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Title: The Radio Boys Rescue the Lost Alaska Expedition
Author: Breckenridge, Gerald, 1889-1964
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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[Illustration: “What does she say, Frank? Any luck yet?” Page 40]



                             THE RADIO BOYS
                               RESCUE THE
                         LOST ALASKA EXPEDITION

                         By GERALD BRECKENRIDGE

                               AUTHOR OF

           “The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border,” “The Radio
             Boys on Secret Service Duty,” “The Radio Boys
               with the Revenue Guards,” “The Radio Boys’
                    Search for the Inca’s Treasure.”


                           A. L. BURT COMPANY
                          Publishers—New York



                         THE RADIO BOYS SERIES

                A Series of Stories for Boys of All Ages

                         By GERALD BRECKENRIDGE

                  The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border
                 The Radio Boys on Secret Service Duty
                 The Radio Boys with the Revenue Guards
             The Radio Boys’ Search for the Inca’s Treasure
            The Radio Boys Rescue the Lost Alaska Expedition

                            Copyright, 1922
                         By A. L. BURT COMPANY

            THE RADIO BOYS RESCUE THE LOST ALASKA EXPEDITION

                           Made in “U. S. A.”



The Radio Boys Rescue the Lost Alaska Expedition



CHAPTER I.—THE LOST EXPEDITION.


“Strange that you boys should be talking about the ‘Lost Expedition.’”

“Oh, hello, Dad. Why strange?”

“Because I have just come from a conference with a man who knows all
there is to know about it. And he was telling me——.”

Mr. Hampton advanced from the doorway into the sitting room, and looked
at the faces of the three boys in turn. They were his son, Jack, and the
latter’s chums, Bob Temple and Frank Merrick, who together had gone
through many adventures related in other books of “The Radio Boys”
series.

It was the sitting room of a suite in a Seattle hotel. Here the four,
arriving from South America, after finding and losing “The Enchanted
City of the Incas” as told of in “The Radio Boys Search for the Incas’
Treasure,” were ensconced on their way to their Long Island homes.

“Well, Dad, what was this man telling you?”

“Yes, Mr. Hampton, tell us,” added Frank “We’re curious.”

“What do you know about the ‘Lost Expedition?’” countered Mr. Hampton.
“I stood in the doorway unobserved a moment and heard you discussing
it.”

“Nothing but what this article in the Sunday paper tells,” said big Bob,
grumblingly, “And the fellow that wrote this yarn didn’t know very much.
It’s mostly talk.”

Mr. Hampton nodded.

“Speculation, I suppose,” he said. “Well, that’s the best the writer
could do. The facts aren’t generally known. However, wait a minute until
I get off this wet coat and get into something comfortable. It’s raining
again.”

“Raining again?” said Jack. “Doesn’t it ever stop here?”

“Oh, that’s just the Seattle Winter,” said his father. “The rains are
necessary, and, really, they are so mild one doesn’t mind them after a
time.”

“Huh,” grumbled big Bob. “I’d think these people would grow web feet.”

“Look here,” said Mr. Hampton, after getting into his smoking jacket and
slippers. “What I learned today ought to interest you boys.”

“Why, Dad?” Jack leaned forward eagerly.

“Well, wait until I tell you a bit about it,” said his father. “Then
you’ll see.”

Then, while the three young fellows paid close attention, Mr. Hampton
proceeded to relate the story of the “Lost Expedition” so-called, the
expedition headed by Thorwald Thorwaldsson, the Norwegian explorer,
which had outfitted at Seattle the previous Spring, set out for an
unnamed destination in the Far North, and had never been heard of since.

A great deal of secrecy as to its objects had attended the departure of
this expedition in its sturdy schooner, and many were the wild guesses
and surmises concerning it advanced in the papers and among the
hangers-on along the Seattle waterfront. Some said confidently that the
expedition was going to attempt to reach the North Pole by airplane, for
an airplane was carried dismantled on the schooner. Others declared the
object sought was gold. And, in this regard, the vague rumors of vast
gold fields found in the past by this or that old-time prospector who
died without making his secret public, were brought to light and
furbished up with a wealth of apocryphal detail in order to bear out the
contention.

“But none of these assumptions,” said Mr. Hampton, “was correct. The
real object of the expedition never was made public, for the very good
reason that none of those in the know—and their numbers are few—ever
betrayed a word, or hint, of the secret.”

“And you know it?” asked Jack, with quickened interest.

Mr. Hampton nodded, and smiled teasingly.

“Come on, Mr. Hampton, tell us,” said Frank.

“You better, Mr. Hampton, or he’ll burst with curiosity,” advised big
Bob. “Show that boy a secret and he’s not content until he takes it
apart.”

“How about yourself?” said Frank, indignantly. “I suppose you don’t care
to hear, hey? Oh, no.”

Mr. Hampton interrupted.

“Wait a minute, Bob. No need to perjure yourself. I know all you boys
are eager to know the answer to the mystery of the ‘Lost Expedition.’
Well, I can tell it to you in one word. It is——”

He paused. Then added:

“Oil.”

“Oil?”

All three listeners asked the question as if in one breath. Big Bob was
no less inquisitive than the others, despite his twigging of Frank for
his curiosity.

Mr. Hampton nodded.

“Yes,” he said. “Oil.”

For a moment he was silent, collecting his thoughts. Then he leaned
forward, cleared his throat and continued:

“Perhaps my words are a disappointment to you. The Northland for you,
probably, is invested in a mysterious glamor. It means either men
struggling through incalculable hardships to win their way to the North
Pole, to the top of the world, or else fighting against all the mighty
forces of Nature in a grim, ice-locked land to wrest a stream of golden
wealth from the bosom of the Earth.

“Ah, yes,” he continued, smiling slightly, “I know how you feel.
Whenever our preconceived and heroic notions are upset we feel a sense
of disappointment. But, consider for a moment, the meaning of this
matter. Here, far away in the Northland, in a remote district to which
so far as known only two white men have ever penetrated, lies a mighty
river flowing north into the Arctic Ocean, along the banks of which are
such vast deposits of oil that it oozes through the soil and into the
river to such an extent that the river in reality is a river of oil and
never freezes.”

“A river of oil that never freezes, Dad?” said Jack. “Do you expect us
to believe that?”

“And flowing north, too?” said Frank, whose quick mind had seized upon
that point of contrariety in Nature.

Mr. Hampton smiled.

“Well, boys, it is hard to believe, I’ll admit,” he said. “Yet that this
river does flow north is undoubted. That it never freezes, however, is
an exaggeration. The truth is, probably, that at spots so much oil seeps
into the water that soft spots are formed.

“Hitherto,” he continued, “there have been only two rivers known that
flow north into the Arctic in that region—the MacKenzie and the
Coppermine, along the shores of which are vast deposits of copper that
some day, undoubtedly, will be opened up to exploitation. However, this
other northward-flowing river in the midst of a vast oil field must now
be added to the list, if the word of the lone explorer is to believed,
of the one man who has been there and lived to return with the tale.”

“But I thought you said this river was known to two white men, Dad?”
objected Jack.

“So I did. So I did,” declared his father. “And two there were—Cameron
and Farrell. But Cameron died on the trip to the outside, and Farrell
alone lived despite incredible hardships, to finally reach Edmonton with
the tale. Now he, too, is gone—for he was a member of Thorwaldsson’s
‘Lost Expedition.’

“When he reached Edmonton, a thriving Canadian city, Farrell, an
adventurous fellow who at one time had worked in the Southwestern oil
fields as an employee of the syndicate of independent operators which
once employed me there as superintendent, realized the value of his
discovery and kept his mouth closed until he got in touch with Anderson,
the big man of the syndicate. Anderson saw at once the importance of the
find. But he also saw that Farrell’s marvelous oil field would virtually
have to be rediscovered before steps to develop it could be taken. For,
in struggling through to the outside, Farrell had suffered the loss of
his compass, had been turned about in Winter fogs, had lain delirious
for a long period in the igloo of friendly Eskimos within the Arctic
Circle and, in general, had suffered so many hardships that his mind was
clouded and he had no clear idea of where lay this oil field.

“Anderson, however, placed such faith in Farrell’s report that he
decided to outfit an expedition to retrace the footsteps of Farrell and
Cameron into the Arctic in the hope of thus once more coming upon the
oil field. Inasmuch as they had gone in through Alaska, that was the way
which Thorwaldsson’s expedition took.”

Mr. Hampton paused. Jack, who had been eyeing his father closely, now
put a hand on his arm.

“And now what, Dad?” he asked.

“Now Anderson wants me to attempt to go after the ‘Lost Expedition’ and
try to relocate the oil fields as well as find some trace of
Thorwaldsson,” said Mr. Hampton.

“I thought so,” said Jack, in a tone of satisfaction. “When do we
start?”

“We?” Mr. Hampton chuckled. “I like that. Just as cool as you please
about it, too. We? Well, well.”

“Do we leave at once?” asked Jack, imperturbably, not one whit disturbed
by his father’s pleasantry.

Mr. Hampton shook his head.

“Whether I take you at all is questionable,” he said. “Certainly, I have
no intention of going at once. If I go at all, it will not be until the
Arctic Summer begins.”

“Meantime, I suppose, I’m to return to Yale.”

“Yes, you’ve missed a half year, thanks to our adventures in search of
the Incas’ treasure in South America, but that is no reason why you
should miss the balance of the term. I’ll tell you what,” he added,
taking pity on the three, “if you fellows go back to college and study
hard to make up for lost time until Summer, and if the ‘Lost Expedition’
is still lost at that time, why, I’ll see what can be done.”

“Hurray,” cried Jack. “That’s a promise.”



CHAPTER II.—SETTING OUT FROM NOME.


“Well, boys, where do we go from here?”

It was Frank who asked the question, and he sat on a heap of luggage on
the beach at Nome, with Jack and Bob beside him looking alternately at
the mountain beyond the Alaskan outpost and at Mr. Hampton deep in
conversation with a short sturdy figure of a man, clad in khaki
breeches, high leather boots and a flannel shirt, a short distance away.
The figure was that of Tom Farnum, scout of the independent oil
interests at Nome.

It was Summer, and Summer in Alaska as the boys were beginning to
realize meant hot weather, indeed. All had their coats off, and were
perspiring. Only an hour before they had been put ashore by the steamer
from Seattle, and Mr. Hampton had left them on the beach with their
luggage while he went in search of Tom Farnum, who had failed to meet
them at the landing as they had expected.

“Where do we go from here?” Jack repeated Frank’s question. “Well, if
you ask me, almost any place would be better than Nome.”

He looked with disfavor at the little town sprawling at the base of the
mountain.

“Not just what I expected,” he said. “I’ve heard of Nome all my life, it
seems, and now, just look at it. Why, it’s hardly a spot on the map.”

“But what a history it has had, Jack,” said Frank. “Don’t judge by
appearances too much. Remember this town has seen the Gold Rush.”

“I wonder what Dad is talking about,” said Jack, ignoring Frank’s
remark.

“Probably discussing how soon we can get away,” said big Bob, speaking
for the first time. “At any rate,” he added, “I see your father and his
companion pointing to that gasoline schooner off shore.”

At this moment, their doubts were resolved, for Mr. Hampton and his
companion ended their conversation and approached the boys.

“Well, boys, we’ll soon be under way,” said Mr. Hampton. Whereupon he
introduced Farnum all around. The latter was a prepossessing man with a
weather-beaten face and a grizzled mustache, above which jutted a
promontory of a nose between deep-set, wide, blue eyes.

“That is our schooner out there,” Mr. Hampton continued, indicating the
boat to which Bob earlier had drawn attention. “Mr. Farnum,” he added,
“has stated casually around Nome that he is taking a party of hunters up
the MacKenzie. We’ll get away at once, as nothing is to be gained by a
stay in Nome and as, furthermore, we wish to avoid inquiries into our
aims. The story Farnum has told will do well enough.”

Farnum nodded.

“Just a white lie,” he said, grinning. “No use letting the curious know
all your secrets.”

Then followed an hour of brisk work, at the end of which period the
luggage was safely stowed aboard the gasoline schooner, and its screw
began to turn. As the little vessel began to throb and draw away from
Nome, the boys leaned overside and watched the prospect dwindle in the
distance until the houses seemed like toys and the mountainside like a
painted backdrop in the theater.

“Hurray,” cried Bob, at last, “we’re off for the Great Unknown.”

“Yes,” agreed Frank, “I really feel that way, too. All the way up from
Seattle, I felt as if I were nothing more than a tourist, traveling a
beaten route. But this, well, this is different.”

After that they were silent a long time, while the schooner shook and
throbbed and steadily pushed its way up the coast, each boy busy with
his thoughts. Yet those thoughts were much the same.

Following that eventful discussion in Seattle, on their return from
South America and their adventures there in The Enchanted City of the
Incas, they had gone back to Yale and studied hard to make up for lost
time in the first half of the term. All three were clever and had the
knack of concentrating at their tasks, and all as a consequence had
succeeded in making up back work in classroom and lecture. As a result
they had entered the succeeding term, or at least were prepared to do
so, without conditions. This was a matter for congratulation, indeed,
and deserving of especial reward.

That reward had been theirs. For Mr. Hampton and Mr. Temple both decided
that their respective sons and Frank, Mr. Temple’s ward, should be
permitted to accompany Mr. Hampton on his trip to attempt to find some
trace of the “Lost Expedition” and of the reputed oil field in search of
which Thorwaldsson had set out.

“Farnum is reputed a wizard in knowledge of the Northland,” Mr. Hampton
had explained to Mr. Temple, “and, as a consequence, I do not consider
that we will run any danger. Our greatest danger, of course, would be to
become trapped in the Far North in the Fall and be prevented by the
rigors of Winter from regaining the outside. For I do not intend to
spend the Winter there. Instead, I hope to be back in civilization by
the early Fall.

“That,” he added, “will give us plenty of opportunity to seek traces of
the ‘Lost Expedition.’ I have been in communication with Farnum. His
plan is for us to push up the MacKenzie to one of its tributaries, and
then strike eastward. We will leave the gasoline schooner to make its
way back to Nome, while we push on overland, lightening our journey on
rivers and lakes, in the hope of finding the River of Oil flowing north.

“If we are unsuccessful, when the seasonal warnings of approaching
Winter come, we will turn to the southeast and come out in northern
Canada.

“The boys are hard and fit, and such a trip will be of inestimable value
for them. It will make them self-reliant and teach them to depend upon
themselves. Not that they are not in a fair way to be youths of that
sort already,” he added, smiling. “If you could have seen them in South
America, George, it would have done your heart good.”

“I know, I know,” said Mr. Temple, shaking his head slightly, and
smiling. “Several years ago, that time when you were captive in Mexico
and they set out to rescue you—”

“Yes, and did,” supplied Mr. Hampton.

“And did,” agreed Mr. Temple. “Well, they showed the stuff that was in
them then. And the very same Summer, when I took them to San Francisco
on what I considered was going to be a little pleasure trip combining a
bit of business with sight-seeing, and—”

“And you became involved with the Chinese smugglers, and imprisoned, and
ended up by busting up their show—”

“Yes,” resumed Mr. Temple, “and ended up by bringing the whole outfit
into the hands of Uncle Sam’s men. Well, I can tell you, they certainly
showed their calibre.”

“So, I reckon it will be all right to take them along on this trip,”
said Mr. Hampton.

“I suppose so,” agreed Mr. Temple. “But innocent as it looks now, I have
my doubts. I have my doubts. Wherever those three boys are found, there
you can look for things to move fast. Trouble courts them, it seems to
me.”

Accordingly, the boys had been told they would be taken on the trip into
the Far North. And wildly excited they had gone about their
preparations. Jack, the keenest radio enthusiast, was all for packing up
radio field equipment of every sort right at home. But his father had
dissuaded him, pointing out that Seattle was a large city and there
everything necessary in the way of an outfit could be purchased, thus
saving the trouble and expense of transporting overland to the Pacific
port.

“All right, Dad,” Jack had agreed. “But, remember, the selection of the
radio equipment is to be left to the fellows and me. We’ve had a lot of
experience with the value of radio when in a tight place, especially in
South America, and we want to put that experience to use and be prepared
for every contingency this time.”

To this Mr. Hampton readily had agreed, with the result that in Seattle
the three boys had revelled in the radio equipment stores, which they
found well stocked, as the use of radio had developed greatly on the
Pacific.

In consequence, their outfit included radio field equipment of the most
powerful, yet most compact, designs. For while Mr. Hampton fully
realized the value of having the very best yet he had issued a solemn
warning that bulk must be considered.

“We will have to travel as lightly as consistent with safety and the
purpose of our expedition,” he had said. “So don’t pile up anything too
heavy or bulky, or it will have to be discarded.”

Jack knew well that the distance which can be covered with a radiophone
transmitter is only about one-fourth as great as that of a wireless
telegraph transmitter having the same input of initial current.
Therefore, as a means of sending messages, supposedly for aid, over long
distances, the wireless telegraph would be the better, inasmuch as
equipment for it would be less bulky to transport than equipment for
transmitting the human voice. Nevertheless, he was reluctant to place
their sole dependence upon the wireless telegraph.

“You see, Dad,” he had pointed out to his father, when the outfit was
being assembled, “to reach the outside we shall have to depend upon
wireless telegraph. But we will also need the radiophone for this
reason: that each one of us ought to have a means of calling the main
party in case we become separated through going on scouting or hunting
expeditions, or for any reason.”

“Well, that sounds sensible,” his father had agreed. “Go ahead with your
plans, but, remember, hold down the bulk.”

The result was that equipment capable of telegraphing five hundred miles
was assembled, but also Jack made up five light field sets of radio, one
for each of their party and for Farnum, which the user could pack in his
clothing and which had a radius up to twenty-five miles. The instrument
was Jack’s now famous ring radio, worn on the finger, with a setting
only one inch by five-eighths of an inch. Formerly an umbrella as aerial
had been employed but Jack had done entirely away with that in his
improved set.

“Well, fellows,” said Jack, at last, as Nome faded entirely from view,
“I wonder what lies ahead. I wonder whether Thorwaldsson’s expedition
was stricken down by a plague, which seems hardly likely, as in that
case surely somebody would have managed to get word to the outside by
wireless or airplane, or whether it fell victim to a surprise attack by
Indians at night, as I understand from Dad that Farnum believes.”

“Is that so,” said Frank, in surprise. “That’s the first I heard of
that.”

“Yes,” said Jack. “Dad told me of it when we were coming aboard this
schooner. He said it was the first intimation Farnum had given him that
such might be the case, and also his first intimation that there were
hostile Indians in this country into which we are going. If it weren’t
too late, he told me, he would have turned back rather than imperil us,
as it is, we shall go pretty warily and try to steer clear of the
hostile Indian country.”

“Whew,” said Bob, “this sounds interesting, hey, what?”

His eyes began to shine.

“Old Bob. Always ready for a fight,” said Frank. “Well, let’s give him
one.”

And incontinently, he and Jack fell upon the big fellow and a tussle
followed that ended only when they almost fell overboard.



CHAPTER III.—IN THE WILDERNESS.


“Well, boys, tomorrow we leave the schooner.”

It was Tom Farnum who made the announcement over dinner which was eaten
on deck. The boat was anchored offshore, far up the Hare Indian River,
one of the great tributaries of the MacKenzie. How long it was since
they had left Nome none could tell, for in that land of perpetual
daylight it was hard to keep track of time.

“Tomorrow,” said big Bob, “when is tomorrow?”

He looked at the sun which was still high, despite the lateness of the
hour, and would make only an ineffectual attempt to dip below the
horizon at midnight, before resuming its upward climb.

Everybody laughed.

“What a topsy turvy land,” said Jack. “Well, I, for one, will be glad to
go ashore and stretch my legs. Wonderful as the trip has been so far,
I’m eager to get started.”

“Same here,” agreed Frank.

Little of moment had occurred to interrupt the monotony of the trip up
the coast and along the northern edge of Alaska and the North American
continent to the mouth of the MacKenzie. Of course, occasional ice floes
had been encountered and the little schooner had been compelled to make
wide detours. But that was to be expected in that Far Northern latitude.

In fact, when they had arrived at the mouth of the MacKenzie, the ice
was only recently dissipated from the great river. There, at a dock
where a little sidewheel steamer that plied on the MacKenzie in Summer
was tied up for repairs, they had replenished their stock of gasoline
and then continued the ascent, passing between willowed banks, where
huddled occasional trading posts surrounded by native villages, with the
snow-capped mountain peaks always in the distance.

Then they had reached the mouth of the Hare Indian River and soon had
put beyond them all appearance of the presence of man.

“This is the way Thorwaldsson’s party expected to go,” Farnum had said.
“For it was this route which Farrell and Cameron, the two prospectors,
followed on their way in. They were prospecting for gold, you know, had
no idea of finding oil. It was their original intention to strike
northeast across the numerous streams at the head of the Hare Indian in
search of gold. And Farrell reported, when he reached the outside, that
he had found traces and, in fact, several sizable pockets of gold.”

Accordingly they pushed on up the Hare Indian a number of days until, in
fact, the extra supplies of gasoline which had been taken aboard on
leaving the MacKenzie dwindled to the point where it became advisable
for the party to go ashore in order that the schooner might turn about
and have sufficient fuel to make its way downstream to the supply depot.

It was a period of time that, in fact, however, could hardly be
considered in terms of days. So far north had the party come that the
sun shone perpetually. It was only at midnight, for a brief space, that
it dipped to the horizon.

And what a gorgeous time it had proven to be for all concerned, but
especially for the boys. As the powerful little schooner forged ahead,
there was not a bend the rounding of which did not afford a surprise.
Sometimes it would be caribou or reindeer, probably an escape from some
Eskimo herd, which would be surprised standing in the water, and
breaking for the timber on the bank at their approach. Again brown bear
would be seen on the bank, or beaver swimming strongly across the
stream. As for fishing, it was an Izaak Walton paradise. All Bob, Frank
and Jack did for hours on end was to lean overside with hooks baited
with bacon rind dangling in the water astern, and pull in speckled
beauties. And many a meal was made, too, on wild duck or geese, picked
off with a light rifle.

Then came the time when Tom Farnum announced that they would stay ashore
on the morrow. And little sleep did the boys have that night, as they
lay awake on deck, whispering to each other, an awning shading them from
the sun.

Early the next morning they went ashore with their outfit, and then
watched the gasoline schooner throb off downstream, around the last
bend, and out of sight. As it disappeared, for the first time there came
to each of the three boys the feeling of isolation natural to their
situation. The last settlement was two hundred miles behind them. They
were going into the great unknown, into the regions marked “Unexplored”
on the maps of that great northern rim of the North American continent.

True, the weather was fine now and the country green and pleasant about
them. But how long would that endure? What if they were beset by
oncoming Winter before they could make their way to the outside? What if
they were attacked by hostile Indians? What obscure fate had met the
Thorwaldsson expedition, traces of which they sought?

Into the mind of each thronged such thoughts, as they stood in unwonted
silence. Then Mr. Hampton called to them.

“No time for day-dreaming. Each man to his job.”

With him Tom Farnum had brought two trusted men. They hailed from Nome,
but were old-timers who had been up and down Alaska for many years. Both
were men of forty, sober, steady fellows who would be useful in helping
distribute the burden of packs, and would, moreover, be of inestimable
value in keeping the party supplied with game as well as in almost any
situation that might arise. They were grizzled, weather-beaten men of
medium height, both with stout frames, and because of their long
existence in the lonesome north little given to talking. Their names
were Dick Fairwell and Art Bowman, and they were “Dick” and “Art” to
each other and the other members of the party. The boys had taken a
liking to both.

Two light canoes had been brought along from Nome, lashed to the deck of
the schooner, and in these the seven set out. The boys with Dick
occupied one canoe, the other three men with a larger portion of the
luggage the other.

When everything was in readiness, following a light breakfast on the
bank, the two canoes set out, that containing Farnum, Mr. Hampton and
Art taking the lead. About ten miles upstream a rapids was encountered,
and around this the first portage was made. Then once more they took to
the water.

Day followed day, in this fashion, as they pushed steadily forward,
until almost a week had elapsed. On the fifth day Tom Farnum let out a
whoop of joy and headed his canoe for the right bank of the stream at a
little gravelly beach. His sharp eye had detected a small cairn of
stones on the edge of the brush, and when the others came up with him
and stepped from their craft he was busily demolishing the stones
comprising the mound.

“A marker,” was the only explanation he vouchsafed. “Must have been left
by Thorwaldsson. Ah.”

At the exclamation he stood upright, holding a small metal box in his
hand. The lid was rusted on, and in his impatience, Farnum whipped out a
knife and gouged it off while the others crowded around him. Inside was
a fold of oilskin, which he ripped open. A folded paper was revealed,
which he opened. Then he read aloud the message thereon.

“It’s from Thorwaldsson all right. Listen,” he said, and read:

  “Please notify Mr. Otto Anderson, Ashland Block, Seattle, Wash., that
  I passed here July 2. Party intact with exception of crew sent as he
  ordered. Farrell says we are on right track.

                                                       “Thorwaldsson.”

“What does he mean by that reference to the crew?” asked Jack.

“Well,” said Farnum, glancing at Mr. Hampton, “as your father knows,
that is one of the unexplained and puzzling facts of the situation, that
about the ship. You see, a skeleton crew was to be left aboard the ship
and it was to winter in the MacKenzie. But of ship or crew, we have
found no trace. Search for the ship was prosecuted at the first
opportunity this Spring, but it had disappeared. I made a trip up the
MacKenzie myself, but the only information I could gather was an
occasional rumor at a trading post that a schooner had gone by, on its
way out, at night. A ship that might have been the Viking,
Thorwaldsson’s craft. That was last Fall. Perhaps, the skeleton crew
feared to winter in the MacKenzie and started for the outside, and was
caught in a storm which it was not sufficiently strong to weather. Only
three or four men were to be left aboard. That is the only explanation I
could think of.”

Mr. Hampton nodded.

“As I said before,” he stated, “that seems a reasonable explanation.
Three or four men, left alone, might have feared to face the Winter iced
in, or might have been stricken ill, and so, for some reason that
appeared good enough to them, might have decided to violate orders and
start out. As to the disappearance of the ship, many an undermanned
vessel has gone down in a storm, without leaving a trace.”

“But, Dad, you’ve said nothing about this,” protested Jack.

Mr. Hampton smiled slightly.

“There are a lot of things which I know I have never told you, Jack,” he
said. “If I really have neglected to speak of this, however, it has been
through an oversight. I’ve had a lot of things on my mind. But, come. We
know this is the way Thorwaldsson passed. We are on the right track. So
let us push on. We have still four hours of travel to do before making
camp.”



CHAPTER IV.—STRIKING GOLD.


Life flowed along very pleasantly indeed, for the boys, during the weeks
that followed. They were so far north that the sun shone constantly, and
never a cloud came to trouble the sky, never a storm to drive them to
take shelter. When they camped it was usually in the dim cool recesses
of a forest of firs, beneath the dense shade of which could be found the
only semblance of night.

Never before had they known the delights of camp life, as they were now
living it. It was like being on one continuous picnic. For a
considerable period of time they found themselves in a mesh or network
of streams and lakes, through which Tom Farnum guided them steadily
northeastward, with never a sign of doubt as to the course to take.

They wondered about this, asked why they took certain forks of river or
stream, why avoided others. Tom answered readily enough. From Mr.
Anderson he had received a minute report containing every scrap of data
Farrell had been able to furnish as to the course taken by him and
Cameron on going into the wild country.

“So you see,” he added, “while I may not be following in the exact
footsteps of Thorwaldsson, yet I am going over the same general route.
Sooner or later we will cover the same ground which he covered again,
and then I expect we shall find some other record which he has left
behind, just as in the case of that note on the Hare Indian.”

This was enough for the boys. It satisfied their curiosity. They
dismissed, or practically so, from their minds all worry as to the “Lost
Expedition.” They were too busy enjoying life as they found it each
waiting moment.

Around each bend in a stream that their paddles took them, on the shore
of each deep, silent lake, was some new marvel. Now it would be a bear
grunting on the bank. Again, a deer, probably a runaway from some Eskimo
herd on Summer pasture as Farnum explained, standing in the stream, and
starting with a snort into the timber at their approach. Occasionally a
gray wolf could be seen loping in the distance. Now and again a beaver
cut across stream.

With their light rifles the boys occasionally were permitted to pick off
some game, usually wild ducks or geese, of which there were numbers
along the watercourses. But nothing was shot wantonly. Many a time,
youthful fingers itched on the trigger, only to be restrained by the
thought of the cruel uselessness of shooting merely for sport.

Of other inhabitants in this vast northern wilderness, none were
encountered. And at this the boys marvelled. It was as if they had the
world to themselves. They could not understand it. To them it was a
paradise.

“Wait till you see this in Winter,” said Farnum grimly. “Or rather, pray
that you never do. It is a land of perpetual night, and the temperature
is so low that when you stop moving you must have a fire or you will
freeze to death. And it isn’t every day that you can travel. For this
isn’t a land of tame Winter as you boys know it. Out of the north comes
storms succeeding storm, pitiless in severity. Even the creatures of the
wild cannot stand it, in many cases, and drift to the south.”

“But how about the Eskimo?” asked Jack. “This is their country, isn’t
it? How do they stand it?”

“Sometimes they don’t,” said Farnum. “When the hunting is poor and
famine stalks through the Eskimo village, only the hardiest survive.”

“Where do they live, anyway?” struck in Frank. “Why aren’t they around
here? Why haven’t we seen any?”

“They may have seen us,” said Farnum, “and are avoiding us. They are a
timorous people, know the white man only by tradition. To the Eskimo,
the white man is a sort of god, at least to the Eskimo of all this
country north of us. Back along the coast of Alaska, of course, some
sort of contact has been made. But these Eskimo never come in touch with
the whites. They are a migratory people. In Summer they range far and
wide on the hunt. In the Winter, they retire to the edge of the Arctic
Ocean.”

“But why?” asked Bob, in surprise. “I should think that would be the
very place for them to steer away from.”

“Oh, no,” said Farnum. “You see, all game goes far to the south in
Winter, so the Eskimo goes to the ocean because it is the home of the
only game left—the seal. He builds his snow house or igloo and camps
near the air holes of the seal, spearing them as they come up for air.
Occasionally he slays a polar bear, too.”

“I confess I know very little about the Eskimo,” said Jack. “What are
his weapons?”

“Bows and arrows tipped with flint or copper, copper-pointed spears, and
wooden knives edged with copper,” said Farnum.

“But, a bear,” cried Bob, incredulously. “How could an Eskimo kill a
great polar bear with such weapons?”

“Single-handed, he couldn’t,” said Farnum. “But when the bear is hunted,
the whole tribe of hunters go together. They attack in a circle. Their
spears or harpoons have lines attached. And as these harpoons sink into
the body of the bear, the lines pull him this way and that as he charges
on his tormenters. Eventually, if the Eskimo are lucky, they have him so
surrounded that he cannot move. Then one dashes in and administers the
death blow.”

“Then necessity forces them to live in tribal groups?” asked Jack.

Farnum nodded.

“In the Summer they often hunt alone, ranging far, for they are great
travelers. But in Winter, the hunters are all back with the tribe.”

“And the Indians?” asked Frank.

Farnum’s face darkened.

“There are not many,” he said. “I wish there were less. You may say all
you please about the ‘noble red man.’ But all I ever heard about the
Indians of the Far North doesn’t predispose me in their favor. They are
cutthroats, thieves and liars. Usually they hunt somewhat to the south
of us, and make their way in towards the northern Canadian settlements
as Winter approaches. Let’s hope we encounter none of them.”

The boys wondered as they went along whether this were gold-producing
country into which they were pushing. They spoke of the matter to Dick,
their canoe mate, at times. Taciturn though he was usually, at every
mention of gold his eyes brightened, and he became almost voluble.

“Never been this far north,” he said on one occasion, “no white man ever
has been in here, reckon. But I’d like to stop at the foot o’ some of
these rapids and wash a little gravel for luck. I sure would like to.”

“Let’s do it the next rapids we come to,” suggested Frank, with eager
interest. “It wouldn’t take long, would it?”

“Orders is not to waste time.”

“Well, I’ll speak to father,” said Jack. “I’m sure he’d let us try it
just once.”

In this surmise he was correct, for the noon halt happened to be at the
foot of a rapids that would necessitate a portage, and Dick and Art
reported the graveled bank showed signs of “color.” Even Farnum, his
mind concentrated on the task of getting his party along and on the job
in hand, showed interest when addressed on the subject. With pick and
pan, therefore, the two men got busy, while the boys watched with
breathless interest the process of rocking the pan and washing out the
gravel.

“Whoopee,” cried Dick, suddenly. “Thar she is. Color in the pan.”

“Sure as I’m born,” ejaculated his partner. “Strong, too.”

All the boys could discern, however, were some dully gleaming particles
at the bottom of the pan, out of which most of the gravel had been
washed with the water. They had half expected to spy nuggets. Farnum and
Mr. Hampton, however, were as eagerly interested as the two old-timers.

“Try another pan, men,” suggested Mr. Hampton. “Let us go a little
farther upstream.”

Once more the process was repeated. This time the pan was rich in “pay”
and the excitement of the four older men mounted, hectic spots glowing
dull beneath their tan in the cheeks of the two old-timers especially.

Then Dick, who was wielding the pick, attacked a clump of rocks in the
edge of the stream at the very foot of the rapids, standing in his boots
almost knee-deep in the water. For several minutes he picked and pried
and finally, with a shout of delight, turned to his audience behind him
on the bank and, having plunged an arm into the water, held it up
dripping.

“Look,” was all he said.

They gazed, all eyes.

“Well! Well!” cried Art.

A small but sizable nugget lay on Dick’s outstretched palm.

“What luck,” cried Jack. “You certainly looked in the right place.”

“Bet there’s more gold around here,” cried Frank. “Maybe a bonanza. Who
knows?”

“You ought to stake a claim, Dick,” said big Bob. “I don’t know much
about the process. But that’s the thing to do, isn’t it?”

“Huh,” said Dick, generously. “Belongs to you boys well as me. You
thought of it.”

“Oughter work it,” spoke up Art. “Might take out a good poke this
Summer.”

This remark recalled Tom Farnum to the object of his expedition.

“No, no, men,” he said, sharply. “Don’t get bitten with the gold fever
now. We’ve got work ahead of us, work that we contracted to do.”

“Right,” said Dick.

Art’s face fell, but he, too, nodded agreement.

“Just the same,” said Farnum, softening, “there’s nothing to prevent you
two from staking a claim. Some day you may come back to work it.”

“Belongs to us no more’n the rest o’ you,” said Dick, sturdily. “The
young fellers wanted us to make a try at it here just for luck, an’ we
did.”

A warm debate followed, the boys protesting they were not entitled to
any part in the find. Finally Dick capitulated.

“Tell you what,” he said. “Art an’ me’ll stake this claim an’ file on
it. But if we ever come back to work her an’ she pays, we’ll declare you
in.”

“Not unless you let us help to finance the expedition,” said Jack,
turning for confirmation to his comrades. “Isn’t that right, fellows.”

Bob and Frank agreed. Farnum put an end to the discussion.

“Good enough,” he said. “Let it go at that. Now we must buckle into the
job. Do you realize we’ve spent more than two hours here, when we should
have stopped only a half hour? We’ve got to make this portage and push
on. Come on. Everybody to his task.”



CHAPTER V.—A SURPRISE THROUGH THE AIR


Joyously though time flew by for the boys, with Mr. Hampton and Tom
Farnum it was a different matter. They were worried, that became
increasingly plain. Finally, although Mr. Hampton purposely refrained
from saying anything to disturb the boys, Jack took note of his father’s
perturbation and questioned him about it.

“Well, Jack,” said his father, “we’ve been weeks on the trail. We can’t
proceed much farther, without being compelled to start out. And yet so
far we have discovered no further trace of Thorwaldsson’s party. When we
entered the MacKenzie, which flows north, we were going to the south.
Going up the Hare Indian we struck east. Since getting into the streams,
rivers and lakes we have been going east. Shortly we shall strike the
Coppermine, Beyond that lies the river of oil, as reported by Farrell.

“So far we have made good time. With luck, we shall be able to reach
that territory before having to turn back or, rather, for we shall not
retrace our steps, turn south. And we should have struck some other
trace of Thorwaldsson’s party long ere this, if we are on the right
track. However, you boys need not worry about this, so let’s talk of
something else.”

Seeing that his father had sunk into one of his rare periods when he
wished to be alone with his meditations and did not welcome intrusion
even from Jack, the latter moved away to join his comrades.

“Dad’s plainly worried,” he said. And he explained the circumstances.
“Wish I could find some way to make him forget his troubles,” he said.

“I know what,” said Frank. “He loves music. We’re camping for the night.
Although”—with a look at the sun—“there isn’t much night, is there?
Well, anyhow, it’s nighttime in Edmonton, where that new broadcasting
station was set up last Spring. Let’s rig up our radio and see if we
can’t pick up their concert, just for luck. What do you say?”

“I say, good,” declared Jack.

“Edmonton’s long way off,” objected Bob.

“That’s nothing,” said Jack. “I believe we can pick it up all right.”

“In this northern country we have no static problem, anyway,” said
Frank. “We couldn’t send to Edmonton with our equipment, but I’ll bet we
can catch.”

While Farnum and Mr. Hampton put their heads together in low-whispered
conversation, poring over a map, and while Art and Dick lay outstretched
under some fir trees, already disposed for sleep, the three boys quietly
got out the necessary equipment from among the luggage and set to work.

“A short distance up the stream,” said Frank, “I saw two firs taller
than most, standing alone. They’re a pretty good distance apart, too. We
can climb up those trees and string the aerial between them.”

They made their way to the trees noted by Frank, and found them exactly
suited to the purpose. Jack and Frank, were lighter than Bob, took turns
climbing the trees, and the wires were strung without any great
difficulty. They worked busily, and when everything was all connected
up, Bob looked at his watch.

“Allowing for the difference in time,” he said, “they’re about ready to
begin their concert. On what meter wave length does the Edmonton station
send, Frank?”

“I don’t recall. About three hundred and fifty, I suppose. We’ll tune up
and try, anyway.”

“What dubs we are, fellows, not to have thought of this before,” said
Jack.

“Oh, well,” said Bob, “broadcast concerts never did interest me much,
anyway. I like to do the sending myself, we’ve always been dog-tired
when we made camp at night, and ready to turn in as quickly as Art and
Dick. If it hadn’t been for your thought of bringing some relaxation and
amusement to your father tonight, Jack, we’d have been asleep already.”

“I guess that’s right, old thing,” Jack replied. “You would have been
asleep, anyway, even if the rest of us kept tossing. But what does she
say, Frank? Any luck yet?”

Frank, who had been manipulating the controls, looked up mirthfully.

“What do you think of your musical program, Jack?” he replied. “Listen
in a minute will you? They’re sending out a crop and weather report.”

Jack’s face fell, then he, too, laughed.

“Oh, well,” he said, “that’s just a preliminary. The concert will
follow.”

“No,” answered Frank, who had resumed his headpiece, “now it’s a
bulletin report on the day’s news events. Listen. Why, great—”

His voice died. Over his face came an expression of surprise.

Jack and Bob sprang to take up the other headpieces attached to the box.
Over their features also spread amazement and even consternation. They
listened intently. Then all three simultaneously tore off the receivers
and looked at each other.

“Whew, what do you know about that?” said Bob, in an awed tone.

“And on the very night that we decided to set up the radio, too,” said
Frank.

“It seems like the hand of fate,” declared Jack. “Say, we must get
father and Tom Farnum.”

“Thorwaldsson’s airship found wrecked on land near the mouth of the
MacKenzie,” said Bob. “And the skeleton of the aviator. Can you beat
it?” he ejaculated again.

“Hey, Jack, wait a minute,” cried Frank, running after his companion,
who already had started for camp. “Discovered by Indians who were
bringing out furs, did you get that?”

Jack nodded, but saved his breath as he continued to run. Frank fell in
beside him, Bob pounding at his heels.

In a few moments they burst excitedly upon the graveled beach by the
river, where camp had been made for the night. Dick and Art lay
outstretched in slumber under the nearest fir trees. Mr. Hampton and
Farnum were still deep in their discussion, and apparently had not even
been aware of the absence of the boys, for they looked up in surprise as
the latter approached.

“What is it, Jack? What’s the matter?” demanded Mr. Hampton, rising to
his feet in alarm, as he noted his son’s excitement.

Quickly, Jack related what had occurred, describing their setting up of
the radio, their picking-up of the Edmonton station’s nightly program,
and their discovery that Thorwaldsson’s airship had been found far
behind them near the mouth of the MacKenzie.

“It was only a bulletin news report, Dad,” Jack explained, “yet I
suppose it contains all the facts. Evidently the discovery of the
airship had been made weeks ago by Indians, going to the mouth of the
MacKenzie with their Winter catch of furs. But, of course, it took a
long time for the news to reach civilization. It was just made public
today. The very day, too, that we decided to rig up the radio. It
certainly seems like the hand of fate, doesn’t it, Dad? If we had waited
until tomorrow, or set up the radio yesterday, probably we would not
have known of this discovery.”

Mr. Hampton nodded, but absently. Already his mind was busy with the
problem.

“Did the report state any message or papers of any sort were found on
the body of the aviator?”

“No. Only that the body had been there a long time, as nothing but the
skeleton remained.”

“And that was all?”

“That was all the definite information,” said Frank. “Of course, there
was a word or two of speculation as to what had occurred. The theory was
advanced that the aviator was flying to summon aid for Thorwaldsson, who
was in some predicament, but that some accident occurred to his engine
while flying, and he fell to his death.”

“A plausible enough theory,” said Farnum. “But, in that case, I can’t
understand why the aviator did not bear some message from Thorwaldsson.
Can you, Mr. Hampton?”

Mr. Hampton shook his head.

“That’s not the only puzzling thing,” he said. “The disappearance from
the MacKenzie of Thorwaldsson’s ship, the death of the aviator, the lack
of message on his body, the swallowing up of Thorwaldsson and his party,
Thorwaldsson’s failure to send any radio messages—all these need
explaining.

“We must face the fact,” he continued, “that some disaster of a totally
unexpected nature has befallen Thorwaldsson’s expedition. And I mean by
that a disaster of man’s agency. They were prepared for practically all
eventualities in their grapple with nature. Although the Winter was
severe, yet they were well provisioned, had Farrell who knew the
country, and were prepared in every way for a lengthy stay. Even if
worst came to worst, and Winter proved too much for them, some would
have survived and brought out word of what had befallen.”

“Then you think, Dad—”

Jack regarded his father, wide-eyed.

“I think, Jack,” said the latter firmly, “that it is time to take you
boys into our complete confidence, Farnum and I have been talking this
matter over. We feel pretty certain that some powerful man or group of
men has knowledge of Farrell’s discovery of the river of oil, and is
working against us. How to explain the obtaining of that knowledge I do
not know, But, perhaps, some traitor in Anderson’s employ, somebody high
in his confidence, got some word of it. Perhaps, Thorwaldsson in an
unguarded moment, let some bit of information fall. Oil, you know, is a
vital necessity of the world. Discovery of a vast new field would make
great fortunes.

“Whoever heard of it, heard of Farrell’s discovery, would realize that
the only way to come upon it would be to follow the Thorwaldsson
expedition, dog its steps and, at the psychological moment, strike. In
other words, when the field was rediscovered by Farrell, wipe out the
Thorwaldsson expedition, and claim possession.

“Events, as they have occurred, seem to fit in with this theory. The
disappearance of Thorwaldsson’s ship from the MacKenzie. Apparently it
traveled only at night, thus slipping by the scattered trading posts on
the great river. It has never been heard of since. It might very easily
have been scuttled and sunk, or else materially changed in appearance in
some little bay on that far northern coast of the Arctic. That would
mean that the crew was bought up, but that is not an impossibility, for
men I am sorry to say break faith for gain. As to the airship, the
aviator whom I know of as a man true and tried, may have sought to make
his escape to the outside when Thorwaldsson was captured—as I believe
likely—and may have paid with his life for his devotion, through some
unforeseen accident to his machine.”

The boys stood stunned. Finally Jack broke silence.

“But, Dad, how terrible,” he said in a shocked tone. “To think of men
being so unscrupulous.”

“Not all men, Jack,” said his father. “Remember that.”

“Mr. Hampton,” said Frank. “What do you intend to do?”

“Frankly, I don’t know,” said the latter. “Now that we are within
striking distance of our objective—the river of oil—I do not want to
give up. If it lies where we believe it to lie, we can reach it before
necessity compels us to flee south to escape oncoming Winter. That will
mean that we can map the route for future operation. I had at one time,
too, although I did not mention it to you boys, some hope that we would
be able to follow the river out into the Arctic and discover a route of
approach by water. But we may not have time for that. However, once we
do locate the river by land approach, we will have a pretty accurate
idea of whether it can be reached by ship through the Arctic Ocean in
Summer.

“But whether to push on and imperil you lads, and the rest of us, in the
light of what we suspect lies ahead, I do not know. We shall have to
sleep over it.”

After some further conversation, all returned to where the boys had
rigged up the radio. Dick and Art were childishly delighted at the
concert, the first in their experience. Farnum was almost equally
stirred. As to Mr. Hampton, for the time he forgot his worries in
enjoyment of the music. As showmen, the boys were in the element.

More than an hour passed, and the concert was still in progress, when
Frank, who had been absent unnoted suddenly approached from the thick
forest of firs on the bend, below which lay their camp, with a face so
pale that Jack, who first caught sight of him, became alarmed.

“What is it, Frank?” he asked, seizing his comrade by an arm.

For a moment Frank was speechless. He swallowed convulsively, but was
unable to make a reply. The others looked at him in astonishment, and
all tore the headpieces off and neglected the closing number of the
concert, as they stared at him.

With outstretched arm, Frank pointed towards the point of land, making a
bend in the stream, beyond which lay their camp.



CHAPTER VI.—INDIANS!


“Indians.”

That was all Frank said, but it was sufficient. Over the faces of Mr.
Hampton, Farnum and the two men, Dick and Art, came looks of alarm.

“In camp,” asked Jack, a sudden thought striking him. “Maybe they’re
just visitors.”

But Farnum shook his head decisively, before Frank could reply.

“The only Indians in this country hate the white man,” he said. “They
have had some cause, goodness knows. But the point is, they hate us.”
Turning abruptly to Frank, he said:

“Do they know where we are? Were you seen?”

“I was approaching our camp from this side,” said Frank, who had
recovered his speech. “I was in search of a handkerchief, for I’ve got a
little cold, and found I did not have one with me. Anyway, my feet made
no sound on the pine needles, and I was screened from the camp by the
trees. Suddenly, as I neared the last fringe, I saw a dozen Indians or
more steal out of the trees on the other side of the clearing. They fell
upon our belongings and started going through them. I hurried away to
warn you.”

“Quick,” said Farnum, “there is no time to lose. We are seven and all
armed. They saw us depart and probably thought this was a grand chance
to rifle our camp. Waited a while to see if we were coming back at once.
I imagine they are just thieves. Well, we’ll give them a lesson. Come
on.”

Mr. Hampton laid a detaining hand on Farnum’s arm.

“Even if they are thieves,” he said. “We want no bloodshed. Shoot over
their heads, if shooting is necessary.”

Farnum’s face fell.

“All right, sir,” he said. “Just as you say. But we’ll have to hurry, or
they’ll get away with everything and escape in our canoes. Then we would
be out of luck, indeed.”

With beating hearts, the party stole back through the trees, spread out
with intervals of several yards between each. Dick and Art, who never
stirred anywhere without their rifles with them, being old-timers who
knew what it meant to be separated from their weapons in this wild land,
were on the ends of the line. The boys had left their rifles behind, as
had Mr. Hampton. Farnum, however, had brought his, and held the middle
position. The other four were armed with their revolvers.

As they neared the fringe of trees forming the last rampart between them
and camp, crouching behind tree trunks as they stole forward, they could
see a group of Indians still busy over their disordered luggage, which
had been opened and tossed about near the fire. Another group was at the
water’s edge, loading the canoes which had been drawn up on the sand.

“Just in time,” thought Jack.

Then his eye was caught by a picturesque figure of a man emerging from
the little tent which Mr. Hampton employed, because he was a sufferer
from rheumatism and wanted some shelter to keep off night chills in case
they were late in getting out of the country, but which at present
frequently was not set up on their halts. The present occasion, however,
a whim to sleep under canvas rather than the fir trees had possessed
him, and the tent had been set up.

The man who caught Jack’s attention differed little in dress from Dick
and Art, but about his head was bound a red bandanna handkerchief in
piratical fashion, and this suggestion was increased by his long,
drooping black mustaches. Jack could see him clearly, and thought that
seldom had he looked upon a more villainous countenance. The fellow held
a piece of paper in his hand, and was reading it with evident
satisfaction.

A low exclamation from Farnum, next in line on his left, drew Jack’s
attention. He looked at the latter, crouching behind a tree. Farnum’s
eyes were ablaze. He had raised his rifle and was pointing it at the man
before the tent. The next moment there was a report, the paper fell from
the fellow’s hand, and he emitted a howl of surprise and pain.

“Just the hand,” Jack overheard Farnum say in a tone of vexation, as he
prepared to fire again. But the other, seizing his wounded hand in the
unwounded one, did not wait for the attack. Running low and in zigzag
fashion, he darted for the cover of the trees on the other side of the
camp, at the same time shouting an unintelligible warning to his
companions.

“Fire,” shrieked Farnum, pumping another shot after the fleeing man,
that kicked up the dirt at his heels. “That’s Lupo the Wolf. Shoot to
kill.”

Jack shot with the rest, but remembering his father’s exhortation fired
high. The volley was general. From the rifles of Art, Dick and Farnum
came deeper notes of heavy weapons, while from the four revolvers of the
others poured a succession of shots. It sounded as if an army were
opening fire from the woods.

The Indians did not stay upon the order of their going. Those grouped
about the luggage ran after the disappearing man Farnum had called Lupo
the Wolf, while the other group at the canoes dashed away along the
graveled bank of the stream. One, however, sought to launch the canoes
into the swift current before departing, but his first effort was
ineffectual, and any further attempt was stopped by a bullet from Mr.
Hampton’s revolver, which winged him in an arm and sent him scurrying
after his fellows.

“Dick, Art, here,” cried Farnum, peremptorily.

The two ran to his side.

“That was Lupo the Wolf,” Farnum explained rapidly, his voice betraying
his excitement. “You can guess what that means?”

The others nodded, with compressed lips.

“I want you to trail them. Don’t run into danger, but see if their camp
is nearby.”

With nods of understanding, the two frontiersmen were off at the run,
not crossing the open camp, but circling it amongst the trees. Then
Farnum turned to Mr. Hampton, and the boys crowding at his heels.

“That wasn’t just an attack from Indian thieves,” he said. “Mr.
Hampton”—and his voice took on a solemn tone—“that was a blow from the
enemy.”

“What do you mean?”

“They were desperadoes under the personal leadership of Lupo the Wolf.”

“And he?”

“He is a cross-breed, half Indian, half white, and the most notorious
bad man in the north. He is known not only throughout the length and
breadth of Alaska, but throughout the Yukon of Canada, too. From
Ketchikan to Arctic City, and from Nome to Dawson, he has gambled,
fought, knifed, murdered, and never been brought to book. Ah, you
consider Alaska is law-abiding these days. To a certain extent, the
towns and mining camps have grown more orderly and there are sheriffs
‘north of 54.’ But might still rules in the camps.”

Farnum spoke bitterly, and leaned a moment on his rifle. As it was
evident, however, that he had not yet finished, the others did not
interrupt. Presently he resumed.

“Lupo recruits his men from the fisheries. Men of the lowest type come
there in Summer, in droves, lured by the high wages. They form temporary
alliances with the native women. Then in the Fall, they depart. You can
guess what the children of such lawless unions are like. They are
cross-breeds, inheriting the most vicious and lawless characteristics of
the human race. It is from them Lupo recruits his following.”

“But why should they be away over here, in this unpeopled wilderness?”
asked Mr. Hampton. “Unless—” He paused and looked questioningly at
Farnum.

The latter nodded.

“That’s it,” he said. “Why? Unless, if you will let me finish for you,
Lupo is on our trail. And that I believe to be the case. When Frank here
first came with word of Indians in camp, I considered them merely
raiders from some passing body of hunters. But when I found Lupo at
their head, I knew better. The wonder to me is,” he said, growing
thoughtful, “that he did not send men to trail us and kill us or take us
prisoner.”

Mr. Hampton shrugged.

“Even the cunningest slip up now and then,” he said. “Perhaps his men
wanted to loot first. And, anyway, they had only been here a few moments
when, thanks to Frank, we were able to surprise them. Well, thanks to
our good angel, we came off as well as we did. Nothing stolen, our
canoes still here, nobody hurt.”

“Ah,” said Farnum, darkly, “we’re not out of the woods yet. If Lupo the
Wolf is after us, well—there is trouble ahead.”



CHAPTER VII.—A MAN OF THE “MOUNTED.”


While Mr. Hampton and Farnum turned in to take inventory to discover
what, if anything, had been stolen, the boys went back to take down and
pack their radio outfit. As it lay in the opposite direction from that
taken by the Indians who, moreover, were being tracked by Dick and Art
and could not double back without warning being given, it was considered
safe for the boys.

When they returned to camp, they found the two frontiersmen ahead of
them. These reported the Indian camp pitched some two miles in their
rear and that, upon arrival, Lupo and his men had packed up and taken
canoe on the back track.

“Now what does that mean?” asked Farnum, thoughtfully. “It is probable
that Lupo has been behind us all the way, if what I suspect is true,
namely that they have been trailing us. But why should they be fleeing
now?”

“They can’t have been close to us all the time, Mr. Farnum,” said Bob,
“or why weren’t we attacked before?”

Farnum nodded.

“That’s true enough,” he said. “It may be that Lupo started late and has
been all this time catching up with us.”

Breaking a thoughtful silence, Mr. Hampton said:

“As a matter of fact, that seems the most probable explanation. The
other side, Farnum, probably has a spy at Nome, of whom you are unaware.
But the spy knows your identity. Your story of taking us into the
wilderness to hunt may have deceived this spy. But then, later, word
would reach him from Seattle of my identity. Not that it is commonly
known. But if some traitor close to Anderson is trading on Farrell’s
secret, my connection with Anderson would be suspected, especially as
several years ago I worked with the Anderson oil crowd in New Mexico. So
words would reach Nome to watch me. Then someone would start out on our
trail.”

“And that someone was Lupo,” said Farnum. “A fine cutthroat.”

An earnest discussion followed. What did this turning back of Lupo the
Wolf mean? Did he intend to stick to their trail, but at a greater
distance in the rear? Or did he plan to encircle them and lie in ambush
ahead? That his retreat was other than momentary, and meant he intended
giving up their pursuit, nobody believed.

“Look here, Dad,” said Jack, during the course of this discussion,
“don’t you consider it quite likely that Lupo intends to take us by
surprise and attack us, rather than to retreat?”

Mr. Hampton nodded.

“I do, indeed, Jack,” he said. “A cutthroat such as Lupo would have
brought his band of desperadoes here for only one purpose, and that is,
to dispose of us. We were lucky this time by reason of the fact that
they came upon our camp first, and stopped to loot. But from now on we
shall have to be continually on our guard.”

“It’s a good thing, Mr. Hampton, that this is the long Summer, when
daylight never fails,” said Frank. “That makes it easier to guard
against a surprise attack.”

“Yes,” Mr. Hampton agreed, “that makes it easier. But from now on, we
shall have to be on the watch continually.”

He was silent a moment, thinking. Then he turned to the other members of
the party, Farnum, Dick and Art being gathered about him as well as the
boys, preparatory to the launching of the canoes, which were ready
loaded.

“Are we making a mistake in letting these fellows out of sight?” he
asked. “Would it be better to set Dick and Art to watch them, and
appoint a rendezvous where we can come together later?”

The two Alaskans were silent. Their faces, however, showed approval of
the plan. Farnum struck his forehead with clenched fist in a
characteristic gesture.

“Just what I would have proposed myself, if I had been awake,” he
confessed. “Dick, Art, do you think you could pick up their trail?”

The two nodded.

“They won’t back track far,” said Dick. “Art an’ me can follow ’em
afoot. That last portage is only four miles back, an’ we can catch up
with ’em there. Now about where to meet up with you again?”

“None of us know this country,” said Farnum, “and so it will be
difficulty to appoint a rendezvous. But, look here. Lupo undoubtedly
intends to continue our pursuit, and won’t let our trail go cold.
Consequently, you will be near us. I think the best plan will be to
report to us at every camp. One of you can keep watch on Lupo while the
other brings in a report.”

“Good enough,” said Dick, the more loquacious of the pair. “Look for us
at tomorrow’s camp.”

Supplied with bacon and a little flour sufficient for a meal or two,
guns at the trail, the pair struck swiftly on the back trail,
disappeared among the trees at the bend and were gone from sight.

“All right, boys,” said Farnum. “Let’s get going. Can you manage your
canoe all right by yourselves?”

Mr. Hampton laughed.

“I think they can scrape along, Farnum,” he said. “Probably we’ll be
asking one of them to help us before long. Well, come on.”

Paddles dipped into the stream once more, the canoes shot away, and,
with Farnum leading to set the course, the boys fell in behind. In the
leading canoe, as the two men settled down to the stroke a low-voiced
conversation began that lasted a long time. What Mr. Hampton and Farnum
were saying could not be heard, for the gap between the two canoes,
though not great, was considerable. Moreover, they spoke in low tones.
But the boys sensed an undercurrent of anxiety felt by both the older
men. As for themselves, however, they were not worried. On the contrary,
the excitement of finding themselves trailed had brightened them
wonderfully.

“Old expedition was getting too monotonous, anyway,” said Bob presently.

“Oh, I suppose you’ll want to challenge the best Indian wrestler now,
won’t you?” said Jack, in a tone of mock seriousness.

“Yes, Bob, why didn’t you go back with Dick and Art and send in your
challenge?” asked Frank, in the same jollying manner. “You know you
haven’t been in a match with anybody for some time. Here was your
chance, and you went and let it slip away from you. But, don’t worry,
perhaps the Indians will return. Who knows? You may even have a chance
to exchange courtesies with no less a personage than Lupo the Wolf
himself.”

The big fellow grinned, but made no reply. And so the two canoes swept
on between the low banks of the stream, one weighted with anxiety, the
other filled with light-heartedness. The boys were not simpletons. They
realized, indeed, that they were in a precarious situation. They were
deep in the far northern wilderness. An enemy of superior numbers dogged
their heels. In all that vast country, was none to whom they could look
for help. But, for all that, they saw no occasion to worry. It was not
the first time in which they found themselves in a ticklish situation.
They had come unscathed out of other perils, even winning some honor in
the encounter. They would do the same again. Thus they put the matter to
themselves.

Hour after hour passed, during which period they twice encountered
slight rapids, up which they waded with the canoes instead of portaging.
All were tiring rapidly, for not only was their number reduced by the
absence of Dick and Art, and the work made correspondingly heavy, but in
addition they were traveling now on reserve strength, as prior to making
the last camp they already had done a big day’s work.

Farnum, however, pushed ahead until at the end of four hours of travel
they came to the shore of a small lake. Here, in a secluded cove,
convenient to the stream on which they had been traveling, they were
about to make camp, when Frank approached Mr. Hampton and Farnum and
indicated an island a half mile away.

“Isn’t that smoke over there?” he asked, pointing.

Farnum stared, and in a moment his keen eyes confirmed Frank’s
observation. Mr. Hampton put up the field glasses which he always
carried strapped to him, and also saw the smoke. But he saw something
more—a skin kayak drawn up on the shore of the island.

“Hard to tell from that what sort of man is camping out there,” said
Farnum, when informed of the kayak. “Everybody uses ’em in this
country—Indian, Eskimo, and the occasional prospector. That smoke
doesn’t indicate a big fire. Must be only one man, or maybe, two. Let’s
investigate. If we decide to make camp out there, well, that island
would be a good place and it would be hard to surprise us there if we
kept guard.”

Once more, paddles were plied, and the two canoes cut diagonally across
the waters of the lake towards the island. As they approached, Farnum
raised his voice in a hail. A moment later an answering shout came back.
Then a figure stepped from the trees to the little stretch of sand upon
which the kayak was drawn up and stood, watching their approach, hand
shading eyes against the glare of the sun, head bare.

“Great Godfrey’s ghost,” exclaimed Farnum in a low voice, turning his
head slightly to address Mr. Hampton, “it’s a policeman.”

“What?”

“A member of the Northwest—of the Canadian Mounted Police.”

“What’s he doing here?”

“I don’t know. But we’ll soon find out.”

“Welcome, strangers,” said the other, a tall bronzed man, as they
approached. “Just in time for a snack.”

He advanced to the water’s edge, and stood ready to help. Farnum’s
appraising eye took in the approach. Shoal water and a sandy beach! He
decided to drive the canoe up on the sands. Shipping his paddle, he
leaped from the bow into the water, as the forefoot of the canoe grated
lightly. Relieved of his weight, the canoe rose at the bow and sank at
the stern under Mr. Hampton. Seizing the bow, Farnum ran it up on the
beach, the uniformed man lending a hand. A moment later, Jack, who was
in the bow of the boy’s canoe, repeated the maneuver. The two craft were
drawn up side by side.

“MacDonald’s my name,” said the Canadian simply.

“Know Arkell of Dawson?” asked Farnum.

“Know him well,” said the other. “One o’ the best on the Force.”

“Friend of mine,” said Farnum.

The two clasped hands warmly. Then Farnum introduced Mr. Hampton and the
boys. MacDonald led the way to a sheltered spot among the trees, where a
fire burned.

“Just about to broil some fish,” he said. “Lucky there’s plenty. I’m
crazy about fishing,” he continued, “and when they bit here I pulled out
mor’n I could use. Was wonderin’ what to do with ’em when I heard your
hail. Guess I don’t need to worry about that any longer.”

As he spoke he busied himself about preparations for dinner, and soon an
appetizing odor of frying fish rose to assail the twitching nostrils of
the hungry boys.

“Suppose I get another pan and help, sir,” proffered Bob.

His comrades laughed, for the big fellow’s appetite was proverbial among
them. MacDonald nodded with a grin of understanding. Bob tore back to
the canoes, and soon returned with a pan in hand. In a short time the
fish were fried, and all hands fell to right heartily.

“Long way off your beat, aren’t you?” asked Farnum, of MacDonald, as
they ate.

The other nodded. Then he regarded them sharply.

“Same to you,” he said. “First white men I’ve seen in many days.”

Mr. Hampton read a challenge in the straight blue eyes under the
grizzled brows, and met it promptly.

“Yes, and I’ll tell you why we are here,” he said. “I think our meeting
with you was providential. If you have been in this country long, you
may have heard something that will help us. At any rate, here’s our
story.”

Whereupon, he proceeded to relate the reason for their presence. He made
a clean breast of it, keeping back nothing, telling MacDonald of the
alleged oil discovery by Farrell and Cameron, Cameron’s death, Farrell’s
return as guide to Thorwaldsson’s expedition, and their presence now in
an attempt to trace the missing men.

“So that’s that,” said MacDonald. “So that’s the reason for
Thorwaldsson’s ‘Lost Expedition.’ And it was into this country he come!
Well, well.”

In conclusion, Mr. Hampton told of their recent adventure with Lupo the
Wolf. MacDonald manifested keen interest. His hand, as he poured tobacco
into a pipe, shook slightly, and he spilled a little of the precious
tobacco.

“You ain’t heard of it likely,” he said. “You wouldn’t. But this Lupo
killed my partner on the Force, an’ I asked the Inspector to let me go
after him myself. I followed him in from Dawson an’ lost his trail
several days ago. Now, well—”

MacDonald averted his face, rose and walked down towards the lake shore,
and the others respected his evident desire to be alone and did not
follow.

“Out after Lupo single-handed,” whispered Frank. “And the desperado
surrounded by all his men, too.”

Farnum nodded.

“That means nothing to the Mounted,” said he.



CHAPTER VIII.—FIRST BLOOD.


So tired were all members of the party after their unexpected exertions
of moving camp and trekking on, coming at the end of a day filled with
fatiguing labor, that now a haven had been reached and they had relaxed
from their tension, they were ready to go to sleep at once. First,
however, preparations had to be made not only to keep guard but to keep
watch also for Dick and Art. Although the latter did not know
definitely, of course, where they were encamped, yet it would not be
difficult for them to follow the trail at least to the shore of the
lake.

“Look here,” said MacDonald, returning to join the conference, “I’m not
near as tired as the rest of you. I’ll keep watch for your friends for a
couple of hours while the rest of you get some sleep.”

“All right,” said Farnum, gratefully, “that is, if you promise to wake
me at the end of two hours. I can use a little sleep right now.”

“Turn in, then,” said MacDonald. “These spruces give you enough shade.
And, anyway, I guess you don’t need much inducement to go to sleep.”

“I could sleep right out in the open sun with my face turned up to the
sky,” said big Bob, yawning. “Well, nighty night, folks.”

Nothing occurred during MacDonald’s watch, and at the end of the
two-hour period he awakened Farnum, in keeping with the agreement.

“Thought some of letting you sleep on,” he said. “But, to tell you the
truth, I been travelin’ hard myself, and need a little sleep, too.”

“Right,” said Farnum. “I’d have been peeved if you hadn’t waked me.”

Several hours later, Farnum keeping lonely vigil among the bushes by the
lake shore, descried a canoe shoot out of the mouth of the stream down
which they, too, had come and swing into the lake. At first, as only the
bow of the canoe appeared, he was startled, believing Lupo’s Indians
already were on the trail. But a moment later, with relief and yet
surprise to see them there, he made out the two figures in the boat as
those of Dick and Art.

The pair rested on their paddles a moment, scanning the shore and also,
Farnum noted, apparently casting anxious glances behind them. He was too
far away, however, to see whether that were really the case. Farnum
realized that, with the skin kayak belonging to MacDonald now drawn
safely out of sight among the bushes, beside their own canoes, Dick and
Art would not have the same indications pointing to the island that had
he on arrival. Therefore, he stepped from the bushes and was just about
to set his cupped hand to his mouth and call when the unexpected
occurred.

Dick and Art already had dipped their paddles into the water again and
were making a wide swing with the evident intention of bringing the
canoe parallel to the shore but some distance out, when Farnum’s
startled eyes beheld another canoe arrive at the mouth of the stream
behind them.

Action was as quick as thought. Dick and Art evidently had managed to
obtain one of Lupo’s canoes and were being closely pursued. How closely,
moreover, apparently they did not know. He must warn them, not only of
his presence and of help close at hand, but also of the danger behind
them. The course they were taking would bear them away from the island
and, unless changed at once, would make it possible for Lupo to cut them
off from their friends.

Although he had left his rifle at camp, as he stumbled out with sleep
filling his eyes and dulling his brain, Farnum had his automatic
swinging in the holster at his belt. Whipping it out, he shot three
times in rapid succession.

At the sound, Dick and Art stared towards the island where Farnum,
stepping into the open, was vigorously waving his hat to attract their
attention. Lupo’s men also set up a shout, as they churned the water
racing to cut off their quarry.

“What is it?” cried Frank, first of the aroused camp to gain Farnum’s
side.

Then his glance took in the situation.

“Look here, those fellows might pick off Art and Dick before they can
gain safety, even if they don’t succeed in cutting them off,” he said.
“Let’s get our rifles, fellows, and open fire. A long shot, but they’re
coming closer.”

“Anyway, it will make them draw in their horns,” said Farnum. “Tell you
what, you boys run and get the rifles, and Mr. Hampton and I will launch
one of our canoes. We’ll go out to help Dick and Art, if those fellows
keep closing in on them.”

The three boys sped away, nothing loath, but when they returned they
found Farnum’s plan unnecessary. As the two canoes had swept along,
Dick, who was in the stern, suddenly had thrown down his paddle, and
taken up his rifle, while Art had swung the canoe about with one
dexterous stroke. Dick immediately had opened fire, and Art had followed
suit.

The boys heard the shots as they ran down towards the shore. When they
reached the sand they found Lupo’s men already had faced about and were
hurrying towards the mainland. One of their number evidently was hit.

“Main good shootin’ at long range a’ so quick after paddlin’,” commented
MacDonald appreciatively.

Content with having beaten off their enemies, the two desisted, resumed
their paddles and soon were within hailing distance. Greetings and
congratulations were exchanged, and Dick and Art ran their canoe on
shore. As soon as the first hubbub of exclamations died away, Mr.
Hampton led the way to the camp. MacDonald put the coffee pot on the
fire and between draughts of the strong, hot liquid Dick told their
story.

After leaving the previous camp, they had gone back to where they seen
Lupo break camp and start on the back trail. The meaning of this move,
they had discussed. It seemed to them folly to believe Lupo was
relinquishing the chase. They believed he would suspect Mr. Hampton and
Farnum would spy on him, and was merely trying to throw them off guard
by creating the impression that he was abandoning the chase. Therefore,
they had gone warily, convinced that at the end of a short withdrawal
Lupo would call a halt and prepare to ’bout face.

This suspicion proved correct. Some two miles farther on they discerned
the four canoes of the half-breed halted alongshore while Lupo harangued
their occupants.

“We wanted to listen powerful bad to what he was a-sayin’,” explained
Dick. “But we couldn’t get close enough. There wasn’t much cover near
’em and we had to lay hid where the trees was thickest, quite a ways
off. Art and I lay there, a-strainin’ our ears but without any luck when
suddenly somethin’ happens. Most of ’em was on shore, listenin’ to Lupo
but in one canoe was one man a-huntin’ around like he’d lost somethin’.

“What it was we never did know. But suddenly, this fellow shoves off
with a shout to Lupo. Lupo answers like he was agreein’. So then this
fellow comes a-paddlin’ down stream like mad. As he goes by where we’re
a-layin’ low, Art whispers to me: ‘This is where Lupo turns his gang
around. That’s sure. Best thing we can do is to beat it back an’ warn
our crowd. An’ my legs is tired. I’d like to let my arms work for me.
Let’s go.’

“I nods, and without any more words we backed out and started down
stream after that canoe. The fellow is goin’ like mad, which means he
ain’t intendin’ to go far. He’s lost somethin’ or other and thinks it
may be floatin’ on the water or, maybe is layin’ on shore where he
touched. Anyway, that’s what we thought. We never did get to know. For
after we’d made a bend in the stream and put some distance between Lupo
and us, we decided it was no use runnin’ any farther.

“‘Here goes,’ said Art. And he let fly over the Indian’s head. That
fellow didn’t wait for more. He just jumped out of the canoe an’ started
swimmin’ for the other shore. So then Art give me his rifle an’ he swims
out and brings in the canoe. Last we seen of that Indian he was
streaking it back on the other bank. I got in and—well, here we are.”

MacDonald, who had listened in silence, suddenly interrupted:

“How many men has Lupo got with him?”

“A dozen.”

MacDonald looked at Mr. Hampton.

“You know why I want him,” he said. “For murder. And then there’s this
raid on you. There are eight of us, includin’ these husky young fellows
of yours. Will you help me capture him an’ his gang?”

Mr. Hampton looked thoughtful.

“But, MacDonald, what would you do with them? We can’t turn aside from
our own object long? We couldn’t help you guard them. And you couldn’t
get twelve or thirteen men back to your Post single-handed, especially
if any of them are wounded.”

MacDonald’s face fell.

“Guess you’re right,” he said. “But when I think o’ that skunk—murderin’
the best pal a man ever had—well, I see red, that’s all.” His head sank
to his clenched hands and he sat on a fallen tree, staring moodily at
the ground between his feet.

“Certainly is a problem, Mr. Hampton,” said Farnum, slowly. “If we don’t
do something, Lupo will continue to hang to our trail as we proceed, a
constant danger.”

“I know,” said Mr. Hampton. “Let me think.”

He, too, sat silent, staring meditatively at the ground.

The boys had been listening with interest. Now Frank nudged Jack, with
whom he was standing by the fire, and whispered in his ear. Jack’s face
brightened and he nodded.

“I’ll bet they have,” he whispered. “Ask MacDonald.”

Frank turned to the ranger.

“Mr. MacDonald, how far away is your Post?” he inquired.

MacDonald looked up puzzled, but answered readily enough.

“A good four hundred miles to the South.”

“Why do you ask, Frank?” Mr. Hampton wanted to know.

“Just a minute, sir, please,” begged Frank, once more turning to
MacDonald. “And how many men are at the Post?”

“Captain and five men.”

“Oh, is that all?”

Frank’s tone was one of disappointment. MacDonald smiled slightly.

“People think the ‘Mounties’ must be as many as an army,” he said.
“Well, we keep this wilderness clean with a handful. O’ course, when
necessary, too, we can swear in deputies.”

“Have you got wireless at the Post?” asked Frank.

MacDonald nodded.

“Captain equipped us some time back,” he said. “All posts or forts, as
we call them sometimes, have wireless now.”

“Good for you, Frank. I see what you’re driving at now,” said Mr.
Hampton. “You—”

Frank nodded.

“Yes, sir. I thought if we helped Mr. MacDonald capture Lupo and his
gang, we could call his Post by wireless and have them send men to help
him take his prisoners in.”



CHAPTER IX.—A CALL TO THE FORT.


“Now,” said Jack, “is the time that I wish I had my 20-kilowatt radio
tube that I have been working on so long.”

Mr. Hampton, Bob and Frank nodded sympathetically. An enthusiast on
radio, Jack had developed a number of new appliances. The latest of
these was not yet completed. He had worked on it in the laboratories at
Yale during the Winter and Spring. The lateness of his return to his
classes, however, inasmuch as he did not arrive at college until after
Christmas, due to the delay occasioned by his adventures in South
America in search of “The Enchanted City of the Incas,” compelled him to
devote most his time to catching up in his studies. He did not,
therefore, have as much time to devote to laboratory experiments as he
desired. As a consequence, the 20-kilowatt tube had not yet been
perfected, when time came for him to depart for Alaska with his father.

Jack’s 20-kilowatt tube, when completed, would be the most powerful in
the world, and he expected, moreover, to construct others of greater
kilo-wattage. A 75-kilowatt tube had been produced in England, it is
true, but it had not been found practicable. Jack’s tube was to be
steel-jacketed and equipped with a water-cooling device, due to the heat
produced when in operation. His big dream was that this tube, when used
as an amplifier in conjunction with an alternator, would make
trans-atlantic telephonic communication as common as cabling or wireless
telegraphing.

“If I only had one of my 20-kilowatt tubes now,” he mourned, “we would
be able to talk not only with Mr. MacDonald’s Post but with Dawson or
even Nome.”

“Well, Jack,” said Frank, “it’s too bad. Just the same, let’s get busy.
For, with our 50-watt oscillator tube set we will be able to communicate
by telegraph up to 500 miles. And, as the Post is only 400 miles away,
we can reach it easily.”

For sending up to 500 miles, the boys knew they could use either three
or four 5-watt oscillator tubes in parallel, or one 50-watt oscillator
tube. They had decided on the latter method, in making their
preparations for departure in faraway Seattle. For one thing, and the
biggest, transportation was the most important item. And the 50-watt
tube set was the more compact. Quickly, then, with Mr. Hampton helping,
they got out the various parts from their baggage and made the
connections.

Farnum, the Northwest policeman, MacDonald, and Dick and Art, watched
with puzzled interest and even awe as the four, working in unison, put
together the aerial series condenser, the blocking condenser, the grid
condenser, the telegraph key, the chopper, the choke coil in the key
circuit, the filament volt-meter, the protective condenser in the power
circuit, the storage battery and the motor generator.

Farnum and MacDonald asked questions, although Dick and Art were content
to sit silent and watch, keen-eyed, as the construction work progressed.
Several times, too, Dick arose and went to the water’s edge to keep
watch against surprise. That any would be attempted for the time being,
nobody believed, as they figured the enemy would consider them on guard.

As they worked, Jack explained for the benefit of the others. His
description of how the low voltage current from the storage battery
flowed into one of the windings of the generator and drives it as a
motor thus generating higher voltage in the other winding both puzzled
and interested them. By the time, the set was ready for use, Farnum, who
was something of a mechanic by inclination, had a fair understanding of
the set, but MacDonald, though interested, was bewildered.

“I’m fair beat,” he confessed. “Anyhow, just so you boys can make it
work!”

“Oh, we’ll make it work, all right,” Frank assured him. “Well, now, to
try to call the Post. What’s its call, Mr. MacDonald?”

“I happen to remember,” said MacDonald. “We were all so interested when
wireless was put in that Captain Jameson gave us a little lecture on it.
He said our call would be JSN, abbreviation for his name. We were to
remember it, in case of need, when we were able to get to a wireless
station. Well, this is a case of need.”

“I’ll say it is,” said big Bob. “Well, come on, fellows, who’s going to
call?”

It was an honor or distinction that each was eager to have, yet each
wanted to force it on the others. A friendly argument developed, to
which Mr. Hampton, smiling, put an end.

“Look here, boys, we are wasting time. Suppose you draw straws for the
privilege. You all know the Morse and Continental codes, so there is no
question of ability involved. Here—” breaking three matchsticks into
varying lengths and offering them—“take your choice. Longest wins.”

Frank drew the winning stick. The others laughed, clapped him on the
back, and without more ado he began pressing the key and sending out the
signal.

“Is somebody on duty at the Post wireless station, do you think,
MacDonald?” asked Mr. Hampton.

“Somebody there all the time,” the latter replied. “Captain Jameson has
found wireless so useful in policing his vast district that he wonders
how he ever got along without it.”

“Hurray,” shouted Frank, “listen. They’re answering.”

To those who understood the code, the answer was plain:

“JSN answering. Who are you?”

“MacDonald,” tapped off Frank, grinning mischievously.

The receptor sounded almost angry.

“Quit your kidding.”

“No, I mean it,” replied Frank. “This is MacDonald of the Mounted.”

“Prove it.”

“That’ll stump old Frank,” chuckled Bob, in an aside. But he was
mistaken.

“All right,” replied Frank, confidently. “Do you know what my assignment
is?”

“Yes,” answered JSN, impudently. “Do you?”

“I’m after Lupo the Wolf,” tapped Frank. “Now call Captain Jameson.”

“You’re not MacDonald,” replied JSN, “because he doesn’t know the code.
But you must be speaking for him, for that’s right about his assignment.
I’ll call Captain Jameson. You wait.”

“All right,” tapped Frank.

Then he turned to the eager MacDonald, who was itching to inquire what
was occurring, but had restrained himself until he should be appealed to
by Frank, in order not to interrupt. Like all men unfamiliar with
telegraphy, whether wireless or by wire, he stood in awe of an operator,
and believed it would be terrible, indeed, to interrupt that superior
being. Frank took pity now on his curiosity, as well as on that of
Farnum, Dick and Art, crowding behind him, and explained what had
happened.

“And you actually got the Post?” asked MacDonald, doubt in his voice.

Frank nodded.

“My God,” said the big policeman. “Think of the weeks I spent toiling up
here, and now you come along and talk across that distance without the
loss of a minute’s time. Wonderful, well I reckon.”

“When Captain Jameson arrives,” said Frank, smiling, “I want you to
stand close and I’ll translate what he says, and you help me with the
replies, will you?”

“Won’t I be interrupting you?”

“Oh, no,” smiled Frank. “You just come close and wait until I speak.
It’ll be all right. Well”—as the receptor began to click—“I guess this
is Captain Jameson now. Yes,” with a nod, “it’s he, all right. He’s
asking where you are, Mr. MacDonald.”

“Tell him I’m four hundred miles away and close on Lupo. Tell him about
yourselves and the fight, and that we’re going to round up Lupo’s gang
and ask him how soon he can send men to help me out with any prisoners
we take, and if he can send any at all, and—”

“One minute,” said Frank. “I understand. Just wait a bit now, while I
telegraph.”

To explain at length the details of that telegraphic conversation is
unnecessary. Suffice it to say, that the situation was fully explained
to Captain Jameson, and that the latter agreed to start a half dozen
deputies under a Sergeant to MacDonald’s aid, as soon as he should hear
again as to the outcome of the expedition against Lupo.

“It’ll take a while for the men to reach MacDonald,” said Captain
Jameson. “But with game plentiful and the season open, he can camp until
they arrive, and thus keep watch over his prisoners, providing he makes
any. You people go ahead with your rounding up of Lupo’s gang, and then
let me hear from you again.”

On that agreement, Frank finally closed the conversation, as there was
nothing further to be said.



CHAPTER X.—THE BOYS LEFT BEHIND.


“MacDonald, I’ll agree to help you round up Lupo and his gang,” said Mr.
Hampton.

They were all sitting in conference, so to speak, about the camp fire,
over which Dick was busy broiling fish which he and Art and the boys had
just pulled out of the lake. The appetizing odor made the nostrils of
the three hungry boys twitch with anticipatory delight.

“Fine,” said the big ranger, “that’s the way I like to hear you talk.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Hampton, meditatively, “I’ve got a very good reason why
we should cast in our lot and help you, even supposing Lupo flees and
draws us off our course.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, it’s an easy enough one to guess. Lupo evidently is after us.
That means that he is being paid by somebody to do us in, or at least
thwart us in our search. I want to know who that somebody is. And the
only way to find out is to make Lupo prisoner and question him.
Moreover, it is possible we may be able to learn something about the
mysterious fate of Thorwaldsson and his expedition.”

Farnum had been listening closely. He nodded with satisfaction.

“Just what I was thinking myself.”

“You’re right, Mr. Hampton,” said MacDonald. “But such being the case,
we’ll have to be mighty careful that Lupo doesn’t get shot, as then your
prospective source of information would vanish.”

“True enough, MacDonald,” said Mr. Hampton. “We’ll all have to be on
guard against that misfortune, for misfortune it would be.”

He raised his voice, calling the boys and Dick and Art to him. Then he
explained how matters stood.

“As soon as we finish breakfast,” he said, “we’ll start, and you must
all be very careful not to shoot Lupo, if it comes to a battle.”

As they ate breakfast, Bob who seldom spoke but always to the point,
raised a question which had been puzzling him.

“Mr. Hampton, what will we do with all our outfit?” he asked. “And with
our radio transmitter, especially? Shall we dismount it? Must we take
all our outfit along?”

“It would be too bad to dismount the radio, after our trouble in getting
it erected,” said Mr. Hampton. “And to take all our outfit with us would
be to hamper our movements. On the other hand, we can’t very well leave
everything here, for some of Lupo’s men might slip away from the main
body, in fact, they may already have done so, and they would put us in a
terrible plight if they raided the camp, in our absence.”

There was silence for a minute or two, then MacDonald spoke.

“We can certainly travel faster without your outfit to hold us back,” he
said, “especially if Lupo tries to run away. For then we could gain on
him at the portages, by traveling light. Look here, Mr. Hampton, this
island is easily defended. We’ve been going to the shore to keep watch
on the mainland against surprise. But just a little ways through the
trees is a little rise, a knoll, from which you can see the waters all
around the island. One man alone could keep guard here.”

“But one man couldn’t keep off an attack in numbers,” objected Mr.
Hampton.

“I don’t know,” said MacDonald. “With them high-powered rifles of yours,
it might be done. They carry far, farther than any guns Lupo’s Indians
and breeds will have. Anyway, two men certainly could manage to hold
this place against all comers.”

“And three,” added Farnum, with a significant look at Mr. Hampton,
“could do it even better.”

The boys again were at the fire some distance away, helping Dick broil
more fish. Mr. Hampton looked at them. He understood the significance in
Farnum’s tone.

“You don’t think they would be in danger here?”

“Less than they would be in with us, Mr. Hampton,” said Farnum, lowering
his voice as the other had done.

Mr. Hampton considered. The proposal hinted by Farnum, namely, that the
boys should be left at camp, tempted him. It was most assuredly true
that they would be in far less danger than if they accompanied him
against Lupo. And that appealed to him, appealed powerfully. He was
grateful to Farnum in his thoughts for his solicitude for the boys’
welfare.

On the other hand, he knew them for resourceful in an emergency, and
good fighters. And since the idea that information might be obtained
from Lupo had come to him it had taken firm possession of his thoughts.
Lupo must be captured. Would it not be folly to weaken their force by
leaving three young huskies, each of whom, moreover, was a fine rifle
shot, behind?

Besides, what would the boys say? If necessary, he could command and
they would obey. But Mr. Hampton was not one to exercise his authority
dictatorially.

“I confess I don’t know what to do, Farnum,” he said finally.

At that moment, a laughing hail from the boys announced the completion
of the second batch of food, and their imminent return.

“Make it a post of honor and danger,” whispered Farnum, urgently. “Tell
them the radio must be guarded, and the outfit, and that if we take
these things along our movements will be so hampered that Lupo might
escape. Tell them there is a big possibility, too, that some of Lupo’s
gang may attempt to raid the camp while we are absent.”

The boys were so close at hand that Farnum desisted. Mr. Hampton nodded.
As they ate, he broached the subject of leaving a guard in camp.

“Three of us ought to stay behind,” he added. “That will give sufficient
protection for each other, and provide a sure safeguard against
surprise. Also, that leaves five of us to go after Lupo. Four of us can
go in that bigger of our canoes easily, without any baggage. It carried
three of us, with baggage, so far, MacDonald can go in his kayak. So we
can hit a fast pace, and make speed at the portages, if any are
necessary.”

“Who do you intend to leave behind, Dad?” asked Jack quietly.

Mr. Hampton realized from his son’s tone that Jack understood his
thoughts.

“Well, you three boys would be the natural ones to be selected,” he
said.

“Oh, I say,” protested Bob.

“That’s not fair, Mr. Hampton,” cried Frank.

Jack was silent. He knew his father. Close association of the motherless
boy with the older man since boyhood had attuned their minds. He
understood how troubled his father was over the possibility of running
them into danger. And he decided he would not add to his difficulties,
but would keep quiet, although inwardly he felt dismayed at the prospect
of “missing the fun.”

“You see how it is, fellows,” said Mr. Hampton, and he proceeded to
elaborate on the theme furnished him by Farnum. “It’s a post of honor
and danger combined.”

Bob and Frank, however, were not convinced. They started anew to protest
But Jack silenced them.

“All right, fellows, let’s be sports,” he said. “If the older heads
decide they don’t need us, we won’t force ourselves on them.”

“But, Jack,” cried Bob and Frank in chorus.

“No, I mean it, fellows,” said Jack. “Come over here with me, and I’ll
tell you something.”

Drawing them out of earshot, he added:

“Don’t let us make it hard for Dad. He’s got troubles enough. He’ll feel
a lot easier if we aren’t along. I know how you feel. I feel the same
way about it. But let’s make it as easy for Dad as we can. Besides,
there is something in what he said, after all. There is no guarantee
that some of Lupo’s men won’t attempt to raid us. For my part, I believe
some of them must be watching this island right now, and the minute they
see the others safely out of sight, they’ll attack us. For they know our
numbers, and they will realize the three of us are here alone.”

“All right,” grumbled Bob. “Have it your own way, let’s get some more to
eat. I haven’t filled up yet.”

“This outdoor life makes me ravenous, too,” agreed Frank. “And I used to
be such a dainty eater. Why, I just pecked at my food.”

“You mean you ate food by the peck,” said Bob. “For a little guy, you’re
the heftiest eater I ever saw.”

“Little guy, is it?” cried Frank. “I like that.”

And without more ado, he made a flying tackle, his arms locking about
Bob’s knees. The big fellow came down in the brush and Frank piled on
top of him with a shout of glee.

“Come on, Jack. We haven’t had a good rough-house for a long time.”

Grinning, Jack joined in, and the three went rolling and threshing about
the bushes like a trio of young bears.

At the fireside, Mr. Hampton’s worried look relaxed, and he grinned with
enjoyment.

“It’s all right, now,” he said contentedly. “They’ll take their
disappointment out in a grand wrestling jamboree. Well, let’s pack up a
little grub and get ready to go.”



CHAPTER XI.—BOB FALLS ASLEEP.


In no time at all, Mr. Hampton and his party were ready to set out. Of
one thing they were reminded by Jack, the individual radio sets
constructed along his own lines, the instrument of which was so small
and compact it was contained in the panel of a ring.

“Only trouble with these,” Jack said, “is that you can receive but can’t
transmit. However—”

“However,” his father interrupted, “that is all that will be necessary.”

“Why?” asked Farnum.

“It is hardly likely that the five of us will get into such a
predicament that we shall fail to return,” explained Mr. Hampton. “But
the boys may be attacked when we are gone, and may be placed in a bad
position. Then they can call for us.”

“At least we could send out a hurry up call over those sets,” said Jack.
“As for your calling us, well, that will be a little more complicated,
Dad, but it can be done, if necessary. I insist on your taking that army
field set. It came in mighty handy in South America. It is no great job
to set it up. And it weighs little. You are taking no other equipment,
and you can afford to take it along. It won’t be in your way. Here it
is, you see, all boxed up complete, handle on the box and everything.”

“Right, Jack,” said his father. “Now we can communicate with each other
easily enough. Well”—looking about him—“are we ready?”

The others nodded.

“Then,” Mr. Hampton said, “I propose that we bring our canoes back
through the trees, cross the island and make for the mainland on the
other side.”

Farnum and MacDonald nodded agreement.

“This island is pretty long,” said MacDonald, “and it will screen our
departure on the other side, in all likelihood. It is hardly likely, as
a matter of fact, that we will be seen, for Lupo’s party has not shown
itself since we beat off that canoe, and probably is somewhere back up
that stream out of which your party came.”

“You think they cannot see the mainland on the other side of this island
from there, Dad?”

“I don’t believe so,” said Mr. Hampton.

“Even if they do catch a glimpse of us,” suggested Farnum, “isn’t it
probable they’ll believe we are pushing on? As a matter of fact,
however, we’ll land on the mainland, and carry our canoes inland and
then up along the lake till we are out of sight, when we can cross
again, I suppose that’s your idea, Mr. Hampton?”

“My idea exactly,” answered the other. “Well, let’s get the canoe and
MacDonald’s kayak. They have been pulled well up into the bushes, and we
can bring them across the island without detection easily enough.”

“Wait a minute, Dad,” said Jack, laying a detaining hand on his arm. “If
they do see you crossing the channel to the mainland, on the other side
of the island, they’ll know the whole party isn’t along, and will
realize you aren’t leaving, but merely carrying out some maneuver.”

“Maybe, that’s what they will think, Jack. On the other hand, they might
figure some of the canoes got across beforehand. Anyway, leaving by the
back door, so to speak, is our wisest plan, I am sure. The channel to
the mainland on the other side is only a narrow one, and the
probabilities of our escaping detection are all in our favor.”

The largest of the canoes, together with MacDonald’s kayak were dragged
back through the underbrush and carried across the island to be launched
on the other side. Nor did Jack neglect to load the compact field
transmitting set in the canoe, as the party pushed off. Then, amid
farewells from both sides, Mr. Hampton and his party set out for the
mainland.

Jack watched the canoe and the kayak depart, with something of a sinking
of the heart. The same feeling, he suspected, possessed his father.
Neither, however, presented other than a brave and cheerful front. As
for Bob and Frank, they had gotten over their disappointment at not
being permitted to accompany the expedition, to a certain extent, and,
cast for the first time since the start of the trip, on their own
resources were beginning to enjoy the situation.

“First thing, fellows,” said Frank, as the party reached the mainland,
hauled up canoe and kayak and struck into the trees, “first thing is to
go to this knoll about which MacDonald spoke, and take a view of the
field.”

“Yes,” said big Bob, “then let’s divide up into watches, so that the
pair of us not drawn for the first watch can get some rest.”

“You certainly were born in the Land o’ Nod, Bob,” scoffed Frank.

“Yes,” said Jack, grinning, “if you’re as sleepy as all that, we’ll
count you out right away. Frank and I will draw for the first watch, and
you can hit the hay.”

“Not so fast,” said Bob. “I’ll take my chance with the rest of you.”

Meantime, they had been mounting the tree-covered hill to which
MacDonald had referred and now, reaching the top, found that, despite
its low elevation, it was still so much higher than the rest of the
island and than the shores of the lake as well, that they commanded a
sweeping view not only of the nearer shore to which Mr. Hampton had gone
but also of the farther one whence they had come.

Not a sign of human occupation, however, was anywhere apparent.
Eastward, although they knew Mr. Hampton and his companions could not
have progressed far, yet the trees rimming the lake shore were
sufficiently dense to hide any sign of movement. Westward, toward the
farther shore, was a thick belt of trees about the mouth of the stream,
thinning out farther along the shore in both directions. Neither among
the trees nor on the glades, could they discern anybody although Jack,
who had been thoughtful enough to bring along their field glasses,
scanned the prospect through them a long time before passing them on to
the others, who did likewise.

“Well, so far so good,” said Jack, with a sigh of relief. “Evidently, or
so far as we can see, anyway, Dad and the rest got across undiscovered
and now stand a fair chance of crossing the lake farther up undetected.”

“Maybe so,” said Frank. “Maybe, too, Lupo got discouraged and quit.”

“Retreated you mean?” asked Jack.

Frank nodded.

“Oh, you fellows are full of prunes,” said Bob. “Why should he quit now,
just because we have added one more man to our forces? He’s hung to our
trail a long time. That means he’s not going to quit in a hurry. No,
we’ve got to keep our eyes open.”

“That’s right,” said Jack, thoughtfully, “It won’t do to get
overconfident and relax our guard.”

“Just the same there’s no sign of trouble now,” said Frank. “And I’ve
got a suggestion.”

“Don’t lose the idea,” said Bob, anxiously. “Hold on to it. Ideas are
rare.”

“With some people yes,” said Frank, grinning. “Not with me.”

“Huh.”

Bob clutched at Frank, but the other wriggled out of his grasp.

“My idea,” he said, “is to take a plunge in the channel your father
crossed, Jack. I’m hot and sticky and tired, and a swim would go fine
just before I turn in and leave Bob on watch. What do you say?”

“So I’m to have the first watch, hey?” said Bob. “It’s been all decided,
has it? Well, well. All right, run along, Frankie, me lad. I’m not so
anxious for a swim. I’ll just start my watch here and now.”

“Bob, you’re a good sport,” said Frank, throwing an arm over the
shoulders of his big chum, between whom and himself was a depth of
feeling which seldom was expressed in words.

“Oh, run along and take your swim.”

Bob playfully shoved the pair of them down the hill. Laughing, they
obeyed. As they disappeared among the trees, Bob selected a spot at the
base of a spruce on the top of the knoll, sat down with the glasses in
his lap and his eyes on the westward shore of the lake, where Lupo’s
half-breeds had last been seen, and prepared to keep watch. His back was
against the trunk of the tree, and he made himself as comfortable as
possible.

It was a really comfortable position and, when one is tired and sitting
idle, a comfortable position is conducive to drowsiness. It was so with
Bob. He had had but little sleep in the last two days. He had worked
hard. The air was warm and drowsy, as only the air of the short hot
Summer of the north country, when the sun never sets, can be. Presently
his head began to nod, and there was a buzzing in his ears as of the
drowsy hum of bees. He caught himself, and sat bolt upright, rubbing his
eyes vigorously with his fists. Then he leaned back against the tree
trunk again, and again began to nod. This time, the jerk with which he
awakened was longer in coming.

Bob got up and stretched.

“Mustn’t go to sleep,” he reflected. “Nothing in sight, though. Not much
use to worry. Ho, hum.”

He resumed his seat. Imperceptibly, his eyes drifted shut. He sat
through the transition period between sleeping and waking, unaware that
he was yielding to slumber, merely pleasantly conscious of relaxed limbs
and thoughts. Before he was aware his head nodded, his eyes closed, his
chin touched his chest, and he slept.

Meanwhile Jack and Frank were thoroughly enjoying their plunge. The
water was warm, there was no wind, and they swam, dived, floated to
their heart’s content. Neither realized the passage of time until Frank,
suddenly filled with compunction at their long absence, while Bob kept
watch, scrambled ashore and looked at his watch, laid out on top of his
clothes.

“Great guns, Jack,” he announced, “we’ve been gone an hour. Good old
Bob. He was mighty nice about sending us off to swim while he kept
watch, but you know he likes to swim, too. He’ll be thinking it’s a low
trick on our part to stay so long. Maybe he’ll want to come and take a
plunge himself, when one of us gets back to relieve him.”

Jack also had a guilty feeling and, as is the way with most of us,
attempted to make excuses.

“He might just as well have come along,” he said. “Nothing’s going to
happen.”

They were pulling on their clothes.

Suddenly they heard Bob’s voice raised in a distant shout, calling their
names. Then followed a brisk outbreak of rifle shots.



CHAPTER XII.—THE SURPRISE ATTACK.


“An attack,” gasped Jack.

“And we’re not there to help old Bob,” cried Frank, in an agony of
apprehension. “Come on. Don’t stop to finish dressing.”

Shirt flapping out over his trousers, shoes unlaced, Frank frantically
buckled on his revolver and cartridge belt, seized his rifle and started
on a dead run through the trees. Jack did likewise. As they ran, they
heard the shots continuing intermittently, and then once more—clearer
and closer at hand, as they neared the knoll—came Bob’s voice:

“Frank, Jack, they’re rushing me. Look out for yourselves.”

There was a crashing in the brush ahead.

“Down, Jack, some of them coming.”

The two flung themselves prone behind a spruce whose low branches swept
the ground. The sounds were off to their left. A moment later the forms
of four men, hurrying towards the channel whence they had just come,
could be seen eight or ten yards away.

Jack’s face was pale, his lips set. Frank was trembling with excitement
and fear—not for himself, if the truth must be told, for the plucky lad
was not thinking of himself, but for his chum, who was holding off the
main attack alone.

“Steady, Frank,” whispered Jack. “Bob’s life depends on us. This is no
time for false compunctions. You’ll have to shoot to kill.”

“All right, Jack.”

Then the two rifles spoke as one, and two of the runners stumbled, flung
out their arms to save themselves, and pitched forward. The others spun
about towards the direction whence the boys had fired, but a second time
Frank and Jack fired, and they, too, fell.

“No time to see how badly they were hit,” said Jack. “Come on. Old Bob’s
still alive and shooting.”

Forward they dashed once more, not neglecting, however, to keep wary
watch as they ran. No more of the enemy were seen, however. There was a
sudden uproar ahead, the shots ceased. Cries of astonishment,
stupefaction, even a note of fear, went up from several throats. Above
all was a bull-like roar that they readily identified as coming from
Bob’s throat.

Frank’s heart gave an exultant leap. He knew that yell. It came only
when Bob went berserk, and fought with his hands. He had heard it when
they fought Mexican bandits, Chinese smugglers, rum runners on Long
Island and Incas in the Andes. He knew well what it meant.

Almost at the same moment, they burst into the glade at the base of the
knoll, and came to a dead halt, eyes popping, standing as if rooted to
the spot.

But only for a moment. Then they started tearing up the hillside, among
the scattered trees. For at the top was a whirling heap of figures, as
if caught up in a cyclone, and well they knew what it portended.
Somewhere in the center of the group was big Bob, at close grips with
the enemy, and not caring how many they numbered.

Would they be in time? Could they help Bob before some half-breed
succeeded in sticking a knife into him?

But Bob proved that he could handle his own affairs, for while they were
still several yards away, first one and then another half-breed was
spewed from the miniature whirlwind, and then Bob could be seen with
several men clinging to his legs and another on his back, attempting
apparently to throttle him. The big fellow’s hands went up and back.
They settled under the other’s armpits. There was a sudden mighty heave
and wrench, and then the man on Bob’s back came flying through the air,
straight for Bob’s two comrades. He had been tossed from Bob’s
shoulders, as a strong man would toss a sack of meal. Frank and Jack
leaped aside, and the man struck the ground, rolled over and over and
then lay still, crumpled up against the trunk of a spruce.

Recovering from their surprise, Jack and Frank leaped forward. But their
intervention was unnecessary. Standing like a young Colossus, legs
apart, with a man wreathed about each, Bob bent down. One big hand
seized each by the neck. Then the two heads were bumped together once,
twice. The half-breeds collapsed. Their grip on Bob’s legs relaxed, and
he tossed them aside, and they, too, lay still. He had knocked them out.

Then Bob did a surprising thing. He leaped with a murderous look for the
two boys.

“More of you, hey?”

They sprang aside nimbly, eluding his grasp.

“Bob, Bob, it’s us.”

“What? What? Oh, you—”

Bob looked at them, the battle lust dying in his eyes, and recognition
dawning. It was followed by a wide grin.

“Oh, it’s you.”

“Bob, old thing, that was the greatest fight in history,” cried Frank,
hysterically, clapping his chum on the back.

“Never saw the like,” said Jack, doing likewise. “Thank God, Bob, you’re
alive.”

“Never was more alive in my life,” said Bob. “Hey, they’re running
away.”

He darted away from his chums and sprang downhill. True enough. The two
whom he had disposed of first, who had dropped out of the fight, had
gained their feet and were running madly through the trees.

Jack ran after Bob and restrained him.

“Let them go, Bob. They are alone. There are three others here we must
tie up before they come to.”

Bob followed him back to where Frank was bending over the man whom the
big fellow had tossed over his head. The half-breed was recovering
consciousness, and beginning to moan.

“Broken arm, I think,” said Frank. “He’ll not bother us. How about the
two whose heads you bumped together?”

“They’re recovering consciousness, too,” said Jack. “Nothing much the
matter with them. We had better tie them up, so they can’t cause us any
trouble.”

“Here, take the other fellow’s belt and tie his hands behind his back
with it,” said Bob. At the same time, he suited action to word in the
case of the nearer of the two, whipped off the fellow’s belt and tied
him with it.

“Won’t they try to run away, Bob? Ought we to tie their legs, too?”

“No, we’ll just keep an eye on them. Let’s take a look at the other. If
his arm is broken we’ll have to set it somehow, I guess. Rather pitch
him in the lake, though. He’s a villainous looking rascal. Tried to
choke me, too, and darn near succeeded.”

While Frank kept an eye on the two other prisoners, who had now
recovered consciousness and were beginning to realize their situation
but lay still under the threat of Frank’s rifle, Bob and Jack examined
the third man.

His senses were returning, and he moaned a good deal. Examinations
revealed, however, that his arm had not been broken, merely badly
wrenched.

“I’m mighty glad of that,” said Jack. “We’d have been up against it to
set a broken arm.”

“Oh, we could do it, all right, if necessary,” said Bob. “But I’m glad,
too, that it isn’t necessary. But, say, Jack”—with sudden recollection,
and an air of anxiety—“there were four more of these scoundrels. We’ll
have to look out for them.”

Jack’s voice shook a little as he replied.

“I think not, Bob,” he said. “Frank and I saw them first. We ambushed
them, practically. They didn’t have a chance.”

“You don’t mean—”

Jack’s gaze was steady but troubled.

“We had to do it, old man,” he said. “It was our life or theirs. And
yours, especially. When we heard your shout, and those first shots,
Frank went wild with fear that you had been trapped while we were away
enjoying ourselves. And I guess I felt as bad as he did.”

“Hey, fellows,” interrupted Frank, hailing them, “the two that got away
must have been all that were left. They’ve jumped in a canoe and are
paddling like mad for the mainland.”

“Can you see them?” called Jack, starting to the top of the knoll to
join his chum.

“How would I know what they were doing if I couldn’t?” rejoined Frank.
“Yes, I can see them. Look there.”

He pointed.

“Tie up that other fellow, Bob, and make him walk up here to join his
little playmates,” Jack called back.

Bob complied. The man groaned, but by now he had fully recovered his
senses, and he obeyed Bob’s order to move with an alacrity that showed
he stood in abject fear of the husky young American.

Frank pointed out the fleeing men, who were nearing the mainland, and
paddling with superhuman energy, as if fleeing from the Old Nick, no
less.

“That accounts for all of them, I guess,” he said. “So we can sit down
now, Bob, while you tell us how it happened.”

“Not much to tell,” said Bob, sinking to a seated position against the
tree trunk. “Except I went to sleep and was almost surprised, but not
quite. My first intimation that the enemy was near was when I heard
somebody talking in the trees at the foot of this knoll. Or, did I hear
anybody? Was it just the old sixth sense giving warning of danger? I
don’t rightly know. At any rate, I woke with a start and looking down
through the trees saw a bunch of half-breeds making their way towards
the other side of the island.

“I tell you I was scared. I felt guilty as sin. Here I had promised to
keep watch, and, instead, had fallen asleep. As a result, the
half-breeds had landed on the island, and were heading for where you
fellows were swimming. I had endangered your lives. What should I do?
That was the question.

“But I didn’t waste must time, puzzling over it. I knew I had to give
you fellows warning or you would be taken by surprise. So I yelled to
you as loud as I could to look out. I guess they hadn’t seen me up till
then. But when I yelled, they saw me quick enough, and several of them
opened fire, and——”

“Wait a minute, Bob,” Frank interrupted, his eyes shining. “They hadn’t
seen you, and you could have let them pass without attracting their
attention, but you yelled, just to give us a chance for our white alley.
That’s, that’s—”

“Oh, forget it,” said Bob, uncomfortably. “You’d have done the same.
Anyway,” he hurried on, “they split up into two groups, and one kept on
going, while the other rushed me before I could do much shooting,
and—well, I guess you know the rest,” he concluded, lamely.

“I’ll say we do,” said Frank, gripping his big comrade’s shoulder. “Boy,
I’ll never see the like of that fight again.”

“But, Bob, I wonder why they rushed you instead of trying to shoot you
down,” said Jack.

“Search me,” said Bob.

“I’ll bet I know,” said Frank.

“What?” asked both.

“They wanted to take you alive, Bob, for some reason of their own.
Probably, would have tried to take us alive, too, if they’d gotten the
chance.”

“Well, maybe so,” said Bob. “Anyhow, that’s that. Now what shall we do?”



CHAPTER XIII.—MR. HAMPTON RECALLED.


Jack and Frank regarded each other with distaste and even horror in
their eyes.

“Has to be done, though,” said Jack, as if in answer to a remark of
Frank’s.

Frank nodded.

“I know.”

“What are you two chumps talking about?” asked Bob.

“Those four men we shot down, you know,” Frank explained.

“Think you—”

Bob’s question went uncompleted.

“I don’t know,” Frank replied. “We shot straight. It was your life and
ours against theirs.”

“Well, come on. I know how you feel, but I expect that’s the first thing
to be attended to. If any of them is no more than wounded, it will be up
to us to do what we can for him.”

“Right, Bob,” said Jack.

“Come on,” Frank said shortly, starting down the hillside, in the
direction of their successful, though impromptu, ambuscade.

“Go easy,” warned Bob. “If they’re able to shoot, they’ll take a crack
at us.”

Bob’s advice was followed, and the trio approached the spot warily. But
precaution was needless, or, while still some distance away, they could
see the four bodies outstretched motionless where they had fallen.
Frank’s face went white, and he shuddered. Jack was pale. Big Bob,
although he had had no hand in the affray, had to take a grip on
himself, in order to force his laggard steps to continue. Though many
were the affairs of danger in which they had been, the boys had never
before shot to kill nor had death been brought so close to them.

Frank stopped. He was trembling violently.

“I—I can’t look at them,” he gasped.

Bob threw an arm over his shoulders.

“You and Jack stay here,” he ordered, gruffly. “I had no hand in this.
I’m the fellow to attend to it. Wait for me.”

At that Frank protested, and started to proceed. But Bob shoved him
back, kindly but firmly.

“The pair of you have been through enough,” he said. “Do as I say. Wait
here.”

And with quick, firm step, keeping himself to the task, he plunged on
through the trees. For a moment or two both Frank and Jack watched him
fascinatedly, then Frank sank down to a sitting position, elbows propped
on his knees, his face in his hands. Jack faced about, and stared
unseeing through the trees.

Presently, Bob’s solid, crunching footsteps could be heard approaching,
and they looked up. His face was grave, but unflinching.

“Look here, fellows,” he said, firmly, “may as well face the facts. All
four were killed instantly. Drilled through the—— But why discuss it?
The fact is, they’re dead. They were rascals of the first water, and, as
you say, it was their lives or ours. Self-preservation is the first law
of Nature. Now, what are we going to do about it? We haven’t any tools
to dig with.”

Frank shook himself into alertness.

“Let’s get the axes—our outfit has some—and cut off some spruce boughs
and cover them over. Then we can roll some stones on top.”

As quickly as possible, without speaking during the task, and working
feverishly, the three carried out Frank’s idea. Then, back at camp, they
sat down and brewed a pot of coffee. The hot, scalding liquid steadied
their shaken nerves.

“Guess we better try to get in touch with your father, Jack,” suggested
Bob, at length.

“How long have they been gone?”

Bob looked at his watch.

“Three hours. Seems like a lifetime.”

“Things have certainly happened fast,” said Frank. “Thank goodness, that
party missed our radio. If they had destroyed it, we would have been out
of luck.”

“More luck than I deserve,” said Bob, savagely. “Think of going to sleep
on the job. If I had been awake, they never would have been able to
land.”

“Forget it, Bob. You certainly have nothing to reproach yourself with.”

“Oh, that’s nonsense,” said the big fellow. “I’m always getting you into
trouble.”

Frank smiled.

“Yes, and then getting us out again,” he said.

“Well, let’s try the radio, anyway,” suggested Jack. “They’ve been gone
three hours. With the best of luck they can’t have made more than eight
or ten miles, considering the detour they planned to take, and
everything.”

“Couldn’t have gotten that far away in a straight line,” said Frank.

“No, I guess not. But what if they aren’t prepared for a call from us?”

“Oh, with that improved ring set of yours, your father will be
proceeding fully equipped to hear from you,” said Frank. “He need only
wear the headphone, and I seem to remember he said on leaving that he
would keep it on most of the time.”

Jack nodded. The improvement in the ring set, spoken of by Frank, had
done away with the necessity for the umbrella aerial.

“All right,” he said. “I’ll call Dad on 200 meters. If he gets the
message we ought to hear from him shortly, for he’ll at once unlimber
the field transmitting set and call us back.”

While Jack sent out a terse description of the fight and its outcome,
Frank and Bob decided to steady their nerves by fishing and went down to
the lakeside. They had reasonable success and had pulled out a number of
fish when Jack joined them.

“Send out your message, Jack?” Frank inquired.

“Yes, and heard from Father in reply, too.”

“What? Why, great guns, how long have we been here? Surely, you can’t
have had time to hear from your father?”

“But, I have,” affirmed Jack. “You’ve been here more than an hour.”

Bob and Frank looked at each other. In all that time, neither had spoken
a word. They had just dozed over their lines, pulling in an occasional
fish. Frank laughed.

“I guess we went to sleep with our eyes open,” he confessed. “Well, what
did your father say?”

“They made a long trek up the lake before crossing over, and are not
very far away—somewhere up in that direction—on the other shore, there,”
said Jack, pointing. “Dad was worried as the deuce at my story, and
they’re coming back.”

“Coming back? Why? It’s all over now.”

“That’s what I told him, Frank. But he’s coming back, anyway. They’re
going to get back to the lake, and come straight down to the island.
Ought to be here in a couple of hours or less.”

“May as well wait dinner for them, in that case,” observed Bob. “Or what
meal is it? Breakfast, lunch, or dinner? I’m sure I don’t know. This
perpetual sunshine has me all turned around. I don’t know whether it’s
day or night.”

“Same here,” confessed Frank. “I do know, though, that I’m beginning to
get up an appetite.” Then a thought, a thought which his somnolent
daydreaming over the fishing lines had driven away for the time, crossed
his mind, and he paled. “I don’t know though”—catching his
breath—“whether I’ll ever want to eat again.”

Jack looked at him sharply. So did Bob. The big fellows noted with
apprehension the twisted, stricken look on their slighter chum’s face,
and the haunted appearance of his eyes. To Bob’s keen eyes, moreover,
two hectic spots glowing brightly in the dark tan of Frank’s cheeks were
apparent.

“Look here, old man,” said Bob, anxiously, “you want to quit thinking
about that or you’ll be sick.”

“Sick?” Frank tried to force a laugh. “I’m the healthiest invalid ever
you saw.”

“No, Frank, I mean it. Put that thought out of your mind, or you will be
sick. Why—”laying a hand on his brow—“you’ve got a fever right now.”

Jack was worried, too.

“Great guns, Frank, you must take Bob’s advice. What if you came down
sick? We’d be in a pretty fix.”

“Oh, you fellows make me tired,” said Frank, irritatedly. “I’m all
right.”

But Bob’s worry was not routed. He took his chum by an arm and started
marching him toward camp.

“I’m going to give you a dose of calomel and make you lie down,” he
said. “Come on.”

“Calomel? Have a heart.”

“Yes, calomel,” said Bob, firmly. “That’s what you need, that and a
nap.”

Picking up the fish, Jack followed. And at the camp, despite Frank’s
vehement protests, he was made to swallow a liberal dose of calomel, and
then to lie down on a couch of spruce boughs, over him the little tent
belonging to Mr. Hampton to provide shade from the northern sun. Jack
and Bob sat down, some distance away, and started cleaning the fish.
They talked together in low tones. Presently, after several glances
toward the motionless figure, Bob arose and tiptoed close to it. On his
return, he nodded, smiling slightly, at Jack.

“Asleep,” he said. “Didn’t want to do it, but overworked Nature was too
much for him. I’m a little bit worried. His nerves got a severe shock.
But I guess he’ll be all right when he wakes up.”

Then he glanced more keenly at Jack.

“Look here, you’ve been through the same experience. I had a nap. Now
you’re going to take one. Sleep will be good medicine for you, too. We
don’t want two sick ones on our hands.”

Jack didn’t protest, but also turned in beside Frank, and in a few
minutes was sound asleep. As Bob had said, overworked Nature claimed her
dues.



CHAPTER XIV.—A REVELATION.


This time Bob did not go to sleep on the job, but at the first faint
indication that somnolence was stealing upon him, arose and stamped
about vigorously. Once, prompted by a humane inclination, he paused by
the three prisoners who lay in the shade, hands and feet tied, and
proffered them a drink of water. The courtesy and thoughtfulness was
totally unexpected, as Bob could see by the surprise in their eyes,
although no words were exchanged, and they drank eagerly in great gulps.
The half-breed whom Bob had pitched over his head was in considerable
pain because of his wrenched arm, as Bob could see from his occasional
writhings, and Bob decided to chance trouble by loosening his bonds. In
addition, he rummaged their stores and brought out a bottle of liniment
for sprains and bruises, with which he bathed the twisted member.

“You good man,” whispered the other, gazing at him, as Bob bent to the
task, and speaking in a voice barely audible to Bob’s ears, and
certainly not to the other two men a short distance away. “I tell you
something—not now—bimeby—when they not know.”

Bob thought quickly.

“All right,” he responded, in the same low tone. “I’ll fix it.”

“Yes.” The other nodded. “You fix it.”

“Now what in the world has he got to tell me?” Bob asked himself, as he
moved away. “Probably, something about Lupo the Wolf. At any rate, I
can’t see what else it can be. Was grateful because I gentled him a
little—after first maltreating him.” He smiled at the irony of this
thought. “Well, Mr. Hampton will soon be here, no doubt. Then there will
be a chance to question him apart from his fellows.”

And with that, he dismissed the matter from his mind. Jack now rolled
over, sat up and came out from under the tent, yawning. Frank continued
sunk in heavy slumber.

“By George,” said Bob, looking at his watch, “two hours since you
started to take your nap. Run down to the shore, will you, and take a
look to see if there is any sign of your father. We left these fellows
alone once”—nodding to their prisoners—“but I felt it wasn’t wise to try
it too often. Something might happen. So I’ve been sticking close to
camp.”

Jack nodded.

“Yes, that time you were fishing. It was foolish for me to run down
after you, but I just had to tell you about hearing from Father.”

He set out for the shore.

A few minutes later, Bob heard his comrade give a joyful shout. It was
answered by a fainter hail from the water. Faint though it was, however,
it was unmistakable. Mr. Hampton was approaching.

Presently there was a babble of voices approaching, and the returning
party came into view, Jack in the lead flanked by his father and Farnum,
with MacDonald, Dick and Art bringing up the rear. Jack was eagerly
explaining what had occurred at camp since his father’s departure.

“Hello, Bob,” said Mr. Hampton, coming up, and gripping the big fellow’s
hand hard. “Had some excitement while we were gone?”

“Yes, we did, Mr. Hampton. Thought this was going to be a loafing
assignment you left us on—nothing to do but hang around camp and swim
and fish—and the minute you turn your backs something happens.”

“How’s Frank?”

“Jack told you, did he?”

Mr. Hampton nodded.

“He’s still asleep,” said Bob. “The necessity of shooting to kill was a
shock to his nerves. Nature took him in hand. See.” He indicated where
Frank lay as in a stupor in the tent, unmoved by the arrival of the
returning party.

“He’ll sleep for hours yet,” said Mr. Hampton, “if we don’t make too
much noise. I’ll caution the others. Best medicine in the world for him.
He’ll be all right when he wakes, I expect.”

While Dick put on the fish, for all were hungry, Bob and Jack, in
lowered voices, told the others all that had occurred. Bob repeated his
condemnation of himself for having fallen asleep and permitted the enemy
to land unopposed, but Mr. Hampton rested a hand on his shoulder, and
told him not to be foolish.

“In the first place,” he said, “there seemed to be no reason why you
should keep strict watch. It hardly seemed likely these fellows would
boldly approach the island.”

“Expect they saw us set out, after all,” suggested MacDonald, “and
figured the whole party hadn’t gone, and that them left behind would be
on ’tother side of the island, so’s they could land and surprise ’em.”

Nods of agreement followed this statement. It was, indeed, the most
likely explanation. Over the puzzle as to why Bob had not been slain by
those attacking him, but who, instead, had tried merely to make him
prisoner, nobody had any suggestion to offer other than that earlier
advanced by the boys themselves, that they enemy wished to take them
alive.

“Reckon Lupo thought he’d get some information from you,” said
MacDonald.

“But he wasn’t here,” Bob protested.

“No, but you can bet they were actin’ on his orders.”

Bob bethought him of the prisoner, who had whispered that he had
something to tell him. He explained to the others. Mr. Hampton thought
for a moment.

“I have it,” he said. “Art, bring the others here and we’ll question
them. At the same time, Bob, do you slip off and talk to your man. We’ll
keep the pair occupied, so that they won’t be able to see. Tell your man
that presently, then, we’ll call him up to be questioned, too, and that
he’s to pretend sullen obstinacy and refuse—in the presence of his
comrades—to answer any questions.”

Bob nodded and, as Art went for the pair, he slipped away in an opposite
direction. Executing a flank movement through the trees, he presently
arrived on the opposite side of the camp and got behind the tree,
against which the man with the wrenched shoulder was sitting. In a rapid
whisper he communicated Mr. Hampton’s instructions to the other. The
fellow comprehended, and then in a low tone, scarcely audible to Bob,
who strained to hear, communicated surprising intelligence.

Bob heard him out, then with a final word of caution, again slipped
away, once more skirted camp through the trees, and approached the group
from the waterside. The two other half-breeds were being grilled, but
without success. At Bob’s approach, Mr. Hampton turned again to Art.

“Bring that other fellow here,” he commanded. “See if he knows any more
than these men.”

The man was brought into the council, but, acting on instructions,
maintained an obstinate silence.

“Oh, take them away, and feed them,” said Mr. Hampton finally, as if
despairing of obtaining any information. “We’ll talk to them later,
after I’ve eaten. Dick’s fish will get cold if we don’t fall to, and I’m
too hungry to delay with these rascals.”

The men, whose ankle bonds had been removed, were returned to the other
side of the camp and, with their hands untied, were permitted to eat
under the watchful eyes of Dick and Art. Then once more they were tied
up.

Meantime, Mr. Hampton turned eagerly to Bob, as soon as the trio of
prisoners was out of hearing.

“Out with it, Bob,” he said. “I can see you’re dying to tell us. Must be
important.”

“It is,” said Bob, emphatically.

“What did he say?”

“Mr. Hampton, you think we’re alone in this wilderness except for Lupo’s
gang?”

“I don’t know who else would be here. This is country that white men
never get into.”

“Well, Thorwaldsson, Farrell and three followers of their party of ten
are not more than two hundred miles away; perhaps less than that.”

“What! Say that again.”

Mr. Hampton was so excited he almost dropped his portion of fish into
the fire.

“It’s true,” said Bob. “At least that’s what this fellow, Long Tom,
declares. Long Tom—that’s his name.”

“How does he know?”

It was MacDonald who asked the question, and Bob turned to him.

“That’s what I asked him. He said Thorwaldsson had been attacked before
he reached the oil country, and Thorwaldsson, Farrell and four of his
men cut off from their camp. Those in the camp were killed, and
Thorwaldsson’s supplies looted. He says a big band of Indians committed
the outrage.”

“At whose orders?” asked Mr. Hampton.

“Merely operating on their own, says Long Tom. He was with them. They
wanted the loot. What they didn’t understand, they destroyed.”

“That’s why nothing has been heard of Thorwaldsson,” said Mr. Hampton,
“for his radio equipment must have been among ‘the things they didn’t
understand.’ Go on, Bob.”

“Long Tom thinks Thorwaldsson spent the Winter with the Eskimos up on
the rim of the Arctic Ocean.”

“Where has he been? What became of the Indians?”

“They were a hunting party, as far as I could gather, who, after chasing
Thorwaldsson up to the Eskimos, left the country. But Long Tom wintered
with some Eskimos near Union Straits himself, and this Spring started
out. Then he fell in with Lupo, who he knew, and joined him.”

“And how does he know where Thorwaldsson is now? Why does he say
Thorwaldsson is so close?”

“Says he ran across an Eskimo hunter on his way out, who told of
Thorwaldsson having wintered with his tribe, and learned Thorwaldsson
was on his way out down the Coppermine—or up it, whichever you choose to
call it. Though that was weeks ago, he believes Thorwaldsson would be
following watercourses that would put him about one hundred and fifty or
two hundred miles to the northeast of us.”

“Well, Bob, you certainly learned a lot,” said Mr. Hampton. “Was that
everything? Or did Long Tom know or have anything to say about Lupo?”

“He doesn’t know why Lupo is after us, except that it has something to
do with Thorwaldsson. That’s all I could get out of him. Pretty
indefinite, but it was the best I could do.”

“Indefinite! Nonsense, Bob. That is something to go on, indeed.”

“And to think that old Bob got it all just because he was kind to a
fellow with a sore arm and put some liniment on it,” said Jack.



CHAPTER XV.—MACDONALD TURNS BACK.


Taking everything into consideration, Mr. Hampton decided that before
any further steps were taken, the wisest plan would be for all to get a
good rest. Frank still lay as if in a stupor; Jack looked and confessed
to being shaky; even Bob was tired from the strain of the terrific fight
through which he had gone, coming upon the top of many hours of
exhausting travel. As for the rest, they had done practically three
days’ work with little or no rest in the short interval between.

“Altogether,” said Mr. Hampton, summing up, “we are in no fit condition
to set out in immediate pursuit of Lupo and the remainder of his men,
nor even to decide wisely as to what to do. It may be that the best plan
would be not to pursue Lupo but to set off at once to try and find
Thorwaldsson. I, for one, am too tired even to think straight. So I vote
that we make camp, set watches and turn in for a good rest. I believe I
could sleep the clock around.”

“If you think you can trust me with the first watch, Mr. Hampton,”
muttered Bob, shamefacedly, “I’d like to have it. I’ll promise you not
to go to sleep on the job again.”

Mr. Hampton slapped the big fellow on the back in kindly fashion, as Bob
leaned forward, seated on the ground beside him.

“Forget it, Bob,” he said. “You have nothing with which to reproach
yourself. Certainly you can have the first watch, if you want it. I
expect the rest of us will be only too glad of the opportunity to turn
in at once. As to there being any further danger, however, I very much
doubt it. You boys have given Lupo a terrible blow. With four men killed
and three prisoners, he must be short-handed. If he had only twelve or
fourteen, as we believe, his number now is less than ours. The
consequence is, that I cannot conceive of his attempting again to attack
us here on the island. However, a watch must be kept, so go to it.”

Everybody agreeing with this program, Bob took the first watch and the
rest scattered around the camp, under the spruces, and soon were
sleeping soundly. When the time to change watches came, with nothing
alarming having broken the calm, Bob waked MacDonald, and himself turned
in. After that, he did not have even a disturbing dream and was
disturbed by nothing until awakened by being shaken. He looked up and
found Frank bending above him, his face alight with merriment.

“Hey, which of the Seven Sleepers are you?” demanded Frank.

Bob ignored the query, his mind leaping at once to the picture of Frank
as he had last seen him. In his voice was a note of thankfulness at
finding Frank thus carefree, as he said:

“How do you feel, old man?”

“Never better,” confessed Frank. “Sleep is certainly the right medicine,
isn’t it?”

“Don’t I know it!”

Bob yawned luxuriously, and rubbed his eyes.

“Come on, Bob, let’s take a plunge in the channel. Just got up myself.
It’ll wake us up, make us feel good. Everybody’s up now, and Dick fixing
to get breakfast. He and Art and MacDonald are fishing. Mr. Hampton and
Farnum are talking things over. And here comes Jack, just piled out of
the feathers, too. The three of us can have a fine swim.”

Bob was agreeable to this proposition, and they set out for the place
where Frank and Jack had gone in for a plunge before. Without referring
to the tragic little mound beneath which lay the bodies of the four
half-breeds shot down by Frank and Jack, the boys, as if by common
consent, lay their course through the trees so as to avoid passing near
it.

The water, as Frank had predicted, was delightfully invigorating, and
refreshed and with the young blood tingling in their veins, after a long
sleep and a good swim, they returned to camp. They brought voracious
appetites with them, but fortunately the fishermen had pulled in a big
haul of beauties, and these, together with flapjacks made by that
skillful chef, Art, and washed down with coffee tasting like none ever
made in city restaurants, the whole having the tang of the outdoors and
woodland smoke for sauce, made a delectable repast.

“Now,” said Mr. Hampton, at its conclusion, “now for a discussion of
what’s to be done.”

Thereupon he set forth the facts of the situation. Lupo with five or six
men at most was still at large. He might have turned back. He might be
in hiding nearby. He might have gone on ahead in search of Thorwaldsson.
In any case, Mr. Hampton declared, he felt it would be a waste of time
to search for him in view of the fact that they had learned Thorwaldsson
was somewhere to the north and east and their primary object was to join
forces with that explorer. He wanted to know what the others had to say.

Farnum, who had been talking matters over with Mr. Hampton, sat silent,
nodding approval. The other was stating his own views. But MacDonald
voiced a protest.

“From your point of view, sir,” he said, “I reckon you’re right. But am
I to let Lupo escape now that I come so close to gettin’ him? And what
am I to do with three prisoners on my hands?”

“I’ve been turning that phase of the situation over and over,” said Mr.
Hampton. “I cannot see that we can afford to diverge in pursuit of Lupo,
now that we have pretty definite information through that fellow, Long
Tom, of Thorwaldsson’s presence alive and with some of his men in this
wilderness. I know what a blow it will be to you to give up the chase,
but it can’t be helped. You have three prisoners, and can’t very well
watch them and pursue Lupo, too. They are criminals, and as a member of
the Mounted you must take them in. We can’t leave you to handle them
alone, however, and——”

He paused.

“And what, sir,” prompted MacDonald.

“Well, the least we can do, MacDonald, is to leave one of our number
with you. That will enable you to keep guard against surprise, watch
over your prisoners, and wait for the arrival of aid from your Post.
We’ll wireless your Captain Jameson full details of all that has
occurred, give him your position here, and then you can wait for
relief.”

MacDonald looked thoughtful. He was silent several minutes, while none
spoke, but all watched him expectantly.

“If you won’t help me try and round up Lupo, you won’t, and that’s all
there is to it,” he said, finally. “Not as I blame you, neither. You got
your job, to git hold of Thorwaldsson and help him. With only a handful
o’ men he may be in trouble, too. Seems natural-like, if whoever is agin
you fellows sent this cutthroat Lupo to cut you off, he’d likely be
after Thorwaldsson, too.”

Mr. Hampton nodded.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” he said, “that Thorwaldsson may need our
aid.”

“Just so,” continued MacDonald. “Such bein’ the case, your best plan is
to try and find him soon as you can.”

“Then you agree to my plan?”

“Not so fast,” said MacDonald. “You’ll give me a man, hey?”

“Yes.”

“Who?”

“Why—I——”

“Give me this feller,” said MacDonald, laying a hand on Bob who sat
beside him. “He’s a fighter.”

“I couldn’t do that, MacDonald. The boys must come with me.”

“All right. Only that fight he put up—that was a good one. Kind o’
wished I could have him by me. Well, then, let me have this feller. Kin
see he’s used to big woods and river country. He’d make a good Mounty.”

This time MacDonald pointed the stem of his pipe at Dick.

“What do you say, Dick?” asked Mr. Hampton. “It’s up to you?”

“I’d have to go out with the Mounties to their Post, wouldn’t I?
Probably have to winter there.”

MacDonald nodded.

“Get you a job on the Force,” he said.

Dick’s eyes shone. Middle-aged though he was, he was alone in life,
loved the wilderness, and still thrilled to adventure.

“That so?” he asked. “Need men?”

“Always room for a good one.”

“All right. It’s a go,” said Dick.

MacDonald nodded approval, spat in the fire, then turned again to Mr.
Hampton.

“Such being the case,” he said, “when you talk to Captain Jameson over
that there contraption, just tell him I’m on my way in.”

“What?”

“Sure. Think Dick and me would sit here with three no-account breeds on
our hands and wait for help from four hundred miles away to arrive? No.
We’ll take ’em in.”

“But two of you, alone, and with three prisoners on your hands!”

“Nothing to that. Once I brought in four single-handed. Never thought of
calling for help except I had luck enough to capture Lupo and more of
his gang.”

Mr. Hampton looked astounded. He turned to Dick.

“But how about you, Dick?”

“If MacDonald says so, I’m game.”

“Knew you would be,” said MacDonald. “That’s settled. Now call Captain
Jameson, and let’s get goin’. You want to be on your way, and we may as
well be on ours.”

“But, MacDonald,” said Mr. Hampton, trying one last protest, “suppose
Lupo and the remainder of his gang see you start, and follow and attack
you. What then?”

“Huh.” MacDonald’s eyes snapped. “Couldn’t ask for no better luck. I’d
get a shot at him then.”

Farnum interrupted at this stage.

“It’s no use trying to stop him and Dick,” he said. “I know Dick and I
know these men of the Mounted. They’re holy terrors. And the pair of
them will get away with it, too.”

Mr. Hampton knew when he was beaten, and abandoned his protests. Captain
Jameson once more was called by wireless, and given a full account of
what had occurred. He approved MacDonald’s scheme and promised there
would be a position on the Force for Dick when he arrived.

“Well, Dick,” said Mr. Hampton, after all arrangements were made for
departure, and he led him aside, “I’ve been pleased, indeed, with your
ready help and cheerfulness on the trip. I hate to part company with
you. Here is a check for the full sum I promised you for this Summer’s
work. And here in addition is something to remember me by.”

Into Dick’s unwilling hand he pressed a handsome gold watch which he
himself had worn for some years.

“Oh, Mr. Hampton, this is too good for a rough fellow like me to carry,”
protested Dick.

“Now, now, nonsense,” said Mr. Hampton. “Nothing is too good for you,
old man. I want you to keep that to remember me by.”

“I don’t need the watch for that, sir,” said Dick gruffly, sticking it
in his pocket nevertheless.



CHAPTER XVI.—REINDEER SIGHTED.


The big canoe which Dick and Art had captured from the Indians was
turned over to MacDonald. It was easily capable of transporting five—the
three prisoners, MacDonald and Dick. With the two latter in the bow and
stern respectively, and the prisoners unarmed between, there was little
danger so long as MacDonald and Dick maintained reasonable watchfulness.
Two of the half-breeds were cowed and broken in spirit, moreover, while
Long Tom was _hors de combat_ on account of the injury to his arm, and
would be for some time to come. MacDonald’s skin kayak was to be towed
behind, containing his slender outfit, and one of the prisoners could
carry the whole business alone at portages.

MacDonald had entered the lake by a considerable stream flowing into it
from the southwest, and not the stream down which the Hampton party had
come. He set out for this other stream before the others quit the
island, with the intention of retracing his steps into the wilderness in
large measure. This would facilitate his travel. Farther to the south,
he said, was a large river which could be reached by a ten-mile portage,
and down which they could travel for many miles.

“If you ever want to join the Mounted,” he said to Bob, to whom he had
taken a great fancy, “let me know. I’ll fix it for you.”

Bob laughed, but he was young enough to be flattered by the sincere
compliment.

“I may take you up on that some day,” he said. “Who knows?”

Then MacDonald stepped into the canoe, goodbyes were said, and the craft
shot away.

“There go a couple of good men,” commented Farnum, as under the powerful
strokes of the paddles the canoe drew swiftly down the lake.

“One good man, anyhow,” said Art, who overheard the observation. “Ol’
Dick an’ me had a li’l talk. I’m going to join up with the Mounted, too,
when we git back. We been pals fifteen year.”

“Fifteen years,” exclaimed Frank. “In the wilderness all that time?”

Art nodded absently, his eyes on the retreating canoe.

“Sure,” said Art. “It’s home to us. Ain’t no wilderness. Cities is the
real wilderness. Dick an’ me’s been separated now and then, like now,
but we always come together agin. I expect when we git to be old men
like some prospectors I seen we’ll be together all the time, fightin’
and jawin’ each other, but ready to tear the heart out o’ anybody that
jumps one of us.”

“It’s a wonder Dick went off with MacDonald like he did, in that case,”
said Jack.

“Huh. Somebody had to go. He knew we’d meet agin.”

Art said no more, but turned away to busy himself with the outfit.

Presently everything was in readiness for departure and then the two
remaining canoes, with the outfit distributed between them, the three
boys in one and the three men in the other, started up the lake in the
opposite direction from that taken by MacDonald and Dick. Previously,
when in pursuit of Lupo, Mr. Hampton had discovered the lake was of so
considerable extent that, despite their hours of travel up the side,
they had been unable to discern the farther end. In fact, the lake
broadened out considerably some distance beyond the island. It was his
intention, inasmuch as it followed the general northeastward direction
they would pursue, to stick to it as long as possible. He believed there
would be some stream at the farther end sufficiently large to float
their canoes.

In this he was not mistaken, for after four hours of steady paddling,
they discerned the outlet of a stream of considerable width, quartered
across the lake and entered it. Almost immediately Jack called to his
father, in surprise:

“Dad! Oh, Dad! This stream flows out of the lake; not into it. Do you
notice?”

The leading canoe slowed up while the boys approached.

“It certainly does, Jack,” said his father. “What do you make of it,
Farnum?”

The latter shook his head, puzzled.

“I don’t know,” he said. “You must remember this is unexplored country.
We’re liable to find anything here. But, maybe——”

“What?”

“I don’t know. We’re near the Coppermine, aren’t we, Art?”

“Figure we must be.”

“Maybe this stream flows into the Coppermine.”

“I’ll bet that’s it,” Art approved. “The waters of that lake empty into
the Coppermine. Yes, sir; I’ll bet that’s what it is. Well, that makes
travel easy for awhile, anyhow.”

Two days of travel, unbroken by any but routine incidents such as the
occasional shooting of wild duck Or geese, brought the party at camping
time at the end of the second day to a pleasant, open, grassy prairie
between two low-wooded hills. Here it was decided to make camp.

After the evening meal was over, and while Mr. Hampton, who was feeling
out of sorts, retired to his little tent to try and sleep without taking
part in the usual desultory conversation about the fire—which was kept
going for the companionship and cheer it imparted and not from any need
of warmth you may be sure—Jack arose and stretched.

“My legs are stiff from that position in the canoe all day,” he said. “I
want to stretch them a bit. Who’ll come with me to the top of that
nearest hill? The sun is pretty low, but we ought to get a considerable
view.”

Bob and Frank both volunteered to accompany him. Farnum sat, smoking his
pipe and staring into the fire absently. He didn’t care to go. But Art
arose and joined the party. It was not far to the top of the hill,
although a stiff climb through the trees and brush. The crest, however,
was bare of timber.

Frank, who lighter than the others, was first to reach the top, stood
struck with amazement. He turned to beckon the others forward with one
hand, while laying the other over his mouth in a gesture enjoining
silence.

“For the love o’ Pete,” whispered Art, eyes bulging, as he stood beside
Frank and peered down into the grassy vale beyond, half overgrown with
young willows.

“Are they caribou?” asked Jack, low-voiced. “They don’t look like the
caribou we’ve run across along the streams.”

“They ain’t, neither,” said Art. “They’re reindeer.”

“Must be Santy Claus’s,” chuckled Bob. “Always did believe there was
something to that story about the old boy living up here near the North
Pole, even though people insisted on calling it a fairy tale. Now I
know.”

His joke was ignored, however, as Art continued:

“Yes, sir, reindeer. Caribou are always brown. Some o’ these are white,
some brown, and some spotted. Then they ain’t the size o’ caribou.
Besides, I know they’re reindeer. I see ’em often enough in Alaska to
know.”

“Alaska? Do these reindeer come from there?”

Art nodded.

“Look at ’em. They’re tame. Must’a winded us, but that don’t scare ’em
none. They’re used to humans. No more scared o’ bein’ hunted than cattle
are back in the States.”

“Tame?” queried Frank. “What do you mean?”

“Why, the Eskimos in Alaska, not the wild one, of this Far North, but
the regular ones that come in touch with the white man, they keep herds
o’ reindeer just like a farmer in the States keeps cows. Look at ’em.
Must be two-three hundred there right now. They’re eight-ten hundred
miles from home, too. Must ’a wandered away. Bet you there’s a desprit
Eskimo lookin’ for ’em right now.”

Jack looked thoughtful.

“What a shame for a man to lose a big herd like that,” he said.

“Yes, sir,” affirmed Art emphatically. “Must be six-seven thousand
dollars worth o’ tame reindeer there. Pretty tough.”

“We can’t do anything about it, though,” said Bob.

“Seems a pity-like we can’t ride herd on ’em till some Eskimo shows up
to claim ’em,” said Art. “But it can’t be done. Yore father, Jack, is
all for pushin’ on fast as we kin.”

After some further discussion, the party retraced its steps, with Art
explaining to the boys the big difference existing between the
semi-civilized Eskimos of Alaska and the little that was known of the
wild Eskimos of the Arctic.

“Folks think Alaska’s right up next to the North Pole,” he said.
“Leastways folks in the States do. People comin’ to Nome from the States
every so often give me that knowledge. But they’re shore mistaken.
Alaska’s great country that’ll be settled up some day. Shore, we got
hard Winters. But boys, in the Summer, with the sun a-shinin’ all the
time, everything grows just three times as fast as in the States. My Pap
was a farmer back in York State, an’ I was raised on a farm. We had hard
scratchin’ an’ our Winters was long an’ hard, too. An’ we didn’t have
Summers like in Alaska to make up for ’em. I’ll bet if my Pap were
livin’ today an’ farmin’ in Alaska he’d find life a lot easier than what
we had it on the old farm.”

“But why don’t more people live in Alaska, then?” asked Frank.

“Oh, I don’t know. Hard to get to, for one thing. Ain’t developed up
with railroads, neither. Some day, though, you’ll see ’em forced to come
here, the way they’re a-crowdin’ up down in the States. Why, we got only
60,000 people in all Alaska, yet she’s quarter as big as the States an’
could darn near feed the whole push herself, if she was put to it and
farmed right.”

“Art, why don’t you go to farming? I’d think that would be the thing for
you to do.”

“Mebbe I will some day,” said Art. “But I’m an old batch. Got no wife,
an’ kind o’ like to feel free to knock around instead o’ bein’ tied to
one place.”

It was a feeling with which the boys could sympathize. They were young,
with life ahead of them, and they wanted to see the world. In fact they
had seen a good deal of it already, as those who have followed them
through their various adventures, know. Of this they spoke as they made
their way back to camp, where they discovered Farnum ready to turn in,
and merely awaiting their return before doing so. Since their first
encounter with Lupo, and their discovery that they were not alone in the
wilderness, a watch was always kept, and Farnum had combatted sleepiness
in order to keep guard until their return.

“Art, you’ve got the first watch,” he said, when they appeared. “The
rest of you better turn in, and not sit up talking. With luck we ought
to make the Coppermine tomorrow, I figure, and then we’ll do some
traveling. We’ve got to hit a fast pace from now on, for already we are
having real twilight, and pretty soon we’ll be having short nights while
the sun dips entirely below the horizon. That means the season is
growing short, and we have not got much time left before we’ll have to
start for the outside.”

Jack and Bob heeded the injunction and followed Farnum’s example
shortly, but Frank, who did not feel sleepy and, moreover, loved to
talk, sat up a considerable time gossiping with Art and telling him of
some of their previous adventures.

Suddenly, as he talked along, low-voiced so as not disturb the nearby
sleepers, Frank noticed Art was not paying attention, and stopped.

“Oh, well,” he said, half petulantly, “if I’m boring you——”

Art leaned close, and laid a hand on his arm.

“Sorry, Frank,” he said, in a whisper, “but I was a-listenin.’ I got a
strange feelin’ like as if somebody had his eyes on the back a’ my head.
I wasn’t payin’ no attention to you but a-listenin’ to see if I could
hear anything.”

He was so intense that he communicated some of his trepidation to Frank.
Instinctively, the latter reached for his rifle as Art half stood up to
peer at their twilit surroundings. They were camped in a tiny grove of a
half dozen spruces, like an islet in a midst of long, matted grass.

As Art stood up, a single shot rang out, shattering the stillness. He
threw himself prone, dragging Frank down with him. Then a fusillade was
poured in on them, seemingly from all sides.



CHAPTER XVII.—SURPRISED.


“Watch my back, Frank. Keep low behind that nearest tree and let ’em
have it. They’re in that long grass.”

As he spoke Art, worming his way rapidly forward to a position behind
the trunk of one of the spruces, began firing rapidly.

Frank, in the opposite direction, fired several shots into the long
grass. He had an uncanny feeling, for he could see no forms at which to
fire, and the preliminary volley poured into the camp was not repeated,
so he had no index as to the enemy positions.

Jack, Bob and Farnum, rolled over, awakened by the shots, but Frank
called fiercely: “Keep down.”

Realizing something of the situation, the three grabbed their rifles,
laying by their sides, and, keeping down, prepared to fire as soon as
they could see something at which to aim.

Mr. Hampton stirred in his tent a moment later. He had been sleeping
hard, and had not awakened instantly as had the others. Moreover, a dull
ache gripped his head, preventing him from thinking clearly and from
comprehending instantly what was occurring. He lay a moment, wondering
what had awakened him. All was still outside, for Frank and Art had
ceased firing to await some sign from the unseen enemy. Mr. Hampton
decided to peer out and investigate what had disturbed him. He crawled
from his dog tent and stood up.

At his appearance, a ragged volley burst once more from the long grass
surrounding the tiny grove, for his figure stood forth clearly and made
an excellent target. Spinning about, Mr. Hampton fell heavily to the
ground.

A wild yell of triumph went up at this indication that the leader had
been hit. Jack leaped up regardless of consequences and ran to his
father, dragging him into the tent, while bullets whipped around him.
Bob ran to his assistance. To the hidden enemy it must have seemed as if
their opponents were demoralized. At any rate, they grew more
courageous, and started a rush.

From three sides, it came, the figures of the oncoming men only
partially seen as they crouched low and darted through the grass. But
the long stems waving above them marked their paths, and there were
three still on watch who would have to be dealt with.

Frank, Art and Farnum marked where the waving grass indicated the enemy.
Each guarded a side of the little grove. On the fourth side lay the
stream.

“Wait’ll they’re close, fellows, then give it to ’em,” cautioned Farnum.
“Ready. Let’s go.”

The three repeating rifles spoke as one, and from the long grass came
howls and shrieks of pain and terror. What followed was brief but
lively. Each of the three pumped his rifle as fast as possible, and the
bullets poured into the grass almost as fast as if sprayed from the
throat of a machine gun. The return fire was heavy but high, whipping
through the branches of the spruce trees overhead.

Reinforcements added to the strength of the defenders, for Bob darted
out of the tent, crouched over, and flung himself beside Frank,
beginning to shoot even as he talked.

“Mr. Hampton escaped by a miracle,” he said. “Bullet creased his head
and stunted him. He’ll be all right.”

The rush was broken. Whoever was in the grass, feared to advance farther
in the face of that fire. The long grass ceased to wave, indicating the
attackers had come to a halt. But they did not retreat. The menace was
still there.

“Anybody hit?” Farnum called out.

“Not me,” said Art.

“Nor me,” answered Frank.

“Thank our lucky stars for that,” answered Farnum.

They all lay in a semi-circle, facing different directions, but close
enough to each other to make communication in ordinary tones possible.
Relieved to discover that all were untouched, despite the bullets that
had rained on the camp, Farnum next inquired anxiously after Mr.
Hampton, and Bob answered he had been only stunned.

“I reckon these fellows are Lupo and his gang,” Farnum remarked. “But he
must have had more men than we expected, or he wouldn’t be attacking us
like this.”

“What’ll we do?” growled Art. “Looks like they got us penned in.”

“Oh, but we stopped their rush,” protested Frank.

“Yes,” said Art, “but they ain’t beatin’ it as I can see. An’ when we
want to up an’ leave camp, what’s goin’ to happen?”

Frank was about to reply, when Bob who was beside him, pointed with his
rifle toward the gap between the two hills, from the top of one of which
they earlier had seen the reindeer herd in the next valley.

“Look there, Frank,” he exclaimed excitedly. “What do you make of that?”

“Where? I don’t——Oh, yes; now I see. Something moving.”

“Sure is something moving,” Bob said.

Already the short twilight was beginning to lighten, as the sun after
its dip to the edge of the northern horizon now swung higher.

“Bob.”

“What?”

“I believe that’s the reindeer herd.”

“From that valley over the hill? The reindeer we saw when we were up
there on the hill top?”

“Yes, sir.”

“But how in the world?”

“Why, I noticed that the other valley swung around between those two
little hills. The reindeer are just grazing along, hunting new pasture.
And, say, Bob!”

“Well, what now?”

“I’ve got a bully idea.”

Abruptly, Frank wormed his way around to face Art on his right, who was
keeping watch against surprise on his side of the little clump of trees
sheltering them.

“Art,” said he, “look over there, between those two little hills. Are
those reindeer? The reindeer we saw from the hilltop?”

“Reckon so,” said Art, after a critical inspection.

“Well, Art, can reindeer be stampeded? Like cattle, I mean.”

“Reckon so. Why?”

“Well, I’m going to try it,” Frank declared in a determined tone. Still
prone, he began to wriggle out of his clothes, and pulling up his legs,
to unlace his boots and kick them off.

“Are you crazy, Frank?” Bob demanded, puzzled, while Art and Farnum took
their eyes from the coverts ahead to look at Frank in astonishment.

“Crazy? No more than usual,” Frank replied, as he completed disrobing,
and now lay naked under the spreading branches of the spruce. “But I’m
going to slip into the water and float down to that hill, then get in
behind the reindeer and stampede them. You see what’ll happen then,
don’t you?”

Bob stared at his companion, wide-eyed. Dawning comprehension crept into
his eyes, and he began to smile. Then he chuckled.

“You little hound,” he said, employing a pet expression among the boys,
denoting admiration.

“But, say, what’s the idea?” demanded Art sharply, from his position
several yards away.

Frank had started wriggling forward, and waited until he was close to
Art and Farnum before replying. Then he repeated his assertion that he
intended floating downstream until behind the slow-moving herd of
reindeer, when he would land and attempt to stampede them.

“You see how it is,” he said. “You yourselves admit that we’re in a
tight place. Lupo’s forces have cover in that long grass, and can wait
us out. Here among the trees there is no grass to hide us. The minute we
get up and start to move around, we expose ourselves. Therefore, the
best thing to do, is to drive them out of their cover, isn’t it?”

“Sure,” said Art. “But how you going to do it with——”

He was about to ask how Frank intended to drive their enemies from cover
by stampeding the reindeer, but Frank grinned at him, and he paused.
Dawning comprehension came into his eyes, too.

“That’s it,” Frank said. “I see you get my idea.”

He turned his gaze toward Farnum, farthest from the center, but who had
overheard the conversation.

“You see, Mr. Farnum,” he said, “when the reindeer come dashing down,
Lupo’s men will have to run for it to get out of the way. A stampeding
herd isn’t anything to monkey with, I expect. Then you’ll have your
chance. But the reindeer won’t dash in among these few close-set trees,
so you’ll be safe. No, sir; as I figure it, they’ll just head right on
past here and try to get through the hills beyond.”

Farnum’s glance approved.

“A fine idea,” he said, but then he added in a tone of doubt: “I don’t
know as I ought to let you go, though. Mr. Hampton wouldn’t like it,
maybe, putting yourself into danger like that.”

“Oh, nonsense,” said Frank. “I can slip unseen into the water. And I can
swim like a seal. Ask Bob.”

And at once, to prevent any interruption of his plans, he resumed
worming his way to the bank of the river.

The river ran at this point between six-foot banks, and the clump of
trees in which camp was situated stood so close to the water that the
roots of several projected through the soil of the land. Frank had
little difficulty in getting down to the water, and felt sure that he
accomplished the feat unseen by the enemy. He let himself into the
stream, which was of sufficient depth right up to the bank to enable him
to float downstream under the protection of the high bank, without the
necessity of wading out to get to deeper water.

“For God’s sake, be careful, boy,” whispered Farnum, as Frank
disappeared.

Frank was naked, and unarmed except for a long knife. He had not figured
out how he would set about stampeding the reindeer. He was leaving that
to chance. What concerned him now was to get to a position behind the
herd without discovery. He stuck close inshore, floating, his eyes
roving along the edge of the bluff above him for signs of the enemy.

None was to be seen. After all, he thought, it was hardly likely that
any of the enemy lay in hiding here, as none of the shots fired at them
had come from so close to the river. On the contrary, the enemy lay
inland, showing they had come upon the camp from the landward side.
Becoming bolder, therefore, he turned over and struck out, swimming
strongly, the long knife in a sheath at his belt. He felt for it several
times, to reassure himself it was there and had not fallen out.

Frank was a strong swimmer. Indeed, this was the one athletic sport at
which he excelled both Bob and Jack, although they, too, were excellent
swimmers. It did not take him long, therefore, aided by the current, to
come abreast of the trees clothing the first of the two hills between
which the reindeer had entered their valley. The hill sloped abruptly
down to the water, and Frank had marked from camp how trees clothed it
entirely, even dipping into the stream. When he had passed, as he
believed, beyond a point at which there was any possibility of his being
seen, he seized a branch of a willow tree and pulled himself ashore.
Then, after climbing a short distance up the hill, he began working his
way around it through the trees. Presently he was on the hillside facing
the valley where were his friends in the distant clump of trees, and the
enemy hidden in the long grass. The reindeer had not moved far. They
were only a short distance from him, and Frank hurried forward at the
best pace he could command.



CHAPTER XVIII.—THE STAMPEDE.


For the first time since starting on his wild project, a doubt as to its
success entered Frank’s mind. But he put it resolutely aside as he sped
forward, crouching, sliding under the low branches, determined to make
the best speed possible. His companions were in a ticklish situation. He
wanted to do what he could to relieve them as soon as possible. As to
his own danger, he gave it not a thought.

What worried Frank was the possibility that he would be unable to
stampede the reindeer herd. This was the thought which he put aside. But
it kept recurring. And when he had come into position behind the herd,
and saw them feeding quietly below him, not a stone’s throw away, at the
foot of the hill, where the trees ended abruptly and the grassy plain
began, he was still without an idea as to what to do.

Originally, he had thought that stoning the herd might set them into
motion and stampede them forward. But doubt as to the workability of
that method had seized him as he first climbed from the water and, from
among the trees, obtained his first view of the herd. The animals,
grazing quietly, were so well spread out that he feared stoning them
would not alarm them sufficiently to start a stampede.

“Well, here goes for a try, anyway,” he muttered to himself.

Fortunately, there were numerous pieces of rock lying about. Collecting
a heap of these, he began pelting away at the nearest reindeer, a brown
and white spotted cow. His aim was good, and the startled animal, struck
on the flank, snorted, tossed her head and gave a little jump. She went
forward only a step or two, however, and then settled down to grazing
again.

Once more Frank let fly, and this time the stone caught her on the side
of the neck. She tossed her head angrily, and sidled forward again. The
movement brought her sharply into contact with another cow, and for a
moment Frank was filled with hope that the pair would start fighting and
alarm the rest of the herd. He was disappointed. The first cow sheered
away from the other, and both resumed grazing.

What should he do now? Frank was perplexed. He had already considered
the possibility of startling the reindeer by shouting at them, but had
given up that idea because it would apprise the hidden enemy in the
grass ahead of his presence. He wanted them to know nothing of the
menace in their rear until the stampeded herd should sweep down upon
them.

“I wonder——” he said, muttering the words for the comfort of hearing his
own voice.

Then he fell silent, thinking. Art had said they were tame reindeer,
accustomed to the presence of man. Yes, but of man clothed and in his
natural state. And of Eskimos at that—men dressed a good deal
differently from the way in which he ordinarily clothed himself. What
would those reindeer think if they saw a naked, white body dash down
upon them suddenly?

“I’ll do it,” he said. “That’s the only way. And it will work, too, I’ll
bet.”

Drawing his long knife from the sheath, he looked around and selected a
tough branch the thickness of his thumb. This he cut off, stripped from
it the projecting twigs, and made of it a long, pliant whip.

Whip in one hand, knife in the other, eyes gleaming and determined,
Frank made his way to the edge of the trees, and then stole out into the
long grass, crouching low. He did not want the reindeer to see him until
he was upon them, and as they were grazing away from him, this was not
so difficult. In fact, he was within several yards of a clump of cows
before one swung about and looked at him.

The minute that occurred, Frank realized there was no longer any
possibility of concealment, and that the time had come to strike. And
strike he did. Jumping to his feet, he bounded forward, swinging his
whip so that it sank through the air.

Bringing the whip down with a cruel lash on the flank of the nearest
reindeer, Frank swung it around on all sides. Every swing landed. The
swish as the pliant green wood struck the animals reminded him oddly of
the sound of a stick beating rugs at home. Many a time he had heard that
same thud-thud from behind his house.

Not a sound did he make as he lashed about him, for he felt that if no
sound indicating that he was human came from him, the consternation of
the reindeer would be increased.

And that he had not miscalculated became at once apparent, for the
reindeer near him lifted up their sharp little hooves and sprang to get
out of the vicinity of this strange animal with the lash. Naturally, to
escape him, there was only one way for them to go, and that was forward,
so forward they went. Right into the main body of the herd they dashed,
with Frank prancing and bounding behind them, with each leap bringing
his whip down upon the flank of a laggard.

Suddenly, one reindeer, nearer than the rest, dashed by so close on his
right as to brush Frank. He was not being charged. The animal was
panicky, and merely seeking to escape. But he had to leap nimbly aside
to avoid being bowled over. And as he leaped, the long knife clutched in
his hand pricked the animal’s flank.

The reindeer screamed, a shrill, terror-stricken cry, and launched
itself forward like a thunderbolt into the midst of the disturbed herd.
That, apparently, was all that was needed to complete the impending
panic. Frank’s inexperienced eye could not have told the composition of
the herd, but Art, when they had first caught sight of the reindeer from
the hilltop, had pointed out the majority were cows, and the bucks
numbered only a handful. If any buck had a masculine curiosity to
discover what this strange white-skinned animal that looked so like and
yet so unlike a man was, he did not get the chance to gratify it. For
the now thoroughly frightened cows started forward in a rush that would
have overborne any animal foolish enough to try to stem it.

And then Frank did what might have been considered a foolish thing.
Carried away by the enthusiasm engendered by seeing his plan to stampede
the herd work out successfully, he continued to bound along behind, at
first able to whip the bunched-up stragglers, but soon falling
hopelessly behind as the herd picked up speed and swept forward like the
wind.

Straight toward the clump of trees sheltering Frank’s friends dashed the
reindeer. And an exultant throb filled his breast. For the hidden enemy
lay in the long grass between the herd and the trees, and inevitably,
therefore, the stampeding animals would drive them out.

Regardless of the risk to himself, Frank continued on his way, running
as fast as the nature of the ground permitted. The herd beat the long
grass flat in its advance, as flat as if a great board had been pressed
down on all, and the going was easier than he had looked for.

Suddenly a shot rang out, then another, and a little wisp of smoke
showed the young fellow the discharge came from the trees. His own
friends were shooting. At what? Again an exultant thrill swept over him.
He felt certain his friends were firing at the enemy, and that the
stampeding herd was driving the latter ahead of it, although because of
the presence of the animals between himself and the enemy he could not
see whether such was the case.

That Frank’s surmise was correct, however, was soon borne out. For the
first shots fired from the trees were succeeded by a rapid rattle that
told him everybody was in action.

Then followed a confused medley of shots interspersed with shouts and
cries, and Frank, pausing a moment to peer ahead and listen came to the
conclusion that the enemy was desperately shooting at the reindeer in an
effort to turn the herd aside. If that was the case, however, their
efforts were unsuccessful, for the animals filled with the unreasoning
spirit of panic did not swerve from their course.

“By golly,” Frank exclaimed aloud, “I believe I can reach camp all
right.”

And once more he began to run forward. For it seemed to him that the
herd, sweeping the enemy before it, would leave the ground free for him
to reach the clump of trees and rejoin his friends.

On swept the herd, and on ran Frank in the beaten down grass behind it.
His eyes were strained towards the trees. He began to wave and shout, as
he came closer and made out the outline of Mr. Hampton’s tent. He paid
no attention to his surroundings.

Then a form rose up from the long grass beside the swathe beaten down by
the reindeer, there was a shot, and Frank fell forward on his face, a
buzzing in his ears, and lost consciousness.



CHAPTER XIX.—LUPO’S END.


When next Frank opened his eyes, he lay on a blanket in camp and the
sight of Bob and Jack bending anxiously above him while Mr. Hampton and
Farnum worked at his shoulder greeted him.

“Hello,” he said, trying to grin, but wincing as a sharp stab of pain
passed through his shoulder.

“Don’t move, Frank, We’ll have you fixed up right in a minute,” said Mr.
Hampton soothingly.

“Is it bad, Dad,” Jack anxiously inquired.

“Just grazed the bone,” said Mr. Hampton, putting the finishing touches
to the bandage, and straightening up. “There, Frank, now you’ll be all
right.”

“What happened to me?” asked Frank, struggling to a sitting position,
and finding his right arm bound across his chest.

“Bullet through your shoulder brought you down,” said Mr. Hampton. “And
your head struck a rock hidden in the grass, so you were knocked out.”

“Good enough,” said Frank, “but who shot me? I was dashing along,
yelling to attract your attention, and never knew what hit me.”

“I guess you didn’t,” said Jack. “If it hadn’t been for Art, you might
have been finished. But he shot down the fellow that winged you.”

“Yes, and your two pals ran out as if there wasn’t an enemy in sight and
carried you in,” said Art, as he saw Frank about to thank him. “Give
your gratitude to them.”

Frank smiled.

“I guess I owe it to you all,” he said.

“You were foolish to follow the reindeer herd so closely, Frank,” said
Mr. Hampton, reprovingly. “Unarmed, too.”

“Well, I was stampeding ’em, Mr. Hampton,” said Frank. “I couldn’t do
that, you know, without being there.”

The older man shook his head.

“If I had been myself, Frank, I wouldn’t have let you take that chance,”
he said. “No, Farnum,” he hastened to add, “I’m not criticizing you.
When these boys take it in their heads to do something it’s hard to head
them off. However, it all turned out for the best.”

“Tell me about it,” Frank said. “How did my scheme work out?”

“Couldn’t have been better, old thing,” said Bob. “Lupo’s men ran like
rabbits when those reindeer swept down on them. They tried a few shots
in an attempt to head them off, but seeing the uselessness of their
efforts, turned and ran. We gave them a few shots to help them on their
way. We counted nine.”

“And they got away?”

“All but the man Art shot,” said Jack. “The fellow who shot at you. And
you haven’t heard who he was.”

Jack’s eyes were bright. Frank looked at him questioningly.

“Not——”

“Yes,” said Jack. “It was Lupo himself. Art wounded him in the chest. He
died before we could do anything for him. But Dad got some information
from him first.”

He looked at his father. Mr. Hampton’s face was both grim and sad.

“Yes, Frank,” he said. “We learned who set these men on us, and who
plotted against Thorwaldsson. But let us not discuss it now. It’s bad
business all the way through.”

Mr. Hampton turned aside, taking Farnum with him, and the two fell into
a low-toned discussion. Bob and Jack, meanwhile, helped Frank to resume
his clothing which still lay where he had discarded it before taking to
the river. Art busied himself at packing up the camp equipment.

Presently, the two older men called Art to them and, after a few words
of discussion, rejoined the boys.

“Boys,” said Mr. Hampton, “we want your opinions on this, too.”

“On what, Dad?”

“Well, we saw nine men go bounding off away from the reindeer, and we
accounted for Lupo. That makes ten, and it doesn’t seem likely there
were more. Yet there is the bare possibility that out there in the grass
may be one or more badly wounded men, fellows whom we shot at one time
or another, who were too hard hit to escape. If there are any such, we
can’t go off and leave them there to die. I wouldn’t treat a dog like
that.”

“They’re not dogs,” muttered Farnum, bitterly. “They’re wolves.”

“Mr. Farnum considers we would be taking too great a risk,” Mr. Hampton
continued. “He says that if we go out to search for wounded, we are
likely to be shot for our pains.”

“Oh, surely not by a wounded man whom you were going to help,” protested
Jack.

“You don’t know them,” said Farnum.

“Well, just the same,” said Jack, “I think Dad is right. It would be
shameful for us to go away without investigating.”

“I’d feel like a murderer,” said Bob. “Shooting ’em down in a fight is
one thing. It was their lives or ours. But leaving a wounded man to die
in the wilderness is something entirely different.”

Farnum made a gesture of surrender.

“I guess I seem hard-hearted,” he said. “But you don’t know what I’ve
been through in the past. All right, we’ll make a search. But I warn you
to be on guard.”

“Hardly likely after all that there are any wounded out there,” remarked
Frank, taking part in the discussion for the first time. “They must have
been in hiding right in the path of the reindeer, and you can’t see any
forms there now. If there were any too badly wounded to escape, they’d
also have been too badly wounded to drag themselves to the side.”

Mr. Hampton nodded.

“The grass is so beaten down, too,” he said, “that if there were anybody
out there, we could see him. However, I cannot rest easy without making
a search. Now, you three boys remain in camp and keep watch. The rest of
us will take care of the search.”

To this the boys made no objection. As a matter of fact, it was one time
that exclusion from activity did not irritate them. They had no stomach
for what they might discover. Frank and Jack, especially, thinking of
the terrible affair on the island in the lake, kept silence. Bob
protested, but more as a matter of form and because he considered
manliness demanded it, than otherwise.

Mr. Hampton shook his head.

“None of us want to do this, Bob,” he said. “It has to be done, however.
But I certainly don’t want you boys along.”

The three men, revolvers clasped in their hands for use in case of
emergency, set out, while the boys watched from the trees. Keeping close
together, they quartered the plain, going far beyond the beaten down
stretch of grass left by the passing of the reindeer herd. Presently,
the boys saw them return, and with a sigh of relief, Jack said:

“Well, thank goodness, that’s over.”

Mr. Hampton’s spirits were considerably higher on his return, as the
boys could see by his features.

“Nobody anywhere,” he reported, “and we made a thorough search, too.”

“More thorough than there was need for,” said Farnum, grumpily.

Mr. Hampton smiled slightly. On long trips into the wilderness, where
men are thrown into intimate contact every hour of the day and night,
they get to know each other better than would be the case through a
lifetime of association under ordinary circumstances. It was so here.
Mr. Hampton had come to love the silent, capable Farnum. Behind the
latter’s bitter hatred of Lupo and his like, the easterner knew there
was some good reason. He sensed a tragedy in Farnum’s past, about which,
perhaps, the other would some day speak in a moment of confidence. And
he forgave the man’s seeming brutality accordingly.

“All right, everybody,” said Mr. Farnum, cheerily. “Let’s pack up and be
on our way.”

Thanks to Art’s previous preparations, the business of breaking camp was
speedily concluded, and the party embarked in the canoes and once more
got under way. Farnum and Art both considered that, because of Frank’s
wounded shoulder and his inability to paddle, Art should take his place
in the canoe with Bob and Jack while Frank went with Mr. Hampton and
Farnum. But to this arrangement the boys protested vigorously, and Mr.
Hampton settled the matter by supporting them.

“Bob and Jack are splendid canoeists,” he said. “They have given plenty
of evidence of that on this trip, and at home they are always in the
water when they aren’t flying. No, let Frank stay with them. They don’t
like to be separated.”



CHAPTER XX.—IN THE FOG.


Another period of uneventful canoe travel followed, corresponding in
time to the passage of a day, although there was nothing to mark the
lapse except the slightly-deepened twilight preceding the reascension of
the sun. Camp was pitched on an island in the stream which was small and
compact and could be easily defended in case attack on them was renewed.

Of the latter contingency, however, Mr. Hampton felt there was little
danger. With Lupo gone, the rascals composing his party would no longer
be held to their purpose, and start to make their way out of the
wilderness and back to their accustomed haunts.

When travel was resumed after an undisturbed camp, everybody felt rested
and in a more cheerful frame of mind.

“We ought to be reaching the Coppermine soon,” Farnum exclaimed, as they
set out.

His words were prophetic, because at the end of two hours, on rounding a
bend, they discerned not far ahead a broad and rapid river, into which
emptied the stream they had been following.

“The Coppermine beyond a doubt,” said Farnum.

In this diagnosis, Mr. Hampton and Art agreed. And, before long, all
question of doubt was conclusively settled by the discovery of great
rocks of a dull reddish color lining the banks. These were the copper
deposits from which the river took its name.

“Sometime, when the transportation problem has been solved, this region
will be supplying copper to the world,” Mr. Hampton observed.

The canoe containing the boys was close alongside, as the older men had
let their paddles swing idly to enable Bob and Jack to catch up with
them.

“Why can’t it be taken out now, Dad?” asked Jack.

“Because,” explained Mr. Hampton, “the only method would be by ship
through the Arctic, and even in the short Summer that is a passage often
blocked by ice. No, development of the copper resources of this
wilderness, as well as of the oil we hope to find, will have to wait on
the building of a railroad.”

“But ice and snow will block the railroad.”

“Not nearly to the same extent,” Mr. Hampton said. “Throughout the
Summer, such a road could be in continuous operation. Even in Winter,
with properly designed equipment, the road could be kept open—perhaps.
That, however, is doubtful, for of the continuous severity of Winter
here you boys can have no conception.”

“Well, if we don’t turn back soon, they’ll get some idea of it, all
right,” said Farnum, grimly.

“You mean we’ll be caught by Winter before we can get out?” asked Mr.
Hampton.

“When the old North Pole starts sliding south, she slides fast,” said
Farnum, sententiously.

As if spurred by the specter of approaching Winter, all dug their
paddles into the stream with renewed vigor, and the two canoes swept on
between the dismal, rocky banks hour after hour.

That night there was real twilight, and a sharpness in the air to which
the party was not accustomed. Art pointed skyward, as he and the boys
worked at building the campfire. Their gaze followed whither he
indicated.

“The moon,” he said. “Sure sign the season’s getting late. That’s the
first time you could see it real good.”

“How late in the Summer is it, anyway?” asked Frank. “I, for one, have
kept no track of time. And I don’t see how anybody else could with the
continuous daylight we have had.”

“Dad religiously checks off the days every twenty-four hours,” said
Jack. “I’ve seen him do it.”

Over the evening meal, Mr. Hampton explained that from Long Tom, the
Indian they had taken captive on the island in the lake, he had gotten
directions as to where the latter believed Thorwaldsson and his men to
be. The explorer, according to Long Tom, was making his way along the
Coppermine, in an endeavor to get out to the south before caught by the
Winter. He had started late, and in all likelihood, Mr. Hampton’s party
was still to the south of Thorwaldsson.

“From now on, however,” said Mr. Hampton, “we must keep our eyes open as
we proceed for any signs along the way which would indicate Thorwaldsson
already had passed, going south. Not that I consider that to be likely,
however,” he added. “On the contrary, if Long Tom wasn’t lying, and I
believe he was telling the truth, Thorwaldsson should be close at hand,
and we ought soon to encounter him.”

Camp again was uneventful, but when the boys awoke in the morning they
found a thick wet fog over all. Their blankets were wet with it, the
rocks were wet, and the river which had lain spread out before them
under the moonlight when they turned in for the night, now could not be
seen. Only a gray wall of fog greeted them, blurring the outlines even
of Mr. Hampton, Farnum and Art, who stood in anxious conversation.

When the boys joined their elders, they found the question up for
discussion was the question of whether to proceed or remain where they
were until the fog lifted.

“We’ve had unexampled good weather so far, Mr. Hampton,” said Farnum.
“But this fog may mark the breaking-up. We may be in for it from now
on.”

“I realize all that,” Mr. Hampton said, his slight impatience mute
evidence to Jack, at least, that his Father was worried. “What I’d like
to know now, is whether to move on or wait till the fog lifts.”

“Why not move on, Dad?” asked Jack.

“Oh, you boys up, hey? Well, for one thing, if we travel in this fog we
run the danger of being caught in rapids and sucked forward before being
able to reach the bank. For another, we might—just might—pass
Thorwaldsson, in the fog, without knowing it. He might be traveling,
too.”

After some further discussion, it was decided the party should remain
until the fog lifted, and that all should be on guard to catch any sound
of movement out of the fog which would indicate somebody, presumably
Thorwaldsson, was passing. Following breakfast, in fact, all but Mr.
Hampton, who remained in camp, as a guide in case the others blundered
and lost their way in the fog, took up positions along the bank of the
river, some twenty yards apart to maintain “listening posts.”

An hour passed, and then another, with no indication that the fog was
thinning out, and with no sound coming to straining ears except the lap
of the water along the rocks at their feet. It was nerve-trying work in
a way, to sit there for so long a period, isolated, as if entirely alone
in an unpeopled world. The boys, at their various stations, felt the
strain considerably, more so, indeed, than did Farnum or Art who were
old hands at the wilderness game.

In assigning all their stations, Mr. Hampton had decided, because of the
greater experience of the two older men, that they should take up their
positions at the south end of the line. If any party south-bound along
the Coppermine escaped the attention of the boys, Farnum and Art would
be pretty likely to remedy the oversight.

To Bob fell the most northerly position. And, as he sat there, hunched
up on a rock, staring out into that thick greasy wall of mist, he felt,
if anything, more lonely than his companions. Jack and Frank, at least,
had the consolation of knowing there was someone to either side. But,
with none of his friends beyond him on the north, Bob felt very much
alone, indeed.

All sorts of reflections entered his mind, reflections that had no
bearing whatsoever on the situation in which he found himself. He
thought of sunny days on Long Island, of flights in his airplanes or
zipping trips along the coast in his speed boat. He thought of one thing
and another, classroom, Mexican mountains, that strange city of another
world found immured in the Andes, and—of Marjorie. Ever since his first
meeting with his sister’s friend, Miss Faulkner, she had occupied a
position of growing importance in Bob’s scheme of things. Someday——

“Some girl,” Bob said to himself. “I’ll have to see more of her.”

He leaned forward, elbows planted on his knees, eyes staring into the
fog. In reality, his thoughts, as can be seen, were far, far away. But
presently, a sound, muffled and faint, pierced his consciousness and he
sprang into instant alertness. He listened, holding his breath,
straining to hear.

It came again.

Bob started on a stumbling run for Jack, the first man to the south.



CHAPTER XXI.—A WAILING CRY.


“Jack, Jack,” he shouted, as he ran through the fog, blindly, but
remembering to veer away from the river bank a little to avoid the
danger of tumbling in. “Jack, Jack, where are you?”

A shadow, fog-distorted, loomed before him, big, enormous. A hand
gripped his shoulder and brought him to a halt.

“Here I am, Bob. What’s the matter?”

Bob rubbed the back of a big hand across his eyes.

“I heard something out there,” he said, pointing into the fog upon the
river. “I guess I’d been asleep, or daydreaming, anyway. I couldn’t be
sure I had heard anything. It came twice—that sound. Then there was
silence. So I came down here to ask whether you had heard, too.”

“But, Bob, what was it? What did you hear? I heard nothing.”

“Jack, it was the sound of a baby’s cry.”

Bob’s voice was solemn. A shiver ran through Jack, as if a breath of
cold air had fanned him. In that fog-enwrapped isolation, in that far
northern wilderness, what could a baby be doing? It was preposterous.
More, it was uncanny.

“Bob, you were asleep. Yes, sir, you certainly were dreaming. A baby.
Huh.”

“Maybe so,” Bob said, reluctantly. “But, true as I live, Jack——”

The other’s grip on his shoulder tightened.

Out of the fog came a wailing sound, distant, thin, but unmistakable. It
was the cry of a baby, if ever there was such a thing.

But this time it came not from the river, but from inland. The two
listened, straining to hear, but the cry died away without being
repeated. They looked at each other, an unnamable fear gripping them.

“Jack, I’m afraid,” confessed Bob in a whisper. “I don’t know—there’s
something strikes a chill into me—I—I——”

He paused. Jack nodded.

“I feel the same way, Bob,” he said, low-voiced. “What a pair of fools
we are, though,” he added, brightening. “That must be some bird, or
animal, perhaps.”

Almost unconsciously, they had been making their way southward and now
another figure rose up in the fog before them—that of Frank. He was
about to speak, when once more the wailing cry rose, and this time it
came from two quarters, from the river and from farther inland. The
three stood, silent, speechless, and in that moment, while the echoes of
the cries still rang in their heads, Farnum and Art materialized out of
the fog.

“Good, there you all are,” said Farnum, in a low, tense voice. “Follow
me to camp.”

And without a word of explanation he started at right angles away from
the river, for they had taken their stations in such fashion that Frank,
holding the middle position, would be directly opposite the camp. This
was in order to enable them to reach it without losing their way in the
fog.

“What is it, Art?” asked Jack, his voice matching Farnum’s.

“Indians,” answered Art, tersely. “Stick close together and don’t make
no noise.”

It was a situation to tax the nerve of the bravest, and the three boys
hurrying along in the wake of Farnum and Art could not be accused of
cowardice for experiencing a chill premonition of trouble ahead. Often
had Farnum spoken of the cruelty of these far northern Indians. Bitter
had been their experiences with Lupo’s half-breeds, in whose veins
flowed the blood of the Indians of the north.

As they hurried along, there flashed through their minds some of the
stories Farnum had told. Had they gotten so far, so near the end of
their quest for the “Lost Expedition” only to be wiped out by Indians,
on the very eve of success? Such thoughts raced through the mind of
each. But they were determined fellows, accustomed to confront danger,
used to tight places. The first onrush of panic was swept aside, and, by
the time they tumbled into the little hollow in which camp had been
pitched, and where Mr. Hampton awaited them, each had himself well in
hand.

Mr. Hampton looked at their determined faces, and a smile of grim
approval was his greeting.

“Indians, boys,” he said. “Farnum told me. I suspected as much. Now, we
have no trees here for bulwark, but this little hollow is good enough.
Let us lie down and line the edge of the pit. We’ll be pretty close
together, and if any Indians stumble on us they’ll get a warm reception.
Listen.” He spoke in a low voice. “There goes that cry again. Does it
sound closer? Yes,” as the other nodded, “I thought so. Quick. Take your
positions. Jack, my boy, you stay beside me.”

There was a little tremor in his voice. That was all. But Jack
understood. He clasped his father’s hand strongly, then threw himself
prone beside him, while the others ranged themselves in a circle as
commanded.

Once more came the wailing cry from the inland. Once more it was
answered in kind from the water. But to all it was apparent that the
sounds were farther removed, and Mr. Hampton broke the painful silence
with a whispered:

“They’re moving on, moving away.”

“Look, Dad,” Jack exclaimed excitedly. “I can see those rocks ahead
where a minute ago was only the white fog. Why, the fog’s lifting. It’s
lifting, Dad, sure enough.”

“You’re right, Jack,” his father replied, low-voiced, but there was
anxiety rather than jubilation in his tone. “That will make it bad for
us. We’ll be exposed to sight.”

Once again came the wail, faint and far away. As faint came the reply
from the water. Both cries were to the north. Originally they had come
from that direction. Now they were withdrawing whence they had come.
What could it mean?

The next minute a rattle of rifle fire broke the silence. At the same
time a cold breeze blew across the crouching figures in the shallow pit
and the fog began to shred out fast before it.

Farnum sprang upright, gazing to the north. The others also gained their
feet. The shooting now was fast and furious.

“I can’t understand,” said Farnum, in a puzzled tone.

With an exclamation, Jack seized his father’s arm.

“Dad,” he cried, “you said Thorwaldsson might be near.”

“Yes, why—”

“That’s it,” said Art, in a tone of conviction. Mr. Farnum turned
towards him.

“You mean?”

“Jack guessed it. Thorwaldsson’s being attacked.”

Jack nodded.

“That’s what I meant, Dad.”

“You’re right, Jack,” said his father. “Come on. It can’t be anything
else. Nobody but Thorwaldsson is in this wilderness. We must help him.
Stick close together.”

And scrambling out of their shallow pit, Mr. Hampton started on the dead
run towards the direction of the shooting, with the others at his heels.

The ground was bare of verdure, and great rocks of the copper ore were
scattered around. On this account their view was restricted, but the
sound of the rifle fire grew momentarily louder, apprising them that
they were nearing the scene of conflict. Suddenly Bob, who was in the
lead, having out-distanced the others several yards, rounded a big rock
and found himself on a bank above a narrow strip of beach.

Below lay a number of forms, as of men dead or wounded. Two canoes were
drawn up on the beach, and behind one of these, using it as a bulwark,
crouched a man, rifle to shoulder. Farther down the beach were three
other canoes grounded, and beside them several forms of wounded men, and
five or six men, crouching, firing at the lone defender of the attacked
position, creeping up on him.

Just as Bob reached the edge of the bank, the attackers mustered up
courage for a rush, and with wild shouts swept forward. It looked dark,
indeed, for the lone defender of the upturned canoes. Bob looked back to
see how close were his companions, but they were not yet in sight. His
dash had carried him farther than he had believed to be the case.

It had taken only a glance to show Bob which way the land lay. The lone
defender was the survivor of Thorwaldsson’s party, if the explorer’s
party it was, of which Bob had little doubt. He was a white man. The
others were half-breeds, and if Bob was not mistaken they were of the
same gang which he had encountered before.

It was distinctly up to him to lend a hand. Throwing his rifle to his
shoulder, he prepared to open fire on the crushing enemy. But as his
finger pressed the trigger, he groaned. The mechanism of the rifle had
became jammed in some fashion. Desperately he worked to release the
trigger, but to no avail.

Then the light of battle came into big Bob’s eyes. The half-breeds were
just below him now. Several of their number had fallen in the rush, shot
down by the defender of the canoes. Four were left, and they evidently
were bent on polishing off their lone opponent. So absorbed were all in
their own drama, they had not seen Bob.

Clubbing his rifle, Bob leaped. He came down on the back of one of the
attackers, and bore him to the ground. With catlike swiftness, Bob, who
himself had fallen on his hands and knees, gathered himself together,
regained his feet, and swinging his clubbed rifle, let out a yell fit to
“frighten a wolf pack,” as Frank later described it.

The stock of the rifle came down with a thud on the shoulders of another
of the half-breeds, felling him as if he had been struck by lightning.
So tremendous was the blow, that it tore the rifle from Bob’s grasp. But
he leaped for another of the enemy, a fellow whose startled face was
close to his, seized him about the waist and whirled him aloft to be
tossed aside as if he were a sack of meal. The fourth man was dropped by
a shot from the defender of the canoe.

“Attaboy, Bob,” came Frank’s voice, from the bluff above.

One after the other, Bob’s friends leaped to the beach.

As Frank and Jack clapped him on the back, and tried to grasp his hand,
uttering enthusiastic praise the while, Bob looked around.

“Say, where’s that chap? Why, he’s fainted.”

Freeing himself from his companions’ clutches, Bob leaped over the
up-ended canoe and bent above the recumbent body of the doughty
defender.

“Why, he’s badly wounded,” he cried.

Mr. Hampton pushed him aside.

“Here, let me look, Bob,” he said. “You fellows help Farnum and Art in
looking after the others. The place is a shambles, with wounded men
everywhere.”



CHAPTER XXII.—OUTWARD BOUND.


It was a week before the wounded could be moved. At close range though
the fight had been, none had been killed. When the boys exclaimed in
amazement at this, Art shrugged his shoulders.

“More bullets fly in a fight than ever reach their mark,” he said. “I’ve
seen men, tough fellows, regular two-gun men, shoot at each other in
Alaskan saloons in the old days without anybody being killed. When a man
sees red, he don’t take no good aim.”

The majority of the wounded were not hit in vital spots, but
Thorwaldsson had been shot in so many places that his recovery at first
was a matter of doubt. It was he who had been the last of his party to
keep firing, he whom Bob had rescued in the nick of time.

From Farrell and others of Thorwaldsson’s five companions, however, the
story of what had occurred had been obtained. They had been on their way
down the Coppermine when they, too, had been overtaken in the fog. They
had landed in the little beach to wait for the fog to lift. There the
half-breeds, survivor’s of Lupo’s gang, who had been dogging the trail
of Mr. Hampton and his party, had come upon them.

The surprise had been mutual, for the half-breeds had been looking for
the Hampton party and not for Thorwaldsson. However, they had attacked,
the majority from the canoes, and three who had been scouting along
shore, from the land. Surprised thus, Thorwaldsson’s party had put up a
game fight, but one after the other had been shot down until only the
leader was left. He, barricaded behind the canoes, had held off the rest
of the attackers until the final rush and Bob’s timely arrival.

As the days passed by, with the twilight deepening into short nights,
Art and Farnum both grew increasingly anxious to be on their way for the
outside. They knew their North, and they realized that the time
remaining to them before Winter set in was narrowing down to a
perilously small edge.

“We’ll have a mighty hard job of it, Mr. Hampton,” Farnum pleaded. “What
with wounded on our hands, and prisoners to guard, it looks almost
hopeless as it is for us to get out. But, anyway, we can’t afford to
waste time. Can’t Thorwaldsson be moved? He’ll be all right in a canoe.”

“As long as the traveling is easy, yes,” said Mr. Hampton. “He will be
all right. But how about at the portages? He’s lost lot of blood
already. He can’t afford to lose any more. However, I expect that with
care we can prevent his wounds from reopening. We’ll start tomorrow.”

Accordingly, on the day appointed, camp was broken, and the party got
under way. Frank’s shoulder was healed sufficiently to permit him once
more to wield a paddle, although still a trifle stiff, and he took his
place in the canoe with Bob and Jack. They had another passenger this
time in Farrell, whose right arm had been broken by a shot in the
sanguinary fight on the river beach. Thorwaldsson was taken in the canoe
occupied by Mr. Hampton and Farnum, Art going in one of the other craft
with members of Thorwaldsson’s party. Several of the latter had been
creased by rifle bullets and one shot through a leg, but all could wield
paddles.

And so the long trip out of the wilderness began, with the half-breeds
in three canoes, deprived of arms and closely watched by their captors
in the four canoes bringing up the rear. With reasonable care, it was
felt, the prisoners could be controlled until they should near
civilization. Without weapons they would be in a hopeless plight in the
wilderness, unable to defend themselves against wild animals, unable to
provide food for themselves. Therefore, no attempt on the part of their
captives to escape was looked for by the others, until they should near
the outlying settlements of the inhabited country.

“When that time comes,” Mr. Hampton had warned the boys, “we must be on
the lookout, for the half-breeds, unless closely watched, will try to
get back their weapons and make a break for it. And I am determined to
take them into civilization as witnesses to prove my statement of the
murderous conspiracy against us on the part of an eminent gentleman in
faraway New York.”

Mr. Hampton spoke bitterly, for from all that had occurred and from the
accounts, first of Long Tom and of the dying Lupo, and again of Farrell
and the surviving members of Thorwaldsson’s party, he had pieced
together the story of the conspiracy against them.

To the boys he confided this tale, the main theme of which was that when
Farrell had told his story to Mr. Otto Anderson concerning the discovery
of the oil-bearing region in the Arctic, Mr. Anderson’s confidential
secretary had gone to a New York financier and sold him the information.
He had not been able to tell definitely, however, the location of the
oil region, for the very good reason, as before related, that Farrell
was not certain of it himself, his vicissitudes in getting out of the
country having unsettled his mind. Therefore, this financier had sent
his agents westward with word that Thorwaldsson be tracked.

“Perhaps this financier, Old Grimm, ordered the mere tracking of
Thorwaldsson,” said Mr. Hampton. “But I doubt it. The attacks on
Thorwaldsson’s expedition, the disappearance of his ship and crew, all
look like parts of a deep-laid plan to attain Grimm’s ends at whatever
cost in human life. And, on top of it all, the attack on us by Lupo, who
was paid a handsome sum down in Dawson by Anderson’s former secretary,
acting as agent for Grimm, show the latter aimed to put us all out of
the way.”

“And all for money,” said Jack. “It’s hard to believe.”

“Ah, you don’t know Grimm,” said his father. “The man who develops this
Arctic oil region may become the richest in the world. Grimm is
ambitious for that position. He’s got a lot of money so far, in one
crooked way or another. But he’s not one of the big ones yet, not one of
the richest. And he wants to be supreme. Well, he has overreached
himself this time, for I’ve got the evidence, and I’ll see that we get
more in Dawson and Seattle and New York. Mr. Grimm will no longer have
the power or freedom to toy with men’s lives when I get through with
him.”

Although Thorwaldsson lay as in a stupor and could not be questioned,
the full account of what had befallen his expedition since it set out
from Seattle was learned from the others. First of all, they had
succeeded in retracing Farrell’s earlier footsteps, and had found the
oil region and the river running through it. A thorough survey of the
country had been made, with maps showing the outlet by water to the
Arctic Ocean.

In fact, the party had made its way out the river into the Arctic Ocean
and around the coast into the Coppermine. There they had encountered and
made friends with a tribe of Eskimo. They had started down the
Coppermine, or rather up, as it flows north into the Arctic, but had
been attacked, losing half the members of their party and a large part
of their equipment, including the radio. It was after this that the
aviator of the expedition had attempted to fly to the outside with news
of Thorwaldsson’s plight, the latter meanwhile being cared for through
the following Winter by the friendly Eskimo at the mouth of the
Coppermine, to which they had put back. The death of the aviator, near
the MacKenzie, of course, was not known to the Thorwaldsson party until
the news was imparted by the boys.

The course followed as they struck southward was not that pursued by
Farrell when he had made his way back to civilization. On that occasion
he had frequently been light-headed, and it was felt it would be unwise
to trust now to his guidance. Instead, Mr. Hampton and Farnum decided to
retrace their own trail back to the island in the lake where MacDonald
had been encountered, and thence follow his course to the Fort of the
Northwest Mounted Police.

Day after day they pushed ahead, the nights ever growing longer and
colder, with frost on the ground in the mornings. The honking of the
wild geese overhead, as they made their way south, also was a warning
that the mantle of Winter soon would settle down.

“You see,” Art said to the boys one day, “Winter in this country not
only means dreadful cold for which we ain’t prepared in the matter of
clothing or snowshoes or nothing, but also it means there ain’t no food
to be had. Yes, there’s plenty of game now, geese and duck everywhere
along the streams, caribou plentiful. But you notice they’re all going
south. When Winter strikes, there’ll be nothing in this wilderness but
rabbit and beaver. Beaver’s all right—if you can dig ’em out o’ their
huts. But rabbit—huh! Well, you can starve fine on rabbit.”



CHAPTER XXIII.—LONG JIM APPEARS.


Winter, after all, caught them in its icy grip far north of where they
had planned to be when the cold should really set in. This was due to a
variety of circumstances. The slowness of Thorwaldsson’s recovery was
one of the retarding influences, which prevented them making the desired
speed. After weeks of travel he was still in a comatose condition, and
Mr. Hampton feared his brain had been affected by a bullet that ploughed
along the left side of his head. The other wounded, although quick to
recover, also acted as a hindrance, especially at the first.

Then, too, the season was unusual. Winter arrived weeks ahead of the
expected time. And daily, as the ice on stream and river thickened, it
became increasingly hard to break a way. Yet the canoes could not be
abandoned, for, once snow began to fly, the travelers would have been
helpless on land, without sleds or snowshoes. Sleds of a sort could be
constructed, of course, and makeshift snowshoes made, too, but neither
would be worth much, and the manufacture of them would take a good deal
of time.

Two sentries were always posted at night now; one by a fire around which
slumbered the prisoners, the other by a fire in the midst of a circle
composed of the Hampton and Thorwaldsson parties combined. It was Jack’s
turn to keep guard one cold but clear night, after a heavy snowfall,
which had caused a great deal of suffering to all, and had brought them,
indeed, to the verge of despair. For they were insufficiently clad, even
though the skins of many animals slain for food in the past weeks had
been saved and roughly cured for wraps; and, in addition, with the
closing-in of Winter game had become so scarce that the camp was
virtually on the verge of starvation.

Jack was mounting guard by the fire around which lay his friends. One of
the Thorwaldsson party, Swenson, did sentry duty by the other fire.
Looking across the little space which separated the two parties, Jack
could see the huddled figures of the half-breeds lying so close to the
fire, which Swenson fed constantly with fuel, that they seemed almost to
be in it. Around him the members of his own party were similarly
disposed.

With a sigh, Jack arose, caught up an armful of wood and tossed it into
the fire. The flames at once shot high and, as if that were a signal,
out of the darkness beyond came a robust hail.

“Hello, there. Keep ’er goin’, sonny.”

Into the light of the fire a moment later strode a big fur-clad figure
of a man on snowshoes. On his back was a pack which he dropped to the
ground with a sigh of relief. Then he leaned his rifle in the crook of
an elbow and, pulling off great fur mittens, spread his hands to the
blaze, working his fingers gratefully back and forth.

“Cold an’ gittin’ colder,” he announced, casually. “Got a nice fire
here.”

Jack was nonplussed. In the first place, to find another wanderer in
this wilderness which they believed unpeopled was exciting enough. But
to have him walk in casually and without vouchsafing any explanation of
his presence took Jack’s breath away for the moment. Yet Jack knew
enough of the woodland lore to realize that hospitality is the first law
of the wilds, and that questions distinctly would not be in order. He
decided the best thing for him would be to wait for the other to take
the lead in the conversation.

This the intruder was not slow to do, beginning even as he eased his
stiffened fingers in the warmth of the fire.

“Didn’t know there was anybody else in this country,” he said. “Been
around here long?”

A look of clumsy craft from under shaggy brows accompanied the question.
Jack had to smile to himself.

“No; not long,” he said composedly. “And you?”

“Oh, I been huntin’ an’ trappin’ ’round here,” the other said.

To Jack it seemed the man was an honest enough, even a likeable, type,
and yet that he was acting evasively. He decided it would be a good plan
to get a more experienced head to help him deal with the situation. None
of his party apparently was awake, all being worn out with the terrific
strain of the day’s travel. But Art lay near him. In fact, his foot was
not six inches from Jack.

Unostentatiously, in order not to attract the newcomer’s attention, Jack
moved his foot to a position where with his toe he could tap on Art’s
ankles. It was sufficient for the purpose apparently, for, out of the
tail of his eye Jack saw Art’s body stiffen and his head lift up
slightly from the ground. For what followed, however, he was totally
unprepared.

Art sprang to his feet, leaped forward and began thumping the newcomer
vigorously on the back.

“Why, you ol’ son-of-a-gun,” he cried. “You ol’ son-of-a-gun.”

“Li’l Artie, or I’m goin’ blind,” cried the other, seizing Art by the
hand and pumping up and down.

Jack turned in amazement to Art.

“Why—why—you know each other!” he cried.

“Know each other? Har, har, har,” roared the giant, in a guffaw that
aroused the others about the campfire. “Know each other? That’s a good
one.”

Mr. Hampton, Farnum, Bob and Frank, Farrell and several of the others
gathered around, looking their questions, and Art turned to satisfy
them.

“Ever hear o’ Long Jim Golden?” he asked. “Well, this is him—the
daggonedest trapper on the face o’ the earth. Ain’t seen him in years
since he left Circle City in the rush. Where you been, Jim?”

“Trappin’.” Jim looked around at the interested faces. “You tol’ who I
am,” he said. “Now tell me who’s your friends, Artie.”

“Sure,” said Art heartily, effecting introductions. “Here we all are,”
he concluded, and then his face fell as he added: “but where we’ll be
soon, I don’t know, nor what’s to become of us.”

Long Jim looked first at one, then at another, then his eyes roved over
the camp.

“How come?” he asked. “No sleds nor dogs nor snowshoes nor nothin’. How
come?”

“Sit here by the fire and I’ll tell you, Jim,” said Art. “The rest o’
you, we won’t bother you none with loud voices. We’ll jest whisper-like.
You’ll want to turn in and sleep, so go to it.”

Nothing loath, the others with the exception of Jack, who moved to one
side so as not to intrude on the two old acquaintances thus strangely
reunited, turned in and soon were once more asleep.

Briefly as possible, Art explained to Long Jim the circumstances leading
up to their present position. From across the fire, Jack watched them.
He saw that Long Jim paid close attention to Art’s narrative and that,
indeed, it seemed to affect him strangely. For over his open, rugged
features, not constructed to conceal their owner’s moods, swept doubt,
uncertainty, indecision, as if within the man was going on a fight
between two contending forces. Jack was puzzled. What could Long Jim be
thinking of?

Then Long Jim slowly rose to his feet, placing a hand on the shoulder of
his companion who remained seated but looking up at him. Jack
unconsciously moved closer as the big trapper appeared about to speak.
He did not want to eavesdrop, but Long Jim’s expression had puzzled him
greatly. What could it mean?

“Artie,” said Long Jim in a louder tone than that in which their
whispered conversation had been carried on, and one that reached Jack’s
ears, “Artie, my boy,” he said, “I wish you didn’t have them skunks with
ye.”

“Them breeds,” said Art, jerking a thumb back over a shoulder to
indicate the prisoners sleeping about the other fire.

“Them same,” said Long Jim. “Cause why, you asks me? Cause I got a
paradise to take you all to, where you can spend the Winter lapped in
comfort. An’ I don’t want to take no rascals like them half-breeds
there. But——”

Art was on his feet, excitement struggling with disbelief.

“What? What you mean, Long Jim?”

“Jest what I says,” answered the other emphatically. “A paradise, I
calls it. An’ a paradise it is. An’ the quicker we git there the better,
so wake up your friends an’ let me talk to ’em. If we have to take them
skunks, why, we’ll take ’em.”



CHAPTER XXIV.—A TALE OF PARADISE.


At the insistence of Long Jim, Art and Jack, who had been called to join
the pair, speedily re-aroused their friends.

“I ain’t no hand for talkin’,” Long Jim declared in answer to Art’s
requests for further information. “I got to tell this. But onct oughter
be enough. No use my tellin’ you an’ then tellin’ the rest o’ them all
over agin.”

Jack smiled discreetly. Long Jim claimed he was “no hand for talking,”
yet his tongue wagged continually. However, his heart seemed in the
right place, and certainly he spoke emphatically enough of a haven not
too far away to which they could go for refuge. What was it he called
it? “Paradise.” Jack was anxious to hear, and wasted no time on gentle
methods in arousing the sleepers.

“Lookit here,” said Long Jim, as the circle gathered around him. “Art’s
been tellin’ me the trouble you folks is in. Looks to me like you
moughtn’t be able to make it out o’ this country.”

Mr. Hampton nodded grave confirmation.

“Well, I know of a place that’s paradise,” said Long Jim, impressively.
“An’ I’ll take ye all there, an’ ye can spend the Winter—warm, game,
everything there. Only thing, like I tol’ Artie here, is I hate to have
to take them skunks o’ half-breeds in there. They’ll be a-comin’ back
later an’ ruin the country.”

“But I don’t understand,” said Mr. Hampton. “What is it you are talking
about?”

“Don’t blame ye,” said Long Jim. “Think maybe the ol’ man’s crazy, don’t
ye? Don’t blame ye for that, neither. But, look here, night’s dyin’ an’
if ye stand up an’ look where I’m pointin’ ye’ll see somethin’.”

Mr. Hampton arose wonderingly, and the others also stood up.

“Thar,” said Long Jim, stretching an arm to the westward. “What d’ye
see?”

“Why—a great bank of fog,” said Mr. Hampton, after gazing intently. “How
strange. Fog in Winter. I don’t understand.”

“An’ ye all think that’s fog, hey?” asked Long Jim, turning to the
others.

Nodding heads answered.

“Well, it ain’t,” he said. “That’s the vapor from hot springs.”

“Hot springs?” Mr. Hampton sounded frankly incredulous.

“Wait’ll you see for yourself,” said Long Jim, tolerantly. “I wouldn’t
believe it, neither, when I first saw it. I thought it was fog, too. But
bein’ as how heavy fog in the Winter were strange, I went to
investigate. An’ I found paradise.”

Then, under Mr. Hampton’s skillful questioning, Long Jim told his story.
He declared he had lived in this region now these two years, and that
since first arriving he had seen nobody except themselves. Drawn by the
seeming fog to investigate, he had come upon an almost tropical valley
through which ran not only one but several rivers of water forever at
the boiling point. These rivers, moreover, he said, were fed by hundreds
of hot springs, which bubbled out of the ground in all directions. It
was the steam from these which, condensing as it rose above the valley
and struck the cold Winter air, had formed the fog which first attracted
his attention.

“Once I were in South America,” said Long Jim. “Down clost to the
Equator. Well, I’m tellin’ you, it were that hot all last Summer right
in that valley. As for right now, ye’ll find it mighty pleasant an’
warm, an’ when snow falls it’s only rain by the time it passes through
the heat hangin’ over that valley all the time.”

“Hurray,” cried Frank, exuberantly. “Let’s go. No snow fellows. Get
that? I’ve had all the snow I need for one season, anyway, and I guess I
can get along without any more for some time to come.”

Mr. Hampton smiled, but, disregarding Frank’s jubilation, proceeded with
his questioning. And Long Jim, delighted with an audience to which he
could talk all he pleased, after having been without companions for
several years, continued unfolding new wonders.

This valley, he declared, was about 200 miles long and 40 miles wide.
They were now near its upper end, to which point Long Jim had made his
way by slow travel and exploration during the two years since his
arrival at the southern end.

Game?

At the question, Long Jim grew even more eloquent.

He declared that, due to the heat generated by the hot springs and the
boiling rivers, the fertility of the soil was amazing. The vegetation,
in fact, achieved a jungle growth. Wild rose bushes grew tall as trees,
with stems as thick as a man’s forearm and so dense that it was
impossible to force a way through them. Willows grew to the size of big
trees, with branches so thick it was possible to walk along them.

“An’ birches,” added Long Jim, “git to be hunderds o’ feet tall, so
tall, in fact, they can’t hold themselves up but bend over an’ touch the
ground.

“Likely you think I’m out o’ my head. Oh, I kin see it in your eyes. But
I’m tellin’ you the God’s truth, men.” And Long Jim spoke with such
honest sincerity, they were compelled to believe him. “In sich a place,”
he continued, “it ain’t likely there wouldn’t be no game. Why, the
animals there is thick as flees on a ol’ hound.

“Mountain sheep, goats, caribou, moose, bear, deer, wolves, foxes, oh,
every wild animal o’ the whole North kin be found there—down in that
valley an’ in the mountains enclosin’ of it. An’ I tell you the truth,”
he concluded, his voice sinking for effect, “the moose git so fat
they’re almost square an’ they’re so darn tame ye can almost touch ’em.”

As Long Jim’s speech came to a halt, Mr. Hampton turned and stared
across the brightening landscape to the distant bank of vapor. Soon the
short days would end entirely, and the perpetual night of the Arctic
would arrive. Only a miracle could save them from perishing, all
unprepared to face further travel as they were. Could it be possible
that miracle had occurred, and that this trapper was telling the truth?

Jack looked at his father, and sensed what was passing through the older
man’s mind. Truth to tell, some such thoughts were in his own. He went
up to him and laid a hand across his shoulders.

“Come on, Dad,” he said. “I believe Long Jim is telling the truth. And
we better make the effort to get to this valley. He may be exaggerating
a little, but certainly it looks like a promised land.”

“That’s right, Jack,” said his father, shaking off his reverie, and his
alert self once more. “We’ll have a hard enough struggle getting there,
what with having to cross this waste of new-fallen snow without
snowshoes or sleds. Well, let’s see what can be done.”

Eventually, the party got into motion. The canoes were cached, where
they could be recovered in the Summer. There was little likelihood
anybody else would pass that way, to appropriate them. Equipment was
made into packs shouldered by everybody except Art and Bob. These two
were to carry Thorwaldsson on a stretcher, improvised out of poles cut
on the river bank, and blankets.

Fortunately, the crest of the valley to which Long Jim was guiding them
was distant not more than five or six miles. Even at that, however, the
going was tremendously difficult because of the mass of new-fallen snow.
Had it not been for Long Jim to break the way on his snowshoes,
moreover, it is doubtful whether they could have made it, heavy laden as
they were. But Long Jim worked patiently backward and forward, breaking
down the snow, and packing it a second and even a third time with his
webs.

“How come you were out here, ol’ timer?” asked Art once, as Long Jim
paused, and he caught up with him.

“Well, I git lonesome a leetle,” said Long Jim. “I was prospectin’
around in the mountains rimmin’ the valley yestiddy, an’ I saw you
across the snow. Jest leetle specks you were, but agin the snow I
thought you were humans. I couldn’t hardly believe my eyes, but I come
along investigatin’. An’ then when night come on, you lit your fires,
an’——”

“Sure was lucky for us, Long Jim, if you ain’t a-lyin’,” said Art.

Long Jim stiffened, and for a moment was prepared to stand on his
dignity but then he smiled in a jolly way that sent crinkly wrinkles all
around his blue eyes.

“Don’t blame ye for that, Artie,” he said. “Sounds like I were crazy,
don’t it? But jest wait till you see.”



CHAPTER XXV.—VOICES FROM THE WILDERNESS.


But Long Jim had not falsified. The valley proved, indeed, to be more
even than he described, for as the world now knows important mineral
deposits were discovered, including gold, silver, copper, coal, iron and
oil. But of the development going on to bring not only this marvelous
region but the vast oil region beyond the Coppermine into the world’s
resources naught need be said now. Suffice it to say that such
development is under way, for Mr. Hampton had the ear of the great
financiers, and was able to bring it about; and also that Farrell and
Long Jim are receiving handsome incomes from their shares in the various
projects.

Here the party settled down, constructed huts, and prepared to await the
coming of Spring when the snow should disappear from the vast wilderness
separating them from the northern edge of the civilized lands and the
ice in the rivers be unlocked.

One of the first things done by the boys was to erect their radio plant,
and they succeeded without much difficulty in opening communication with
the little Fort of the Northwest Mounted Police on the farthest rim of
the settled country. MacDonald and Dick, with their prisoners, had
arrived only a day or two before communication was opened, and the two
parties exchanged the stories of their adventures by radio.

To Long Jim the radio was as great a source of wonder as Long Jim’s
valley was to the boys. He could never get over marveling at it, and
every time that it was brought into use, Long Jim, if he were in the
vicinity, was on hand, sitting in rapt and open-mouthed astonishment
while the boys operated the instruments.

Much time was spent in exploring this wonderful valley, at the resources
of which Mr. Hampton could never express sufficient astonishment.

“It is a freak of nature, of course, boys,” he explained on one
occasion.

“How wonderful that it should have remained undiscovered for so long,”
said Jack.

“Not so marvelous,” said his father. “Few, indeed, are the people who
ever have penetrated any distance into all this vast wilderness of
northern Canada. It was supposed, and still is generally supposed, to be
bleak and uninhabitable. You know from experience that the contrary is
the case. It is delightful country in Summer, and man is so constituted
that, if properly clothed and housed, he can stand any severity of
Winter. Some day, I predict, all this vast wilderness through which we
have been making our way will be settled. That day is far off, of
course, but it is coming. The growth of world population will force the
conquest of the sub-Arctic.”

The one thing making their stay in this valley of marvels unpleasant was
the constant rainfall. For in the Arctic storm succeeds storm, sweeping
down from the North Pole in never-ending succession. And these storms
which they knew were burying the land beyond the valley under a pall of
ice and snow poured torrents of water on them. The peaks of the mountain
ranges rimming the valley were buried under snow, gleaming wan in the
occasional moonlight between the storms, for by now the long night had
come. But on them no snow fell, for as Long Jim had foretold the snow as
it passed through the temperate air created by the eternally hot rivers
and springs was transformed into rain.

Two events of importance marked their stay. One was the escape of their
prisoners, together with some rifles which they succeeded in stealing.
Pursuit in the darkness, and through the jungle-like reaches of the
forest was almost hopeless and was quickly abandoned. Nor, although
vigilant watch was kept to prevent surprise, did they ever see sign of
the half-breeds again.

“It’s a big valley,” said Mr. Hampton, “and I doubt whether they will
attempt to attack us. Rather, they will keep out of our way. They are
poorly armed and inferior in numbers, since we have all come together.
Their escape, I imagine, was incited by a fear of what awaited them if
we succeeded in getting them back to civilization and the courts. Well,”
he said, with a sigh, “I regret, of course, the loss of witnesses to
substantiate the charges of deviltry which I shall surely bring against
Grimm. Nevertheless, I am glad to be rid of them.”

It was a sentiment in which all concurred.

The other event referred to was the opening by means of relayed messages
via the Mounted Post and Edmonton of communication by radio with Mr.
Temple in faraway New York. When word reached Bob’s father that the
Hampton party was safe and sound and wintering in the wilderness, he
quit work for the day, despite the fact that a big business deal was
clamoring for his attention, and sped by motor down to his Long Island
home.

Bob’s sister, Della, was sitting in the library, staring spiritlessly
out at the Winter landscape. Mr. Temple stole up behind her and,
reaching over her shoulder, thrust the message from the radio
corporation under her eyes.

Della’s glance fell and she began to read the printed words. Then she
leaped up, whirled around, her eyes like two stars, and threw her arms
around her father’s neck.

“Oh, Daddy, Dad-dee,” she screamed.

He held her off at arm’s length and looked at her. Her eyes began to
fill up with happy tears, and once more she threw herself into his arms.

“Well, kiddy, cry all you want to,” he said, comfortingly, patting her
on the back. “I guess that’s the medicine you needed. You’ll be all
right now.”

Mr. Temple’s words bore reference to the fact that for months Della’s
health had been failing, and she had shown so little interest in her
studies that it had been considered wiser to take her out of the
boarding school which she attended, and bring her home.

“Oh, yes, Dad-dee,” she sobbed, her face buried in his coat. “I’ll be
all right now.”

Then she lifted her tear-stained cheeks and asked anxiously:

“It says they are all safe—_all_? Doesn’t it?”

Mr. Temple nodded, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

“Yes, kiddy,” he said. “Frank’s safe, too.”

“Oh, Dad-dee, I didn’t mean that,” said Della, blushing furiously.

“No need to fib to me, kiddy,” said her father. “Bob is only a brother;
but Frank——”

“No, you shan’t say it,” laughed Della, and she placed a hand over his
mouth.

Nevertheless, it was to be noted that from that time on Della no longer
moped and looked ill, but took an intense interest in all the daily
affairs of life, even wanting to return at once to school.

“Marjie Faulkner will be dying to talk things over with me,” she
explained to her mother.

“Why, dear, what do you mean?”

“Well—you know—she’s sweet on Bob.”

“Oh, you girls,” said Mrs. Temple, with a sigh. “You’ll be the death of
me. At your age——”

“At our age you were engaged to Father,” said Della. “Now don’t deny it.
Dad has even told me how you planned to elope, but were overheard by
your mother who persuaded you to be conventional and have a wedding at
home.”

Mr. Temple looked across the dinner table at his wife and grinned
shamelessly.

“George, did you tell her that?”

“Why not? It was the truth.”

“Oh, George. Aren’t children nowadays hard enough to handle as it is,
without letting them know how silly we older people were once?”

“Now, Mother,” said Della, rising quickly and going to her mother’s
side, and kissing her. “Don’t scold Father. Can’t you see he’s dreaming
of that day again?”

And dancing to her father’s side, Della dropped a kiss on the spot where
his hair was thinning out, and then danced gaily from the dining-room.

Once more Mr. Temple grinned at his wife, as he sipped his coffee. Then
putting down the cup, he leaned forward and said confidentially:

“You do remember that time, don’t you, dear?”

Mrs. Temple started to say something sharp by way of reproof for his
silliness, but a softened look came into her eyes as she stared back.
The years that intervened since their youth seemed to slip away.

“Why, George,” she said. “You look positively handsome.”

As for Della, a telegram to her friend, Marjorie Faulkner, apprised the
latter of the message from the Far North to the effect that the lost had
been found. And Della soon followed her message in person. Thereafter
the two girls were never tired of talking about the possible adventures
that had befallen the boys, and while Marjorie sang Bob’s praises, Della
sang Frank’s. Poor Jack, it is to be feared, was somewhat slighted in
these discussions.

“I’ll warrant you that Bob saved the day for them all,” Marjorie said on
one occasion. “He’s so big and strong.”

“Well,” flashed Della, “Bob’s my brother, and that’s all right. But if
they ever got in a tight pinch, I’m _sure_ it was Frank that got them
out. He’s got more brains than all the rest put together.”

“Oh, Della, how can you say that?” cried Marjorie.

“Well, just because Bob is my brother must I be always praising him?”
demanded Della.

For a moment the two girls positively glared at each other.

Then the twinkle began to come, and they laughed.

Then they were hugging each other.

And then they were at it again.



CHAPTER XXVI.—TREED BY WOLVES.


One more adventure, and that a serious one, was to befall the boys as a
final taste of life in the wilderness. One day towards the end of
Winter, when the sky cleared after several days of tremendous rain, the
three boys who had been cooped up in their quarters and had worn out
even the amusement of listening to the Edmonton radio concerts or
communicating with the Post of the Mounted, announced they were going
hunting.

The supply of fresh meat had fallen pretty low, and additions to their
larder would not be unwelcome. Accordingly, Mr. Hampton made no
objection to their departure, but insisted that Art or Long Jim
accompany them.

“I’d be no good,” said Long Jim. “Sence I did that fool trick o’ cuttin’
my hand with the axe a couple-three days ago, I cain’t set finger to
trigger. You better go, Art.”

“All right, boys,” said Art. “I’d like to stretch a leg, too.”

The four, accordingly, set out. In the forest surrounding the spot where
they had chosen to erect their huts, there was no longer any game, for
the animals had come to learn that these strange creatures brought
destruction and had decamped elsewhere. Finally, after they had
proceeded some distance without sighting anything, Art suggested they
strike for a higher level on the adjacent mountain side. The huts had
been erected near the foot of one of the ranges rimming the valley.

“Maybe we’ll run into a mountain sheep or a goat,” he said. “Anyhow, we
can see better from a higher lever, for this forest down here is so
thick you can hardly see a yard away. The moon’s out an’ up there the
trees is thinner.”

With Art leading the way, the party began its upward climb. For some
time they toiled upward until presently they reached a level unaffected
by the more temperate air of the valley floor, and where, as a
consequence, snow covered the rocks. Across a bare shoulder of rock from
which the wind had swept all but a trace of snow they made their way and
then plunged into a thick woods beyond.

Frank, who was in the rear, laid down his rifle and bent over to adjust
the clumsy lacing of a thick shoe pack of the kind they had made for
themselves from the skins of slain animals. The others plodding along,
head down, did not notice he had stopped, and kept on going. He spent
more time at the task than he had anticipated, and when finally he
straightened up and picked up his rifle, they were not in sight.

Frank was not worried, however, for he felt sure he would be able to
trace them in the snow and would soon catch up with them. He set out at
a brisk pace. The snow grew deeper, however, where the wind had not had
a chance to whisk it away, and the going was hard. He had proceeded some
distance before he noticed that he had gotten off the trail left by his
companions. Angry with himself for his carelessness, but still not
worried, he halted to consider what was best for him to do.

“Shucks,” he said aloud. “Guess I better go back over my steps till I
find where I left their trail.”

And with this intention, he turned to go back. Even as he did so, he saw
a pack of long gray bodies racing through the trees in his direction. At
the same instant they gave tongue. It was a pack of wolves. They had
scented him and were now lifting the cry which announced their prey was
near.

Frank started to fling the rifle to his shoulder, but then he lowered
it. The flitting forms were still yards away. And although moonlight
sifted through the bare limbs of the trees, it did not sufficiently
illumine the scene to make the wolves good targets. He decided his best
plan would be to seek refuge in a tree first of all, and then he could
fire at the wolves at his leisure and with a sureness of aim that would
not now be his. These thoughts or reflections flashed through his mind
in an instant. The next moment he was putting his plan into execution,
and climbing into a tall fir.

He was not a moment too soon, either, for the baying came closer and
closer and even as he struggled frantically to climb higher the leader
of the wolf pack reached the foot of his refuge, and sprang high into
the air. Frank heard the snap of the great jaws, and looked down into a
yawning red cavern of a mouth.

The next moment his rifle slipped from his grasp, and fell on the snout
of the wolf who leaped aside in temporary panic. Then the rest of the
pack arrived on the scene, jumping and snarling, their heads in the air,
their wicked eyes agleam as they scented the prey they had treed but
which temporarily had escaped them.

Frank threw an arm around the main trunk of the tree to steady himself,
for he was sick with vexation at his own carelessness in not having
properly, secured his rifle. Meantime the wolves circled close about the
tree, looking up, and one big fellow even put his forefeet against the
trunk and reared high till his head rested on the lowermost branch. Then
he retired to join the others, and all squatted in an expectant ring
close about the foot of the tree.

When his vexation had passed, Frank set himself to a serious
consideration of his position. And at once he realized that he must try
before it was too late and they got out of earshot to attract the
attention of his comrades. Perhaps already they had gotten beyond reach.
At that he had a moment of panic. Then he grew calmer. If they had moved
away, he told himself, they would discover his absence presently and
retrace their steps in search of him.

He still had his revolver. At first he did not trust himself to handle
it, because of the trembling of his hands. Then he grew cooler. His hand
steadied. He thought he would shout to attract his companions’ attention
first of all. And raising his voice, he sent call after call ringing
through the forest.

The wolves gave back yelp for scream, and soon the whole pack was
snarling and yowling and making a terrific, demoniac din.

The sound steadied him.

“Good,” he thought, “the boys will know there are wolves, anyway.”

Their own snarls reacted on the wolves, exciting them. And once more
they came up to the foot of the tree, rearing their forefeet against it
and leaping upward. It was Frank’s chance, and he took it.

With one arm clasping the trunk of the tree, he leaned forward and took
careful aim at the biggest of the grey shapes below. At that moment, the
wolf opened his mouth in a jaw-clashing howl. It was his last. Frank’s
bullet plunged down his throat, and the wolf rolled over in the snow.

His mates without a second’s hesitation deserted their attempts to get
at Frank, and began snarling over the dead body. The sight sickened
Frank, and he closed his eyes a moment. Then the thought occurred that,
if he added several more corpses to the ghoulish feast, he might divert
the attention of the rest of the pack to such an extent that he would be
able to slip away unseen, perhaps by making his way through the trees
for a short distance before jumping to the ground.

There was no need now for care in aiming, as the wolves were in a thick
mass over the body of the fallen, so Frank fired several shots in rapid
succession into the mass. The effect was instantly apparent, for two
more wolves went down, and the tearing and crunching announced a renewal
of the awful feast.

Now, thought Frank, was his time to escape, if possible. He had heard no
answering replies, and believed his companions must have gotten out of
earshot. If so, he must depend on his own resources to make his escape.
He was about to start swinging to a nearby tree, the branches of which
interlocked with those of the tree in which he had found refuge, when
the thought occurred that, perhaps, he would be able to obtain his rifle
undiscovered by the wolves.

Cautiously he started to descend, his eyes alternately on the snarling
wolf pack several yards from the tree and on the limbs he must grip in
his descent. He had almost reached the lowermost limb when his grip
slipped and he fell.

Frank thought his end had come, but as he struck the ground his hands
closed on the coveted rifle, and he scrabbled to regain his feet,
flinging the rifle to his shoulder as he did so.

His fall had been seen. One of the wolves turned aside from the
outskirts of the pack, where he was not getting his share of the
gruesome feast, and sprang for him. The next moment, as a shot rang out
from behind Frank, the wolf dropped quivering at his feet.

“Steady, Frank,” cried Art’s voice. “Give ’em all you’ve got.”

Without looking around, mastering his trembling by a supreme effort,
Frank brought the rifle to his shoulder and began firing into the pack,
even as the three rifles of his companions also opened fire.

At that close range every shot told and not a wolf escaped. Eleven
bodies, including the mutilated remains of the three which Frank had
slain with revolver shots, were stretched on the snow under the trees.

When it was all over, his companions gathered about Frank and
explanations followed. Then they made their way back to camp.



CHAPTER XXVII—CONCLUSION.


Far to the southward, late in the Summer, the party containing our
friends and the Thorwaldsson party as well as Long Jim Golden, all
bronzed and hardy, and with Thorwaldsson recovered in body and mind,
swung around a bend in a river and came to the landing which marked the
first outpost of civilization—the trading post where was also located
the Fort of the Mounted.

A little boy playing on the edge of the pier was first to see them, and
whooping and shouting he ran up the bank towards the store. Out of the
door of the trading post came a figure in uniform.

“Dick.”

“Art.”

The two pals were reunited.

And then followed the biggest surprise of all, for out of the store came
Mr. Temple and Della. For ten minutes the kissing and hugging went on,
while Farnum, Thorwaldsson, Farrell and the rest stood to one side,
their faces set in wide grins.

“What in the world?” demanded Mr. Hampton, at length, holding his
partner and neighbor at arm’s length. “What in the world brought you
here?”

“A motor boat,” said Mr. Temple. “That was a surprise for you. When we
received your radio message via the post here, which relayed it to
Edmonton—that first one, you know, announcing you were leaving for the
outside—I decided I would have to be on hand to greet you. So I got into
communication with Captain Jameson, and learned from him that I could
reach one of his posts farther south by motor car, and then come up the
river in a launch. So I decided I would come here to the edge of the
wilderness.”

He looked at his son, Bob, about whom he still kept an arm, and smiled.

“Good old Dad,” said Bob, giving him a hug. “But what brought Della?”

“Oh, the same means,” answered his father.

“No, Dad. You know what I mean. Was it love for her straying brother?”

“Well, now, Bob, you’ll have to form your own opinion,” said Mr. Temple,
eyes a-twinkle.

Della who had been standing close to Frank, her hands clasped in his,
looked calmly at Bob.

“Marjie wanted to come, too, you know, Bob,” she said. “But her mother
wouldn’t let her. She sent you a message.”

“Huh.”

Big Bob blushed, and let the conversation drop. Nevertheless, at the
first opportunity he got his sister to one side, and, snatching the
letter she tendered him, went off by himself to read it.

There was room for Mr. Hampton and the boys on the launch, and in a
canoe towed behind, and so, after a short rest, a start downstream was
made at once. Thorwaldsson and the others set off with them, but soon
fell behind amid a gay waving of farewells. Mr. Hampton was to make
arrangements for their reception at the next post and at Edmonton. The
launch would be sent back for them when the post was reached.

At Edmonton, a thriving city which in the comparatively few years of its
existence has grown to the proportions of a metropolis, the boys got
their first taste of the publicity which was to pursue them across the
continent, reaching its height on their arrival in New York. For word of
their coming had gotten out, and hosts of reporters awaited them,
representing the great newspapers and news-gathering syndicates of not
only North America but of Europe, too.

“You see, boys,” said Mr. Hampton, in their hotel rooms, when they
protested to him at being besieged every minute of the day by reporters,
“you are the center of the romantic interest of the world. You rescued
the Lost Expedition and discovered strange new territory. You have had
the wildest kind of adventures. How do you expect the world to take that
calmly? It can’t be done. No, you may as well submit gracefully, and
talk when questioned.”

The romance of Frank and Della also was exploited by the newspapermen,
and pictures began to appear throughout the country, showing the daring
young explorer and his sweetheart. When they were taken, neither Frank
nor Della knew, but the truth of the matter was that they were together
so much of the time it was the easiest matter in the world for a
photographer to snap them.

In New York the same thing was gone through with again, only, if
anything, worse. And this time, the reporters finding that Marjorie
Faulkner appeared to greet the returned heroes, scented a new romance,
and questioned the boys about it. Bob and Frank refused to answer, but
Jack slyly tipped off the newspapermen that between Marjorie and Bob a
real romance was, indeed, budding.

In reprisal, Bob and Frank put their heads together, and gave the
newspapermen a story to the effect that Jack was champing at the bit to
be off to old Mexico, there to greet a sweetheart who awaited him, none
other, in fact, than the Senorita Rafaela y Calomares, daughter of an
old Don who had a palace in the Sonora mountains. And in support of the
story they told the newspapermen of their adventures several years
before on the Mexican border, when they had rescued Mr. Hampton from
captivity and Jack, they said, had fallen in love with the daughter of
the Mexican leader responsible for Mr. Hampton’s capture.

It all made good copy for the reporters, who had about exhausted the
possibilities of the northern adventure, and who now plunged head first
into this former adventure, of which nothing had been known at the time.

Jack was furious, and threatened to wreak dire vengeance on Bob and
Frank. But the latter pointed out that they had but turned the tables on
him.

“Well, anyway,” he said, finally, beginning to smile, “you haven’t got
the best part of the story yet.”

Their curiosity aroused, they tried to get him to tell what he meant.
But he refused. Several days later he disappeared. When they asked Mr.
Hampton what had become of him he finally surrendered and gave the
secret away.

“Well, boys,” he said, “when we returned I found a courteous note from
Don Fernandez y Calomares, saying he was in Washington on business
connected with the government, and asking me to call. I guess Jack has
taken a train for Washington, and gone calling.”

With which happy forecast of good luck to come to all three of the Radio
Boys, we shall leave them for the present, secure in the belief that if
at any future date they go adventuring they will be well able to take
care of themselves, and also that they will get into adventures well
worth reading about.


                                THE END



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    THE BOY ALLIES AT JUTLAND;
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    THE BOY ALLIES WITH UNCLE SAM’S CRUISERS;
    or, Convoying the American Army Across the Atlantic.

    THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE SUBMARINE D-32;
    or, The Fall of the Russian Empire.

    THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE VICTORIOUS FLEETS;
    or, The Fall of the German Navy.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent on receipt of price by the
Publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 E. 23d St., NEW YORK


The Oakdale Academy Series

BY MORGAN SCOTT

A series of real boys’ stories at the Oakdale Academy. Ben Stone, the
hero, wins his way under peculiar circumstances and against great odds.

Clean-cut stories of real experiences in athletics and sports of academy
life, with adventures, mysteries and clever descriptions.

Just the kind of books a boy 12 to 16 years would like to read.

HANDSOME CLOTH BINDING.

JACKETS IN COLORS

PRICE, 50 CENTS EACH

POSTAGE 10c EXTRA

Copyright Titles

    BEN STONE AT OAKDALE
    BOYS OF OAKDALE ACADEMY
    RIVAL PITCHERS OF OAKDALE
    OAKDALE BOYS IN CAMP
    THE GREAT OAKDALE MYSTERY
    THE NEW BOYS AT OAKDALE

For sale by all booksellers, or sent on receipt of price by the
Publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 E. 23d St., NEW YORK


The Rex Kingdon Series

By GORDON BRADDOCK

A fine series of stories for boys of High School age, written in an
interesting and instructive style.

Rex Kingdon, the hero, a real, wide-awake boy, interested in outdoor
games, enters into the school sports with enthusiasm. A rattling good
baseball story holds the interest to the very end. Rex and his Ridgewood
friends establish a campfire in the North woods; there, mystery,
jealousy and rivalry enter to menace their safety, fire their interest
and finally cement their friendship.

Stories boys will want to read.

CLOTHBOUND. JACKETS IN COLORS.

Copyright Titles.

PRICE, 50 CENTS EACH

POSTAGE 10c EXTRA

    REX KINGDON OF RIDGEWOOD HIGH
    REX KINGDON IN THE NORTH WOODS
    REX KINGDON AT WALCOTT HALL
    REX KINGDON BEHIND THE BAT
    REX KINGDON ON STORM ISLAND

For sale by all booksellers, or sent on receipt of price by the
Publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 E. 23d St., NEW YORK





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