the
Yukon's mouth, and we tried to be patient.

Early on the morning of the third day we started, and for twelve hours
we ploughed our way through the waters with bow now deep in the trough
of the sea, now lifted high in mid-air, to be met the next moment by an
uprising roller, which, with a boom and a jar, sent a quiver through the
whole vessel.

When at last the Yukon was reached, another obstacle appeared and we
stuck fast on a sand bar. Soon two other steamers lay alongside,
waiting, as did we, for a high tide to float us.

By night we lay in a dead calm. Indians in canoes came with fish and
curios to sell, and we watched the lights of the other steamers.

When the high tide came, we floated off the bar, but the scene was one
of dull monotony, and it was not until the day following that we came
into the hill country, and I was permitted to again see the dear trees I
loved so well, not one of which I had seen since leaving California.

At Anvik there came on board a little missionary teacher bound for
Philadelphia, who had spent seven years with the natives in this
Episcopal Mission without a vacation, and her stories were interesting
in the extreme.

Our days were uneventful. A broken stern wheel, enforced rests upon sand
bars, frequent stops at wood yards with a few moments run upon shore in
which to gather autumn leaves, and get a sniff of the woods, this was
our life upon the Yukon steamer for many days. After a while the nights
grew too dark for safe progress, and the boat was tied up until
daylight.

Russian Mission, Tanana, Rampart, Fort Yukon and the Flats were passed,
and the days wore tediously on. We were literally worming our way up
stream, with low water and dark nights to contend with, but a second
summer was upon us with warm, bright sunshine, and the hills were
brilliantly colored.

One morning we approached the towering Roquett Rock, so named by
Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka in his explorations down the Yukon years
before, and connected with which is an Indian legend of some interest.

This immense rock (so the story runs) once formed a part of the western
shore of the Yukon, and was one of a pair of towering cliffs of about
the same size, and with similar characteristics. Here the two huge
cliffs lived for many geological periods in wedded bliss as man and
wife, until finally family dissensions invaded the rocky household, and
ended by the stony-hearted husband kicking his wrangling wife into the
distant plain, and changing the course of the great river so that it
flowed between them, to emphasize the perpetual divorce. The cliff and
the rock are still known as "the old man" and "the old woman," the
latter standing in isolation upon a low, flat island with the muddy
Yukon flowing on both sides.

At this time of the year the days in Alaska grow perceptibly shorter,
and we were not surprised to find dusky twilight at five in the
afternoon, and to notice the eerie loneliness of the dark, sweet scented
woods a few hours later, when the steamer lay tied to the river's bank.

One night after dinner a number of passengers sat idly about in the
saloon of our steamer. Many had grown tired of cards, or had lost their
money, and, finding themselves pitted against more lucky players, had
called a halt and looked for other occupation. Miners lounged about,
chatting of the gold mines, their summer's work and experiences. Big
Curly and his little black-eyed wife listened attentively for a time.

The old miner was a born story teller, and knew a good yarn when he
heard it. The boat was tied up for the night, and all was quiet around
us. It was the time and place for a story.

At last Big Curly hitched his chair out farther from the wall, and
placed his feet comfortably upon the rungs; then, shifting his tobacco
from one cheek to the other, he asked if any one present had heard the
story of Nelson and the ghost. No one had heard it, and, after some
coaxing, this is the tale he told.


The Ghost of Forty Mile.

Alaska has long smiled over old Indian legends, but Yukon men are still
puzzling over the nocturnal rambles of the ghost of a murdered man in
the Forty Mile District. Following the excitement of the discovery of
Bonanza Bar and the sensational riches of Franklin Gulch came the murder
of an old Frenchman named La Salle. Tanana Indians committed the crime
in 1886. They crossed the mountains to Forty Mile, and killed La Salle
in his cabin at the mouth of O'Brian Creek. With axes and bludgeons the
old Frenchman's head was crushed beyond recognition.

Three months later the snow lay thick upon the ground. Upon the branches
of trees it persistently hung, each added layer clinging tenaciously
because there was no breath of wind to send it to the ground.
Occasionally a dead twig, weighted too heavily by the increasing fall
of snow, broke suddenly and dropped noiselessly into a bed of feathery
flakes, thus joining its sleeping companions, the leaves.

[Illustration: ON BONANZA CREEK.]

It was in January that two men might have been seen following their
dog-teams down a frozen stream emptying into Forty Mile River. They
wished to reach the mouth of the creek before they halted for the night.
They had heard of a cabin in which they planned to spend the night,
although it was a deserted one, and they were almost at the desired
point.

The men were Swedes. They were strong and hardy fellows, and although
frost covered their clothing and hung in icicles about their faces, they
ran contentedly behind the dog-teams in the semi-darkness, as only the
snow-light remained.

"Hello!" called out Swanson finally to his companion. "Is that the
place, do you think?" pointing to the dim shape of a log cabin a little
ahead.

"Guess it is, but we'll find out. I'm nearly starved, and must stop
soon, any way," said Nelson decidedly. "It's no use for us to travel
further tonight."

"So I think," was the reply, as the dogs halted before the door, and the
men entered the cabin. Here they found a good-sized room, containing one
window. There was evidently a room on the other side, but with no
connecting door, the two cabins having been built together to save
laying one wall.

"This is good enough for me, and much warmer than a tent--we'll stay
here till morning, and take the dogs inside," said kind-hearted Nelson,
already unhitching the dogs from a sled.

Swanson did the same. The next moment their small store was carried into
the cabin, wood was collected, and a cheery fire soon roared up the
chimney.

After the men had eaten their supper and the dogs had been fed, pipes
were brought out; and, stretching themselves upon their fur sleeping
bags before the fire, the miners smoked and chatted while resting their
weary limbs.

Suddenly, in the midnight stillness they heard a strange noise in the
other part of the cabin. Some one was moaning and crying for help. There
was no mistaking the sound, and both men were wide awake and intently
listening.

It was the cry of some one in distress. The sounds grew more blood
curdling. Nelson, unable to restrain himself longer, ran outside to
investigate. Going to the window he looked inside. The sight he beheld
congealed his blood, and fastened him to the spot as in a trance. This
was the image of a man surrounded by a cloud of white, mist-like
phosphorescent light, a deep scar standing out like a bleeding gash down
the side of the head. Then the forgotten story of the murdered La Salle
came to his mind, and for several minutes he was chained to the spot by
the terror of the spectacle.

The apparition was half lying upon the floor, with arm uplifted, as if
warding off a blow from some deadly instrument. Finally, in the
desperation of his terror, Nelson called his partner to come to his
assistance. Upon the approach of his companion he summoned enough
courage to step to the door at the other end of the cabin, and try to
open it. It was held fast by some superhuman agency, which allowed the
door to be only partly opened.

Swanson, at sight of the ghostly visitor, was not so badly overcome as
his friend, and having an inquisitive turn of mind, wished to find if
the apparition really existed. He called out, demanding to be told who
was there, but no answer came.

Still the mysterious, unearthly noises came through the cabin door. No
soughing of the wind could make such sounds had a tempest been blowing,
but a deathly stillness prevailed, and no breath of air stirred.

Then it was that Swanson gathered all that was left of his fast
disappearing courage, and said: "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy
Spirit, are you demon, man or ghost?"

Suddenly the door opened and in the uncertain, misty light the
apparition raised its hands to the stars as if in prayer, then it grew
dark and the ghostly visitor vanished as if the earth had engulfed it
forever.

While turning this tale over in mind later, I came to the conclusion,
which seems a reasonable one, that some fortunate miner had, in all
probability, hidden an amount of golden treasure in or about the cabin
on the creek, and wishing to keep others away, had circulated the ghost
story with good effect.

When Eagle City was reached I telegraphed my brother to meet me at the
steamer's dock in Dawson, and my message was sent by one of Uncle Sam's
boys in blue in charge of the office.

The town had grown considerably in the two years since I visited it, and
now boasted new government buildings, officer's quarters, and a
Presbyterian church, besides new stores and shops.

After Cudahy and Forty Mile, came Dawson, and we steamed up to the
city's dock in the morning fog, and were met by the usual multitude of
people, I having been seventeen days out from Golovin Bay. There, among
others, waited my brother and his little son, and my joy at meeting them
was great. Landing, it was only a walk of a few minutes to my kind old
father, and my brother's wife was not far away.

I was now practically at home, for home is where our dear ones are, and
surroundings are matters of small moment.

Three happy weeks followed, I went everywhere and noted well the
improvements in the camp since I last saw it. It was now a cleaner town
every way, with better order, good roads and bridges, new government
buildings, post-office and fine large schoolhouse. New frame churches
replaced the old log ones in most cases. There was the governor's new
palatial residence which would never be graced by the presence of its
mistress as she and her babe had gone down to death a few weeks before
in the Islander disaster in Lynn Canal; and there was the same steady
stream of gold from the wondrous Klondyke Creeks, which I was now
determined to visit.

[Illustration: SKAGWAY RIVER, FROM THE TRAIN.]

One bright, warm day, taking the hand of the small boy of the family, my
sister and I started for Bonanza Creek. We were bound for the house of a
friend who had invited us, and we would remain over night, as the
distance was five miles. My kodak and three big red apples weighed
little in our hands, and we turned toward the Klondyke River in high
spirits.

For a mile the road was bordered with log cabins on the hillside, with
the famous little river flowing on the other. We crossed the fine
Ogilvie Bridge, and soon found ourselves upon Bonanza Creek, the stream
which, with the Eldorado, had given to the world perhaps the major part
of golden Klondyke treasure up to this date. Following the trail by a
short cut we crossed shaky foot bridges, rested upon logs along the
trail, and picked our way over boggy spots until our limbs were weary.

Everywhere there were evidences of the industry of the miners, but the
claims and cabins looked deserted. Only in a few instances were men at
work near the mouth of the creek. Many people were going to and from
Dawson, and bicycles and wagons were numerous.

When we reached our destination we had walked five miles in the hot
sunshine, and were hungry and warm, but a warm welcome from Mr. and Mrs.
M., as well as a good dinner, awaited us.

After resting a while we were shown around the premises. Three log
cabins were being built in a row upon the hillside, the one finished
being already occupied by the M. family. Tunnels were being made in the
mountain by Mr. M., as well as other claim owners near by, and across
the gulch mining operations were in full blast. On the M. claim
preparations were being made for winter work, and it was expected that a
valuable dump would be taken out before spring. For three hundred feet
one tunnel entered the mountain back of the cabins, and we were invited
to go into it.

Putting on our warmest wraps, with candles in hand, we followed our
guide, the proprietor, for some distance. It was like walking in a
refrigerator, for the walls and floor of the tunnel were solidly frozen
and sparkled with ice. Whether the bright specks we saw were always
frost, we did not enquire, etiquette forbidding too much curiosity, but
from the satisfied nods and smiles we understood that it was a good
claim, though only recently purchased by Mr. M., a handful of pudgy gold
nuggets being shown us which fairly made our eyes water (because they
did not belong to us).

Here we lodged all night, enjoying a graphophone entertainment in the
evening. The next morning my kodak was brought out, and before leaving
for home I had several views to carry with me.

Our walk back to Dawson was much easier than the one out to the claim.

From this on, we made ready to leave Dawson for Seattle, and were soon
upon our way. Again I was forced to say good-bye to my father and
brother, though they would follow us a month later, and together, my
sister and I, stood with the little boy on the deck of the steamer,
waving our good-byes.

We now traveled in luxury. We occupied a large and elegant stateroom,
ate first-class meals, and had nothing to do but enjoy ourselves. To
change from steamer to steam cars at White Horse, which was now a good
mining town, was the work of an hour's time, while a day's ride to
Bennett and over the White Pass to Skagway was a real pleasure.

We found the quiet little port of Skagway swarming with people rushing
for the steamers, and as if to give us variety we had considerable
difficulty in finding our trunks in the custom's house, and in getting
upon the steamer in the darkness of the late evening; but at last it was
all successfully accomplished, and we took our last look at Skagway.

Eleven days after leaving Dawson we reached our journey's end, and
landed in Seattle, our home coming being a source of delight to our dear
waiting ones, as well as to ourselves; our safe arrival being another
positive proof of the mercy and goodness of God.


[Decoration]





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