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Title: Rick Dale, A Story of the Northwest Coast
Author: Munroe, Kirk, 1850-1930
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rick Dale, A Story of the Northwest Coast" ***

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                                RICK DALE

                     _A STORY OF THE NORTHWEST COAST_

                              BY KIRK MUNROE

AUTHOR OF "SNOW-SHOES AND SLEDGES" "THE FUR-SEAL'S TOOTH" THE "MATES"
SERIES ETC.


    ILLUSTRATED BY W. A. ROGERS

    NEW YORK AND LONDON
    HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS



[Illustration: THE ICE ABOVE GIBRALTAR]



CONTENTS


I. A POOR RICH BOY

II. THE RUNAWAY

III. ALARIC TAKES A FIRST LESSON

IV. THE "EMPRESS" LOSES A PASSENGER

V. FIRST MATE BONNY BROOKS

VI. PREPARING TO BE A SAILOR

VII. CAPTAIN DUFF, OF THE SLOOP "FANCY"

VIII. AN UNLUCKY SMASH

IX. "CHINKS" AND "DOPE"

X. PUGET SOUND SMUGGLERS

XI. A VERY TRYING EXPERIENCE

XII. A LESSON IN KEDGING

XIII. CHASING A MYSTERIOUS LIGHT

XIV. BONNY'S INVENTION, AND HOW IT WORKED

XV. CAPTURED BY A REVENUE-CUTTER

XVI. ESCAPE OF THE FIRST MATE AND CREW

XVII. SAVED BY A LITTLE SIWASH KID

XVIII. LIFE IN SKOOKUM JOHN'S CAMP

XIX. A TREACHEROUS INDIAN FROM NEAH BAY

XX. AN EXCITING RACE FOR LIBERTY

XXI. A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY

XXII. TWO SHORT BUT EXCITING VOYAGES

XXIII. ALARIC TODD'S DARKEST HOUR

XXIV. PHIL RYDER PAYS A DEBT

XXV. ENGAGED TO INTERPRET FOR THE FRENCH

XXVI. PREPARING FOR AN ASCENT

XXVII. BONNY COMMANDS THE SITUATION

XXVIII. ON THE EDGE OF PARADISE VALLEY

XXIX. MOUNT RAINIER PLACED UNDERFOOT

XXX. BLOWN FROM THE RIM OF A CRATER

XXXI. A DESPERATE SITUATION

XXXII. HOW A SONG SAVED ALARIC'S LIFE

XXXIII. LAID UP FOR REPAIRS

XXXIV. CHASED BY A MADMAN

XXXV. A GANG OF FRIENDLY LOGGERS

XXXVI. IN A NORTHWEST LOGGING CAMP

XXXVII. WHAT IS A HUMP-DURGIN?

XXXVIII. ALARIC AND BONNY AGAIN TAKE TO FLIGHT

XXXIX. BONNY DISCOVERS HIS FRIEND THE TRAMP

XL. A FLOOD OF LIGHT



ILLUSTRATIONS


THE ICE ABOVE GIBRALTAR

ALARIC MAKES HIS FIRST DECISION

"'VELL, I TELL YOU; I GIFS T'VENTY-FIFE'"

BONNY'S INVENTION STARTED

THE ARRIVAL AT SKOOKUM JOHN'S

BONNY SEIZED A TRUCK, AND ALARIC A MATTRESS

"BONNY WAS JERKED BACKWARD"

"THEY WERE PARALYZED WITH TERROR"



RICK DALE



CHAPTER I

A POOR RICH BOY


Alaric Dale Todd was his name, and it was a great grief to him to be
called "Allie." Allie Todd was so insignificant and sounded so weak.
Besides, Allie was a regular girl's name, as he had been so often told,
and expected to be told by each stranger who heard it for the first
time. There is so much in a name, after all. We either strive to live up
to it, or else it exerts a constant disheartening pull backward.

Although Alaric was tall for his age, which was nearly seventeen, he was
thin, pale, and undeveloped. He did not look like a boy accustomed to
play tennis or football, or engage in any of the splendid athletics that
develop the muscle and self-reliance of those sturdy young fellows who
contest interscholastic matches. Nor was he one of these; so far from
it, he had never played a game in his life except an occasional quiet
game of croquet, or something equally soothing. He could not swim nor
row nor sail a boat; he had never ridden horseback nor on a bicycle; he
had never skated nor coasted nor hunted nor fished, and yet he was
perfectly well formed and in good health. I fancy I hear my boy readers
exclaim:

"What a regular muff your Alaric must have been! No wonder they called
him 'Allie'!"

And the girls? Well, they would probably say, "What a disagreeable
prig!" For Alaric knew a great deal more about places and people and
books than most boys or girls of his age, and was rather fond of
displaying this knowledge. And then he was always dressed with such
faultless elegance. His patent-leather boots were so shiny, his
neckwear, selected with perfect taste, was so daintily arranged, and
while he never left the house without drawing on a pair of gloves, they
were always so immaculate that it did not seem as though he ever wore
the same pair twice. He was very particular, too, about his linen, and
often sent his shirts back to the laundress unworn because they were not
done up to suit him. As for his coats and trousers, of which he had so
many that it actually seemed as though he might wear a different suit
every day in the year, he spent so much time in selecting material, and
then in being fitted, and insisted on so many alterations, that his
tailors were often in despair, and wondered whether it paid to have so
particular a customer, after all. They never had occasion, though, to
complain about their bills, for no matter how large these were or how
extortionate, they were always paid without question as soon as
presented.

From all this it may be gathered that our Alaric was not a child of
poverty. Nor was he; for Amos Todd, his father, was so many times a
millionaire that he was one of the richest men on the Pacific coast. He
owned or controlled a bank, railways, steamships, and mines, great
ranches in the South, and vast tracts of timber lands in the North. His
manifold interests extended from Alaska to Mexico, from the Pacific to
the Atlantic; and while he made his home in San Francisco his name was a
power in the stock-exchanges of the world. Years before he and his young
wife had made their way to California from New England with just money
enough to pay their passage to the Golden State. Here they had undergone
poverty and hardships such as they determined their children should
never know.

Of these Margaret, the eldest, was now a leader of San Francisco
society, while John, who was eight years older than Alaric, had shown
such an aptitude for business that he had risen to be manager of his
father's bank. There were other children, who had died, and when Alaric
came, last of all, he was such a puny infant that there was little hope
of his ever growing up. Because he was the youngest and a weakling, and
demanded so much care, his mother devoted her life to him, and hovered
about him with a loving anxiety that sought to shield him from all rude
contact with the world. He was always under the especial care of some
doctor, and when he was five or six years old one of these, for want of
something more definite to say, announced that he feared the child was
developing a weak heart, and advised that he be restrained from all
violent exercise.

From that moment poor little "Allie," as he had been called from the day
of his birth, was not only kept from all forms of violent exercise and
excitement, but was forbidden to play any boyish games as well. In place
of these his doting mother travelled with him over Continental Europe,
going from one famous medical spring, bath, or health resort to another,
and bringing up her boy in an atmosphere of luxury, invalids, and
doctors. The last-named devoted themselves to trying to find out what
was the matter with him, and as no two of them could agree upon any one
ailment, Mrs. Todd came to regard him as a prodigy in the way of
invalidism.

Of course Alaric was never sent to a public school, but he was always
accompanied by tutors as well as physicians, and spent nearly two years
in a very select private school or _pension_ near Paris. Here no rude
games were permitted, and the only exercise allowed the boys was a short
daily walk, in which, under escort of masters, they marched in a dreary
procession of twos.

During all these years of travel and study and search after health
Alaric had never known what it was to wish in vain for anything that
money could buy. Whatever he fancied he obtained without knowing its
cost, or where the money came from that procured it. But there were
three of the chief things in the world to a boy that he did not have and
that money could not give him. He had no boy friends, no boyish games,
and no ambitions. He wanted to have all these things, and sometimes said
so to his mother; but always he was met by the same reproachful answer,
"My dear Allie, remember your poor weak heart."

At length it happened that while our lad was in that dreary _pension_,
Mrs. Todd, worn out with anxieties, cares, and worries of her own
devising, was stricken with a fatal malady, and died in the great
château that she had rented not far from the school in which her life's
treasure was so carefully guarded. A few days of bewilderment and
heart-breaking sorrow followed for poor Alaric. Many cablegrams flashed
to and fro beneath the ocean. There was a melancholy funeral, at which
the boy was sole mourner, and then one phase of his life was ended. In
another week he had left France, and, escorted by one of his French
tutors, was crossing the Atlantic on his way to the far-distant San
Francisco home of which he knew so little.

He had now been at home for nearly three months, and of all his sad life
they had proved the most unhappy period. His father, though always kind
in his way, was too deeply immersed in business to pay much attention to
the sensitive lad. He did not understand him, and regarded him as a
weakling who could never amount to anything in the world of business or
useful activity. He would be kind to the boy, of course, and any desire
that he expressed should be promptly gratified; at the same time he
could not help feeling that Alaric was a great trial, and wishing him
more like his brother John.

This bustling, dashing elder brother had no sympathy with Alaric, and
rarely found time to give him more than a nod and a word of greeting in
passing, while his sister Margaret regarded him as still a little boy
who was to be kept out of sight as much as possible. So the poor lad,
left to himself, without friends and without occupation, found time
hanging very heavily on his hands, and wondered why he had ever been
born.

Once he ventured to ask his father for a saddle-horse, whereupon Amos
Todd provided him with a pair of ponies, a cart, and a groom, which he
said was an outfit better suited to an invalid. Alaric accepted this
gift without a protest, for he was well trained to bearing
disappointments, but he used it so rarely that the business of giving
the horses their daily airing devolved almost entirely upon the groom.

It was not until Esther Dale, one of the New England cousins whom he had
never seen, and a girl of his own age, made a flying visit to San
Francisco as one of a personally conducted party of tourists, that
Alaric found any real use for his ponies. Esther was only to remain in
the city three days, but she spent them in her uncle's house, which she
refused to call anything but "the palace," and which she so pervaded
with her cheery presence that Amos Todd declared it seemed full of
singing birds and sunshine.

Both Margaret and John were too busy to pay much attention to their
young cousin, and so, to Alaric's delight, the whole duty of
entertaining her devolved on him. He felt much more at his ease with
girls than with boys, for he had been thrown so much more into their
society during his travels, and he thought he understood them
thoroughly; but in Esther Dale he found a girl so different from any he
had ever known that she seemed to belong to another order of beings. She
was good-looking and perfectly well-bred, but she was also as full of
life and frisky antics as a squirrel, and as tireless as a bird on the
wing.

On the first morning of her visit the cousins drove out to the Cliff
House to see the sea-lions; and almost before Alaric knew how it was
accomplished he found Esther perched on the high right-hand cushion of
the box-seat in full possession of reins and whip, while he occupied the
lower seat on her left, as though he were the guest and she the hostess
of the occasion. At the same time the ponys seemed filled with an
unusual activity, and were clattering along at a pace more exhilarating
than they had ever shown under his guidance.

After that Esther always drove; and Alaric, sitting beside her, listened
with wondering admiration to her words of wisdom and practical advice on
all sorts of subjects. She had never been abroad, but she knew
infinitely more of her own country than he, and was so enthusiastic
concerning it that in three days' time she had made him feel prouder of
being an American than he had believed it possible he ever would be.
She knew so much concerning out-of-door life, too--about animals and
birds and games. She criticised the play of the baseball nines, whom
they saw one afternoon in Golden Gate Park; and when they came to
another place where some acquaintances of Alaric's were playing tennis,
she asked for an introduction to the best girl player on the ground,
promptly challenged her to a trial of skill, and beat her three straight
games.

During the play she presented such a picture of glowing health and
graceful activity that pale-faced Alaric sat and watched her with
envious admiration.

"I would give anything I own in the world to be able to play tennis as
you can, Cousin Esther," he said, earnestly, after it was all over and
they were driving from the park.

"Why don't you learn, then?" asked the girl, in surprise.

"Because I have a weak heart, you know, and am forbidden any violent
exercise."

The boy hesitated, and even blushed, as he said this, though he had
never done either of those things before when speaking of his weak
heart. In fact, he had been rather proud of it, and considered that it
was a very interesting thing to have. Now, however, he felt almost
certain that Esther would laugh at him.

And so she did. She laughed until Alaric became red in the face from
vexation; but when she noticed this she grew very sober, and said:

"Excuse me, Cousin Rick. I didn't mean to laugh; but you did look so
woe-begone when you told me about your poor weak heart, and it seems so
absurd for a big, well-looking boy like you to have such a thing, that I
couldn't help it."

"I've always had it," said Alaric, stoutly; "and that is the reason
they would never let me do things like other boys. It might kill me if I
did, you know."

"I should think it would kill you if you didn't, and I'm sure I would
rather die of good times than just sit round and mope to death. Now I
don't believe your heart is any weaker than mine is. You don't look so,
anyway, and if I were you I would just go in for everything, and have as
good a time as I possibly could, without thinking any more about whether
my heart was weak or strong."

"But they won't let me," objected Alaric.

"Who won't?"

"Father and Margaret and John."

"I don't see that the two last named have anything to do with it. As for
Uncle Amos, I am sure he would rather have you a strong, brown,
splendidly built fellow, such as you might become if you only would,
than the white-faced, dudish Miss Nancy that you are. Oh, Cousin Rick!
What have I said? I'm awfully sorry and ashamed of myself. Please
forgive me."



CHAPTER II

THE RUNAWAY


For a moment it seemed to Alaric that he could not forgive that
thoughtlessly uttered speech. And yet the girl who made it had called
him Cousin "Rick," a name he had always desired, but which no one had
ever given him before. If she had called him "Allie," he knew he would
never have forgiven her. As it was he hesitated, and his pale face
flushed again. What should he say?

In her contrition and eagerness to atone for her cruel words Esther
leaned towards him and laid a beseeching hand on his arm. For the moment
she forgot her responsibility as driver, and the reins, held loosely in
her whip-hand, lay slack across the ponies' backs.

Just then a newspaper that had been carelessly dropped in the roadway
was picked up by a sudden gust of wind and whirled directly into the
faces of the spirited team. The next instant they were dashing madly
down the street. At the outset the reins were jerked from Esther's hand;
but ere they could slip down beyond reach Alaric had seized them. Then,
with the leathern bands wrapped about his wrists, he threw his whole
weight back on them, and strove to check or at least to guide the
terrified animals. The light cart bounded and swayed from side to side.
Men shouted and women screamed, and a clanging cable-car from a cross
street was saved from collision only by the prompt efforts of its
gripman. The roadway was becoming more and more crowded with teams and
pedestrians. Alaric's teeth were clinched, and he was bareheaded, having
lost his hat as he caught the reins. Esther sat beside him, motionless
and silent, but with bloodless cheeks.

They were on an avenue that led to the heart of the city. On one side
was a hill, up which cross streets climbed steeply. To keep on as they
were going meant certain destruction. All the strain that Alaric could
bring to bear on the reins did not serve to check the headlong speed of
the hard-mouthed ponies. With each instant their blind terror seemed to
increase. Several side streets leading up the hill had already been
passed, and another was close at hand. Beyond it was a mass of teams and
cable-cars.

"Hold on for your life!" panted Alaric in the ear of the girl who sat
beside him.

As he spoke he dropped one rein, threw all his weight on the other, and
at the same instant brought the whip down with a stinging cut on the
right-hand side of the off horse. The frenzied animal instinctively
sprang to the left, both yielded to the heavy tug of that rein, and the
team was turned into the side street. The cart slewed across the smooth
asphalt, lunged perilously to one side, came within a hair's-breadth of
upsetting, and then righted. Two seconds later the mad fright of the
ponies was checked by pure exhaustion half-way up the steep hill-side.
There they stood panting and trembling, while a crowd of excited
spectators gathered about them with offers of assistance and advice.

"Do they seem to be all right?" asked Alaric.

"All right, sir, far as I can see," replied one of the men, who was
examining the quivering animals and their harness.

"Then if you will kindly help me turn them around, and will lead them to
the foot of the hill, I think they will be quiet enough to drive on
without giving any more trouble," said the boy.

When this was done, and Alaric, after cordially thanking those who had
aided him, had driven away, one of the men exclaimed, as he gazed after
the vanishing carriage:

"Plucky young chap that!"

"Yes," replied another; "and doesn't seem to be a bit of a snob, like
most of them wealthy fellows, either."

Meanwhile Alaric was tendering the reins to the girl who had sat so
quietly by his side without an outcry or a word of suggestion during the
whole exciting episode.

"Won't you drive now, Cousin Esther?"

"Indeed I will not, Alaric. I feel ashamed of myself for presuming to
take the reins from you before, and you may be certain that I shall
never attempt to do such a thing again. The way you managed the whole
affair was simply splendid. And oh, Cousin Rick! to think that I should
have called _you_ a Miss Nancy! Just as you were about to save my life,
too! I can never forgive myself--never."

"Oh yes you can," laughed Alaric, "for it is true--that is, it was true;
for I can see now that I have been a regular Miss Nancy sort of a fellow
all my life. That is what made me feel so badly when you said it. Nobody
ever dared tell me before, and so it came as an unpleasant surprise.
Now, though, I am glad you said it."

"And you will never give anybody in the whole world a chance to say such
a thing again, will you?" asked the girl, eagerly. "And you will go
right to work at learning how to do the things that other boys do, won't
you?"

"I don't know," answered Alaric, doubtfully. "I'd like to well enough;
but I don't know just how to begin. You see, I'm too old to learn from
the little boys, and the big fellows won't have anything to do with such
a duffer as I am. They've all heard too much about my weak heart."

"Then I'd go away to some place where nobody knows you, and make a fresh
start. You might go out on one of your father's ranches and learn to be
a cowboy, or up into those great endless forests that I saw on Puget
Sound the other day and live in a logging camp. It is such a glorious,
splendid life, and there is so much to be done up in that country. Oh
dear! if I were only a boy, and going to be a man, wouldn't I get there
just as quickly as I could, and learn how to do things, so that when I
grew up I could go right ahead and do them?"

"All that sounds well," said Alaric, dubiously, "but I know father will
never let me go to any such places. He thinks such a life would kill me.
Besides, he says that as I shall never have to work, there is no need
for me to learn how."

"But you must work," responded Esther, stoutly. "Every one must, or else
be very unhappy. Papa says that the happiest people in the world are
those who work the hardest when it is time for work and play the hardest
in play-time. But where are you driving to? This isn't the way home."

"I am going to get a new hat and gloves," answered the boy, "for I don't
want any one at the house to know of our runaway. They'd never let me
drive the ponies again if they found it out."

"It would be a shame if they didn't, after the way you handled them just
now," exclaimed Esther, indignantly.

Just then they stopped before a fashionable hat-store on Kearney
Street, and while Alaric was debating whether he ought to leave the
ponies long enough to step inside he was recognized, and a clerk
hastened out to receive his order.

"Hat and gloves," said Alaric. "You know the sizes."

The clerk answered, "Certainly, Mr. Todd," bowed, and disappeared in the
store.

"See those lovely gray 'Tams' in the window, Cousin Rick!" said Esther.
"Why don't you get one of them? It would be just the thing to wear in
the woods."

"All right," replied the boy; "I will."

So when the clerk reappeared with a stylish derby hat and a dozen pair
of gloves Alaric put the former on, said he would keep the gloves, and
at the same time requested that one of the gray Tams might be done up
for him.

As this order was filled, and the ponies were headed towards home,
Esther said: "Why, Cousin Rick, you didn't pay for your things!"

"No," replied the boy, "I never do."

"You didn't even ask the prices, either."

"Of course not," laughed the other. "Why should I? They were things that
I had to have anyway, and so what would be the use of asking the prices?
Besides, I don't think I ever did such a thing in my life."

"Well," sighed the girl, "it must be lovely to shop in that way. Now I
never bought anything without first finding out if I could afford it;
and as for gloves, I know I never bought more than one pair at a time."

"Really?" said Alaric, with genuine surprise. "I didn't know they sold
less than a dozen pair at a time. I wish I had known it, for I only
wanted one pair. I've got so many at home now that they are a bother."

That very evening the lad spoke to his father about going on a ranch and
learning to be a cowboy. Unfortunately his brother John overheard him,
and greeted the proposition with shouts of laughter. Even Amos Todd,
while mildly rebuking his eldest son, could not help smiling at the
absurdity of the request. Then, turning to the mortified lad, he said,
kindly but decidedly:

"You don't know what you are asking, Allie, my boy, and I couldn't think
for a moment of allowing you to attempt such a thing. The excitement of
that kind of life would kill you in less than no time. Ask anything in
reason, and I shall be only too happy to gratify you; but don't make
foolish requests."

When Alaric reported this failure to Esther a little later, she said,
very gravely:

"Then, Cousin Rick, there is only one thing left for you to do. You must
run away."



CHAPTER III

ALARIC TAKES A FIRST LESSON


On the day following that of the runaway, Esther Dale resumed her
position as a personally conducted tourist, and departed from San
Francisco, leaving Alaric to feel that he had lost the first real friend
he had ever known. Her influence remained with him, however, and as he
thought of her words and example his determination to enter upon some
different form of life became indelibly fixed.

That very day he drove again to the park, this time with only his groom
for company, and went directly to the place where the game of baseball
had been in progress the afternoon before. As he hoped, another was
about to begin, though there were not quite enough players to make two
full nines. Hearing one of the boys say this, and discovering an
acquaintance among them, Alaric jumped from his cart, and, going up to
him, asked to be allowed to fill one of the vacant positions.

Reg Barker was freckle-faced and red-headed, clad in flannels, with
sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and was adjusting a catcher's mask to
his face when Alaric approached. As the latter made known his desire,
Reg Barker, who was extremely jealous of the other's wealth and fame as
a traveller, regarded him for a moment with amazement, and then burst
into a shout of laughter.

"Hi, fellows!" he called, "here is a good one--best I ever heard! Here's
Allie Todd, kid gloves and all, wants to play first base. What do you
say--shall we give him a show?"

"Yes," shouted one; "No," cried another, as the boys crowded about the
two, gazing at Alaric curiously, as though he belonged to some different
species.

"We might make him captain of the nine," called out one boy, who had
just gone to the bat.

"No, he'd do better as umpire," suggested Reg Barker. "Don't you see
he's dressed for it? I don't know, though; I'm afraid that would come
under the head of cruelty to children, and we'd have the society down on
us."

As Alaric, with a crimson face and a choking in his throat, sought in
vain for some outlet of escape from his tormentors who surrounded him,
and at the same time longed with a bitter longing for the power to
annihilate them, a lad somewhat older than the others forced his way
through the throng and demanded to know what was the row. He was Dave
Carncross, the pitcher, and one of the best amateur players of his age
on the coast.

"It's Miss Allie Todd," explained Reg Barker, "and her ladyship is
offering to show us how to play ball."

"Shut up, Red Top," commanded the new-comer, threateningly. "When I want
any of your chaff I'll let you know." Then turning to Alaric, he said,
pleasantly, "Now, young un, tell me all about it yourself."

"There isn't much to tell," replied the boy, in a low tone, and with an
instinctive warming of his heart towards the sturdy lad who had come to
his rescue. "I wanted to learn how to play ball, and knowing Reg Barker,
asked him to teach me; that's all."

"And he insulted you, like the young brute he is. I see. Red Top, if
you won't learn manners any other way I shall have to thrash them into
you. So look out for yourself. Now, you new fellow, your name's Todd,
isn't it?"

"Yes."

"And your father is Amos Todd, the millionaire?"

Alaric admitted that such was the case.

"Well, I know you, or, rather, my father knows your father. In fact, I
think they have some business together; and after this whenever you
choose to come out here if I'm around I'll see that you are treated
decently. As for learning to play ball, the mere fact that you want to
shows that you are made of good stuff, and I don't mind giving you a
lesson right now. So, stand out here, and let's see if you can catch."

Thus saying, the stalwart young pitcher, who held a ball in his hand,
ran back a few rods, and, with a seemingly careless swing of his arm,
threw the ball straight and swift as an arrow directly at Alaric, who
instinctively held out his hands.

Had he undertaken to stop a spent cannon-ball the boy could hardly have
been more amazed at the result. As the ball dropped to the ground he
felt as though he had grasped a handful of red-hot coals. Both his kid
gloves were split right across the palms, and the smart of his hands was
so great that, in spite of his efforts to restrain them, unbidden tears
sprang to his eyes.

A shout of laughter arose from the spectators of this practical lesson;
but Dave Carncross, running up to him and recovering the dropped ball,
said, cheerily: "Never mind those duffers, young un. They couldn't do
any better themselves once, and you'll do better than any of them some
time. First lessons in experience always come high, and have to be paid
for on the spot; but they are worth the price, and you'll know better
next time than to stop a hot ball with stiff arms. What you want to do
is to let 'em give with the ball. See, like this."

Here Dave picked up a bat, struck the ball straight up in the air until
it seemed to be going out of sight, and running under it as it
descended, caught it as deftly and gently as though it had been a wad of
feathers.

"There," said he, "you have learned by experience the wrong way of
catching a ball, and seen the right way. I can't stop to teach you any
more now, for our game is waiting. What you want to do, though, is to go
down town and get a ball--a 'regulation dead,' mind--take it home, and
practise catching until you have learned the trick and covered your
hands with blisters. Then come back here, and I will show you something
else. Good-bye--so long!"

With this the good-natured fellow ran off to take his place in the
pitcher's box, leaving Alaric filled with gratitude, and glowing with
the first thrill of real boyish life that he had ever known. For a while
he stood and watched the game, his still-tingling hands causing him to
appreciate as never before the beauty of every successful catch that was
made. He wondered if pitching a ball could be as difficult as catching
one, or even any harder than it looked. It certainly appeared easy
enough. He admired the reckless manner in which the players flung
themselves at the bases, sliding along the ground as though bent on
ploughing it with their noses; while the ability to hit one of those
red-hot balls with a regulation bat seemed to him little short of
marvellous. In fact, our lad was, for the first time in his life,
viewing a game of baseball through his newly discovered loophole of
experience, and finding it a vastly different affair from the same scene
shrouded by an unrent veil of ignorance.

After he had driven away from the fascinating game, his mind was still
so full of it that when, in passing the children's playground, he was
invited by Miss Sue Barker, sister of red-headed Reg, to join in a game
of croquet, he declined, politely enough, but with such an unwonted tone
of contempt in his voice as caused the girl to stare after him in
amazement.

He procured a regulation baseball before going home, and then practised
with it in the court-yard behind the Todd palace until his hands were
red and swollen. Their condition was so noticeable at dinnertime that
his father inquired into the cause. When the boy confessed that he had
been practising with a baseball, his brother John laughed loud and long,
and asked him if he intended to become a professional.

His sister only said, "Oh, Allie! How can you care to do anything so
common? And where did you pick up the notion? I am sure you never saw
anything of the kind in France."

"No," replied the boy; "I only wish I had."

His father said, "It's all right, my son, so long as you play gently;
but you must be very careful not to over-exert yourself. Remember your
poor weak heart and the consequences of too violent exercise."

"Oh, bother my weak heart!" cried the boy, impatiently. "I don't believe
my heart's any weaker than anybody else's heart, and the doctor who said
so was an old muff."

At this unheard-of outbreak on the part of the long-suffering youngest
member of the family, John and Margaret glanced significantly at each
other, as though they suspected his mind was becoming affected as well
as his body; while his father said, soothingly, as though to an ailing
child:

"Well, well, Allie, let it go. I am sorry that you should forget your
manners; but if the subject is distasteful to you, we won't talk of it
any more."

"But I want to talk of it, father. I am sorry that I spoke as I did just
now; but you can't know what an unhappy thing it is to be living on in
the way I am, without doing anything that amounts to anything, or will
ever lead to anything. Won't you let me go on to a ranch, or somewhere
where I can learn to be a man?"

"Of course, my boy," replied Amos Todd, still speaking as soothingly as
he knew how. "I will let you go anywhere you please, and do what you
please, just as quickly as I can find the right person to take care of
you, and see that you do nothing injurious. How would you like to go to
France with Margaret and me this summer? I am thinking of making the
trip."

"I would rather go to China, or anywhere else in the world," replied the
boy, vehemently. "I am tired to death of France and Germany and
Switzerland and Italy, and all the other wretched European places, with
their _bads_ and _bains_ and _spas_ and Herr Doctors and _malades_. I
want to go into a world of live people, and strong people, and people
who don't know whether they have any hearts or not, and don't care."

"Well, well, son, I will try and arrange something for you, only don't
get excited," said Amos Todd, at the same time burying himself in his
evening paper so as to put an end to the uncomfortable interview.

In spite of the unsatisfactory ending of this conversation, Alaric felt
greatly encouraged by it, and during the week that followed he devoted
himself as assiduously to learning to catch a baseball as though that
were the one preparation needful for plunging into a world of live
people. Morning, noon, and evening he kept his groom so busy passing
ball with him that the exercising of the ponies was sadly neglected in
consequence. With all this practice, and in spite of bruised hands and
lame fingers, he at length became so expert that he began to think of
hunting up his friend Dave Carncross, and presenting himself for an
examination in the art of ball-catching.

Every now and then he asked his father if he had not thought of some
plan for him, and the invariable answer was: "It's all right, Allie;
I've got a scheme on foot that's working so that I can tell you about it
in a few days."

In the meantime the date of Amos Todd's departure for Europe with his
daughter was fixed. Shortly before its arrival the former called Alaric
aside, and, with a beaming face, announced that he had at length
succeeded in making most satisfactory arrangements.

"You said you wanted to go to China, you know," he continued; "so I have
laid out a fine trip for you to China, and India, and Egypt, and all
sorts of places, and persuaded a most excellent couple, a gentleman and
his wife, to go along and take care of you. He is a professor and she is
a doctor, so you will be well looked after, and won't have the least bit
of responsibility or worry."



CHAPTER IV

THE "EMPRESS" LOSES A PASSENGER


Professor Maximus Sonntagg, a big man with a beard, and his wife, Mrs.
Dr. Ophelia Sonntagg, who was thin and mysterious, had come out of the
East to seek their fortunes in the Golden City about a year before, but
up to this time without any great amount of success. The former was a
professor of almost everything in the shape of ancient and modern art,
languages, history, and a lot of other things, concerning all of which
he wrote articles for the papers, always signing his name to them in
full. The Mrs. Doctor had learned the art of saying little, looking
wise, and shaking her head as she felt the pulse of her patients.

These people had managed to scrape an acquaintance with Amos Todd, whom
the Professor declared to be the only patron of art in San Francisco
worth knowing, and to whom he gave some really valuable advice
concerning the purchase of certain paintings. Thus it happened that when
the busy millionaire, in seeking to provide a safe and congenial
amusement for the son whom he firmly believed to be an invalid,
conceived the idea of sending him around the world by way of China, he
also thought of the Sonntaggs as most suitable travelling companions for
him. Where else could he find such a combination of tutor and physician,
a man of the world to take his place as father, and a cultivated woman
to act as mother to his motherless boy?

When he proposed the plan to the Sonntaggs, they declared that they
would not think of giving up the prosperous business they had
established in San Francisco, even for the sake of obliging their dear
friend Mr. Amos Todd. With this the millionaire made them an offer of
such unheard-of munificence that, with pretended reluctance, they
finally accepted it, and he went on his way rejoicing.

The next evening the Sonntaggs dined at Amos Todd's house for the
purpose of making Alaric's acquaintance. The Professor patted him on the
shoulder, and, in a patronizing manner, hoped they should learn much and
enjoy much together. The Mrs. Doctor surveyed him critically, and held
his hand until the boy wondered if she would ever let it go. Finally she
shook her head, sighed deeply, and, turning to his father, said:

"I understand the dear boy's case thoroughly. What he needs is
intelligent treatment and motherly care. I can give him both, and
unhesitatingly promise to restore him to you at the end of a year, if
nothing occurs to prevent, strong, well, and an ornament to the name of
Todd."

Alaric found no difficulty in forming an opinion of the Sonntaggs, and
wondered if going to France with his father and sister would not be
preferable to travelling in their company. So occupied was he with this
question that he hardly ate a mouthful of the sumptuous dinner served in
honor of the guests--a fact that was noted with significant glances by
all at the table.

It was planned that very evening that the Pacific should be crossed in
one of the superb steamships sailing from Vancouver, in British
Columbia, and a despatch was sent off at once to engage staterooms. The
journey was to be begun two days later, for that was the date on which
Amos Todd and his daughter were to start for France; and though the
_Empress_ would not sail from Vancouver for a week after that, the house
would be closed, and it was thought best for Alaric to travel up the
coast by easy stages.

During those two days of grace the poor lad's mind was in a ferment. He
had no desire to go to China or anywhere else outside of his own
country. Having travelled nearly all his life, he was so tired of it
that travelling now seemed to him one of the most unpleasant things a
boy could be compelled to undertake. He did not want to go to France, of
course, and decided that even China in company with the Sonntaggs would
be better than Europe.

Still, he tried to escape from going away at all, and asked his brother
John to let him stay with him and go to work in the bank; but John Todd
answered that he was too busy a man to have the care of an invalid, and
that their father's plan was by far the best. Then, as a last resort,
Alaric went to the park, hoping to meet Dave Carncross, and determined,
if he did, to lay the whole case before him, and ask his advice. Even
here fate seemed against him; for, from a strange boy of whom he made
inquiry, he learned that Carncross had left the city a day or two
before, though where he had gone the boy did not know.

So preparations for the impending journey went busily forward, and
Alaric, who felt very much like a helpless victim of misfortune, could
find no excuse for delaying them. Even in the preparations being made
for his own comfort he was given no active part. Everything that he was
supposed to need and did not already possess was procured for him. His
father presented him with a superb travelling-bag, fitted with all
possible toilet accessories in silver and cut glass, but the boy would
infinitely have preferred a baseball bat, and a chance to use it.

At length the day for starting arrived, and, with as great reluctance as
he had ever felt in his life, Alaric entered the carriage that was to
convey the Todds to the Oakland ferry. Crossing the bay, they found the
Sonntaggs awaiting them on the other side, where the whole party entered
Amos Todd's palatial private car that was attached to the Overland
Express. In this way they travelled together as far as Sacramento, where
Alaric bade his father and sister good-bye. Then he and his newly
appointed guardians boarded the special car provided for them, and in
which they were to proceed by the famous Shasta route to the far North.

Up to this point the Sonntaggs had proved very attentive, and had
striven by every means to make themselves agreeable to their
fellow-travellers. From here on, however, the Professor spent most of
his time in smoking and sleeping, while his wife devoted herself to
reading novels, a great stack of which had been provided for the
journey. Alaric, thus left to his own devices, gazed drearily from the
car window, rebelling inwardly at the lonely grandeur with which he was
surrounded, and wishing with all his heart that he were poor enough to
be allowed to travel in one of the ordinary coaches, in which were
several boys of his own age, who seemed to be having a tantalizingly
good time. They were clad in flannels, knickerbockers, and heavy
walking-shoes, and Alaric noted with satisfaction that they wore gray
Tam o' Shanter caps, such as he had procured at Esther Dale's
suggestion, and was now wearing for the first time.

They left the train at Sisson, and Alaric, standing on the platform of
his car, gathered from their conversation that they were about to climb
Mount Shasta, the superb rock-ribbed giant that lifted his snow-crowned
head more than fourteen thousand feet in the air a few miles from that
point. What wouldn't he give to be allowed to join the merry party and
make the adventurous trip with them? He had been familiar with mountains
by sight all his life, and had always longed to climb one, but had never
been given the opportunity.

It was small consolation to notice one of the boys draw the attention of
the others to him, and overhear him say: "Look at that chap travelling
in a special car like a young millionaire. I say, fellows, that must be
great fun, and I'd like to try it just for once, wouldn't you?"

The others agreed that they would, and then the group passed out of
hearing, while Alaric said to himself: "I only wish they could try
travelling all alone in a special car, just to find out how little fun
there is in it."

The following morning Portland, Oregon, was reached, and here the car
was side-tracked that its occupants might spend a day or two in the
city. The Sonntaggs seemed to have many acquaintances here, for whom
they held a reception in the car, gave a dinner at the Hotel Portland,
and ordered carriages in which to drive about, all at Amos Todd's
expense. In these diversions Alaric was at liberty to join or not, as he
pleased, and he generally preferred to remain behind or to wander about
by himself.

The same programme was repeated at Tacoma and Seattle, in the State of
Washington, and at Vancouver, in British Columbia. In the last-named
place Alaric's chief amusement lay in watching the lading of the great
white ship that was to bear him away, and the busy life of the port,
with its queer medley of Yankees and Britishers, Indians and Chinamen,
tourists, sailors, and stevedores. The last-named especially excited his
envious admiration--they were such big men, and so strong.

[Illustration: ALARIC MAKES HIS FIRST DECISION]

At length the morning of sailing arrived, and as the mighty steamship
moved majestically out of the harbor, and, leaving the brown waters of
Burrard Inlet behind, swept on into the open blue of the Gulf of
Georgia, the boy was overwhelmed with a great wave of homesickness.
Standing alone at the extreme after end of the promenade-deck, he
watched the fading land with strained eyes, and felt like an outcast and
a wanderer on the face of the earth.

After a while the ship began to thread a bewildering maze of islands, in
which Professor Sonntagg made a slight effort to interest his moody
young charge; but finding this a difficult task, he quickly gave it up,
and joined some acquaintances in the smoking-room.

Alaric had not known that the _Empress_ was to make one stop before
taking her final departure from the coast. So when she was made fast to
the outer wharf at Victoria, on the island of Vancouver, the largest
city in British Columbia, and its capital, he felt like one who receives
an unexpected reprieve from an unpleasant fate.

As it was announced that she would remain here two hours, the Sonntaggs,
according to their custom, at once engaged a carriage to take them to
the most interesting places in the city. This plan had been suggested by
Amos Todd himself, who had bidden them spare no expense or pains to show
his son all that was worth seeing in the various cities they might
visit; and that the boy generally declined to accompany them on these
excursions was surely not their fault--at least, they did not regard it
so.

The truth was that Alaric had taken a dislike to these pretentious
people from the very first, and it had grown so much stronger on closer
acquaintance that now he was willing to do almost anything to avoid
their company. Thus on this occasion he allowed them to drive off
without him, while he strolled alone to the head of the wharf, tossing
his beloved baseball, which he had carefully brought with him on this
journey, from hand to hand as he walked.

"Hello! Give us a catch," shouted a cheery voice; and, looking up,
Alaric saw a merry-faced, squarely built lad of his own age standing in
an expectant attitude a short distance from him. Although he was roughly
dressed, he had a bright, self-reliant look that was particularly
attractive to our young traveller, who without hesitation tossed him the
ball. They passed it back and forth for a minute, and then the stranger
lad, saying, "Good-bye; I must be getting along; wish I could stop and
get better acquainted, though," ran on with a laugh, and disappeared in
the crowd.

An hour later Alaric was nearly half a mile from the wharf, when the
steamer's hoarse whistle sounded a warning note that signified a speedy
departure. He turned and began to walk slowly in that direction, and a
few minutes later a carriage containing the Sonntaggs dashed by without
its occupants noticing him.

At sight of them Alaric paused. A queer look came into his face; it grew
very pale, and then he deliberately sat down on a log by the way-side.
There came another blast of the ship's whistle, and then the tall masts,
which he could just see, began slowly to move. The _Empress_, with the
Sonntaggs on board, had started for China, and one of her passengers was
left behind.



CHAPTER V

FIRST MATE BONNY BROOKS


Alaric Todd's sensations as he sat on that log and watched the ship, in
which he was supposed to be a passenger, steam away without him were
probably as curious as any ever experienced by a boy. He had
deliberately abandoned a life of luxury, as well as a position that most
people are striving with all their energies to obtain, and accepted in
its place--what? He did not know, and for the moment he did not care. He
only knew that the Sonntaggs were gone beyond a chance of return at
least for some weeks, and that during that time there was no possible
way in which they could reach him or communicate with his family.

He realized that he was in a strange city, not one of whose busy
population either knew or cared to know a thing about him. But what of
that? If they did not know him they could never call him by the hated
name of "Allie." If he succeeded in making friends, it would be because
of himself, and not on account of his father's wealth. Above all, those
now about him did not know and should never know, if he could keep it,
that he was thought to be possessed of a weak heart. Certainly if
excitement could injure his heart, it ought to be completely ruined at
the present moment, for he had never been so excited in his life, and
doubted if he ever should be again.

With it all the lad was filled with such an exulting sense of liberty
that he wanted to jump and shout and share with every passer-by the
glorious news that at length he was free--free to be a boy among boys,
and to learn how to become a man among men. He did not shout, nor did he
confide his happiness to any of those who were coming up from the wharf,
where they had just witnessed the departure of the great ship; but he
did jump from the log on which he had been sitting and fling his
baseball high in the air. As it descended and he caught it with
practised skill, he was greeted by the approving remark: "Good catch!
Couldn't do it better myself!" and looking round he saw the lad with
whom he had passed ball a short time before.

"It seems mighty good," continued the stranger, "to see a baseball
again, and meet a fellow who knows how to catch one. These chaps over
here don't know anything about it, and I've hardly seen a ball since I
left Massachusetts. You don't throw, though, half as well as you catch."

"No," replied Alaric, "I haven't learned that yet. You see, I've only
just begun."

"That so? Wish I had a chance to show you something about it, then, for
I used to play on the nine at home."

"I wish you could, for I want awfully to learn. Why can't you?"

"Because I don't live here, and, do you know, I didn't think you did,
either. When I saw you awhile ago, I had a sort of idea that you
belonged aboard the _Empress_, and were going in her to China, and I've
been more than half envying you ever since. Funny, wasn't it?"

"Awfully!" responded Alaric. "And I'm glad it isn't true, for I don't
know of anything I should hate more than to be going to China in the
_Empress_. But I say, let's stop in here and get something to eat, for
I'm hungry--aren't you?"

"Of course I am," laughed the other; and with this the two boys, who
were already strolling towards the city together, turned into the little
road-side bake-shop that had just attracted Alaric's attention. Here he
ordered half a sheet of buns, two tarts, and two glasses of milk. These
being served on a small table, Alaric paid for them, and the newly made
acquaintances sat down to enjoy their feast at leisure.

"What I want to do," said Alaric, continuing their interrupted
conversation, "is to get back to the States as quickly as possible."

"That's easy enough," replied the other, holding his tart in both hands
and devouring it with infinite relish. "There's a steamer leaves here at
eight o'clock this evening for Seattle and Tacoma. But you don't live
here then, after all?"

"No, I don't live here, nor do I know any one who does, and I want to
get away as quickly as I can; for I am looking for work, and should
think the chances for finding it were better in the States than here."

"_You_ looking for work?" said the other, slowly, and as though doubting
whether he had heard aright. At the same time he glanced curiously at
Alaric's white hands and neatly fitting coat. "You don't look like a
fellow who is looking for work."

"I am, though," laughed Alaric; "and as I have just spent the last cent
of money I had in the world, I must find something to do right away.
That's the reason I want to get back to the States; but I don't know
about that steamer. I suppose they'd charge something to take me,
wouldn't they?"

"Well, rather," responded the other. "But I say, Mister--By-the-way,
what is your name?"

"Dale--Rick Dale," replied Alaric, promptly, for he had anticipated
this question, and was determined to drop the Todd part of his name, at
least for the present. "But there isn't any Mister about it. It's just
plain Rick Dale."

"Well, then, plain Rick Dale," said the other, "my name is Bonny
Brooks--short for Bonnicastle, you know; and I must say that you are the
most cheerful-appearing fellow to be in the fix you say you are that I
ever met. When I get strapped and out of a job I sometimes don't laugh
for a whole day, especially if I don't have anything to eat in that
time."

"That's something I never tried, and I didn't know any one ever did for
a whole day," remarked Alaric. "How queer it must seem!"

"Lots of people try it; but they don't unless they have to, and it don't
seem queer at all," replied Bonny, soberly. "But what kind of work are
you looking for, and what pay do you expect?"

"I am looking for anything I can find to do, and will work for any pay
that is offered."

"It would seem as if a fellow ought to get plenty to do on those terms,"
said Bonny, "though it isn't so easy as you might think, for I've tried
it. How do you happen to be looking for work, anyway? Where is your
home, and where are your folks?"

"My mother is dead," replied Alaric, "and I suppose my father is in
France, though just where he is I don't know. Our home was in San
Francisco, and before he left he tried to fix things all right for me;
but they turned out all wrong, and so I am here looking for something to
do."

"If that don't beat anything I ever heard of!" cried Bonny Brooks, in a
tone of genuine amazement. "If I didn't know better, I should think you
were telling my story, or that we were twins; for my mother is dead, and
my father, when last heard from, was on his way to France. You see, he
was a ship captain, and we lived in Sandport, on Cape Cod, where, after
my mother died, he fixed up a home for me with an aunt, and left money
enough to keep me at school until he came back from a voyage to South
America and France. We heard of his reaching Brazil and leaving there,
but never anything more; and when a year passed Aunt Nancy said she
couldn't support me any longer. So she got me a berth as cabin-boy on a
bark bound to San Francisco, and then to the Sound for lumber to China.
I wanted to go to China fast enough, but the captain treated me so badly
that I couldn't stand it any longer, and so skipped just before the ship
sailed from Port Blakely. The meanest part of it all was that I had to
forfeit my pay, leave my dunnage on board, and light out with only what
I had on my back."

"That's my fix exactly," cried Alaric, delightedly. "I mean," he added,
recollecting himself, "that my baggage got carried off, and as I haven't
heard from it since, I don't own a thing in the world except the
clothing I have on."

"And a baseball," interposed Bonny.

"Oh yes, a baseball, of course," replied Alaric, soberly, as though that
were a most matter-of-fact possession for a boy in search of employment.
"But what did you do after your ship sailed away without you?"

"Starved for a couple of days, and then did odd jobs about the river for
my grub, until I got a chance to ship as one of the crew of the sloop
_Fancy_, that runs freight and passengers between here and the Sound.
That was only about a month ago, and now I'm first mate."

"You are?" cried Alaric, at the same time regarding his young companion
with a profound admiration and vastly increased respect. "Seems to me
that is the most rapid promotion I ever heard of. What a splendid sailor
you must be!"

Although the speaker was so ignorant of nautical matters that he did not
know a sloop from a schooner, or from a full-rigged ship, for that
matter, he had read enough sea stories to realize that the first mate of
any vessel was often the most important character on board.

"Yes," said Bonny, modestly, "I do know a good deal about boats; for,
you see, I was brought up in a boating town, and have handled them one
way and another ever since I can remember. I haven't been first mate
very long, though, because the man who was that only left to-day."

"What made him?" asked Alaric, who could not understand how any one,
having once attained to such an enviable position, could willingly give
it up.

"Oh, he had some trouble with the captain, and seemed to think it was
time he got paid something on account of his wages, so that he could buy
a shirt and a pair of boots."

"Why didn't the captain pay him?"

"I suppose he didn't have the money."

"Then why didn't the man get the things he wanted, and have them
charged?"

"That's a good one," laughed Bonny. "Because the storekeeper wouldn't
trust him, of course."

"I never heard of such a thing," declared Alaric, indignantly. "I
thought people could always have things charged if they wanted to. I'm
sure I never found any trouble in doing it."

"Didn't you?" said Bonny. "Well, I have, then," and he spoke so queerly
that Alaric realized in a moment that he had very nearly betrayed his
secret. Hastening to change the subject, he asked:

"If you took the mate's place, who took yours?"

"Nobody has taken it yet, and that's what I'm after now--hunting for a
new hand. The captain couldn't come himself, because he's got rheumatism
so bad that it's all he can do to crawl out on deck and back again.
Besides, it's the first mate's place to ship the crew, anyhow."

"Then," asked Alaric, excitedly, "why don't you take me? I'll work hard
and do anything you say?"

"You?" cried Bonny, regarding his companion with amazement. "Have you
ever sailed a boat or helped work a vessel?"

"No," replied Alaric, humbly; "but I am sure I can learn, and I
shouldn't expect any pay until I did."

"I should say not," remarked the first mate of the _Fancy_, "though most
greenhorns do. Still, that is one thing in your favor. Another is that
you can catch a ball as well as any fellow I ever knew, and a chap who
can do that can learn to do most anything. So I really have a great mind
to take you on trial."

"Do you think the captain will agree to it?" asked Alaric, anxiously.

"Of course he will, if I say so," replied Bonny Brooks, confidently;
"for, as I just told you, the first mate always hires the crew."



CHAPTER VI

PREPARING TO BE A SAILOR


During the conversation just recorded the boys by no means neglected
their luncheon, for both of them had been very hungry, and by the time
they arrived at an understanding in regard to Alaric's engagement not a
crumb of food nor a drop of milk was left before them. While to Bonny
Brooks this had proved a most welcome and enjoyable repast, to Alaric it
marked a most important era of his life. To begin with, it was the first
meal he had ever paid for out of his own pocket, and this alone was
sufficient to give it a flavor that he had never discovered in the rich
food by which his appetite had heretofore been tempted.

Then during this simple meal he had entered upon his first friendship
with a boy of his own age, for the liking that he had already taken for
Bonny Brooks was evidently returned. Above all, during that brief
lunch-hour he had conducted his first independent business operation,
and now found himself engaged to fill a responsible position in active
life. To be sure, he was only taken on trial, but if good intentions and
a determination to do his very best could command success, then was his
position assured. How fortunate he was, after all! An opening, a chance
to prove what he could do, was all that he had wanted, and behold! it
was his within the first hour of his independent life. How queer that it
had come through his baseball too, and how strangely one thing seemed
to lead to another!

Now Alaric was impatient for a sight of the vessel that was to be the
scene of his future labors, and anxious to begin them. He had so little
idea of what a sloop was that he even wondered if it would be propelled
by sails or steam. He was inclined to think that it must be the latter,
for Bonny had spoken of his craft as carrying passengers, and Alaric had
never known any passenger boats except such as were driven by steam. So
he pictured the _Fancy_ as a steamer, not so large as the _Empress_, of
course, but fairly good-sized, manned by engineers, stokers, stewards,
and a crew of sailors. With this image in his mind, he regarded his
companion as one who had indeed attained a lofty position.

So busy was our hero with these thoughts that for a full minute after
the lads left the bake-shop he did not utter a word. Bonny Brooks was
also occupied with a line of thought that caused him to glance
reflectively at his companion several times before he spoke. Finally he
broke out with:

"I say, Rick Dale, I don't know about shipping you for a sailor, after
all. You see, you are dressed altogether too fine. Any one would take
you for the captain or maybe the owner if you were to go aboard in those
togs."

"Would they?" asked Alaric, gazing dubiously down at his low-cut
patent-leather shoes, black silk socks, and light trousers accurately
creased and unbagged at the knees. Besides these he wore a vest and
sack-coat of fine black serge, an immaculate collar, about which was
knotted a silk neck-scarf, and a narrow-striped cheviot shirt, the cuffs
of which were fastened by gold sleeve-links. Across the front of his
vest, from pocket to pocket, extended a slender chain of twisted gold
and platinum, at one end of which was his watch, and at the other a gold
and platinum pencil-case.

"Yes, they would," answered Bonny, with decision; "and you've got to
make a change somehow, or else our bargain must be called off, for you
could never become a sailor in that rig."

Here was a difficulty on which Alaric had not counted, and it filled him
with dismay. "Couldn't I change suits with you?" he asked, anxiously. "I
shouldn't think mine would be too fine for a first mate."

"Not if I know it," laughed Bonny. "They'd fit me too much one way and
not enough another. Besides, they are shore togs any way you look at
'em, and not at all the things to go to sea in. The cap'n would have a
fit if you should go aboard dressed as you are. So if you want to ship
with us, I'm afraid you'll have to buy a new outfit."

"But I haven't any money, and you say they won't charge things in this
town."

"Of course they won't if they don't know you; but you might spout your
ticker, and make a raise that way."

"Might what?"

"Shove up your watch. Leave it with your uncle, you know, until you
earned enough to buy it back."

"Do you mean sell it?"

"No. They'd ask too many questions if you tried to sell it, and wouldn't
give much more, anyway. I mean pawn it."

"All right," replied Alaric. "I'm willing, only I don't know how."

"Oh, I'll show you quick enough, if you really want to do it."

As Alaric insisted that he was willing to do almost anything to procure
that coveted sailor's outfit, Bonny led him to a mean-looking shop,
above the door of which hung three golden balls. The dingy windows were
filled with a dusty miscellany of watches, pistols, and all sorts of
personal property, while the opening of the door set loose a musty odor
of old clothing. As this came pouring forth Alaric instinctively drew
back in disgust; but with a sudden thought that he could not afford to
be too fastidious in the new life he had chosen, he conquered his
repugnance to the place and followed Bonny inside.

A gaunt old Hebrew in a soiled dressing-gown stood behind a small
counter. As Alaric glanced at him hesitatingly, Bonny opened their
business by saying, briskly:

"Hello, uncle! How are you to-day? My friend here wants to make a raise
on his watch."

"Let's see dot vatch," replied Mr. Isaacs, and Alaric handed it to him,
together with the chain and pencil-case. It was a fine Swiss
chronometer, with the monogram A.D.T. engraved on its back; and as the
pawnbroker tested the quality of its case and peered at the works,
Alaric noted his deliberate movements with nervous anxiety. Finally the
man said:

"I gifs you den tollars on dot vatch mit der chain und pencil trown in."

Alaric would have accepted this offer at once, but Bonny knew better.

"Ten nothings!" he said. "You'll give us fifty dollars, uncle, or we'll
take it down to Levi's."

"Feefty tollar! So hellup me grashus! I vould be alretty bankrupted of I
gif feefty tollars on effery vatch. Vat you dake me for?"

"Take you for an old fraud," replied the unabashed first mate of the
_Fancy_. "Of course you would be bankrupted, as you ought to have been
long ago, if you gave fifty dollars on every turnip that is brought in;
but you could well afford to advance a hundred on this watch, and you
know it."

"Veil, I tell you; I gifs t'venty-fife."

[Illustration: "'VELL, I TELL YOU. I GIFS YOU TVENTY-FIFE'"]

"Fifty," said Bonny, firmly.

"Dirty, und nod von cend more, so hellup me."

"Fifty."

"Dirty-fife?"

"We'll split the difference, and call it forty-five."

"I gifs you fordy oud of charidy, seeing you is so hart up."

"It's a bargain," cried Bonny. "Hand over your cash."

"How could you talk to him that way?" asked Alaric, admiringly, as the
boys left the shop, he minus his watch and chain, but with forty dollars
and a pawn-ticket in his pocket.

"I couldn't once," laughed Bonny; "but it's one of the things poor folks
have to learn. If you are willing to let people impose on you they'll be
mighty quick to do it, and the only way is to bluff 'em from the start."

The next place they entered was a sailor's slop-shop, in which were kept
all sorts of seafaring garments and accessories. Here, advised by Bonny,
Alaric invested fourteen dollars and seventy-five cents in a blue knit
jersey, or sweater, a pair of stout woollen trousers, two flannel
shirts, two suits of heavy underclothing, several pairs of cotton socks,
and a pair of canvas shoes.

Expressing a desire to make a change of clothing at once, he was shown a
retired corner where he might do so, and from which he emerged a few
minutes later so altered in appearance that it is doubtful if his own
father would have recognized him.

"That's something like it!" cried Bonny.

"Isn't it?" replied Alaric, surveying himself with great satisfaction in
a mirror, and fully convinced that he now looked so like a sailor that
no one could possibly mistake him for anything else. "Don't you think,
though, that I ought to have the name of the sloop embroidered across
the front of this sweater? All the sailors I have ever seen had theirs
fixed that way."

"I suppose it would be a good idea," replied Bonny, soberly, though
filled with inward laughter at the suggestion. "But perhaps you'd better
wait until you see if the ship suits you, and whether you stay with us
or not."

"Oh, I'll stay," asserted Alaric. "There's no fear but what I will, if
you'll only keep me."

"Going yachting, sir?" asked the shopkeeper, politely, as he carefully
folded Alaric's discarded suit of fine clothing.

"No, indeed," replied the boy, scornfully; "I'm going to be a sailor on
the sloop _Fancy_, and I wish you would send those things down to her at
once."

Ere the man could recover from his astonishment at this request
sufficiently to make reply, Bonny interrupted, hastily:

"Oh no, Rick! we'll take them with us. There isn't time to have 'em
sent."

"I should guess not," remarked the shopkeeper, in a very different tone
from the one he had used before. "But say, young feller, if you're going
to be a sailor you'll want a bag, and I've got a second-hand one here
almost as good as new that I'll sell cheap. It come to me with a lot of
truck from the sale of a confiscated sealer; and seeing that it's got
another chap's name painted on it, I'll let you have it for one bob
tuppence-ha'penny, and that'll make even money between us."

Thus saying, the man produced a stout canvas bag, such as a sailor uses
in place of a trunk. The name plainly painted across it, in black
letters, was "Philip Ryder", but Alaric said he didn't mind that, so he
took the bag, thrust his belongings, including his cherished baseball,
into it, and the two boys left the shop.

"By-the-way," asked Alaric, hesitatingly, "don't I need to get some
brushes and things?"

"What for?"

"Why, to brush my hair, and--"

"Oh no," interrupted the other. "There's a comb on board, and, besides,
we can't stop for anything more. I've been gone so long now that I
expect the old man is madder'n a wet hen by this time."

So Bonny led the way to the wharves, and to a narrow slip between two of
them that just then was occupied by but a single craft. She was a small
sloop, not over forty feet long, though of good beam, evidently very
old, and so dingy that it was hard to believe she had ever been painted.
Her sails, hanging unfurled in lazy jacks, were patched and discolored;
her running rigging was spliced, the standing rigging was sadly in need
of setting up, her iron-work was rusted, and her spars were gray with
age.

"There's the old packet," said Bonny, cheerfully.

"Where?" asked Alaric, gazing vaguely down the slip and utterly ignoring
the disreputable craft close at hand.

"Why, right here," answered the other, a trifle impatiently. "Don't you
see the name '_F-A-N-C-Y_' on her stern? She isn't much to look at, I
know, but she's a hummer to go, and a mighty good sea-boat. She's
awfully comfortable, too. Come aboard and I'll show you."

With this the cheery young fellow, who had actually come to a belief
that the shabby old craft was all he claimed for her, tossed his
friend's recent purchase to the deck of the sloop, and began to clamber
after it down a rickety ladder.

With all his bright visions of a minute before rudely dispelled, and
with a heart so heavy that he could find no words to express his
feelings, Alaric followed him.



CHAPTER VII

CAPTAIN DUFF, OF THE SLOOP "FANCY"


As the newly engaged crew of the sloop _Fancy_ slowly and awkwardly
descended the slippery ladder leading down to his ship, he experienced
his first regrets at the decisive step he had taken, and doubts as to
its wisdom. The real character of the sloop as shown by a single glance
was so vastly different from his ideal, that for a moment it did not
seem as though he could accept the disreputable old craft as even a
temporary home. Never before had he realized how he loathed dirt and
disorder, and all things that offended his delicately trained senses.
Never before had he appreciated the cleanly and orderly forms of living
to which he had always been accustomed. He could not imagine it possible
to eat, sleep, or even exist on board such a craft as lay just beneath
him, and his impulse was to fly to some remote place where he should
never see nor hear of the _Fancy_ again. But even as he was about to do
this the sound of Bonny's reassuring voice completely changed the
current of his thoughts.

Was not the lad who had brought him to this place a very picture of
cheerful health, and just such a strong, active, self-reliant boy as he
longed to become? Surely what Bonny could endure he could! Perhaps
disagreeable things were necessary to the proper development of a boy.
That thought had never come to him before, but now he remembered how
much his hands had suffered before they were trained to catch a
regulation ball.

Besides all this, had not Bonny hesitated before consenting to give him
a trial, and had he not insisted on coming? Had he not also confidently
asserted that all he wanted was a chance to show what he was good for,
and that nothing save a dismissal should cause him to relinquish
whatever position was given him? After all, no matter how bad things
might prove on the sloop, there would always be plenty of fresh air and
sunshine, besides an unlimited supply of clean water. He could remember
catching glimpses, in foreign cities, of innumerable pestilential places
in which human beings were compelled to spend whole lifetimes, where
none of these things was to be had.

Yes, he would keep on and make the best of whatever presented itself,
for perhaps things would not prove to be as bad as they seemed; and,
after all, he was willing to endure a great deal for the sake of
continuing the friendship just begun between himself and Bonny Brooks.
He remembered now having once heard his father say that a friendship
worth having was worth fighting for. If that were the case, what a
coward he would be to even think of relinquishing his first real
friendship without making an effort to retain it.

By the time all these thoughts had flashed through the boy's mind he had
gained the sloop's deck, where he was startled by an angry voice that
sounded like the bellow of an enraged bull. Turning quickly, he saw his
friend Bonny confronted by a big man with a red face and bristling
beard. This individual, supported by a pair of rudely made crutches, was
standing beside the after companion-way, and glaring at the bag
containing his own effects that had been tossed down from the wharf.

"Ye've got a hand, have ye?" roared this man, whom Alaric instinctively
knew to be the captain. "Is this his dunnage?"

"Yes, sir," replied the first mate. "And I think--"

"Never mind what you think," interrupted the captain, fiercely. "Send
him about his business, and pitch his dunnage back on the wharf or pitch
it overboard, I don't care which. Pitch it! d'ye hear?"

"But Captain Duff, I think--"

"Who asked ye to think? I do the thinking on board this craft. Don't ye
suppose I know what I'm talking about? I tell ye I had this Phil Ryder
with me on one cruise, and I'll never have him on another! An impudent
young puppy as ever lived, and a desarter to boot. Took off two of my
best men with him, too. Oh, I know him, and I'd Phil him full of his own
rifle-bullets ef I had the chance. I'd like to Ryder him on a rail,
too."

"You are certainly mistaken, sir, this time, for--"

"Who, I? You dare say I'm mistaken, you tarry young swab you!" roared
the man, his face turning purple with rage. "Oh, ef I had the proper use
of my feet for one minute I'd show ye! Put him ashore, I tell ye, and do
it in a hurry too, or you'll go with him without one cent of wages--not
one cent, d'ye hear? I'll have no mutiny where I'm cap'n."

Poor Alaric listened to this fierce outbreak with mingled fear and
dismay. Now that the situation he had deemed so surely his either to
accept or reject was denied him, it again seemed very desirable. He was
about to speak up in his own behalf when the angry man's last threat
caused him to change his mind. He could not permit Bonny to suffer on
his account, and lose the position he had so recently attained. No, the
very first law of friendship forbade that; and so, stepping forward to
claim his bag, he said, in a low tone: "Never mind me, Bonny; I'll go."

"No, you won't!" retorted the young mate, stoutly, "or, if you do, I'll
go with you; and I'll have my wages too, Captain Duff, or know the
reason why."

Without paying the slightest attention to this remark, the man was
staring at Alaric, whom he had not noticed until this moment. "Who is
that land-lubber togged out like a sporty salt?" he demanded.

"He's the crew I hired, and the one you have just bounced," replied
Bonny.

"What's his name?"

"Rick Dale."

"What made you say it was Phil Ryder, then?"

"I didn't, sir. You--"

"Don't contradict me, you unlicked cub! Can he shoot?"

"No, sir," replied Alaric, as Bonny looked at him inquiringly.

"All right. I wouldn't have him aboard if he could. Why don't he take
his thundering dunnage and go for'ard, where he belongs, and cook me
some grub when he knows I haven't had anything to eat sence sunup? Why
don't he, I say?"

With this Captain Duff turned and clumped heavily to the other side of
the deck; while Bonny, hastily picking up the bag that had been the
innocent cause of all this uproar, said, in a low voice: "Come on, Rick;
it's all right."

As they went forward together he dropped the bag down a tiny forecastle
hatch. Then, after asking Alaric to cut some kindlings and start a fire
in the galley stove, which was housed on deck, he dove into the cabin to
see what he could find that could be cooked for dinner.

When he reappeared a minute later he found his crew struggling with an
axe and a chunk of hard wood, from which he was vainly attempting to
detach some slivers. He had already cut two deep gashes in the deck, and
in another moment would probably have needed crutches as badly as the
captain himself.

"Hold on, Rick!" cried the young mate, catching the axe-helve just as
the weapon was making another erratic descent. "I find those grocery
chaps haven't sent down any stores. So do you just run up there. It's
two doors this side of Uncle Isaac's, you know, and hurry them along.
I'll 'tend to the fire while you are gone."

Gladly exchanging his unaccustomed, and what he considered to be very
dangerous, task of wood-chopping for one that he felt sure he could
accomplish creditably, Alaric hastened away. He found the grocer's
easily enough, and demanded of the first clerk he met why the stores for
the sloop _Fancy_ had not been sent down.

"Must have been the other clerk, sir, and I suppose he forgot all about
'em; but I'll attend to the order at once, sir," replied the man, who
took in at a glance Alaric's gentlemanly bearing and the newness of his
nautical garb. "Have 'em right down, sir. Hard bread, salt junk, rice,
and coffee, I believe. Anything else, sir?"

"I'm sure I don't know," replied Alaric.

"Going to take a run on the _Fancy_ yourself, sir?"

"Yes."

"Then of course you'll want some soft bread, a few tins of milk, half a
dozen jars of marmalade, and a dozen or so of potted meats?"

"I suppose so," assented the boy.

"Step this way, sir, and let me show you some of our fine goods,"
suggested the clerk, insinuatingly.

In another part of the building he prattled glibly of pâté-de-foie-gras,
and Neufchâtel cheese, truffles, canned mushrooms, Albert biscuit,
anchovy paste, stuffed olives, Wiesbaden prunes, and a variety of
things--all of which were so familiar to the millionaire's son, and had
appeared so naturally on all the tables at which he had ever sat, that
he never for a moment doubted but what they must be necessities on the
_Fancy_ as well. Of ten million boys he was perhaps the only one
absolutely ignorant that these luxuries were not daily articles of food
with all persons above the grade of paupers; and as he was equally
without a knowledge of their cost, he allowed the clerk to add a dozen
jars of this, and as many pots of that, to his list, until even that
wily individual could think of nothing else with which to tempt this
easy-going customer. So, promising that the supplies just ordered should
be sent down directly, he bowed Alaric out of the door, at the same time
trusting that they should be honored with his future patronage.

Bethinking himself that he must have a toothbrush, and that it would
also be just as well to have his own comb, in spite of Bonny's assurance
that the ship's comb would be at his service, the lad went in search of
these articles. When he found them he was also tempted to invest in what
he regarded as two other indispensables--namely, a cake of fine soap and
a bottle of eau-de-Cologne.

He had gone quite a distance for these things, and occupied a full
half-hour in getting them. As he retraced his steps towards the wharves
he passed the slop-shop in which his first purchases of the day had been
made, and was greeted by the proprietor with an inquiry as to whether
old Duff had taken aboard his cargo of "chinks and dope" yet. Not
understanding the question, Alaric did not answer it; but as he passed
on he wondered what sort of a cargo that could be.

By the time he regained the wharf to which the _Fancy_ was moored the
flooding tide had raised her to a level with it, and on her deck Alaric
beheld a scene that filled him with amazement. The stores that he had
ordered had arrived. The wagon in which they had come stood at one side,
and they had all been taken aboard. One of the two men who had brought
them was exchanging high words and even a shaking of fists with the
young first mate of the sloop, while the other was presenting a bill to
the captain and insisting upon its payment.

Captain Duff, foaming at the mouth and purple in the face, was
speechless with rage, and could only make futile passes with one of his
crutches at the man with the bill, who dodged each blow with great
agility. As Alaric appeared this individual cried out:

"Here's the young gent as ordered the goods now!"

"Certainly," said Alaric, advancing to the sloop's side. "I was told to
order some stores, and I did so."

"Oh, you did, did ye! you thundering young blunderbuss?" roared Captain
Duff, finding his voice at last. "Then suppose you pay for 'em."

"Very well," replied the lad, quietly, thinking this an official command
that must be obeyed.

A minute later peace was restored, Captain Duff was gasping, and his
first mate was staring with amazement. The bill had been paid, the wagon
driven away, and Alaric was again without a single cent in his pockets.



CHAPTER VIII

AN UNLUCKY SMASH


Captain Duff's first order after peace was thus restored and he had
recovered the use of his voice, temporarily lost through amazement at
the spectacle of a sailor before the mast paying out of his own pocket
for a ship's stores, and stores of such an extraordinary character as
well, was that the goods thus acquired should be immediately transferred
to his own cabin. So Bonny, with Alaric to assist, began to carry the
things below.

The cabin was very small, dirty, and stuffy. It contained two wide
transom berths, one on each side, a table bearing the stains of
innumerable meals and black with age, and two stools. There was a clock
nailed to the forward bulkhead; beneath it was fastened a small, cheap
mirror, and beside this, attached to a bit of tarred twine, hung the
ship's comb.

One of the two berths was overlaid with a mattress, several soiled
blankets, and a tattered quilt. It formed the captain's bed, and it also
served as a repository for a number of tobacco-boxes and an assortment
of well-used pipes. In the other berth was a confusion of old clothing,
hats, boots, and whatever else had been pitched there to get it out of
the way. Here the captain proposed to have stored the providential
supply of food that had come to him as unexpectedly as that furnished by
the ravens to the prophet Elijah.

The air of the place was so pervaded with a combination odor of stale
tobacco smoke, mouldy leather, damp clothing, bilge-water, kerosene,
onions, and other things of an equally obtrusive nature, that poor
Alaric gasped for breath on first descending the short but steep flight
of steps leading to it. He deposited his burden and hurried out as
quickly as possible, in spite of the fact that Captain Duff, who sat on
his bunk, had begun to speak to him.

On his next trip below the lad drew in a long breath of fresh air just
before entering the evil-smelling cabin, and determined not to take
another until he should emerge from it. In his haste to execute this
plan he dropped his armful of cans, and, without waiting to stow them,
had gained the steps before realizing that the captain was ordering him
to come back.

Furious at hearing his command thus disregarded, the man reached out
with one of his crutches, caught it around the boy's neck, and gave him
a violent jerk backward.

The startled lad, losing his foothold, came to the floor with a crash
and a loud escaping "Ah!" of pent-up breath. At the same moment the
cabin began to be pervaded with a new and unaccustomed odor so strong
that all the others temporarily withdrew in its favor.

"Oh murder! Let me out," gasped Captain Duff, as he scrambled for the
companion-way and a breath of outer air. "Of all the smells I ever
smelled that's the worst!"

"What have you broken, Rick?" asked Bonny, anxiously, thrusting his head
down the companion-way. He had been curiously reading the unfamiliar
labels on the various jars, pots, and bottles, and now fancied that his
crew had slipped down the steep steps with some of these in his arms.

"Whew! but it's strong!" he continued, as the penetrating fumes greeted
his nostrils. "Is it the truffles or the pate grass or the cheese?"

"I'm afraid," replied Alaric, sadly, as he slowly rose from the cabin
floor and thrust a cautious hand into one of his hip-pockets, "that it
is a bottle of eau-de-Cologne."

"Cologne!" cried Bonny, incredulously, as he caught the word. "If these
foreign kinds of grub are put up in cologne, it's no wonder that I never
heard of them before. Why, it's poison, that's what it is, and nothing
less. Shall I heave the rest of the truck overboard, sir?"

"Hold on!" cried Alaric, emerging with rueful face from the cabin in
time to catch this suggestion. "It isn't in them. It was in my pocket
all by itself."

"I wish it had stayed there, and you'd gone to Halifax with it afore
ever ye brought the stuff aboard this ship!" thundered the captain.
"Avast, ye lubber! Don't come anigh me. Go out on the end of the dock
and air yourself."

So the unhappy lad, his clothing saturated with cologne, betook himself
to the wharf, where, as he slowly walked up and down, filling the air
with perfume, he carefully removed bits of broken glass from his moist
pocket, and disgustedly flung them overboard.

While he was thus engaged, the first mate, under the captain's personal
supervision, was fumigating the cabin by burning in it a bunch of oakum
over which was scattered a small quantity of tobacco. When the
atmosphere of the place was thus so nearly restored to its normal
condition that Captain Duff could again endure it, Bonny finished
stowing the supplies, and then turned his attention to preparing supper.

Meanwhile Alaric had been joined in his lonely promenade by a stranger,
who, with a curious expression on his face as he drew near the lad,
changed his position so as to get on the windward side, and then began a
conversation.

"Fine evening," he said.

"Is it?" asked Alaric, moodily.

"I think so. Do you belong on that sloop?"

"Yes."

"Able looking craft, and seems to have good accommodations. Where does
she run to from here?"

"The Sound," answered Alaric, shortly, for he was not in a humor to be
questioned.

"What does she carry?"

"Passengers and cargo."

"Indeed. And may I ask what sort of a cargo?"

"You may."

"Well, then, what sort?" persisted the stranger.

"Chinks and dope," returned Alaric, glancing up with the expectation of
seeing a look of bewilderment on his questioner's face. But the latter
only said:

"Um! About what I thought. Good-paying business, isn't it?"

"If it wasn't we wouldn't be in it," replied the boy.

"No, I suppose not; and it must pay big since it enables even the
cabin-boy to drench himself with perfumery. Good-night; you're too
sweet-scented for my company."

Ere Alaric could reply the stranger was walking rapidly away, and Bonny
was calling him to supper.

The first mate apologized for serving this meal on deck, saying that the
sloop's company generally ate together in the cabin, but that Captain
Duff objected to the crew's presence at his table on this occasion.
"So," said Bonny, "I told him he might eat alone, then, for I should
come out and eat with you."

"I hope he will always feel the same way," retorted Alaric, "for it
doesn't seem as though I could possibly stay in that cabin long enough
to eat a meal."

"Oh, I guess you could," laughed Bonny. "Anyway, it will be all right by
breakfast-time, for the smell is nearly gone now. But I say, Rick Dale,
what an awfully funny fellow you are anyway! What in the world made you
pay for all that truck? It must have taken every cent you had."

"So it did," replied Alaric. "But what of that? It was the easiest way
to smooth things over that I knew of."

"It wouldn't have been for me, then," rejoined Bonny, "for I haven't
handled a dollar in so long that it would scare me to find one in my
pocket. But why didn't you let them take back the things we didn't
need?"

"Because, having ordered them, we were bound to accept them, of course,
and because I thought we needed them all. I'm awfully tired of such
things myself, but I didn't know you were."

"What! olives and mushrooms and truffles, and the rest of the things
with queer names? I never tasted one of them in my life, and don't
believe the captain did, either."

"That seems odd," reflected Alaric.

"Doesn't it?" responded Bonny, quizzically. "And that cologne, too. What
ever made you buy it?"

"I don't know exactly. Because I happened to see it, I suppose, and
thought it would be a useful thing to have along. A little of it is nice
in your bath, you know, or to put on your handkerchief when you have a
headache."

"My stars!" exclaimed Bonny. "Listen to that, will you! Why, Rick, to
hear you talk, one would think you were a prince in disguise, or a
bloated aristocrat of some kind!"

"Well, I'm not," answered Alaric, shortly. "I'm only a sailor on board
the sloop _Fancy_, who has just eaten a fine supper and enjoyed it."

"Have you, really?" asked the other, dubiously. "It didn't seem to me
that just coffee without any milk, hard bread, and fried salt pork were
very fine, and I was afraid that perhaps you wouldn't like 'em."

"I do, though," insisted Alaric. "You see, I never tasted any of those
things before, and they are first-class."

"Well," said Bonny, "I don't think much of such grub, and I've had it
for more than a year, too; but, then, every one to his liking. Now, if
you are all through, let's hustle and clear away these dishes, for we
are going to sail to-night, you know, and I've got to notify our
passengers. You may come with me and learn the ropes if you want to."

"But we haven't any cargo aboard," objected Alaric.

"Oh, that won't take long. A few minutes will fix the cargo all right."

Alaric wondered what sort of a cargo could be taken aboard in a few
minutes, but wisely concluded to wait and see.

So the dishes were hastily washed in a bucket of sea-water and put away.
Then, after a short consultation with Captain Duff in the cabin, Bonny
reappeared, and, beckoning Alaric to follow him, both lads went ashore
and walked up into the town.

Although it was now evening, Bonny did not seek the well-lighted
business streets, but made his way to what struck Alaric as a peculiarly
disreputable neighborhood. The houses were small and dingy, and their
windows were so closely shuttered that no ray of light issued from them.

At length they paused before a low door, on which Bonny rapped in a
peculiar manner. It was cautiously opened by a man who held a dim lamp
over his head, and who evidently regarded them with suspicion. He was
reassured by a few words from the young mate; the door was closed behind
them, and, with the stranger leading the way, while Alaric, filled with
curiosity, brought up the rear, all three entered a narrow and very dark
passage, the air of which was close and stifling.



CHAPTER IX

"CHINKS" AND "DOPE"


The dark passage into which the lads had just been ushered was short,
and was ended by a door of heavy planking before Alaric found a chance
to ask his companion why they had come to such a very queer and
mysterious place. The opening of that second door admitted them to
another passage equally narrow, but well-lighted, and lined with a
number of tiny rooms, each containing two bunks arranged like berths one
above the other. By the dim light in these rooms Alaric could see that
many of these berths were occupied by reclining figures, most of whom
were Chinamen, though a few were unmistakably white. Some were smoking
tiny metal-bowled pipes with long stems, while others lay in a
motionless stupor.

The air was heavy with a peculiarly sickening odor that Alaric
recognized at once. He had met it before during his travels among the
health resorts of Continental Europe, in which are gathered human wrecks
of every kind. Of them all none had seemed to the lad so pitiable as the
wretched victims of the opium or morphine habit, which is the most
degrading and deadly form of intemperance.

This boy, so ignorant of many of the commonest things of life, and yet
wise far beyond his years concerning other phases, had often heard the
opium habit discussed, and knew that the hateful drug was taken in many
forms to banish pain, cause forgetfulness of sorrow, and produce a
sleep filled with beautiful dreams. He knew, too, of the sad awakenings
that followed--the dulled senses, the return, with redoubled force, of
all the unhappiness that had only been driven away for a short time, and
the cravings for other and yet larger doses of the deadly stuff.

He had heard his father say that opium, more than any other one thing,
was the curse of China, and that one of the principal reasons why the
lower grades of Chinese ought to be excluded from the United States was
that they were introducing the habit of opium smoking, and spreading it
abroad like a pestilence.

Knowing these things, Alaric was filled with horror at finding himself
in a Chinese opium den, and wondered if Bonny realized the true
character of the place. In order to find out he gained his comrade's
side, and asked, in a low tone: "Do you know, Bonny, what sort of a
place this is?"

"Yes, of course. It is Won Lung's joint."

"I mean, do you know what the men in those bunks are doing?"

"Certainly," replied Bonny, cheerfully. "They're hitting the pipe."

Perplexed as he was by these answers, Alaric still asked another
question.

"But do you know what they are smoking in those pipes?"

"To be sure I do," answered the other, a trifle impatiently. "It's dope.
Most any one would know that. Didn't you ever smell it before?"

"Dope!" Once before had Alaric heard the word during that eventful day,
and he had even used it himself, without knowing its meaning. Now it
flashed across him. Dope was opium, and that hateful drug was to form
the sloop's cargo. The idea of such a thing was so repugnant to him that
he might have entered a protest against it then and there, had not a
sudden change of scene temporarily diverted his attention from the
subject.

The passage they had been traversing ended in an open court, so foreign
in its every detail that it appeared like a bit from some Chinese city
lifted bodily and transported to the New World. The dingy buildings
surrounding it were liberally provided with balconies, galleries, and
odd little projecting windows, all of which were occupied by Chinamen
gazing with languid interest at the busy scene below. From most of the
galleries hung rows of gayly colored paper lanterns, which gave the
place a very quaint and festive aspect.

On the pavement were dozens of other Chinamen, with here and there a
demure-looking little woman and a few children. Heaps of queer-looking
luggage, each piece done up in matting and fastened with narrow strips
of rattan, were piled in the corners. At one side was an immense stove,
or rather a huge affair of brick, containing a score or more of little
charcoal stoves, each fitted for the cooking of a single kettle of rice
or pot of tea. About this were gathered a number of men preparing their
evening meal. Many of the others were comparing certificates and
photographs, a proceeding that puzzled Alaric more than a little, for he
was so ignorant of the affairs of his own country that he knew nothing
of its Chinese Exclusion Law.

He began to learn something about it right there, however, and
subsequently discovered that while Chinese gentlemen, scholars, and
merchants are as freely admitted to travel, study, or reside in the
United States as are similar classes from any other nation, the lower
grades of Chinese, rated as laborers, are forbidden by law to set foot
on American soil. This is because there are such swarming millions of
them willing to work for very small wages, and live as no
self-respecting white man could live; that, were they allowed to enter
this country freely, they would quickly drive white laborers from the
field and leave them to starve. Then, too, they bring with them and
introduce opium-smoking, gambling, lotteries, and other equally
pernicious vices. Besides all this, the Chinese in the United States,
with here and there an exception, have no desire to become citizens, or
to remain longer than is necessary to scrape together the few hundreds
of dollars with which they can return to their own land and live out the
rest of their days in luxury.

Many thousands of Chinese laborers had come to the United States before
the exclusion law was passed, and these, by registering and allowing
themselves to be photographed for future identification, obtain
certificates which, while not permitting them to return if they once
leave the country, allow them to remain here undisturbed. Any Chinaman
found without such a protection is liable to be arrested and sent back
to his own land.

These certificates, therefore, are so valuable that Chinamen going home
with no intention of ever returning to this country find no difficulty
in selling their papers to others, who propose to try and smuggle
themselves into the United States from Canada or Mexico. There are
always plenty who are anxious to make this attempt, for if they once get
a foothold they can earn better wages here than anywhere else in the
world. Of course, the purchaser of a certificate must look something
like the attached photograph, and correspond to the personal description
contained in it. To do this a Chinaman will scar his features with cuts
or burns if necessary, and will make himself up to resemble any
particular photograph as skilfully as a professional actor.

This, then, is what many of those whom Alaric and Bonny now encountered
were doing, for the place into which they had come was a Chinese hotel
in which all newly arrived Chinamen found shelter while waiting for work
or for a chance to smuggle themselves into the United States, which is
what ninety-nine out of every one hundred of them propose to do if
possible.

As the lads stood together on the edge of this novel scene, while their
guide went from group to group making to each a brief announcement,
Alaric, seizing this first opportunity for acquiring definite
information, asked: "What on earth are we here for, Bonny?"

"To find out how many passengers are ticketed for to-night's boat and
get them started," was the reply.

"You don't mean that our passengers are to be Chinamen?"

"Yes, of course. I thought I told you so first thing this morning when
you asked me what the sloop carried."

"No. You only said passengers and freight."

"I ought to have said 'chinks.' But what's the odds? 'Chinks' are
passengers, aren't they?"

"Do you mean Chinamen? Are 'chinks' Chinamen?"

"That's right," replied Bonny.

"Well," said Alaric, who had been on the Coast long enough to imbibe all
a Californian's contempt for natives of the Flowery Kingdom, "if I'd
known that 'chinks' meant Chinamen, and dope meant opium, I should have
been too much ashamed of what the _Fancy_ carried ever to tell any one
about it."

"I hope you won't," responded Bonny. "There isn't any necessity for you
to that I know of."

"But I have already. There was a man on the wharf while I was getting
aired who asked me what our cargo was. Just to see what he would say I
told him 'chinks and dope,' though I hadn't the slightest idea of what
either of them meant."

"My! but that's bad!" cried Bonny, with an anxious look on his face. "I
only hope he wasn't a beak. They've been watching us pretty sharp
lately, and I know the old man is in a regular tizzy-wizzy for fear
we'll get nabbed."

Before Alaric could ask why they should be nabbed, Won Lung, the
proprietor of the establishment, who also acted as interpreter, came to
where they were standing, greeted Bonny as an old acquaintance, looked
curiously at Alaric, and announced that thirty-six of his boarders had
procured tickets for a passage to the Sound on the _Fancy_.

"We can't take but twenty of 'em on this trip," said the young mate,
decidedly. "And with their dunnage we'll have to stow 'em like sardines,
anyway. The others must wait till next time."

"Mebbe you tlake some man in clabin, some mebbe in fo'c's'le," suggested
Won Lung, blandly.

"Mebbe we don't do anything of the kind," replied Bonny. "The trip may
last several days, and I know I for one am not going to be crowded out
of my sleeping-quarters. So, Mr. Lung, if you send down one man more
than twenty he goes overboard. You savey that?"

"Yep, me sabby. Allee same me no likee."

"Sorry, but I can't help it. And you want to hustle 'em along too, for
we are going to sail in half an hour. Got the stuff ready?"

"Yep, all leddy. Two hun'l poun'."

"Good enough. Send it right along with us."

A few minutes later our lads had left Won Lung's queer hotel and were
out in the quiet streets accompanied by two Chinese coolies, who bore
heavy burdens slung from the ends of stout bamboo poles carried across
their shoulders.

As Bonny seemed disinclined to talk, Alaric refrained from asking
questions, and the little party proceeded in silence through
unfrequented streets to the place where their sloop lay. Here the
burdens borne by the coolies were transferred to the cabin, where this
part of the cargo was left with Captain Duff, and Alaric had no
knowledge of where it was stowed.

While the captain was thus busy below, Bonny was giving the crew his
first lesson in seamanship by pointing out three ropes that he called
jib, throat, and peak halyards, showing him how to make them fast about
their respective belaying-pins, and impressing upon him the importance
of remembering them.

Shortly after this the score of long-queued passengers arrived with
their odd-looking packages of personal belongings, were taken aboard in
silence, and stowed in the hold until Alaric wondered if they were piled
on top of one another like sticks of cord-wood.

Then the mooring-lines were cast off, and the _Fancy_ drifted
noiselessly out of the slip with the ebbing tide. Once clear of it the
jib was hoisted, and she began to glide out of the harbor before a
gentle, off-shore breeze.



CHAPTER X

PUGET SOUND SMUGGLERS


The great landlocked body of salt water known as Puget Sound,
penetrating for nearly one hundred miles the northwestern corner of
Washington, the Northwest State, is justly termed a smuggler's paradise.
It pierces the land in every direction with a perfect net-work of
inlets, channels, and bays lined with endless miles of forest, frowning
cliffs, and snuggly hidden harbors. The upper end of the Sound, where
its width entitles it to be called a gulf, is filled with an archipelago
of rugged islands of all sizes and shapes, thinly settled, and offering
innumerable secure hiding-places for small boats. Here and there along
the shores of the Sound are Indian reservations uncleared and unoccupied
save by dwindling remnants of the once populous coast tribes. These
Indians, though retaining their tribal names among themselves, are all
known to the whites under the one designation of "Siwash," a corruption
of the French _sauvage_.

On the eastern side of the Sound are the important American cities of
Seattle and Tacoma; while at its extreme southern end stands Olympia,
Washington's capital. On its western side, and just north of the Strait
of Juan de Fuca, that connects the Sound with the ocean, is located the
Canadian city of Victoria, from which all the smuggling operations of
these waters are conducted.

From Victoria to the American island of San Juan on the east, the
largest of the archipelago already mentioned, the distance is only
twelve miles, while it is but twenty miles across the Strait of Fuca to
the American mainland on the south. These two points being so near at
hand, it is easy enough to run a boat-load of opium or Chinamen over to
either of them in a night. For such a passage each Chinaman is compelled
to pay from fifteen to twenty dollars, while opium yields a profit of
four or five dollars a pound. Smuggling from Victoria is thus such a
lucrative business that many men of easy conscience are engaged in it.

Both the island route and that by way of the strait present the serious
drawbacks of having their landing-places so remote from railroads and
cities that, though the frontier has been passed, there is still a
dangerous stretch of territory to be crossed before either of these can
be reached. In view of this fact, it occurred to one of the more
enterprising among the Victoria smugglers to undertake a greater risk
for the sake of greater profits, and run a boat nearly one hundred miles
up the Sound to some point in near vicinity to one of its large cities.

He had just the craft for the purpose, and finally secured a captain
who, having recently lost a schooner through seizure by the American
authorities for unlawful sealing in Bering Sea, was reckless and
desperate enough for the new venture. As this man undertook the run for
a share of the profits, he was inclined to reduce all expenses to their
very lowest limits, and had already made a number of highly successful
trips. Although the fare to each Chinaman by this new line was
twenty-five dollars, it offered such superior advantages as to be
liberally patronized, and the boat was always crowded.

In the meantime the American authorities had discovered that much
illegal opium and many illegal Chinamen were entering their country
through a new channel that seemed to lead to the vicinity of Tacoma. The
recently appointed commander of a United States revenue-cutter
determined to break up this route, and capture, if possible, these
boldest of all the Sound smugglers. For some weeks he watched in vain,
overhauled and examined a number of innocent vessels, and with each
failure became the more anxious to succeed. At length he sent his third
lieutenant to Victoria, of course out of uniform, to gain what
information he could concerning any vessel that seemed likely to be
engaged in smuggling.

This officer, after spending several days in the city without learning
anything definite, was beginning to feel discouraged, when one
afternoon, as he was strolling near the docks, he noticed two lads
walking ahead of him who looked something like sailors. One of them had
evidently just purchased a new outfit of clothing, and carried a canvas
bag on which his name was painted in black letters. Making a mental note
of this name, the officer followed the lads, out of curiosity to see
what kind of a craft they would board.

When he saw the _Fancy_ he said to himself: "Tough-looking old packet. I
wonder if that young chap with the bag can be one of her crew?"

Without approaching the sloop so closely as to attract attention, he
lingered in her vicinity until Alaric went up-town to procure supplies,
when the officer still kept him in sight. He even entered the store in
which the lad was dealing, and here his curiosity was stimulated by the
young sailor's varied and costly order.

"That sloop must make an extraordinary amount of money somehow," he
reflected.

So interested had he now become that he even followed Alaric while the
lad made his subsequent purchases. Finally he found himself again near
the sloop just as the lad who had excited his curiosity was ordered to
the wharf to air himself after his unfortunate experience with the
bottle of cologne. At length the officer addressed him, and by dint of
persistent questions became confirmed in his suspicions that the dingy
old sloop cruised to the Sound with Chinamen and opium.

Having gained the information he wanted thus easily and unexpectedly,
the officer returned to his hotel for supper and to write a despatch
that should go by that night's boat. After delivering this on board the
steamer, he determined to take one more look at the suspected sloop;
and, strolling leisurely in that direction, reached the wharf just in
time to see her glide out from the slip and head for the open sea.

Here was an emergency that called for prompt action; and, running back
to the hotel, the young man paid his bill, secured his bag, and gained
the steamer just as that fine American-built vessel was about to take
her departure for ports of the upper Sound. Shortly afterwards, a little
beyond the harbor mouth, the big, brilliantly lighted steamer swept past
a small dimly outlined craft, on whose deck somebody was waving a
lantern so that she might not be run down.

Of course it has been understood long ere this that the sloop _Fancy_
was a smuggler. She was not only that, but was also the boldest, most
successful, and most troublesome smuggler on Puget Sound. The one person
at all acquainted with the shabby old craft and as yet unaware of her
true character was Alaric Todd. His slight knowledge of smugglers
having been gained through books, he thought of them as being only a
sort of half pirates, either Spanish or French, who flourished during
the last century. Thus, although he did not approve of either the
sloop's passengers or cargo, it did not occur to him that they were
being carried in defiance of law until about the time that the steamer's
lights were disappearing in the distance.

The boy's hands were still smarting from an unaccustomed hauling on
ropes that had resulted in hoisting the big main-sail, and now he lay on
deck well forward, where he had been told to keep a sharp lookout and
report instantly any vessel coming within his range of vision. Before a
fresh beam wind the _Fancy_ was slipping rapidly through the water, with
Captain Duff steering, Bonny doing odd jobs about deck, and the
passengers confining themselves closely to the hold. After the young
mate had waved his signal lantern to the steamer, he extinguished both
it and the side lights that had been burning until now, leaving the
binnacle lamp carefully shaded as the only light on board. With nothing
more to do at present, he threw himself down beside Alaric, and the boys
began a low-voiced conversation.

"What made you put out those lights?" asked the latter. "I thought all
ships carried lights at night."

"We don't," laughed Bonny. "They'd give us away to the cutters, and we'd
be picked up in less'n no time. I'm mighty glad that steamer isn't a
revenue-boat."

"Why?"

"Because she's so fast. There's only one craft on the Sound can beat
her, and that's the _Flyer_, running between Tacoma and Seattle. This
_City of Kingston_ is a good one, though. She used to be a crack Hudson
River boat, and came out here around the Horn; or, rather, not exactly
that, but through the Strait of Magellan. That's a tough place, I can
tell you."

"I suppose it is," replied Alaric. "But, Bonny, tell me something more
about those cutters. Why should they want to catch us?"

"For running 'chinks' and 'dope.'"

"What harm is there in that? Is it against the law?"

"I should rather say it was. There's a duty of ten dollars a pound on
one, and the others aren't allowed in at any price."

"Then I don't see how we are any different from regular smugglers."

"That's what some folks call us," replied Bonny, with a grin. "They are
mostly on the other side, though. In Victoria they call us
free-traders."

"It doesn't make any difference what anybody calls us," retorted Alaric,
vehemently, "so long as we ourselves know what we are. It was a mean
thing, Bonny Brooks, that you didn't tell me this before we started."

"Look here, Rick Dale! do you pretend you didn't know after seeing the
'chinks' and the 'dope' and all that was going on? Oh, come, that's too
thin!"

"I don't care whether it's thin or thick," rejoined Alaric, stoutly. "I
didn't know that I was shipping to become a pirate, or you may be very
certain I'd have sat on that log till I starved before going one step
with you."

"What do you mean by calling me a pirate?" demanded Bonny, indignantly.
"I'm no more a pirate than you are, for all your fine airs."

In his excitement Bonny had so raised his voice that it reached the ears
of Captain Duff, who growled out, fiercely: "Stow yer jaw, ye young
swabs, and keep a sharp lookout for'ard--d'ye hear?"

"Aye, aye, sir," responded the young mate, rising as though to end the
unpleasant conversation, and peering keenly into the gloom.

But Alaric was not inclined to let the subject drop; and, with an idea
of continuing their talk in so low a tone that it could not possibly
reach the captain's ears, he too started to rise.

At that moment the sloop gave a quick lurch that caused him to plunge
awkwardly forward. He was only saved from going overboard by striking
squarely against Bonny, who was balancing himself easily in the very
eyes of the vessel, with one foot on the rail. The force of the blow was
too great for him to withstand. With a gasping cry he pitched headlong
over the bows and disappeared from his comrade's horrified gaze.



CHAPTER XI

A VERY TRYING EXPERIENCE


"Stop her! Stop the boat, quick! Bonny is overboard" shouted Alaric,
frantically, as he realized the nature of the catastrophe that had just
occurred through his awkwardness. As he shouted he sprang to the
jib-halyard, and, casting it off, allowed the sail to come down by the
run, his sole idea of checking the headway of a sailing craft being to
reduce her canvas.

He was about to let go both throat and peak halyards, and so bring down
the big main-sail also, when, with a bellow of rage and a marvellous
disregard of his lameness, Captain Duff rushed forward and snatched the
ropes from the lad's hands.

"You thundering blockhead!" he roared. "What d'ye mean by lowering a
sail without orders? H'ist it again! H'ist it, d'ye hear?"

"But Bonny is overboard!" cried Alaric.

"And you want to leave him to drown, do ye? Don't ye know that if he's
alive he's drifted astarn by this time? Ef you had any sense you'd be
out in the dinghy looking fur him."

Alaric knew that the dinghy was the small boat towing behind the sloop,
for he had heard the young mate call it by that name, and now he needed
no further hint as to his duty. He had pushed Bonny overboard, and he
must save him if that might still be done. If not, he was careless of
what happened to himself. Nothing could be worse than, or so bad as, to
go through life with the knowledge that he had caused the death of a
fellow-being--one, too, whom he had already come to regard as a dear
friend.

Thus thinking, he ran aft, cast loose the painter of the dinghy, drew
the boat to the sloop's stern, and, dropping into it, drifted away in
the darkness. He had never rowed a boat, nor even handled a pair of
oars, but he had seen others do so, and imagined that it was easy
enough.

It is not often that a first lesson of this kind is taken alone, at
midnight, amid the tossing waters of an open sea, and it could not have
happened now but for our poor lad's pitiful ignorance of all forms of
athletics, including those in which every boy should be instructed.

Without a thought for himself, nor even a comprehension of his own
peril, Alaric fitted the oars that he found in the bottom of the boat to
their row-locks, and began to pull manfully in what he supposed was the
proper direction. He pulled first with one oar and then with the other;
then making a wild stroke with both oars that missed the water entirely,
he tumbled over backwards. Recovering himself, he prepared more
cautiously for a new effort, and this time, instead of beating the air,
thrust his oars almost straight down in the water. Then one entered it,
while the other, missing it by a foot or so, flew back and struck him a
violent blow.

Up to this time the lad had kept up a constant shouting of "Bonny! Oh,
Bonny!" or "Hello, Bonny!" but that blow bereft him of so much breath
that for a minute he had none left with which to shout.

Now, too, for the first time, he gained a vague idea of his own perilous
situation. There was nothing in sight and nothing to be heard save the
ceaseless dashing of waters and a melancholy moaning of wind. The sky
was so overcast that not even a star could extend to him a cheery ray of
light. The boy's heart sank, and he made another attempt at a shout, as
much to raise his own spirits as with any hope of being heard. Only a
husky cry resulted, for his voice was choked, and he again strove to
row, with the thought that any form of action would be better than
idleness amid such surroundings.

If his oars seemed vicious before, they were doubly so now that he was
wearied, and they stubbornly resisted his efforts to make them work as
he knew they could and ought. At length he let go of one of them for an
instant, while he wiped the trickling perspiration from his eyes. The
moment it was released, the provoking bit of wood, as though possessed
of a malicious instinct, slid from its rowlock, dropped into the water,
and floated away. Alaric made a wild but ineffectual clutch after it
that allowed a quantity of water to slop into the boat, and gave him the
idea that it was sinking.

With an access of terror the poor lad sprang to his feet, and, forgetful
of the object that had brought him into his present situation, screamed:
"Bonny! Oh, Bonny! Save me! Don't leave me here to drown!"

Then a spiteful wave so buffeted the boat that he was toppled over and
fell sprawling in the bottom. That was the blackest and most despairing
moment of his life; but even as it came to him he fancied he heard a
whispered answer to his call, and lifted his head to listen. Yes, he
heard it again, so faint and uncertain that it might be only the mocking
scream of some sea-bird winging a swift flight through the blackness.
Still the idea filled him with hope, and he called again with a cry so
shrill and long-drawn that its intensity almost frightened him. Now the
echoing hail was certain, and it came to him with the unmistakable
accents of a human voice.

Again he shouted: "Bonny! Oh, Bonny!" and again came the answer, this
time much nearer:

"Hello, Rick Dale! Hello!"

"Hello, Bonny! Hello!"

How could it be that Bonny had kept himself afloat so long? What
wonderful powers of endurance he must possess! How should he reach him?
There was but a single oar left, and surely no one could propel a boat
with one oar. He tried awkwardly to paddle, but after a few seconds of
fruitless labor gave this up in despair. What could he do? Must he sit
there idle, knowing that his friend was drowning within sound of his
voice, and for want of the aid that he could give if he only knew how?
It was horrible and yet inevitable. He was helpless. Once more was his
own peril forgotten, and his sole distress was for his friend. Again he
shouted, with the energy of despair:

"Bonny! Oh, Bonny! Can't you get to me? I'm in a boat."

Then came something so startling and so astonishing that he was almost
petrified with amazement. Instead of a weak, despairing answer, coming
from a long distance, there sounded a cheery hail from close at hand:
"All right, old man! I'm coming. Cheer up."

What had happened? Was his friend endowed with supernatural powers that
enabled him to traverse the sea at will?

Alaric gazed about him on all sides, almost doubting the evidence of his
senses. Then, with a flutter of canvas and a rush of water from under
her bows, the tall form of the sloop loomed out of the blackness almost
beside him.

"Sing out, Rick. Where are you?"

"Here I am. Oh, Bonny, is it you?"

"Yes, of course. Look out! Catch this line."

The end of a rope came whizzing over the boat, and Alaric, catching it,
held on tightly. He was seated on the middle thwart, and the moment a
strain came on the line the boat turned broadside to it, heeled until
water began to pour in over her gunwale, and Alaric, unable to hold on
an instant longer, let go his hold.

He heard an exclamation of "Thundering lubber!" in Captain Duff's voice,
and then the sloop was again lost to sight.

Again Alaric was in despair, though he could still hear the shouting of
orders and a confused slatting of sails. After a little the sloop was
put about, and a shouting to determine the locality of the drifting boat
was recommenced. Still it seemed to Alaric a tedious while before she
approached him for a second time, and Bonny once more sung out to him to
stand by and catch a line.

"Make it fast in the bow this time," he called, as he flung the coil of
rope.

Again Alaric succeeded in catching it, and, obeying instructions, he
scrambled into the bow of the boat, where he knelt and clung to the line
for dear life, not knowing how to make it fast.

In a moment there came a jerk that very nearly pulled him overboard; and
the boat, with its bow low in the water from his weight, while its stern
was in the air, took a wild sheer to one side. Again water poured in
until she was nearly swamped, and again was the line torn from Alaric's
grasp.

"You blamed idiot!" roared Captain Duff. "You don't desarve to be saved!
I'll give ye just one more try, and ef you don't fetch the sloop that
time we'll leave ye to navigate on your own hook."

As the previous manoeuvres were repeated for a third time, poor
Alaric, sitting helplessly in his waterlogged dinghy, shivered with
apprehension. How could he hold on to that cruel line that seemed only
fitted to drag him to destruction? This time it took longer to find him,
and he was hoarse with shouting before the _Fancy_ again approached.

"He don't know enough to do anything with a line, Cap'n Duff," said
Bonny. "So if you'll throw the sloop into the wind and heave her to,
I'll bring the boat alongside."

With this, and without waiting for an answer, the plucky young sailor,
who had already divested himself of most of his clothing, sprang into
the black waters and swam towards the vaguely discerned boat. In another
minute he had gained her, clambered in, and was asking the amazed
occupant for the other oar.

"It's lost overboard," replied Alaric, gloomily, feeling that the case
was now more desperate than ever. "Oh, Bonny! Why--?"

"Never mind," cried the other, cheerily. "I can scull, and that will
answer just as well as rowing. Perhaps better, for I can see where we
are headed."

Alaric had deemed it impossible to propel a boat with a single oar; but
now, to his amazement, Bonny sculled the dinghy ahead almost as rapidly
as he could have rowed. The sloop was out of sight, but the flapping of
her sails could be plainly heard, and five minutes later the young mate
laid his craft alongside.

Captain Duff was too angry for words, and fortunately too busy in
getting his vessel on her course to pay any attention just then to the
lad whose awkwardness and ignorance had caused all this trouble and
delay.

"Skip for'ard," said Bonny, in a low tone, "and I'll come directly."

As Alaric, with a thankful heart, obeyed this injunction, he marvelled
at the size and steadiness of the sloop, and wondered how he could ever
have thought her small or unstable.

A few minutes later Bonny, only half dressed, joined him, and said, "If
you'll lend me your trousers, old man, you can turn in for the rest of
the night, and I'll stand your watch; mine are too wet to put on just
yet, and I think you'll be safer below than on deck, anyway."

Like a person in a dream, and without asking one of the many questions
suggesting themselves, Alaric obeyed. Earlier in that most eventful day
he had regarded that dark and stuffy forecastle with disgust, and vowed
he would never sleep in it. Now, as he snuggled shivering between the
blankets of the first mate's own bunk, it seemed to him one of the
coziest, warmest, and most comfortable sleeping-apartments he had ever
known.



CHAPTER XII

A LESSON IN KEDGING


For a long time Alaric lay awake in his narrow bunk, listening to the
gurgle of waters parted by the sloop's bow, but a few inches from his
head, and reflecting upon the exciting incidents of the past hour. It
had all been so terrible and yet so unreal. On one thing he determined.
Never again would he enter a boat alone without having first learned how
to row, and to swim also. How splendidly Bonny had come to his rescue,
and yet how easily! What was it he had called making a boat go with only
one oar? Alaric could not remember; but at any rate it was a wonderful
thing to do, and he determined to master that art as well. What a lot he
had to learn, anyhow, and how important it all was! He had longed for
the ability to do such things, but never until now had he realized their
value.

How well Bonny did them, and what a fine fellow he was, and how the
heart of the poor rich boy warmed towards this self-reliant young friend
of a day! Could it be but one day since their first meeting? It seemed
as though he had known Bonny always. But how had the young sailor
regained the sloop after being knocked overboard? That was
unaccountable, and one of the most mysterious things Alaric had ever
heard of. He longed for Bonny to come below, that he might ask just that
one question; but the mate was otherwise engaged, and the crew finally
dropped asleep.

Through the remainder of the night the sloop sailed swiftly on her
course; but she could not make up for that lost hour, and by dawn,
though she had passed the light on Admiralty Head, and was well to the
southward of Port Townsend, the very stronghold of her enemies, for it
is the port of entry for the Sound, she was still far from the
hiding-place in which her captain had hoped to lie by for the day.
However, he knew of another nearer at hand, though not so easy of
access, and to this he directed the vessel's course.

It did not seem to Alaric that he had been asleep more than a few
minutes when he was rudely awakened by being hauled out of his bunk and
dropped on the forecastle floor. At the same time he became conscious of
a voice, saying:

"Wake up! Wake up, Rick Dale! I've been calling you for the last five
minutes, and was beginning to think you were dead. Here it is daylight,
with lots of work waiting, and you snoozing away as though you were a
young man of elegant leisure. So tumble out in a hurry, or else you'll
have the cap'n down on you, and he's no light-weight when he's as mad as
he is this morning."

Never before in all his luxurious life had Alaric been subjected to such
rough treatment, and for a moment he was inclined to resent it; but a
single glance at Bonny's smiling face, and a thought of how deeply he
was indebted to this lad, caused him to change his mind and scramble to
his feet.

"Here are your trousers," continued the young mate, "and the quicker you
can jump into them the better, for we've a jolly bit of kedging to
attend to, and need your assistance badly."

Filled with curiosity as to what a "jolly bit of kedging" might be, and
also pleased with the idea that he was not considered utterly useless,
Alaric hastily dressed and hurried on deck. There the sight of a number
of Chinamen recalled with a shock the nature of the craft on which he
was shipped, and for an instant he was tempted to refuse further service
as a member of her crew. A moment's reflection, however, convinced him
that the present was not the time for such action, as it could only
result in disaster to himself and in extra work being thrown upon Bonny.

The sun had not yet risen, and on one side a broad expanse of water was
overlaid with a light mist. On the other was a bold shore covered with
forest to the water's edge, and penetrated by a narrow inlet, off the
mouth of which the sloop lay becalmed.

Bonny was already in the dinghy, which held a coil of rope having a
small anchor attached to one end. The other end was on board the sloop
and made fast to the bitts.

"When I reach the end of the line and heave the kedge overboard, you
want to haul in on it," said the young mate, "and when the sloop is
right over the kedge, let go your anchor. Do you understand?"

"Yes, I think so."

The tide had just turned ebb, and was beginning to run out from the
inlet as Bonny dropped the kedge-anchor overboard, and Alaric, beginning
to pull with a hearty will on that long, wet rope, experienced the first
delights of kedging. Captain Duff, puffing at a short black pipe, sat by
the tiller and steered, while the Chinese passengers, squatted about the
deck, watched the lad's efforts with a stolid interest.

At length the end of the rope was reached, and Alaric, with aching back
and smarting hands, but beaming with the consciousness of a duty well
performed, imagined his task to be ended.

"Let go your anchor," ordered Captain Duff.

When this was done, and the cable made fast so that the sloop should
not drift back when the kedge was lifted, Bonny heaved up the latter and
got it into the dinghy. Then he sculled still farther into the inlet
until the end of the long line was once more reached, when he again
dropped the small anchor overboard, and poor Alaric found, to his
dismay, that the whole tedious operation was to be repeated. In addition
to what he had done before, the heavy riding anchor was now to be lifted
from the bottom.

As the boy essayed to haul in its cable with his hands, Captain Duff,
muttering something about a "lubberly swab," stumped forward, and
showing him how to use the windlass for this purpose, condescended to
hold the turn while the perspiring lad pumped away at the iron lever.
When the anchor was lifted, he was directed to again lay hold of the
kedge-line and warp her along handsomely.

Alaric made signs to the Chinamen that they should help him; but they,
being passengers who had paid for the privilege of idleness on this
cruise, merely grinned and shook their heads. So the poor lad tugged at
that heart-breaking line until his strength was so exhausted that the
sloop ceased to make perceptible headway.

At this Captain Duff, who was again nodding over the tiller, suddenly
woke up, rushed among his passengers with brandished crutch, roaring an
order in pidgin English that caused them to jump in terror, lay hold of
the line, and haul it in hand over hand.

Three times more was the whole weary operation repeated, until at length
the sloop was snugly anchored behind a tree-grown point that effectually
concealed her from anything passing in the Sound.

"Nice, healthy exercise, this kedging," remarked Bonny, cheerfully, as
he came on board.

"You may call it that," responded Alaric, gloomily, "but I call it the
most killing kind of work I ever heard of, and if there is any more of
it to be done, somebody else has got to do it. I simply won't, and
that's all there is about it."

"Oh phsaw!" laughed the young mate, as he lighted a fire in the galley
stove and began preparations for breakfast. "This morning's job was only
child's play compared with some you'll have before you've been aboard
here a month."

"Which I never will be," replied Alaric, "for I'm going to resign this
very day. I suppose this is the United States and the end of the voyage,
isn't it?"

"It's the States fast enough; but not the end of the run by a good bit.
We've another night's sail ahead of us before we come to that. But you
mustn't think of resigning, as you call it, just as you are beginning to
get the hang of sailoring. Think how lonely I should be without you to
make things lively and interesting--as you did last night, for
instance."

"I shall, though," replied Alaric, decidedly, "just as quick as we make
a port; for if you think I'm going to remain in the smuggling business
one minute longer than I can help, you're awfully mistaken. And what's
more, you are going with me, and we'll hunt for another job--an honest
one, I mean--together."

"I am, am I?" remarked Bonny. "After you calling me a pirate, too. I
shouldn't think you'd care to associate with pirates."

"But I do care to associate with you," responded Alaric, earnestly, "for
I know I couldn't get along at all without you. Besides, after the
splendid way you came to my rescue last night, I don't want to try. But
I say, Bonny, how did you ever manage to get back on board after
tumbling--I mean, after I knocked you--into the water? It seems to me
the most mysterious thing I ever heard of."

"Oh, that was easy enough!" laughed the young mate, lifting the lid of
a big kettle of rice, that was boiling merrily, as he spoke. "You see, I
didn't wholly fall overboard. That is, I caught on the bob-stay, and was
climbing up again all right when you let the jib down on top of me,
nearly knocking me into the water and smothering me at the same time.
When I got out from under it you were gone, and a fine hunt we had for
you, during which the old man got considerably excited. But all's well
that ends well, as the Japs said after the war was over; so now if
you'll make a pot of coffee, I'll get the pork ready for frying."

"But I don't know how to make coffee."

"Don't you? I thought everybody knew that. Never mind, though; I'll make
the coffee while you fry the meat."

"I don't know how to do that, either."

"Don't you know how to cook anything?"

"No. I don't believe I could even boil water without burning it."

"Well," said Bonny, "you certainly have got more to learn than any
fellow old enough to walk alone that I ever knew."

The sloop remained in her snug hiding-place all that day, during which
her captain and first mate devoted most of their time to sleeping. The
Chinamen spent the greater part of the day on shore, while Alaric,
following Bonny's advice, made his first attempt at fishing. So long as
he only got bites he had no trouble; but when he finally caught an
enormous flounder his occupation was gone, for he had no second hook,
and could not imagine how the fish was to be removed from the one to
which it was attached. So he let it carefully down into the water again,
and made the line fast until Bonny should wake. When that happened, and
he triumphantly hauled in his line, he found, to his dismay, that his
hook was bare, and that the fish had solved his problem for him.

In the meantime there was much activity that day on board a certain
revenue-cutter stationed in the upper Sound, and shortly after dark,
about the time the smuggler _Fancy_ was again getting under way, several
well-manned boats left the government vessel to spend the night in
patrolling certain channels.



CHAPTER XIII

CHASING A MYSTERIOUS LIGHT


The commander of the revenue-cutter had received from his lieutenant a
detailed description of the sloop _Fancy_, together with what other
information that officer had gathered concerning her destination,
lading, and crew. As a result of this interview it was determined to
guard all passages leading to the upper Sound; and during the hours of
darkness the cutter's boats, under small sail, cruised back and forth
across the channels on either side of Vashon Island, one of which the
sloop must take. They showed no lights, and their occupants were not
allowed to converse in tones louder than a whisper. While half of each
crew got what sleep they might in the bottom of the boat, the others
were on watch and keenly alert. In the stern-sheets of each boat sat an
officer muffled in a heavy ulster as a protection against the chill
dampness of the night.

The night was nearly spent and dawn was at hand when the weary occupants
of one of these patrol-boats were aroused into activity by two bright
lights that flashed in quick succession for an instant well over on the
western side of their channel, which was the one known as Colvos
Passage.

"It is a signal," said the officer, as he headed his boat in that
direction. "Silence, men! Have your oars ready for a chase."

Shortly afterwards another light appeared on the water in the same
general direction, but farther down the channel. It showed steadily for
a minute, and was then lost to view, only to reappear a few moments
later. After that its continued appearance and disappearance proved most
puzzling, until the officer solved the problem to his own satisfaction
by saying:

"The careless rascals have come to anchor, and are sending their stuff
ashore in a small boat. That light is the lantern they are working by;
but I wouldn't have believed even they could be so reckless as to use
it. Douse that sail and unship the mast. So. Now, out oars! Give 'way!"

As the boat sprang forward under this new impulse, its oars, being
muffled in the row-locks, gave forth no sound save the rhythmic swish
with which they left the water at the end of each stroke.

The row was not a long one, and within five minutes the boat was close
to the mysterious light. No sound came from its vicinity, nor was there
any loom of masts or sails through the blackness. Were they close to it,
after all? Might it not be brighter than they thought, and still at a
distance from them? Its nature was such that the officer could not
determine even by standing up, and for a few moments he was greatly
puzzled. He could now see that the land was at a greater distance than a
smuggler would choose to cover with his small boats when he might just
as well run his craft much closer. What could it mean?

Suddenly he gave the orders: "'Way enough! In oars! Look sharp there
for'ard with your boat-hook!"

The next moment the twinkling light was alongside, and its mystery was
explained. It was an old lantern lashed to a bit of a board that was in
turn fastened across an empty half-barrel. A screen formed of a shingle
darkened one side of the lantern, so that, as the floating tub was
turned by wind or wave, the light alternately showed and disappeared at
irregular intervals.

That the lieutenant who was the victim of this simple ruse was angry
goes without saying. He was furious, and could he have captured its
author just then, that ingenious person might have met with rough usage.
But there seemed little chance of capturing him, for although the
officer felt certain that this tub had been launched from the very
smuggler he was after, he had no idea of where she now was, or of what
direction she had taken. All he knew was that somebody had warned her of
danger in that channel, and that she had cleverly given him the slip. He
could also imagine the "chaff" he would receive from his brother
officers on the cutter when they should learn of his mortifying
experience.

When, after cruising fruitlessly during the brief remainder of the
night, he returned to his ship and reported what had taken place, he was
chaffed, as he expected, but was enabled to bear this with equanimity,
for he had made a discovery. On the shingle that had shaded the old
lantern he found written in pencil as though for the passing of an idle
half-hour, and apparently by some one who wished to see how his name
would look if he were a foreigner:

"Philip Ryder, Mr. Philip Ryder, Monsieur Philippe Ryder, Signor Filipo
Ryder, Señor Félipe Ryder, and Herr Philip Ryder."

"It's the name of the young chap who led me such a chase in Victoria,
and finally gave me the information I wanted concerning the sloop
_Fancy_," said the lieutenant to his commanding officer, in reporting
this discovery.

"Which would seem to settle the identity of the sloop we are after, and
prove that she is now somewhere close at hand," replied the commander.

"Yes, sir; and it also discloses the identity of the young rascal who is
responsible for this trick, though from his looks I wouldn't have
believed him capable of it. He is the one I told you of who was so
scented with cologne as to be offensive. I remember well seeing the name
Philip Ryder on his dunnage-bag."

The sun was just rising, and at this moment a report was brought to the
cabin, from a masthead lookout, to the effect that a small sloop was
disappearing behind a point a few miles to the southward.

"It may be your boat, and it may be some other," said the commander to
the third lieutenant. "At any rate, it is our duty to look him up. So
you will please get under way again with the yawl, run down to that
point, and see what you can find. If you meet with your young friend
Ryder either afloat or ashore, don't fail to arrest and detain him as a
witness, for in any case his testimony will be most important."

The _Fancy_ had hauled out of her snug berth soon after sunset that same
night, and fanned along by a light breeze, held her course to the
southward. Both our lads were stationed forward to keep a sharp lookout,
though with a grim warning from Captain Duff that if either of them fell
overboard this time, he might as well make up his mind to swim ashore,
for the sloop would not be stopped to pick him up.

"Cheerful prospect for me," muttered Alaric. "Never mind, though, Mr.
Captain, I'm going to desert, as did the Phil Ryder of whom you seem so
fond. I am going to follow his example, too, in taking your first mate
with me."

As on the previous night, the lads found an opportunity to talk in low
tones; and filled with the idea of inducing Bonny to leave the sloop
with him, Alaric strove to convince him of the wickedness of smuggling.

"It is breaking a law of your country," he argued; "and any one who
breaks one law will be easily tempted to break another, until there's no
saying where he will end."

"If we didn't do it, some other fellows would," replied Bonny. "The
chinks are bound to travel, and folks are bound to have cheap dope."

"So _you_ are breaking the law to save some other fellow's conscience?"

"No, of course not. I'm doing it for the wages it pays."

"Which is as much as to say that you would break any law if you were
paid enough."

"I never saw such a fellow as you are for putting things in an
unpleasant way," retorted the young mate, a little testily. "Of course
there are plenty of laws I couldn't be hired to break. I wouldn't steal,
for instance, even if I were starving, nor commit a murder for all the
money in the world. But I'd like to know what's the harm in running a
cargo like ours? A few Chinamen more or less will never be noticed in a
big place like the United States. Besides, I think the law that says
they sha'n't come in is an unjust one, anyway. We haven't any more right
to keep Chinamen out of a free country than we have to keep out Italians
or anybody else."

"So you claim to be wiser than the men who make our laws, do you?" asked
Alaric.

Without answering this question, Bonny continued: "As for running in a
few pounds of dope, we don't rob anybody by doing that."

"How about robbing the government?"

"Oh, that don't count. What's a few dollars more or less to a government
as rich as ours?"

"Which is saying that while you wouldn't steal from any one person, you
don't consider it wicked to steal from sixty millions of people. Also,
that it is perfectly right to rob a government because it is rich.
Wouldn't it be just as right to rob Mr. Vanderbilt or Mr. Astor, or even
my--I mean any other millionaire? They are rich, and wouldn't feel the
loss."

"I never looked at it in that way," replied Bonny, thoughtfully.

"I thought not," rejoined Alaric. "And there are some other points about
this business that I don't believe you ever looked at, either. Did you
ever stop to think that every Chinaman you help over the line at once
sets to work to throw one of your own countrymen out of a job, and so
robs him of his living?"

"No; I can't say I ever did."

"Or did it ever occur to you that every cargo of opium you help to bring
into the country is going to carry sorrow and suffering, perhaps even
ruin, to hundreds of your own people?"

"I say, Rick Dale, it seems to me you know enough to be a lawyer. At any
rate, you know too much to be a sailor, and ought to be in some other
business."

"No, Bonny, I don't know half enough to be a sailor; but I do know too
much to be a smuggler, and I am going to get into some other business as
quick as I can. You are too, now that you have begun to think about it,
for you are too honest a fellow to hold your present position any longer
than you can help. By-the-way, what would happen if a cutter should get
after us to-night?"

"That depends," replied the first mate, sagely, glad to feel that there
were some legal questions concerning which he was wiser than his
companion. "They might fire on us, if we didn't stop quick enough to
suit 'em, and blow us out of the water. They might capture us, clap us
into irons, and put us into a dark lock-up on bread and water. The most
likely thing is that we would all be sent to the government prison on
McNeil's Island. From there the chinks would be hustled back to
Victoria, and the old man would get out on bond; but you and I would be
held as witnesses until a court was ready to condemn the vessel and
cargo. That would probably take some months, perhaps a year. Then the
case would be appealed, and we'd be kept in prison for another year or
so.

"And I suppose if we ever got out we would always be watched and
suspected," suggested Alaric, who had listened to all this with almost
as much dismay as though it were an actual sentence. "Well, I'll never
be caught, that's all. I'll drift away in the dinghy first." In saying
this the boy threatened to do the very most desperate thing he could
think of.

"I believe I'd go with you," said Bonny. "Now, though, I must go and get
ready our private signal, for we are getting close to the most dangerous
place."



CHAPTER XIV

BONNY'S INVENTION, AND HOW IT WORKED


Bonny walked aft, exchanged a few words with Captain Duff, and then
disappeared in the cabin, where he remained for some minutes. When he
again came on deck he bore a box in which was a lighted lamp provided
with a bright reflector. Only one side of the box was open, and this
space the lad carefully shielded with his hat. The sloop was just
entering Colvos Passage, between Vashon Island and the mainland, and was
nearer the western shore than the other.

Holding his box as far down as he could reach over the landward side of
the vessel, Bonny turned its opening towards the shore, and allowed the
bright light to stream from it for a single second. Then by quickly
reversing the box the light was made to disappear. A moment later it was
shown again, this time with a piece of red glass held in the front of
the lamp. This red light, after appearing for a single second, was also
made to vanish, and another quick flash of white light took its place. A
minute or so later the whole operation was repeated, and the white, red,
and white signal was again flashed to the wooded shore. At the fourth
time of displaying the signal it was answered by two white flashes from
the shore.

There was a moment of suspense, and then Bonny exclaimed, in a low tone,
"Great Scott! They're after us!"

Extinguishing his light, he again dived below, this time into the
forecastle. When he reappeared he bore the float and lighted lantern
already described. Alaric had noticed this queer contrivance the day
before, and, while wondering at its object, had amused himself by idly
scribbling on a smooth shingle that he found inside the tub. Now this
same shingle was hastily lashed to the lantern, and the whole affair was
launched overboard. At the same time the sloop was put about, and
leaving this decoy light floating and bobbing behind her as though it
were in a boat, she sped away towards the eastern side of the channel.

When Bonny rejoined Alaric at the lookout station he asked, with a
chuckle: "What do you think of that for a scheme, Rick? It's my own
invention, and I've been longing for a chance to try it every trip; but
this is the very first time we have needed anything of the kind. I only
hope the light won't get blown out, or the whole business get capsized
before the beaks capture it. My! how I'd like to see 'em creeping up to
it, and hear their remarks when they find out what it really is!"

"What does all this flashing of lights and setting lanterns adrift mean,
anyway?" asked Alaric, who was much puzzled by what had just taken
place.

"Means there's a revenue-boat of some kind waiting for us in the
channel, and that we are dodging him. The lights I showed made our
private signal, and asked if the coast was clear. Skookum John didn't
get on to 'em at first, or maybe he wasn't in a safe place for
answering. When he saw us and got the chance, though, he flashed two
lights to warn us of trouble. Three would have meant 'All right, come
ahead'; but two was a startler. It was the first time we've had that
signal; also it's the first chance I've had to test my invention."

[Illustration: "BONNY'S INVENTION STARTED ON ITS JOURNEY"]

"Do you mean that you actually expect that floating lantern to attract
the revenue people, so they will go to examine it, instead of coming
after us?"

"Attract 'em! Of course it will. They'll go for it the same as June bugs
go for street electrics, and then they'll wish they had spent their time
hunting for us instead."

Ever since leaving the dancing light Bonny had not been able to take his
eyes from it, so anxious was he to discover whether or not it served the
purpose for which it was intended. It grew fainter and smaller as the
sloop gained distance on her new course. Then all at once it seemed to
rise from the water, and an instant later disappeared.

"They've got it, and lifted it aboard!" cried Bonny, delightedly. And in
his exultation he called out, "The beaks have doused the glim, Cap'n
Duff!"

"Douse your tongue, ye swab, and keep your eyes p'inted for'ard!" was
the ungracious reply muttered out of the after darkness.

"What an old bear he is!" murmured Alaric, indignantly.

"Yes; isn't he?--a regular old sea-bear? But I don't mind him any more
than I would a rumble of imitation thunder. I say, though, Rick, isn't
this jolly exciting?"

"Yes," admitted the other, "it certainly is."

"And you want me to quit it for some stupid shore work that'll make a
fellow think he's got about as much life in him as a clam?"

"No, I don't; for I am certain there are just as exciting things to be
done on shore as at sea; and if you'll only promise to come with me I'll
promise to find something for you to do as exciting as this, and lots
honester."

"I've a mind to take you up," said Bonny, "and I would if I thought you
had any idea how hard it is to find a job of any kind. You haven't,
though, and because you got this berth dead easy you think you'll have
the same luck every time. But we must look sharp now for another light
from Skookum John."

By this time the sloop had again tacked, and was headed diagonally for
the western shore.

"Who is Skookum John?" asked Alaric.

"Skookum? Why, he's our Siwash runner, who is always on the lookout for
us, and keeps us posted."

"What is a Siwash?"

"Well, if you aren't ignorant! 'Specially about languages. Why, Siwash
is Chinook for Indian. There's his light now! See? One, two, three. Good
enough! We've given 'em the slip once more, and everything is working
our way."

By the time Bonny had reported this bit of news to Captain Duff, and
held the tiller while the old sea-dog cautiously lighted the pipe he had
not dared smoke all night, dawn was breaking, and the skipper began to
look anxiously for the harbor he had hoped to make by sunrise.

As it grew lighter Bonny pointed out the now distant masts of the cutter
they had so successfully passed a short time before, and said, with a
cheerful grin: "There's the old kettle that thought she could clip the
_Fancy's_ wings, and bring her to with a round turn. But she missed it
this time, as she will many another if I'm not mistaken."

Captain Duff also sighted the far-away cutter, and, nervous as an owl at
being caught outside his hiding-place by daylight, laid all the blame of
their late arrival on poor Alaric.

"If it hadn't been for your fool antics of two nights ago," he said,
"we'd made this port a good hour afore sun this morning. You're as
wuthless as ye look, and ye look to be the most wuthless young swab I
ever had aboard ship, barring one. He was another just such white-faced,
white-handed, mealy-mouthed specimen as you be. Couldn't eat ship's
victuals till I starved him to it, and finally got me into the wust
scrape of my life. Now I shouldn't be one mite surprised ef you'd put me
into another hole mighty nigh as deep. So you want to quit your nonsense
and 'tend strictly to business, or I'll make ye jump. D'ye hear? I'll
make ye jump, I say."

Alaric acknowledged that he heard, and then walked forward to light the
galley fire and set a kettle of water on to boil, for he was very
hungry, and proposed to have some breakfast as quickly as possible.

The sloop rounded a long point and came to anchor in a wooded cove,
apparently as wild as though they were its discoverers. A couple of
Chinamen, who had evidently camped there all night, waited to greet
their countrymen on the beach, to which Bonny at once began to transfer
his passengers, a few at a time, in the dinghy. As fast as they were
landed they were led back into the woods and started towards Tacoma,
which was but a few miles distant.

Alaric, who was determined not to remain aboard the sloop longer than
was necessary to get the breakfast to which he felt entitled after his
night's work, managed to get his canvas bag on deck unseen by Captain
Duff, and slip it into the dinghy as the boat was about to make its last
trip.

"Hide it on shore for me, Bonny," he said.

"All right; I will if you'll promise not to skip until we've had another
talk on the subject."

"Of course I promise; for I'm not going without you."

"Then perhaps you won't go at all," laughed Bonny.

So the bag was taken ashore and concealed in a thicket a little to one
side, and Bonny came back to prepare breakfast, for which Alaric had the
water already boiling.

When this meal was nearly ready, and as the boys were sniffing hungrily
at the odors of coffee and frying meat, Captain Duff suddenly appeared
on deck.

"Go up on that point, you foremast hand--I can't remember your
thundering name--and watch the cutter while me and the mate eats. After
that one of us 'll relieve ye. Ef she moves, or even shows black smoke,
you let me know, d'ye hear?"

Wishing to rebel, but not daring to, and feeling that he should surely
starve if kept from his breakfast many minutes longer, Alaric obeyed
this order. He managed to secure a couple of hard biscuit with which to
comfort his lonely watch, and then Bonny set him ashore.

Picking up his bag and carrying it with him, the boy clambered to the
point, and, selecting a place from which he could plainly see the
cutter, began his watch, at the same time munching his dry biscuit with
infinite relish. Much of the water intervening between him and the
cutter was hidden from view by near-by undergrowth, and the necessity
for scanning it never occurred to him.

After a while Bonny came to relieve him and allow him to go to
breakfast.

"Have you really made up your mind to desert the ship?" asked the young
mate, noticing that Alaric had his bag with him.

"Yes, I really have," answered the other; "and you will come with me,
won't you, Bonny?"

"I don't know," replied the latter, undecidedly. "Somehow I can't make
it seem right to desert Captain Duff and leave him in a fix. Seems to me
we ought to stay with him until he gets back to Victoria, anyway.
Besides, I'd lose my wages, and there must be nearly thirty dollars due
me by this time. But you go along to your breakfast, and after that
we'll talk it all over. Haven't seen anything, have you?"

"No, not a sign, but--Hello! What's that?"

"Caught, as sure as you're born!" cried Bonny, in a tone of suppressed
excitement.

Then, the two lads, peering through the bushes, watched a boat, flying
the flag of the United States Revenue Marine and filled with sturdy
bluejackets, enter the cove and dash alongside the smuggler _Fancy_.



CHAPTER XV

CAPTURED BY A REVENUE-CUTTER


The sight of that armed boat making fast to the sloop, and its agile
occupants springing on board, was so startling to the two lads taking in
its every detail from their point of vantage on shore, that if
excitement could have affected Alaric Todd's heart it would certainly
have done so at that moment. As it was, he did not even realize that his
heart was beating unusually fast. His mind was too full of other
thoughts just then for him to remember that he had a heart. He only
realized that the vessel of which he had formed the crew had fallen into
the clutches of outraged law, and that for the present at least her
career as a smuggler was at an end. Now that she was really captured, he
was conscious of a regret that after successfully eluding her enemies so
long she should, after all, fall into their hands. He even felt sorry
for Captain Duff, surly old bear that he was.

At the same time he was thankful not to be on board the captured craft,
and rejoiced in the thought that this sudden change of affairs would
sweep away all Bonny's scruples, and leave him free to seek some
occupation other than that of being a smuggler.

As for that young sailor himself, his feelings were equally
contradictory with those of his companion, though his sympathies leaned
more decidedly towards the side of the law-breaker.

"Poor Cap'n Duff!" he exclaimed, in a low tone. "This is tough luck for
him; and I must say, Rick Dale, that the whole thing is pretty much your
fault, too. If you'd kept a half-way decent lookout you'd have seen that
yawl when she was two miles off. Then we could have got under way, and
given her the slip as easy as you please. Now you and I have lost our
job, while Cap'n Duff will lose his and his boat besides. I'll never see
my wages, either; and, worst of all, in spite of my invention working so
smooth, these revenue fellows have got the laugh on us. I say it's too
bad, though to be sure it does let us out of the smuggling business. I
expect it will be a long time, though, before I get another job as first
mate, or any other kind of a job that will be worth having."

"But, Bonny," interposed Alaric, anxious to defend his own reputation,
"I wasn't told to look out for boats, but only to watch the cutter, and
I hardly took my eyes off of her until you came."

"That's all right; only by the time you've knocked round the world as
much as I have you'll find out that any fellow who expects to get
promoted has got to do a heap of things besides those he's told to do.
What he is told to do is generally only a hint of what he is expected to
do. But just listen to the old man. Isn't he laying down the law to
those chaps, though?"

The voices of those on the sloop came plainly to the ears of the hidden
lads, and above them all roared and bellowed that of Captain Duff, as
though he expected to overwhelm his enemies by sheer force of bluster.

"Chinamen!" he shouted--"Chinamen! No, sir, you won't find no Chinamen
about this craft, nor nothing else onlawful.

"Smell 'em, do ye? Smell 'em! So do I now, and hev ever sence you
revenooers come aboard. Seems like ye can't get the parfume out of your
clothing.

"Going to seize the sloop anyway, be ye? Wal, ye kin do it, seeing as
I'm all alone and a cripple. There'll come a day of reckoning, though--a
day of reckoning, d'ye hear? I'm a free-born American citizen, and I'll
protest agin this outrage till they hear me clear to Washington."

"He's heard over a good part of Washington this minute," whispered
Bonny. "But what are they talking about now?"

"Phil Ryder!" the captain was shouting. "Philip Ryder! No, sir, there
ain't no one of that name aboard this craft, nor hain't ever been as I
know of. I did know a Phil Ryder once, but--What's that ye say? That'll
do? Wa'l, it won't do, ye gold-mounted swab, not so long as I choose to
keep on talking. Look out there, or I'll brain ye sure as guns! Look
out, I--"

This last exclamation was directed to a couple of sturdy bluejackets,
who, obeying a significant nod from their officer, seized the irate
captain by either arm, hustled him down into his own cabin, and drew the
slide. Then leaving these two aboard the _Fancy_, the others re-entered
their boat and began to pull towards shore, with the evident intention
of making a search for the missing members of the sloop's crew as well
as for her recent passengers.

"Hello!" cried Bonny, softly, "this thing is beginning to get rather too
interesting for us, and the sooner we light out the better."

So the lads started on a run, and had gone but a few rods when Alaric,
catching his toe on a projecting root, was tripped up and fell heavily.
With such force was he flung to the ground that for several minutes he
was too sick and dizzy to rise. When he finally regained his feet, and
expressed a belief that he could again run, it was too late. The boat's
crew were already scattering through the woods, and one man detailed to
search the point was coming directly towards the place where the boys
were concealed.

It seemed inevitable that they should be discovered, and Alaric, already
giving himself up for lost, was beginning to see visions of the
government prison on MacNeil's Island, when Bonny spied one avenue of
escape that was still open to them.

"Scrooch low!" he whispered, "and follow me as softly as you can."

Alaric obeyed, and the young sailor began to move as rapidly as possible
towards the beach. With inexcusable carelessness the lieutenant had left
his boat hauled up on the shore without a man to guard her. Bonny
noticed this, and also that the sloop's dinghy still lay where he had
left it. If they could only reach the dinghy unobserved they would stand
a much better chance of making an escape by water than by land.

So the boys crept cautiously through the undergrowth without attracting
the attention of their only near-by pursuer, until they reached the
beach, where a cleared space of about one hundred feet intervened
between them and their coveted goal, and this they must cross, exposed
to the full view of any who might be looking that way. They paused for
an instant, drew long breaths, and then made a dash into the open.

Almost with the first sound of rattling pebbles beneath their feet came
a yell from behind. The bluejacket had discovered them, and was leaping
down the steep slope in hot pursuit.

"Run, Rick! You've got to run!" panted Bonny. "Give me the bag."
Snatching the canvas bag from Alaric's hand as he spoke, the active
young fellow darted ahead and flung it into the dinghy. "Now shove!" he
cried. "Shove, with all your might!"

It was all they could do to move the boat, for the tide had fallen
sufficiently to leave it hard aground, and with their first straining
shove they only gained a couple of feet; the next put half her length in
the water, and with a third effort she floated free.

"Tumble in!" shouted Bonny, and Alaric obeyed literally, pitching head
foremost across the thwarts with such violence that but for his
comrade's hold on the opposite side the boat would surely have been
capsized.

With the water above his knees, Bonny gave a final shove that sent the
boat a full rod from shore, and in turn tumbled aboard.

He was none too soon; for at that moment the sailor reached the spot
they had just left, and, rushing into the water, began to swim after
them with splendid overhand strokes. Bonny snatched up the dinghy's
single oar, and, seeing that they would be overtaken before he could get
the boat under way, brandished it like a club, threatening to bring it
down on the man's head if he came within reach.

A single glance at the lad's resolute face convinced the swimmer that he
was in dead earnest, and realizing his own helplessness, he wisely
turned back. Then with a shout of derision Bonny began to scull the
dinghy towards open water, while the sailor strove with unavailing
efforts to launch the heavy yawl.

Without troubling themselves any further about him, the lads turned
their attention to the sloop, which they were now approaching. The two
men left in charge had watched with great interest the scene just
enacted so close to them, but in which, having no boat at their
disposal, they were unable to participate. Now one of them shouted:
"Come aboard here, you young villains! What do you mean by running off
with government property?"

"What do you mean by eating my breakfast?" replied Alaric, hungrily, as
he noticed the men making a hearty meal off the food they had discovered
in the sloop's galley.

"Your breakfast, is it, son? So you belong to this craft, do you? Come
aboard and get it, then."

"Don't you wish we would?" retorted Bonny, jeeringly, as he stopped
sculling and allowed the dinghy to drift just beyond reach from the
sloop. "I say, though, you might toss us a couple of hardtack."

"What? Feed you young pirates with rations that's just been seized by
the government? Not much. I'm in the service, I am."

Just then a bright object flashed from one of the little round cabin
windows and fell in the dinghy. It was a box of sardines. Tins of potted
meat, mushrooms, and other delicacies followed in quick succession. One
or two fell in the water and were lost; but most of them reached their
destination, and were deftly caught by Alaric, whose baseball experience
was thus put to practical use. So before the bewildered guards fully
realized what was taking place the dinghy was fairly well provisioned.
At length one of them seemed to comprehend the situation, and sprang in
front of the open port just in time to stop with his legs a flying
tumbler of raspberry jam. As it broke and streamed down over his white
duck trousers the boys in the dinghy shouted with laughter, and nearly
rolled overboard in their irrepressible mirth.

All at once there came a hoarse shout from the same cabin port. "Look
astarn, ye lubbers! Look astarn!"

So occupied had the lads been with the sloop that they had given no
thought to what might be taking place on shore, but at this warning a
startled glance in that direction filled them with dismay.

Another sailor, attracted by the shouts on the beach, had returned to
the assistance of his mate, and together they had succeeded in launching
the yawl. Then, pulling very softly, they had slipped up on the unwary
lads, until they were so close that one of them had quit rowing, and
crept forward to the bow, where he crouched with an outstretched
boat-hook, that in another second would be caught over the dinghy's
sternboard.



CHAPTER XVI

ESCAPE OF THE FIRST MATE AND CREW


The situation certainly looked hopeless for our lads, and the men on the
sloop were already shouting derisively at them. Alaric caught another
mental glimpse of the government prison, and even Bonny's stout heart
experienced an instant of despair. He was still standing and holding the
oar that he had used in sculling. Moved by a sudden impulse, and just as
the extended boat-hook was dropping over the stern of the dinghy, he
struck it a smart blow with his oar, and had the good fortune to send it
whirling from the sailor's grasp. With a second quick motion the lad set
his oar against the stem of the yawl, that was within four feet of him,
and gave a vigorous shove. The slight headway of the heavy craft was
checked, and the lighter dinghy forged ahead.

"Oh, you will, will you, you young rascal?" cried the sailor, angrily,
as he leaped back to his thwart, and bent to his oar with furious
energy. His companion followed his example, and under the impetus of
their powerful strokes the yawl sprang forward. At the same time Bonny,
facing backward, and working his oar with both hands, was sculling so
sturdily that the dinghy rocked from side to side until it seemed to
Alaric that she must certainly capsize. She was making such splendid
headway, though, that the much heavier yawl could not gain an inch. Its
crew, unable to see the fugitive dinghy without turning their heads, and
having no one to steer for them, were placed at a disadvantage that
Bonny was quick to detect.

Watching his opportunity, he caused his craft to swerve sharply to one
side, and the yawl, holding her original course for some seconds before
his manoeuvre was discovered, his lead was thus materially increased.

Although not a very swift race, this novel chase proved as close and
exciting a contest as had ever been seen on the Sound. The men on the
sloop yelled with delight; and Alaric, filled with renewed hopes of
escape on seeing that the distance between dinghy and yawl was not
diminished, thrilled with excitement and shouted encouraging words to
his comrade.

In spite of all this, Bonny's strength and powers of endurance were so
much less than those of the sturdy fellows in the yawl that he realized
the impossibility of maintaining his position much longer. With strained
muscles, and his breath coming in panting gasps, he glanced wildly about
like a hunted animal in search of some avenue of escape. There was none
other than that he was taking; and with a sinking heart he knew that,
unless some miracle were interposed in their behalf, he and his
companion must speedily be captured.

But the miracle was interposed, and in the simplest possible manner; for
just as Bonny was ready to drop his oar from exhaustion a shrill,
long-drawn whistle sounded from the now distant beach. Its effect on the
crew of the yawl was magical. They stopped rowing, looked at each other,
and consulted. Then they gazed at the retreating dinghy and hesitated.
They felt it to be their duty to continue the pursuit, but they also
knew the penalty for disobeying an order from a superior, and that
whistle was an unmistakable order for them to go back.

The cutter's third lieutenant had returned from his expedition into the
woods with three wretched Chinamen, whom, despite their eagerly produced
certificates, he had seen fit to make prisoners. He was amazed to find
the yawl gone from where he had left it, and the details of the chase in
which it was engaged being hidden from him by the intervening sloop, he
gave the whistle signal for its immediate return.

As the crew of the yawl hesitated between duty and obedience, the
peremptory whistle order was repeated louder and shriller than before.
This decided the wavering sailors, and, reluctantly turning their boat,
they began to pull towards shore, one of them shaking his fist at the
boys as they went.

As for the fugitives, they could hardly believe the evidence of their
senses. Was the chase indeed given over, and were they free to go where
they pleased? It seemed incredible. Just as they were on the point of
being captured, too, for Bonny now confided to Alaric that he couldn't
have held out at that pace one minute longer. As he said this the tired
lad sat down for a short rest.

Almost immediately he again sprang to his feet, and, thrusting his oar
overboard, began to scull with one hand. "It won't do for us to be
loafing here," he explained, "for I expect those fellows have been
called back so that the whole crowd can chase us in the sloop."

"Oh, I hope not," said Alaric; "I'm awfully tired of running away."

"So am I," laughed Bonny--"tired in more ways than one; but if fellows
bigger than we are will insist on chasing us, I don't see that there is
anything for us to do but run. There! thank goodness we've rounded the
point at last, and got out of sight of them for a while at any rate."

"Where are you going now, and what do you propose to do next?" asked
Alaric, who, fully realizing his own helplessness in this situation, was
willing to leave the whole scheme of escape to his more experienced
companion.

"That's what I'm wondering. Of course it won't do to stay out here very
long, for in less than fifteen minutes the sloop will be shoving her
nose around that point. Nor it wouldn't be any use to try and get to
Tacoma--at least, not yet a while--for that's where they'll be most
likely to hunt for us. So I think we'd better cross the channel, turn
our boat adrift, and make our way overland to Skookum John's camp. It
isn't very sweet-smelling, and they don't feed you any too well--that
is, not according to our ideas--but just because it is such a mean kind
of a place no one will ever think of looking for us there. Besides,
Skookum's a very decent sort of a chap, and he'll keep us posted on all
that happens in the bay. So if you don't mind roughing it a bit--"

"No, indeed," interrupted Alaric, eagerly. "I don't mind it at all. In
fact, that is just what I want to do most of anything, and I've always
wished I could live in a real Indian camp. The only Indians I ever saw
were in the Wild West Show, in Paris."

"Have you been to Paris?" asked Bonny, wonderingly.

"Yes, of course, I was there for--I mean yes, I've been there. But,
Bonny, what makes you think of turning this boat adrift? Wouldn't we
find her useful?"

"I suppose we might; but she isn't our boat, you know, and you wouldn't
keep a boat that didn't belong to you just because it might prove
useful, would you?"

"No, certainly not," replied Alaric, rather surprised to have his
companion take this view of the question. "I would try to hand her over
to the rightful owner."

"So would I," agreed Bonny, "if I knew who he was; but after what has
just happened I don't know, and so I am going to turn her adrift in the
hope that he will find her. Besides, it wouldn't be safe to leave her on
shore, because she would show anybody who happened to be looking for us
just where we had landed."

"That's a much better reason than the other," said Alaric.

During this conversation the dinghy had been urged steadily across the
channel, and was now run up to a bold bank, where the boys disembarked.
After removing Alaric's bag and the several cans of provisions so
thoughtfully furnished them by Captain Duff, Bonny gave the boat a push
out into the channel, down which the ebbing tide bore her, with many a
twist and turn, towards the more open waters of the Sound.

"To be left in this way in an unknown wilderness makes me feel as Cortez
must have done when he burned his ships," reflected Alaric, as he
watched the receding craft.

"I don't think I ever heard about that," said Bonny, simply. "Did he do
it for the insurance?"

"Not exactly," laughed Alaric; "and yet in a certain way he did, too.
I'll tell you all about it some time. Now, what are you going to do
next?"

"Climb that bluff, lie down under those trees while you eat something,
and watch for the sloop," answered Bonny, as though his programme had
all been arranged beforehand.

They did this, and Alaric was so hungry that he made away with a whole
box of sardines and a tin of deviled ham. He wondered a little if they
would not make him ill, but did not worry much, for he was rapidly
learning that while leading an out-of-door life one may eat with
impunity many things that would kill one under ordinary conditions. He
had just finished his ham, and was casting thoughtful glances towards a
bottle of olives, when Bonny exclaimed, "There she is!"

Sure enough, the sloop, with the cutter's yawl in tow, was slowly
beating out past the point on the opposite side of the channel. She
stood well over towards the western shore, and the tide so carried her
down that when she tacked she was close under the bluff on which the
boys, stretched at full length and peering through a fringe of tall
grasses, watched her. She came so near that Alaric grew nervous, and was
certain her crew were about to make a landing at that very spot. With a
vision of MacNeil's Island always before him, he wanted to run from so
dangerous a vicinity and hide in the forest depths; but Bonny assured
him that the sloop would go about, and in another moment she did so,
greatly to Alaric's relief.

They could see that Captain Duff was still confined below, and they even
heard one of the men sing out to the officer in command: "There it is
now, sir, about two miles down the channel. I can see it plain."

"Very good," answered the lieutenant; "keep your eye on it, and note if
they make a landing. If they don't, we'll have them inside of half an
hour."

"Yes, you will," said Bonny, with a grin.

As the sloop passed out of hearing the lads crept back from the edge of
the bluff, gathered up their scanty belongings, and started through the
forest towards the place where Bonny believed Skookum John's camp to be
located. Although it lay somewhere down the coast in the same direction
as that taken by the sloop, it never occurred to either of them that
her new commander might stop there to make inquiries concerning them.

Thus when, after an hour of hard travel, they came suddenly on the camp,
located beside a tumbling stream in a rocky hollow that opened directly
on the water, they were terrified at sight of the cutter's yawl lying in
the mouth of the creek, and the revenue-officer standing on shore
engaged in earnest conversation with Skookum John himself. As they
hastily drew back into the forest shadows they saw the former wave his
arm comprehensively towards the country lying back of the camp. Then he
shook hands with the Indian and stepped into his boat. Just as it was
about to shove off, a villanous cur, scenting the newcomers, darted
towards their hiding-place, barking furiously.



CHAPTER XVII

SAVED BY A LITTLE SIWASH KID


The attention of the departing revenue-officer being attracted by the
barking dog, he paused, and glanced inquiringly in that direction. It
was a critical moment for our lads, who knew not whether to run, which
would be to reveal their presence at once, or to try and kill the dog,
with probably the same result. Fortunately they were spared the
necessity of a decision, for a little girl, whom up to this moment they
had not noticed, though she was quietly at play with a family of
clam-shell dolls directly in front of them, took the matter into her own
hands. She had just arranged her score or so of dolls in _potlatch_
order, with the most favored near at hand, when the dog, charging that
way, threatened to upset the whole company. To avert such a catastrophe
the child snatched up a stick, and springing forward in defence of her
property, began to belabor him with such a hearty will, and scream at
him so shrilly, as to entirely divert his attention from his original
object.

Taking advantage of this diversion in their favor, the boys stole softly
away, and after making a long détour through the forest, cautiously
approached the coast a mile or more from Skookum John's camp, but where
they could command a wide view of the Sound. Here they had the
satisfaction of seeing the yawl, under sail, standing off shore, and a
full half-mile from it. The sloop was not visible, nor was the cutter.

"How could he have known just where to look for us?" asked Alaric, who
had been greatly alarmed at the imminence of their recent danger.

"He couldn't have known," replied Bonny. "It was only a good guess. I
suppose he overhauled our boat, and, finding her empty, made up his mind
that we had landed somewhere. Of course he couldn't tell on which shore
to look, but, noticing John's camp, thought it would be a good idea to
find out if the Indians had seen anything of us. Of course they hadn't,
and now that he has left, it will be safe enough for us to go back."

"Do you really think so? Isn't there any other place to which we can
go?" asked Alaric, whose dread of being captured by the revenue-officers
was so great as to render him overcautious.

"Plenty of them, but no other that I know of within reach, where we
could find food, fire to cook it, and a boat to carry us somewhere else;
for there aren't any white settlers or any other Indians that I know of
within miles of here."

In spite of this assurance Alaric was so loath to venture that the boys
spent several hours in discussing their situation and prospects before
he finally consented to revisit Skookum John's camp. By this time the
day was drawing to its close, and the lengthening forest shadows, flung
far out over the placid waters of the Sound, were so suggestive of a
night of darkness and hunger amid all sorts of possible terrors as to
outweigh all other considerations. So the boys plunged into the twilight
gloom of the thick-set trees, and began the uncertain task of retracing
the way by which they had come.

As neither of them was a woodsman, this soon proved more difficult than
they had expected. The trees all looked alike, and they made so many
turns to avoid prostrate trunks and masses of entangled branches that
within half an hour they came to a halt, and each read in the troubled
face of the other a confirmation of his own fears. They had certainly
lost their way, and could not even tell in which direction lay the
sea-shore they had so recently left. Bonny thought it was in front,
while Alaric was equally certain that it still lay behind them.

"If we could only make a fire," said the former, "I wouldn't mind so
much staying right where we are till daylight; but I should hate to do
so without one. Haven't you any matches?"

"Not one," replied Alaric; "but I thought you always carried them."

"So I do; but I used them all on that old lantern last night. I almost
wish now I'd never invented that thing, and that they had caught us.
They wouldn't have starved us, at any rate, and perhaps the prison isn't
so very bad, after all."

"I don't know about that," rejoined Alaric, stoutly. "To my mind a
prison is the very worst thing, worse even than starving. After all,
this doesn't seem to me so bad a fix as some from which I've already
escaped. Going to China, for instance, or drifting alone at night in a
small boat."

"What do you mean by going to China?" asked Bonny, wonderingly.

"Hark!" exclaimed the other, without answering this question. "Don't you
hear something?"

"Nothing but the wind up aloft."

"Well, I do. I hear some sort of a moaning, and it sounds like a child."

"Maybe it's a bear or a wolf, or something of that kind," suggested
Bonny, whose notions concerning wild animals were rather vague.

"Of course it may be," admitted Alaric; "but it sounds so human that we
must go and find out, for if it is a child in distress we are bound to
rescue it."

"Yes, I suppose we are; only if it proves to be a bear, I wonder who
will rescue us."

Alaric had already set off in the direction of the moaning; and ere they
had taken half a dozen steps Bonny also heard it plainly. Then they
paused and shouted, hoping that if the sound came from a bear the animal
would run away. As they could hear no evidences of a retreat, and as the
moaning still continued, they again pushed on. It was now so dark that
they could do little more than feel their way past trees, over logs, and
through dense beds of ferns. All the while the sound by which they were
guided grew more and more distinct, until it seemed to come from their
very feet.

At this moment the moaning ceased, as though the sufferer were
listening. Then it was succeeded by a plaintive cry that went straight
to Alaric's heart. He could dimly see the outline of a great log
directly before him. Stooping beside it and groping among the ferns, his
hands came in contact with something soft and warm that he lifted
carefully. It was a little child, who uttered a sharp cry of mingled
pain and terror at being picked up by a stranger.

"Poor little thing!" exclaimed the boy. "I am afraid it is badly
injured, and shouldn't be one bit surprised if it had broken a limb. I
must try and find out so as not to hurt it unnecessarily."

"Well," said Bonny, in a tragic tone, "they say troubles fly in flocks.
I thought we were in a pretty bad fix before; but now we surely have run
into difficulty. Whatever are we to do with a baby?"

"Bonny!" cried Alaric, without answering this question, "I do believe
it's the little Indian girl who drove away the dog, and something is
the matter with one of her ankles."

"Skookum John's little Siwash kid!" exclaimed Bonny, joyfully. "Then we
can't be so very far from his camp. Now if we only knew in which
direction it lay."

As if in answer to this wish there came a cry, far-reaching and long
drawn: "Nittitan! Nittitan! Ohee! Ohee!"

For several hours Skookum John and his eldest son, Bah-die, had been
searching the woods for two white lads whom the third lieutenant of the
cutter claimed to have lost. He had promised the Indian a reward of
twenty-five dollars if he would bring them to the cutter, and Skookum
John had at once set forth with the idea of earning this money as
speedily as possible.

Little Nittitan, his youngest daughter, whom he loved above all others,
noted his going, and after a while decided to follow him. When darkness
put an end to the Indian's fruitless search and he returned to his camp,
he found it in an uproar. Nittitan was missing, and no one could imagine
what had become of her.

For a moment the bereaved father was stunned. Then he prepared several
torches, and, accompanied by Bah-die, set forth to find her. At the edge
of the forest he raised a mighty cry that he hoped would reach the
little one's ears. To his amazement it was answered by a cheery "Hello!
Hello there, Skookum John!"

"Ohee! Ohee!" shouted the Indian.

"Here's your _tenas klootchman_" (little woman), came the voice from the
forest, and the happy father knew that he who shouted had found the lost
child and was bringing her to him.

[Illustration: THE ARRIVAL AT SKOOKUM JOHN'S]

On the outskirts of his camp he stood and waited, with blazing torch
uplifted above his head, and an expectant group of women and half-grown
children huddled behind him. He was greatly perplexed when a few minutes
later a tall white lad whom he had never before seen emerged from the
forest bearing the lost child in his arms. There was another behind him,
though, who was promptly recognized, for Skookum John knew Bonny Brooks
well, and instantly it came to him that these were the boys whom the
revenue-man claimed to have lost. And they had found his little one. How
glad he was that his own search for them had been unsuccessful! But this
was not the time to be thinking of them. There was his own little
Nittitan. He must have her in his arms and hold her close before he
could feel that she was really safe.

He stepped forward to take her, but the strange lad drew back, and Bonny
cried out: "_Kloshe nanitsh, Skookum. Tenas klootchman la pee, hyas
sick_," by which he conveyed the idea that the little woman had hurt her
foot quite badly. Then he added, "It's all right, Rick. He understands
that he must handle her gently."

So Alaric relinquished his burden, and the swarthy father, rejoicing but
anxious, bore the child to a rude hut of brush and cedar mats, the open
front of which was faced by a brightly blazing fire. Here he laid her
gently down on a soft bear-skin and knelt beside her.

Alaric, who seemed to consider the child as still under his care, knelt
on the opposite side and began to feel very carefully of one of the
little ankles. He had not spent all his life in company with doctors
without learning something of their trade, and after a brief examination
he announced to Bonny that there were no broken bones, but merely a
dislocation of the ankle-joint.

"I don't know anything about it," said Bonny, "but I should think that
would be just as bad."

"No, indeed! A dislocation is not serious if promptly attended to. You
explain to him that I am a sort of a doctor, and can make the child well
in a few seconds if he will let me. Then I want him to hold her while I
pull the joint into place."

So Bonny explained that his friend was a _hyas doctin_ or great
medicine-man who could make Nittitan well _hyak_ (quick), and the
anxious father, having implicit faith in the white man's skill,
consented to allow Alaric to make the attempt.

The little one uttered a sharp cry, as, with a quick wrench, the
dislocated bone was snapped into place, and Alaric, with flushed face,
but very proud of what he had done, regained his feet.

"Now," he said, "let them bathe the ankle in water as hot as the child
can bear, and by to-morrow she'll be all right. And, Bonny, if you know
how to ask for anything to eat, for goodness' sake take pity on the
starving poor, and say it quick."



CHAPTER XVIII

LIFE IN SKOOKUM JOHN'S CAMP


Skookum John, which in Chinook means "Strong John," was a Makah, or Neah
Bay, Indian, whose home was at Cape Flattery, on the shore of the
Pacific, and at the southern side of the entrance to the superb strait
of Juan de Fuca. He was a _Tyhee_, or chief, among his people, for he
was not only their biggest man, being a trifle over six feet tall, while
very few of his tribe exceeded five feet nine inches in height, but he
was the boldest and most successful hunter of whales among them. This
alone would have given him high rank in the tribe, for to them the
whales that frequent the warm waters of the coast are what buffalo were
to the Indians of the great plains.

The Makahs are fish-eaters, and while they catch and dry or smoke
quantities of salmon, halibut, and cod, they esteem the whale more than
all other denizens of the sea, because there is so much of him, because
he is so good to eat, and because he furnishes them with the oil which
they use on all their food, as we use butter, and which they trade for
nearly every other necessity of their simple life.

They hunt the whale in big open canoes hewn from logs of yellow-cedar,
long-beaked and wonderfully carved, painted a dead black outside and
bright red within. Formerly they used sails of cedar matting, but now
they are made of heavy drilling or light duck. Eight men go in a
whaling-canoe--one to steer, one to throw the slender harpoons, and six
to wield the long paddles, the blades of which are wide at the upper end
and gradually narrow to a point below, which is the very best way to
make all paddles except those used for steering. In these canoes Skookum
John and his people chase whales far out to sea, sometimes following
them for days without returning to land. Every time they get near enough
to one of the monsters they hurl into him a harpoon, to the head of
which is attached, by a length of stout kelp, a float made of a whole
seal-skin sewn up and inflated. The heavy drag of these floats
eventually so tires the whale that he is at the mercy of his enemies,
and they tow him ashore in triumph.

The big Siwash, being an expert whaleman, had much oil to trade, and
made frequent visits to Victoria for this purpose. Here, being an
intelligent man and keenly noticing all that he saw, he learned much
concerning the whites and their ways, besides picking up a fair
knowledge of their language.

So it happened that when the smugglers who proposed to operate in the
upper Sound began to cast, about for some trustworthy person, who would
also be free from suspicion, to look out for their interests in that
section, and keep them posted as to the whereabouts of cutters, they
very wisely selected Skookum John, and offered him inducements that he
could not afford to refuse. He, of course, knew nothing of the laws they
proposed to violate, nor did he care, for political economy had never
been included in Skookum John's studies.

So the Makah Tyhee closed his substantial house of hewn planks on Neah
Bay, and, with all his wives and children--of whom Bah-die was the
eldest and little Nittitan the youngest--and his dogs and canoes, and
much whale oil, and many mats, he made the long journey to the place in
which we find him. Here he established a summer camp of brush huts, and
ostensibly went into the business of fishing for the Tacoma market. He
had brought his big whaling-canoe, and the little paddling canoes in
which his children were accustomed to brave the Pacific breakers
apparently for the fun of being rolled over and over in the surf. Above
all, he had brought a light sailing-canoe which was fashioned with such
skill that its equal for speed and weatherly qualities had never been
seen among canoes of its size on the coast. It was in this swift craft
that he darted about the Sound at night to discover the movements of
revenue-men, watch for signals from incoming smugglers, and flash in
return the lights that told of safety or danger.

Although not possessed of a high sense of honor, Skookum John was loyal
to his employers, because it paid him to be so, and because no one had
ever tempted him to be otherwise. At the same time he was not above
performing a service for the other side, provided it would also pay, and
so he did not hesitate to promise the cutter's third lieutenant that in
return for twenty-five dollars he would use every effort to find and
return to him the lost boys. As the lieutenant had not seen fit to
mention the capture of the smuggling sloop that morning, or to say that
the boys in question formed part of her crew, he had no idea that one of
them was the lad with whom he had arranged his entire system of night
signals.

When he did learn of the blow that threatened to retire him from
business, and the reason why the revenue-men were so desirous of finding
the lost boys, he began to wish that he saw his way clear to the winning
of that reward, for twenty-five dollars is a large sum to be made so
easily. But the revenue-men wanted _two_ boys, and the only other one
besides Bonny at present available, was the young medicine-man, the
_hyas doctin_, who had not only found his dearly loved Nittitan in the
dark _hyas stick_ (forest), but had so marvellously mended what he
firmly believed to have been a broken leg.

The old Siwash was not honorable, and he was very mercenary. At the same
time, he was grateful, and would have suffered much to prevent harm from
coming to the lad who had placed him under such obligations. He was also
superstitious, and rather afraid of the powers of a _hyas doctin_. So he
determined to make the boys as comfortable as possible, and keep them
with him until he could communicate with the _Tyhee_ of the _piah-ship_
(steamer). If two lost boys were worth twenty-five dollars, one lost boy
must be worth at least half that sum; while it was just possible that he
might obtain the whole reward for one boy. In that case, Bonny must be
handed over to those who were willing to pay for him; for business is
business even among the Siwash, and charity begins at home all over the
world. Of course, Skookum John did not use these expressions, for he was
not acquainted with them, but what he thought meant exactly the same
thing.

In consequence of these reflections, all of which passed the Indian's
mind in the space of a few seconds, Bonny had no time to make a request
for food before the very best that the camp afforded was placed before
them. There were small square chunks of whale-skin, as black and tough
as the heel of a rubber boot. It was expected that these would be chewed
for a moment, until the impossibility of masticating them was
discovered, and that they would then be swallowed whole. After them came
boiled fishes heads, of which the eyes were considered the chief
delicacy, and these were followed by several kinds of dried and smoked
fish, including salmon and halibut, besides bits of smoked whale looking
like so many pieces of dried citron. All of these were to be dipped in
hot whale oil before being eaten.

Then came another course of fish--this time fresh and plain
boiled--which the Indians ate with a liberal supply of whale oil. Then
boiled potatoes which were also dipped in oil after each bite. The
crowning glory of the feast was a small quantity of hard bread, which
for a change was dipped in whale oil and eaten dripping, and with this
was served a mixture of huckleberries and oil beaten to a paste.

In regard to this liberal use of oil it must be said that Skookum John's
whale oil was universally acknowledged to be the sweetest and most
skilfully prepared to prevent rancidity of any in the Neah Bay village,
and his family regarded it with the same pride that the proprietors of
the best Orange County dairy do the finest products of their churn. It
was therefore a great disappointment to them that Alaric did not
appreciate it, and after trying a small quantity on a bit of potato,
refused a further supply. He even seemed to prefer pâté-de-foie-gras, of
which the boys had a single jar. This he opened in honor of the
occasion, and with it to spread over his bread and potatoes, a liberal
helping of the boiled fish, and an innumerable number of smoked halibut
strips boiled after a manner taught him by Bonny, the millionaire's son
made a supper that he declared was one of the very best he had ever
eaten.

In order that their new-found friends might not feel too badly over
Alaric's refusal to partake more liberally of their whale oil, Bonny
gave them to understand that it was not because he disliked it, but not
being accustomed to rich food, he was afraid of making himself ill if he
indulged in it too freely.

At this meal the young sailor tasted both pâté-de-foie-gras and whale
oil for the first time, and after carefully considering the merits of
the two delicacies, declared that he could not tell which was the worse,
and that as it would be just as difficult to learn to like one as the
other, he thought he would devote his energies to the oil.

After supper a rude shelter against the chill dampness of the night was
constructed of small poles covered with a number of the useful bark
mats, of which the Indian women of that coast make enormous quantities.
A few armfuls of spruce-tips were cut and spread beneath it, a couple of
mats were laid over these, two more were provided for covering, and
Alaric's first camp bed was ready for him. Both lads were so dead tired
that they needed no second invitation to fling themselves down on their
sweet-scented couch, and were asleep almost instantly. As Skookum John
and Bah-die had also been out all the night before, they were not long
in following the example of their guests, and so within an hour after
supper the whole camp was buried in a profound slumber.

By earliest daylight of the next morning the older Indian was up and
stirring about very softly so as not to awaken the strangers. He was
about to make an effort to earn that twenty-five dollars, and believed
that by careful management it might be his before noon. He planned to
notify the commander of the cutter that while he could deliver one of
the desired lads into his hands, the other had taken a canoe and gone to
Tacoma, where he would no doubt be readily found. If the _Tyhee_ of the
_piah-ship_ agreed to pay him the offered reward or even half of it for
one lad, he would ask that a boat might be sent to the camp for him. In
the meantime he would return first and invite both boys to go out
fishing--Bonny in a canoe with him, and the other in a second canoe
with Bah-die, who would be instructed to take his passenger out of sight
somewhere up the coast. Then the cutter's boat would be allowed to
overtake his canoe, and Bonny would be handed over to those who wanted
him, without trouble.

It was an admirably conceived plan, and the old Siwash chuckled over it
as he softly launched his lightest canoe, stepped into it, and paddled
swiftly away.



CHAPTER XIX

A TREACHEROUS INDIAN FROM NEAH BAY


To his great disappointment, Skookum John could not find the cutter that
he had heretofore so carefully avoided and was now so anxious to
discover. She no longer lay where he had seen her the day before. He
even went far enough into Commencement Bay to take a look at Tacoma
harbor and identify the several steamers lying at its wharves. The
cutter was not among them, and he made the long trip back to his own
camp in a very disgusted frame of mind. At the same time he was
determined to redouble his efforts to gain that reward, for with the
prospect of losing it it began to assume an increased value.

With one source of income cut off, it was clearly his duty to provide
another. And how could he do this better than by securing the good-will
of those on board the white _piah-ship_? There was no danger of them
being captured and driven out of business, and if he could only get them
into the habit of paying him for doing things, he could see no reason
why they should not continue to do so indefinitely.

The old Siwash had already persuaded himself that they would give him
twenty-five dollars for one _tenas man_ (boy), and by the same course of
reasoning he now wondered if they might not be induced to give him fifty
dollars for two boys. It was possible, and certainly worth trying for.
If they should consent, he could not see how, in justice to himself and
his family, he could refuse to give up the _hyas doctin_ (Alaric) along
with the _tenas shipman_ (young sailor). After all, the former had not
placed him under such a very great obligation, for he would have found
Nittitan himself in a very few minutes. As for curing her of her injury,
the hurt could not have been anything serious or she would not have gone
to sleep so quickly. Yes, for fifty dollars he would certainly deliver
both of his young guests to the _shipman Tyhee_. He would be a fool to
do otherwise, and Skookum John had never yet been called a fool.
Besides, it was not likely that the boys would come to any harm on board
the cutter, for the _Boston men_ (whites) were very good to those of
their own tribe, never treating them cruelly, as they did the poor
Siwash, whom they had even forbidden to kill and rob shipwrecked sailors
found on their coast. Yes, indeed, both boys must be given up, and that
fifty dollars reward received as quickly as possible.

It was all a very rational process of reasoning, and one that even white
people sometimes employ to convince themselves that a thing they want to
do is the right thing to do, even though their consciences may assure
them to the contrary.

So the cunning old Indian, having persuaded himself that his meditated
treachery was pure benevolence, reached his camp in good spirits in
spite of his disappointment, and determined to make the stay of the boys
so pleasant that they should offer no objection to remaining with him
until the return of the cutter to those waters.

It was a glorious morning, and the dimpled Sound was flooded with
unclouded sunlight that even shot long golden shafts into the depths of
its bordering forest. Myriads of fish were leaping from the sparkling
water, cheerful voices sounded from the camp, and the smoke of burning
cedar filled the air with its delicate perfume.

The boys had been awake and out for an hour, and Alaric was fairly
intoxicated with the glorious freedom of that wild life, of which this
was his first taste. Already had he taken a swimming-lesson, and
although in his ignorance he had recklessly plunged into water that
would have drowned him had not Bonny and Bah-die pulled him out, he was
confident that he had swum one stroke before going down.

Upon Skookum John's return his guests sat down with him to a breakfast
which their ravenous appetites enabled them to eat with a hearty
enjoyment, though it consisted only of fish, fish, and yet more fish.

"But it is such capital fish!" explained Alaric.

"Isn't it?" replied Bonny, tearing with teeth and fingers at a great
strip of smoked salmon. "And the oil isn't half bad, either."

After they had finished eating, and their host had lighted his pipe, he
told Bonny that his early morning trip had been taken out of his anxiety
for their safety, and to discover the whereabouts of their enemies, the
revenue-men.

"_They mamook klatawa?_" (Have they gone away?) inquired Bonny.

"_No; piah-ship mitlite Tacoma illahie_" (No; steamer stay in Tacoma).
"_Shipman Tyhee cultus wau wau_" (The sailor chief made much worthless
talk).

"_Mesika wau wau Tyhee?_ (Did you talk to the captain?) inquired Bonny,
anxiously.

"_Ah ah, me wau wau no klap tenas man. Alta piah-ship kopet Tacoma
illahie. Mesika mitlite Skookum John house._"

By this sentence he conveyed to Bonny the idea that he had told the
captain the boys were not to be found. At the same time he extended to
them the hospitality of his camp for so long as the cutter should remain
at Tacoma.

When Bonny repeated this conversation to Alaric, the latter exclaimed:
"Of course we would better stay here, where we are safe until the cutter
goes away, even if it is a week from now. I hope it will be as long as
that, for I think this camp is one of the jolliest places I ever
struck."

"All right," replied Bonny. "If you can stand it, I can."

So the boys settled quietly down and waited for something to happen,
though it seemed to Alaric as though something of interest and
importance were happening nearly all the time. To begin with, they built
themselves a brush hut under Bah-die's instruction, the steep-pitched
roof of which would shed rain. Then they both took lessons from the same
teacher in sailing and paddling a canoe. The supply of fish for the camp
had to be replenished daily, and this duty devolved entirely upon the
younger children, for Bah-die went always with his father to draw the
big seine net, in which they caught fish for market. As the lads were
anxious to earn their board, they sometimes went in the big boat, and
sometimes in the small canoes with the children, by which means they
learned all the different ways known to the Indians of catching fish.
With all this, Alaric's swimming-lessons were not neglected for a single
day, and he often took baths both morning and evening, so fascinated was
he with the novel sport.

In return for what Bah-die taught him, he undertook to train the young
Siwash in the art of catching a baseball. The latter having watched him
and Bonny pass the ball and catch it with perfect ease, one day held
out his hands, as much as to say, "Here you go; give us a catch."

Alaric, who held the ball at that moment, let drive a swift one straight
at him. When Bah-die dropped it, and clapped his smarting hands to his
sides with an expression of pained astonishment on his face, the white
lad knew just how he felt. He could plainly recall the sensations of his
own experience on that not-very-long-ago day in Golden Gate Park; and
while he sympathized with Bah-die, he could not help exulting in the
fact that he had discovered one boy of his own age more ignorant than he
concerning an athletic sport. Then he set to work to show the young
Siwash how to catch a ball just as Dave Carncross had shown him, and in
so doing he experienced a genuine pleasure. He was growing to be like
other boys, and the knowledge that this was so filled him with delight.

Nearly every day Skookum John sailed over to Tacoma, ostensibly to carry
his fish, but really to discover whether or not the cutter had returned,
and each night he came back glum with disappointment. Bonny often asked
to be allowed to go to the city with him, as he was impatient to be
again at work; but the Indian invariably put him off on the plea that if
the cutter-men discovered one whom they were so anxious to capture in
his canoe, they would punish him for having afforded the fugitive a
shelter.

The young sailor could not understand why the cutter remained so long in
one place, for he had never known her to do such a thing before, and
many a talk did he and Alaric have on the subject.

"They must be waiting in the hope of catching us," Alaric would say,
"and the mere fact that they are so anxious to find us shows how
important it is for us to keep out of the way."

So time wore on until our lads had spent two full weeks in the Siwash
camp, and had become heartily sick of it. To be sure, Alaric had grown
brown and rugged, besides becoming almost an adept in the several arts
he had undertaken to master. His hands were no longer white, and their
palms were covered with calloused spots instead of blisters. He was now
a fair swimmer, could paddle a canoe with some skill, and understood its
management under sail. He knew not only how to catch fish, but how to
detach them from the hook. He could catch a baseball nearly as well as
Dave Carncross himself, besides being able to throw one with swiftness
and precision. He was learning to cook certain things, mostly of a fishy
nature, in a rude way, and had gone through several trying experiences
in trying to wash his own underclothing. Having broken his comb into
half a dozen pieces by sitting down on it, he had allowed Bonny to cut
his hair as short as possible with a pair of scissors borrowed from one
of the squaws. The result, while wholly satisfactory to Alaric, who
fortunately had no mirror in which to see himself, was so unique that
Bonny was impelled to frequent laughter without apparent cause.

Two things, however, distressed Alaric greatly, and one was his
clothing, which was not only ragged, but soiled beyond anything he had
ever dreamed of wearing. His canvas shoes, from frequent soakings and
much walking on rocks, were so broken that they nearly dropped from his
feet. His woollen trousers were shrunken and bagged at the knees, while
his blue sweater, besides being torn, had faded to a brownish red. With
all this he was comforted by the reflection that he still had a good
suit in reserve that he could wear whenever they should be free to go to
the city.

His other great trial was the food of that Siwash camp. He had never
been particularly fond of fish, and now, after eating it alone three
times a day for two weeks, the very thought of fish made him ill. He
loathed it so that it seemed to him he would almost rather go to prison,
with a chance of getting something else to eat, than to remain any
longer on a fish diet. From both these trials Bonny suffered nearly as
much as his companion.

One day when the boys had just decided that they could not stand this
sort of thing any longer, they were out fishing in the swift-sailing
canoe with Bah-die, Skookum John having gone in the larger boat to
Tacoma. While they gloomily pursued their now distasteful employment a
sail-boat containing two white men ran alongside to obtain bait. As
these were the first of their own race with whom the boys had found an
opportunity to talk since coming to that place, Bonny began to ply them
with questions. Among others he asked:

"What is the revenue-cutter doing at Tacoma all this time? Has she
broken down?"

"She isn't there," replied one of the men.

"Isn't there?" repeated Bonny, incredulously.

"No; nor hasn't been for upwards of two weeks. We are expecting her back
every day, though."

Then the men sailed away, leaving our lads to stare at each other in
speechless amazement.



CHAPTER XX

AN EXCITING RACE FOR LIBERTY


"What do you suppose it all means?" asked Alaric, as the boat containing
the two white men sailed away.

"If it is true, it means that somebody has been fooling us, and you know
who he is as well as I do," replied Bonny, who did not care to mention
names within Bah-die's hearing. "If I'm not very much mistaken, it means
also that he is trying to hold on to us until the cutter comes back. You
know they offered him a reward to find us."

"Only twenty-five dollars," interposed Alaric, who could not imagine
anybody committing an act of treachery for so small a sum.

"That would be a good deal to some people. I don't know but what it
would be to me just now."

"If I had once thought he was after the money," continued Alaric, "I
would have offered him twice as much to deal squarely with us."

"Would you?" asked Bonny, with a queer little smile, for his comrade's
remarks concerning money struck him as very absurd. "Where would you
have got it?"

"I meant, of course, if I had it," replied the other, flushing, and
wondering at his own stupidity. "But what do you think we ought to do
now?"

"Sail over to Tacoma as quick as we can, and see whether the cutter is
there or not. When we find that out we'll see what is to be done next."

"But we may meet John on the way."

"I don't care. That's a good idea, though. I've been wondering how we
should get our friend here to agree to the plan." Then turning to
Bah-die, and speaking in Chinook, Bonny suggested that as the fishing
was not very good and there was a fine breeze for sailing, they should
run out into the Sound and meet the big canoe on its way back from
Tacoma, to which plan the young Siwash unsuspectingly agreed.

Half an hour later the swift canoe was dashing across the open Sound
before a rattling breeze that heeled her down until her lee gunwale was
awash, though her three occupants were perched high on the weather side.
The city was dimly visible in the distance ahead, and near at hand the
big canoe which they were ostensibly going to meet was rapidly
approaching. Bonny was steering, and Bah-die held the main-sheet, while
the jib-sheets were intrusted to Alaric.

Skookum John had already recognized them, and as they came abreast of
him motioned to them to put about; but Bonny, affecting not to
understand, resolutely maintained his course. They were well past the
other craft, which was coming about as though to follow them, before
Bah-die realized that anything was wrong. Then obeying an angry order
shouted to him by his father, he let go the main-sheet without warning,
causing the canoe to right so violently as to very nearly fling her
passengers overboard, and attempted to wrest the steering-oar from
Bonny's hand.

Seeing this, and with the desperate feeling of an escaped prisoner who
sees himself about to be recaptured, Alaric sprang aft, seized the young
Indian by the legs, and with a sudden output of all his recently
acquired strength, pitched him headlong into the sea. Then catching the
main-sheet, he trimmed it in. Down heeled the canoe until it seemed as
though she certainly must capsize; but Alaric, looking very pale and
determined, held fast to the straining rope, and would not yield an
inch.

It was well that he had learned this lesson, and was possessed of the
courage to apply it, for the canoe did not gather headway an instant too
soon. Bah-die, emerging from his plunge furious with rage, was swimming
towards her, and made a frantic attempt to grasp the gunwale as she
slipped away. His clutching fingers only missed it by the fraction of an
inch, and before he could make another effort the quick-moving craft was
beyond his reach. He was too wise to attempt a pursuit, and turned,
instead, to meet the big canoe, which was approaching him.

"That was a mighty fine thing to do, Rick Dale!" cried Bonny,
admiringly, "and but for you we should be on our way back to that
hateful camp at this very moment. Of course they may catch us yet with
that big boat, but we've got a show and must make the most of it. So
throw your weight as far as you can out to windward, and don't ease off
that sheet unless you see solid water pouring in over the gunnel."

"All right," replied Alaric, shortly, almost too excited for words.

Both lads realized that after what had just taken place it would be
nearly as unpleasant to fall into the hands of Skookum John as into
those of the revenue-men themselves, and both were determined that this
should not happen if they could prevent it. But could they? Fast as they
were sailing, it seemed to Alaric as though the big canoe rushing after
them was sailing faster. Bonny dared not take his attention from the
steering long enough to even cast a glance behind. Managing the canoe
was now more difficult than before, because they had lost one hundred
and fifty pounds of live ballast.

When Alaric looked at the water flashing by them it seemed as though he
had never moved so fast in his life, while a glance at the big boat
astern almost persuaded him that they were creeping at a snail's pace.
It was certain that the long, wicked-looking beak of the pursuing craft
was drawing nearer. Finally it was so close at hand that he could
distinguish the old Indian's scowling features and the expression of
triumph on Bah-die's face. The lad's heart grew heavy within him, for
the city wharves were still far away, and with things as they were the
chase was certain to be ended before they could be reached.

All at once an exclamation from Bonny directed his attention to another
craft coming up the Sound and bearing down on them as though to take
part in the race. It was a powerful sloop-yacht standing towards the
city from the club-house on Maury Island, and its crew were greatly
interested in the brush between the two canoes.

Either by design or accident, the yacht, which was to windward of the
chase, stood so close to the big canoe as to completely blanket her, and
so take the wind from her sails that she almost lost headway. Then, as
though to atone for her error, the yacht bore away so as to run between
pursuer and pursued, and pass to leeward of the smaller canoe. As the
beautiful craft swept by our lads with a flash of rushing waters,
glinting copper, and snowy sails, a cheery voice rang out: "Well done,
plucky boys! Stick to it, and you'll win yet!"

Alaric could not see the speaker, because of the sail between them, but
the tones were so startlingly familiar that for a moment he imagined the
voice to belong to the stranger who had talked with him on the wharf at
Victoria, and whom he now knew for a revenue-officer. If that were the
case, they were indeed hopelessly surrounded by peril. He was about to
confide his fears to Bonny, when like a flash it came to him that the
voice was that of Dave Carncross, whom he had not seen since that
memorable day in Golden Gate Park.

Although he had no desire to meet this friend of the ball-field under
the present circumstances, he was greatly relieved to find his first
suspicion groundless, and again directed his attention to the big canoe,
which, although she had lost much distance, was again rushing after
them. The boy now noticed for the first time, not more than half a mile
astern of her, a white steamer with a dense column of smoke pouring from
her yellow funnel, and evidently bound for the same port with
themselves.

Soon afterwards they had passed the smeltery, saw-mills, and
lumber-loading vessels of the old town, and were approaching the cluster
of steamships lying at the wharves of the Northern Pacific Railway,
which here finds its western terminus. Off these the yacht had already
dropped her jib and come to anchor. The big canoe was again overhauling
them, and looked as though she might overtake them, after all. A boat
from the yacht was making towards the wharves, and Bonny, believing that
it would find a landing-place, slightly altered his course so as to
follow the same direction.

All at once Alaric, who was again gazing nervously astern, cried out:
"Look at that steamer! I do believe it is going to run down the big
canoe."

Bonny glanced hastily over his shoulder, and uttered an exclamation of
dismay.

"Great Scott! It's the cutter," he gasped. "And they are right on top of
us. Now we are in for it."

"They are speaking to John, and he is pointing to us," said Alaric.

"Never mind them now," said Bonny. "Ease off your sheet a bit, and 'tend
strictly to business. We've still a chance, and can't afford to make any
mistakes."

A few minutes later, just as a yawl was putting off from the cutter's
side, the small canoe rounded the end of a wharf and came upon a
landing-stage. On it the yacht's boat had just deposited a couple of
passengers, who, with bags in their hands, were hastening up a flight of
steps.

"Here, you!" cried Bonny to one of the yacht's crew who stood on the
float, "look out for this canoe a minute. We've got to overtake those
gentlemen. Come on, Rick."

Without waiting to see whether this order would be obeyed, the boys ran
up the flight of steps and dashed away down the long wharf. They had no
idea of where they should go, and were only intent on finding some
hiding-place from the pursuers, whom they believed to be already on
their trail.

As they were passing a great ocean steamer whose decks were crowded with
passengers, and which was evidently about to depart, a carriage drew up
in front of them, so close that they narrowly escaped being run over. As
its door was flung open a voice cried out:

"Here, boys! Get these traps aboard the steamer. Quick!"

With this a gentleman sprang out and thrust a couple of bags, a
travelling-rug, and a gun-case into their hands. A lady with a little
boy followed him. He snatched up the child, and the whole party ran up
the gang-plank of the steamer as it was about to be hauled ashore.

Our lads had accepted this chance to board the steamer without
hesitation, and now ran ahead of the others. The clerk at the inner end
of the gang-plank allowed them to pass, thinking, of course, that they
would deposit their burdens on deck and immediately return to the wharf.

With an instinct born of long familiarity with ocean steamers, Alaric
made his way through the throng of passengers to the main saloon, and
Bonny followed him closely. Here they placed their burdens on a table,
and, with Alaric still in the lead, disappeared through a door on the
opposite side.

Two minutes later the great ship began to move slowly from the wharf,
and our lads, from a snug nook on the lower deck, watched with much
perturbation a revenue-officer, who had evidently just landed from the
cutter, come hurrying down the wharf.



CHAPTER XXI

A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY


The revenue-cutter whose appearance caused Alaric and Bonny so much
anxiety had, indeed, been absent from Tacoma for two weeks, as the man
in the sail-boat told them. On their first night in the Siwash camp she
had gone to Port Townsend to turn over the captured smuggler _Fancy_ to
the collector at that place. Knowing how important the testimony of her
crew would be during the proceedings against her, the commander of the
cutter intended to return to the upper Sound and to institute a thorough
search for them the very next day. Before he could carry out this plan
news was received that an American ship was ashore near Cape Flattery,
one hundred miles away in the opposite direction, and the cutter was
despatched to her assistance.

Although the task of saving the ship was successfully accomplished, and
she was finally pulled off the reef on which she had struck, it was
nearly two weeks before the cutter was again at liberty to devote her
attention to smugglers. With only a slight hope of finding those whom he
so greatly wanted as witnesses, but thinking he might possibly gain some
information concerning them from Skookum John, the commander of the
cutter headed his vessel up the Sound, steamed through Colvos Passage,
and sent his third lieutenant ashore in the yawl to make inquiries at
the Siwash camp.

This officer found only women and children at home, but learned that the
owner of the camp had gone to Tacoma. As he was about to depart without
having discovered anything concerning those of whom he was in search,
curiosity prompted him to glance into a hut that appeared newer and much
neater than the others. Here, to his amazement and great satisfaction,
the first object that caught his eye was the well-remembered canvas
dunnage-bag that he had seen in Victoria, and which still bore the name
"Philip Ryder" on its dingy surface.

"Ho, ho! Master Ryder! So we are on your trail at last, are we?"
soliloquized the officer. "This is a clew of which we must not lose
sight, and so I guess I'll just take it along and hold on to it until we
can return it to you in person."

Thus it happened that Alaric's bag was carried aboard the cutter, where
its contents excited a great deal of curiosity, and that vessel was
headed towards Tacoma in the hope of finding the lads, who were supposed
to be with Skookum John.

The big canoe was discovered when in the very act of going about and
standing back towards the city, as though to escape from the approaching
cutter, and a full head of steam was instantly crowded on in pursuit.
Great was the disappointment when, on overtaking her, she was found to
contain only Indians. These, however, eagerly directed attention to a
smaller canoe ahead, in which could be distinguished two figures,
apparently those of white men, and the cutter renewed her chase. Before
she could overtake this second craft it was lost to sight behind a
wharf, and a lieutenant was hastily sent ashore in a boat to trace its
occupants.

He found the empty canoe in charge of a yacht sailor, who said that
those who had come in her were somewhere up on the wharf, and without
waiting for further particulars the officer followed after them.

When he reached the group of spectators assembled to witness the
departure of the great steamer that was just moving out, he asked one of
them if he had seen two persons running that way within a minute. One of
them, whom he mentioned as being the younger, he described as being a
tall, gentlemanly appearing and neatly dressed lad, while the other, he
said, was a sailor. It must be remembered that while the lieutenant had
noted Alaric's appearance very closely when in Victoria, he had never
seen Bonny's face, and did not even discover whether he had belonged to
the sloop or not. In fact, he afterwards had reason to believe that the
youth whom he saw with Alaric at that time could not have been mate of
the _Fancy_, for, to save their own credit, the sailors whom the lads
eluded on the morning of the sloop's capture described him as a fellow
of great size and unusual strength.

Now the gentleman of whom he made inquiries answered that he had seen a
number of persons running just as the ship's moorings were cast off.
"There were a couple of young chaps," he said, "very ragged and
dirty-looking, who ran aboard the last thing, as if afraid of being
left; but I didn't see them come off again, and I expect they belong to
the ship. Then there was another couple who seemed in a great hurry, and
ran shouting after a carriage that was just starting up-town. They
stopped it, got in, and drove off. One of them was, as you say, a very
gentlemanly appearing lad, and the other was so evidently a sailor that
I expect they're the two you are looking for."

"I shouldn't wonder if they were," replied the officer, delighted at
having thus quickly discovered the trail. "Did you happen to hear them
give the driver any directions?"

"Yes. The young chap said, 'Hotel Tacoma.'"

Thanking the gentleman for his information, the lieutenant hurried away,
boarded an up-town trolley-car, and a few minutes later stood in the
office of the great hotel scanning its register. A single glance was
sufficient, for the two last names on the page, so recently entered that
the ink was hardly dry, assured him that his search was successful. They
were both in the same handwriting, and read----

    PHILIP RYDER, _Alaska_.
    JALAP COOMBS,      "

"Pretty smart dodge," chuckled the lieutenant, as he walked away, "to
hail from such an indefinite place as Alaska. This Philip Ryder is
certainly a sharp chap. It is plain enough now that he left that bag in
the Siwash camp as a blind to throw us off the track. What a pile of
money those smugglers must make, though. Here is one of them, apparently
a simple deck-hand, who buys the choicest groceries to be had in
Victoria, bathes in cologne-water, throws away a suit of clothes so
handsome that I should be only too glad to wear them myself, and now
puts up at the swellest hotel in the city. It certainly is a great
business."

While thinking these things the lieutenant was hurrying back towards the
cutter, to make report of what he had discovered to his superior
officer. After listening to all he had to say, that gentleman decided to
continue the investigation himself; and an hour later he, with his third
lieutenant, both out of uniform, appeared at the hotel, followed by a
sailor bearing a canvas dunnage-bag.

Going into one of the small writing-rooms, which happened to be
unoccupied, the commander wrote a name on a plain card and sent it up
to Mr. Philip Ryder, with a request that the gentleman would consent to
see him on a matter of business. Then, with the canvas bag on the floor
beside him, he waited alone, having desired the lieutenant to keep out
of sight until sent for.

Inside of three minutes a bell-boy ushered into the room a well-dressed,
squarely built youth, with a resolute face and honest blue eyes that
looked straight into those of the commander.

"Mr. Ellery, I believe," he said, glancing at the card still held in his
hand.

The commander bowed slightly, and then asked, "Is your name Philip
Ryder?"

"It is."

"Is this your property?" Here the commander indicated the canvas bag
that lay with its painted name uppermost.

The youth stepped forward to get a better view of the article in
question, started as though surprised, and then answered, "Yes, sir, I
believe it is; but I must confess a great curiosity as to how it came
here."

"Why so?"

"Because when I last heard of it it was on board a vessel that had just
been seized by a revenue-cutter."

"Exactly; and that vessel was seized for smuggling by a cutter under my
command."

"Pardon me, sir, but I think you are mistaken," objected Phil, "for I am
intimately acquainted with the commander of the cutter in question,
while you are a stranger to me."

"I beg leave to say that I think I know what I am talking about,"
retorted the other, stiffly, "and I may as well inform you at once that
I not only was, but am still, in command of the cutter that seized your
smuggling craft some two weeks ago. I am here for the purpose of
causing the arrest and detention of yourself and the mate of that
vessel, both of whom will be wanted as witnesses for the government
during the forthcoming proceedings to be instituted against Captain
Duff."

"And I, sir," replied Phil, hotly, "beg leave to say that you don't know
any more of what you are talking about than I do. Although I have sailed
with Captain Duff and know him well, I am not a smuggler, and never have
been. Moreover, I can summon witnesses this very minute who will
identify me and testify as to my character."

With this Phil stepped to the bell, and rang it so violently that half a
dozen bell-boys came tumbling into the room at once. "Go to No. 20,"
said the youth to one of these, "and ask the gentleman who is there to
kindly step down here for a minute."

"And you, boy!" thundered the commander to another, his face flushed
with anger, "find the gentleman who came here with me, and inform him
that I desire his presence immediately."

The lieutenant was the first to arrive.

"Is this your Philip Ryder?" demanded the commander, at the same time
pointing to the youth who stood opposite.

"No, sir, he is not," replied the lieutenant, promptly.

"Who is he, then?" asked the other, staggered by this answer.

"Begging the gentleman's pardon, this _is_ Mr. Philip Ryder, as I can
swear," interrupted a fourth individual, who had just entered.

"Hello, Carncross! You here? And you know this young man?"

"Certainly I do, sir. I met his father, Mr. John Ryder--the famous
mining expert, you know--at my father's house in San Francisco last
winter, and came to call on him here as soon as I heard of his arrival
in Tacoma. He and his son arrived on to-day's steamer from Alaska, where
Phil Ryder has just completed a most notable exploration on snow-shoes
and sledges of the Yukon Valley. By-the-way, he is also a friend of your
old friend Captain Matthews."

"What! Not Israel Matthews, of the _Phoca_? You don't say so! Mr. Ryder,
allow me to shake hands with you, and offer my humble apologies for this
absurd mistake."

With a general hand-shaking and exchange of introductions, they all sat
down for an hour of mutual explanations. During these it was discovered
that Phil and Jalap Coombs had remained at the wharf some time after the
others of their party left, to look after their numerous pieces of
baggage, and so did not come up to the hotel until just as the steamer
that had brought them was departing for Seattle.

At the end of an hour the revenue-officers were as puzzled as ever over
the disappearance of the present owner of the famous Philip Ryder bag
and his companion. But suddenly Carncross exclaimed:

"I think I know what became of them! I remember now seeing the two chaps
who came in that canoe run down the wharf and board the Alaska steamer
just as she was starting for Seattle, and I'll warrant you that's where
they are at this minute. Tough-looking young customers they were, too."

"In that case," said the commander, rising, "I must be getting under way
for Seattle as quickly as possible. I only wish that I might have you
both down to dine with me this evening; but business before pleasure.
And so, hoping for a future opportunity of extending the hospitality of
the ship, I will wish you both a very good night."



CHAPTER XXII

TWO SHORT BUT EXCITING VOYAGES


As the Alaska steamer on which Alaric and Bonny so unexpectedly took
passage moved from the Tacoma wharf, and they lost sight of the officer
who had so nearly overtaken them, they congratulated each other over
their escape.

"I tell you, Rick Dale, that was a close shave," said Bonny.

"Wasn't it, though! But it seems to me, Bonny, that smuggling must be
one of the worst crimes a person can commit, judging from the anxiety
those fellows show to capture us. I knew it was bad, but I hadn't any
idea it was so serious."

"It does look as if we were wanted," admitted Bonny; "but we've thrown
'em off the track this time, so they won't bother us any more. Didn't we
do it neatly?"

"Yes, we certainly did. But where do you suppose we are going now?"

"Haven't the least idea, and don't care. Maybe to China, maybe to San
Francisco, and maybe to Alaska. Yes, I think this must be an Alaska
ship, for I remember now seeing a big Eskimo dog taken ashore just as we
came aboard, and Alaska is where they come from. If she is bound for
Alaska, though, she'll stop at Port Townsend and Victoria on the way,
and we must lie low until after we pass the first. It would never do to
be put off there, for that's headquarters for the whole revenue
business, and they'd scoop us in quick enough. I wouldn't mind Victoria
so very much, though."

"I should," objected Alaric, who feared that the Sonntaggs might have
telegraphed from Japan to have him apprehended and forwarded to them. "I
don't like Victoria, and neither do I want to go to any of the places
you mentioned."

"Very well," laughed Bonny, who, with a sense of freedom, had regained
all his light-heartedness. "Just send word to the captain where you want
to go, and he'll probably be pleased to take you there."

For an hour or so longer the boys discussed their plans and prospects.
Then, as it was growing dark and they were becoming very hungry, Bonny
proposed to skirmish around and see what the chances were for obtaining
something to eat. Bidding Alaric remain in hiding until his return, the
young sailor sallied forth. In a moment he reappeared with the news that
the ship was putting in at Seattle and was already close to the wharf.

"That's good," said Alaric. "Seattle is much better for us than Port
Townsend, or Victoria, San Francisco, China, or even Alaska. So I move
we go ashore and try our luck here."

This was what they were obliged to do, whether or no, for the ship was
hardly moored before they were discovered by one of the mates. Berating
them for a couple of rascally young stowaways, this man chased them down
the gang-plank with terrific threats of what he would do if he ever
caught them on the ship again.

"Whew-w!" gasped Alaric, after they had run to a safe distance. "It
seems to me that working your way through the world consists mainly in
being chased by people who are bigger and stronger than you are."

"Yes," remarked Bonny, philosophically. "I've noticed that. It's the
same way with sparrows and dogs too; the strong ones are always picking
or growling at those that are weaker. Being chased, though, is better
than being caught, and we haven't been that yet. Now let's go up-town
and see about a hotel."

This mention of a hotel reminded Alaric of his previous visit to Seattle
and the great "Rainier," away up at the hill-side, in which he had spent
the day. At that time he had not paid any more attention to it than to
any other of the hundreds of hotels in which he had been a guest, but
now a thought of the dinner being served in its brilliantly lighted
dining-room caused him to realize how very hungry he was more than
anything else could have done. But Rainier dinners were not for poor
boys, and with a regretful sigh he followed his comrade in another
direction.

It is hard to say how our lads expected to obtain the meal for which
they longed; but whatever hopes they had were doomed to disappointment,
for after wandering about the streets a couple of hours their hunger was
as unsatisfied as ever. Finally Bonny asked a policeman if there was not
some place in all that great city where a hungry boy without one cent in
his pocket could get something to eat.

"There's a free soup-kitchen on Yessler Avenue," answered the man, "but
it's closed for the night now, and you can't get anything there before
seven o'clock to-morrow morning. But what do strong young fellows like
you want of soup-kitchens? Why ain't ye at work, earning an honest
living? Tramps is no good, anyway, and if you don't chase yourselves out
of this I'll run ye in. See?"

Seven o'clock to-morrow morning! How could they wait? And yet there
seemed nothing else to be done. Slowly and despondently the lads made
their way back to the wharf on which they had landed, for even that
seemed a better place in which to pass the long night hours than the
unfriendly streets.

They eluded the vigilance of a night watchman, and gained the shelter of
a pile of hay bales, on which they stretched themselves wearily.

"I'd almost rather be in China, or even a well-fed smuggler," announced
Alaric.

"Wouldn't I?" responded Bonny; "and won't I if ever I get another
chance? I don't believe anything would seem wrong to a fellow as hungry
as I am, if it only brought him something to eat. Even chewing hay is
some comfort."

At length they fell into an uneasy sleep, from which they were awakened
a few hours later by the sound of voices close at hand. In one of these
they instantly, and with sinking hearts, recognized that of their
relentless pursuer, the revenue-cutter's third lieutenant. The other
person was evidently answering a question, for he was saying:

"Yes, sir, I seen a couple of young rascals such as you describe chased
off the Alaska boat by the mate. They started up-town, but I make no
doubt they'll be back here sooner or later. Such as them is always
hanging around the docks."

"If they do come around, and you can catch them, just hold on to them,
for they are wanted by the government, and there is a reward offered for
them," said the officer.

"Aye, aye, sir. I'll nab 'em for ye if they comes this way again," was
the answer; and then both speakers moved out of hearing towards the
upper end of the wharf.

The poor, hunted lads, trembling at the narrowness of their escape,
peered after the retreating forms. Then Bonny's attention was attracted
to the lights of a white side-wheel steamer lying at the outer end of
the wharf that seemed on the point of departure.

"Look here, Rick," he whispered, "this place is growing too hot for us,
and we've got to get out of it. There's the _City of Kingston_, and she
is going to Victoria or Tacoma, I don't know which. Either of them would
be better for us than Seattle just now, though, because in Victoria the
revenue folks couldn't touch us, and in Tacoma they won't be looking for
us. What do you say? Shall we try for a passage on her?"

"Yes," replied Alaric. "I suppose so, for it is certain that we must get
away from here somehow. I hope she won't take us to Victoria, though."

So the young fugitives stole down the wharf in darkest shadows to where
a force of men were busily at work by lantern-light, trucking freight up
a broad gang-plank from the steamer's lower deck, and at the same time
carrying aboard the small quantity that was to go somewhere else. Among
this was a lot of household goods.

"Now," whispered Bonny, "we've got to be quick, for there isn't much
more to be done. I'll run aboard with one of these trucks, while you
grab a chair or something from that pile of stuff and follow after. Each
of us must hide on his own hook in the first place he comes to, and if
we don't find a chance to get together on the trip, we'll meet on the
wharf at the first place she stops. Sabe?"

"Yes. Go ahead."

So Bonny boldly picked up one of several idle trucks that lay near by,
and rattled it down the gang-plank with every appearance of bustling
activity. As he trundled it aft along the dimly lighted deck he was
greeted by a gruff voice from the darkness with:

"Get that truck out of here. Didn't you hear me say I didn't need any
more of 'em?"

"Aye, aye, sir," answered the pretended stevedore, facing promptly about
and wheeling his truck away. In a place where there seemed to be no one
looking he set it gently down, and walked forward as boldly as though
executing some order just received. Away up in the bows of the steamer
he found a great coil of rope, in which he snuggled down like a bird in
a nest.

Alaric was not quite so fortunate. He watched Bonny disappear with his
truck in the dark interior of the boat, and then, taking a mattress from
the pile of household goods, marched aboard with it in his arms. Walking
aft with his awkward burden, he stumbled across the truck that Bonny had
left in the passage and sprawled at full length. As luck would have it,
the mattress, loosed from his grasp, struck the mate who was coming that
way and nearly knocked him down.

[Illustration: "BONNY SEIZED A TRUCK, AND ALARIC A MATTRESS"]

Springing furiously forward, the man aimed a kick at the prostrate lad,
called him a clumsy lunkhead, ordered him to wheel the truck up on to
the wharf, and threatened to discharge him on the spot without one cent
of wages as a cure for his blooming awkwardness.

There was nothing for it but to return to the wharf with the truck.
Then, to his dismay, Alaric found that there was no freight left to be
taken on board. The pile of household goods had disappeared. As he stood
for a moment irresolute, another gruff voice sang out to him to cast off
the breast line and get aboard in a hurry if he didn't want to get left.

Alaric had no more idea than the man in the moon of what a breast line
was; but he knew what to cast off a line meant, and, making a blind
guess, fortunately did the right thing. By this time the gang-plank was
hauled in, and obeying the order "Jump! you chuckle-head!" he took a
flying leap that landed him on all fours on the deck, amid loud guffaws
of laughter from those who happened to be near. As he regained his feet,
the lad, still mistaken for one of several new hands who had been
shipped the evening before, was ordered aft to help haul in the stern
line by which the boat was now swinging. He went in the direction
indicated, but managed to slip away before reaching the place of the
stern line and hide among the very household goods he had helped bring
aboard.

Here, after lying for a while pondering over the strange fortunes by
which every step of his pathway into the world of active life seemed to
be beset, he fell asleep. When he awoke it was broad daylight, the sun
was shining, and a house seemed tumbling about his ears. It was only the
goods among which he had hidden being pulled down by the crew, who were
discharging cargo. As the lad scrambled from beneath the very mattress
he had brought aboard, and which had now fallen on top of him, he was
greeted by an angry roar from the gruff voice of the night before.

"Shirking, are ye, you lazy young hound? I'll teach ye!"

Picking up a bit of rope and whirling it about his head, the mate sprang
towards the lad, who darted away in terror; nor did he stop until he
found himself clear of the boat and running up a long wharf, without an
idea of where he was or whither he was going.



CHAPTER XXIII

ALARIC TODD'S DARKEST HOUR


"Hello, Rick Dale! Hold on!" was the hail that caused Alaric to halt in
his flight from the most recent of the chasings that were becoming so
common a feature of his life.

It was Bonny who called, and who now came running up to him. "Where have
you been all this time?" he asked. "I've waited and watched for you ever
since we got in, a good two hours ago, and was getting mighty uneasy for
fear you'd fallen overboard or got left at Seattle, or something. You
see, I feel in a way responsible for you, seeing that I got you into all
this mess."

"That's queer," said Alaric, with a faint smile, and sitting down
wearily on a huge anchor that lay beside one of the warehouses, "for
I've been thinking that all your troubles were owing to me. I'm awfully
sorry, though, I kept you waiting, but I suppose I must have been
asleep."

"You had better luck than I did, then," growled Bonny, seating himself
beside his friend, "for I haven't had a wink of sleep since we left
Seattle. I was just getting into a doze when a miserable deck-hand
swashed a bucket of water over me. Then they found me out, and set me to
work cleaning decks and polishing brass. They kept me at it every minute
until we got here, and then fired me ashore."

"Did they give you any breakfast?" inquired Alaric, with an interest
that betrayed the tendency of his thoughts.

"Not much, they didn't. Have you had anything to eat?"

"Not a bite; and do you know, Bonny, I think I am beginning to realize
what starving means."

"I know I am, and what being utterly worn out means as well. Do you
suppose it's just hunger that makes a fellow feel sick and light-headed
and weak as a cat, the way I do now, or is it that he is really in for
something serious, like a fever or whooping-cough or one of the things
with big names?"

"I expect it's hunger, and nothing else," replied Alaric, "for I feel
just that way myself, and I've been really ill times enough to know the
difference."

"Then it must be starvation, and something has got to be done about it,"
exclaimed Bonny, starting to his feet with a resolute air, "for I don't
believe any two fellows are going to be allowed to starve to death in
this city of Tacoma. So I'm going to get something for us to eat, even
if I have to steal."

"Oh no, Bonny, don't steal. We haven't quite come to that," objected
Alaric. "Did you say this was Tacoma, though?"

"Yes, of course. Didn't you recognize it?"

"No, I didn't, for I wasn't given much chance to get acquainted with it
last evening, you know. But if this is Tacoma, I've an idea that I
believe will bring us some money. So suppose we separate for a while?
You can go one way looking for something to eat, and I'll go another in
search of that which will mean the same thing. When the whistles blow
for noon we'll both come back here and compare notes."

"All right," agreed Bonny. "I'll do it, and if I don't bring back
something to eat, it will be because the whole city is starving, that's
all."

So the two set forth in opposite directions, Bonny taking a course that
would lead him among the shipping, and Alaric walking up the long easy
grade of Pacific Avenue towards the city proper. His pride, which no
personal suffering nor discomfort could overthrow, had given way at last
before the wretchedness of his friend. "It is I who am the cause of it,"
he said to himself, "and so I am bound to help him out by the only way I
can think of. I hate to do it, for it will be owning up that I am not
fit to care for myself or able to fight my own way in the world. I know,
too, just how John and the others will laugh at me, but I've got to do
something at once, and there doesn't seem to be anything else."

The scheme that Alaric so dreaded to undertake, and was yet determined
to execute, was the telegraphing to his brother John for funds. Of
course John would report the matter to their father, who had probably
been already notified of his younger son's disappearance, and our lad
would be ordered to return home immediately. Or perhaps John would come
to fetch him back, like a runaway child. It would all be dreadfully
humiliating, and on his own account he would have undergone much greater
trials than those of the present rather than place himself in such a
position. But for the sake of the boy who had befriended him and
suffered with him, it must be done.

The only telegraph-office in the city of which Alaric knew was in the
Hotel Tacoma, where he had passed a day on his northward journey, and
thither he bent his steps. As he entered its open portal and crossed the
spacious hall in which was located the telegraph-station, the
well-dressed guests who paced leisurely to and fro or lounged in
easy-chairs stared at him curiously. And well they might, for a more
tattered, begrimed, unkempt, and generally woe-begone youth had never
been seen in that place of luxurious entertainment. Had Alaric
encountered a mirror, he would have stared at himself and passed by
without recognition; but for the moment his mind was too busy with other
thoughts to allow him to consider his appearance.

The box-like telegraph-office was occupied by a fashionably attired
young woman, who was just then absorbed in an exciting novel. After
keeping Alaric waiting for several minutes, or until after she had
finished a chapter, she took the despatch he had written, and read it
aloud:

     "_To Mr. John Todd, Amos Todd Bank, San Francisco_:

     "DEAR JOHN,--Please send me by wire one hundred dollars. Will
     write and explain why I need it. ALARIC."

"Dollar and a half," said the young woman, tersely, and without looking
up.

Although many telegrams had been forwarded at various times and from
distant parts of the world in Alaric Todd's name, he had never before
attempted to send one in person. Now, therefore, although somewhat
startled by the request for a dollar and a half, he replied, calmly:

"Send it collect, please. It will be paid for at the other end."

"Can't do it; 'gainst the rules," retorted the young woman, sharply, now
glancing at the lad before her, and contemptuously scanning him from
head to foot.

"But," pleaded poor Alaric, "this is so very important. The money that I
ask for is sure to come, and then I will pay for it a dozen times over,
if you like. It will certainly be paid for, though, in San Francisco, at
the Amos Todd Bank, for my name is Todd--Alaric Todd."

"It wouldn't make any difference," remarked the young woman, "if your
name were George Washington or John Jacob Astor; you couldn't send a
despatch through this office without paying for it. So if you haven't
any money you might as well make up your mind not to waste any more of
my time."

With this she resumed the reading of her novel, while Alaric moved
slowly away, stunned and despairing. Now was he indeed cut off from his
home, his people, and from all hope of assistance. He hadn't even money
enough to pay for a postage-stamp with which to send a letter. As he
realized these things, the reaction from his confidence of a few moments
before, that his present trouble would be speedily ended, was so great
that he grew faint, and mechanically sank into a leather-cushioned chair
that stood close at hand.

He had hardly done so when an alert porter stepped up, touched him on
the shoulder, and pointed significantly to the door.

The boy understood, and obeyed the gesture without remonstrance. Thus it
came to pass that a son of Amos Todd, the richest man on the Pacific
coast, was driven from a hotel of which his father was one of the
principal owners, and in spite of the fact that he had just acknowledged
his own identity.

Once outside, Alaric walked irresolutely, and as though unconscious of
what he was doing, for a short distance, and then found himself seated
on an iron bench at the edge of a broad asphalted driveway. Here he
tried to think, and could not. He closed his eyes and wondered vaguely
if he were going to die, or, if not, how much longer he could live
without food. It wasn't worth worrying about, though, one way or the
other. He had made such a complete failure of life that no one would
care if he did die. Of course Bonny might feel badly about it for a
little while, but even he would get along much better alone.

From such terrible thoughts as these the lad was aroused by the sound of
cheery voices; and glancing listlessly in their direction, he saw a
well-dressed young fellow, apparently not much older than himself, a
little boy in his first suit of tiny knickerbockers, and a big dog. They
had just come from the hotel and were playing with a ball. It was Phil
Ryder with little Nel-te, an orphan whom he had rescued from the Yukon
wilderness, and big Amook, one of his Eskimo sledge dogs that he was
carrying back to New London as a curiosity.

While Alaric watched them, wondering how it must seem to be as free from
both hunger and anxiety as that happy-looking chap evidently was, the
ball tossed to Nel-te escaped him and rolled under the iron bench. As
the child came running up, the lad recovered it and handed it to him.

"Fank you, man," said the little chap, and then ran away.

After a while the ball again came in the same direction, and, as the
child did not follow it, Alaric picked it up and tossed it to Phil.

"Hello!" cried the latter. "It seems mighty good to be catching a
baseball again. Give us another, will you?" With this he threw the ball
to Alaric, who caught it deftly and flung it back.

The ball was one that had been found in a certain canvas dunnage-bag the
evening before, and begged by Phil Ryder as a souvenir of his experience
as a smuggler. After a few passes back and forth Alaric became so dizzy
from weakness that, with a very pale face, he was again forced to sit
down.

"What's the matter?" asked Phil, anxiously, coming up to the trembling
lad. "Not ill, I hope?"

"No; I'm not ill. It's only a little faintness."

"Do you know," said Phil, as he noted closely the lad's mean dress and
hollow cheeks, "that you look to me as though you were hungry. Tell me
honestly if you have had any breakfast this morning."

"No," replied Alaric, in a low tone.

"Or any supper last night?"

"No."

"Did you have any dinner yesterday?"

"I can't exactly remember, but I don't think I did."

"Why, man," cried tender-hearted Phil, horror-stricken at this
revelation, "you are starving! And I've been keeping you here playing
ball! What a heedless brute I am! Never mind; just you wait until I can
carry this little chap inside, and don't you stir from that seat until I
come back."

With this Phil, picking up Nel-te and bidding Amook follow him, hurried
away, leaving Alaric still holding the baseball, and filled with a very
queer mixture of conflicting emotions.



CHAPTER XXIV

PHIL RYDER PAYS A DEBT


In a very few minutes Phil Ryder hastened back to where Alaric awaited
him. "Now you come with me," he said, cheerily, "and we'll end this
starvation business in a hurry. I won't take you to the hotel, for those
swell waiters are too slow about serving things, and when a fellow is
hungry he don't care so much about style as he does about prompt
attention to his wants. I know, for I've been there myself. There's a
little restaurant just around the corner on the avenue that looks as
though it would exactly fill the bill. Here we are."

Almost before he realized what was happening Alaric found himself seated
before the first regular breakfast-table that he had seen in weeks,
while the young stranger facing him, who had so unexpectedly become his
host, was ordering a meal that seemed to embrace pretty nearly the whole
bill of fare.

"Bring the coffee and oatmeal first," he said to the waiter, "and see
that there is plenty of cream. If they burn your fingers, so much the
better, for you never saw any one in quite so much of a hurry as we are.
After that you may rush along the other things as fast as you please."

Alaric attempted a feeble protest against the munificence of the order
just given, but Phil silenced him with:

"Now, my friend, don't you fret; I know what you need and what you can
get away with better than you do, for I've experimented considerably
with starving during the past year. As for obligation, there isn't any.
I am only paying a debt that I've owed for a long time."

"I don't remember ever meeting you before," said Alaric, looking up in
surprise from a dish of oatmeal and cream that seemed the very best
thing he had ever tasted.

"No, of course not, and I don't suppose we have ever been within a
thousand miles of each other until now; but I have been in your debt,
all the same. Just about a year ago I was in Victoria without a cent in
my pocket, no friend or even acquaintance that I knew of in the whole
city, and so hungry that it didn't seem as though I had ever eaten
anything in my life. Just as I was most desperate and things were
looking their very blackest, an angel travelling under the name of Serge
Belcofsky came along, and spent his last dollar in feeding me. I vowed
then that I'd get even with him by feeding some other hungry fellow, and
this is the first chance I've run across since. You needn't be afraid,
though, that I am spending my last dollar on you, glad as I would be to
do so if it were necessary. That it isn't is owing to one of the best
fathers in the world, who hasn't had a chance to keep me in funds for so
long a time that he is now trying to make up for lost opportunities."

"You must be very fond of him," said Alaric, who was now at work on
beefsteak and fried potatoes.

"Well, rather," replied Phil, earnestly, "though I never knew how much a
good father was to a boy until I lost him, and had to fight my way alone
through a whole year before I found him again. It's a wonder my hair
didn't turn gray with anxiety while I was hunting him up in the
interior of Alaska; but it's all over now, and I have him safe at last
right here in Tacoma, along with my aunt Ruth and little Nel-te and
Jalap----"

"Is he the dog?" asked Alaric, beginning an attack on the omelette.

"Who?"

"Jalap."

"Not much he isn't a dog," laughed Phil. "He is one of the dearest of
sailormen. He's one of the wisest, too, only he lays all of his wisdom
to his old friend Kite Roberson. Besides all that, he is one of the most
comical chaps that ever lived, though he doesn't mean to be, and it's
better than a circus to see him on snow-shoes driving a sledge team of
dogs. I should have brought him over here to cheer you up, only he's off
somewhere among the ships this morning. He says he's got the salt-water
habit so badly that he can't keep away from them. Are you ready now for
the buckwheats? Here are half a dozen hot ones to top off with, and
maple-syrup too. Don't they look good, though! I say, waiter, you may as
well bring me a plate of those buckwheats. I forgot to have any at
breakfast-time."

So Phil rattled on, talking of all sorts of things to keep his guest
amused, and allow him ample opportunity to attend strictly to the
business of eating, without feeling obliged to answer questions or
sustain any part of the conversation.

And how poor, heart-sick, hungry Alaric was cheered by the thoughtful
kindness of this strange lad who had so befriended him in his hour of
sorest need!

How grateful he was, and how, with each mouthful of food, strength and
courage and hope came back to him, until, when the wonderful meal was
finished, he was ready once more to face the world with a brave
confidence that it should never again get the better of him! He tried to
put some of his gratitude into words, but was promptly interrupted by
his host, who said:

"Nonsense! You've nothing to thank me for. I told you I owed you this
breakfast, and besides, though I haven't eaten very much myself, I have
certainly enjoyed it as much as any meal of my life. Now we have a few
minutes left before I must go, and I want you to tell me something of
yourself. What is your name? Where is your home? And how did you happen
to get into this fix?"

"My name is Rick Dale," began Alaric, who did not feel that he could
disclose his real identity under the circumstances, "and my home is in
San Francisco; but it is closed now. My mother is dead. I don't know
just where my father is, and I was left with some people whom I disliked
so much that I just--" Here he hesitated, and Phil, noting his
embarrassment, hastened to say:

"Never mind the particulars. I had no business to ask such questions,
anyway."

"Well," continued Alaric, "the result of it all is that I am here
looking for work. I had a job, but it didn't pay anything, and I lost it
about two weeks ago. Now I am trying to find another."

"What kind of a job do you want?"

"Anything, so long as it is honest work that will provide food,
clothing, and a place to sleep."

"In that case," said Phil, thoughtfully, "I don't know but what I can
put you in the way of one, though--"

"It must be a job for two of us," interposed Alaric, "for I have a
friend who is in the same fix as myself."

"I only wish I had known that in time to have him breakfast with us,"
said Phil; "but the job I am thinking of, if it can be had at all, will
serve for two of you as well as for one. You see, it is this way. There
is a Frenchman over at the hotel whose name is Filbert, and who--"

Just here both lads started at the sound of a shrill whistle announcing
the hour of noon.

"I had no idea it was so late," explained Phil, "and I must run; for we
leave here on the one-o'clock train."

"I must hurry too, for I promised to meet Bonny at noon," said Alaric.

"Who is Bonny?"

"The friend I told you of."

"Then I want you to give this to him from me, for fear he may not have
found any breakfast." So saying, Phil slipped something hard and round
into Alaric's hand. "Now good-bye, Rick Dale," he said. "I hope we may
meet again sometime. At any rate, be sure to call on Monsieur Filbert at
the hotel this afternoon. I guess you can get a job from him; but even
if you don't, always remember that, as my friend Jalap Coombs says,
'It's never so dark but what there's a light somewhere.'"

Then the lads parted, one filled with the happiness that results from an
act of kindness, and the other cheered and encouraged to renewed effort.

With grateful and loving glances Alaric watched Phil Ryder until he
disappeared in the direction of the hotel, and then hastened to keep his
appointment with Bonny. On the road leading to the wharves he passed a
tall, lank figure, whose whole appearance was that of a sailor. His
shrewd face was weather-beaten and wrinkled, but so kindly and smiling
that Alaric could not help but smile from sympathy as they met.

He found Bonny impatiently awaiting him, and in such cheerful spirits as
to be hardly recognizable for the despondent, half-starved lad of two
hours before.

"Hello, Rick!" he shouted, as his friend approached. "I know you've had
good luck, for I see it in your face."

"Indeed I have!" replied Alaric; "and, what's more, I've had the best
breakfast I ever ate in my life."

"That's what I meant by luck; and I've had the same."

"What's more," continued Alaric, "I have brought something that was sent
especially to you, for fear you hadn't found anything to eat." Thus
saying, he handed over a big bright silver dollar.

"Well, if that don't beat the owls!" exclaimed Bonny at sight of the
shining coin, "for here is his twin-brother that was handed me to give
to you, or rather to the first fellow I met who needed it more than I
did."

"I must be the one, then," said Alaric, joyously, "for I haven't a cent
to my name, and as you now have two dollars, I'm willing to divide with
you. But who gave it to you, and how did he happen to?"

"The queerest and dearest old chap I ever saw. You know how badly I was
feeling when we separated. Well, that was nothing to what came
afterwards. I set out to board every ship in port until I should find a
cook or steward who would fill me up and let me have something extra to
bring to you. On the first half-dozen or so I was treated worse than a
dog, and fired ashore almost before I opened my mouth. It made me feel
meaner than dirt, and but for thinking of how disappointed you would be
if I came back as miserable as I went, I should have given up in
despair. I must say, though, that all the fellows who treated me that
way were Dagoes, Dutch, or Chinamen.

"At length I boarded a Yankee bark that carried an Irish steward, and
the minute I said I was hungry he cried out: 'Don't spake a wurrud, lad,
for ye couldn't do yer looks justice. Jist be aisy, and come wid me.'

"With that he led me to a sort of a cuddy at the forward end of the
after deck-house, and set me down to such a spread as I haven't seen
since I left Cape Cod. There was cold roast beef, corned beef, potatoes,
bread and butter, pie, pickles, coffee, and--well, it would be no use
trying to tell all the things that steward gave me to eat, for you just
wouldn't believe it. He laid 'em all out, told me to pitch in, and then
went off, so, as he said, I'd be free to act according to nature.

"I sat there and ate until I hadn't room for as much as a huckleberry.
As I was looking at the last piece of squash pie, and thinking what a
pity it was that it must be left, I heard a chuckle behind me, and
turned around in a hurry. There stood one of the mates and the dear old
chap I was just telling you about.

"'Why don't you eat it, son?' says the mate.

"'Reason enough,' says I, 'because I can't; but if you don't mind, sir,
I'd like awfully to take it to my partner in starvation,' meaning you.

"'Who is he? And how does he happen to be starved?' says the dear old
chap. Then I up and told them the whole story of our experience on the
_Fancy_, being chased by the revenue-men, and all, and it tickled 'em
most to death.

"When I got through, the stranger, who was just down visiting the
vessel, slipped a dollar into my hand, and told me to give it to the
first chap I met who needed it more than I did. He said he used to know
Cap'n Duff, and told me a lot of yarns about him as we walked back here
together."

"Was his name Jalap Coombs?" asked Alaric.

"I expect it must have been, for he had a lot to say about somebody
named Kite Roberson, who allus useter call him 'Jal.' Why? Do you know
him?"

"Yes. That is, I feel as if I did. But, Bonny, I mustn't stop to tell
you of my experiences now, for I have made an important business
engagement for both of us up-town, and we must attend to it at once."



CHAPTER XXV

ENGAGED TO INTERPRET FOR THE FRENCH


"Where did you get that baseball?" asked Bonny Brooks, referring to one
that Alaric was unconsciously tossing from hand to hand as they walked
up-town together.

At this the latter stopped short and looked at the ball in question, as
though now seeing it for the first time.

"Do you know," he said, "I have been so excited and taken up with other
things that I actually forgot I had this ball in my hands. It belongs to
the fellow who gave me that breakfast and your dollar, besides telling
me where to look for something to do. Not only that, but I really
believe if it hadn't been for this ball he would never have paid any
attention to me. You see, we got to passing it; and when I became so
dizzy that I had to sit down, he asked me what was the matter. So he
found out somehow that I was hungry, though I don't remember telling
him, and then insisted on giving me a breakfast."

"Who is he? I mean, what is his name?"

"I don't know. I never thought to ask him. And he doesn't live here
either, but has just come down from Alaska, and was going off in the
one-o'clock train. I do know, though, that he is the very finest chap I
ever met, and I only hope I'll have a chance some time to pay back his
kindness to me by helping some other poor boy."

"It is funny," remarked Bonny, meditatively, "that your friend and my
friend should both have just come from Alaska."

"Isn't it?" replied Alaric; "but then they are travelling together, you
know."

"I didn't know it, though I ought to have suspected it, for they are the
kind who naturally would travel together--the kind, I mean, that give a
fellow an idea of how much real goodness there is in the world, after
all--a sort of travelling sermon, only one that is acted instead of
being preached."

"That's just the way I feel about them," agreed Alaric; "but I wish I
hadn't been so careless about this ball. It may be one that he values
for association's sake, just as I did the one we left in that Siwash
camp."

"Let me have it a moment," said Bonny, who was looking curiously at the
ball.

Alaric handed it to him, and he examined it closely.

"I do believe it is the very one!" he exclaimed. "Yes, I am sure it is.
Don't you remember, Rick, the burned place on your ball that came when
Bah-die dropped it into the fire the first time you threw it at him, and
how you laughed and called it a sure-enough red-hot ball? Well, here's
the place now, and this is certainly the very ball that introduced us to
each other in Victoria."

"How can it be?" asked Alaric, incredulously.

"I don't know, but it surely is."

"Well," said Alaric, finally convinced that his comrade was right, "that
is the very most unexplainable thing I ever came across, for I don't see
how it could possibly have come into his possession."

While discussing this strange happening, the lads approached the hotel
in which one of them had been made to suffer so keenly a few hours
before. He dreaded the very thought of entering it again, but having
made up his mind that he must, was about to do so, when his attention
was attracted to a curious scene in front of the main entrance.

A small, wiry-looking man, evidently a foreigner, was gesticulating,
stamping, and shouting to a group of grinning porters and bell-boys who
were gathered about him. As our lads drew near they saw that he held a
small open book in his hand, from which he was quoting some sentence,
while at the same time he was rapidly working himself into a fury. It
was a French-English phrase-book, in which, under the head of
instructions to servants, the sentence "_Je désire un fiacre_" was
rendered "Call me a hansom," and it was this that the excited Frenchman
was demanding, greatly to the amusement and mystification of his
hearers.

"Call me a hansom! Call me a hansom! Call me a hansom!" he repeated over
and over, at the top of his voice. "_C'est un fiacre--fiacre--fiacre!_"
he shouted. "_Oh, là, là! Mille tonnerres!_ Call me a hansom!"

"He must be crazy," said Bonny; "for he certainly isn't handsome, and
even if he were, he couldn't expect people to call him so. I wonder why
they don't send for the police."

Instead of answering him, Alaric stepped up to the laughing group and
said, politely, "_Pardon, monsieur. C'est Monsieur Filbert, n'est-ce
pas?_"

"_Oui, oui. Je suis Filbert!_ Call me a hansom."

"He wants a carriage," explained Alaric to the porters, who stared
open-mouthed at hearing this young tramp talk to the foreigner in his
own "lingo."

"_Vous voulez une voiture, n'est-ce pas?_" he added, turning to the
stranger.

"Oh, my friend!" cried M. Filbert, in his own language, flinging away
the perplexing phrase-book as he spoke, and embracing Alaric in his joy
at finding himself once more comprehended. "It is as the voice of an
angel from heaven to hear again my own language in this place of
barbarians!"

"Have a care, monsieur," warned Alaric, "how you speak of barbarians.
There are many here who can understand perfectly your language."

"I care not for them! I do not see them! They have not come to me! You
are the first! Can it be that I may engage you to remain and interpret
for me this language of distraction?" Here the speaker drew back, and
scanned Alaric's forlorn appearance hopefully.

"That is what I came to see you about, monsieur," answered Alaric. "I am
looking for employment, and shall be happy----"

"It is enough!" interrupted the other, vehemently. "You have found it. I
engage you now, at once. Come, the carriage is here. Let us enter."

"But," objected the lad, "I have a friend whom I cannot leave."

"Let him come! Let all your friends come! Bring your whole family if you
will, but only stay with me yourself!" cried the Frenchman, impetuously.
"I am distracted by my troubles with this terrible language, and but for
you I shall go crazy. You are my salvation. So enter the carriage, and
your friend. _Après vous, monsieur._ Do you also speak the language of
the beautiful France? No? It is a great pity."

"Does his royal highness take us for dukes?" questioned the bewildered
Bonny, who, not understanding one word of the foregoing conversation,
had, of course, no idea why he now found himself rolling along the
streets of Tacoma in one of its most luxurious public carriages.

"Not exactly," laughed Alaric; "but he takes us for interpreters--that
is, he wants to engage us as such."

"Oh! Is that it? Well, I'm agreeable. I suppose you told him that I was
pretty well up on Chinook? But what language does he talk himself?"

"French, of course," replied Alaric, "seeing that he is a Frenchman."

"Are you a Frenchman too?"

"Certainly not."

"Well, I didn't know but what you were, seeing that you talk the same
language he does, and just as well, for all that I can make out. Really,
Rick Dale, it is growing interesting to find out the things you know and
can do."

"And the things I still have to learn," laughed Alaric.

Having thus satisfied his curiosity, and learned that he was an
interpreter, the last position in the world for which he would have
applied, Bonny folded his arms, assumed what he considered a proper
attitude for the occasion, and entered upon a calm enjoyment of the
first regular carriage-ride of his life. Nor did he allow the animated
conversation taking place between M. Filbert and Alaric to disturb him
in the least, though by it the whole future course of his life was to be
changed.

Under Alaric's direction the carriage first bore them to the
railway-station, where a number of strange-looking boxes and packages,
all belonging to M. Filbert, were gathered in one place, and given in
charge of a porter, who was instructed to receive and care for any
others that might come marked with the same name. Then the carriage was
again headed up-town, and driven to shop after shop until it seemed as
though the entire resources of the city were to be drawn upon to supply
the multitudinous needs of the mysterious Frenchman.

Among the things thus purchased and ordered sent down to the station
were provisions, cooking utensils, axes, medicines, alcohol, tents,
blankets, ammunition, and clothing.

"I don't know what's up," reflected Bonny, "and I don't care, so long as
Rick says everything is all right; but I should think we were either
going to make war on the Siwash or take a trip to the North Pole."

Of course Alaric accompanied M. Filbert into each store, where his
knowledge of languages was invaluable in conducting the various
negotiations; but the Chinook interpreter, as he called himself, finding
that his services were not yet in demand, was content to remain
luxuriously seated in the carriage. Here he discussed the whole
remarkable performance with the driver, who was certain that the
Frenchman was either going prospecting for gold, or for a new town-site
on which to settle a colony of his countrymen.

During the whole afternoon M. Filbert talked incessantly with his
new-found interpreter, and Alaric seemed almost as excited as he. At
length the former, casting a dubious glance at the lads, asked, with an
apologetic manner, if they were well provided with clothing.

"Only what you see, monsieur," answered Alaric. "Everything else we have
lost."

"Ah! is it so? Then must you be provided with the habiliments necessary.
If you will kindly give the instructions?"

So the carriage was ordered to a shoe-shop and an outfitting
establishment, where both lads, to Bonny's further bewilderment, were
provided with complete suits of rough but warm and serviceable clothing,
including two pairs of walking-boots, one of which was very heavy and
had hob-nailed soles.

These last purchases were not concluded until after sunset, and with
them the business of the day was ended. With many parting injunctions to
Alaric, and a polite _bon nuit_ to both lads, M. Filbert was driven back
to the hotel, leaving his newly engaged assistants to their own devices
for the time being.

"Now," said Bonny, "if you haven't forgotten how to talk United States,
perhaps you will explain what all this means--what we are engaged to do,
what our wages are to be, and where we are bound? Are we to turn
gold-hunters or Indian-fighters, or is it something in the exploring
line?"

"I expect," laughed Alaric, "it is to be more in the climbing line."

"Climbing?"

"Yes. Do you see that mountain over there?" Here Alaric pointed to the
lofty snow-capped peak of Mount Rainier, still rose-tinted with
sunlight, and rising in awful grandeur high above all other summits of
the Cascade range, nearly fifty miles from where they stood.

"Certainly. I can't help seeing it."

"Do you think you could climb it?"

"Of course I could, if it came in my line of business."

"Would you undertake it for thirty dollars a month and all expenses?"

"Rick Dale, I'd undertake to climb to the moon on those terms. But you
are surely joking. The Frenchman will never pay that just for the fun of
seeing us climb."

"Yes he will, though, and I have agreed that we shall start with him for
the top of that mountain to-morrow morning."



CHAPTER XXVI

PREPARING FOR AN ASCENT


Monsieur Jean Puvis Filbert was a Frenchman of wealth, a distinguished
member of the Alpine Club, an enthusiastic mountain-climber, and had for
an especial hobby the making of botanical collections from high
altitudes. He was now on a leisurely tour around the world, and had
recently arrived in Tacoma on one of the Northern Pacific steamships
from Japan. This was his first visit to America, and he was filled with
enthusiasm by the superb mountain scenery that greeted him on all sides
as his ship steamed through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and up the
glorious waterways of Puget Sound. He gazed longingly at the
snow-crowned Olympics, and went into ecstasies over a distant view of
Mount Baker, the most northerly peak of the Cascade range. When grand
old Rainier, loftiest of all, appeared on the southeastern horizon,
lifting its hoary head more than 14,000 feet above the level of the
intervening plain, he became silent with adoration, and determined that
his first achievement in America should be to gain that glorious summit.

As his knowledge of English was very limited, our mountain-climber began
his preparations for this arduous undertaking by engaging an
interpreter. The only one whom he could find was a Canadian, who spoke
French nearly as badly as he did English, and whom his employer was
quickly obliged to discharge for drunkenness and utter incompetence.
Then it seemed as though the expedition on which M. Filbert had set his
heart must be given up, and he was in despair. At this critical moment
Alaric Todd appeared on the scene seeking employment, though never
dreaming that it would come to him through his knowledge of French, and
was received literally with open arms.

Of course he was engaged at once, and was able to secure a situation for
Bonny Brooks as well, though the precise nature of the young sailor's
duties were not defined. Thus Bonny was allowed to regard himself as
also holding the rank of interpreter, whose services would be invaluable
in the event of an encounter with Indians, who, for all he knew, might
contest every foot of their way up the great mountain.

To this young man the climbing of a mountain seemed a very foolish and
profitless undertaking, for, as he said, "The only thing we can do when
we get up there is to turn around and come down again. But you mustn't
think, Rick, that I'm trying to back out. No, siree. Just so long as I
am paid to climb I'll climb, even if it comes to shinning up the North
Pole and interpreting the Constitution to the polar bears."

M. Filbert wished the boys to spend the night with him at the hotel, but
Alaric was still so sore over his morning's experience that he begged to
be excused. So when they were left to themselves they carried their
recently acquired belongings down to the railway-station, and persuaded
the agent to allow them to sleep in that corner of the baggage-room
devoted to their employer's collection of chattels. Here they put on
their new suits, and then, feeling once more intensely respectable, and
well content with their own appearance, each invited the other to dine
with him. Had they not two whole dollars between them, and was not that
enough to make them independent of the world?

They procured a bountiful dinner in the restaurant where Alaric had
breakfasted, and with it ate up one of their dollars. The place was so
associated in their minds with the fine young fellow to whom they owed
all their present good fortune that they thought and talked much of him
during the meal. Recalling what he had said concerning his father
reminded Alaric of his own parent, and caused him to wonder if he were
yet aware that his younger son was not travelling around the world with
the Sonntaggs as he had planned.

"If the dear old dad has heard of my disappearance," reflected the boy,
"he must be a good deal worried, for he has no idea of how well I can
take care of myself. I believe I would write to him if I only knew his
address. He said to send all letters to the bank; but I can't do that,
because John, who must have heard from the Sonntaggs by this time, would
be certain to recognize the handwriting and open it. I know what,
though. I'll write to Cousin Esther, and ask her to tell dad all about
me. She is sure to see him on his way home, for he always visits Uncle
Dale's when he is in Boston."

So after supper, Alaric, who was beginning to have a lively appreciation
of the value of money, as well as of fathers, cautiously invested four
cents in a sheet of paper, an envelope, and a stamp, all of which he was
able to procure from the proprietor of the restaurant. The boy smiled,
as he carefully pocketed his one cent of change, to think on what a
different scale he would have made a similar purchase less than a month
before. Then he would have ordered a box of note-paper, another of
envelopes, and a whole sheet of stamps. As for the change, why, there
wouldn't have been any, for he would simply have said, "Charge it,
please," and it would have been charged to his father's account.

When Bonny saw that Alaric was about to write a letter, he decided to
write one to his aunt Nancy at the same time. "For," said he, "she
probably imagines that I am in China by now, and would never think of
sending word to me here in case she got any news of father." So Bonny
also invested four cents in stationery; and the restaurant man
good-naturedly allowing them to use a table, besides loaning them pens
and a bottle of ink, they sat down to compose their respective epistles.
When Alaric's letter was finished it read as follows:

     "DEAR COUSIN ESTHER,--I have taken your advice and run
     away--that is, I have done what amounts to the same thing, for
     I just sat still and let the other folks run away. By this time
     I expect they are in China, while I am here in the very place
     you said you would be if you were a boy. I wish you were one so
     you could be here with me now, for I think you would make a
     first-class boy. I am learning to be one as fast as I can, a
     real truly boy, I mean, and not a make-believe. I have already
     learned how to smuggle, and catch a baseball, besides a little
     batting, and to swim, sail a boat, paddle a canoe, talk some
     Siwash, and have had a good deal of experience besides.

     "Now I am an interpreter and engaged in the mountain-climbing
     business. We start to-morrow.

     "I have a partner who is a splendid chap, about my age, and
     named Bonny Brooks. I know you would like him, for he is such a
     regular boy, and knows just how to do things.

     "When you see my dear dad, please give him my warmest love, and
     tell him I think more of him now than I ever did. Please make
     him understand that it was the Sonntaggs who ran away, and not
     I. Tell him that when I am through experimenting with my heart,
     and have become a genuine boy like Bonny, I am coming back to
     him, to learn how to be a man--that is, I will if I can afford
     to pay my way to San Francisco. But you have no idea how much
     money it takes to travel, especially when you have to earn it
     yourself, and so far I haven't earned any. Still I have not
     starved--that is, not very often--so far, and am in hopes of
     having plenty to eat from this time on. Now I must say
     good-bye because we are going to sleep in the station to-night,
     and it closes early.

     "Ever your loving cousin,

     "RICK."

     "P.S.--The principal reason I let the Sonntaggs go was because
     they called me 'Allie.' Please tell this to dad."

Bonny's letter was not so long as Alaric's, but it described the
situation with equal vagueness. He wrote:

     "DEAR AUNT NANCY,--I am not in China, as you may suppose,
     having quit the sea after rising to be first mate. Have also
     been a smuggler, but am not any more. Am now engaged by the
     French as interpreter, and so far like the business very well.
     Have also gone into the climbing trade. We are to do our first
     mountain to-morrow. Have for a chum one of the cleverest chaps
     you ever saw. He can talk most any language except Chinook, and
     is a daisy ball-catcher. His name is Rick Dale, and I am trying
     hard to be just like him. If you have any news from father,
     please let me know. You can send a letter in care of Mr. P.
     Bear, Hotel Tacoma, which is our headquarters.

     "Ever your loving nephew,

     "B. BROOKS, Interpreter."

Both these letters were sent to Massachusetts, Alaric's being addressed
to Boston, and Bonny's to Sandport. After they were posted, and our lads
were on their way back to the railway station, they began for the first
time to realize how very tired and sleepy they were. They were so
utterly weary that as they snuggled down in their corner of the
baggage-room, on a bed made of M. Filbert's tents and blankets, Alaric
remarked:

"This is what I call solid comfort."

"Yes," replied Bonny, "we certainly have struck a big streak of luck. Do
you remember how we were feeling about this time last night?"

"No," answered Alaric, "I can't remember. It's too long ago.
Good-night." And in another minute both boys were fast asleep.

They had taken "through tickets," as Bonny would have said, and slept so
soundly that they hardly stirred until the agent flung open the
baggage-room door at six o'clock the following morning, and caused them
to spring from their blankets in a hurry by shouting, "All aboard!" A
dash of cold water from the hydrant outside drove all traces of sleep
from their eyes, and so filled them with its fresh vigor that they raced
all the way up-town to the restaurant. Here, although their appetites
were keen as ever, they managed to satisfy them with a ninety-cent
breakfast, "and left the place with money still in their pockets," as
Alaric expressed it.

"That's so," responded Bonny. "We've just one cent apiece. Let's toss up
to see who will have them both."

"No," said Alaric, "for that would be gambling; and I promised my mother
long ago at Monte Carlo never to gamble. She said more fortunes were
lost and fewer won in that way than by any other."

"But one cent isn't a fortune," objected Bonny.

"Why not? A man's fortune is all that he has, and if you have but one
cent, then that is your fortune."

"I guess you are right, Rick Dale," laughed Bonny. "I hate gambling as
much as you do; but it never seemed to me before that tossing pennies
was gambling. I expect it is, though, so I'll just keep my fortune in my
pocket, and not risk it on any such foolishness."

As the lads hastened back to the station, where they were to meet their
employer, the glorious mountain that was now the goal of their ambition
reared its mighty crest, radiant with sunlight, directly before them.
So wonderfully clear was the atmosphere that it did not seem ten miles
away, and Bonny, shaking a fist at it, cried, cheerfully: "Never you
mind, old fellow, we'll soon have you under foot."



CHAPTER XXVII

BONNY COMMANDS THE SITUATION


Our lads had barely time to do up the tents and blankets they had used
for bedding into compact bundles before M. Filbert arrived, with his
servant François, and a carriage full of packages, including a bundle of
iron-shod alpenstocks. He was clad in what appeared to Bonny and the
idlers about the station a very curious costume, though to Alaric, who
had often seen its like in Switzerland, it did not seem at all out of
the way. It consisted of a coat and knee-breeches of dark green
velveteen, a waistcoat of scarlet cloth, stout yarn stockings patterned
in green and scarlet and folded over at the knees, the heaviest of laced
walking-boots with hob-nailed soles, and a soft Tyrolese hat, in which
was stuck a jaunty cock's feather.

He was full of excited bustle, and the moment he caught sight of Alaric
began to shower questions and directions upon him with bewildering
rapidity. At length, thanks to Alaric's clear head and Bonny's practical
common-sense, confusion was reduced to order, and everything was got on
board the train that was to carry the expedition to Yelm Prairie, a
station about twenty miles south of Tacoma, from which the real start
was to be made.

The arrival at Yelm Prairie produced an excitement equal to that of a
circus, and our friends had hardly alighted from the train before they
were surrounded by a clamorous throng of would-be guides, packers,
teamsters, owners of saddle-animals or pack-ponies, and a score of
others, who were loud in declaring that without their services the
expedition would surely come to grief.

In vain did the bewildered Frenchman storm and rave, and stamp his feet
and gesticulate. Not one word that he said could be understood by the
crowd, who, in their efforts to attract his attention, only shouted the
louder and pressed about him more closely. Finally the poor man, turning
to Alaric and saying, "Do what you will. Everything I leave to you,"
clapped his hands to his ears, broke through the uproarious throng, and
started on a run for the open prairie.

"He leaves everything to us," said Alaric, who was almost as bewildered
by the clamor and novelty of the situation as was M. Filbert himself.

"Good enough!" cried Bonny. "Now we will be able to do something. I take
it that on this cruise you are first mate and I am second. So if you'll
just give the word to go ahead, I'll settle the business in a hurry."

"I only wish you would," returned Alaric, "for it looks as though we
were going to be mobbed."

Armed with this authority, Bonny sprang on a packing-case that lifted
him well above his surroundings, and shouted: "Fellow-citizens!"

Instantly there came a hush of curious expectancy.

"I reckon all you men are looking for a job?"

"That's about the size of it," answered several voices.

"Very well; I'll give you one that'll prove just about the biggest
contract ever let out in Yelm Prairie. It is to shut your mouths and
keep quiet."

Here the speaker was greeted by angry murmurs and cries of "None of yer
chaff, young feller!" "What are you giving us?" and the like.

Nothing daunted, Bonny continued: "I'm not fooling. I'm in dead earnest.
What we are after is quiet, and the prince out there, whom you have
scared away with your racket, is so bound to have it that he's willing
to pay handsomely for it. He's got the money, too, and don't you forget
it. He wants to hire several guides and packers, also a lot of
saddle-horses and ponies, but a noisy, loud-talking chap he can't abide,
and won't have round. He has left the whole business to my partner here
and me to settle, seeing that we are his interpreters, and we are going
to do it the way he pays us to do it and wants it done. So, according to
the rule we've laid down in all our travellings and mountain-climbings
up to date, the man who speaks last will be hired first, and the fellow
who makes the most noise won't be given any show at all. Sabe? As an
example, we want a team to take our dunnage to the river, and I'm going
to give the job to that fellow sitting in the wagon, who hasn't so far
spoken a word."

"Good reason why! He's deaf and dumb!" shouted a voice.

"All the better," replied Bonny, in no wise abashed. "That's the kind we
want. There are two more chaps who haven't said anything that I've
heard, and I'm going to give them the job of pitching camp for us. I
mean those two Siwash at the end of the platform."

"They are quiet because they can't speak any English," remonstrated some
of those who stood near by.

"We don't mind that, though we are French," replied Bonny, cheerfully.
"You see, the prince looked out for such things when he engaged us
interpreters, and now we are ready to talk to every man in his own
language, including Chinook and United States. Now the only other thing
I've got to say is that we won't be ready to consider any further
business proposals until two o'clock this afternoon, and anybody coming
to our camp before that time will lose his chance. After that we shall
be glad to see you all, and the fellows that make the least talk will
stand the best show of getting a job."

The effect of this bold proposition was surprising. Instead of exciting
wrath and causing hostile demonstrations, as Alaric feared, its quieting
influence was magical. Times were hard in Yelm Prairie, and a well-paid
trip up the mountain, or the chance to obtain a dollar a day for the
hire of a pony, was not to be despised.

So Bonny was allowed to engage the deaf-and-dumb teamster by signs, and
the two Indians by a few words of Chinook, without hinderance. All these
worked with such intelligence and expedition that within an hour one of
the neatest camps ever seen in that section was ready for occupancy
beside the white waters of the glacier-fed Nisqually.

When M. Filbert, who spied it from afar, came in soon afterwards, with
hands and pockets full of floral specimens, he found a comfortably
arranged tent and a bountiful camp dinner awaiting him. At sight of
these things his peace of mind was fully restored, and he congratulated
himself on having secured such skilful interpreters of both his words
and wishes as the lads through whom they had been accomplished.

Promptly at the hour named by Bonny a motley but orderly throng of men,
mules, and ponies presented themselves at the camp, and the whole
afternoon was spent in making a selection of animals and testing the
skill of packers. Both Alaric and Bonny were inexperienced riders, but
neither of them hesitated when invited to mount and try the steeds
offered for their use. A moment later Bonny was sprawling on the
ground, with his pony gazing at him demurely, while Alaric was flying
over the prairie at a speed that quickly carried him out of sight. It
was nearly an hour before he returned, dishevelled and flushed with
excitement, but triumphant, and with his pony cured of his desire for
bolting--at least, for a time.

By nightfall the selections and engagements had been made, and the
expedition was strengthened by the addition of two white men to act as
packers, two Indians who were to serve as guides and hunters, five
saddle-ponies, and as many pack-animals.

That night our lads slept under canvas for the first time, and as they
lay on their blankets discussing the novelty of the situation, Bonny
said:

"I tell you what, Rick, this mountain-climbing is a more serious
business than some folks think. When you first told me what our job was
to be I had a sort of an idea that we could get to the top of old
Rainier easy enough in one day and come back the next. So I couldn't
imagine why Mr. Bear should want to engage us by the month. Now, though,
it begins to look as though we were in for something of a cruise."

"I should say so," laughed Alaric, who had learned a great deal about
mountain-climbing in Switzerland. "It would probably take the best part
of a week to go from here straight to the summit and back again. But we
shall be gone much longer than that, for we are to make a camp somewhere
near the snow-line, and spend a fortnight or so up there collecting
flowers and things."

"Flowers?" said Bonny, inquiringly.

"Yes. M. Filbert is a botanist, you know, and makes a specialty of
mountain flora. But I say, Bonny, what makes you call him 'Mr. Bear'?"

"Because I thought that was his name. I know you call him 'Phil Bear,'
but I never was one to become familiar with a cap'n on short
acquaintance."

"Ho! ho!" Alaric laughed; "that's a good one. Why, Bonny, Filbert is the
surname. F-i-l-b-e-r-t--the same as the nut, you know, only the French
pronounce things differently from what we do."

"I should say they did if that's a specimen, and I'm glad I'm not
expected to talk in any such language. Plain Chinook and every-day North
American are good enough for me. I suppose he would say 'Rainy' for
Rainier?"

"Something very like it. I see you are catching the accent. We'll make a
Frenchman of you yet before this trip is ended."

"Humph!" ejaculated Bonny. "Not if I know it, you won't."

Sunrise of the following morning found the horsemen of the expedition
galloping over the brown sward of the park-like prairie towards the
forest that for hundreds of miles covers the whole western slope of the
Cascade range like a vast green blanket. The road soon entered the
timber and began a gradual ascent, winding among the trunks of stately
firs and gigantic cedars that often shot upward for more than one
hundred feet before a branch broke their column-like regularity.

By noon they were at Indian Henry's, twenty miles on their way, and at
the end of the wagon-road. That night camp was pitched in the dense
timber, and our lads had their first taste of life in the forest. How
snugly they were walled in by those close-crowding tree-trunks, and how
they revelled in the roaring camp-fire, with its leaping flames, showers
of dancing sparks, and perfume of burning cedar! What a delight it was
to lie on their blankets just within its circle of light and warmth,
listening to its crisp cracklings! Mingled with these was the cheery
voice of a tumbling stream that came from the blackness beyond, and the
soft murmurings of night winds among the branches far above them.

Another day's journey through the same grand forest, only broken by the
verdant length of Succotash Valley, and by the rocky beds of many
streams, brought them to Longmire's Springs and the log cabins of the
hardy settler who had given them his name. At this point, though they
had been steadily ascending ever since leaving Yelm Prairie, they were
still less than three thousand feet above the sea, and the real work of
climbing was not yet begun. After an evening spent in listening to
Longmire's thrilling descriptions of the difficulties and dangers
awaiting them, Bonny admitted to Alaric that he had never before
entertained even a small idea of what a mountain really was.



CHAPTER XXVIII

ON THE EDGE OF PARADISE VALLEY


From the springs a four-mile scramble through the woods and up the rocky
beds of ancient waterways brought the party to a place where the
Nisqually River must be crossed. Here a single giant tree had been
felled so as to span the torrent, and its upper surface roughly hewn to
a level. A short distance above the rude bridge rose the frowning front
of a glacier. Although its ice was mud-stained and honeycombed by
countless rivulets that poured from its upper surface in tiny cascades,
it still formed an inspiring spectacle, and one that filled Bonny with
wondering admiration, for it was his first glacier.

From an arched ice cavern at its base poured the milk-white river, with
a hollow roaring, and such force that fair-sized bowlders were swept
down its channel as though they were so many sticks of wood. The whole
scene was of such fascinating interest that it very nearly brought poor
Bonny to grief.

He had dismounted, and was preparing to follow M. Filbert and Alaric,
who had already led their ponies in safety across the narrow bridge.
These animals had crossed so readily that he supposed his would do the
same, and, as he stepped out on the great log, was paying far more
attention to the glacier than to it. Suddenly he was jerked violently
backward, pitched headlong down the bank, and barely saved himself from
the icy torrent by clutching at a friendly bush. At the same moment his
pony, who had no confidence in mountain bridges, dashed into the roaring
stream, was instantly swept from his footing, rolled over and over, and
borne struggling away towards what seemed certain destruction. By the
good fortune that attends all fools, animals as well as human, he
managed to escape both drowning and broken bones, and finally regained
his feet on a friendly reef that projected into the river a quarter of a
mile below the bridge. There he stood trembling, bruised, and dripping
when Bonny and one of the Indians, who had hastened down the bank to
discover his fate, found him a few minutes later. From that time forth
he was the meekest and most docile pony imaginable, suffering himself
not only to be led over the log bridge without remonstrance, but
wherever else his young master desired.

[Illustration: "BONNY WAS JERKED VIOLENTLY BACKWARD"]

From the scene of this incident a hard scramble up a heavily timbered
slope, so precipitous that it could only be overcome by a series of
zigzags, lifted the expedition a thousand feet above the glacier, and
carried them into a park-like meadow so carpeted and fringed with
flowers as to throw M. Filbert into an ecstasy of delight. The remainder
of that day's ride led through many more of these exquisite,
flower-decked mountain meadows separated by belts of timber, and rising
one above the other, after the manner of terraces.

Largest and most beautiful of them all was Paradise Valley, a broad
sweep of flower-painted sward dotted with graceful clumps of alpine firs
and hemlocks, and nestled at the base of a mighty frowning cliff. It was
bisected by a rippling stream that entered its upper end by a shimmering
fall of nearly one thousand feet in height.

High above this lovely valley, and close to the line where snow and
timber met, M. Filbert called a halt, and ordered the permanent camp to
be pitched. Although this point was less than half-way to the top of the
mountain, or only 6500 feet above sea-level, the ponies could climb no
higher, and, after being unladen, were sent back in charge of the
packers into Paradise Valley, where they might fatten on its juicy
grasses until needed for the return trip.

From here, then, the rugged slope of ice, snow, and rock that stretched
indefinitely upward towards the far-away shining summit must be
traversed on foot or not at all. But this was not to be done now, nor
for days to come, during which the camp just pitched was to be the base
of a wide-spread series of explorations.

A few straggling hemlocks, so bent by the ice-laden winds that swept
down the mountain-side in winter that they looked like decrepit old men,
furnished shelter, fuel, and bedding. An ice-cold stream supplied water,
the Indian hunters provided fresh meat, bringing in now a mountain-goat
or a few brace of ptarmigan, and occasionally fetching up a deer from
one of the flowery meadows a few thousand feet below. The supplies of
other kinds of food, of warm clothing and bedding, were ample, and so,
in spite of its lofty and solitary situation, that mountain-camp seemed
to our lads one of the pleasantest and most comfortable places they had
ever known.

"It beats the sloop away out of sight," remarked Bonny.

"Or Skookum John's," said Alaric.

"Yes, or being chased and starved."

"The best of it all is that up here I seem to amount to something,"
added Alaric.

This was, after all, the true secret of our lads' content; for, in spite
of its novelty, the present situation would quickly have grown wearisome
had they not been constantly and happily occupied. Every day that the
weather would permit they tramped from early morning until dark over
snow-fields and glaciers, scaled cliffs, scrambled down into valley-like
meadows set like green jewels in the grim mountain-side, threaded their
way amid the fantastic forms of stunted forests, toiled slowly up lofty
heights, or slid with the speed of toboggans down gleaming slopes. Each
day they gained in agility and daring, and each night they returned to
that cheery camp with its light, warmth, and abounding comforts, so
healthfully tired and so ravenously hungry that it is no wonder they
grew to look upon it as a home, and a very pleasant one.

Both lads developed specialties in which they became expert. Alaric's
was photography, an art that he had acquired in France, and had
practised at intervals for more than a year. As soon as M. Filbert
discovered this knowledge on the part of his young interpreter, he
intrusted him with the camera, and never had the lad devoted himself to
anything with such enthusiasm as he now did to the capturing of views.
His greatest triumph came through hours of tedious and noiseless
creeping over a rough ice-field that finally placed him within twenty
yards of a couple of mountain-goats.

Although the wind was blowing strongly from them to him, the timid
creatures were already alarmed, and were sniffing the air suspiciously
when a click of the camera's shutter sent them off like a flash. But the
shot had been successful, as was shown by the development of a perfect
plate that evening. M. Filbert was jubilant over this feat, which he
said had never before been accomplished, and complimented the lad in
flattering terms upon the skilful patience that had led to it.

Bonny's specialty lay in the collecting of flowers, to which he had
devoted himself assiduously ever since learning that they were what the
little Frenchman most desired. Keen-eyed, nimble-footed, and tireless,
he discovered and secured many a rare specimen that but for him would
have been passed unnoticed.

Thus the leader of the expedition found reason to value the good
qualities of his young assistants more highly with each day, and was
already planning to have them accompany him on his entire American tour,
during which he proposed to ascend at least a dozen more mountains.
Bonny was jubilant over the prospect of such a trip, and was now as
eager to learn French, in order to qualify himself for it, as he had
formerly been scornful of the language.

With all this open-air life and splendid physical exercise, the one-time
pale-faced and slender Alaric was broadening and developing beyond
belief. His cheeks were now a ruddy brown, his eyes were clear, his
muscles hard, and his step as springy as that of a mountain-goat. Above
everything else in his own estimation he was learning to swing an axe
with precision, and could now chop a log in two almost as neatly as
Bonny himself.

For all that they were so constantly and agreeably occupied, the boys
were possessed of a great and ever-increasing longing to stand on the
lofty but still distant summit, with the general aspect of which they
had become so familiar during their stay in the timber-line camp. Thus,
when one evening M. Filbert decided to make a start towards it on the
morrow, they hailed the announcement with joy. One of the Indians was to
accompany them as guide, while his fellow was to be left with François
to keep camp.

The greater part of the following morning was devoted to making
preparations for the climb and what was thought might prove a three
days' absence from camp: the hobnails of their walking-boots, worn
smooth by friction, were replaced by a fresh set; alpenstocks were
tested until it was certain that each of those to be taken would bear
the weight of the heaviest of the party; provisions were cooked and
packs laid out. Each was to carry a canvas-covered blanket sleeping-bag,
inside of which would be rolled provisions for three days, a tin plate,
and a cup. Each was also provided with a sheath-knife and a supply of
matches. Besides these things M. Filbert was to carry a barometer, a
thermometer, a compass, and a collecting-case. Alaric was intrusted with
the camera and two dozen plates. Bonny's extras were a hatchet and a
fifty-foot coil of stout rope; while the Indian was to carry an ice-axe
and pack a burden of fire-wood.

It was nearly noon when, fortified by a hearty lunch, they left their
home-like camp, and, facing resolutely upward, began a tedious climb
over the limitless expanse of snow that they struck within the first
hundred yards. The sky was overcast, and they had hardly started ere a
dense cloud-bank swept down and enveloped them in its chill vapors. An
hour later they passed above it, though the clouds still rolled thick
below them, and emerged into sunlight. Glad as they were to see this, it
was so distressingly bright that they were obliged to protect their eyes
from its blinding glare with snow-goggles.

Wherever a ledge of rock projected above the snow they found blooming
flowers and busy insects. Even butterflies hovered about these spots of
verdure, and seemed as much at home amid their arctic surroundings as in
the warm valleys far below.

The climb of that afternoon was hot, in spite of the snow that crunched
beneath their feet, tedious, and only mildly exciting, for all the
perils of the ascent were to come on the morrow.

Shortly before the sun sank into the sea of cloud that spread in fleecy
undulations beneath them, they reached the base of the Cleaver, a
gigantic ridge that seemed to bar their further progress. Here, on a
small plat of nearly level ground from which they dug away the snow,
they made a fire over which to boil water for a pot of tea, ate supper,
and prepared to pass the night. They were four thousand feet above
timber-line, and two miles higher than the waters of Puget Sound.

As soon as supper was over the entire party crawled into their
sleeping-bags for protection against the bitter cold of the night, and
for a while the two boys, nestling together, talked in low tones. Then
Bonny fell asleep; but for nearly an hour Alaric lay awake, listening to
the awful silence of that lofty solitude, or startled by the occasional
thunderous rush of some plunging bowlder hurled from its bed by the
resistless leverage of frost.



CHAPTER XXIX

MOUNT RAINIER PLACED UNDERFOOT


The summit of Mount Rainier has only been gained by way of its southern
slope, the much steeper and more dangerous northern face having never
been scaled. Even over the comparatively easy slope of the south side
but one practicable trail has been discovered, and it leads by way of
the Cleaver. This gigantic ridge of rock, like the backbone of some
colossal monster, forms a divide between the upper Nisqually and Cowlitz
glaciers. Its sides are overlaid with confused masses of bowlders and
treacherous gravel, through which appear at intervals sheer cliffs and
bare ledges of solid rock. The Cleaver leads to a mighty mass of
granite, a mountain in itself, that is fittingly called the Gibraltar of
Mount Rainier. It bars a further passage to all save the strongest
climbers, and to these it affords the only means of access to the lofty
realms beyond. Here is the most perilous part of the ascent, and, with
Gibraltar once passed, the summit is almost certain of attainment.

It seemed to our weary lads that they had barely fallen asleep when they
were wakened by a rude shaking and the voice of their Siwash guide,
exclaiming:

"Come, come, lazy boy! Wake up! wake up! Mos' _sitkum sun_ (noon).
Breakfus! breakfus!"

"'Most noon!" growled Bonny, crawling reluctantly from his sleeping-bag,
rubbing his eyes, and shivering in the bitter cold. "'Most midnight,
more likely."

"Alle same, _sitkum sun_ some place; don't he?" queried the Indian;
laughing at his own joke.

By the time they had swallowed a cup of tepid tea, and lightened their
packs by making a hearty meal of cold meat and hard bread, dawn was
breaking, and there was light enough to pick their way up the
treacherous slope of the Cleaver. As they cautiously advanced, many a
bowlder slipped from beneath their feet and bounded with mighty leapings
into the depths behind them. Dodging these, sliding in the loose
gravels, lifting and pulling each other up rocky faces from one narrow
ledge to another, and ever looking upward, they finally gained the
summit of the mighty ridge.

From here they could gaze down the opposite slope nearly a thousand feet
to the gleaming surface of the great Cowlitz glacier, with so much of
its ruggedness smoothed away by distance that it looked a river of milk
with a line of black drift in its centre, flowing swiftly through a
rock-walled cañon and pouring into a sea of cloud. On the far southward
horizon could be seen the glistening cone of Mount Hood, kissed by
earliest sunbeams, and in the middle distance the volcanic peaks of St.
Helens and Adams. Near at hand, pinnacles of the Tatoosh range were
breaking through the clouds like rocky islets in a billowy sea. Before
them the rugged backbone of the Cleaver, stripped of every particle of
its earthy flesh, stretched away in quick ascent to the frowning mass of
Gibraltar.

The Cleaver carried them half-way up the sombre face of this mighty
rock, and from that point a narrow ledge creeping diagonally up the
precipice at a steep angle was the trail they must follow. Not only was
this rocky pathway steep and narrow, but it shelved away from the wall,
and in many places afforded only a treacherous foothold. At any point
along its length a slip, a misstep, or an attack of dizziness would mean
almost certain destruction.

Foot by foot and yard by yard M. Filbert's little party ascended this
perilous way, here walking, and trusting to their alpenstocks for
support; there crawling on hands and knees. Sometimes one would go
cautiously ahead over a place of peculiar danger, with an end of the
rope firmly knotted beneath his arms, while his companions, with firm
bracings, retained the other part, ready to haul him up if by chance he
should plunge over the verge and dangle above the abyss at the end of
his slender tether.

At the terminus of the ledge they were confronted by a sloping wall of
solid ice, in which they must cut steps and grip-holes for feet and
hands. As they slowly and painfully worked their way up this precarious
ladder, they were continually pelted by pebbles and good-sized stones
loosened by the sun from an upper cliff of frozen gravel.

At length the toilsome ascent was safely accomplished, and, with a
panting shout from Alaric and a hurrah from Bonny, the whole party stood
on the summit of that mountain Gibraltar. Here they rested and lunched;
then, full of eager impatience, pushed on over the narrow causeway
connecting the mighty rock with the vastly mightier snow-cap beyond.

This snow, that had looked so faultlessly smooth from below, was found
to be drifted and packed into high ridges, over which they slowly
toiled, frequently pausing for breath and inhaling the rarefied air with
quick gaspings. At length a bottomless crevasse yawned before them,
spanned only by a narrow ledge of snow. With an end of the rope knotted
beneath his arms, Bonny, being the lightest, essayed to cross it.
Before he reached the farther side the treacherous support broke beneath
him, and, with a frightened cry, Alaric saw his comrade plunge out of
sight in the yawning chasm. He brought up with a heavy jerk at the end
of the rope, and they cautiously drew him back to where they stood.

As he reappeared above the edge of the opening his face was very pale,
but he called out, cheerfully: "It's all right, Rick! Don't fret!"

After a long search they discovered another bridge, and it bore them
across in safety, one at a time, but all securely roped together.
Finally, late in the afternoon, the longed-for summit was attained, and,
though nearly toppled over by a furious wind, they stood triumphant on
the rocky rim of its ancient crater. This was half a mile in diameter,
and filled with snow, but its opposite or northern side was the highest.
So to it they made their weary way, following the rocky path afforded by
the rim, and barely able to hold their footing against the wind.

When they at last attained the point of their ambition, a reading of the
barometer showed them to be standing at a height of 14,444 feet above
sea-level, and with exulting hearts they realized that, as Bonny
expressed it, they had put the highest peak of the Cascade range beneath
their feet.

The view that greeted them from that lofty outlook was so wonderful and
far-reaching that for a while they gazed in awed silence. Mount Baker,
two hundred miles away, close to the British line, was clearly visible,
as were the notable peaks to the southward, even beyond the distant
Columbia and over the Oregon border.

"_C'est grand! c'est magnifique! c'est terrible!_" exclaimed M. Filbert,
at length breaking the silence.

As for Alaric! To have achieved that summit was the greatest triumph of
his life; but his heart was too full for utterance, and he could only
gaze in speechless delight.

The Indian too gazed in silence as, leaning on his ice-axe, he
contemplated the outspread empire that but a few years before had
belonged solely to the people of his race.

Bonny was as deeply impressed as either of his companions, but found it
necessary to express his feelings in words. "This must be the top of the
world!" he cried; "and I do believe we can see it all. I tell you what
it is, Rick Dale, I've learned something about mountains this day, and
now I know that they are the grandest things in all creation."

At their feet the rock wall dropped so sheer and smooth that no man
might climb it, and then came the snow, sweeping steeply downward for
miles apparently without a break. Far beyond lay the vast sea of forest,
seeming to cover the whole earth with its green mantle. The gleaming
glaciers, looking like foaming cascades frozen into rigidity, were
swallowed by it and hidden. It rolled in billows over the mighty
mountain flanks that radiated from where they stood like the spokes of a
colossal wheel, and dipped into the intervening valleys. Nowhere was it
broken, save by the few bald peaks that struggled above it and by the
thread-like waters of Puget Sound. Even on the west there was no ocean,
for the volcanic, snow-crowned Olympics, one of which was smoking, as
though in eruption, hid it from view.

Our lads could have gazed entranced for hours on the crowding marvels
outspread before them had they been warmed and fed and rested and
sheltered from the fierce blasts of icy wind that threatened to hurl
them from the parapet on which they stood. As it was, night was at hand,
they were faint and trembling from weariness, and wellnigh perished with
the stinging cold. It was high time to turn from gazing and seek
shelter.

Inside the crater's rim numerous steam jets issued from fissures in the
rocky wall, and these had carved out caverns from the adjacent ice. Here
there were roomy chambers, steam-heated and storm-proof, awaiting
occupancy, and to one of these M. Filbert led the way.

In this place of welcome shelter numbed fingers were thawed to further
usefulness by the grateful steam, a small fire was lighted, packs were
opened, and in less than an hour a bountiful supper of hot tea, venison
frizzled over the coals, toasted hard-bread, and prunes was being
enjoyed by as hungry and jubilant a party as ever bivouacked on the
summit of Mount Rainier.

After supper the Frenchman lighted a cigarette, the Indian puffed, with
an air of intense satisfaction, at an ancient pipe, our lads toasted
their stockinged feet before the few remaining embers of the fire, and,
in various languages, all four discussed the adventures of the day.

Although they had much to say, their conversation hour was soon ended by
their weariness and by the ever-increasing cold, which even a jet of
volcanic steam could not exclude from that chamber of ice. So they
speedily slipped into their sleeping-bags, and, lying close together for
greater warmth, prepared to spend a night under the very strangest
conditions that Alaric and Bonny, at least, had ever encountered.

Some hours later the occupants of the ice-cave became conscious of the
howlings of a storm that shrieked and roared above their heads with the
fury of ten thousand demons; but, knowing that it could not penetrate
their retreat, they gave it but slight heed, and quickly dropped again
into the sleep of weariness.



CHAPTER XXX

BLOWN FROM THE RIM OF A CRATER


When our lads next awoke they were oppressed with a sense of suffocation
and uncomfortable warmth. It was still dark, and M. Filbert was striking
a match in order to look at his watch.

"Seven o'clock!" he cried, incredulously. "How can it be?"

"_Cole snass!_" (snow) exclaimed the Indian, to whom the flare of light
had instantly disclosed the cause of both darkness and suffocation. The
cave was much smaller than when they entered it, and was also full of
steam. Its walls were covered with moisture, and rivulets of water
trickled over the floor.

"_Cultus snow!_ Heap plenty! Too much! _Mamook ilahie_" (must dig),
continued the Indian, springing to his feet, and making an attack on the
drifted snow that had completely choked the cavern's mouth. When he had
excavated a burrow the length of his body, Bonny took his place, while
Alaric and M. Filbert removed the loosened snow to the back of the cave,
where they packed it as closely as possible.

Although a faint light soon appeared in the tunnel, it was a full hour
before it was dug to the surface of the tremendous drift and a rush of
cold air was admitted.

A glance outside showed that, while no snow was falling at that moment,
the day was dark and gloomy, and the mountain was enveloped in clouds
that were driven in swirling eddies by fierce gusts of wind.

In spite of the threatening weather, M. Filbert declared that they must
begin their retreat at once, as they had but one day's supply of food
left, while the storm might burst upon them again at any minute and
continue indefinitely. So, after a hasty meal of biscuits and cold meat,
the little party sallied forth. The Indian, having no longer a burden of
fire-wood, relieved Alaric of his camera, and led the way. M. Filbert
followed, then came Alaric; while Bonny, with a coil of rope hung over
his shoulder, brought up the rear.

Oh, how cold it was! and how awful! To be sure, the dangers surrounding
them were hidden by impenetrable clouds, but they had already seen them,
and knew of their presence. As they started to traverse the rocky crater
rim that still rose slightly above the snow, the entire summit was
visible; but a few minutes later a furious gust of wind again shrouded
it in clouds so dense as to completely hide objects only a few feet
away.

Just then Alaric tripped on one of his boot-lacings that had become
unfastened, and very nearly fell. That was no place for tripping, and
such a thing must not happen again. So he paused to secure the loosened
lacing, and, as he stooped over it, Bonny cried impatiently from behind:

"Hurry up, Rick! the others are already out of sight, and it will never
do to lose them in this fog."

The necessity for haste only caused the lad's numbed fingers to fumble
the more awkwardly, and several precious minutes were thus wasted.

With the task completed, Alaric, full of nervous dread, started to run
after his vanished companions, slipped on a bit of glare ice at a place
where the narrow path slanted down and out, and pitched headlong. Bonny
saw his danger, sprang to his assistance, slipped on the same
treacherous ice, and in another moment both lads had plunged over the
outer verge of the sheer wall. There was a stifled cry, drowned by the
roaring blast, and then, without leaving a trace behind them, they were
lost to sight in the crowding mists. So complete was their disappearance
that when, one minute later, M. Filbert and the Indian passed back over
that very place in anxious search of their young companions, they could
neither see nor hear aught to tell them of what had happened.

Neither Alaric nor Bonny could ever afterwards tell whether they fell
twenty feet or two hundred in that terrible, breathless plunge. Almost
with the first knowledge of their situation they found themselves
struggling in a drift of soft, fresh-fallen snow, and a moment
afterwards rolling, bounding, and shooting with frightful velocity down
an icy, roof-like slope of interminable length. Breathless, battered,
bruised, expecting with each instant to be dashed over some awful brink,
as ignorant of their surroundings as though stricken with blindness, the
poor lads still tried, with outstretched arms and clutching fingers, to
check their wild flight.

While they realized in a measure the desperate nature of the situation,
its worst features were mercifully concealed from them by the clinging
clouds. Had these lifted ever so little, they would have seen that their
perilous coast was down a ridge so narrow that the alpenstocks flung
from them as they plunged over the rim of the crater had fallen on
either side into yawning chasms.

At length, after what seemed an eternity of this terrible experience,
though in reality it lasted but a few minutes, they were flung into a
narrow, snow-filled valley that cut their course at a sharp angle, and
found themselves lying within a few feet of each other, dazed and sorely
bruised, but apparently with unbroken bones, and certainly still alive.

As they slowly gained a sitting posture and gazed curiously at each
other, Bonny said, impressively:

"Rick Dale, before we go any farther, I want to take back all I ever
said about the life of a sailor being exciting, for it isn't a
circumstance to that of an interpreter."

"Oh, Bonny, it is so good to hear your voice again! Wasn't it awful? And
how do you suppose we can ever get back?"

"Get back!" cried the other. "Well, if we had wings we might fly back;
but there's no other way that I know of. We must be a mile from our
starting-point, and even to reach the foot of the place where we dove
off we'd have to cut steps in the ice every inch of the way. That would
probably take a couple of days, and when we got there we'd have to turn
around and come down again, for nothing except a bird could ever scale
that wall."

"Then what shall we do?"

"Keep on as we have begun, I suppose, only a little slower, I hope,
until we reach the timber-line, and then try and follow it to camp."

"I wonder if we can?"

"Of course we can, for we've got to."

Painfully the lads gained their feet, and with cautious steps began to
explore their surroundings. They walked side by side for a few yards,
and then each clutched the other as though to draw him back. They were
on the brink of a precipice, over which another step would have carried
them.

While they hesitated, not knowing which way to turn nor what to do, the
clouds below them rolled away, though above and back of them they
remained as dense as ever, and a view of what lay before them was
unfolded.

Rocks, ice, and snow; sheer walls rising on either side of them, and a
precipitous slope forming an almost vertical descent of a thousand feet
in front. There were but three things to do: Go back the way they had
come, which was so wellnigh impossible that they did not give it a
second thought; remain where they were, which meant a certain and speedy
death; or make their way down that rocky wall. They crept to its brink
and looked over, anxiously scanning its every feature and calculating
their chances. The first thirty feet were sheer and smooth. Then came a
narrow shelf, below which they could see others at irregular intervals.

"There is only one way to do it," said Bonny, "and that is by the rope.
I will go first, and you must follow."

"I'll try," replied Alaric, with a very pale face but a brave voice.

So Bonny, with the knowledge of knots that he had learned on shipboard,
made a noose that would not slip in one end of their rope, tied half a
dozen knots along its length for hand-holds, and fastened its other end
about his body. Then he looped the noose over a jutting point of rock,
and, slipping cautiously over the brink, allowed himself to slide slowly
down.

It made Alaric so giddy to watch him that he closed his eyes, nor did he
open them until a cheery "All right, Rick!" assured him of his comrade's
safety. Now came his turn, and as he hung by that slender cord he was
devoutly thankful for the strength that the past few weeks had put into
his arms. He too reached the ledge in safety, and then, with great
difficulty, on account of the narrowness of their foothold, they
managed to slip the noose off its resting-place. Now they _must_ go
forward, for there was no longer a chance of going back. In vain,
though, did they search that smooth ledge for a point that would hold
their noose. There was none, and the next shelf was twenty feet below.

"We must climb it, Rick, and this time you must go first. Put the loop
under your arms, and I will do my best to hold you if you slip; but
don't take any chances, or count too much on me being able to do it."

There were little cracks and slight projections. Bonny held the rope
reassuringly taut, and at length the feat was accomplished. Then Alaric
took in the slack of the rope as Bonny, tied to its other end, made the
same perilous descent.

So, with strained arms, aching legs, and fingers worn to the quick from
clutching the rough granite, they made their slow way from ledge to
ledge, gaining courage and coolness as they successfully overcame each
difficulty, until they estimated that they had descended fully five
hundred feet. Now came another smooth face absolutely without a crevice
that they could discover, and the next ledge below was farther away than
the length of their dangling rope. There was, however, a projection
where they stood, over which they could loop the noose.

"We've got to do it," said Bonny, stoutly, "and I only hope the drop at
the end isn't so long as it looks." Thus saying, he slipped cautiously
over the edge, let himself down to the end of the rope, dropped ten
feet, staggered, and seemed about to fall, but saved himself by a
violent effort. Alaric followed, and also made the drop, but whirled
half round in so doing, and but for Bonny's quick clutch would have gone
over the edge.

There was now no way of recovering their useful rope; and fortunately,
though they sorely needed it at times, they found no other place
absolutely impossible without it. By noon, when they paused for rest and
a scanty lunch of chocolate and prunes, they were down one thousand
feet, and believed the worst of the descent to be accomplished.

Now came a rude granite stairway with steps fit for a giant, and then a
long slope of loose bowlders, that rocked and rolled from beneath their
feet as they sprang from one to another. They crossed the rugged ice of
a glacier, whose innumerable crevasses intersected like the wrinkles on
an old man's face, and had many hair-breadth escapes from slipping into
their deadly depths of frozen blue. Then came a vast snow-field, over
which they tramped for miles with weary limbs but light hearts, for the
terrors of the mountain were behind them and the timber-line was in
sight. Darkness had already overtaken them when they came to a steep,
rock-strewn slope, down which they ran with reckless speed. They were
near its bottom when a bowlder on which Bonny had just leaped rolled
from under him, and he fell heavily on a bed of jagged rocks.

As he did not regain his feet, Alaric sprang to his side. The poor lad
who had so stoutly braved the countless perils of the day was moaning
pitifully, and as his friend bent anxiously over him he said, in a
feeble voice:

"I'm afraid, old man, that I'm done for at last, for it feels as though
every bone in my body was broken."



CHAPTER XXXI

A DESPERATE SITUATION


Of the many trying experiences through which our lads had passed since
their introduction to each other in Victoria, none had presented so many
hopeless features as the present. They were high up on a mighty
mountain, whose terrible wilderness of rock and glacier, precipice and
chasm, limitless snow-field and trackless forest, stretched for weary
leagues in every direction; beyond hope of human aid; only a mouthful of
food between them and starvation; with night so close at hand that
near-by objects were already indistinct in its gathering gloom; without
shelter; inexperienced in woodcraft; and one of them so seriously
injured that he lay moaning on the cruel rocks that had wounded him,
apparently incapable of moving.

As all these details of the situation flashed into Alaric's mind he
became for a moment heart-sick and despairing at its utter hopelessness.
He was so exhausted with the exertions of the day, so unnerved by the
strain and anxiety of the perilous hours just passed, and so faint for
want of nourishment, that it is no wonder his strength was turned into
weakness, or that he could discover no ray of hope through the
all-pervading gloom.

Suddenly and as clearly as though spoken by his side came the words:
"Always remember that, as my friend Jalap Coombs says, 'It is never so
dark but what there is light somewhere.'" The memory of Phil Ryder's
brave face as he uttered that sentence came to our poor lad like a
tonic, and instantly he was resolved to find the light that was shining
for him somewhere.

With such marvellous quickness does the mind act in an emergency that
all these thoughts came to Alaric even as he bent anxiously over his
injured friend and began examining tenderly into the nature of his
hurts. As he lifted the left arm the sufferer uttered a cry of pain, and
its hand hung limp. The other limbs were sound, but Bonny said that
every breath was like a stab.

"One arm broken, and I'm afraid something gone wrong inside," announced
Alaric at length; "but it might be ever so much worse," he continued, in
as cheerful a tone as he could command. "One of your legs might have
been broken, you know, and then we should be in a fix, for I couldn't
carry you, and we should have to stay right here. Now, though, I am sure
you can walk as far as the timber if you will only try. Of course it
will hurt terribly, but you must do it, for there is no other way."

Very slowly, and with many a stifled cry of acute pain, Bonny gained his
feet. Then, with his right arm about Alaric's neck, and with the latter
stoutly supporting him, the injured lad managed to cross the few hundred
feet intervening between that place and the longed-for shelter of the
stunted hemlocks forming the timber-line.

Both Bonny's weakness and the darkness, which was now that of night,
prevented their penetrating deep into the timber; but before the
sufferer sank to the ground, declaring that he could not take another
step, they had gone far enough to escape the icy blast that, sweeping
down from the upper snow-fields, had chilled them to the marrow. This
alone was a notable achievement, and already Alaric believed he could
perceive a glimmer of the light he had set out to find.

Now for a fire, and how grateful they were for M. Filbert's forethought
that had provided each one of his party with matches! Feeling about for
twigs, and whittling a few shavings with his sheath-knife, Alaric
quickly started a tiny flame, and with its first cheery glow their
situation seemed robbed of half its terrors. An armful of sticks
produced a brave crackling blaze that drove the black forest shadows to
a respectful distance.

With Bonny's hatchet Alaric next lopped off the branches from the lower
side of a thick-growing hemlock and wove them among those that were
left, so as to form a wind-break. An armful of the same flat boughs, cut
from other trees and strewn on the ground, formed a spring bed on which
to unfold the sleeping-bags, that by rare good fortune had remained
strapped to the lads' shoulders during all their terrible journey from
the summit camp of the night before.

After making his comrade as comfortable as possible, Alaric hurried away
into the darkness. He was gone so long that Bonny, who did not know the
reason of his absence, began to grow very uneasy before he returned.
When he did reappear, he brought with him a quantity of snow that he had
gone back a quarter of a mile up the dark mountain-side to obtain. He
wanted water, and not hearing or finding any stream, had bethought
himself of snow as a substitute.

In each of the packs they had so fortunately brought with them was a
handful of tea, for M. Filbert had insisted that all the provisions
should be divided among all the packs, as a precaution against just such
an emergency as had arisen. Therefore, Alaric now had the materials for
a longed-for and much-needed cup of the stimulating beverage. To make
it, an amount of the precious leaves equal to a teaspoonful was put into
one of their tin cups while snow was melted in the other. As soon as
this came to a boil it was poured over the tea leaves in cup number one,
which was allowed to stand for two minutes longer in a warm place to
"draw."

While Bonny slowly sipped this, at the same time munching a handful of
hard biscuit, which, broken into small bits, was all the food they had
left, Alaric boiled another cup of water for himself.

From all this it will be seen that our one-time helpless and dependent
"Allie" Todd was rapidly learning not only to care for himself under
trying conditions, but for others as well.

As soon as Bonny had been thus strengthened and thoroughly warmed,
Alaric made a more thorough examination of his injuries than had been
possible out in the cold and darkness where the accident occurred. He
found that the left arm had sustained a simple fracture, fortunately but
little splintered, and also that two ribs on the left side were broken.
For these he could do nothing; but he managed to set the broken arm
after a fashion, bandage it with handkerchiefs torn into strips, and
finally to place it in a case formed of a trough-like section of
hemlock-bark, which he hung from Bonny's neck by straps. Then he helped
his patient into one of the sleeping-bags, encouraging him all the while
with hopeful suggestions of what they would do on the morrow.

After thus making his charge as comfortable as circumstances would
permit, the lad busied himself for another hour in collecting such a
quantity of wood as should insure a good fire until morning. Then,
utterly fagged out, he crept into his own bed, and lay down beside his
friend.

Despite the painful nature of his injuries, Bonny had already fallen
asleep, but Alaric lay awake from sheer weariness, and struggled against
gloomy thoughts of their future. He knew that the home-like camp in
which they had passed two weeks so happily, and which they had hoped to
regain by following the timber-line, was on the opposite side of the
mountain, many weary miles away. He knew also that between them and it
lay a region so rugged as to be wellnigh impassable to the sturdiest of
mountaineers, and absolutely so to one in Bonny's condition. It would be
a journey of two or more days under the most favorable circumstances;
but alone and without food he realized that even he could not accomplish
it. Besides, he could not leave Bonny in his present helpless condition.
Therefore, all thoughts of obtaining assistance from that direction must
be abandoned. Could they continue on down the mountain through the
trackless forest that on the upward journey they had occupied two whole
days in traversing on horseback, and with a clearly defined trail?
Certainly they could not, and to make the attempt would be worse than
folly. What, then, could they do? This question was so unanswerable that
the perplexed lad gave over struggling with it and fell asleep.

He intended to replenish his fire several times during the night; but
when he next awoke daylight was already some hours old, the place where
the fire had burned was covered with dead ashes, and Bonny lay patiently
regarding him with wistful eyes.

"I am thirsty, Rick," was all he said, though he had lain for hours
wide-awake and parched with fever, but heroically determined that his
wearied comrade should sleep until he woke of his own accord.

"You poor fellow!" cried Alaric, remorsefully. "Why didn't you wake me
long ago?"

"I couldn't bear to," replied Bonny; "but now if you will please get me
a drink."

Only pausing to light a fresh fire, Alaric hastened away to the distant
snow-bank, returning as speedily as possible with as much of it as their
two tin plates would hold. A handful was given Bonny to cool his parched
tongue while the remainder was melting.

So small a quantity of water could be procured at a time by this slow
process that in a very few minutes Alaric found he must go for more
snow. As he went he realized how faint he was for want of food. "I
wonder how much longer I shall be able to hold out?" he asked himself.
"How many more times can I make this trip before my strength is
exhausted?" A mental picture of Bonny begging for water, and he too weak
to fetch it, caused his eyes to fill with tears, and a black despair
again enfolded him.

At this moment the voice of the previous night came again to him: "It is
never so dark but what there is light somewhere." "Of course there is,"
he cried, "and as I found it last night, why shouldn't I to-day?"

Even as the lad spoke he caught its first gleam in the form of a rivulet
of clear water that rippled merrily down from the snow only a few yards
from where he stood. Hastening to this, the lad drank long and deeply.
On lifting his head from the delicious water, he could hardly believe
his eyes as they rested on a solitary bird, that he knew to be a
ptarmigan, crouching beside a bowlder. Hoping against hope, and almost
unnerved by anxiety, he flung a stone, and in another minute the bird
was his. "Hurrah for breakfast!" he shouted, as he ran back to Bonny
with his trophy proudly displayed at arm's-length.

Awkward as Alaric was at the business, he had that Heaven-sent bird
stripped of its feathers, cleaned, and spitted over a bed of glowing
coals within ten minutes of the time he had first spied it, and a little
later only its cleanly picked bones remained to tell of its existence.

Bonny was disinclined to eat, but he drank two cups of hot tea, that
threw him into a perspiration, greatly to Alaric's satisfaction. As he
also seemed drowsy, Alaric encouraged him to sleep, while he should go
in search of more food and assistance, with one or both of which he
promised to return before noon.



CHAPTER XXXII

HOW A SONG SAVED ALARIC'S LIFE


When Alaric made that promise he had no more idea of how it was to be
kept than he had of what was to become of Bonny and himself. He only
knew that active exertion of some kind was necessary to keep him from
utter despair. Besides, it was just possible that he might discover and
secure another bird, though not at all probable, as the one on which he
had breakfasted was the first that he had encountered since coming to
the mountain.

By the time he emerged from the timber the morning clouds had rolled
away, the sun was shining brightly, and the whole vast sweep of gleaming
snow and tumultuous rock, from timber-line to distant summit, lay piled
in steep ascent before him. It was a wonderful sight, but as terrible as
it was grand, for in all its awful solitude there was no movement, no
voice, and no sign of life. Oppressed by the loneliness of his
surroundings, and having no reason for choosing one direction rather
than another, the lad mechanically turned to the right and began to make
his way along a bowlder-strewn slope, where every now and then he came
to the bleached skeletons of stunted trees, winter-killed, but still
standing, and seeming to stretch imploring arms to their retreating
brethren of the forest.

He had not gone more than a mile when there came something to him that
caused him to halt and glance inquiringly on all sides. At the same
time he lifted his head and sniffed the air eagerly, like a hound on the
scent of game. He was certain that he had smelled smoke. Yes, there it
came again; a whiff so faint as to be almost imperceptible, but the
unmistakable odor of burning wood.

Facing squarely the breeze that brought it to him, the lad pushed
forward, and a few minutes later stood on the verge of a little mountain
meadow, sun-warmed and rock-walled on all sides, save the one by which
he had approached. Here the slope was so gentle that he started down on
a run. He had thus gone but a short distance when he suddenly paused
with his eyes fixed on the ground where he was standing.

He had been unconsciously following a path, faintly marked and hardly to
be distinguished, but nevertheless one that he felt certain had been
trodden by human feet. The discovery filled him with excitement, and he
bounded forward with redoubled speed. Halfway down the slope, at a point
commanding a lovely view of the flower-strewn valley, the trail ended at
a crystal spring that bubbled from among the roots of a tall young
hemlock. Other trees were grouped near-by, and beneath them stood a rude
hut built of poles and boughs, but having a rain-proof roof of thatch.
Before it smouldered a log fire, from which rose the thin column of
smoke that had directed Alaric's attention to the place.

Filled with exultation and wild with joy over his discovery, the lad
gazed eagerly about for some sign of the proprietor or occupants of this
lonely camp, and at length, seeing no one, he began to shout. Receiving
no response, he entered the hut, and was surprised at the absence of
even the rude comforts common to such a place. There was a heap of white
goat-skins in one corner, and a quantity of meat, either smoked or
dried, hung from a rafter overhead. A kettle and a fry-pan lay outside
near the fire, an axe was driven into the trunk of one of the trees,
and, so far as Alaric could see, there was nothing else. But even these
things were enough to indicate that this was a place of at least
temporary human abode, and wherever its proprietor might be, he would
return to it sooner or later. Then, too, Alaric believed it to be the
camp of a white man; for though his knowledge of Indians was limited, it
in no way resembled that of Skookum John.

"At any rate," he said to himself, "I will try and get Bonny here as
quickly as possible, for he will be a thousand times better off in this
place than where I left him."

So, with a lighter heart than he had known since his comrade's accident,
Alaric started back over the trail by which he had come. Bonny was awake
and sitting up when he reappeared, and the sufferer's face brightened
wonderfully at the great news of at least one other human being, a camp,
and an abundance of food so near at hand.

"Do you really think I can get there, though?" he asked, anxiously.

"Yes," replied Alaric, "I know you can; for, as you said yesterday when
we were looking at that precipice, it is something that must be done. We
can't stay here without either food or shelter, and we don't dare wait
for the owner of that camp to come back and help us move, because he may
stay away several days. I know it is going to hurt you awfully to walk,
but I know too that you'll do it if you only make up your mind to."

"All right, I'll try it; but, Rick, don't you forget that if I ever get
down from this mountain alive, never again will I climb another. No,
sir. Level ground will be good enough for me after this."

As Alaric was doing up the sleeping-bags a familiar-looking baseball
rolled from his, and caught Bonny's eye.

"If you aren't a queer chap!" he exclaimed. "Whatever made you bring
that ball along?"

"Because," answered the other, "it means so much to me that I hated to
leave it behind, and then I thought perhaps it would be fun to have a
game on the very top of the mountain. When we reached there, though, I
forgot all about it."

"Yes," said Bonny, grimly, "we did have something else to think of.
Ough, but that hurts!"

This exclamation was called forth by the poor lad's effort to gain his
feet, which he found he was unable to do without assistance.

Although Alaric carried both packs, and lent Bonny all possible support
besides, that one-mile walk proved the most difficult either of the lads
had ever undertaken. Brave and stout-hearted as Bonny was, he could not
help groaning with every step, and they were obliged to rest so often
that the little journey occupied several hours. At its end both lads
were utterly exhausted, and Bonny was suffering so intensely that he
hardly noticed the place to which he had been brought. The moment he
gained the hut he sank down on its pile of goat-skins with closed eyes,
and so white a face that he seemed about to faint.

When Alaric was there before, he had mended the fire and set on a kettle
of water, with a view to just such an emergency as the present. The
water was still boiling, and so within three minutes he was able to give
his patient a cup of strong tea that greatly revived him. Food was the
next thing to be thought of, and Alaric did not hesitate to appropriate
one of the strips of goat's flesh that hung overhead. Not being quite
sure of the best way to cook this, he cut one portion into small bits,
put them into the kettle with a little water, and set the whole on the
fire to simmer. Another portion he sliced thin and laid in the fry-pan,
which he also set on the fire. Still a third bit he spitted on a long
stick and held close to a bed of coals, where it frizzled with such an
appetizing odor that he could not wait for it to be cooked before
cutting off small bits to sample. They were so good that he went to
offer some to Bonny; but finding the latter still lying with closed
eyes, thought best not to disturb him. So he sat alone and ate all the
frizzled meat, and all that was in the fry-pan, and was still so hungry
that he procured another strip of meat from the hut, and began all over
again.

They had been nearly two hours in the camp before his ravenous appetite
was fully satisfied, and by that time the contents of the pot had
simmered into a sort of thick broth. At a faint call from Bonny, Alaric
carried some of this to him, and had the satisfaction of seeing him
swallow a whole cupful. Then, as night was again approaching, he helped
his patient into one of the sleeping-bags, which he underlaid with
several goat-skins, and sat by him until he fell into a doze. When this
happened Alaric went softly outside, and, to dispel the gathering gloom,
piled logs on the fire until it was in a bright blaze. Sitting a little
to one side, half in light and half in shadow, and having no present
occupation, the lad fell into a deep reverie. How was this strange
adventure to end? Who owned that camp, and why did he not return to it?
What would he think on finding strangers in possession? Had any boy ever
stepped from one life into another so entirely different as suddenly and
completely as he? One year ago at this time he was in France, surrounded
by every luxury that money could procure, carefully guarded from every
form of anxiety, and dependent upon others for everything. Now he was
thankful for the shelter of a hut, and a meal of half-cooked meat
prepared by his own hands. He not only had everything to do for himself,
but had another still more helpless dependent upon him for everything.
Was he any happier then than now? No. He could honestly say that he
preferred his present position, with its health, strength, and glorious
self-reliance, to the one he had resigned.

Still there had been happy times in that other life. Two years ago, for
instance, when his mother and he had travelled leisurely through
Germany, halting whenever they chose, and remaining as long as places
interested them. Thoughts of his mother recalled the plaintive little
German folk-song of which she had been so fond.

_Muss i denn._ Yes, that was it, and involuntarily Alaric began to hum
the air. Then the words began to fit themselves to it, and before he
realized what he was doing he was singing softly:

    "Muss i denn, muss i denn
    Zum Städtele 'naus, Städtele 'naus:
    Und du, mein Schatz, bleibst hier."

So engrossed was the lad with his thoughts and with trying to recall the
words of the song running in his head that he heard nothing of a soft
footstep that for several minutes had been stealthily approaching the
fire-lit place where he sat. He knew nothing of the wild eyes that,
peering from a haggard face, were fixed upon him with the glare of
madness. He had no suspicion of the brown rifle-barrel that was slowly
raised until he was covered by its deadly aim. But now he had recalled
all the words of his song, and they rang out strong and clear:

    "Muss i denn, muss i denn
    Zum Städtele 'naus, Städtele 'naus:
    Und du--"

At that moment there came a great cry behind him: "_Ach, Himmel! Wer ist
denn das?_" and the startled lad sprang to his feet in terror.



CHAPTER XXXIII

LAID UP FOR REPAIRS


About the time when Alaric was pleasantly travelling with his mother in
Germany, Hans Altman, with Gretchen, his wife, and Eittel, his little
daughter, dwelt in a valley of the Harz Mountains. Although Hans was a
poor man, he found plenty of work with which to support his family in
comfort, but he could never forget that his father had been a
burgomeister, and much better off in this world's goods than he.
Thinking of this made him discontented and unhappy, until finally he
determined to sell what little they had and come to America, or, as he
called it, "the land of gold," with the hope of bettering his fortunes.
In vain did Gretchen protest that nowhere in the world could they be so
happy or so well off as in their own land and among their own people.
Even her tears failed to turn him from his purpose. So they came to this
country, and at length drifted to the far-away shores of Puget Sound,
where they stranded, wellnigh penniless, ignorant of the language and
customs of those about them, helpless and forlorn. With the distress of
mind caused by this state of affairs, Hans grew melancholy and
irritable, and when Eittel died he declared that he himself had killed
her. The faithful Gretchen soon followed her little daughter, and with
this terrible blow the poor man's mind gave way entirely. He not only
fancied himself a murderer, but believed officers of the law to be in
pursuit of him, and that if captured he would be hanged.

Filled with this idea, he fled on the very night of his wife's death,
and having been born among mountains, now instinctively sought in them a
place of refuge. He carried an axe with him, and somewhere procured a
rifle with a plentiful supply of ammunition. Through the vast forest he
made his way far from the haunts of men, ever climbing higher and
penetrating more deeply among the friendly mountains, until finally he
reached a tiny valley, in which he believed himself safe from pursuit.
Here he built a rude hut, and became a hunter of mountain-goats. Their
flesh furnished him with food, their skins with bedding and clothing,
while from their horns he carved many a rude utensil.

In this way he had lived for nearly two months, when our lost and sorely
perplexed lads stumbled upon his camp, and found in it a haven of
safety. In the peaceful quiet of those mountain solitudes the poor man
had become calmly content with his primitive mode of life, and was even
happy as he recalled how skilfully he had eluded a fancied pursuit, and
how impossible it had now become for those who sought his life to
discover his retreat.

It was in this frame of mind that, on returning from a long day's hunt
with a body of a goat slung across his back, he saw, to his dismay, that
his hiding-place had been found, and that his camp was occupied by
strangers. Of course they were enemies who were now waiting to kill him.
He would fly so fast and so far that they could never follow. No; better
than that, he would kill them before they were even aware of his
presence. This was a grand idea, and the madman chuckled softly to
himself as it came to him. Laying his dead goat on the ground, and
whispering to it not to be afraid, for he would soon return, the man
crept stealthily forward towards the firelight. At length he spied the
form of what he believed to be one of his pursuers, sitting half hid in
the shadows and doubtless waiting for him. Ha! ha! How disappointed that
enemy would be when he found himself dead! and with a silent chuckle the
madman lifted his rifle.

At that terrible moment the notes of Alaric's song were borne to him on
the still night air, and then came the words:

    "Muss i denn, muss i denn

    Und du, mein Schatz, bleibst hier."

It was his Gretchen's song, and those were the very words she had sung
to him so often in their happy Harz Valley home. The uplifted arm
dropped as though palsied, and, like one who hears a voice from the
dead, the man uttered a mighty cry of mingled fear and longing; at the
same moment he stepped into the full glare of firelight and confronted
Alaric, at whom he poured a torrent of questions in German.

"Who are you? How came you here? What do you want? Have you seen my
Gretchen? Where did you learn to sing '_Muss i denn_'?"

"In Germany, of course, where everybody sings it," replied Alaric,
answering the last question first, and speaking in the man's own
language. "And I didn't think you would mind if we took possession of
your camp until your return; for, you see, we are in great trouble."

"_Ach_, no! All who are in trouble should come with me; for I, too, have
many, many troubles," replied the man, his blue eyes losing their fierce
look and filling with tears. "But I never meant to do it. _Gott in
Himmel_ knows I never meant to do it."

"Of course not," said Alaric, soothingly, anxious to quiet the man's
agitation, and suspecting that his mind was not quite right. "Nobody
thinks you did."

"Yes, they do, the cruel men who would kill me; but you will stay and
drive them away if they come, will you not? You will be my friend--you,
to whom I can talk with the tongue of the fatherland?"

"Certainly I will stay and be your friend, if you will help me care for
another friend who lies yonder very ill."

"_Ja! ja!_ I will help you if you will stay and talk to me of Gretchen,
and sing to me '_Muss i denn_.'"

"Very good," agreed Alaric. "It is, then, a contract between us." At the
same time he said to himself: "He is a mighty queer-looking chap to have
for a friend; but I suppose there are worse, and I guess I can manage
him. It's a lucky thing I know a little German, though, for he looked
fierce enough to kill me until I began to talk with him."

The appearance of the man was certainly calculated to inspire
uneasiness, especially when taken in connection with his incoherent
words. He was an immense fellow, with shaggy hair and untrimmed beard.
On his head was perched a ridiculous little cloth cap, while over his
shoulders was flung a cloak of goat-skins, that added greatly to his
appearance of size and general shagginess. His lower limbs were covered
with leggings of the same hairy material. His ordinary expression was
the fierce look of a hunted animal, but now it was softened by the rare
pleasure of meeting one who could talk with him in his own language.

From that first moment of strange introduction his eagerness to be with
Alaric and induce him to talk was pathetic. To him he poured out all his
sorrows, together with daily protests that he had never meant to kill
his Gretchen and little Eittel. For the sake of this companionship he
was willing to do anything that might add to the comfort of his guests.
He scoured forest and mountain-side in search of game, and rarely
returned empty-handed. He fetched amazing loads of wood on his back,
went on long expeditions after berries, set cunningly devised snares for
ptarmigan, and found ample recompense for all his labor in lying at full
length before the camp-fire at night and talking with Alaric. Bonny he
mistrusted as being one who could speak no German, and only bore with
him for the sake of his friend.

Nor was he greatly liked by the lad, whose injuries compelled a long
acceptance of his hospitality. "I know he's good to us, and won't let
you do any work that he can help, and all that," Bonny would say; "but
somehow I can't trust him nor like him. He'll play us some mean trick
yet, see if he don't."

"But he saved our lives; for if we hadn't found his camp we should
certainly have starved to death."

"That's just it! We found his camp. He didn't find us, and never would
have. Anyhow, he's as crazy as a loon, and will bear a heap of
watching."

For all this, Bonny did not allow his anxiety to interfere with a speedy
recovery from his injuries, and by the aid of youthful vigor, a splendid
constitution, complete rest, plenty of food, and the glorious mountain
air, his broken bones knit so rapidly that in one month's time he
declared himself to be mended and as good as new.

Although Alaric insisted that he should carry his arm in a sling for a
while longer, they now began to plan eagerly for a continuance of their
journey down the mountain and a return to civilization. By this time
they were as heartily sick of goat-meat as they had ever been of fish in
Skookum John's camp, tired of the terrible loneliness of their
situation, and, more than all, tired of their enforced idleness, with
nothing to read and little to do. Alaric had beguiled many long hours
with his baseball, which he could now throw with astonishing precision
and catch with either hand in almost any position. As this ball, bought
in San Francisco, was the sole connecting-link between his present and
his former life, it always reminded him of his father, whom he now
longed to see, that he might relieve the anxiety he felt certain Amos
Todd must be suffering on his account.

The boys often talked of M. Filbert, and wondered what had become of
him. At first Alaric made an earnest effort to induce Hans Altman to go
in search of the Frenchman's camp and notify him of their safety; but
the German became so excitedly angry at the mere mention of such a thing
that he was forced to relinquish the idea. He would gladly have
undertaken the trip himself, but could not leave Bonny.

Their strange host became equally angry at any mention of their leaving
him, and refused to give any information concerning their present
locality or the nearest point at which other human beings might be
found. Nor did he ever evince the least curiosity as to where they had
come from. It was enough for him that they were there.

When the time for them to depart drew so near that the boys could talk
of nothing else, Alaric made another effort to gain some information
from the German that would guide their movements, but in vain. He only
succeeded in arousing the man's suspicions to such an extent that he
grew morose, would not leave camp unless Alaric went with him, and
watched furtively every movement that the boys made. Bonny realized
this, and spoke of it to his comrade. "I believe this Dutchman regards
us as his prisoners, and has made up his mind not to allow us to escape
him," he said. But Alaric only laughed, and answered that he guessed
they would get away easy enough whenever they were ready to go.

The two lads slept at one end of the hut with their host at the other,
and that very night something happened to confirm Bonny's worst fears
and fill him with such horror that he determined never again to sleep
within miles of that vicinity.



CHAPTER XXXIV

CHASED BY A MADMAN


Bonny's bed was nearest the side of the hut, while Alaric lay beyond him
towards its centre. Morning was breaking when the former awoke from a
troubled dream, so filled with a presentiment of impending evil that his
forehead was bathed in a cold perspiration. For the space of a minute he
lay motionless, striving to reassure himself that his terror was without
foundation. All at once he became conscious that some one was talking in
a low tone, and, glancing in that direction, saw the form of their host,
magnified by the dim light into gigantic proportions, bending over
Alaric. The man held an uplifted knife, and was muttering to himself in
German; but at Bonny's cry of horror he leaped to his feet and
disappeared through the doorway.

"What is the matter?" asked Alaric, sleepily, only half awakened by
Bonny's cry. "Been having bad dreams?"

"Yes, and a worse reality," answered the other, huskily. "Oh, Rick! he
was going to kill you, and if I hadn't waked when I did we should both
have been dead by this time. He has made up his mind to murder us; I
know he has."

A minute later Alaric had heard the whole story, and, as excited as
Bonny himself, was hurriedly slipping on his coat and boots. They knew
not which way to go, nor what to do, but both were eager to escape from
the hut into the open, where they might at least have a chance to run in
case of an attack.

As they emerged from the doorway, casting apprehensive glances in every
direction, Alaric's baseball, that had been left in one of his
coat-pockets the evening before, slipped through a hole in the lining
and fell to the ground. Hardly conscious of what he was doing, the lad
stooped to pick it up. At that same instant came the sharp crack of a
rifle and the "ping" of a bullet that whistled just above his head.

"He is shooting at us!" gasped Bonny. "Come, quick, before he can
reload."

Without another word the lads dashed into the clump of trees sheltering
the camp, and down the slope on which it stood. They would have
preferred going the other way, but the rifle-shot had come from that
direction, and so they had no choice. Their movements being at first
concealed by the timber, there was no sign of pursuit until they gained
the open valley and started to cross it. Then came a wild yell from
behind, and they knew that their flight was discovered.

Breathlessly they sped through the dewy meadow, sadly impeded by its
rank growth of grass and flowers, towards a narrow exit through the wall
bounding its lower end that Alaric had long ago discovered. Through this
a brawling stream made its way, and by means of its foaming channel the
boys hoped to effect an escape.

As they gained the rocky portal Bonny glanced back and uttered a cry of
dismay, for their late host was in plain view, leaping down the slope
towards the meadow they had just crossed. He was then bent on overtaking
them, and the pursuit had begun in earnest.

As there was no pathway besides that offered by the bed of the stream,
they were forced to plunge into its icy torrent and follow its
tumultuous course over slippery rocks, through occasional still pools
whose waters often reached to the waist, and down foaming cascades, with
a reckless disregard for life or limb. In this manner they descended
several hundred feet, and when from the bottom they looked up over the
way they had come they felt that they must surely have been upborne by
wings. But there was no time for contemplation, for at that moment a
plunging bowlder from above warned them that their pursuer was already
in the channel.

Now they were in a forest, not of the giant trees they would find at a
lower altitude, but one of tall hemlocks and alpine-firs, growing with
such density that the panting fugitives could with difficulty force a
way between them. They stumbled over prostrate trunks, slipped on beds
of damp mosses, were clutched by woody fingers, from whose hold their
clothing was torn with many a grievous rent; and, with all their
efforts, made such slow progress that they momentarily expected to be
overtaken. Nor were their fears groundless, for they had not gone half a
mile ere a crashing behind them told that their pursuer was close at
hand. As they exchanged a despairing glance, Bonny said: "The only thing
we can do is hide, for I can't run any farther."

"Where?" asked Alaric.

"Here," replied Bonny, diving as he spoke into a bed of ferns. Alaric
followed, and as they flattened themselves to the ground, barely
concealed by the green tips nodding above their backs, the madman leaped
into the space they had just vacated, and stood so close to them that
they could have reached out and touched him. His cap had disappeared,
his hair streamed over his shoulders like a tawny mane; his clothing was
torn, a scratch had streaked his face with blood, and his deep-set eyes
shone with the wild light of insanity. He had flung away his rifle, but
his right hand clutched a knife, keen and long-bladed. The crouching
lads held their breath as he paused for an instant beside them. Then,
uttering a snarling cry, he dashed on, and with cautiously lifted heads
they watched him out of sight.

"Whew!" ejaculated Bonny, "that was a close call. But I say, Rick, this
business of running away and being chased seems quite like old times,
don't it?"

"Yes," answered Alaric, with a shuddering sigh of mingled relief and
apprehension, "it certainly does, and this is the worst of all. But what
shall we do now?"

"I don't know of anything else but to keep right on downhill after going
far enough to one side to give his course a wide berth. I'd like awfully
to have some breakfast, but I wouldn't go back to that camp for it if it
were the only place in the world. I'd about as soon starve as eat
another mouthful of goat, anyway. We are sure to come out somewhere,
though, if we only stick to a downward course long enough."

So the boys bore to the right, and within a few minutes had the
satisfaction of noting certain gleamings through the trees that
betokened some kind of an opening. Guided by these, they soon came to a
ridge of bowlders and gravel, forming one of the lateral moraines of a
glacier that lay in glistening whiteness beyond.

"We might as well follow along its edge," suggested Bonny; "for all
these glaciers seem to run downhill, and, bad as the walking is over mud
and rocks, we can make better time here than through the woods."

They had not gone more than a mile in this fashion, and, believing that
they had successfully eluded their pursuer, were rapidly recovering from
their recent fright, when they were startled by a cry like that of a
wild beast close at hand. Glancing up, they were nearly paralyzed with
terror to see the madman grinning horribly with delight at having
discovered them, and about to rush down the steep slope to where they
stood.

[Illustration: "THEY WERE PARALYZED WITH TERROR TO SEE THE MADMAN
GRINNING HORRIBLY"]

There was but an instant of hesitation, and then both lads sprang out on
the rugged surface of the glacier, and made a dash for its far-away
opposite side. It was a dangerous path, slippery, rough beyond
description, and beset with yawning crevasses; but they were willing to
risk all its perils for a slender chance of escaping the certain death
that was speeding towards the place they had just left. If they could
only gain the opposite timber, they might possibly hide as before. It
was a faint hope, but their only one.

So they ran, slipped, stumbled, took flying leaps over the parted white
lips of narrow crevasses, and made détours to avoid such as were too
wide to be thus spanned. They had no time to look behind, nor any need.
The fierce cries of the madman warned them that he was in hot pursuit
and ever drawing nearer. At one place the ice rang hollow beneath their
feet, and they even fancied that it gave an ominous crack; but they
could not pause to speculate as to its condition. That it was behind
them was enough.

Ere half the distance was passed they were drawing their breath with
panting sobs, and Bonny, not yet wholly recovered from his illness,
began to lag behind. Noting this, Alaric also slackened his speed; but
his comrade gasped:

"No, Rick. Don't stop. Save yourself. I'm done for. You can't help me.
Good-bye."

Thus saying, and too exhausted to run farther, the lad faced about to
meet their terrible pursuer, and struggle with him for a delay that
might aid the escape of his friend. To his amazement, there was no
pursuer, nor in all that white expanse was there a human being to be
seen save themselves.

At his comrade's despairing words Alaric too had turned, with the
determination of sharing his fate; so they now stood side by side
breathing heavily, and gazing about them in wondering silence.

"What has become of him?" asked Bonny at length, in an awed tone, but
little above a whisper.

"I don't know," replied Alaric. "He can't have gone back, for there
hasn't been time. He can't be in hiding, for there is no place in which
he could conceal himself, nor have we passed any crevasse that he could
not leap. But if he has slipped into one! Oh, Bonny! it is too awful to
think of."

"I heard him only a few seconds ago," said Bonny, in the same awed tone,
"and his voice sounded so close that with each instant I expected to be
in his clutches."

"Bonny!" exclaimed Alaric, "do you remember a place that sounded
hollow?"

"Yes."

"We must go back to it, for I believe he has broken through. If it is in
our power to help him we must do it; if not, we must know what has
happened."

They had to retrace their steps but a few yards before coming to a
fathomless opening with jagged sides and splintered edges, where the
thin ice that had afforded them a safe passage had given way beneath the
heavier weight of their pursuer. No sound save that of rushing waters
came from the cruel depths, nor was there any sign.

The boys lingered irresolutely about the place for a few minutes, and
then fled from it as from an impending terror.

For the remainder of that day, though no longer in dread of pursuit,
they made what speed they might down the mountain-side, following rough
river-beds, threading belts of mighty forest, climbing steep slopes, and
descending others into narrow valleys.

The sun was near his setting, and our lads were so nigh exhausted that
they had seated themselves on a moss-covered log to rest, when they were
startled by a heavy rending crash that echoed through the listening
forest with a roar like distant thunder.

The boys looked at each other, and then at what bits of sky they could
see through the far-away tree-tops. It was of unclouded blue, and the
sun was still shining.

"Rick!" cried Bonny, starting to his feet, "I believe it was a falling
tree."

"Well?"

"I mean one that was made to fall by axe and saw."

"Oh, Bonny!" was all that Alaric could reply; but in another instant he
was leading the way through tall ferns and along the stately forest
aisles in the direction from which had come the mighty crash.



CHAPTER XXXV

A GANG OF FRIENDLY LOGGERS


A perfect day of early September was drawing to its close, and the gang
of loggers belonging to Camp No. 10 of the Northwest Lumber Company,
which operated in the vast timber belt clothing the northern flanks of
Mount Rainier, were about to knock off work. From earliest morning the
stately forest, sweet-scented with the odors of resin, freshly cut
cedar, and crushed ferns, had resounded with their shouts and laughter,
the ring of their axes, the steady swish of saws, and the crash of
falling trees. To one familiar only with Eastern logging, where summer
is a time of idleness, and everything depends on the snows of winter,
followed by the high waters of spring, the different methods of these
Northwestern woodsmen would be matters of constant surprise. Their work
goes on without a pause from year's end to year's end. There is no
hauling on sleds, no vast accumulations of logs on the ice of rivers or
lakes, no river driving, no mighty jams to be cleared at imminent risk
of life and limb--nothing that is customary in the East. Even the mode
of cutting down trees is different.

The choppers--or "fallers," as they are called in the Northwest--do not
work, as do their brethren of Maine or Wisconsin, from the ground,
wielding their axes first on one side and then on the other until the
tree falls. The girth of the mighty firs and cedars of that country is
so great at ordinary chopping height that two men working in that way
would not bring down more than two trees in a day, instead of the ten or
a dozen required of them. So, by means of what are known as
"spring-boards," they gain a height of eight or ten feet, and then begin
operations.

The ingenious contrivances that enable them to do this are narrow boards
of tough vine maple, five or six feet long, and about one foot wide.
Each is armed at its inner end with a sharp steel spur affixed to its
upper side. This end being thrust into a notch opened in the tree some
four feet below where the cut is to be made, the weight of a man on its
outer end causes the spur to bite deep into the wood, and to hold the
board firmly in place.

Having determined the direction in which the tree shall fall, and fixed
their spring-boards accordingly, two "fallers" mount them, and chop out
a deep under cut on the side that is to lie undermost. They work with
double-bitted or two-edged axes, and can so truly guide the fall by
means of the under cut that they are willing to set a stake one hundred
feet away and guarantee that the descending trunk shall drive it into
the ground. With the under cut chopped out to their satisfaction, they
remove their spring-boards to the opposite side, and finish the task
with a long, two-handled, coarse-toothed saw.

As the mighty tree yields up its life and comes to the ground with a
grand, far-echoing crash, it is set upon by "buckers" (who saw its great
trunk into thirty-foot lengths), barkers, rigging-slingers,
hand-skidders, and teamsters, whose splendid horses, aided by tackle of
iron blocks and length of wire-rope, drag it out to the "skid-road."
This is a cleared and rudely graded track, set with heavy cross-ties,
over which the logs may slide, and it is provided with wire cables,
whose half-mile lengths are operated by stationary engines. By this
means "turns" of five or six of the huge logs, chained one behind the
other, are hauled down the winding skid-road through gulch and valley,
to a distant railway landing. There they are loaded on a long train of
heavy flat cars that departs every night for the mills on Puget Sound.
Here the sawed lumber is run aboard waiting ships, and sent in them to
all ports on both shores of the Pacific.

So wastefully extravagant are the lumbermen of Washington that only the
finest trees are cut, and only that portion of the trunk which is free
from limbs is made into logs. All the remainder, or nearly half of each
tree, is left on the ground where it fell. Here it slowly decays, or,
turned into tinder, catches fire from some chance spark and leaps into a
sea of flame that sweeps resistlessly through the forest, destroying in
one day more timber than has been cut in a year.

Thus, while thoughtless and ignorant persons declare the timber supply
of the Northwest to be inexhaustible, others, who have carefully studied
the subject, do not hesitate to say that within fifty years, at the
present rate of reckless destruction, the magnificent forests of
Washington will have disappeared forever.

Such questions were far from troubling the light-hearted gang of loggers
whom we have just discovered in the act of quitting work for the day. If
any one of them were to be asked how long he thought the noble forests
from which he earned a livelihood would last, he would answer:

"Oh, I don't know and don't care. They will last as long as I do, and
that's long enough for me."

They were laughing and joking, lighting their pipes, picking up tools,
and beginning to straggle towards the road that led to camp, when
suddenly big Buck Ranlet, the head "faller," who was keener of hearing
than any of his mates, called out:

"Hush up, fellows, and listen! I thought I heard a yell off there in the
timber."

In the silence that followed they all heard a cry, faint and distant,
but so filled with distress that there was no mistaking its import.

"There's surely somebody in trouble!" cried Ranlet. "Lost like as not.
Anyway, they are calling to us for help, and we can't go back on 'em. So
come on, men. You teamsters stay here with your horses, and give us a
yell every now and then, so we can come straight back; for even we don't
want to fool round much in these woods after dark. Hello, you out there!
Locate yourselves!"

"Hello! Help!" came back faintly but clearly.

"All right! We're coming! Cheer up!"

So the calling and answering was continued for nearly ten minutes, while
the rescuing party, full of curiosity and good-will, plunged through the
gathering gloom, over logs and rocks, through beds of tall ferns and
banks of moss, in which they sank above their ankles, until they came at
length to those whom they were seeking--two lads, one standing and
calling to them, the other lying silent and motionless, where he had
fallen in a dead faint from utter exhaustion.

"You see," explained Alaric, apologetically, half sobbing with joy at
finding himself once more surrounded by friendly faces, "he has been
very ill, and we've had a hard day, with nothing to eat. So he gave out.
I should have too, but just then I heard the sound of chopping, and knew
the light was shining, and--and--" Here the poor tired lad broke down,
sobbing hysterically, and trying to laugh at the same time.

"There! there, son!" exclaimed Buck Ranlet, soothingly, but with a
suspicious huskiness in his voice. "Brace up, and forget your troubles
as quick as you can; for they're all over now, and you sha'n't go hungry
much longer. But where did you say you came from?"

"The top of the mountain."

"Not down the north side?"

"Yes."

"Great Scott! you are the first ever did it, then. How long have you
been on the way?"

"I don't know exactly, but something over a month."

"The poor chap's mind is wandering," said the big man to one of his
companions; "for no one ever came down the north side alive, and no one
could spend a whole month doing it, anyway. I've often heard, though,
that folks went crazy when they got lost in the woods."

The men took turns, two at a time, in carrying Bonny, and Buck Ranlet
himself assisted Alaric, until, guided by the shouts of the teamsters,
they reached the point from which they had started.

By this time Bonny had regained consciousness, and was wondering, in a
dazed fashion, what had happened. "Is it all right, Rick?" he asked, as
his comrade bent anxiously over him.

"Yes, old man, it's all right; and the light I told you of is shining
bright and clear at last."

"Queer, isn't it, how the poor lad's mind wanders?" remarked Ranlet to
one of the men. "He thinks he sees a bright light, while I'll swear no
one has so much as struck a match. We must hustle, now, and get 'em to
camp. Do you think you feel strong enough to set straddle of a horse,
son?" he asked of Alaric.

"Yes, indeed," answered the boy, cheerfully. "I feel strong enough for
anything now."

"Good for you! That's the talk! Give us a foot and let me h'ist you up.
Why, lad, you're mighty nigh barefooted! No wonder you didn't find the
walking good. Here, Dick, you lead the horse, while I ride Sal-lal and
carry the little chap."

Thus saying, the big man vaulted to the back of the other horse, and,
reaching down, lifted Bonny up in front of him as though he had been a
child.

Camp was a mile or more away, and as the brawny loggers escorted their
unexpected guests to it down the winding skid-road, they eagerly
discussed the strange event that had so suddenly broken the monotony of
their lives, though, with a kind consideration, they refrained from
asking Alaric any more questions just then.

"Hurry on, some of you fellows," shouted Ranlet, "and light up my shack,
for these chaps are going to bunk in with me to-night. I claim 'em on
account of being the first to hear 'em, you know. Start a fire in the
square, too, so's the place will look cheerful."

No one will ever know how cheerful and home-like and altogether
delightful that logging camp did look to our poor lads after their long
and terrible experience of the wilderness, for they could never
afterwards find words to express what they felt on coming out of the
darkness into its glowing firelight and hearty welcome.

"Stand back, men, and give us a show!" shouted Ranlet, as they drew up
before his own little "shack," built of split cedar boards. "This isn't
any funeral; same time it ain't no circus parade, and we want to get in
out of the cold."

The entire population of the camp, including the cook and his
assistants, the blacksmith with his helper, and the stable-boys, as well
as the logging gang, were gathered, full of curiosity to witness the
strange arrival. Besides these there were Linton, the boss, with his
wife, who was the only woman in that section of country. Her pity was
instantly aroused for Bonny, and when he had been tenderly placed in
Buck Ranlet's own bunk, she insisted on being allowed to feed and care
for him. She would gladly have done the same for Alaric, but he
protested that he was perfectly well able to feed himself, and was only
longing for the chance.

"Of course you are, lad!" cried the big "faller," heartily, "and you
sha'n't go hungry a minute longer. So just you come on with me and the
rest of the gang over to Delmonico's."

The place thus designated was a low but spacious building of logs,
containing the camp kitchen and mess-room. Ranlet sat at the head of the
long table, built of hewn cedar slabs, and laden with smoking dishes.
Alaric was given the place of honor at his right hand, and the rest of
the rough, hearty crowd ranged themselves on rude benches at either
side.

The plates and bowls were of tin; the knives, forks, and spoons were
iron; but how luxurious it all seemed to the guest of the occasion! How
wonderfully good everything tasted, and how the big man beside him
heaped his plate with pork and beans, potatoes swimming in gravy, boiled
cabbage, fresh bread cut in slices two inches thick, and actually butter
to spread on it! After these came a huge pan of crullers and dozens of
dried-apple pies.

How anxiously the men watched him eat, how often they pushed the tin can
of brown sugar towards him to make sure that his bowl of milkless tea
should be sufficiently sweetened, and how pleased they were when he
passed his plate for a second helping of pie!

"You'll do, lad; you'll do!" shouted Buck Ranlet, delighted at this
evidence that the camp cookery was appreciated. "You've been brought up
right, and taught to know a good thing when you see it. I can tell by
the way you eat."

After supper Alaric was conducted to a blanket-covered bench near the
big fire outside, and allowed to relate the outline of his story to an
audience that listened with intense interest, and then he was put to bed
beside Bonny, who was already fast asleep. When Buck Ranlet picked up
his guest's coat, that had fallen to the floor, and a baseball rolled
from one of its pockets, the big logger exclaimed, softly:

"Bless the lad! He's a genuine out-and-out boy, after all! To think of
his travelling through the mountains with no outfit but a baseball! If
that isn't boy all over, then I don't know!"



CHAPTER XXXVI

IN A NORTHWEST LOGGING CAMP


The next day being Sunday, the camp lay abed so late that when Alaric
awoke from his long night of dreamless sleep the sun was more than an
hour high, and streaming full into the open doorway of Buck Ranlet's
shack. For nearly a minute the boy lay motionless, striving to recall
what had happened and where he was. Then, as it all came to him, and he
realized that he had escaped from the mountain, with its terrors, its
cold, and its hunger, and had reached a place of safety, good-will, and
plenty, he heaved a deep sigh of content. His sigh was echoed by another
close beside him, and then Bonny's voice said:

"I'm so glad you are awake, Rick, for I want you to tell me all about
it. I've been trying to puzzle it out for myself, but can't be really
sure whether I know anything about last night or only dreamed it all.
Didn't somebody get us something to eat?"

"I should say they did!" rejoined Alaric. "And not only something to
eat, but one of the finest suppers I ever sat down to. Don't you
remember the baked beans, and the apple-pie, and--Oh no, I forgot; you
weren't there; and, by-the-way, how do you feel this morning?"

"Fine as a fiddle," replied Bonny, briskly; "and all ready for those
baked beans and pie; for somehow I don't seem to remember having
anything so good as those."

"I don't believe you did," laughed Alaric, springing from the bunk as he
spoke; "for I'm afraid they only gave you gruel and soup, or tea and
toast."

"Then no wonder I'm hungry," said Bonny, indignantly, as he too began to
dress, "and no wonder I want beans and things. But, I say, Rick, what a
tough-looking specimen you are, anyway!"

"I hope I'm not so tough-looking as you," retorted the other, "for you'd
scare a scarecrow."

Then the two boys scanned each other's appearance with dismay. How could
they ever venture outside and among people in the tattered, soiled, and
fluttering garments which were their sole possessions in the way of
clothing? Even their boots had worn away, until there was little left of
them but the uppers. Their hats had been lost during their flight
through the forest, their hair was long and unkempt, while their coats
and trousers were so rent and torn that the wonder was how they ever
held together. As they realized how utterly disreputable they did look,
both boys began to laugh; for they were too light-hearted that morning
to remain long cast down over trifles like personal appearance. At this
sound of merriment Buck Ranlet's good-humored face, covered with lather,
appeared in the doorway, and at sight of the ragged lads he too joined
in their laughter.

"You are tramps, that's a fact!" he cried. "Toughest kind, too; such as
I'd never dared take in if I'd seen you by a good light. Never mind,
though," he added, consolingly; "looks are mighty easy altered, and
after breakfast we'll fix you up in such style that you won't recognize
yourselves."

Bonny had baked beans and pie that morning as well as Alaric, for the
fare at that logger's mess-table, bountiful as it was, never varied.
After breakfast the boys found their first chance to take a good look
at the camp, which consisted of nearly twenty buildings, set in the form
of a square beside the skid-road, in a clearing filled with tall stumps
of giant firs and mammoth cedars. The two largest buildings were the
combined mess-hall and kitchen and the sleeping-quarters, containing
tiers of bunks, one for each man employed. Then came the store, which
held a small stock of clothing, boots, tobacco, pipes, knives, and other
miscellaneous articles. Close beside it stood Mr. Linton's house, built
of squared logs. In its windows both curtains and a few potted plants
showed that here dwelt the only woman of the camp. The blacksmith-shop,
engine-house, close beside the skid-road, and the stables beyond
completed the list of the company's buildings. All the others were
little single-room shacks, built in leisure moments by such of the men
as preferred having something in the shape of a house to sleeping in the
public dormitory.

These tiny dwellings were constructed of sweet-smelling cedar boards,
split from splendid great logs, absolutely straight-grained and free
from knots. Walls, roof, floor, and rude furniture were all made of the
same beautiful wood. Some of the shacks had stone chimneys roughly
plastered with clay, others boasted small porches, and one or two had
both. Buck Ranlet's had the largest porch of any, with the added
adornment of climbing vines. This porch also contained seats, and was
considered very elegant; but every one knew that the head "faller" was
engaged to be married to a girl "back East," and said that was the
reason he had built so fine a house. Having little else to amuse them,
the men who put up these shacks labored over them with as much pleasure
as so many boys with their cubby-houses.

Many of the men were anxious to hear a more detailed account of our
lads' recent adventures, but Buck Ranlet said:

"Call round this afternoon. We've got something else on hand just now."

When they returned to his picturesque little dwelling the big man led
the way inside, closed the door, and said:

"Now, lads, sit down, and let's talk business. What do you propose to do
next?"

"I don't think we know," responded Alaric.

"Do you want to go to Tacoma or Seattle?"

"I don't know why we should. We haven't any friends in either place, nor
any money to live on while we look for work."

"None at all?"

"Not one cent. There's a month's wages due us from the Frenchman who
hired us to go up the mountain, but I suppose he has left this part of
the country long ago."

"I suppose he has; and you certainly are playing to such hard luck that
I don't see as you can do any better than stay right here. If you are
willing to work at whatever offers, I shouldn't wonder if the boss could
find something for you to do. At any rate, he might give you a chance to
earn a suit of clothes, and feed you while you were doing it."

"I think we'd be only too glad to stay here and work," replied
Alaric--"wouldn't we, Bonny?"

"Yes, I think we would, only I hope we can earn some money. I've worked
without wages so long now that it is growing very monotonous."

"Well, I'll tell you what," said Ranlet: "You two stay right here while
I go over and see the boss."

A few minutes later the big man returned with beaming face, and
announced that Mr. Linton had consented to take them both on trial, and
had promised to find something for them to do in the morning. Moreover,
they were to go down to the store at once, pick out the things they
needed, and have them charged to their account.

All this Buck Ranlet told them; but he did not add that he had been
obliged to pledge his own wages for whatever bill they should run up at
the store, in case they should fail to work it out. The big-hearted
"faller" was willing to do this, for he had taken a great fancy to the
lads, and especially to Alaric. "That chap may be poor," he said, "and I
reckon he is; but he's honest--so are they both, for that matter; and
when a boy is honest, he can't help showing it in his face." These
preliminaries being happily settled, he said, "Now let's get right down
to business; and the first thing to be done is to let me cut your hair
before you buy any hats."

The boys agreeing that this was necessary, the operation was performed
with neatness and despatch; for the big "faller" was equally expert at
cutting hair or trees.

Then they went to the store, where Alaric and Bonny selected complete
outfits of coarse but serviceable clothing, including hats and boots, to
the amount of fifteen dollars each.

"Now for a scrub," suggested Ranlet; "and I reckon I need one as much as
you do." With this he led his _protégés_ to a quiet pool in the creek
just back of camp.

When at noon the boys presented themselves at the mess-room door, so
magical was the transformation effected by shears, soap and water, and
their new clothing, that not a man in the place recognized them, and
they had to be reintroduced to the whole jovial crowd, greatly to Buck
Ranlet's delight. By a very natural mistake he introduced Alaric, whom
he had only heard called "Rick," as Mr. Richard Dale, and the boy did
not find an opportunity for correcting the error just then.

Later in the day, however, when most of the camp population were
gathered in front of Ranlet's shack listening with great interest to the
lads' account of their recent experiences, one of them addressed him as
"Richard," whereupon he explained that his name was not Richard, but
Alaric.

"Alaric?" quoth Buck Ranlet; "that's a queer name, and one I never heard
before. It's a strong-sounding name too, and one that just fits such a
hearty, active young fellow as you. I should pick out an Alaric every
time for the kind of a chap to come tumbling down a mountain-side where
no one had ever been before. But where did your folks find the name,
son?"

"I'll tell you," replied Alaric, flushing with pleasure at hearing that
said of him for which he had secretly longed ever since he could
remember; "but first I want to say that it was Bonny Brooks who showed
me how to come down the mountain, and but for him I should certainly
have perished up there in the snow."

"Hold on!" cried Bonny. "Gentlemen, I assure you that but for Rick Dale
I should have had the perishing contract all in my own hands."

"I expect you are a well-mated team," laughed Ranlet, "and I am willing
to admit that for whatever comes tumbling down a mountain there couldn't
be a better name than Bonny Brooks. But now let's have the yarn."

So Alaric told them all he could remember of the mighty Visigoth who
invaded Italy at the head of his barbarian host, became master of the
world by conquering Rome when the Eternal City was at the height of its
magnificence, and whose tomb was built in the bed of a river
temporarily turned aside for the purpose.

The rough audience grouped about him listened to the tale of a long-ago
hero with flattering interest, and when it was ended declared it to be a
rattling good yarn, at the same time begging for more of the same kind.
Alaric's head was crammed with such stories, for he had always delighted
in them, and now he was only too glad of an opportunity to repay in some
measure the kindly hospitality of the camp. So for an hour or more he
related legends of Old World history, and still older mythology, all of
which were as new to his hearers as though now told for the first time.
Finally he paused, covered with confusion at finding Mr. and Mrs. Linton
standing among his auditors, and waiting for a chance to invite him and
Bonny to tea.

From that time forth Alaric's position as storyteller was established,
and there was rarely an evening during his stay in the camp, where books
were almost unknown, that he was not called upon to entertain an
interested group gathered about its after-supper open-air fire.

Mr. Linton questioned the boys closely as to their capacity for work
while they were at tea with him, and finally said: "I think I can find
places for both of you, if you are willing to work for one dollar a day.
You, Brooks, I shall let 'tend store and help me with my accounts until
your arm gets stronger, while I think I shall place your friend in
charge of one of the hump-durgins."

"What is that, sir?" asked Alaric.

"What's what?"

"A hump-durgin."

"Oh! Don't you know? Well, you'll find out to-morrow."



CHAPTER XXXVII

WHAT IS A HUMP-DURGIN?


When the boys returned to Buck Ranlet's shack, which he had insisted
they should share with him until they could build one of their own, the
first question Alaric asked was in regard to his new employment.

"What is a hump-durgin?"

"Ho, ho! With all your learning, don't you know what a hump-durgin is?
Well, I am surprised, for it's one of the commonest things. Still, if
you don't really know, I'll tell you. A genuine hump-durgin is a sort of
a cross betwixt a boat and a mule."

"A boat and a mule?" repeated Alaric, more perplexed than ever.

"That's what I said. You see, it is something like a boat. I might say a
steamboat, or perhaps a canal-boat would be more like it, and it is
always sailing back and forth. It often rolls and pitches like it was in
a heavy sea; but at the same time it lives on dry land and never goes
near the water. It also rears and bucks, and jumps from side to side,
and tries its best to throw its rider, same as a mule does, and it
wouldn't look unlike one if it only had legs, and a tail, and ears, and
hair, and a bray."

"Humph!" interposed Bonny, who had been an interested listener to this
vague description of a hump-durgin. "A log of wood might look like a
mule if it had all those things."

"Right you are, son! A log of wood might look like a mule, and then
again it mightn't. Same time I've often thought that some hump-durgins
wasn't much better than logs of wood, after all. Anyway, now that I've
described the critter so that you know all about him, you can see why
the boss has decided to put our young friend here in charge of one."

"I'm sure I can't," said Alaric, more puzzled than ever.

"Because of your experience with both mules and boats," laughed the big
"faller" teasingly, and that was all the satisfaction the boys could get
from him that night.

The next morning, bright and early, the occupants of the camp scattered
to their respective duties: the loggers trudging up the skid-road and
deep into the forest, there to resume their work of converting trees
into logs; the loading-gang going in the opposite direction, to the
distant railway landing, where they would spend the day loading logs on
to flat cars; the engineers with their firemen to their respective
engines; the road-gang up to the head of a side gulch where they were
constructing a branch skid-road; the blacksmiths to their ringing
anvils; Bonny to the store, where he was to take an account of stock;
and Alaric, in company with the man whose place he was to fill, after
receiving from him half a day's instruction in his new duties, to make
the acquaintance of his hump-durgin. They went a short distance down the
skid-road to where one of the relay engines was winding in a half-mile
length of wire cable over a big steel drum. This cable stretched its
shining length up the gulch and out of sight around a bend. Near the
engine-house, and at one edge of the skid-road, was a little siding, or
dock, protected by a heavy sheer-skid. In it lay what looked like a log
canoe, sharp pointed at both ends, and having a flat bottom.

"There," said Alaric's guide, "is your hump-durgin."

"That thing!" exclaimed the lad, gazing at the canoe-like object
curiously. "But I thought a hump-durgin went by steam?"

"So it does," laughed the man, "when it goes at all. Just wait a minute,
and you'll see."

Almost as he spoke there came a sound of bumping and sliding from up the
skid-road, and directly afterwards the end of an enormous log came into
sight around the bend, drawn by the cable the engine was winding in. As
this log rounded the bend and came directly towards them, another was
seen to be chained to it, then another, and another, until the "turn"
was seen to contain five of the woody monsters. Attached to the rear end
of the last log came another hump-durgin, in which a man was seated, and
to the after end of which was fastened a second wire cable that
stretched away for half a mile to the next engine above.

Every log was made fast to the one ahead of it by two short chains, each
of which was armed at either end with a heavy steel spur having a sharp
point and a flat head. These are called "dogs," and, driven deep into
the logs, bind them together. The hump-durgin was also attached to the
rear log by a chain and "dog," and one of the principal duties of a
hump-durgin man is to see that none of these dogs pulls out.

As the "turn" of logs stopped just above the station, the man who had
come with them knocked out his hump-durgin dog, while the man with
Alaric disconnected the cable that had drawn the logs down to that
point, and hooked on the upper end of another that stretched away out
of sight down the road. Then he waved to the engineer, who telephoned to
the next station down the line, and at the same time to the one above.
In another minute the hump-durgin that had just arrived was being pulled
back by its cable over the way it had come, and the "turn" of logs was
drawn forward by the new cable just attached to them. When the rear end
of the last log was passing Alaric's hump-durgin, the man with him
hammered its "dog" into the wood, the chain straightened with a jerk,
and the novel craft was under way. As it started, both the man and
Alaric jumped in, and away they went, bumping and sliding down the
skid-road, slewing around corners that were protected by sheer-skids,
and dragging behind them a half-mile length of cable attached to the
after end of their craft.

In this way they were dragged half a mile down the gulch to a second
engine station, where a new relay of cable with a third hump-durgin
awaited the logs, and from which their own craft, laden with the chains
and dogs just brought up from below, was dragged back uphill to the
station from which they had started.

Every now and then on their downward trip the man jumped from the
hump-durgin, and, maul in hand, ran along the whole length of the
"turn," giving a tap here and there to the "dogs" to make sure that none
of them was working loose. As the cables were only speeded to about four
miles an hour, he could readily do this; but after he had thus examined
one side he had to wait until the whole turn passed him, and then run
ahead to examine the other. Alaric asked why he did not run on the logs
themselves, and, by thus examining both sides at the same time, save
half his work.

"Because I ain't that kind of a fool," replied the man. "There is them
as does it; but a chap has to be surer-footed and spryer than I be to
ride the logs, 'specially when they're slewing round corners. I reckon,
though, from all I hear of you, that you'll be jest one of the kind to
try it on; and all I can say is, I hope you'll be let off light when it
comes your time to be flung. Some gets killed, and others only comes
nigh it."

The hump-durgin man at the lower relay station followed the first "turn"
of logs to the railway landing, and then went back to the extreme upper
end of the skid-road. With the second "turn" Alaric and his instructor
did the same thing. The next man above him followed the third "turn" to
its destination, while the man farthest up of all travelled the whole
length of the road with the fourth "turn," covering its two miles in
four different hump-durgins; and at length Alaric had a chance to do the
same thing. Thus each hump-durgin driver became familiar with every
section of the road, and made six round trips a day.

At noon of that first day Alaric's instructor in the art of navigating a
hump-durgin bade him "so long," and left him in sole command of the
clumsy craft. The man had no sooner gone than his pupil began practising
the science of log-riding, and before night he had triumphantly ridden
the whole length of the road mounted on the backs of his unwieldy
charges. To be sure, he sat down most of the way, and was thrown twice
when attempting to walk the length of the "turn" while it was slewing
around corners. Fortunately he escaped each time with nothing more
serious than a few bruises, and that night he drove a number of hobnails
into the soles of his boots. These afforded him so good a hold on the
rough bark that he was never again flung, and within a week had become
so expert a log-rider that he could keep his feet over the worst "slews"
on the road.

The hump-durgins brought up many things from the railway landing besides
chains and "dogs," for they were the sole conveyances by which supplies
of any kind could reach the camp. It often happened that they carried
passengers as well, and in this respect running a hump-durgin was, as
Alaric said, very much like driving a stage-coach--a thing that he had
always longed to do.

Bonny was so envious of his comrade's job that on that very first day he
made application for the next hump-durgin vacancy, and two weeks later
was filled with delight at receiving the coveted appointment.

By the time that both our lads became hump-durgin boys they were living
in their own shack, which stood just beyond Buck Ranlet's, and which
nearly every man in camp had helped them to build. So proud were they of
this tiny dwelling that they nearly doubled their bill at the store in
procuring bedding and other furnishings for it.

Although thus amply provided with rude comforts, or, as Bonny expressed
it, "surrounded with all the luxuries of life," Alaric fully realized
that it would soon be time to exchange this mode of living for another.
He knew that he owed a duty to his father, as well as to the station of
life into which he had been born; and, having proved to his own
satisfaction that he was equally strong with other boys, and as well
able to fight his way through the world, he was more than willing to
return to his own home. Now that he felt competent to hold his own,
physically as well as mentally, with others of his age, he was filled
with a desire to go to college. On talking the matter over with Bonny he
found that the latter cherished similar aspirations, the only difference
being that the young sailor's longing was for a mechanical rather than
a classical education. "Though, of course," said Bonny, with a sigh, "I
shall always have to take it out in wishing, for I shall never have
money enough to carry me through a school of any kind, or at least not
until I am too old to go."

At this Alaric only smiled, and bade his comrade keep on hoping, for
there was no telling when something might turn up. As he said this he
made up his mind that if ever he went to college Bonny should at the
same time go to one of the best scientific schools of the country.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

ALARIC AND BONNY AGAIN TAKE TO FLIGHT


For a full month had our hump-durgin boys occupied the little
cedar-built shack, which now seemed to them so much a home that it was
difficult to realize they had ever known any other. By this time, too,
they were exercising a very decided influence upon the character of the
camp into whose life they had been so unexpectedly thrown. Light-hearted
Bonny, with his cheery face and abounding good-nature, was as full of
amusing pranks as a young colt, and from every group that he joined
shouts of merriment were certain to arise within a few minutes. Thus
Bonny was very popular and always in demand. Nor was Alaric less so, for
he could tell so much concerning strange foreign countries and relate so
many curious Old World tales, that there was rarely an evening that he
was not called upon for something of the kind. He so often said that
most of his stories could be found in certain books, related a thousand
times better than he could tell them, that in the breasts of many of his
hearers he aroused a real longing for books, and a wider knowledge than
they could ever acquire without them.

At the same time Alaric was not only appreciated for what he knew, but
for what he could do. No one in camp could ride a "turn" of logs,
swaying, bumping, and sliding down the skid-road, with such perfect
confidence and easy grace as he. Only one of them all could outrun him,
and none could catch or throw a baseball with the certainty and
precision that he exhibited, although ever since Buck Ranlet discovered
the ball in his young guest's coat-pocket the camp had practised with it
during all odd moments of daylight.

So our lads made friends with and knew the personal history of every
occupant of the camp save one, and he was its boss. Since the night on
which they had taken tea in his house Mr. Linton had hardly spoken to
either of them; nor did he ever join with the men in their evening
gatherings to listen to Bonny's jokes or Alaric's tales. At first they
noticed this, and wondered what reason he had for avoiding them; but
they soon learned that it was only his way, and that he never talked
with any of the men except on matters of business. Buck Ranlet said it
was because he was a deputy United States marshal, and didn't know when
he might be called on to arrest any one of them for some offence against
the government.

With all their present popularity the boys were growing weary of the
monotonous life they were leading, of their good-natured but rough and
narrow-minded associates, and of the deadly sameness of the food served
three times a day in the dingy mess-room. They also dreaded the
approaching winter, with its days and weeks of rain, during which the
work of getting out logs for the insatiable mills down on the Sound must
keep on without a moment of interruption. They listened with dismay to
tales of loggers who had not known the feeling of dry clothing for weeks
at a time; of "turns" of logs rushing down skid-roads slippery with wet,
like roaring avalanches of timber, threatening destruction to everything
in their course; and of long, dreary winter evenings when the steady
downpour forbade camp-fires and prevented all social out-of-door
gatherings.

In view of these things, Alaric was determined that the end of another
month, or such time as his wages should be paid, should see him on his
way to San Francisco and home. He did not anticipate any difficulty in
persuading Bonny to go with him, for that young man had already remarked
that while hump-durgin riding was fun up to a certain point, he should
hate to do it for the remainder of his life. Oh yes, Bonny would go, of
course; and Alaric's only fear was that his father might not take a
fancy to the lad, or hold the same views regarding his future that he
did. Still, that was a matter which would arrange itself somehow, if
they could only reach San Francisco, and the "poor rich boy" now began
to long as eagerly for the time to come when he might return to his home
as he once had for an opportunity to leave it.

One day, when matters stood thus, a stranger, past middle age, shabbily
dressed, and wearing a peculiarly dilapidated hat, appeared at the
railway log-landing, and asked Bonny, whose hump-durgin happened to be
there at the time, permission to ride with him to the end of the
skid-road. With a sympathetic glance at the man's forlorn appearance,
Bonny answered:

"Certainly, sir; you may ride with me all day if you like, and I shall
be glad of your company."

Thanking the lad, the stranger seated himself in the hump-durgin; and
after he had been warned to hold on tight and watch out for "slews," the
upward journey was begun. At one of the upper relay stations they waited
for a descending "turn" of logs to pass them. Here the stranger visited
the engine-house, and while he was talking with the engineer they came
in sight. Alaric, who happened to be in charge, was at that moment
walking easily forward along the backs of the swaying logs, presenting
as fine a specimen of youthful agility, strength, and perfect health as
one could wish to encounter. He was clad in jean trousers tucked into
boot-legs and belted about his waist; a blue flannel shirt, with a black
silk kerchief knotted at the throat, and a black slouch hat.

"Isn't that extremely dangerous?" asked the stranger, regarding the
approaching lad with a curious interest.

"Not for him it isn't, though it might be for some; but Dick Dale is so
level-headed and sure-footed that there isn't his equal for riding logs
in this outfit, nor, I don't believe, in any other," answered the
engineer.

"What did you say his name was?" asked the stranger, with his gaze still
fixed on Alaric.

"Dale--Richard Dale," replied the engineer, who had never happened to
hear the boy's real name. "Why? Do you think you know him?"

"No. I don't know any one of that name; but the lad's resemblance to
another whom I used to know is certainly very striking."

"Yes. It's funny how often people look alike who have never been within
a thousand miles of each other," remarked the engineer, carelessly, as
he stepped to the signal-box. In another minute Alaric had passed out of
sight, while Bonny and the stranger had resumed their upward journey.

That evening Alaric remarked to his chum, "I noticed you had a passenger
to-day."

"Yes," replied Bonny. "Seedy-looking chap, wasn't he; but one of the
nicest old fellows I ever met. Never saw any one take such an interest
in everything. I suspected what he was after, though, and finally we got
so friendly that I asked him right out if he wasn't looking for work."

"Was he?"

"Yes. He hesitated at first, and looked at me to see if I was joking,
and then owned up that he was hunting for something to do. I felt mighty
sorry for him, 'cause I know how it is myself; but I had to tell him
there wasn't a living show in this camp just now. He seemed mightily
taken with our shack here, and said he once had a house just like it, in
which he passed the happiest time of his life, but he was afraid he'd
never have another. I invited him to stay with us a few days if he
wanted to--just while he was looking for a job, you know--but he said he
guessed he'd better go on to some other camp. You'd been willing,
wouldn't you?"

"Certainly," replied Alaric. "I've already been in hard luck enough to
be mighty glad of a chance to help any other fellow who's in the same
fix, especially an old man; for they don't have half the show that young
fellows do."

"I told him you'd feel that way," exclaimed Bonny, triumphantly; "and he
said if there were more like us in the world it would be a happier place
to live in, but that he guessed he'd manage to scrape along somehow a
while longer without becoming a burden to others. I did insist on his
taking a hat, though."

"A hat?"

"Yes. We were down at the store, and he was asking the price of things,
and looking around so wistful that I couldn't help getting him a new hat
and having it charged; for the one he wore wasn't any good at all. He
hated to take it, but I insisted, and finally he said he would if I'd
keep his old one and let him redeem it some time. Of course I said I
would, just to satisfy him, and here it is."

Alaric looked carelessly at the dilapidated hat as he said: "It was a
first-class thing to do, Bonny, and I only wish I had been here to give
him something at the same time. But, hello! this is a Paris hat, and
hasn't been worn very long, either. I wonder how he ever got hold of it?
Never mind, though; hang it up for luck, and to remind me to do
something for the next poor chap who comes along. By-the-way, I heard
to-day that the president of the company was in Tacoma, on his way to
make an inspection of all the camps."

"Yes," replied Bonny. "They say he is an awful swell, too, and I heard
that he was coming in his private car. I only hope he is, and that I can
get a chance to look at it, for I have never seen a private car. Have
you?"

"One or two," answered Alaric, with a smile.

At noon of the following day, while a fifteen-minute game of baseball
was in progress after dinner, the boss of Camp No. 10 received a note
from the president of the company, requesting him to report immediately
in person at Tacoma, and bring with him the two hump-durgin boys Dale
and Brooks.

Mr. Linton, being a man who kept his own business to himself as much as
possible, merely called our lads and bade them follow him. Of course
this order broke up the game they were playing, and as they hastened
after the boss, Bonny, in whose hands the baseball happened to be,
thrust it into one of his pockets. Although curious to know why they
were thus summoned, the boys learned nothing from Mr. Linton until they
reached the railway log-landing, when he told them that they were wanted
in Tacoma, and that he was instructed to bring them there at once.

From the landing they proceeded by hand-car to Cascade Junction, where
they boarded a west-bound passenger train over the Northern Pacific.
Even now Mr. Linton was not communicative, and after sitting awhile in
silence he went forward into the smoking-car, leaving the boys in the
passenger coach next behind it. Now they began to discuss their
situation, and the more they considered it the more apprehensive they
became that something unpleasant was in store for them.

"He's a United States marshal, remember," said Bonny.

"Yes," replied Alaric; "I've been thinking of that. Do you suppose it
can have anything to do with that smuggling business?"

"I'm awfully afraid so," replied Bonny. "Great Scott! Look there!"

The train was just leaving Meeker, where a passenger had boarded their
car, and was now walking leisurely through it towards the smoker. It was
he who had attracted Bonny's attention, and at whom he now pointed a
trembling finger.

Alaric instantly recognized the man as an officer of the revenue-cutter
that had so persistently chased them in the early summer. Without a
word, he left his seat and followed the new-comer to the smoking-car,
where a single glance through the open door confirmed his worst
suspicions.

The officer had seated himself beside Mr. Linton, and they were talking
with great earnestness.

"They are surely after us again," Alaric said, in a whisper, as he
regained his seat beside Bonny; "but I don't intend to be captured if I
can help it."

"Same here," replied Bonny.

Thus it happened that when, a little later, the train reached Tacoma,
and Mr. Linton returned to look for his lads, they were nowhere to be
found.



CHAPTER XXXIX

BONNY DISCOVERS HIS FRIEND THE TRAMP


It was late in the afternoon when the train reached Tacoma, and the
logging boss discovered that the lads whom he had been especially
instructed to bring with him had disappeared. As he could not imagine
any reason why they should do such a thing, he was thoroughly
bewildered, and waited about the station for some minutes, expecting
them to turn up. He inquired of the train hands and other employés if
they had seen anything of such boys as he described, but could gain no
information concerning them.

The revenue-officer was merely an acquaintance whom he had met by chance
on the train, and who now waited a few minutes to see how this affair
would turn out. Finally he said:

"Well, Linton, I'm sorry I can't help you, but I really must be getting
along. I hope, though, you won't have any such trouble with your missing
lads as we had in trying to catch two young rascals of smugglers, whom
we lost right here in Tacoma last summer. We wanted them as witnesses,
and thought we had our hands on them half a dozen times; but they
finally gave us the slip, and the case in which they were expected to
testify was dismissed for want of evidence. Good-bye."

Thus left to his own devices, the boss could think of nothing better
than to call upon the police to aid him in recovering the missing boys,
and so powerful was the name of the President of the Northwest Lumber
Company, which he did not hesitate to use, that within an hour every
policeman in Tacoma was provided with their description, and instructed
to capture them if possible. In the hope that they would speedily
succeed in so doing, Mr. Linton delayed meeting the president, and
telegraphed that he could not reach the hotel to which he had been
directed to bring the boys before eight o'clock that evening.

In the meantime Alaric and Bonny, without an idea of the stir their
disappearance had created throughout the city, were snugly ensconced in
an empty freight-car that stood within a hundred yards of the railway
station. They had dropped from the rear end of their train when it began
to slow down, and slipped into the freight-car as a place of temporary
concealment while they discussed plans.

"We've got to get out of this town in a hurry, that's certain," said
Alaric, "and I propose that we make a start for San Francisco. You know,
I told you that was my home, and I still have some friends there, who, I
believe, will help us. The only thing is that I don't see how we can
travel so far without any money."

"That's easy enough," replied Bonny, "and I would guarantee to land you
there in good shape inside of a week. What worries me, though, is the
idea of going off and leaving all the money that is due us here. Just
think! there's thirty dollars owing to me as a hump-durgin driver,
thirty more as interpreter, and fully as much as that for being a
smuggler--nearly one hundred dollars in all. That's a terrible lot of
money, Rick Dale, and you know it as well as I do."

"Yes," replied Alaric; "if we had it now, we'd be all right. But I'll
tell you, Bonny, what I'll do. If you will get me to San Francisco
inside of a week, I promise that you shall have one hundred dollars the
day we arrive."

"I'll do it!" cried Bonny. "I know you are joking, of course, but I'll
do it just to see how you'll manage to crawl out of your bargain when we
get there. You mustn't expect to travel in a private car, though, with a
French cook, and three square meals a day thrown in."

"Yes, I do," laughed Alaric, "for I never travelled any other way."

"No, I know you haven't, any more'n I have; but, just for a change, I
think we'd better try freight-cars, riding on trucks, and perhaps once
in a while in a caboose, for this trip, with meals whenever we can catch
'em. We'll get there, though; I promise you that. Hello! I mustn't lose
that ball. We may want to have a game on the road."

This last remark was called forth by Alaric's baseball which, becoming
uncomfortably bulgy in Bonny's pocket as he sat on the car floor, he had
taken out, and had been tossing from hand to hand as he talked. At
length it slipped from him, rolled across the car, and out of the open
door.

Bonny sprang after it, tossed it in to Alaric, and was about to clamber
back into the car, when, through the gathering gloom, he spied a
familiar figure standing in the glare of one of the station lights.

"Wait here a few minutes, Rick," he said, "while I go and find out when
our train starts."

With this he darted up the track, and a moment later advanced, with a
smile of recognition and extended hand, towards the stranger whom he had
so pitied in the logging camp the day before. The man still wore a
shabby suit and the hat Bonny had given him. He started at sight of the
lad, and exclaimed:

"How came you here so soon? I thought you weren't due until eight
o'clock."

"How did you know we were coming at all?" asked Bonny, in amazement.

"Oh, that's a secret," laughed the other, instantly recovering his
self-possession, and assuming his manner of the day before. "We tramps
have a way of finding out things, you know."

"Yes, I've always heard so," replied Bonny, "and that's one reason why
I'm so glad to meet you again. I thought maybe you could help us."

"Us?" repeated the stranger. "Who is with you?"

"Only my chum, the other hump-durgin driver, you know."

"You mean Richard Dale?"

"Yes--only his name isn't Richard, but Alaric. I say, though, would you
mind stepping over in the shadow, where we won't be interrupted?"

"Certainly not," replied the other, with a quiet chuckle. "I expect it
will be better, for I'm not anxious to be recognized myself just now."

When they had reached what Bonny considered a safe place, he continued:

"You see, it's this way. My chum and I did a little business in the
smuggling line last summer, and got chased for it by the 'beaks."'

"Just like 'em," growled the other.

"Yes," said Bonny, wrathfully. "We hadn't really done anything wrong,
you know; but they made us skip 'round lively, and came mighty near
catching us, too. We gave 'em the slip, though, and thought the whole
thing had blown over, till to-day, when they got after us again."

"Who did?"

"The revenue fellows. You see, the boss up at camp is one of 'em, and we
suspicioned something was wrong as soon as he told us we were wanted in
Tacoma. We were certain of it when we saw another revenue man, one of
the cutter's officers, join him on the train, and so we just gave them
the slip again, and have been hiding ever since over in that
freight-car."

"Indeed!" remarked the stranger, interestedly. "And what do you propose
to do next?"

"That's what I'm coming to, and what we want you to help us about. You
see, my chum's folks live in San Francisco, and I rather think he ran
away from 'em, though he hasn't ever said so. Anyhow, he wants to get
back there, and as we haven't any money, we've got to beat our way, so I
thought maybe you could put us up to the racket, or, at any rate, tell
us when the first south-bound freight would pull out. Of course, you
understand, we've got to start as quick as we can, for it isn't safe for
us to be seen around here."

"Of course not," agreed the stranger, with another chuckle; for the
whole affair seemed to amuse him greatly. "But what are you going to do
for food? You'll be apt to get hungry before long."

"I am already," acknowledged Bonny, "and that was another thing I was
going to ask you about. I thought maybe you wouldn't mind giving us some
pointers from your own experience in picking up your three little square
meals a day when you are on the road."

At this point the stranger burst into what began like uncontrollable
laughter, but which proved to be only a severe fit of coughing. When it
was over, he said: "Your name is Bonny Brooks, isn't it?"

"Yes; but don't speak so loud."

"All right, I won't. But, Bonny Brooks, you were mighty kind to me
yesterday--kinder than any one else has been for a long time.
By-the-way, did you bring my old hat with you?"

"No, of course not."

"No matter. I said I would redeem it, and I am going to do so by putting
you on to a mighty soft snap. I'm bound to the southward myself, and, as
it happens, there is a sort of boarding-car going to pull out of here
for somewhere down the line in about half an hour. It is in charge of
the cook, and as he and I are on what you might call extra good terms,
he is going to let me ride with him as far as he goes. There won't be a
soul on board but him and me, unless I can persuade him to let you two
boys come along with us. I am pretty sure I can, though, for he is under
several obligations to me, and if you'll promise to stay quietly in this
freight-car until I come for you, I'll go this minute and see him. What
do you say?"

"I say you are a trump, and if you'll only work that racket for us, I'll
share half the money with you that I'm to get from Rick as soon as we
reach San Francisco."

"Oh ho! He is to give you money, is he?"

"Yes; that is, he has promised me one hundred dollars to make up for the
wages I leave behind, if I'll only get him there. Of course that's all
his joke, though, for he is just as poor as I am."

So Bonny clambered back into the car where he told Rick of the fine
arrangement he had just made; while for the next half-hour that shabbily
attired stranger was the busiest man in Tacoma, and kept a great many
other people busy at the same time. Finally, just as the boys were
beginning to think he had forgotten them, he appeared at the door of the
freight-car, and said, in a loud whisper: "Come, quick. I think they are
after you."

As they scrambled out, he started on a run towards a single car that,
with an engine attached, stood on a siding in the darkest corner of the
railroad yard. Here he hurriedly whispered to the boys to crouch low on
its rear platform until it started, when the cook would open the door.
Then he disappeared.

In another minute the car began to move, and directly afterwards its
door was opened. There seemed to be no light in the interior, and,
without seeing any one, the boys heard a strange voice, evidently that
of a negro, bidding them come in out of the cold.

They entered the car, Alaric going first, and were led through a narrow
passage into what was evidently a large compartment. They heard their
guide retreating through the passage, and were beginning to feel rather
uneasy, when suddenly they were surrounded and dazzled by a great flood
of electric light.



CHAPTER XL

A FLOOD OF LIGHT


As the brilliant light flooded the place where the boys stood, they were
for a minute blinded by its radiance. Bonny was bewildered and
frightened, and even Alaric was greatly startled. Gradually, as their
eyes grew accustomed to the brightness, they became aware of a single
figure standing before them, and regarding them curiously. Alaric
looked, rubbed his eyes, and looked again. Then he sprang forward with a
great shout.

"Dad! you dear old dad! I never was so glad to see any one in my life!"

"Rick! you young rascal!" cried Amos Todd. "How could you play your old
father such a trick? Never mind, though; you've won your game, and at
the same time made me the very happiest and proudest man on the coast
this night. Stand there, sir, and let me have a good look at you."

With this the proud father held his stalwart son off at arm's-length and
gazed at him with loving admiration.

"The very neatest trick I ever heard of--the most impudent, and the most
successful," he murmured. "But don't you ever be guilty of such a thing
again, you young smuggler."

"Indeed I won't, dad, for I know I shall never have any reason or desire
to repeat it," replied Alaric, promptly, his voice trembling with joyful
excitement. "But, dad, you mustn't forget Bonny; for whatever I have
gained or learned this past summer I owe to him."

"God bless the lad! Indeed I will never forget what he has done both for
you and for me," cried Amos Todd, stepping forward and seizing Bonny's
hand in a grasp that made him wince.

Poor bewildered Bonny, standing amid the glitter of silver and
plate-glass, surrounded by furnishings of such luxurious character as he
had never imagined could exist in real life, vaguely wondered whether he
were under the spell of some beautiful enchantment or merely dreaming.
There must be some reality to it all, though, for the stranger in the
shabby garments, whom he had befriended only the day before, and still
wearing the same hat he had given him, was surely holding his hand and
saying very pleasant things. But who could he be? He certainly was not
acting like a tramp, or one who was greatly in need of charity.

Alaric came to the puzzled lad's relief. "He is my father, Mr. Amos
Todd," he cried. "And, Bonny, you will forgive me, won't you, for not
telling you before? You see, I was afraid to let even you know that I
was the son of a rich man, because I wanted you to like me for myself
alone."

"You know I do, Rick Dale! You know I do!" exclaimed Bonny, impulsively,
finding his voice at last. "But, Rick," he added, almost in a whisper,
"are you sure there isn't any mistake about it all? Amos Todd, you know,
is President of the Northwest Company, and the richest man on the coast.
They do say he's a millionaire."

"It's all right, Bonny. I expect he is a millionaire," answered Alaric,
joyously. "But we won't lay it up against him, will we? And we'll try
not to think any the less of him for it. I didn't know he was President
of the Northwest Company, though. Are you, dad?"

"I believe I am," laughed Amos Todd. "And I certainly have cause to be
grateful that I hold the office, for it was while making my official
inspection of the camps yesterday that I ran across you boys. I didn't
know you, though, Rick--'pon my word, I didn't. You bore a faint
resemblance to my little 'Allie' as you came riding those logs down the
skid-road, but I knew you couldn't be he, for I was certain that he was
on the other side of the world by this time. And so you shook the
Sonntaggs, and let them run away from you. It was wrong, Rick, very
wrong, but I don't blame you--not one bit, I don't. I'd have done the
same thing myself."

"But, dad, how did you come to find me out? I don't understand it at
all."

"By your own letter to Esther, lad. She forwarded it to me in France;
but I had gone when it reached there, and so it was sent to San
Francisco. I left Margaret on the other side for the winter, and came
back by way of Montreal and the Canadian Pacific, intending to stop here
and inspect the lumber camps on my way home. I telegraphed John to send
this car and all my mail up here, and they came last night. As soon as I
read your letter I felt pretty certain that it was you whom I had seen
doing the circus act on those logs. I wasn't quite sure, though, and
didn't want to make any mistake, so I just sent word to Linton to fetch
you in, that I might take a good look at you."

"So it was you who sent for us?"

"Certainly. And you thought it was the revenue-officers, and so decided
to give 'em the slip, and beat your way home to claim protection of your
old dad--eh, you rascal? And Bonny here took me for a fellow-tramp who
could put him on to the racket. Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho, ho! Oh my! I shall
die of laughing yet at thinking of it. It was all the hat, though,
wasn't it, Bonny? I hated to cut it up, for I only bought it in Paris
the other day, and hadn't another with me; but I wanted to inspect the
camp without being known, and it was the only disguise I could think of.
But, boys, what do you say to supper? If you are as hungry as I am you
must be more than ready for it."

Indeed, they were ready for supper, and when they sat down to that
daintily served meal, in the exquisitely appointed dining-room of
President Todd's own private car, Bonny at last understood why Alaric
had ordered that strange lot of supplies for the sloop _Fancy_.

After supper they returned to the saloon, where Amos Todd lighted a
cigar, and listened to the wonderful story of trial and triumph,
privation and strange vicissitude, that had transformed his pale-faced
weakling into the strong, handsome, self-reliant youth upon whom he now
gazed so proudly. When the long story was ended, he asked, quietly:

"How much have you earned by your summer's work, son; and what have you
to show for it?"

"If you mean in money, dad, not one cent; and all I have to show,
besides what you've already noticed, is this." Here Alaric held out a
dilapidated baseball, at which his father gazed curiously. "With that
ball," continued Alaric, "I took my first lesson in being a boy, and it
has led me on from one thing to another ever since until, finally, this
very evening, it brought me back to you. So, dad, I should say that it
stood for my whole summer's work."

"I am thankful, Rick, that you haven't earned any money, and that
through bitter want of it you have learned its value," said Amos Todd.
"I am thankful, too, that there is still one thing for which you have to
come to your old dad. More than all am I thankful for what you have
gained without his help, or, rather, in spite of him; and had I known
last spring what that baseball was to do for you, I would gladly have
paid a million of dollars for it."

"You may have it now, dad, for one hundred, which is just the amount I
owe Bonny."

"Done!" cried Amos Todd; and thus he came into possession of the
well-worn baseball that, set in a plate of silver and enclosed in a
superb frame, soon afterwards hung above his private desk in San
Francisco.

Here our story properly ends, but we cannot help telling of two or three
things that happened soon after the disappearance of our hump-durgin
boys from Camp No. 10, and as a direct result of their having lived
there. To begin with, Mr. Linton felt himself so insulted by the manner
in which President Todd made his inspection that he resigned his
position, and, on the recommendation of Alaric, Buck Ranlet was given
his place. On the strength of this promotion the big "faller" went East
to marry the girl of his choice, and both Alaric and Bonny were present
at the wedding.

Through the liberality of Amos Todd, the ex-hump-durgin boys were
enabled to present the camp with their shack, converted into a neat
little library building and filled with carefully selected books, in
which the occupants of the camp are greatly pleased to discover many of
the tales already told them by Rick Dale.

A certain famous and badly used-up hat, carefully removed from the camp,
belongs to Bonny Brooks, and adorns a wall in one of a beautiful suite
of rooms that he and Alaric occupy together at Harvard. Here Alaric is
taking an academic course, while Bonny, whom Amos Todd regards almost as
an own son, is sturdily working his way through the mathematical and
mechanical labyrinths of a Manual Training School. They went to
Cambridge just one year after completing their studies as hump-durgin
boys; and while they were still Freshmen, the splendid baseball-player,
who, though only just entering his Junior year, was captain of the
'varsity nine, happened to be badly in need of a catcher.

"I can tell you of one who can't be beat this side of the Rocky
Mountains," suggested his classmate and pitcher, Dave Carncross.

"Who is he?"

"Rick Todd, a Freshman."

"Son of Amos Todd, your San Francisco millionaire?"

"Yes."

"Then I don't want him. Millionaires' sons are no good."

"This one is, though," insisted Carncross; "and I ought to know, for I
taught him to catch his first ball. You just come over to Soldiers'
Field this afternoon and size him up."

The captain needed a first-class man behind the bat so badly that, in
spite of his prejudices, he consented to do as his pitcher desired. He
was amazed, delighted, and enthusiastic. Never had he seen such an
exhibition of ball-catching as was given by that Freshman. Finally he
could contain himself no longer, and rushing up to his classmate, he
exclaimed:

"Carncross, he's a wonder! Introduce me at once."

"Rick Todd," said Dave Carncross, "permit me to present you to my
friend Phil Ryder, captain of the 'varsity nine."

As the two lads grasped each other's hands there came a flash of
recognition into each face, and both remembered where they had met each
other last.


THE END



BOOKS BY KIRK MUNROE


    CAMPMATES. Illustrated.
    DORYMATES. Illustrated.
    CANOEMATES. Illustrated.
    RAFTMATES. Illustrated.
    WAKULLA. Illustrated.
    THE FLAMINGO FEATHER. Illustrated.
    DERRICK STERLING. Illustrated.
    CHRYSTAL, JACK & CO. Illustrated.
    THE COPPER PRINCESS. Illustrated.
    FORWARD, MARCH! Illustrated.
    THE BLUE DRAGON. Illustrated.
    FOR THE MIKADO. Illustrated.
    UNDER THE GREAT BEAR. Illustrated.
    THE FUR-SEAL'S TOOTH. Illustrated.
    SNOW-SHOES AND SLEDGES. Illustrated.
    RICK DALE. Illustrated.
    THE PAINTED DESERT. Illustrated.





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