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Title: Connie Morgan in the Lumber Camps
Author: Hendryx, James B. (James Beardsley), 1880-1963
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.

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project.)



  CONNIE MORGAN
  IN THE
  LUMBER CAMPS

  BY

  JAMES B. HENDRYX
  AUTHOR OF "CONNIE MORGAN IN ALASKA," "CONNIE
  MORGAN WITH THE MOUNTED"

  [Illustration]

  _ILLUSTRATED_

  G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
  NEW YORK AND LONDON
  The Knickerbocker Press
  1919


  COPYRIGHT, 1919
  BY
  JAMES B. HENDRYX

  The Knickerbocker Press, New York



[Illustration]

CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                                PAGE

        I.--CONNIE MORGAN GOES "OUTSIDE"                      1

       II.--HURLEY                                           14

      III.--INTO THE WOODS                                   28

       IV.--CONNIE TAMES A BEAR-CAT                          45

        V.--HURLEY LAYS OUT THE NEW CAMP                     58

       VI.--THE I. W. W. SHOWS ITS HAND                      69

      VII.--THE PRISONERS                                    89

     VIII.--THE BOSS OF CAMP TWO                            103

       IX.--SAGINAW ED IN THE TOILS                         114

        X.--CONNIE DOES SOME TRAILING                       129

       XI.--CONNIE FINDS AN ALLY                            145

      XII.--SHADING THE CUT                                 162

     XIII.--SAGINAW ED HUNTS A CLUE                         175

      XIV.--A PAIR OF SOCKS                                 192

       XV.--HURLEY PREPARES FOR THE DRIVE                   204

      XVI.--SLUE FOOT "COMES ACROSS"                        217

     XVII.--HEINIE METZGER                                  235

    XVIII.--CONNIE SELLS SOME LOGS                          255

      XIX.--THE UNMASKING OF SLUE FOOT MAGEE                277

       XX.--CONNIE DELIVERS HIS LOGS                        292



[Illustration]

ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                           PAGE

    Hurley                                                    8

    Mike Gillum took Connie to the river where miles of
        booms held millions of feet of logs                  23

    "Come on, tell them what you told them a minute ago"     55

    Swiftly the boy followed the tracks to the point
        where the man had struck into the clearing          131

    The boy hastened unnoticed to the edge of a crowd
        of men that encircled Frenchy Lamar                 134

    "What in the name of time be you doin' here?"
        exclaimed Saginaw                                   150

    "Phy don't yez tell me oi'm a big liar?" he roared      167

    "Phwat d'yez want?" he whined                           178

    "What's this?" asked the boy, pushing up a small
        bundle                                              193

    Slue Foot turned. "Think y're awful smart, don't
        ye?"                                                232

    He leaned back in his chair and stared at Connie
        through his glasses, as one would examine a
        specimen at the zoo                                 251

    Very gingerly he donned the garments and for some
        moments stood and viewed himself in the mirror      265

    Hurley had remained at the Upper Camp, and as the
        drive at last began to thin out, he came floating
        down, standing erect upon a huge log                299

    Connie placed his hand affectionately upon the arm
        of the big boss who stood at his side grinning
        broadly                                             309



Connie Morgan in the Lumber Camps



CHAPTER I

CONNIE MORGAN GOES "OUTSIDE"


[Illustration]

With an exclamation of impatience, Waseche Bill pushed a formidable
looking volume from him and sat, pen in hand, scowling down at the sheet
of writing paper upon the table before him. "I done give fo' dollahs fo'
that dictionary down to Faihbanks an' it ain't wo'th fo' bits!"

"What's the matter with it?" grinned Connie Morgan, glancing across the
table into the face of his partner.

"The main matteh with it is that it ain't no good. It's plumb full of a
lot of wo'ds that no one wouldn't know what yo' was talkin' about if yo'
said 'em, an' the common ones a man has got some use fo' is left out."

"What word do you want? I learned to spell quite a lot of words in
school."

"Gillum."

"What?"

"Gillum--I want to write a letteh to Mike Gillum. They ain't no betteh
man nowheahs than Mike. He's known all along the Tanana an' in the
loggin' woods outside, an' heah's this book that sets up to show folks
how to spell, an' it cain't even spell Mike Gillum."

Connie laughed. "Gillum is a proper name," he explained, "and
dictionaries don't print proper names."

"They might a heap betteh leave out some of the impropeh an' redic'lous
ones they've got into 'em, then, an' put in some of the propeh ones. I
ain't pleased with that book, nohow. It ain't no good. It claims fo' to
show how to spell wo'ds, an' when yo' come to use it yo' got to know
how to spell the wo'd yo' huntin' fo' oah yo' cain't find it. The only
wo'ds yo' c'n find when yo' want 'em is the ones yo' c'n spell anyhow,
so what's the use of findin' 'em?"

"But, there's the definitions. It tells you what the words mean."

Waseche Bill snorted contemptuously. "What they mean!" he exclaimed.
"Well, if yo' didn't know what they mean, yo' wouldn't be wantin' to use
them, nohow, an' yo' wouldn't care a doggone how they was spelt, noah if
they was spelt at all oah not. Fact is, I didn't give the matteh no
thought when I bought it. If it had be'n a big deal I wouldn't have be'n
took in, that way. In the hotel at Faihbanks, it was, when I was comin'
in. The fellow I bought it off of seemed right pleased with the book.
Why, he talked enough about it to of sold a claim. I got right tired
listenin' to him, so I bought it. But, shucks, I might of know'd if the
book had be'n any good he wouldn't have be'n so anxious to get red of
it."

"Where is this Mike Gillum?" Connie asked, as he folded a paper and
returned it to a little pile of similar papers that lay before him on
the table.

"I don't jest recollec' now, but I got the place copied down in my
notebook. It's some town back in Minnesota."

"Minnesota!"

"Yes. Fact is we be'n so blamed busy all summeh right heah in Ten Bow,
I'd plumb forgot about ouh otheh interests, till the nippy weatheh done
reminded me of 'em."

"I didn't know we had any other interests," smiled the boy.

"It's this way," began Waseche Bill, as he applied a match to his pipe
and settled back in his chair. "When I was down to the hospital last
fall they brought in a fellow fo' an operation an' put him in the room
next to mine. The first day he stuck his nose out the do', I seen it was
Mike Gillum--we'd prospected togetheh oveh on the Tanana, yeahs back,
an' yo' bet yo' boots I was glad to see someone that had been up heah in
the big country an' could talk sensible about it without askin' a lot of
fool questions about what do the dawgs drink in winteh if everythin's
froze up? An' ain't we afraid we'll freeze to death? An' how high is the
mountains? An' did you know my mother's cousin that went up to Alaska
after gold in '98? While he was gettin' well, we had some great old
powwows, an' he told me how he done got sick of prospectin' an' went
back to loggin'. He's a fo'man, now, fo' some big lumbeh syndicate in
one of theih camps up in no'the'n Minnesota."

"One day we was settin' a smokin' ouh pipes an' he says to me,
'Waseche,' he says, 'you've got the dust to do it with, why don't you
take a li'l flyeh in timbeh?' I allowed minin' was mo' in my line, an'
he says, 'That's all right, but this heah timbeh business is a big
proposition, too. Jest because a man's got one good thing a-goin', ain't
no sign he'd ort to pass up anotheh. It's this way,' he says: 'Up to'ds
the haid of Dogfish Riveh, they's a four-thousand-acre tract of timbeh
that's surrounded on three sides by the Syndicate holdin's. Fo' yeahs
the Syndicate's be'n tryin' to get holt of this tract, but the man that
owns it would die befo' he'd let 'em put an axe to a stick of it. They
done him dirt some way a long time ago an' he's neveh fo'got it. He
ain't got the capital to log it, an' he won't sell to the Syndicate. But
he needs the money, an' if some private pahty come along that would take
it off his hands an' agree to neveh sell it to the Syndicate, he could
drive a mighty good ba'gain. I know logs,' Mike says, 'an' I'm tellin'
yo' there ain't a betteh strip of timbeh in the State.'

"'Why ain't no one grabbed it befo'?' I asks.

"'Because this heah McClusky that owns it is a mighty suspicious ol'
man, an' he's tu'ned down about a hund'ed offehs because he know'd they
was backed by the Syndicate.'

"'Maybe he'd tu'n down mine, if I'd make him one,' I says.

"Mike laughed. 'No,' he says, 'spite of the fact that I'm one of the
Syndicate's fo'men, ol' man McClusky takes my wo'd fo' anything I tell
him. Him an' my ol' dad come oveh f'om Ireland togetheh. I'd go a long
ways around to do ol' Mac a good tu'n, an' he knows it. Fact is, it's me
that put him wise that most of the offehs he's had come from the
Syndicate--my contract with 'em callin' fo' handlin' loggin' crews, an'
not helpin' 'em skin folks out of their timbeh. If I'd slip the we'd to
Mac to sell to you, he'd sell.'"

Waseche refilled his pipe, and Connie waited eagerly for his big partner
to proceed. "Well," continued the man, "he showed me how it was an awful
good proposition, so I agreed to take it oveh. I wanted Mike should come
in on it, but he wouldn't--Mike's squah as a die, an' he said his
contract has got three mo' yeahs to run, an' it binds him not to engage
in no private business oah entehprise whateveh while it's in fo'ce.

"Befo'e Mike left the hospital he sent fo' McClusky, an' we closed the
deal. That was last fall, an' I told Mike that as long as the timbeh was
theah, I might's well staht gettin' it out. He wa'ned me to keep my eye
on the Syndicate when I stahted to layin' 'em down, but befo'e he'd got
a chance to give me much advice on the matteh, theah come a telegram fo'
him to get to wo'k an' line up his crew an' get into the woods. Befo'e
he left, though, he said he'd send me down a man that might do fo' a
fo'man. Said he couldn't vouch for him no mo'n that he was a tiptop
logman, an' capable of handlin' a crew in the woods. So he come, Jake
Hurley, his name is, an' he's a big red Irishman. I didn't jest like his
looks, an' some of his talk, but I didn't know wheah to get anyone else
so I took a chance on him an' hired him to put a crew into the woods an'
get out a small lot of timbeh." Waseche Bill crossed the room and,
unlocking a chest, tossed a packet of papers onto the table. "It's all
in theah," he said grimly. "They got out quite a mess of logs, an' in
the spring when they was drivin' 'em down the Dogfish Riveh, to get 'em
into the Mississippi, they fouled a Syndicate drive. When things got
straightened out, we was fo'teen thousan' dollahs to the bad."

The little clock ticked for a long time while Connie carefully examined
the sheaf of papers. After a while he looked up. "Why, if it hadn't been
for losing our logs we would have cleaned up a good profit!" he
exclaimed.

[Illustration: HURLEY]

Waseche Bill nodded. "Yes--if. But the fact is, we didn't clean up no
profit, an' we got the tract on ouh hands with no one to sell it to,
cause I passed ouh wo'd I wouldn't sell it--o' co'se McClusky couldn't
hold us to that acco'din' to law, but I reckon, he won't have to. I got
us into this heah mess unbeknownst to you, so I'll jest shouldeh the
loss, private, an'----"

"You'll _what!_" interrupted Connie, wrathfully. And then grinned
good-humouredly as he detected the twinkle in Waseche Bill's eye.

"I said, I c'n get a raise out of yo' any time I'm a mind to try, cain't
I?"

"You sure can," laughed the boy. "But just so you don't forget it, we
settled this partnership business for good and all, a couple of years
ago."

Waseche nodded as he glanced affectionately into the face of the boy.
"Yes, son, I reckon that's done settled," he answered, gravely. "But the
question is, now we ah into this thing, how we goin' to get out?"

"Fight out, of course!" exclaimed the boy, his eyes flashing. "The first
thing for us to find out is, whether the fouling of that drive was
accidental or was done purposely. And why we didn't get what was coming
to us when the logs were sorted."

"I reckon that's done settled, as fah as _knowin'_ it's conse'ned.
Provin' it will be anotheh matteh." He produced a letter from his
pocket. "This come up in the mail," he said. "It's from Mike Gillum.
Mike, he writes a middlin' sho't letteh, but he says a heap. It was
wrote from Riverville, Minnesota, on July the tenth."

    "FRIEND WASECHE:

    "Just found out Hurley is on pay roll of the Syndicate. Look
    alive.

            "MIKE."

"Double crossed us," observed the boy, philosophically.

"Yes, an' the wo'st of it is, he wouldn't sign up without a two-yeah
contract. Said some yeahs a boss has bad luck an' he'd ort to be give a
chance to make good."

"I'm glad of it," said Connie. "I think he'll get his chance, all
right."

Waseche looked at his small partner quizzically. "What do yo' mean?" he
asked.

"Let's go to bed. It's late," observed the boy, evasively. "Maybe in the
morning we'll have it doped out."

At breakfast the following morning Connie looked at Waseche Bill, and
Waseche looked at Connie. "I guess it's up to me," smiled the boy.

"Yo' mean----?"

"I mean that the only way to handle this case is to handle it from the
bottom up. First we've got to get this Jake Hurley with the goods, and
when we've got him out of the way, jump in and show the Syndicate that
they've run up against an outfit it don't pay to monkey with. That
timber is ours, and we're going to have it!"

"That sums the case right pert as fa' as talkin' goes, but how we goin'
to do it? If we go down theah an' kick Hurley out, we've got to pay him
fo' a whole winteh's wo'k he ain't done an' I'd hate to do that. We
don't neitheh one of us know enough about loggin' to run the camp, an'
if we was to hunt up anotheh fo'man, chances is he'd be as bad as
Hurley, mebbe wo'se."

"There's no use in both of us going. You're needed here, and besides
there wouldn't be much you could do if you were there. Hurley don't know
me, and I can go down and get enough on him by spring to put him away
where he can think things over for a while. I've just finished a year's
experience in handling exactly such characters as he is."

Waseche Bill grinned. "I met up with Dan McKeeveh comin' in," he said.
"From what I was able to getheh, heahin' him talk, I reckon they cain't
be many bad men left oveh on the Yukon side."

"Dan was prejudiced," laughed Connie. "I did just what any one else
would have done--what good men any place you put 'em have _got_ to do,
or they wouldn't be good men. After I'd found out what had to be done, I
figured out the most sensible way of doing it, and then did it the best
I knew how. I haven't lived with men like you, and Dan, and MacDougall,
and the rest of the boys, for nothing----"

"Jest yo' stick to that way of doin', son, an', I reckon, yo'll find
it's about all the Bible yo'll need. But, about this heah trip to the
outside. I sho' do hate to have yo' go down theh, so fah away from
anywhehs. S'posin' somethin' should happen to yo'. Why, I don't reckon I
eveh would get oveh blamin' myself fo' lettin' yo' go."

"Any one would think I was a girl," smiled the boy. "But I guess if I
can take care of myself up here, I can handle anything I'll run up
against outside."

"What do yo' aim to do when yo' get theah?"

"The first thing to do will be to hunt up Mike Gillum and have a talk
with him. After that--well, after that, I'll know what to do."

Waseche Bill regarded the boy thoughtfully as he passed his fingers
slowly back and forth along his stub-bearded jaw. "I reckon yo' will,
son," he said, "from what I know of yo', an' what Dan done tol' me,
comin' in, I jest reckon yo' will."

When Connie Morgan made up his mind to do a thing he went ahead and did
it. Inside of a week the boy had packed his belongings, bid good-bye to
Ten Bow, and started upon the journey that was to take him far from his
beloved Alaska, and plunge him into a series of adventures that were to
pit his wits against the machinations of a scheming corporation.



CHAPTER II

HURLEY


With a long-drawn whistle the great trans-continental train ground to a
stop at a tiny town that consisted simply of a red painted depot, a huge
water tank, and a dozen or more low frame houses, all set in a little
clearing that was hardly more than a notch in one of the parallel walls
of pine that flanked the railroad. The coloured porter glanced
contemptuously out of the window and grumbled at the delay. The
conductor, a dapper little man of blue cloth and brass buttons, bustled
importantly down the aisle and disappeared through the front door.
Connie raised his window and thrust his head out. Other heads protruded
from the long line of coaches, and up in front men were swinging from
the platforms to follow the trainmen who were hurrying along the sides
of the cars. Connie arose and made his way forward. Two days and nights
in the cramped quarters of the car had irked the boy, used as he was to
the broad, open places, and it was with a distinct feeling of relief
that he stepped to the ground and breathed deeply of the pine-scented
air.

Upon a siding stood several flat cars onto which a dozen or more roughly
dressed men were busily loading gear and equipment under the eye of a
massive-framed giant of a man in a shirt of brilliant red flannel, who
sat dangling his legs from the brake wheel of the end car. A stubble of
red beard covered the man's undershot jaw. The visor of a greasy plush
cap, pushed well back upon his head, disclosed a shock of red hair that
nearly met the shaggy eyebrows beneath which a pair of beady eyes kept
tab on the movements of his crew. To the stalled train, and the people
who passed close beside him, the man gave no heed.

Up ahead, some eight or ten rods in front of the monster engine that
snorted haughty impatience to be gone, Connie saw the cause of the
delay. A heavy, underslung logging wagon was stalled directly upon the
tracks, where it remained fixed despite the efforts of the four big
horses that were doing their utmost to move it in response to a loud
string of abusive epithets and the stinging blows of a heavy whip which
the driver wielded with the strength of a husky arm. A little knot of
men collected about the wagon, and the driver, abandoning his vain
attempt to start the load, addressed the crowd in much the same language
he had used toward the horses. The train conductor detached himself from
the group and hurried toward the flat cars.

"Hey, you," he piped, "are you the boss of this crew?"

The huge man upon the brake wheel paid him no heed, but bawled a profane
reprimand for the misplacing of a coil of wire line.

"Hey, you, I say!" The little conductor was fairly dancing impatience.
"You, Red Shirt! Are you the boss?"

The wire line having been shifted to suit him, the other condescended to
glare down into the speaker's face. "I be--what's loose with you?"

"Get that wagon off the track! You've held us up ten minutes already!
It's an outrage!"

"Aw, go chase yersilf! Whad'ye s'pose I care av yer tin minutes late, er
tin hours? I've got trouble av me own."

"You get that wagon moved!" shrilled the conductor. "You're obstructing
the United States mail, and I guess you know what that means!"

Reference to the mail evidently had its effect upon the boss, for he
very deliberately clambered to the ground and made his way leisurely
toward the stalled wagon. "Give 'em the gad, ye wooden head! What ye
standin' there wid yer mout' open fer?"

Once more the driver plied his heavy lash and the big horses strained to
the pull. But it was of no avail.

"They can't pull it, it ain't any good to lick 'em," remonstrated the
engineer. "A couple of you boys climb up and throw some of that stuff
off. We can't wait here all day."

The fireman and the brakeman started toward the load, but were
confronted by the glowering boss. "Ye'll lay off a couple av trips while
they fan ye back to life, av ye try ut!" he roared. The men turned back,
and the boss addressed the engineer. "You try ut yersilf, av ye're
lookin' fer a nice little lay-off in the hospital. Av ye lay here all
day an' all night, too, ye've got no wan but yer company to thank. Who
was ut put them rotten planks in that crossin'?"

The engineer possessed a certain diplomacy that the conductor did not.

"Sure, it's the company's fault. Any one can see that. They've got no
business putting such rotten stuff into their crossings. I didn't want
to butt in on you, boss, but if you'll just tell us what to do we'll
help you get her out of there."

The boss regarded him with suspicion, but the engineer was smiling in a
friendly fashion, and the boss relented a little. "Mostly, ut's the
company's fault, but partly ut's the fault av that blockhead av a
teamster av mine. He ain't fit to drive a one-horse phaeton fer an owld
woman's home." While the boss talked he eyed the stalled wagon
critically. "Come over here, a couple av you sleepwalkers!" he called,
and when the men arrived from the flat cars, he ripped out his orders
almost in a breath. "Git a plank befront that hind wheel to ride ut over
the rail! You frog-eater, there, that calls yersilf a teamster--cramp
them horses hard to the right! Freeze onto the spokes now, ye sons av
rest, an' ROLL 'ER!" Once more the big horses threw their weight into
the traces, and the men on the wheels lifted and strained but the wagon
held fast. For a single instant the boss looked on, then with a growl
he leaped toward the wagon.

"Throw the leather into 'em, Frenchy! Make thim leaders pull up!"
Catching the man on the offending hind wheel by the shoulder he sent him
spinning to the side of the track, and stooping, locked his thick
fingers about a spoke, set his great shoulder against the tire and with
legs spread wide, heaved upward. The load trembled, hesitated an
instant, and moved slowly, the big boss fairly lifting the wheel up the
short incline. A moment later it rolled away toward the flat cars,
followed by the boss and his crew.

"Beef and bluff," grinned Connie to himself as the crowd of passengers
returned to the coaches.

Connie found Mike Gillum busily stowing potatoes in an underground root
cellar. "He's almost as big as the man with the red shirt," thought the
boy as he watched Mike read the note Waseche Bill had given him before
he left Ten Bow.

The man paused in the middle to stare incredulously at the boy. "D'ye
mane," he asked, in his rich Irish brogue, "thot ut's yersilf's the
pardner av Waseche Bill--a kid loike you, the pardner av _him_?"

Connie laughed; and unconsciously his shoulders stiffened. "Yes," he
answered proudly, "we've been partners for two years."

Still the man appeared incredulous. "D'ye mane ye're the wan thot he wuz
tellin' thrailed him beyant the Ogilvies into the Lillimuit? An' put in
the time whilst he wuz in the hospital servin' wid the Mounted? Moind
ye, lad, Oi've be'n in the Narth mesilf, an' Oi know summat av it's
ways."

"Yes, but maybe Waseche bragged me up more than----"

Mike Gillum interrupted him by thrusting forth a grimy hand. "Br-ragged
ye up, is ut! An-ny one thot c'n do the things ye've done, me b'y, don't
nade no braggin' up. Ut's proud Oi am to know ye--Waseche towld me ye
wuz ondly a kid, but Oi had in me moind a shtrappin' young blade av
mebbe ut's twinty-foor or -five, not a wee shtrip av a lad loike ye.
Come on in the house till Oi wash up a bit, thim praties has got me back
fair bruk a'ready."

The big Irishman would not hear of the boy's putting up at a hotel, and
after supper the two sat upon the foreman's little veranda that
overlooked the river and talked until far into the night.

"So ye've got to kape yer oye on um, lad," the Irishman concluded, after
a long discourse upon the ins and outs, and whys and wherefores of the
logging situation on Dogfish. "Ut's mesilf'll give you all the help Oi
can, faylin' raysponsible fer sindin' him to Waseche. There's divilmint
in the air fer this winter. The Syndicate's goin' to put a camp on
Dogfish below ye, same as last winter. Oi've wor-rked fer um long enough
to know ut's only to buck you folks they're doin' ut, fer their plans
wuz not to do an-ny cuttin' on the Dogfish tract fer several years to
come. Whin Oi heard they wuz goin' to put a camp there Oi applied fer
the job av bossin' ut, but they towld me Oi wuz nayded over on Willow
River." Mike Gillum knocked the dottle from his pipe and grinned
broadly. "'Twuz a complimint they paid me," he said. "They know me loike
Oi know thim--av there's crooked wor-ruk to be done in a camp, they take
care that Oi ain't the boss av ut. But Willow River is only tin miles
back--due narth av the McClusky tract."

[Illustration: MIKE GILLUM TOOK CONNIE TO THE RIVER WHERE MILES OF BOOMS
HELD MILLIONS OF FEET OF LOGS]

The next morning Mike Gillum took Connie to the river where miles of
booms held millions of feet of logs which awaited their turn at the
sawmills whose black smoke belched from stacks at some distance
downstream where the river plunged over the apron of the dam in a mad
whirl of white water.

"How can they tell which mill the logs are to go to?" asked the boy, as
he gazed out over the acres of boomed timber.

"Each log carries uts mark, they're sorted in the river. We'll walk on
down where ye c'n see um jerked drippin' to the saws."

"Does Hurley live here?" asked Connie, as the two followed the river
bank toward the dam.

"Naw, he lives at Pine Hook, down the road a ways. Ut's about time he
wuz showin' up, though. He lays in his supplies an' fills in his crew
here. He towld me last spring he wuz goin' to run two camps this
winter." They were close above the dam and had to raise their voices to
make themselves heard above the roar of the water that dashed over the
apron.

"Look!" cried Connie, suddenly, pointing toward a slender green canoe
that floated in the current at a distance of a hundred yards or so from
shore, and the same distance above the falls. "There's a woman in it and
she's in trouble!" The big Irishman looked, shading his eyes with his
hands.

"She's losin' ground!" he exclaimed. "She's caught in the suck av the
falls!" The light craft was pointed upstream and the woman was paddling
frantically, but despite her utmost efforts the canoe was being drawn
slowly toward the brink of the white water apron.

With a roar the big Irishman sprang to the water's edge and raced up the
bank toward a tiny wharf to which were tied several skiffs with their
oars in the locks. Connie measured the distance with his eye. "He'll
never make it!" he decided, and jerking off coat and shoes, rushed to
the water. "Keep paddling, ma'am!" he called at the top of his lungs,
and plunged in. With swift, sure strokes the boy struck out for the
canoe. The woman saw him coming and redoubled her efforts.

"Come back, ye idiot!" bellowed a voice from the bank, but Connie did
not even turn his head. He had entered the water well upstream from the
little craft, and the current bore him down upon it as he increased his
distance from shore. A moment later he reached up and grasped the
gunwale. "Keep paddling!" he urged, as he drew himself slowly over the
bow, at the same time keeping the canoe in perfect balance. "Where's
your other paddle?" he shouted.

"There's--only--this," panted the woman.

"Give it here!" cried the boy sharply, "and lie flat in the bottom!
We've got to go over the dam!"

"No, no, no!" shrieked the woman, "we'll be killed! Several----"

With a growl of impatience, Connie wrenched the paddle from her hands.
"Lie down, or I'll knock you down!" he thundered, and with a moan of
terror the woman sank to the bottom of the canoe. Kneeling low, the boy
headed the frail craft for a narrow strip of water that presented an
unbroken, oily surface as it plunged over the apron. On either hand the
slope showed only the churning white water. Connie gave one glance
toward the bank where a little knot of men had collected, and the next
moment the canoe shot, head on, straight over the brink of the falls.
For an instant it seemed to hang suspended with half its length hanging
over, clear of the water. Then it shot downward to bury its bow in the
smother of boiling churning, white water at the foot of the apron. For
a moment it seemed to Connie as though the canoe were bound to be
swamped. It rolled loggily causing the water it had shipped to slosh
over the clothing and face of the limp form of the woman in the bottom.
The boy was afraid she would attempt to struggle free of it, but she lay
perfectly still. She had fainted. The canoe hesitated for a moment,
wobbling uncertainly, as the overroll at the foot of the falls held it
close against the apron, then it swung heavily into the grip of an eddy
and Connie at length succeeded in forcing it toward the bank, wallowing
so low in the water that the gunwales were nearly awash.

Eager hands grasped the bow as it scraped upon the shore, and while the
men lifted the still form from the bottom, Connie slipped past them and
made his way to the place he had left his coat and shoes.

Mike Gillum met him at the top of the bank.

"Arrah! Me laddie, ut's a gr-rand thrick ye pulled! No wan but a
_tillicum_ av the Narth country c'ud of done ut! Oi see fer mesilf how
ut come ye're the pardner av Waseche Bill. Av Oi had me doubts about yer
bitin' off more thin ye c'ud chaw wid Hurley, Oi've got over 'em, now,
an'--" He stopped abruptly and glanced toward the river. "Shpakin' av
Hurley--there he comes, now!" he whispered, and Connie glanced up to see
a huge man advancing toward them at the head of a little group that
approached from the point where he had landed the canoe. The boy stared
in amazement--it was the red-shirted giant of the stalled wagon.

"So that's Hurley," said he, quietly. "Well, here's where I strike him
for a job."



CHAPTER III

INTO THE WOODS


The upshot of Connie Morgan's interview with Hurley, the big red-shirted
camp boss, was that the boss hired him with the injunction to show up
bright and early the following morning, as the train that was to haul
the outfit to the Dogfish Spur would leave at daylight.

"'Tiz a foine job ye've got--wor-rkin' f'r forty dollars a month in yer
own timber," grinned big Mike Gillum, as he packed the tobacco into the
bowl of his black pipe, when the two found themselves once more seated
upon the Syndicate foreman's little veranda at the conclusion of the
evening meal.

Connie laughed. "Yes, but it will amount to a good deal more than forty
dollars a month if I can save the timber. We lost fourteen thousand
dollars last year because those logs got mixed. I don't see yet how he
worked it. You say the logs are all branded."

"Who knows what brands he put on 'em? Or, wuz they branded at all? They
wuz sorted in th' big river but the drive was fouled in the Dogfish.
S'pose the heft of your logs wuz branded wid the Syndicate brand--or no
brand at all? The wans that wuz marked for the Syndicate w'd go to
Syndicate mills, an' the wans that wuzn't branded w'd go into the pool,
to be awarded pro raty to all outfits that had logs in the drive."

"I'll bet the right brand will go onto them this year!" exclaimed the
boy.

Mike Gillum nodded. "That's what ye're there for. But, don't star-rt
nawthin' 'til way along towards spring. Jake Hurley's a boss that can
get out the logs--an' that's what you want. Av ye wuz to tip off yer
hand too soon, the best ye c'd do w'd be to bust up the outfit wid
nawthin' to show f'r the season's expenses. Keep yer eyes open an' yer
mout' shut. Not only ye must watch Hurley, but keep an eye on the
scaler, an' check up the time book, an' the supplies--av course ye c'n
only do the two last av he puts ye to clerking, an' Oi'm thinkin' that's
what he'll do. Ut's either clerk or cookee f'r you, an most an-ny wan
w'd do f'r a cookee."

The foreman paused, and Connie saw a twinkle in his eye as he continued:
"Ye see, sometimes a boss overestimates the number av min he's got
workin'. Whin he makes out the pay roll he writes in a lot av names av
min that's mebbe worked f'r him years back, an' is dead, or mebbe it's
just a lot av names av min that ain't lived yet, but might be born
sometime; thin whin pay day comes the boss signs the vouchers an' sticks
the money in his pockets. Moind ye, I ain't sayin' Hurley done that but
he'd have a foine chanct to, wid his owner way up in Alaska. An' now
we'll be goin' to bed f'r ye have to git up early. Oi'll be on Willow
River; av they's an-nything Oi c'n do, ye c'n let me know."

Connie thanked his friend, and before he turned in, wrote a letter to
his partner in Ten Bow:

    "DEAR WASECHE:

    "I'm O.K. How are you? Got the job. Don't write. Mike Gillum is
    O. K. See you in the spring.

            "Yours truly,
                "C. MORGAN."

Before daylight Connie was at the siding where the two flat cars loaded
at Pine Hook, and two box cars that contained the supplies and the
horses were awaiting the arrival of the freight train that was to haul
them seventy miles to Dogfish Spur. Most of the crew was there before
him. Irishmen, Norwegians, Swedes, Frenchmen, and two or three Indians,
about thirty-five in all, swarmed upon the cars or sat in groups upon
the ground. Hurley was here, there, and everywhere, checking up his
crew, and giving the final round of inspection to his supplies.

A long whistle sounded, and the headlight of a locomotive appeared far
down the track. Daylight was breaking as the heavy train stopped to pick
up the four cars. Connie climbed with the others to the top of a box car
and deposited his turkey beside him upon the running board. The turkey
consisted of a grain sack tied at either end with a rope that passed
over the shoulder, and contained the outfit of clothing that Mike Gillum
had advised him to buy. The tops of the cars were littered with similar
sacks, their owners using them as seats or pillows.

As the train rumbled into motion and the buildings of the town dropped
into the distance, the conductor made his way over the tops of the cars
followed closely by Hurley. Together they counted the men and the
conductor checked the count with a memorandum. Then he went back to the
caboose, and Hurley seated himself beside Connie.

"Ever work in the woods?" he asked.

"No."

"Be'n to school much?"

"Yes, some."

"'Nough to figger up time books, an' keep track of supplies, an' set
down the log figgers when they're give to you?"

"I think so."

"Ye look like a smart 'nough kid--an' ye've got nerve, all right. I
tried to holler ye back when I seen ye swimmin' out to that canoe
yeste'day--I didn't think you could make it--that woman was a fool.
She'd ort to drownded. But, what I was gettin' at, is this: I'm a goin'
to put you to clerkin'. Clerkin' in a log camp is a good job--most
bosses was clerks onct. A clerk's s'posed to make hisself handy around
camp an' keep the books--I'll show you about them later. We're goin' in
early this year, 'cause I'm goin' to run two camps an' we got to lay
out the new one an' git it built. We won't start gittin' out no timber
for a month yet. I'll git things a goin' an' then slip down an' pick up
my crew."

"Why, haven't you got your crew?" Connie glanced at the men who lay
sprawled in little groups along the tops of the cars.

"Part of it. I'm fetchin' out thirty-five this time. That's 'nough to
build the new camp an' patch up the old one, but when we begin gittin'
out the logs, this here'll just about make a crew for the new camp. I
figger to work about fifty in the old one."

"Do you boss both camps?"

Hurly grinned. "Don't I look able?"

"You sure do," agreed the boy, with a glance at the man's huge bulk.

"They'll only be three or four miles apart, an' I'll put a boss in each
one, an' I'll be the walkin' boss." The cars jerked and swayed, as the
train roared through the jack pine country.

"I suppose this was all big woods once," ventured the boy.

"Naw--not much of it wasn't--not this jack pine and scrub spruce
country. You can gener'lly always tell what was big timber, an' what
wasn't. Pine cuttin's don't seed back to pine. These jack pines ain't
young pine--they're a different tree altogether. Years back, the
lumbermen wouldn't look at nawthin' but white pine, an' only the very
best of that--but things is different now. Yaller pine and spruce looks
good to 'em, an' they're even cuttin' jack pine. They work it up into
mine timbers, an' posts, an' ties, an' paper pulp. What with them an'
the pig iron loggers workin' the ridges, this here country'll grow up to
hazel brush, and berries, an' weeds, 'fore your hair turns grey."

"What are pig iron loggers?" asked the boy.

"The hardwood men. They git out the maple an' oak an' birch along the
high ground an' ridges--they ain't loggers, they jest think they are."

"You said pine cuttings don't seed back to pine?"

"Naw, it seems funny, but they don't. Old cuttin's grow up to popple and
scrub oak, like them with the red leaves, yonder; or else to hazel brush
and berries. There used to be a few patches of pine through this jack
pine country, but it was soon cut off. This here trac' we're workin' is
about as good as there is left. With a good crew we'd ort to make a big
cut this winter."

The wheels pounded noisily at the rail ends as the boss's eyes rested
upon the men who sat talking and laughing among themselves. "An'
speakin' of crews, this here one's goin' to need some cullin'." He fixed
his eyes on the boy with a look almost of ferocity. "An' here's another
thing that a clerk does, that I forgot to mention: He hears an' sees a
whole lot more'n he talks. You'll bunk in the shack with me an' the
scaler--an' what's talked about in there's _our_ business--d'ye git me?"

Connie returned the glance fearlessly. "I guess you'll know I can keep a
thing or two under my cap when we get better acquainted," he answered
The reply seemed to satisfy Hurley, who continued,

"As I was sayin', they's some of them birds ain't goin' to winter
through in no camp of mine. See them three over there on the end of that
next car, a talkin' to theirselfs. I got an idee they're I. W.
W.'s--mistrusted they was when I hired 'em."

"What are I. W. W.'s?" Connie asked.

"They're a gang of sneakin' cutthroats that call theirselfs the
Industrial Workers of the World, though why they claim they're workers
is more'n what any one knows. They won't work, an' they won't let no one
else work. The only time they take a job is when they think there's a
chanct to sneak around an' put the kibosh on whatever work is goin' on.
They tell the men they're downtrod by capital an' they'd ort to raise up
an' kill off the bosses an' grab everything fer theirselfs. Alongside of
them birds, rattlesnakes an' skunks is good companions."

"Aren't there any laws that will reach them?"

"Naw," growled Hurley in disgust. "When they git arrested an' convicted,
the rest of 'em raises such a howl that capital owns the courts, an' the
judges is told to hang all the workin' men they kin, an' a lot of rot
like that, till the governors git cold feet an' pardon them. If the
government used 'em right, it'd outlaw the whole kaboodle of 'em. Some
governors has got the nerve to tell 'em where to head in at--Washington,
an' California, an' Minnesota, too, is comin' to it. They're gittin' in
their dirty work in the woods--but believe me, they won't git away with
nothin' in my camps! I'm just a-layin' an' a-honin' to tear loose on
'em. Them three birds over there is goin' to need help when I git
through with 'em."

"Why don't you fire 'em now?"

"Not me. I _want_ 'em to start somethin'! I want to git a crack at 'em.
There's three things don't go in my camps--gamblin', booze, an' I. W.
W.'s. I've logged from the State of Maine to Oregon an' halfways back.
I've saw good camps an' bad ones a-plenty, an' I never seen no trouble
in the woods that couldn't be charged up ag'in' one of them three."

The train stopped at a little station and Hurley rose with a yawn.
"Guess I'll go have a look at the horses," he said, and clambered down
the ladder at the end of the car.

The boss did not return when the train moved on and the boy sat upon the
top of the jolting, swaying box car and watched the ever changing woods
slip southward. Used as he was to the wide open places, Connie gazed
spellbound at the dazzling brilliance of the autumn foliage. Poplar and
birch woods, flaunting a sea of bright yellow leaves above white trunks,
were interspersed with dark thickets of scarlet oak and blazing sumac,
which in turn gave place to the dark green sweep of a tamarack swamp,
or a long stretch of scrubby jack pine. At frequent intervals squared
clearings appeared in the endless succession of forest growth, where
little groups of cattle browsed in the golden stubble of a field. A
prim, white painted farmhouse, with its big red barn and its setting of
conical grain stacks would flash past, and again the train would plunge
between the walls of vivid foliage, or roar across a trestle, or whiz
along the shore of a beautiful land-locked lake whose clear, cold waters
sparkled dazzlingly in the sunlight as the light breeze rippled its
surface.

Every few miles, to the accompaniment of shrieking brake shoes, the
train would slow to a stop, and rumble onto a siding at some little flat
town, to allow a faster train to hurl past in a rush of smoke, and dust,
and deafening roar, and whistle screams. Then the wheezy engine would
nose out onto the main track, back into another siding, pick up a box
car or two, spot an empty at the grain spout of a sagging red-brown
elevator, and couple onto the train again with a jolt that threatened to
bounce the cars from the rails, and caused the imprisoned horses to
stamp and snort nervously. The conductor would wave his arm and, after
a series of preliminary jerks that threatened to tear out the drawbars,
the train would rumble on its way.

At one of these stations a longer halt than usual was made while train
crew and lumberjacks crowded the counter of a slovenly little restaurant
upon whose fly swarming counter doughnuts, sandwiches, and pies of
several kinds reposed beneath inverted semispherical screens that served
as prisons for innumerable flies.

"The ones that wiggles on yer tongue is flies, an' the ones that don't
is apt to be blueberries," explained a big lumberjack to Connie as he
bit hugely into a wedge of purplish pie. Connie selected doughnuts and a
bespeckled sandwich which he managed to wash down with a few mouthfuls
of mud-coloured coffee, upon the surface of which floated soggy grounds
and flakes of soured milk.

"Flies is healthy," opined the greasy proprietor, noting the look of
disgust with which the boy eyed the filthy layout.

"I should think they would be. You don't believe in starving them,"
answered the boy, and a roar of laughter went up from the loggers who
proceeded to "kid" the proprietor unmercifully as he relapsed into
surly mutterings about the dire future in store for "fresh brats."

During the afternoon the poplar and birch woods and the flaming patches
of scarlet oak and sumac, gave place to the dark green of pines. The
farms became fewer and farther between, and the distance increased
between the little towns, where, instead of grain elevators, appeared
dilapidated sawmills, whose saws had long lain idle. Mere ghosts of
towns, these, whose day had passed with the passing of the timber that
had been the sole excuse for their existence. But, towns whose few
remaining inhabitants doggedly clung to their homes and assured each
other with pathetic persistence, as they grubbed in the sandy soil of
their stump-studded gardens, that with the coming of the farmers the
town would step into its own as the centre of a wonderfully prosperous
agricultural community. Thus did the residents of each dead little town
believe implicitly in the future of their own town, and prophesy with
jealous vehemence the absolute decadence of all neighbouring towns.

Toward the middle of the afternoon a boy, whom Connie had noticed
talking and laughing with the three lumberjacks Hurley suspected of
being I. W. W.'s, walked along the tops of the swaying cars and seated
himself beside him. Producing paper and tobacco he turned his back to
the wind and rolled a cigarette, which he lighted, and blew a cloud of
smoke into Connie's face. He was not a prepossessing boy, with his
out-bulging forehead and stooping shoulders. Apparently he was about two
years Connie's senior.

"Want the makin's?" he snarled, by way of introduction.

"No thanks. I don't smoke."

The other favoured him with a sidewise glance. "Oh, you don't, hey? My
name's Steve Motley, an' I'm a bear-cat--_me!_ I'm cookee of this here
camp--be'n in the woods goin' on two years. Ever work in the woods?"

Connie shook his head. "No," he answered, "I never worked in the woods."

"Whatcha done, then? You don't look like no city kid."

"Why, I've never done much of anything to speak of--just knocked around
a little."

"Well, you'll knock around some more 'fore you git through this winter.
We're rough guys, us lumberjacks is, an' we don't like greeners. I
'spect though, you'll be runnin' home to yer ma 'fore snow flies. It
gits forty below, an' the snow gits three foot deep in the woods."
Connie seemed unimpressed by this announcement, and Steve continued:
"They say you're goin' to do the clerkin' fer the outfit. Hurley, he
wanted me to do the clerkin', but I wouldn't do no clerkin' fer no man.
Keep all them different kind of books an' git cussed up one side an'
down t'other fer chargin' 'em up with somethin' they claim they never
got out'n the wanagan. Not on yer life--all I got to do is help the
cook. We're gettin' clost to Dogfish Spur now, an' the camp's
twenty-seven mile off'n the railroad. Guess you won't feel lost nor
nothin' when you git so far back in the big sticks, hey?"

Connie smiled. "That's an awfully long ways," he admitted.

"You bet it is! An' the woods is full of wolves an' bears, an' bobcats!
If I was figgerin' on quittin' I'd quit 'fore I got into the timber."

The train was slowing down, and Steve arose. "Y'ain't told me yer name,
greener! Y'better learn to be civil amongst us guys."

Connie met the bullying look of the other with a smile. "My name is
Connie Morgan," he said, quietly, "and, I forgot to mention it, but I
did hold down one job for a year."

"In the woods?"

"Well, not exactly. Over across the line it was."

"Acrost the line--in Canady? What was _you_ doin' in Canady?"

"Taming 'bear-cats' for the Government," answered the boy, dryly, and
rose to his feet just as Hurley approached, making his way over the tops
of the cars.

"You wait till I git holt of you!" hissed Steve, scowling. "You think
y're awful smart when y're around in under Hurley's nose. But I'll show
you how us guys handles the boss's pets when he ain't around." The boy
hurried away as Hurley approached.

"Be'n gittin' in his brag on ye?" grinned the boss, as his eyes followed
the retreating back. "He's no good--all mouth. But he's bigger'n what
you be. If he tries to start anything just lam him over the head with
anything that's handy. He'll leave you be, onct he's found out you mean
business."

"Oh, I guess we won't have any trouble," answered Connie, as he followed
Hurley to the ground.



CHAPTER IV

CONNIE TAMES A BEAR-CAT


As the cars came to rest upon the spur, plank runways were placed in
position and the horses led to the ground and tied to trees. All hands
pitched into the work of unloading. Wagons appeared and were set up as
if by magic as, under the boss's direction, supplies and equipment were
hustled from the cars.

"You come along with us," said Hurley, indicating a tote wagon into
which men were loading supplies. "I'm takin' half a dozen of the boys
out tonight to kind of git the camp in shape. It'll take four or five
days to haul this stuff an' you can help along till the teams start
comin', an' then you've got to check the stuff in. Here's your
lists--supplies on that one, and equipment on this. Don't O. K. nothin'
till it's in the storehouse or the cook's camp or wherever it goes to."

Connie took the papers and, throwing his turkey onto the load, climbed
up and took his place beside the men. The teamster cracked his whip and
the four rangy horses started away at a brisk trot.

For five miles or so, as it followed the higher ground of a hardwood
ridge, the road was fairly good, then it plunged directly into the pines
and after that there was no trotting. Mile after mile the horses plodded
on, the wheels sinking half-way to the hubs in the soft dry sand, or, in
the lower places, dropping to the axles into chuck holes and plowing
through sticky mud that fell from the spokes and felloes in great
chunks. Creeks were forded, and swamps crossed on long stretches of
corduroy that threatened momentarily to loosen every bolt in the wagon.
As the team swung from the hardwood ridge, the men leaped to the ground
and followed on foot. They were a cheerful lot, always ready to lend a
hand in helping the horses up the hill, or in lifting a wheel from the
clutch of some particularly bad chuck hole. Connie came in for a share
of good-natured banter, that took the form, for the most part, of
speculation upon how long he would last "hoofing it on shank's mares,"
and advice as to how to stick on the wagon when he should get tired
out. The boy answered all the chafing with a smiling good humour that
won the regard of the rough lumberjacks as his tramping mile after mile
through the sand and mud without any apparent fatigue won their secret
admiration.

"He's a game un," whispered Saginaw Ed, as he tramped beside Swede
Larson, whose pale blue eyes rested upon the back of the sturdy little
figure that plodded ahead of them.

"Yah, ay tank hay ban' valk befoor. Hay ain' drag hees foot lak he gon'
for git tire out queek. Ay bat ju a tollar he mak de camp wit'out ride."

"You're on," grinned Saginaw, "an', at that, you got an even break. I
can't see he's wobblin' none yet, an' it's only nine or ten miles to go.
I wished we had that wapple-jawed, cigarette-smokin' cookee along--I'd
like to see this un show him up."

"Hay show ham up a'rat--ju yoost vait."

Twilight deepened and the forest road became dim with black shadows.

"The moon'll be up directly," observed Hurley, who was walking beside
Connie. "But it don't give none too much light, nohow, here in the
woods. I've got to go on ahead and pilot."

"I'll go with you," said the boy, and Hurley eyed him closely.

"Say, kid, don't let these here jay-hawkers talk ye inter walkin'
yerself to death. They don't like nawthin' better'n to make a greener
live hard. Let 'em yelp theirself hoarse an' when you git tuckered jest
you climb up beside Frenchy there an' take it easy. You got to git broke
in kind of slow to start off with an' take good care of yer feet."

"Oh, I'm not tired. I like to walk," answered the boy, and grinned to
himself. "Wonder what he'd think if he knew about some of the trails
I've hit. I guess it would make his little old twenty-mile hike shrink
some."

As they advanced into the timber the road became worse, and Connie, who
had never handled horses, wondered at the dexterity with which Frenchy
guided the four-horse tote-team among stumps and chuck holes, and steep
pitches. Every little way it was necessary for Hurley to call a halt,
while the men chopped a log, or a thick mat of tops from the road. It
was nearly midnight when the team swung into a wide clearing so
overgrown that hardly more than the roofs of the low log buildings
showed above the tops of the brambles and tall horseweed stalks.

"All right, boys!" called the boss. "We won't bother to unload only what
we need for supper. Don't start no fire in the big range tonight. Here,
you, Saginaw, you play cook. You can boil a batch of tea and fry some
ham on the office stove--an' don't send no more sparks up the stovepipe
than what you need to. If fire got started in these weeds we'd have two
camps to build instead of one; Swede, you help Frenchy with the horses,
an' yous other fellows fill them lanterns an' git what you need unloaded
an' cover the wagon with a tarp."

"What can I do?" asked Connie. Hurley eyed him with a laugh. "Gosh
sakes! Ain't you petered out yet? Well, go ahead and help Saginaw with
the supper--the can stuff and dishes is on the hind end of the load."

The following days were busy ones for Connie. Men and teams laboured
over the road, hauling supplies and equipment from the railway, while
other men attacked the weed-choked clearing with brush-scythes and
mattocks, and made necessary repairs about the camp. It was the boy's
duty to check all incoming material whether of supplies or equipment,
and between the arrival of teams he found time to make himself useful in
the chinking of camp buildings and in numerous other ways.

"I'll show you about the books, now," said Hurley one evening as they
sat in the office, or boss's camp, as the small building that stood off
by itself was called. This room was provided with two rude pine desks
with split log stools. A large air-tight stove occupied the centre of
the floor, and two double-tier bunks were built against the wall. The
wanagan chests were also ranged along the log wall into which pins had
been inserted for the hanging of snow-shoes, rifles, and clothing.

The boss took from his desk several books. "This one," he began, "is the
wanagan book. If a wanagan book is kep' right ye never have no
trouble--if it ain't ye never have nawthin' else. Some outfits gouge the
men on the wanagan--I don't. I don't even add haulin' cost to the
price--they can git tobacker an' whatever they need jest as cheap here
as what they could in town. But they've be'n cheated so much with
wanagans that they expect to be. The best way to keep 'em from growlin'
is to name over the thing an' the price to 'em after they've bought it,
even if it's only a dime's worth of tobacker. Then jest name off the
total that's ag'in' 'em--ye can do that by settin' it down to one side
with a pencil each time. That don't never give them a chanct to kick,
an' they soon find it out. I don't run no 'dollar you got, dollar you
didn't get, an' dollar you ort to got' outfit. They earn what's comin'
to 'em. Some augers they might as well gouge 'em 'cause they go an' blow
it all in anyhow, soon as they get to town--but what's that any of my
business? It's theirn.

"This here book is the time book. Git yer pen, now, an' I'll call ye off
the names an' the wages an' you can set 'em down." When the task was
completed the boss continued: "Ye know about the supply book, an' here's
the log book--but ye won't need that fer a while yit. I've got to cruise
around tomorrow an' find a location fer the new camp. I want to git it
laid out as quick as I can so the men can git to cuttin' the road
through. Then they can git to work on the buildin's while I go back an'
fill me out a crew.

"Wish't you'd slip over to the men's camp an' tell Saginaw I want to see
him. I'll make him straw boss while I am gone--the men like him, an' at
the same time they know he won't stand for no monkey business."

"What's a straw boss?" asked the boy.

"He's the boss that's boss when the boss ain't around," explained
Hurley, as Connie put on his cap and proceeded to the men's camp, a long
log building from whose windows yellow lamplight shone. The moment he
opened the door he was thankful indeed, that Hurley had invited him to
share the boss's camp. Although the night was not cold, a fire roared in
the huge box stove that occupied the centre of the long room. A fine
drizzle had set in early in the afternoon, and the drying racks about
the stove were ladened with the rain-dampened garments of the men. Steam
from these, mingled with the smoke from thirty-odd pipes and the reek of
drying rubbers and socks, rendered the air of the bunk house thick with
an odorous fog that nearly stifled Connie as he stepped into the
superheated interior.

Seated upon an upper bunk with his feet dangling over the edge, one of
the men was playing vociferously upon a cheap harmonica, while others
sat about upon rude benches or the edges of bunks listening or talking.
The boy made his way over the uneven floor, stained with dark splotches
of tobacco juice, toward the farther end of the room, where Saginaw Ed
was helping Frenchy mend a piece of harness.

As he passed a bunk midway of the room, Steve rose to his feet and
confronted him. "Ha! Here's the greener kid--the boss's pet that's too
good to bunk in the men's camp! Whatchu doin' in here? Did Hurley send
you after some strap oil?" As the two boys stood facing each other in
the middle of the big room the men saw that the cookee was the taller
and the heavier of the two. The harmonica stopped and the men glanced in
grinning expectation at the two figures. Steve's sneering laugh sounded
startingly loud in the sudden silence. "He made his brag he used to tame
bear-cats over in Canady!" he said. "Well, I'm a bear-cat--come on an'
tame me! I'm wild!" Reaching swiftly the boy jerked the cap from
Connie's head and hurled it across the room where it lodged in an upper
bunk. Some of the men laughed, but there were others who did not
laugh--those who noted the slight paling of the smaller boy's face and
the stiffening of his muscles. With hardly a glance at Steve, Connie
stepped around him and walked to where Saginaw Ed sat, an interested
spectator of the scene.

"The boss wants to see you in the office," he said, and turning on his
heel, retraced his steps. Steve stood in the middle of the floor where
he had left him, the sneering smile still upon his lips.

"I believe he's goin' to cry," he taunted, and again some men laughed.

"What is it you say you are? I don't believe they all heard you." Again
Connie was facing him, and his voice was steady and very low.

"I'm a bear-cat!"

Connie stretched out his arm: "Give me my cap, please, I'm in a hurry."
The boy seized the hand roughly, which was just what Connie expected,
and the next instant his other hand closed about Steve's wrist and quick
as a flash he whirled and bent sharply forward. There was a shrill yelp
of pain as the older boy shot over Connie's lowered shoulder and struck
with a thud upon the uneven floor. The next instant Connie was astride
the prostrate form and with a hand at his elbow and another at his
wrist, slowly forced the boy's arm upward between his shoulder blades.

"O-o-o, O-w-w!" howled Steve. "Take him off! He's killin' me!" Roars of
laughter filled the room as the lumberjacks looked on with shouts of
encouragement and approval. The cookee continued to howl and beg.

"Once more, now," said Connie, easing up a bit on the arm. "Tell them
what you are."

"Le' me up! Yer broke my arm!"

"Oh, no I didn't." Connie increased the pressure. "Come on, tell them
what you told them a minute ago. Some of them look as if they don't
believe it."

[Illustration: "COME ON, TELL THEM WHAT YOU TOLD THEM A MINUTE AGO"]

"O-w-w, I'm a-a bear-cat--O-w-w!" whimpered the boy, with such a
shame-faced expression that the men roared with delight.

Connie rose to his feet. "Climb up there and get my cap, and bring it
down and hand it to me," he ordered tersely. "And the next time you feel
wild, just let me know."

For only an instant the boy looked into the blue-grey eyes that regarded
him steadily and then sullenly, without a word, he stepped onto the
lower bunk, groped for a moment in the upper one and handed Connie his
cap. A moment later the boy, accompanied by Saginaw Ed, stepped out into
the night, but Saginaw saw what Connie did not--the look of crafty
malevolence that flashed into Steve's eyes as they followed the
departing pair.

"By jiminetty, kid, y're all right!" approved the man, as they walked
toward the office. "That was as handy a piece of work as I ever seen,
an' they ain't a man in camp'll fergit it. You're there! But keep yer
eye on that cookee--he's a bad egg. Them kind can't take a lickin' like
a man. He'll lay fer to git even, if it takes him all winter--not so
much fer what you done to him as where you done it--with the men all
lookin' on. They never will quit raggin' him with his bear-cat
stuff--an' he knows it."



CHAPTER V

HURLEY LAYS OUT THE NEW CAMP


"Want to go 'long?" asked Hurley, the morning after the "bear-cat"
incident, as he and Connie were returning to the office from breakfast
at the cook's camp. "I've got to locate the new camp an' then we'll
blaze her out an' blaze the road so Saginaw can keep the men goin'." The
boy eagerly assented, and a few moments later they started, Hurley
carrying an axe, and Connie with a light hand-axe thrust into his belt.
Turning north, they followed the river. It was slow travelling, for it
was necessary to explore every ravine in search of a spot where a road
crossing could be effected without building a bridge. The spot located,
Hurley would blaze a tree and they would strike out for the next ravine.

"It ain't like we had to build a log road," explained the boss, as he
blazed a point that, to Connie, looked like an impossible crossing.
"Each camp will have its own rollways an' all we need is a tote road
between 'em. Frenchy Lamar can put a team anywhere a cat will go. He's
the best hand with horses on the job, if he is a jumper."

"What's a jumper?" asked Connie.

"You'll find that out fast enough. Jumpin' a man generally means a fight
in the woods--an' I don't blame 'em none, neither. If I was a jumper an'
a man jumped me, he'd have me to lick afterwards--an' if any one jumps a
jumper into hittin' me, he'll have me to lick, too."

When they had proceeded for four or five miles Hurley turned again
toward the river and for two hours or more studied the ground minutely
for a desirable location for the new camp. Up and down the bank, and
back into the woods he paced, noting in his mind every detail of the lay
of the land. "Here'd be the best place for the camp if it wasn't fer
that there sand bar that might raise thunder when we come to bust out
the rollways," he explained, as they sat down to eat their lunch at
midday. "There ain't no good rollway ground for a half a mile below the
bar--an' they ain't no use makin' the men walk any furthur'n what they
have to 'specially at night when they've put in a hard day's work. We'll
drop back an' lay her out below--it ain't quite as level, but it'll save
time an' a lot of man-power."

As Connie ate his lunch he puzzled mightily over Hurley. He had
journeyed from far off Alaska for the purpose of bringing to justice a
man who had swindled him and his partner out of thousands of dollars
worth of timber. His experience with the Mounted had taught him that,
with the possible exception of Notorious Bishop whose consummate nerve
had commanded the respect even of the officers whose business it was to
hunt him down, law-breakers were men who possessed few if any admirable
qualities. Yet here was a man who, Connie was forced to admit, possessed
many such qualities. His first concern seemed to be for the comfort of
his men, and his orders regarding the keeping of the wanagan book showed
that it was his intention to deal with them fairly. His attitude toward
the despicable I. W. W.'s was the attitude that the boy knew would have
been taken by any of the big men of the North whose rugged standards he
had unconsciously adopted as his own. He, himself, had been treated by
the boss with a bluff friendliness--and he knew that, despite Hurley's
blustering gruffness, the men, with few exceptions, liked him. The boy
frankly admitted that had he not known Hurley to be a crook he too would
have liked him.

Luncheon over, the boss arose and lighted his pipe: "Well, 'spose we
just drop back an' lay out the camp, then on the way home we'll line up
the road an' take some of the kinks out of it an' Saginaw can jump the
men into it tomorrow mornin'." They had proceeded but a short distance
when the man pointed to a track in the softer ground of a low swale:
"Deer passed here this mornin'," he observed. "The season opens next
week, an' I expect I won't be back with the crew in time for the fun. If
you'd like to try yer hand at it, yer welcome to my rifle. I'll dig you
out some shells tonight if you remind me to."

"I believe I will have a try at 'em," said Connie, as he examined the
tracks; "there were two deer--a doe, and a half-grown fawn, and there
was a _loup-cervier_ following them--that's why they were hitting for
the river."

Hurley stared at the boy in open-mouthed astonishment: "Looky here, kid,
I thought you said you never worked in the woods before!"

Connie smiled: "I never have, but I've hunted some, up across the line."

"I guess you've hunted _some_, all right," observed the boss, drily; "I
wondered how it come you wasn't petered out that night we come into the
woods. Wherever you've hunted ain't none of my business. When a man's
goin' good, I b'lieve in tellin' him so--same's I b'lieve in tellin' him
good an' plain when he ain't. You've made a good start. Saginaw told me
about what you done to that mouthy cookee. That was all right, fer as it
went. If I'd be'n you I'd a punched his face fer him when I had him down
'til he hollered' 'nough'--but if you wanted to let him off that hain't
none of my business--jest you keep yer eye on him, that's all--he's
dirty. Guess I didn't make no mistake puttin' you in fer clerk--you've
learnt to keep yer eyes open--that's the main thing, an' mebbe it'll
stand you good 'fore this winter's over. There's more'n I. W. W.'s is
the matter with this camp--" The boss stopped abruptly and, eyeing the
boy sharply, repeated his warning of a few days before: "Keep yer mouth
shet. There's me, an' Saginaw, an' Lon Camden--he'll be the scaler, an'
whoever bosses Number Two Camp--Slue Foot Magee, if I can git holt of
him. He was my straw-boss last year. If you've got anythin' to say, say
it to us. Don't never tell nothin' to nobody else about nothin' that's
any 'count--see?"

"You can depend on me for that," answered the boy, and Hurley picked up
his axe.

"Come on, le's git that camp laid out. We won't git nothin' done if we
stand 'round gassin' all day." The two followed down the river to the
point indicated by Hurley where the banks sloped steeply to the water's
edge, well below the long shallow bar that divided the current of the
river into two channels. As they tramped through the timber Connie
puzzled over the words of the boss. Well he knew that there was
something wrong in camp beside the I. W. W.'s. But why should Hurley
speak of it to him? And why should he be pleased at the boy's habit of
observation? "Maybe he thinks I'll throw in with him on the deal," he
thought: "Well, he's got an awful jolt coming to him if he does--but,
things couldn't have broken better for me, at that."

At the top of the steep bank Hurley blazed some trees, and with a heavy
black pencil, printed the letter R in the centre of the flat, white
scars. "That'll show 'em where to clear fer the rollways," he explained,
then, striking straight back from the river for about twenty rods, he
blazed a large tree. Turning at right angles, he proceeded about twenty
five rods parallel with the river bank and made a similar blaze. "That
gives 'em the corners fer the clearin', an' now fer spottin' the
buildin's." Back and forth over the ground went the man, pausing now and
then to blaze a tree and mark it with the initial of the building whose
site it marked. "We don't have to corner these," he explained, "Saginaw
knows how big to build 'em--the trees marks their centre." The sun hung
low when the task was completed. "You strike out for the head of the
nearest ravine," said Hurley, "an' when you come to the tree we blazed
comin' up, you holler. Then I'll blaze the tote road to you, an' you can
slip on to the next one. Straighten her out as much as you can by
holdin' away from the short ravines." Connie was surprised at the
rapidity with which Hurley followed, pausing every few yards to scar a
tree with a single blow of his axe.

The work was completed in the dark and as they emerged onto the clearing
Hurley again regarded the boy with approval: "You done fine, kid. They's
plenty of older hands than you be, that would of had trouble locatin'
them blazes in the night, but you lined right out to 'em like you was
follerin' a string. Come on, we'll go wash up an' see what the cook's
got fer us."

After supper Saginaw Ed received his final instructions, and early next
morning Hurley struck out on foot fer Dogfish Spur. "So long, kid," he
called from the office door. "I left the shells on top of my desk an'
yonder hangs the rifle. I was goin' to give you a few pointers, but from
what I seen yeste'day, I don't guess you need none about huntin'. I
might be back in a week an' it might be two 'cordin' to how long it
takes me to pick up a crew. I've got some men waitin' on me, but I'll
have to rustle up the balance wherever I can git 'em. I told Saginaw he
better move his turkey over here while I'm gone. You'll find Saginaw a
rough-bark piece of timber--but he's sound clean plumb through to the
heart, an' if you don't know it now, before this winter's over yer goin'
to find out that them's the kind to tie to--when you kin find 'em."

Connie gazed after the broad-shouldered form 'til it disappeared from
sight around a bend of the tote road, then he turned to his books with a
puzzled expression. "Either Mike Gillum was wrong, or Hurley's the
biggest bluffer that ever lived," he muttered, "and which ever way it is
I'll know by spring."

Saginaw put his whole crew at work on the tote road. Saplings and brush
were cleared away and thrown to the side. Trees were felled, the larger
ones to be banked on the skidways and later hauled to the rollways to
await the spring break-up, and the smaller ones to be collected and
hauled to the new camp for building material.

Connie's duties were very light and he spent much time upon the new tote
road watching the men with whom he had become a great favourite. Tiring
of that, he would take long tramps through the woods and along the banks
of the numerous little lakes that besprinkled the country, searching for
sign, so that, when the deer season opened he would not have to hunt at
random, but could stalk his game at the watering places.

"Whar's yer gun, sonny?" called out a lanky sawyer as the boy started
upon one of these excursions.

"Hay ain' need no gun," drawled Swede Larson, with a prodigious wink
that distorted one whole side of his face. "Ay tank he gon fer hont some
bear-cat." And the laughter that followed told Connie as he proceeded on
his way, that his handling of Steve had met the universal approval of
the crew.

It was upon his return from this expedition that the boy witnessed an
actual demonstration of the effect of sudden suggestion upon a jumper.
Frenchy Lamar pulled his team to the side of the roadway and drew his
watch from his pocket. At the same time, Pierce, one of the I. W. W.
suspects, slipped up behind him and bringing the flat of his hand down
upon Frenchy's shoulder, cried: "_throw it_." Frenchy threw it, and the
watch dropped with a jangle of glass and useless wheels at the foot of a
tree. The next instant Frenchy whirled upon his tormentor with a snarl.
The man, who had no stomach for an open fight, turned to run but the
Frenchman was too quick for him. The other two I. W. W.'s started to
their pal's assistance but were halted abruptly, and none too gently by
other members of the crew. "Fight!" "Fight!" The cry was taken up by
those nearby and all within hearing rushed gleefully to the spot. The
teamster was popular among the men and he fought amid cries of advice
and encouragement: "Soak 'im good, Frenchy!" "Don't let 'im holler
''nough' till he's down!"

The combat was short, but very decisive. Many years' experience in the
lumber woods had taught Frenchy the art of self-defence by force of
fist--not, perhaps, the most exalted form of asserting a right nor of
avenging a wrong--but, in the rougher walks of life, the most thoroughly
practical, and the most honourable. So, when the teamster returned to
his horses a few minutes later, it was to leave Pierce whimpering upon
the ground nursing a badly swollen and rapidly purpling eye, the while
he muttered incoherent threats of dire vengeance.



CHAPTER VI

THE I. W. W. SHOWS ITS HAND


"Changed yer job?" inquired Saginaw Ed, sleepily a few mornings later
when Connie slipped quietly from his bunk and lighted the oil lamp.

"Not yet," smiled the boy. "Why?"

"No one but teamsters gits up at this time of night--you got an hour to
sleep yet."

"This is the first day of the season, and I'm going out and get a deer."

Saginaw laughed: "Oh, yer goin' out an' git a deer--jest like rollin'
off a log! You might's well crawl back in bed an' wait fer a snow. Deer
huntin' without snow is like fishin' without bait--you might snag onto
one, but the chances is all again' it."

"Bet I'll kill a deer before I get back," laughed the boy.

"Better pack up yer turkey an' fix to stay a long time then," twitted
Saginaw. "But, I won't bet--it would be like stealin'--an' besides, I
lost one bet on you a'ready."

The teamsters, their lanterns swinging, were straggling toward the
stable as the boy crossed the clearing.

"Hey, w'at you gon keel, de bear-cat?" called Frenchy.

"Deer," answered Connie with a grin.

"Ho! She ain' no good for hont de deer! She too mooch no snow. De groun'
she too mooch dry. De deer, she hear you comin' wan mile too queek, den
she ron way ver' fas', an' you no kin track heem."

"Never mind about that," parried the boy, "I'll be in tonight, and in
the morning you can go out and help me pack in the meat."

"A'm help you breeng in de meat, a'ri. Ba Goss! A'm lak A'm git to bite
me on chonk dat _venaison_."

Connie proceeded as rapidly as the darkness would permit to the shore of
a marshy lake some three or four miles from camp, and secreted himself
behind a windfall, thirty yards from the trail made by the deer in
going down to drink. Just at daybreak a slight sound attracted his
attention, and peering through the screen of tangled branches, the boy
saw a large doe picking her way cautiously down the trail. He watched in
silence as she advanced, halted, sniffed the air suspiciously, and
passed on to the water's edge. Lowering her head, she rubbed an
inquisitive nose upon the surface of the thin ice that sealed the
shallow bay of the little lake. A red tongue darted out and licked at
the ice and she pawed daintily at it with a small front foot. Then,
raising the foot, she brought it sharply down, and the knifelike hoof
cut through the ice as though it were paper. Pleased with the
performance she pawed again and again, throwing the cold water in every
direction and seeming to find great delight in crushing the ice into the
tiniest fragments. Tiring of this, she paused and sniffed the air,
turning her big ears backward and forward to catch the slightest sound
that might mean danger. Then, she drank her fill, made her way back up
the trail, and disappeared into the timber. A short time later another,
smaller doe followed by a spring fawn, went down, and allowing them to
pass unharmed, Connie settled himself to wait for worthier game. An
hour passed during which the boy ate part of the liberal lunch with
which the cook had provided him. Just as he had about given up hope of
seeing any further game, a sharp crackling of twigs sounded directly
before him, and a beautiful five-prong buck broke into the trail and
stood with uplifted head and nostrils a-quiver. Without taking his eyes
from the buck, Connie reached for his rifle, but just as he raised it
from the ground its barrel came in contact with a dry branch which
snapped with a sound that rang in the boy's ears like the report of a
cannon. With a peculiar whistling snort of fear, the buck turned and
bounded crashing away through the undergrowth. Connie lowered the rifle
whose sights had been trained upon the white "flag" that bobbed up and
down until it was lost in the thick timber.

"No use taking a chance shot," he muttered, disgustedly. "If I should
hit him I would only wound him, and I couldn't track him down without
snow. I sure am glad nobody was along to see that, or they never would
have quit joshing me about it." Shouldering his rifle he proceeded
leisurely toward another lake where he had spotted a water-trail, and
throwing himself down behind a fallen log, slept for several hours. When
he awoke the sun was well into the west and he finished his lunch and
made ready to wait for his deer, taking good care this time that no twig
or branch should interfere with the free use of his gun.

At sunset a four-prong buck made his way cautiously down the trail and,
waiting 'til the animal came into full view, Connie rested his rifle
across the log and fired at a point just behind the shoulder. It was a
clean shot, straight through the heart, and it was but the work of a few
moments to bleed, and draw him. Although not a large buck, Connie found
that it was more than he could do to hang him clear of the wolves, so he
resorted to the simple expedient of peeling a few saplings and laying
them across the carcass. This method is always safe where game or meat
must be left exposed for a night or two, as the prowlers fear a trap.
However, familiarity breeds contempt, and if left too long, some animal
is almost sure to discover the ruse.

Packing the heart, liver, and tongue, Connie struck out swiftly for
camp, but darkness overtook him with a mile still to go.

As he approached the clearing a low sound caused him to stop short.
He listened and again he heard it distinctly--the sound of something
heavy moving through the woods. The sounds grew momentarily more
distinct--whatever it was was approaching the spot where he stood. A
small, thick windfall lay near him, and beside it a large spruce spread
its low branches invitingly near the ground. With hardly a sound Connie,
pack, gun, and all, scrambled up among those thick branches and seated
himself close to the trunk. The sounds drew nearer, and the boy could
hear fragments of low-voiced conversation. The night prowlers were men,
not animals! Connie's interest increased. There seemed to be several of
them, but how many the boy could not make out in the darkness. Presently
the leader crashed heavily into the windfall where he floundered for a
moment in the darkness.

"This is fer enough. Stick it in under here!" he growled, as the others
came up with him. Connie heard sounds as of a heavy object being pushed
beneath the interlaced branches of the windfall but try as he would he
could not catch a glimpse of it. Suddenly the faces of the men showed
vividly as one of their number held a match to the bowl of his pipe.
They were the three I. W. W.'s and with them was Steve! "Put out that
match you eediot! D'ye want the hull camp a pokin' their nose in our
business?"

"'Tain't no one kin see way out here," growled the other, whom Connie
recognized as Pierce.

"It's allus fellers like you that knows more'n any one else, that don't
know nawthin'," retorted the first speaker, "come on, now, we got to git
back. Remember--'leven o'clock on the furst night the wind blows stiff
from the west. You, Steve, you tend to swipin' Frenchy's lantern. Pierce
here, he'll soak the straw, an' Sam, you stand ready to drive a plug in
the lock when I come out. Then when the excitement's runnin' high, I'll
holler that Frenchy's lantern's missin' an' they'll think he left it lit
in the stable. I tell ye, we'll terrorize every business in these here
United States. We'll have 'em all down on their knees to the I. W. W.!
Then we'll see who's the bosses an' the rich! We'll hinder the work, an'
make it cost 'em money, an' Pierce here'll git even with Frenchy, all in
one clatter. We'll be gittin' back, now. An' don't all pile into the
men's camp to onct, neither."

Connie sat motionless upon his branch until the sounds of the retreating
men were lost in the darkness. What did it all mean? "Swipe Frenchy's
lantern." "Plug the lock." "Soak the straw." "Terrorize business." The
words of the man repeated themselves over and over in Connie's brain.
What was this thing these men were planning to do "at eleven o'clock the
first night the wind blows stiff from the west?" He wriggled to the
ground and crept toward the thing the men had _cached_ in the windfall.
It was a five-gallon can of coal-oil! "That's Steve's part of the
scheme, whatever it is," he muttered. "He's got a key to the
storehouse." Leaving the can undisturbed, he struck out for camp,
splashing through the waters of a small creek without noticing it, so
busy was his brain trying to fathom the plan of the gang. "I've got all
day tomorrow, at least," he said, "and that'll give me time to think. I
won't tell even Saginaw 'til I've got it doped out. I bet when they try
to start something they'll find out who's going to be terrorized!" A few
minutes later he entered the office and was greeted vociferously by
Saginaw Ed:

"Hello there, son, by jiminetty, I thought you'd took me serious when I
told you you'd better make a long stay of it. What ye got there? Well,
dog my cats, if you didn't up an' git you a deer! Slip over to the
cook's camp an' wade into some grub. I told him to shove yer supper onto
the back of the range, again' you got back. While yer gone I'll jest run
a couple rags through yer rifle."

When Connie returned from the cook's camp Saginaw was squinting down the
barrel of the gun. "Shines like a streak of silver," he announced;
"Hurley's mighty pernickety about his rifle, an' believe me, it ain't
everyone he'd borrow it to. Tell me 'bout yer hunt," urged the man, and
Connie saw a gleam of laughter in his eye. "Killed yer deer dead centre
at seven hundred yards, runnin' like greased lightnin', an' the
underbrush so thick you couldn't hardly see yer sights, I 'pose."

The boy laughed: "I got him dead centre, all right, but it was a
standing shot at about twenty yards, and I had a rest. He's only a
four-prong--I let a five-prong get away because I was clumsy."

Saginaw Ed eyed the boy quizzically: "Say, kid," he drawled. "Do you
know where folks goes that tells the truth about huntin'?"

"No," grinned Connie.

"Well, I don't neither," replied Saginaw, solemnly. "I guess there ain't
no place be'n pervided, but if they has, I bet it's gosh-awful lonesome
there."

Despite the volubility of his companion, Connie was unusually silent
during the short interval that elapsed before they turned in. Over and
over in his mind ran the words of the four men out there in the dark, as
he tried to figure out their scheme from the fragmentary bits of
conversation that had reached his ears.

"Don't mope 'cause you let one buck git away, kid. Gosh sakes, the last
buck I kilt, I got so plumb rattled when I come onto him, I missed him
eight foot!"

"How did you kill him then?" asked Connie, and the instant the words
were spoken he realized he had swallowed the bait--hook and all.

With vast solemnity, Saginaw stared straight before him: "Well, you see,
it was the last shell in my rifle an' I didn't have none in my pocket,
so I throw'd the gun down an' snuck up an' bit him on the lip. If ever
you run onto a deer an' ain't got no gun, jest you sneak up in front of
him an' bite him on the lip, an' he's yourn. I don't know no other place
you kin bite a deer an' kill him. They're like old Acolyte, or whatever
his name was, in the Bible, which they couldn't kill him 'til they shot
him in the heel--jest one heel, mind you, that his ma held him up by
when she dipped him into the kettle of bullet-proof. If he'd of be'n me,
you bet I'd of beat it for the Doc an' had that leg cut off below the
knee, an' a wooden one made, an' he'd of be'n goin' yet! I know a
feller's got two wooden ones, with shoes on 'em jest like other folks,
and when you see him walk the worst you'd think: he's got a couple of
corns."

"Much obliged, Saginaw," said Connie, with the utmost gravity, as he
arose and made ready for bed, "I'll sure remember that. Anyhow you don't
need to worry about any solitary confinement in the place where the deer
hunters go." And long after he was supposed to be asleep, the boy
grinned to himself at the sounds of suppressed chuckling that came from
Saginaw's bunk.

Next morning Connie helped Frenchy pack in the deer, and when the
teamster had returned to his work, the boy took a stroll about camp.
"Let's see," he mused, "they're going to soak the straw inside the
stable with oil and set fire to it on the inside, and they'll do it with
Frenchy's lantern so everyone will think he forgot it and it got tipped
over by accident. Then, before the fire is discovered they'll lock the
stable and jam the lock so the men can't get in to fight it." The boy's
teeth gritted savagely. "And there are sixteen horses in that stable!"
he cried. "The dirty hounds! A west wind would sweep the flames against
the oat house, then the men's camp, and the cook's camp and storehouse.
They sure do figure on a clean sweep of this camp. But, what I can't see
is how that is going to put any one in terror of the I. W. W., if they
think Frenchy caused the fire accidentally. Dan McKeever says all crooks
are fools--and he's right." He went to the office and sat for a long
time at his pine desk. From his turkey he extracted the Service revolver
that he had been allowed to keep in memory of his year with the Mounted.
"I can take this," he muttered, as he affectionately twirled the
smoothly running cylinder with his thumb, "and Saginaw can take the
rifle, and we can nail 'em as they come out of the woods with the
coal-oil can. The trouble is, we wouldn't have anything on them except
maybe the theft of a little coal-oil. I know what they intend to do, but
I can't prove it--there's four of them and only one of me and no
evidence to back me up. On the other hand, if we let them start the
fire, it might be too late to put it out." His eyes rested on the can
that contained the supply of oil for the office. It was an exact
duplicate of the one beneath the windfall. He jumped to his feet and
crossing to the window carefully scanned the clearing. No one was in
sight, and the boy passed out the door and slipped silently into the
thick woods. When he returned the crew was crowding into the men's camp
to wash up for supper. The wind had risen, and as Connie's gaze centred
upon the lashing pine tops, he smiled grimly,--it was blowing stiffly
from the west.

After supper Saginaw Ed listened with bulging eyes to what the boy had
to say. When he was through the man eyed him critically:

"Listen to me, kid. Nonsense is nonsense, an' business is business. I
don't want no truck with a man that ain't got some nonsense about him
somewheres--an' I don't want no truck with one that mixes up nonsense
an' serious business. Yer only a kid, an' mebbe you ain't grabbed that
yet. But I want to tell you right here an' now, fer yer own good: If
this here yarn is some gag you've rigged up to git even with me fer last
night, it's a mighty bad one. A joke is a joke only so long as it don't
harm no one----"

"Every word I've told you is the truth," broke in the boy, hotly.

"There, now, don't git excited, kid. I allowed it was, but they ain't no
harm ever comes of makin' sure. It's eight o'clock now, s'pose we jest
loaf over to the men's camp an' lay this here case before 'em."

"No! No!" cried the boy: "Why, they--they might kill them!"

"Well, I 'spect they would do somethin' of the kind. Kin you blame 'em
when you stop to think of them horses locked in a blazin' stable, an'
the deliberate waitin' 'til the wind was right to carry the fire to the
men's camp? The men works hard, an' by eleven o'clock they're poundin'
their ear mighty solid. S'pose they didn't wake up till too late--what
then?"

Connie shuddered. In his heart he felt, with Saginaw Ed, that any
summary punishment the men chose to deal out to the plotters would be
richly deserved. "I know," he replied: "But, mob punishment is never
_right_, when a case can be reached by the law. It may look right, and
lots of times it does hand out a sort of rough justice. But, here we are
not out of reach of the law, and it will go lots farther in showing up
the I. W. W. if we let the law take its course."

Saginaw Ed seemed impressed: "That's right, kid, in the main. But there
ain't no law that will fit this here special case. S'pose we go over an'
arrest them hounds--what have we got on 'em! They swiped five gallons of
coal-oil! That would git 'em mebbe thirty days in the county jail. The
law can't reach a man fer what he's _goin'_ to do--an' I ain't a goin'
over to the men's camp an' advise the boys to lay abed an' git roasted
so's mebbe we kin git them I. W. W.'s hung. The play wouldn't be
pop'lar."

Connie grinned: "Well, not exactly," he agreed. "But, why not just sit
here and let them go ahead with their scheme. I've got a good revolver,
and you can take the rifle, and we can wait for 'em in the tote wagon
that's just opposite the stable door. Then when they've soaked the
straw, and tipped over Frenchy's lantern, and locked the door behind
'em, and plugged the lock, we can cover 'em and gather 'em in."

"Yeh, an' meanwhile the fire'll be workin' on that oil-soaked straw
inside, an' where'll the horses be? With this here wind a blowin' they
ain't men enough in the woods to put out a fire, an' the hull camp would
go."

Connie laughed, and leaning forward, spoke rapidly for several moments.
When he had finished, Saginaw eyed him with undisguised approval: "Well,
by jiminetty! Say, kid, you've got a head on you! That's jest the
ticket! The courts of this State has jest begun to wake up to the fact
that the I. W. W. is a real danger. A few cases, with the evidence as
clean again' 'em as this, an' the stinkin' varmints 'll be huntin' their
holes--you bet!"

At nine-thirty Saginaw and Connie put out the office light, and with
some clothing arranged dummies in their bunks, so that if any of the
conspirators should seek to spy upon them through the window they would
find nothing to arouse their suspicion. Then, fully armed, they crept
out and concealed themselves in the tote wagon. An hour passed, and
through the slits cut in the tarpaulin that covered them, they saw four
shadowy forms steal silently toward them from the direction of the men's
camp. Avoiding even the feeble light of the stars, they paused in the
shadow of the oat house, at a point not thirty feet from the tote wagon.
A whispered conversation ensued and two of the men hastily crossed the
open and disappeared into the timber.

"Stand still, can't ye!" hissed one of those who remained, and his
companion ceased to pace nervously up and down in the shadow.

"I'm scairt," faltered the other, whom the watchers identified as Steve.
"I wisht I wasn't in on this."

"Quit yer shiverin'! Yer makin' that lantern rattle. What they do to us,
if they ketch us, hain't a patchin' to what we'll do to you if you back
out." The man called Sam spat out his words in an angry whisper, and the
two relapsed into silence.

At the end of a half-hour the two men who had entered the timber
appeared before the door of the stable, bearing the oil can between
them. The others quickly joined them, there was a fumbling at the lock,
the door swung open, and three of the men entered. The fourth stood
ready with the heavy padlock in his hand. A few moments of silence
followed, and then the sound of the empty can thrown to the floor. A
feeble flicker of flame dimly lighted the interior, and the three men
who had entered rushed out into the night. The heavy door closed, the
padlock snapped shut and a wooden plug was driven into the key hole.

"_Hands up!_" The words roared from the lips of Saginaw Ed, as he and
Connie leaped to the ground and confronted the four at a distance of ten
yards. For one terrified instant the men stared at the guns in their
captors hands, and then four pairs of hands flew skyward.

"Face the wall, an' keep a reachin'," commanded Saginaw, "an' if any one
of you goes to start somethin' they'll be wolf-bait in camp in about one
second."

A horse snorted nervously inside the stable and there was a stamping of
iron shod feet.

"Jest slip in an' fetch out Frenchy's lantern, kid, an' we'll git these
birds locked up in the oat house, 'fore the men gits onto the racket."

With a light crow-bar which the boy had brought for the purpose, he
pryed the hasp and staple from the door, leaving the plugged lock for
evidence. Entering the stable whose interior was feebly illumined by the
sickly flare of the overturned lantern, he returned in time to hear the
petty bickering of the prisoners.

"It's your fault," whined Pierce, addressing the leader of the gang.
"You figgered out this play--an' it hain't worked!"

"It hain't neither my fault!" flashed the man. "Some one of you's
blabbed, an' we're in a pretty fix, now."

"'Twasn't me!" came in a chorus from the others.

"But at that," sneered Sam, "if you'd a lit that oil, we'd a burnt up
the camp anyhow."

"I did light it!" screamed the leader, his face livid with rage. "I
tipped over the lantern an' shoved it right under the straw."

"That's right," grinned Connie, from the doorway, as he flashed the
lantern upon the faces of the men. "And if you hadn't taken the trouble
to soak the straw with water it would have burned, too."

"Water! Whad' ye mean--water?"

"I mean just this," answered the boy, eyeing the men with a glance of
supreme contempt, "I sat out there beside that windfall last night when
you hid your can of oil. I listened to all you had to say, and today I
slipped over there and poured out the oil and filled the can with water.
You I. W. W.'s are a fine outfit," he sneered: "If you had some brains,
and nerve, and consciences, you might almost pass for _men!_"



CHAPTER VII

THE PRISONERS


"I wish't Hurley was here," said Saginaw Ed, as he and Connie returned
to the boss's camp after locking the prisoners in the oat house. "The
men's goin' to want to know what them four is locked up fer. If we don't
tell 'em there'll be trouble. They don't like them birds none but, at
that, they won't stand fer 'em bein' grabbed an' locked up without
nothin' ag'in' 'em. An' on the other hand, if we do tell 'em there's
goin' to be trouble. Like as not they'd overrule me an' you an' hunt up
a handy tree an' take 'em out an' jiggle 'em on the down end of a tight
one."

"Couldn't we slip 'em down to the nearest jail and tell the men about it
afterwards, or send for a constable or sheriff to come up here and get
them?"

Saginaw shook his head: "No. If me an' you was to take 'em down the
camp would blow up in no time. When the men woke up an' found the boss,
an' the clerk, an' three hands, an' the cookee missin', an' the lock
pried offen the stable door, work would stop right there. There ain't
nothin' like a myst'ry of some kind to bust up a crew of men. We
couldn't wake no one else up to take 'em without we woke up the whole
men's camp, an' they'd want to know what was the rookus. If we sent fer
a constable it'd be two or three days 'fore he'd git here an' then it
would be too late. This here thing's comin' to a head when them
teamsters goes fer the oats in the mornin', an' I've got to be there
when they do."

"I hate to see Steve mixed up in this. He's only a kid. I wonder if
there isn't some way----"

Saginaw Ed interrupted him roughly: "No. There ain't no way whatever.
He's a bad aig or he wouldn't do what he done. You're only a kid, too,
but I take notice you ain't throw'd in with no such outfit as them is."

"I can't help thinking maybe he's getting a wrong start----"

"He's got a wrong start, all right. But he got it quite a while
ago--this here kind of business ain't no startin' job. They're all of a
piece, kid. It's best we jest let the tail go with the hide."

"What will Hurley do about it? If he agrees with us, won't the men
overrule him?"

"I don't know what he'll do--I only wish't he was here to do it. But, as
fer as overrulin' him goes--" Saginaw paused and eyed Connie solemnly,
"jest you make it a p'int to be in the same township sometime when a
crew of men ondertakes to overrule Hurley. Believe me, they'd have the
same kind of luck if they ondertook to overrule Mont Veesooverus when
she'd started in to erup'."

The door swung open and Hurley himself stood blinking in the lamplight.
"This here's a purty time fer workin' men to be up!" he grinned. "Don't
yous lads know it's half past twelve an' you'd orter be'n asleep four
hours?"

"I don't hear _you_ snorin' none," grinned Saginaw. "An' you kin bet me
an' the kid sure is glad to see you."

"Got through sooner'n I expected. Slue Foot had the crew all picked out.
He'll bring 'em in from the Spur in the mornin'. Thought I'd jest hike
on out an' see how things was gittin' on."

"Oh, we're gittin' on, all right. Tote road's all cleared, Camp Two's
clearin's all ready, an' the buildin's most done. An' besides that, four
prisoners in the oat house, an' me an' the kid, here, losin' sleep over
what to do with 'em."

"Prisoners! What do you mean--prisoners?"

"Them I. W. W.'s an' that cookee that throw'd in with 'em. They tried to
burn the outfit--locked the hosses in the stable an' set fire to it,
after waitin' 'til the wind was so it would spread over the hull camp."

Hurley reached for a peavy that stood in the corner behind the door. "Ye
say they burn't thim harses?" he rasped, in the brogue that always
accompanied moments of anger or excitement.

"No they didn't, but they would of an' it hadn't be'n fer the kid, here.
He outguessed 'em, an' filled their coal-oil can with water, an' then we
let 'em go ahead an' put on the whole show so we'd have 'em with the
goods."

The big boss leaned upon his peavy and regarded Connie thoughtfully. "As
long as I've got a camp, kid, you've got a job." He bit off a huge chew
of tobacco and returned the plug to his pocket, after which he began
deliberately to roll up his shirt sleeves. He spat upon the palms of his
hands, and as he gripped the peavy the muscles of his huge forearm stood
out like steel cables. "Jist toss me th' key to th' oat house," he said
in a voice that rumbled deep in his throat.

"Wait!" Connie's hand was upon the boss's arm. "Sit down a minute and
let's talk it over----"

"Sure, boss," seconded Saginaw. "Let's have a powwow. If you go out
there an' git to workin' on them hounds with that there peavy you're
liable to git excited an' tap 'em a little harder'n what you intended
to, an' then----"

Hurley interrupted with a growl and the two saw that his little eyes
blazed. "Oi ain't got the strength to hit 'em har-rder thin Oi intind
to! An-ny one that 'ud thry to bur-rn up harses--let alone min slaypin'
in their bunks, they can't no man livin' hit 'em har-rd enough wid
an-nything that's made."

"I know," agreed Saginaw. "They ain't nothin' you could do to 'em that
they wouldn't still have some a-comin'. But the idee is this: Bein'
misclassed as humans, them I. W. W.'s is felonious to kill. Chances is,
the grand jury would turn you loose when they'd heard the facts, but
the grand jury don't set 'til spring, an' meantime, where'd you be? An'
where'd this camp be? Your contract calls fer gittin' out logs, an'
don't stipulate none whatever about spatterin' up the oat house with I.
W. W.'s. I don't like to spoil a man's fun, but when a mere frolic, that
way, interferes with the work, as good a man as you be is a-goin' to put
it off a spell. You know, an' I know, there's more than gittin' out logs
to this winter's work."

Saginaw's words evidently carried weight with Hurley. The muscles of the
mighty arms relaxed and the angry gleam faded from his eyes. Also, the
brogue was gone from his voice; nevertheless, his tone was ponderously
sarcastic as he asked: "An' what is it you'd have me to do, seein' ye're
so free with yer advice--pay 'em overtime fer the night work they done
tryin' to burn up my camp?"

Saginaw grinned: "The kid's got it doped out about right. He figgers
that it'll show 'em up better if we let the courts handle the case an'
convict 'em regular. With what we've got on 'em they ain't no chanct but
what they'll get convicted, all right."

"You see," broke in Connie, "the I. W. W.'s are a law-defying
organization. The only way to bring them to time is to let the law do
it. As soon as _all_ the I. W. W.'s see that the law is stronger than
they are, and that their lawless acts are sure to be punished, there
won't be any more I. W. W.'s. The law can't teach them this unless it
has the chance. Of course, if the law had had the chance and had fallen
down on the job because the men behind it were cowardly, it would be
time enough to think about other ways. But, you told me yourself that
Minnesota was beginning to give 'em what's coming to 'em, and she'll
never get a better chance to hand 'em a jolt than this is, because we've
got 'em with the goods. Now, if we'd go to work and let the men at 'em,
or if you'd wade into 'em yourself we wouldn't be smashing at the I. W.
W.'s, but only at these three men. When you stop to think of it, you
can't teach an outfit to respect the law when you go ahead and break the
law in teaching 'em."

Hurley seemed much impressed. "That stands to reason," he agreed.
"You're right, kid, an' so's Saginaw. I know Judge McGivern--used to go
to school with him way back--he ain't much as fer as size goes but
believe me he ain't afraid to hand these birds a wallop that'll keep 'em
peekin' out between black ones fer many a day to come. I'll take 'em
down myself, an' then I'll slip around an' have a talk with Mac." Hurley
tossed the peavy into its corner and proceeded to unlace his boots.

"I kind of hate to see Steve go along with that bunch. He ain't a
regular I. W. W., and----"

The boss looked up in surprise as a heavy boot thudded upon the floor.
"What d'ye mean--hate to see?" he asked.

"Why, he might turn out all right, if we kept him on the job and kind of
looked after him."

The boss snorted contemptuously. "Huh! He done you dirt onct didn't he?"

"Yes, but----"

"He throw'd in with these here ornery scum that ain't neither men, fish,
nor potatoes, didn't he?"

"Yes, but----"

"'Yes' is all right--an' they ain't no 'buts' about it. I had him last
winter, an' he wasn't no 'count. I thought they might be some good in
him so I hired him ag'in this fall to give him another chanct, but he's
rotten-hearted an' twisty-grained, an' from root to top-branch they
ain't the worth of a lath in his hide. He's a natural-borned crook. If
it was only hisself I wouldn't mind it, but a crook is dangerous to
other folks--not to hisself. It ain't right to leave him loose." The
other boot thudded upon the floor and Hurley leaned back in his chair,
stretched out his legs and regarded the toes of his woollen socks. "I've
often thought," he continued, after a moment of silence, "that men is
oncommon like timber. There's the select, straight-grained, sound stuff,
an' all the grades down through the culls 'til you come to the dozy,
crooked, rotten-hearted stuff that ain't even fit to burn. There's sound
stuff that's rough-barked an' ugly; an' there's rotten-hearted stuff
that looks good from the outside. There's some timber an' some men
that's built to take on a high polish--don't know as I kin git it acrost
to you jest like I mean--but bankers and pianos is like that. Then
there's the stuff that's equal as sound an' true but it wouldn't
never take no polish on account its bein' rough-grained an'
tough-fibred--that's the kind that's picked to carry on the world's
heavy work--the kind that goes into bridges an' ships, an' the frames
of buildin's. It's the backbone, you might say, of civilization. It
ain't purty, but its work ain't purty neither--it jest does what it's
picked to do.

"It's cur'us how fer you kin carry it on if yer a mind to. There's some
good timber an' some good men that's started bad but ain't got there
yet. The bad habits men take on is like surface rot, an' weather checks,
an' bug stings--take that stuff an' put it through the mill an' rip it
an' plane it down to itself, an' it's as good as the best--sometimes.
The danger to that kind is not puttin' it through the mill quick enough,
an' the rot strikes through to the heart.

"There's a lot of timber that there ain't much expected of--an' a lot of
humans, too. They're the stuff that works up into rough boards, an' cull
stuff, an' lath, an' pulp wood, an' cordwood an' the like of that--an'
so it goes, folks an' timber runnin' about alike.

"It takes experience an' judgment to sort timber, jest like it takes
experience an' judgment to pick men. But no matter how much experience
an' judgment he's got, as long as _man's_ got the sortin' to do,
mistakes will be made. Then, a long time afterwards, somewheres
somethin' goes wrong. They can't no one account fer it, nor explain
it--but the Big Inspector--he knows."

Hurley ceased speaking, and Connie, who had followed every word, broke
in: "Couldn't we keep Steve here and--put him through the mill?"

The boss shook his head: "No--we didn't catch him young enough. I'm
responsible, in a way, fer the men in this camp. This here runt has
showed he don't care what he does--s'pose he took a notion to slip
somethin' into the grub--what then? Keepin' him in this camp would be
like if I seen a rattlesnake in the bunk house an' walked off an' left
it there."

Connie realized that any further effort on his part to save Steve from
sharing the richly deserved fate of the I. W. W.'s would be useless. The
three turned in and it seemed to the boy that he had barely closed his
eyes when he was awakened by the sounds of someone moving about the
room. Hurley and Saginaw Ed were pulling on their clothes as the boy
tumbled out of bed.

"You don't need to git up yet, kid. Me an' Saginaw's goin' to slip out
an' see that the teamsters gits their oats without lettin' no I. W. W.'s
trickle out the door. Better pound yer ear fer an hour yet, cause
you're goin' to be busier'n a pet coon checkin' in Slue Foot's supplies,
an' gittin' his men down on the pay roll."

As Connie entered the cook's camp for breakfast he noticed an
undercurrent of unrest and suppressed excitement among the men who stood
about in small groups and engaged in low-voiced conversation. Hurley and
Saginaw Ed were already seated, and, as the men filed silently in, many
a sidewise glance was slanted toward the big boss.

When all were in their places Hurley rose from his chair. "We've got
three I. W. W.'s an' the cookee locked up in the oat house," he
announced bluntly. "An' after breakfast me an' Frenchy is goin' to take
'em down to jail." There was a stir among the men, and Hurley paused,
but no one ventured a comment. "They tried to burn the stable last
night, but the kid, here, outguessed 'em, an' him an' Saginaw gathered
'em in."

"Last night!" cried a big sawyer, seated half-way down the table. "If
they'd a-burnt the stable last night the whole camp would of gone! Let
us boys take 'em off yer hands, boss, an' save you a trip to town."

The idea gained instant approval among the men, and from all parts of
the room voices were raised in assent.

"Over in Westconsin we----"

Hurley interrupted the speaker with a grin: "Yeh, an' if we was over in
Westconsin I'd say go to it! But Minnesota's woke up to these here
varmints--an' it's up to us to give her a chanct to show these here
other States how to do it. You boys all know Judge McGivern--most of you
helped elect him. Give him the chanct to hand the I. W. W.'s a wallop in
the name of the State of Minnesota! If the State don't grab these birds,
they'll grab the State. Look at North Dakota! It ain't a State no
more--it's a Non-partisan League! Do you boys want to see Minnesota an
I. W. W. Lodge?"

As Hurley roared out the words his huge fist banged the table with a
force that set the heavy porcelain dishes a-clatter.

"No! No!" cried a chorus of voices from all sides. "The boss is right!
Let the State handle 'em!" The men swung unanimously to Hurley and the
boss sat down amid roars of approval.

And so it was that shortly after breakfast Frenchy cracked his whip with
a great flourish and four very dejected-looking prisoners started down
the tote road securely roped to the rear of the tote wagon, at the end
gate of which sat Hurley, rifle in hand and legs a-dangle as he puffed
contentedly at his short black pipe.



CHAPTER VIII

THE BOSS OF CAMP TWO


Slue Foot Magee, who was to boss Camp Two, was a man of ambling gait and
a chronic grumble. He arrived with the vanguard of the new crew a
half-hour before dinner time, grumbled because grub wasn't ready,
growled when he learned that the buildings at Camp Two were not entirely
completed, and fumed because Hurley had told him to leave fifteen of his
fifty men at Camp One.

"What's the use of pickin' out a crew an' then scatterin' 'em all over
the woods?" he demanded querulously of Connie, as they stood in the door
of the boss's camp while the men washed up for dinner. "If Hurley wants
thirty-five men in Camp Two an' fifty in Camp One why don't he send Camp
One's crew up to Two an' leave me have Camp One?"

"I don't know," answered the boy, and refrained from mentioning that he
was mighty glad Hurley had not ordered it so.

Slue Foot slanted him a keen glance. "Be you the kid Hurley was tellin'
nailed them I. W. W.'s that he was fetchin' out of the woods when we
come in this mornin'?"

Connie nodded: "Yes, Saginaw Ed and I caught 'em."

"Purty smart kid, hain't you? What's Hurley payin' you?"

"Forty dollars a month."

"An' no rake-off on the wanagan. There's plenty room in the woods to use
brains--same as anywheres else." Slue Foot turned at the sound of the
dinner gong. "Let's go eat while there's some left. When we come back
I'll give you the names."

During the meal Connie furtively studied the new boss. He was fully as
large as Hurley, and slovenly in movement and appearance. His restless
eyes darted swift glances here, there, and everywhere, and never a
glance but registered something of disapproval. But it was the man's
words that most interested the boy. Why had he asked what Hurley was
paying him? And what did he mean by his observation that there was no
rake-off on the wanagan? Also, there was his reference to the fact that
in the woods there was plenty of room for brains. That might mean
anything or nothing.

"At any rate," thought the boy, as he attacked his food, "you're going
to be a pretty good man to throw in with--for a while."

Presently the man pushed back his bench and arose: "If you ever git that
holler in under yer ribs filled up we'll go over an' I'll give you the
names of the men that stays here an' the ones that goes on with me."

"'Lead on, MacDuff,'" grinned Connie, misquoting a line from a play
Waseche Bill had taken him to see in Fairbanks.

"Magee's my name," corrected the man gruffly, and led the way to the
office.

It was only after much deliberation and growling that Slue Foot finally
succeeded in rearranging his crew, but at last the task was completed
and Connie leaned back in his chair.

"So you think there ain't going to be any rake-off on the wanagan?" he
asked, as the man sat scowling at his list of names. Slue Foot glanced
up quickly and the boy met the glance with a wink: "I thought maybe----"

"It don't make no difference what you thought mebbe!" the man
interrupted. "If you know'd Hurley like I do you'd know a whole lot
better'n to try it." Connie looked disappointed and the boss eyed him
intently.

"They's other ways of killin' a cat without you choke him to death on
butter," he observed drily, and lapsed into silence while the restless
gimlet eyes seemed to bore into the boy's very thoughts.

Suddenly the man brought his fist down with a bang upon the top of the
pine desk: "Why should Hurley be drawin' down his big money, an' me an'
you our seventy-five an' forty a month?" he demanded.

"Well, he's the boss, and they say he can get out the logs."

"I'm a boss, too! An' I kin git out the logs!" he roared. "I was bossin'
camps when Hurley was swampin'." Again he paused and regarded the boy
shrewdly. "Mind you, I hain't sayin' Hurley hain't a good logger, 'cause
he is. But jest between me and you there's a hull lot about this here
timber game that he hain't hep to. Any one kin draw down wages workin'
in the woods--but if you want to make a real stake out of the game
you've got to learn how to play both ends ag'in' the middle. An' that's
where the brains comes in."

"That's why I thought----"

"--you could soak it to 'em on the wanagan an' shove the rake-off in
your pocket," finished the man. "Well, you'd better fergit it! Some
bosses would stand fer it, but not Hurley. He'd tumble to yer game in a
minute, an' you'd be hikin' down the tote road with yer turkey on yer
back a-huntin' a new job."

"Do you mean there's nothing in it for me but my forty dollars a month?"
asked Connie, with apparent disgust.

"M-m-m-m, well, that depends," muttered Slue Foot. "Be you goin' to keep
the log book, or Hurley?"

"I am. He told me the other day he'd show me about that later."

"They'll be a little somethin', mebbe, in shadin' the cut when the time
comes--nothin' big, but enough to double our wages. Wait 'til the crew
gits strung out an' layin' 'em down an' we'll fix that up."

"Will the scaler throw in with us?" ventured the boy.

"What! Lon Camden! Not on yer life, he won't! Hurley picked him, an' he
picked Saginaw Ed, too. What you an' me do we got to do alone."

Connie smiled: "Yes, but he picked you, and he picked me, too."

"He did," agreed the other, with a leer. "I don't know nawthin' about
why he picked you, but he give me a job 'cause he thinks I done him a
good turn onct. Over in Idaho, it was, an' we was gittin' out logs on
the Fieldin' slope. Old Man Fieldin' had a contrac' which if he didn't
fill it by a certain day, he'd lose it, an' the Donahue crowd that was
operatin' further down would deliver their logs an' take over the
contrac'. That's when I got it in fer Hurley. Him an' me was working fer
Fieldin' an' he made Hurley boss of a camp he'd ort to give to me.

"The Donahue crowd worked politics an' got holt of the water rights on
Elk Creek, an' Fieldin' couldn't float his logs. It looked like it was
good-night fer Fieldin' an' his contrac' but Hurley grabbed all the men
he could git holt of an' started buildin' a flume. Old Man Fieldin' said
it couldn't be done, but fer Hurley to go ahead, 'cause he was ruint
anyhow. So Hurley worked us night and day, an' by gosh, he built the
flume an' got his logs a-runnin'!

"When the flume was up the Donahues seen they was beat, so they come to
me an' offered me a bunch of coin if I'd blow it up. It was resky 'cause
Hurley was expectin' some such play, an' he had it guarded. But I got on
guardin' nights an' I planted the dynamite and got the wires strung, an'
it was all set. Then I went an' overplayed my hand. I thought I seen the
chanct to git even with Hurley, as well as Old Man Fieldin', an' make me
a nice little stake besides. So I tips it off to Hurley that I seen a
fellow sneakin' around suspicious an' he'd better take the shift where
I'd be'n, hisself. You see, I made it up with the Donahues to send three
of their men over to explode the shot so I'd have a alibi, an' I
figgered that Hurley'd run onto 'em, an' they'd give him an' awful
lickin'." The man paused and crammed tobacco into his pipe.

"And did he?" asked Connie, eagerly

"Naw, he didn't he!" growled the man. "He run onto 'em all right--an'
when the rookus was over the hull three of 'em was took to the
horspital. When it comes to mixin' it up, Hurley, he's there. He found
the dynamite, too, an' after that the guards was so thick along that
flume that one couldn't do nawthin' without the next ones could see what
he was up to.

"Fieldin's logs was delivered on time an' the old man handed Hurley a
check fer twenty-five hundred dollars over an' above his wages. Hurley
slipped me five hundred fer tellin' him--but I'd of got five thousan' if
I'd of blow'd up the flume. I had to skip the country 'fore them three
got out of the horspital, an' I've swore to git even with Hurley ever
since--an' I'll do it too. One more winter like last winter, an' they
won't no outfit have him fer a boss."

It was with difficulty Connie refrained from asking what had happened
last winter but he was afraid of arousing the man's suspicion by
becoming too inquisitive, so he frowned: "That's all right as far as
your getting even with Hurley, but it don't get me anything."

Slue Foot leaned forward in his chair: "I see you've got yer eye on the
main chanct, an' that shows you've got somethin' in your noodle. Folks
can talk all they want to, but the only thing that's any good is money.
Them that's got it is all right, an' them that hain't got it is nowhere.
Take Hurley, he's got the chanct to make his everlastin' stake right
here, an' he's passin' it up. The owner of this here trac' lives up in
Alaska or somewheres, an' he hain't a loggin' man nohow--an' here Hurley
would set and let him git rich--offen Hurley's work, mind you--an' all
Hurley gits out of it is his wages. An' if you throw in with him you'll
go out in the spring with yer forty dollars a month minus yer wanagan
tab."

"Guess that's right," agreed the boy. "I'd like to make a lot of money,
but it looks like there's nothin' doing in this camp."

"Oh, I don't know," replied the man. "I'm a-goin' to git mine, an' the
way things is, I kin use a party about your size that kin keep his eyes
open and his mouth shet. Looks like, from here, they might be
considerable in it fer you, long about spring." He paused and glanced
about the office. "You sleep in here don't you?" Connie nodded, and
Slue Foot seemed satisfied, "I kin use you, 'cause you're right here on
the job where you kin keep tab on the boss, an' Saginaw, an' Lon
Camden." The man paused abruptly and peered through the window.

"What's the game?" asked Connie boldly. "I can't do any good going it
blind."

The man silenced him with a gesture: "Shet up! Here comes Saginaw.
That'll keep 'til later. Meanwhile, it don't pay fer me an' you to seem
none too friendly. When any one's around I'll kick an' growl about the
books and you sass me back." He rose from his chair and was stamping
about the room when Saginaw entered.

"Here it's took a good hour to git them names down that any one with
half sense had ort to got down in fifteen minutes! If you can't check in
them supplies no quicker'n what you kin write down names, the grub will
rot before we git it onloaded. Come on, we'll go up to the camp an' git
at it."

The man turned to greet the newcomer. "Hello Saginaw! I hear you're a
boss now. Well, good luck to you. How's the new camp, 'bout ready?"

"Yes, a couple of days will finish her up. Yer storehouse an' men's
camp, an' cook's camp is done, so you can go ahead an' move in."

Slue Foot scowled: "I seen Hurley comin' out an' he says I should leave
you fifteen men out of my crew, so I done it. Seems funny he'd give a
green boss the biggest crew, but he's got you right here where he kin
keep his eye on you, so I s'pose he knows what he's doin'."

"I 'spect he does," agreed Saginaw. "When you git to camp send them men
back with mine."

Slue Foot nodded. "Well come on, kid," he ordered, gruffly. "We'll go up
on the tote wagon."

Connie picked up his book and followed, and as he went out the door he
turned to see Saginaw regarding him curiously.



CHAPTER IX

SAGINAW ED IN THE TOILS


Connie hoped that during the ride to Camp Two Slue Foot would further
enlighten him concerning his various schemes for defrauding his
employers, but the man sat silent, eyeing the tall pines that flanked
the roadway on either side.

"Pretty good timber, isn't it?" ventured the boy, after a time.

The boss nodded: "They hain't much of them kind left. If I owned this
trac' an' could afford to pay taxes I'd never lay down a stick of it fer
ten year--mebbe twenty."

"Why not?"

"Why not! 'Cause it'll be worth ten dollars where it's worth a dollar
now--that's why. Pine's a-goin' up every year, an' they've cut the best
of it everywheres except here an' there a strip that fer one reason an'
another they couldn't git holt of."

"The Syndicate's cutting theirs now, and surely they can afford to pay
taxes."

Slue Foot grinned: "They wouldn't be cuttin' their white pine along
Dogfish if this trac' wasn't bein' cut."

"What's that got to do with it?"

"Mebbe if you kind of stick around, like I told you, you'll see. I'm one
of these here hairpins that never tells no one nawthin' about anythin'
'til the time comes--see?"

"You're all right, Slue Foot," laughed the boy. "I guess I'll stick
around."

"It's a good thing fer you you got sense enough to know who to tie to.
No one never made nawthin' workin' fer wages--an' no one ever will."

As they drew into Camp Two's clearing Slue Foot cocked a weatherwise eye
skyward. "Shouldn't wonder an' the snow'll be comin' tonight or
tomorrow--them clouds looks like it. Come on, le's git at them supplies.
They's two wagons in a'ready an' two more comin' an' we want to git 'em
onloaded by night."

Slue Foot called a dozen men to help with the unloading and stowing,
and for the rest of the afternoon Connie had his hands full checking off
the goods as they were carried past him at the door. At last the task
was completed and after supper the boy struck out for Camp One. As he
plodded through the jet blackness of the tote road his mind was busy
with the problem that confronted him. What should he do? Manifestly the
easiest course would be to go straight to Hurley and tell him just what
Slue Foot had told him, and let the boss deal with him as he saw fit.
But, in that case Hurley would, in all probability, fly off the handle
and either discharge Slue Foot or "beat him up" or both. In which event
the man would go unpunished for last winter's work, whatever that had
been, and worst of all, there would be absolutely no evidence against
the Syndicate. And he had no intention of pocketing last year's loss
without at least an attempt to recover it and bring its perpetrators to
justice.

From what he had seen of Hurley, and what Saginaw and Slue Foot had told
him, the boy was confident that the big boss was square and honest as
the day is long--but there was Mike Gillum, himself an honest man and a
friend of Waseche, who had reported that Hurley was in the pay of the
Syndicate; and Connie knew that men like Mike Gillum did not lie about
other men, nor would they make an open accusation unless reasonably sure
of their ground. Therefore there was a bare possibility that, despite
all evidence to the contrary, Hurley, unknown to either Slue Foot or
Saginaw, was playing into the hand of the Syndicate.

"I wonder what's the matter with Saginaw," muttered the boy as he
stumbled on through the darkness. "He looked at me kind of funny when we
left the office. As if he knows Slue Foot is crooked, and thinks I have
thrown in with him." His fists clenched and his lips drew into a hard,
straight line. "I'll get to the bottom of it if it takes all winter!" he
gritted. "And when I do, someone is going to squirm." Something prickled
sharply against his cheek and he glanced upward. He could see nothing in
the inky blackness, but the prickling sensation was repeated and he knew
that it was snowing. The wind rose and the snow fell faster. By the time
he reached the clearing it whitened the ground. The little office was
dark as he let himself in. The sound of heavy breathing told him that
Saginaw was already in bed, and, without lighting the lamp, he undressed
and crawled between his blankets.

When Connie awoke the following morning the fire was burning brightly in
the stove and Saginaw stood staring out through the little window that
showed a translucent grey square against the dark log wall. He turned at
the sound of the boy's feet upon the floor. "Snow's held off fer a long
time this year, but when she come she come a-plenty," he observed.

"Still snowing?" asked the boy, as he wriggled into his clothing. "It
started last night while I was coming down from Camp Two."

"Yeh, it's still snowin.' Foot deep a'ready an' comin' down in fine
flakes an' slantin' like she's a-goin' to keep on snowin'!"

"Are you going to begin laying 'em down today?"

Saginaw shook his head: "No. I'm a-goin' to set 'em overhaulin' the
sleds, an' the sprinkler, an' the drays, an' gittin' the skidways in
shape, an' breakin' out the road. It's cold enough fer to make a good
bottom an' things ort to go a-whoopin' when this snow lets up."

Connie snickered. "I bet Slue Foot's growling this morning, with no roof
on his office and blacksmith shop, and his stable and oat house only
about half chinked."

"He'd growl if his camp was 'lectric lit an' steam het. I'm ready fer
breakfast, if the cook's saved us some. You go on over an' I'll be 'long
when I git the men strung out." Saginaw filled the stove with chunks and
together they left the office, the older man heading for the men's camp,
while Connie made directly for the cook's camp. As the boy lowered his
head to the sting of the sweeping snow and plodded across the clearing,
a feeling of great loneliness came over him, for he knew that there
lurked in the man's mind a feeling of distrust--a feeling that he had
studiously attempted to conceal. Nothing in the spoken words revealed
this distrust, but the boy was quick to note that the voice lacked
something of the hearty comradery that had grown up between them.

"This is almost like Alaska," Connie muttered, as he breathed deeply of
the clean, cold air. "I wish I was in Ten Bow right now--with Waseche
Bill, and MacDougall, and Dutch Henry and the rest of 'em--or else over
on the Yukon with Big Dan McKeever, and Rickey." The boy's fists
clenched within his mittens, as was their habit when he faced a
difficult situation. "If it wasn't that Waseche is depending on me to
straighten out this mess, I'd strike out for Ten Bow today. But I've
just naturally got to see it through--and I've got to go it alone, too.
If I should let Saginaw in, and it should turn out that Hurley is
crooked, my chance of nailing him would be shot, because Saginaw and
Hurley are one, two, three.

"The first thing I better do," he decided, as he stamped the snow from
his boots before the door of the cook's camp, "is to slip up and see
Mike Gillum and find out how he knows Hurley is in the pay of the
Syndicate."

During the breakfast the boy was unusually silent and when the meal was
finished he returned directly to the office, and stood for a long time
staring out into the whirling white smother. As he turned to his desk
his eye encountered Hurley's snow-shoes hanging from their peg on the
opposite wall. "It's only ten miles to Willow River," he muttered, "and
I've just got to see Mike Gillum."

A moment later he stepped through the door, fastened on the snow-shoes
and, hastening across the clearing, plunged into the timber.

It was nearly noon when Saginaw Ed returned to the office and found it
empty. Almost instantly he noticed that the boss's snow-shoes were
missing and he grinned: "Kid's out practising on the rackets, I guess."
Then he stepped to the door. The snow had continued to fall
steadily--fine, wind-driven flakes that pile up slowly. The trail was
very faint, and as the man's eye followed it across the clearing his
brows drew into a puzzled frown. "That don't look like no practice
trail," he muttered. "No, sir! They ain't no greener ever yet started
off like that." He pinched his chin between his thumb and forefinger and
scowled at the trail. "One of two things: Either the kid ain't the
greener he lets on to be, or else someone else has hiked off on the
boss's snow-shoes. An' either which way, it's up to me to find out."
Crossing swiftly to the cook shack he returned a few minutes later, the
pockets of his mackinaw bulging with lunch, and drawing his own
snow-shoes from beneath his bunk, struck out upon the fast dimming
trail.

"I mistrust Slue Foot, an' I didn't like the way he started to bawl out
the kid yeste'day. It seemed kind of like it wasn't straight goods. He's
a beefer an' a growler, all right, but somehow, this time it seemed as
if it was kind of piled on fer my special benefit."

In the timber, sheltered from the sweep of the wind, the track had not
drifted full, but threaded the woods in a broad, trough-like depression
that the woodsman easily followed. Mile after mile it held to the north,
dipping into deep ravines, skirting thick windfalls, and crossing steep
ridges. As the trail lengthened the man's face hardened. "Whoever's
a-hikin' ahead of me ain't no greener an' he ain't walkin' fer fun,
neither. He's travellin' as fast as I be, an' he knows where he's
a-goin', too." He paused at the top of a high ridge and smote a heavily
mittened palm with a mittened fist. "So that's the way of it, eh? I
heard how the Syndicate was runnin' a big camp on Willow River--an' this
here's the Willow River divide. They ain't only one answer, the kid, or
whoever it is I'm a-follerin', has be'n put in here by the Syndicate to
keep cases on Hurley's camps--either that, or Slue Foot's in with 'em,
an' is usin' the kid fer a go-between. They're pretty smart, all right,
headin' way up to this here Willow River camp. They figgered that no one
wouldn't pay no 'tention to a trail headin' north, while if it led over
to the Syndicate camp on Dogfish someone would spot it in a minute. An'
with it snowin' like this, they figgered the trail would drift full, or
else look so old no one would bother about it. They ain't only one thing
to do, an' that's to go ahead an' find out. What a man knows is worth a
heap more'n what he can guess. They's a-goin' to be some big surprises
on Dogfish 'fore this winter's over, an' some folks is a-goin' to wish
they'd of be'n smarter--or stayed honester."

Saginaw descended the slope and, still following the trail, walked
steadily for an hour. Suddenly he paused to listen. Distinctly to his
ears came the measured thud of pounded iron, punctuated at regular
intervals by the metallic ring of a hammer upon an anvil. "It's the
Syndicate's Willow River camp," he muttered, and advanced cautiously.
Presently he gained the clearing and, skirting it, halted at the edge of
a log road that reached back into the timber. The man noted that whoever
made the trail had made no attempt to conceal his visit from the
Syndicate crew, for the tracks struck into the road which led directly
into the clearing. Not a soul was in sight and, hurriedly crossing the
road, Saginaw continued to skirt the clearing until he arrived at a
point directly opposite a small building that stood by itself midway
between the men's camp and the stable. "That had ort to be the office,"
he said as he studied the lay of the camp and the conformation of the
ground. Several large piles of tops lay between the edge of the clearing
and the small building, against the back of which had been placed a huge
pile of firewood. Across the clearing upon the bank of the river a crew
of men were engaged in levelling off the rollways, and other men were
busy about the open door of the blacksmith shop, where the forge fire
burned brightly. The storm had thinned to a scarcely perceptible
downfall and the rising wind whipped the smoke from the stovepipe of the
building. "I've got to find out who's in that office," he decided and,
suiting the action to the word, moved swiftly from one pile of tops to
another, until he gained the shelter of the woodpile.

It is a very risky thing to peer into the window of a small room
occupied by at least two people in broad daylight, and it was with the
utmost caution that Saginaw removed his cap and applied his eye to the
extreme corner of the pane. Seated facing each other, close beside the
stove, were Connie and Mike Gillum. The boss's hand was upon the boy's
knee and he was talking earnestly. At the sight Saginaw could scarce
refrain from venting his anger in words. He had seen enough and, dodging
quickly back, retraced his steps, and once more gained the shelter of
the timber.

"So that's yer game, is it, you sneakin' little spy? Takin' advantage of
Hurley the minute his back's turned! You've got him fooled, all right.
An' you had me fooled, too. You're a smart kid, but you ain't quite
smart enough. You can't do no harm now we're onto yer game, an' 'fore
them logs hits the water in the spring yer goin' to find out you ain't
the only smart one in the timber--you an' Slue Foot, too."

It was well past the middle of the afternoon when Saginaw took the back
trail and struck out at a long swinging walk for the camp on Dogfish.
The flash of anger, engendered by the sight of the boy in friendly
conference with the boss of the Syndicate camp, gave way to keen
disappointment as he tramped on and on through the timber. He had liked
Connie from the first, and as the days went by his regard for the boy,
whose brains and nerve had won the respect and admiration of the whole
camp, grew. "I've a good mind to git him off to one side an' give him a
good straight talk. He ain't like that Steve. Why, doggone it! I
couldn't feel no worse about findin' out he's headed wrong, if he was my
own boy. An' if he was my own boy, it would be my job to talk things
over with him an' try to steer him straight, instead of layin' for to
catch him in some crooked work an' send him over the road for it. By
gum, I'll do it, too! An' I'll give it to him right straight, without no
fancy trimmin's neither. Tonight'll be a good time when him an' I'll be
alone."

His cogitations had carried him to within a mile of Camp Two, which the
trail carefully avoided, when suddenly, at the bottom of a deep ravine,
a man stepped in front of him:

"Hands up!" It was some seconds before Saginaw realized that he was
staring straight into the muzzle of a rifle that the man held within six
inches of his nose. Two other men stepped from behind trees and joined
the leader.

"Makes a difference which end of the gun yer at when ye hear them words,
don't it?" sneered the man, and in the deep twilight of the thick woods
Saginaw recognized the men as the three I. W. W.'s that he and Connie
had arrested in their attempt to burn the stable. Also he recognized the
boss's rifle.

"Where's Hurley?" he cried, as full realization of the situation forced
itself upon him.

"I said _'hands up'!_" reminded the man with the gun, "an' I meant it.
An' if I wus you I'd put 'em up. I guess when we git through with ye
ye'll think twict before ye lock folks up in a oat house to freeze to
death all night--you an' that smart alec kid."

"Where's Hurley?" repeated Saginaw, with arms upraised.

The man laughed, coarsely: "Hurley, we fixed his clock fer him. An'
we'll fix yourn, too. We'll learn ye to fool with the I. W. W. when it's
a-goin' about its business. An' we'll learn everyone else, too. We're
stronger 'n the law, an' stronger 'n the Government, an' when we git
ready we'll show the bosses an' the capitalists where to git off at!"

"You're a bunch of dirty crooks, an' thieves, an' murderers--an' you
ain't got the brains to show nobody nawthin'."

"Search him!" commanded the leader, his face livid with rage. "We'll
show you somethin', 'fore we git through with you--jest like we showed
Hurley. Come on, now, git a move on. We got to see a party an' git holt
of some grub. 'Fore we git started, though, ye kin jest take off them
snow-shoes, I kin use 'em myself, an' you kin see how it feels to waller
through the snow like we be'n doin'." The transfer was soon
accomplished, and marching Saginaw before them, the three headed off at
a right angle from the trail.



CHAPTER X

CONNIE DOES SOME TRAILING


Connie Morgan halted abruptly and stared down at the snow. At the point
where, a couple of hours before, he had emerged into the tote road,
another, fresher, snow-shoe track crossed the road and struck out upon
his back trail. For some moments he studied the track, his trained eye
taking every slightest detail. "Whoever it was followed my trail to
here, and for some reason didn't want to follow it on into the clearing.
So he kept on, and it wasn't long before he took the back trail." He
bent closer, and when he once more stood erect his face was very grave.
"It's Saginaw," he muttered. "I helped him restring that left racket."
Swiftly the boy followed the tracks to the point where the man had
struck into the clearing at the rear of the little office. "He followed
me and found me talking to Mike Gillum."

[Illustration: SWIFTLY THE BOY FOLLOWED THE TRACKS TO THE POINT WHERE
THE MAN HAD STRUCK INTO THE CLEARING.]

As Connie struck out on the back trail he smiled grimly: "Gee, I bet he
thinks I'm a bad one. He knows the Syndicate put one over on Hurley last
winter, and now he thinks I'm hand in glove with 'em. I would like to
have run this thing down alone, but I guess I'll have to let Saginaw in
on it now. Maybe he won't believe me, and maybe Hurley won't, and then
I'll get fired! Anyhow, he broke a good trail for me," grinned the boy
as he swung swiftly through the timber. Travelling light, he made rapid
progress, and as he walked, his brain was busy trying to solve his
riddle of the woods. Mike Gillum had told him that he had worked on
several jobs with Hurley, that he was a good lumberman, that he could
handle men, and get out the logs. Knowing this, he had recommended him
to Waseche Bill, as foreman of his camp. Gillum said that by accident he
had seen Hurley's name on the Syndicate pay roll and had asked one of
the clerks in the office about it, and that the clerk had winked and
told him that Hurley was well worth all the Syndicate paid him because
he was boss of an independent outfit that was logging up on Dogfish. It
was then that Gillum had written to Waseche Bill. He had known nothing
of the latter's loss of last winter until Connie had told him at the
time of their first meeting. Despite the man's statements, Connie could
not bring himself to believe that Hurley was guilty. "There's a mistake
somewhere," he muttered as he trudged on, "and I've got to find out
where. I can't let Hurley in on it, because he's hot-headed and he'd
jump in and spoil every chance we had of catching the real culprit, or,
if he is mixed up in it, he'd have all the chance in the world to cover
his tracks so I never could prove anything on him. But he isn't guilty!"
This last was uttered aloud and with the emphasis of conviction. For the
life of him the boy could not have given a good and sufficient reason
for this conviction. Indeed, all reason was against it. But the
conviction was there, and the reason for the conviction was there--even
if the boy could not have told it--and it ran a great deal deeper than
he knew.

From the moment three years before, when he had landed, a forlorn and
friendless little figure, upon the dock at Anvik, he had been thrown
among men--men crude and rough as the land they lived in. His daily
associates had been good men--and bad. He had known good men with
deplorable weaknesses, and bad men with admirable virtues. In his
association with these men of the lean, lone land the boy had
unconsciously learned to take keen measure of men. And, having taken his
measure, he accepted a man at his worth. The boy knew that Mike Gillum
had not lied to him--that under no circumstances would he lie to injure
another. But, despite the man's positive statement, Connie's confidence
in Hurley remained unshaken. Hurley had assumed a definite place in his
scheme of things, and it would take evidence much more tangible than an
unsubstantiated statement to displace him.

Under the heavily overcast sky and the thickly interlaced branches of
the pines, daylight passed into twilight, and twilight fast deepened to
darkness as the boy pushed on through the forest. Suddenly he halted. To
his surprise, the trail he was following turned abruptly to the west. He
knew that the fresher tracks of Saginaw's snow-shoes had been laid over
his own back trail, and he knew that he had made no right angle turn in
his trip to Willow River. Bending close to the snow he made out in the
deep gloom other tracks--the tracks of three men who had not worn
snow-shoes. The three had evidently intercepted Saginaw and a powwow had
ensued, for there had been much trampling about in the snow. Then
Saginaw had abandoned his course and accompanied the men to the
westward.

[Illustration: THE BOY HASTENED UNNOTICED TO THE EDGE OF A CROWD OF MEN
THAT ENCIRCLED FRENCHY LAMAR.]

"Camp Two is west of here," muttered the boy. "I guess the men were part
of Slue Foot's crew, and he went over to the camp with 'em." Darkness
prevented him from noting that the trail that led to the westward was a
clumsier trail than Saginaw would have made, or he never would have
dismissed the matter so lightly from his mind. As it was, he continued
upon his course for Camp One, where he arrived nearly an hour later to
find the camp in a turmoil. The boy hastened, unnoticed, to the edge of
a crowd of men that encircled Frenchy Lamar, who talked as fast as he
could in an almost unintelligible jargon, which he punctuated with
shrugs, and wild-flung motions of his arms.

[Illustration]

"_Oui_, dat be'n w'en de las' of de Camp Two tote teams be'n pass 'bout
de half hour. We com' 'long by de place w'er de road she twis' 'roun an'
slant down de steep ravine. Woof! Rat on de trail stan' de leetle black
bear, an', _Sacre!_ Ma leaders git so scare dey stan' oop on de hine leg
lak dey gon for dance. Dey keek, dey jomp, dey plonge, an', _Voila!_ Dem
wheelers git crazy too. I'm got ma han' full, an' plenty mor', too, an'
de nex' t'ing I'm fin' out dey jomp de wagon oop on de beeg stomp an'
she teep ovaire so queek lak you kin say Jac Robinshon. Crack! Ma reach
she brek in two an' ma front ax' she git jerk loose from de wagon an' de
nex' t'ing I'm drag by de lines 'cross de creek so fas' dat tear ma
coat, ma shirt, ma pants mos' lak de ribbon. I'm bomp ma head, an' lose
ma cap, an' scratch ma face, but by gar, I'm hang holt de lines, an'
by-m-by dem horse dey git tire to haul me roun' by de mout', and dey
stan' still a minute on top de odder side. I'm look back an', _Sacre!_
Hurley is lay on de groun' an' de boss I. W. W. is hit heem on de head
wit' de gon. De res' is cuttin' loose deir han's. I'm yell on dem to
queet poun' on de boss head, wit de rifle, an' de nex' t'ing I'm know:
Zing! de bullet com' so clos' eet mak de win' on ma face, an' de nex'
t'ing, Zing! Dat bullet she sting de horse an' I'm just got tam to jomp
oop on de front ax', an' de horses start out lak she got far business
away from here queek. Dey ron so fas' I'm got to hol' on wit' ma han's,
wit' ma feet! Dem horses ron so fas' lak de train, dem wheels jomp
feefty feet high, an' dey only com' on de groun' 'bout once every half a
mile an' den I'm git poun', an' bomp, an' rattle, 'til I'm so black lak
de, w'at you call, de niggaire!

"De neares' doctaire, she down to Birch Lak'. I'm leave ma team een de
store-keeper stable, an' Ol' Man Niles she say de train don' stop no
mor' today, so I can't go to Birch Lak' 'til mornin'. I t'ink, by gar,
I'm mak' de train stop, so I'm push de beeg log on de track an' lay on
ma belly in de weeds, an' pret' soon de train com' long an' she see de
beeg log an' she stop queek, an' dey all ron opp front an' I'm climb on
an' tak' de seat in de smokaire. De train go 'long w'en dey git de log
shov' off, an' de conductaire, he com' long an' seen me sit dere.
'We're you git on dis train?' she say, an' I'm tell heem I'm git on to
Dogfish, w'en de train stop. 'I'm goin' to Birch Lak' for git de
doctaire for man w'at git keel,' I'm say, an' he say de train don' stop
to Birch Lak', neider. She t'rough train, an' we'n we git to de firs'
stop, she gon' for hav' me arres'. I ain' say no mor' an' I'm look out
de window, an' de conductaire she go an' set down in de back of de car.
De train she gon' ver' fas' an' by-m-by she com' to de breege, an' Birch
Lak' is wan half mile.

"I'm travel on de car before, an' I'm see dem stop de train mor' as once
to put off de lumbaire-jack w'en dey git to fightin' _Voila!_ I'm jomp
oop on ma feet ver' queek an' pull two, t'ree tam on de leetle rope, an'
de las' tam I'm pull so hard she bre'k in two. De train she stop so
queek she mak' fellers bomp 'roun' in de seat, an' de conductaire she so
mad she lak to bus', an' she holler ver' mooch, an' com' ronnin' down de
middle. She ain' ver' beeg man, an' I'm reach down queek, de nex' t'ing
she know she light on de head in de middle w'ere four fellers is playin'
cards. Den, I'm ron an' jomp off de car an' fin' de doctaire. Dat
gittin' dark, now, an' she startin' to snow, an' de doctaire she say we
can't go to Dogfish 'til mornin', day ain' no mor' train. I'm see de
han' car down by de track, but de doctaire she say we ain' can tak' dat
for 'cause we git arres'. But I'm laugh on heem, an' I'm say I'm tak'
dat han' car, 'cause I'm got to git arres' anyhow--but firs' dey got to
ketch--eh? So I'm tak' a rock an' bus' de lock an' we lif' her on de
track an' com' to Dogfish. Ol' Man Niles she tak' hees team an' gon' oop
an' got Hurley an' de cookee, an' breeng heem to de store. De doctaire
she feex de boss oop, an' she say eef eet ain' for dat cookee stay
'roun' an' mak' de blood quit comin', Hurley she would be dead befor' we
com' long. Dis mornin' I'm tak' ma team an' Ol Man Niles's wagon an'
com' to de camp. Hurley she won' go to de hospital, lak de doctaire say,
so de doctaire she com' 'long. Eet tak' me all day long, de snow she so
d'ep, an' by gar----"

Connie left in the middle of the Frenchman's discourse and hurried into
the office. In his bunk, with his head swathed in bandages, lay Hurley.
The doctor stood beside the stove and watched Steve feed the injured man
gruel from a spoon. The big boss opened his eyes as the boy entered. He
smiled faintly, and with ever so slight a motion of his head indicated
Steve: "An' I said they wasn't the worth of a lath in his hide," he
muttered and nodded weakly as Connie crossed swiftly to the boy's side
and shook his hand. Hurley's voice dropped almost to a whisper: "I'll be
laid up fer a couple of days. Tell Saginaw to--keep--things--goin'."

"I'll tell him," answered Connie, grimly, and, as the boss's eyes
closed, stepped to his own bunk and, catching up the service revolver
from beneath the blankets, hurried from the room.

Connie Morgan was a boy that experience and training had taught to think
quickly. When he left the office it was with the idea of heading a posse
of lumberjacks in the capture of the three I. W. W.'s, for from the
moment he heard of their escape the boy realized that these were the
three men who had intercepted Saginaw Ed on his return from Willow
River. His one thought was to rescue the captive, for well he knew that,
having Saginaw in their power, the thugs would stop at nothing in
venting their hatred upon the helpless man. As he hurried toward the
crowd in front of the men's camp his brain worked rapidly. Fifty men in
the woods at night would make fifty times as much noise as one man. Then
again, what would the men do if they should catch the three? The boy
paused for a moment at the corner of the oat house. There was only one
answer to _that_ question. The answer had been plain even before the
added outrage of the attack upon Hurley--and Hurley was liked by his
men. Stronger than ever became the boy's determination to have the I. W.
W.'s dealt with by the law. There must be no posse.

His mind swung to the other alternative. If he went alone he could
follow swiftly and silently. The odds would be three against one--but
the three had only one gun between them. He fingered the butt of his
revolver confidently. "I can wing the man with the gun, and then cover
the others," he muttered, "and besides, I'll have all the advantage of
knowing what I'm up against while they think they're safe. Dan McKeever
was strong for that. I guess I'll go it alone."

Having arrived at this decision the boy crossed the clearing to the
men's camp where he singled out Swede Larson from the edge of the crowd.
"Saginaw and I've got some special work to do," he whispered; "you keep
the men going 'til we get back." Without waiting for a reply, he
hastened to the oat house, fastened on his snow-shoes, and slipped into
the timber.

It was no hardship, even in the darkness, for him to follow the
snow-shoe trail, and to the point where the others had left it his
progress was rapid. The snow had stopped falling, and great rifts
appeared in the wind-driven clouds. Without hesitation Connie swung into
the trail of the four men. He reasoned that they would not travel far
because when they had intercepted Saginaw there could not have been more
than two or three hours of daylight left. The boy followed swiftly along
the trail, pausing frequently to listen, and as he walked he puzzled
over the fact that the men had returned to the vicinity of the camp,
when obviously they should have made for the railway and placed as much
distance as possible between themselves and the scene of their crimes.
He dismissed the thought of their being lost, for all three were
woodsmen. Why, then, had they returned?

Suddenly he halted and shrank into the shelter of a windfall. Upon the
branches of the pine trees some distance ahead his eye caught the faint
reflection of a fire.

Very cautiously he left the trail and, circling among the trees,
approached the light from the opposite direction. Nearer and nearer he
crept until he could distinctly see the faces of the four men. Crouching
behind a thick tree trunk, he could see that the men had no blankets,
and that they huddled close about the fire. He could see Saginaw with
his hands tied, seated between two of the others. Suddenly, beyond the
fire, apparently upon the back trail of the men, a twig snapped.
Instantly one of the three leaped up, rifle in hand, and disappeared in
the woods. Connie waited in breathless suspense. Had Swede Larson
followed him? Or had someone else taken up the trail? In a few moments
the man returned and, taking Saginaw by the arm, jerked him roughly to
his feet and, still gripping the rifle, hurried him into the woods away
from the trail. They passed close to Connie, and the boy thanked his
lucky star that he had circled to the north instead of the south, or
they would have immediately blundered onto his trail. A short distance
further on, and just out of sight of the camp fire, they halted, and
the man gave a low whistle. Instantly another man stepped into the
circle of the firelight--a man bearing upon his back a heavily laden
pack surmounted by several pairs of folded blankets. He tossed the pack
into the snow and greeted the two men who remained at the fire with a
grin. Then he produced a short black pipe, and, as he stooped to pick up
a brand from the fire, Connie stared at him in open-mouthed amazement.

The newcomer was the boss of Camp Two!



CHAPTER XI

CONNIE FINDS AN ALLY


"Wher's Pierce?" asked Slue Foot Magee, as he glanced down upon the two
figures that crouched close about the little fire.

"He went on ahead to hunt a place to camp. We waited to pack the stuff,"
lied the man, nodding toward the pack sack that the boss of Camp Two had
deposited in the snow.

"I sure was surprised when Sam, here, popped out of the woods an' told
me ye'd got away an' needed blankets an' grub. Wha'd ye do to Hurley?
An' how come ye didn't hit fer the railroad an' make yer git-away?"

"We beat Hurley up a-plenty so'st he won't be in no hurry to take no I.
W. W.'s nowheres ag'in. An' as fer hittin' fer the railroad, it's too
cold fer to ride the rods or the bumpers, an' we hain't got a dollar
between us. You'll have to stake us fer the git-away."

Slue Foot frowned: "I hain't got a cent, neither. Come into the woods on
credick--an' hain't draw'd none."

"That's a fine mess we're in!" exclaimed the leader angrily. "How fer d'
ye figger we're a-goin' to git on what little grub ye fetched in that
pack? An' wher' we goin' to--bein' as we're broke? We hit back fer you
'cause we know'd ye stood strong in the organization an' we had a right
to think ye'd see us through."

"I'll see ye through!" growled Slue Foot, impatiently. "But I can't give
ye nawthin' I hain't got, kin I?" He stood for a few moments staring
into the fire, apparently in deep thought. "I've got it!" he exclaimed.
"The Syndicate's got a camp 'bout ten mile north of here on Willer
River. They're short handed an' the boss'll hire anything he kin git.
Seen him in town 'fore I come out, an' he wanted to hire me, but I was
already hired to Hurley--got a boss's job, too, an' that's better'n what
I'd got out of him. If youse fellers hadn't of be'n in such a hurry to
pull somethin' an' had of waited 'til I come, ye wouldn't of botched the
job an' got caught."

"Is that so!" flared the leader. "I s'pose we'd ort to know'd ye was
goin' to be hired on this job! An' I s'pose our instructions is not to
pull no rough stuff onless you're along to see it's done right!"

"They hain't nawthin' in standin' 'round argerin'," interrupted Slue
Foot. "What I was a-goin' on to say is that youse better hike on up to
Willer River an' git ye a job. There's grub enough in the pack to last
ye twict that fer."

"Wher'll we tell the boss we come from? 'Taint in reason we'd hit that
fer into the woods huntin' a job."

"Tell him ye got sore on me an' quit. If they's any questions asked I'll
back ye up."

The leader of the I. W. W.'s looked at Sam, and Sam looked at the
leader. They were in a quandary. For reasons of their own they had not
told Slue Foot that they had picked up Saginaw--and with Saginaw on
their hands, how were they going to follow out the boss's suggestion?

Behind his big tree, Connie Morgan had been an interested listener. He
knew why the men stared blankly at each other, and chuckled to himself
at their predicament.

"What's to hinder someone from Camp One a-trailin' us up there?"
suggested Sam.

"Trailin' ye! How they goin' to trail ye? It was a-snowin' clean up to
the time ye got to Camp Two, an' if any one sees yer tracks around there
I'll say I sent some men up that way fer somethin'. An' besides," he
continued, glancing upward where the clouds that had thinned into flying
scuds had thickened again, obliterating the stars, "this storm hain't
over yet. It'll be snowin' ag'in 'fore long an' ye won't leave no more
trail'n a canoe. Anyways, that's the best way I kin think of. If you've
got a better one go to it--I've done all I kin fer ye." There was
finality in Slue Foot's voice as he drew on his mittens, and turned from
the fire. "So long, an' good luck to ye."

"So long," was the rather surly rejoinder. "If that's the best we kin
do, I s'pose we gotta do it. Mebbe if it starts snowin' we're all right,
an' if we make it, we'll be safer up there than what we would down along
the railroad, anyways. They won't be no one a-huntin' us in the woods."

"Sure they won't," agreed Slue Foot, as he passed from sight into the
timber.

The two beside the fire sat in silence until the sound of Slue Foot's
footsteps was swallowed up in the distance. Then Sam spoke: "What we
goin' to do with this here Saginaw?" he asked.

The leader glanced skyward. "It's startin' to snow--" he leered and,
stopping abruptly, rose to his feet. "Wait till we git Pierce in here."
Producing some pieces of rope from his pocket, he grinned. "Lucky I
fetched these along when I cut 'em off my hands. We'll give him a chanct
to see how it feels to be tied up onct." The man stepped into the timber
and a few minutes later returned accompanied by Pierce, to whom they
immediately began to relate what had passed between them and the boss of
Camp Two.

The moment they seated themselves about the fire, Connie slipped from
his hiding place behind the tree and stole noiselessly toward the spot
where the men had left Saginaw. Snow was falling furiously now, adding
the bewildering effect of its whirling flakes to the intense blackness
of the woods. Removing his snow-shoes to avoid leaving a wide, flat
trail, the boy stepped into the tracks of the two who had returned to
the fire and, a few moments later, was bending over a dark form that sat
motionless with its back against the trunk of a tree.

"It's me, Saginaw," he whispered, as the keen edge of his knife blade
severed the ropes that bound the man's hands and feet.

[Illustration: "WHAT IN THE NAME OF TIME BE YOU DOIN' HERE?" EXCLAIMED
SAGINAW.]

The man thrust his face close to Connie's in the darkness. "What in the
name of time be you doin' here?" he exclaimed.

"Sh-sh-sh," whispered the boy. "Come on, we've got to get away in a
hurry. There's no tellin' how soon those fellows will finish their
powwow."

"What do you mean--git away? When we git away from here we take them
birds along, er my name ain't Saginaw Ed! On top of tryin' to burn up
the camp they've up an' murdered Hurley, an' they'd of done the like by
me, if they'd be'n give time to!"

"We'll get them, later. I know where they're going. What we've got to do
is to beat it. Step in my tracks so they won't know there were two of
us. They'll think you cut yourself loose and they won't try to follow in
the dark, especially if the storm holds."

"But them hounds has got my rackets."

"I've got mine, and when we get away from here I'll put 'em on and break
trail for you."

"Look a here, you give me yer gun an' I'll go in an' clean up on them
desperadoes. I'll show 'em if the I. W. W.'s is goin' to run the woods!
I'll----"

"Come on! I tell you we can get 'em whenever we want 'em----"

"I'll never want 'em no worse'n I do right now."

"Hurley's all right, I saw him a little while ago."

"They said they----"

"I don't care what they said. Hurley's down in the office, right now.
Come on, and when we put a few miles behind us, I'll tell you all you
want to know."

"You'll tell a-plenty, then," growled Saginaw, only half convinced. "An'
here's another thing--if you're double crossin' me, you're a-goin' to
wish you never seen the woods."

The boy's only answer was a laugh, and he led, swiftly as the intense
darkness would permit, into the woods. They had gone but a short
distance when he stopped and put on his rackets. After that progress was
faster, and Saginaw Ed, mushing along behind, wondered at the accuracy
with which the boy held his course in the blackness and the whirling
snow. A couple of hours later, Connie halted in the shelter of a thick
windfall. "We can rest up for a while, now," he said, "and I'll tell you
some of things you want to know."

"Where do you figger we're at?" asked Saginaw, regarding the boy
shrewdly.

"We're just off the tote road between the two camps," answered the boy
without hesitation.

A moment of silence followed the words and when he spoke the voice of
Saginaw sounded hard: "I've be'n in the woods all my life, an' it would
of bothered me to hit straight fer camp on a night like this. They's
somethin' wrong here somewheres, kid--an' the time's come fer a
showdown. I don't git you, at all! You be'n passin' yerself off fer a
greener. Ever sence you went out an' got that deer I've know'd you
wasn't--but I figgered it worn't none of my business. Then when you
out-figgered them hounds--that worn't no greener's job, an' I know'd
that--but, I figgered you was all to the good. But things has happened
sence, that ain't all to the good--by a long shot. You've got some
explainin' to do, an' seein' we're so clost to camp, we better go on to
the office an' do it around the stove."

"We wouldn't get much chance to powwow in the office tonight. Hurley's
there, and the doctor, and Steve, and Lon Camden."

"The doctor?"

"Yes, those fellows beat Hurley up pretty bad, but he's coming along all
right. Steve stayed by him, and the doctor said it saved his life."

"You don't mean that sneakin' cookee that throw'd in with the I. W.
W.?"

"Yup."

"Well, I'll be doggoned! But, them bein' in the office don't alter the
case none. We might's well have things open an' above board."

Connie leaned forward and placed his hand on the man's arm. "What I've
got to say, I want to say to you, and to no one else. I wanted to play
the game alone, but while I was trailing you down from Willow River, I
decided I'd have to let you in on it."

"You know'd I follered you up there?"

"Of course I knew it. Didn't I help you string that racket?"

Saginaw shook his head in resignation. "We might's well have it out
right here," he said. "I don't git you. First off, you figger how to
catch them jaspers with the goods an' lock 'em up. Then you throw in
with Slue Foot. Then you hike up to the Syndicate camp an' is thicker'n
thieves with the boss. Then you pop up in a blizzard in the middle of
the night an' cut me loose. Then you turn 'round an' let them hounds go
when we could of nailed 'em where they set--seems like you've bit off
quite a contract to make all them things jibe. Go ahead an' spit 'er
out--an' believe me, it'll be an earful! First, though, you tell me
where them I. W. W.'s is goin' an' how you know. If I ain't satisfied,
I'm a-goin' to hit right back an' git 'em while the gittin's good."

"They're going up to work for the Syndicate in the Willow River Camp."

"Know'd they was loose an' slipped up to git 'em a job, did you?" asked
Saginaw sarcastically.

Connie grinned. "No. But there's a big job ahead of you and me this
winter--to save the timber and clear Hurley's name."

"What do you know about Hurley an' the timber?"

"Not as much as I will by spring. But I do know that we lost $14,000 on
this job last winter. You see, I'm one of the owners."

"One of the owners!" Saginaw exclaimed incredulously.

"Yes. I've got the papers here to prove it. You couldn't read 'em in the
dark, so you'll have to take my word for it 'til we get where you can
read 'em. Waseche Bill is my partner and we live in Ten Bow, Alaska.
Soon after Hurley's report reached us, showing the loss, a letter came
from Mike Gillum, saying that Hurley was in the pay of the
Syndicate----"

"He's a liar!" cried Saginaw wrathfully shaking his mittened fist in
Connie's face. "I've know'd Hurley, man an' boy, an' they never was a
squarer feller ever swung an axe. Who is this here Mike Gillum? Lead me
to him! I'll tell him to his face he's a liar, an' then I'll prove it by
givin' him the doggonest lickin' he ever got--an' I don't care if he's
big as a meetin' house door, neither!"

"Wait a minute, Saginaw, and listen. I know Hurley's square. But I
didn't know it until I got acquainted with him. I came clear down from
Alaska to catch him with the goods, and that's why I hired out to him.
But, Mike Gillum is square, too. He's boss of the Syndicate camp on
Willow River. A clerk in the Syndicate office told him that the
Syndicate was paying Hurley, and Mike wrote to Waseche Bill. He's a
friend of Waseche's--used to prospect in Alaska----"

"I don't care if he used to prospeck in heaven! He's a liar if he says
Hurley ever double crossed any one!"

"Hold on, I think I've got an idea of what's going on here and it will
be up to us to prove it. The man that's doing the double crossing is
Slue Foot Magee. I didn't like his looks from the minute I first saw
him. Then he began to hint that there were ways a forty-dollar-a-month
clerk could double his wages, and when I pretended to fall in with his
scheme he said that when they begin laying 'em down he'll show me how to
shade the cut. And more than that, he said he had something big he'd let
me in on later, provided I kept my eyes and ears open to what went on in
the office."

"An' you say you an' yer pardner owns this here timber?"

"That's just what I said."

"Then Slue Foot's ondertook to show you a couple of schemes where you
kin steal consider'ble money off yerself?"

Connie laughed. "That's it, exactly."

Saginaw Ed remained silent for several moments. "Pervidin' you kin show
them papers, an' from what I've saw of you, I ain't none surprised if
you kin, how come it that yer pardner sent a kid like you way down here
on what any one ort to know would turn out to be a rough job anyways you
look at it?"

"He didn't send me--I came. He wanted to come himself, but at that time
we thought it was Hurley we were after, and Hurley knows Waseche so he
could never have found out anything, even if he had come down. And
besides, I've had quite a lot of experience in jobs like this. I served
a year with the Mounted."

"The Mounted! You don't mean the Canady Mounted Police!"

"Yes, I do."

There was another long silence, then the voice of Saginaw rumbled almost
plaintively through the dark, "Say, kid, you ain't never be'n
_President_, have you?"

Connie snickered. "No, I've never been President. And if there's nothing
else you want to know right now, let's hit the hay. We've both done some
man's size mushing today."

"You spoke a word, kid," answered Saginaw, rising to his feet; "I
wouldn't put no crookedness whatever past Slue Foot. But that didn't
give this here Gillum no license to blackguard Hurley in no letter."

"Has Hurley ever worked for the Syndicate?" asked Connie.

"No, he ain't. I know every job he's had in Minnesoty an' Westconsin.
Then he went out West to Idyho, or Montany, or somewheres, an' this
here's the first job he's had sence he come back."

"What I've been thinking is that Slue Foot has passed himself off to the
Syndicate as Hurley. They know that Hurley is boss of this camp, but
they don't know him by sight. It's a risky thing to do, but I believe
Slue Foot has done it."

"Well, jumpin' Jerushelam! D'you s'pose he'd of dared?"

"That's what we've got to find out--and we've got to do it alone. You
know Hurley better than I do, and you know that he's hot-headed, and you
know that if he suspected Slue Foot of doing that, he couldn't wait to
get the evidence so we could get him with the goods. He'd just naturally
sail into him and beat him to a pulp."

Saginaw chuckled. "Yes, an' then he'd squeeze the juice out of the pulp
to finish off with. I guess yer right, kid. It's up to me an' you. But
how'd you know them I. W. W.'s is headin' fer Willer River?"

"Because I heard Slue Foot tell them to."

"Slue Foot!"

"Yes, I forgot to tell you that Slue Foot is an I. W. W., too. I didn't
know it myself 'til tonight. You see, when I got back to camp and found
that Hurley's prisoners had made a get-away, I knew right then why you
had turned off the back trail from Willow River. I knew they'd treat you
like they did Hurley, or worse, so I hit the trail."

"Wasn't they no one else handy you could of brung along?" asked Saginaw,
drily.

"The whole camp would have jumped at the chance--and you know it! And
you know what they'd have done when they caught 'em. I knew I could
travel faster and make less noise than a big gang, and I knew I could
handle the job when I got there. I had slipped up and was watching when
Pierce took you into the timber. He did that because they heard someone
coming. It was Slue Foot, and he brought 'em a grub stake and some
blankets. They knew he was an I. W. W., and they'd managed to slip him
the word that they were loose. They wanted him to stake them to some
money, too, but Slue Foot said he didn't have any, and told them to get
a job up on Willow River. He told them they'd be safer there than they
would anywhere down along the railroad."

"Yes, but how'd you know they'll go there?"

"They can't go any place else," laughed the boy. "They're broke, and
they've only got a little bit of grub."

"When we goin' up an' git 'em?" persisted Saginaw.

"We'll let the sheriff do that for us, then the whole thing will be
according to law."

"I guess that's right," assented the man, as the two swung down the tote
road.

"We'd better roll in in the men's camp," suggested Connie, as they
reached the clearing. A little square of light from the office window
showed dimly through the whirling snow, and, approaching noiselessly,
the two peeked in. Mounded blankets covered the sleeping forms of the
doctor and Lon Camden; Hurley's bandaged head was visible upon his
coarse pillow, and beside him sat Steve, wide awake, with the bottles of
medicine within easy reach.

"Half past one!" exclaimed Saginaw, glancing at the little clock. "By
jiminetty, kid, it's time we was to bed!"



CHAPTER XII

SHADING THE CUT


It was nine o'clock the following morning when Connie was awakened by
someone bending over him. It was Saginaw, and the boy noticed that his
cap and mackinaw were powdered with snow.

"Still snowing, eh? Why didn't you wake me up before?"

"It's 'bout quit, an' as fer wakin' you up," he grinned, "I didn't
hardly dast to. If I was the owner of an outfit an' any doggone
lumberjack woke me up 'fore I was good an' ready I'd fire him."

"Oh, you want to see my papers, do you?" grinned Connie.

"Well, I might take a squint at 'em. But that ain't what I come fer. The
boss is a whole lot better, an' the doctor's a-goin' back. What I want
to know is, why can't he swear out them warrants ag'in them three I. W.
W.'s an' have it over with? I didn't say nothin' to Hurley 'bout them
bein' located, er he'd of riz up an' be'n half ways to Willer River by
now."

"Sure, he can swear out the warrants! I'll slip over to the office and
get their names out of the time book, and while I'm gone you might look
over these." The boy selected several papers from a waterproof wallet
which he drew from an inner pocket and passed them over to Saginaw, then
he finished dressing and hurried over to the office. Hurley was asleep,
and, copying the names from the book, Connie returned to the men's camp.

"You're the goods all right," said Saginaw, admiringly, as he handed
back the papers. "From now on I'm with you 'til the last gap, as the
feller says. You've got more right down nerve than I ever know'd a kid
could have, an' you've got the head on you to back it. Yer good enough
fer me--you say the word, an' I go the limit." He stuck out his hand,
which Connie gripped strongly.

"You didn't have to tell me that, Saginaw," answered the boy, gravely,
"if you had, you would never have had the chance."

Saginaw Ed removed his hat and scratched his head thoughtfully. "That
there'll strike through 'bout dinner time, I guess. But I suspicion what
you mean, an'--I'm obliged."

"Here are the names for the doctor--better tell him to swear out
warrants both for arson and for attempted murder."

"Yes, sir," answered Saginaw, respectfully.

"Yes, _what!_"

The man grinned sheepishly. "Why--I guess--bein' I was talkin' to the
owner----"

"Look here, Saginaw," interrupted the boy, wrathfully, "you just forget
this 'owner' business, and don't you start 'siring' me! What do you want
to do--give this whole thing away? Up where I live they don't call a man
'sir' just because he happens to have a little more dust than somebody
else. It ain't the 'Misters' and the 'Sirs' that are the big men up
there; it's the 'Bills' and the 'Jacks' and the 'Scotties' and the
'Petes'--men that would get out and mush a hundred miles to carry grub
to a scurvy camp instead of sitting around the stove and hiring someone
else to do it--men that have gouged gravel and stayed with the game,
bucking the hardest winters in the world, sometimes with only half
enough to eat--men with millions, and men that don't own the tools they
work with! My own father was one of 'em. 'The unluckiest man in Alaska,'
they called him! He never made a strike, but you bet he was a man! There
isn't a man that knew him, from Skagway to Candle, and from Candle to
Dawson and beyond, that isn't proud to call him friend. Sam Morgan they
call him--and they don't put any 'Mister' in front of it, either!"

Saginaw Ed nodded slowly, and once more he seized the boy's hand in a
mighty grip. "I git you, kid. I know they's a lot of good men up in your
country--but, somehow, I've got a hunch they kind of overlooked a bet
when they're callin' your pa onlucky." He took the slip of paper upon
which Connie had written the names. At the door he turned. "We begin
layin' 'em down today," he said. "Shouldn't wonder an' what Slue Foot'll
be down 'fore very long fer to give you yer first lesson."

"Hurley will think I'm a dandy, showing up at ten o'clock in the
morning."

"Never you mind that," said Saginaw; "I fixed that part up all
right--told him you was up 'til after one o'clock helpin' me git things
strung out fer to begin work today."

Connie bolted a hasty breakfast, and, as he made his way from the cook's
camp to the office, sounds came from the woods beyond the clearing--the
voices of men calling loudly to each other as they worked, the ring of
axes, and the long crash of falling trees. The winter's real work had
begun, and Connie smiled grimly as he thought of the cauldron of plot
and counter-plot that was seething behind the scenes in the peaceful
logging camp.

The boy found Hurley much improved, although still weak from the effects
of the terrible beating he had received at the hands of the escaped
prisoners. The big boss fumed and fretted at his enforced inactivity,
and bewailed the fact that he had given the doctor his word that he
would stay in his bunk for at least two days longer. "An' ut's partly
yer fault, wid yer talk av th' law--an' partly mine fer listenin' to
yez," he complained fiercely, in rich brogue, as Connie sat at his desk.
The boy's shoulders drooped slightly under the rebuke, but he answered
nothing. Suddenly Hurley propped himself up on his elbow. "Phy don't
yez tell me Oi'm a big liar?" he roared. "Ye was right, an' Oi know ut.
Don't pay no heed to me, kid. Oi've got a grouch fer lettin' them
shpalpeens git away. Furst Oi was thryin' to lay ut on Frinchy, an' him
the bist teamster in th' woods! Ut's loike a sp'ilt b'y Oi am, thryin'
to blame somewan f'r what c'udn't be helped at all. Ut was an accident
all togither, an' a piece av bad luck--an' there's an end to ut. Bring
me over yer book, now, an' Oi'll show ye about kaypin' thim logs."

[Illustration: "PHY DON'T YEZ TELL ME OI'M A BIG LIAR?" HE ROARED.]

Connie soon learned the simple process of bookkeeping, and hardly had he
finished when the door opened and Slue Foot Magee entered.

"Well, well! They sure beat ye up bad, boss. I heerd about it on my way
down. I'd like to lay hands on them crooks, an' I bet they'd think twict
before they beat another man up! But yer a fightin' man, Hurley; they
must of got ye foul."

"Foul is the word. When the wagon tipped over my head hit a tree an'
that's the last I remember 'til I come to an' the boy, Steve, was
bathin' my head with snow an' tyin' up my cuts with strips of his
shirt."

"Too bad," condoled Slue Foot, shaking his head sympathetically; "an'
they got plumb away?"

"Sure they did. It wasn't so far to the railroad, an' the snow fallin'
to cover their tracks. But, Oi'll lay holt av 'em sometime!" he cried,
relapsing into his brogue. "An' whin Oi do, law er no law, Oi'll bust
'em woide open clane to their dirty gizzards!"

"Sure ye will!" soothed Slue Foot. "But, it's better ye don't go
worryin' about it now. They're miles away, chances is, mixed up with a
hundred like 'em in some town er nother. I started the cuttin' this
mornin'. I'm workin' to the north boundary, an' then swing back from the
river."

Hurley nodded: "That's right. We want to make as good a showin' as we
kin this year, Slue Foot. Keep 'em on the jump, but don't crowd 'em too
hard."

Slue Foot turned to Connie: "An' now, if ye hain't got nawthin' better
to do than set there an' beaver that pencil, ye kin come on up to Camp
Two an' I'll give ye the names of the men."

"If you didn't have anything better to do than hike down here, why
didn't you stick a list of the names in your pocket?" flashed the boy,
who had found it hard to sit and listen to the words of the
double-dealing boss of Camp Two.

"Kind of sassy, hain't ye?" sneered Slue Foot. "We'll take that out of
ye, 'fore yer hair turns grey. D'ye ever walk on rackets?"

"Some," answered Connie. "I guess I can manage to make it."

Slue Foot went out, and Hurley motioned the boy to his side. "Don't pay
no heed to his growlin' an' grumblin', it was born in him," he
whispered.

"I'll show him one of these days I ain't afraid of him," answered the
boy, so quickly that Hurley laughed.

"Hurry along, then," he said. "An' if ye git back in time I've a notion
to send ye out after a pa'tridge. Saginaw says yer quite some sport with
a rifle."

"That's the way to work it, kid," commended Slue Foot, as Connie bent
over the fastenings of his snow-shoes. "I'll growl an' you sass every
time we're ketched together. 'Twasn't that I'd of made ye hike way up to
my camp jest fer to copy them names, but the time's came fer to begin to
git lined up on shadin' the cut, an' we jest nachelly had to git away
from the office. Anyways it won't hurt none to git a good trail broke
between the camps."

"There ain't any chance of getting caught at this graft, is there?"
asked the boy.

"Naw; that is, 'tain't one chanct in a thousan'. Course, it stan's to
reason if a man's playin' fer big stakes he's got to take a chanct. Say,
where'd you learn to walk on rackets? You said you hadn't never be'n in
the woods before."

"I said I'd never worked in the woods--I've hunted some."

The talk drifted to other things as the two plodded along the tote road,
but once within the little office at Camp Two, Slue Foot plunged
immediately into his scheme. "It's like this: The sawyers gits paid by
the piece--the more they cut, the more pay they git. The logs is scaled
after they're on the skidways. Each pair of sawyers has their mark they
put on the logs they cut, an' the scaler puts down every day what each
pair lays down. Then every night he turns in the report to you, an' you
copy it in the log book. The total cut has got to come out right--the
scaler knows all the time how many feet is banked on the rollways. I've
got three pair of sawyers that's new to the game, an' they hain't
a-goin' to cut as much as the rest. The scaler won't never look at your
books, 'cause it hain't none of his funeral if the men don't git what's
a-comin' to 'em. He keeps his own tally of the total cut. Same with the
walkin' boss--that's Hurley. All he cares is to make a big showin'.
He'll have an eye on the total cut, an' he'll leave it to Saginaw an' me
to see that the men gits what's comin' to 'em in our own camps. Now,
what you got to do is to shade a little off each pair of sawyers' cut
an' add it onto what's turned in fer them three pair I told you about.
Then, in the spring, when these birds cashes their vouchers in town,
I'm right there to collect the overage."

"But," objected Connie, "won't the others set up a howl? Surely, they
will know that these men are not cutting as much as they are."

"How they goin' to find out what vouchers them six turns in? They hain't
a-goin' to show no one their vouchers."

"But, won't the others know they're being credited with a short cut?"

"That's where you come in. You got to take off so little that they won't
notice it. Sawyers only knows _about_ how much they got comin'. They
only guess at the cut. A little offen each one comes to quite a bit by
spring."

"But, what if these men that get the overage credited to 'em refuse to
come across?"

Slue Foot grinned evilly: "I'll give 'em a little bonus fer the use of
their names," he said. "But, they hain't a-goin' to refuse to kick in.
I've got their number. They hain't a one of the hull six of 'em that I
hain't got somethin' on, an' they know it."

"All right," said Connie, as he arose to go. "I'm on. And don't forget
that you promised to let me in on something bigger, later on."

"I won't fergit. It looks from here like me an' you had a good thing."

An hour later Connie once more entered the office at Camp One. Steve sat
beside Hurley, and Saginaw Ed stood warming himself with his back to the
stove.

"Back ag'in," greeted the big boss. "How about it, ye too tired to swing
out into the brush with the rifle? Seems like they wouldn't nothin' in
the world taste so good as a nice fat pa'tridge. An' you tell the cook
if he dries it up when he roasts it, he better have his turkey packed
an' handy to grab."

"I'm not tired at all," smiled Connie, as he took Saginaw's rifle from
the wall. "It's too bad those fellows swiped your gun, but I guess I can
manage to pop off a couple of heads with this."

"You'd better run along with him, Steve," said Hurley, as he noted that
the other boy eyed Connie wistfully. "The walk'll do ye good. Ye hain't
hardly stretched a leg sense I got hurt. The kid don't mind, do ye,
kid?"

"You bet I don't!" exclaimed Connie heartily. "Come on, Steve, we'll
tree a bunch of 'em and then take turns popping their heads off."

As the two boys made their way across the clearing, Hurley raised
himself on his elbow, and stared after them through the window: "Say,
Saginaw," he said, "d'ye know there's a doggone smart kid."

"Who?" asked the other, as he spat indifferently into the wood box.

"Why, this here Connie. Fer a greener, I never see his beat."

"Yeh," answered Saginaw, drily, his eyes also upon the retreating backs,
"he's middlin' smart, all right. Quite some of a kid--fer a greener."



CHAPTER XIII

SAGINAW ED HUNTS A CLUE


"Hello!" cried Saginaw Ed, as he stared in surprise at a wide, flat
trail in the snow. The exclamation brought Connie Morgan to his side.
The two were hunting partridges and rabbits, and their wanderings had
carried them to the extreme western edge of the timber tract, several
miles distant from the camps that were located upon the Dogfish River,
which formed its eastern boundary. Despite the fact that the work of
both camps was in full swing, these two found frequent opportunity to
slip out into the timber for a few hours' hunt, which answered the
twofold purpose of giving them a chance to perfect their plans for the
undoing of Slue Foot Magee, and providing a welcome addition to the salt
meat bill of fare.

"Wonder who's be'n along here? 'Tain't no one from the camps--them's
Injun snow-shoes. An' they ain't no one got a right to hunt here,
neither. Hurley posted the hull trac' account of not wantin' no
permiscu's shootin' goin' on with the men workin' in the timber. Them
tracks is middlin' fresh, too."

"Made yesterday," opined Connie, as he examined the trail closely.
"Travelling slow, and following his own back trail."

Saginaw nodded approval. "Yup," he agreed. "An', bein' as he was
travellin' slow, he must of went quite a little piece. He wasn't
carryin' no pack."

"Travelling light," corroborated the boy. "And he went up and came back
the same day."

"Bein' as he headed north and come back from there, it ain't goin' to do
us no hurt to kind of find out if he's hangin' 'round clost by. They
ain't nothing north of us, in a day's walk an' back, except the
Syndicate's Willer River camp. An', spite of yer stickin' up fer him, I
don't trust that there Mike Gillum, nor no one else that would claim
Hurley throw'd in with the Syndicate." The man struck into the trail,
and Connie followed. They had covered scarcely half a mile when Saginaw
once more halted in surprise.

"Well, I'll be doggoned if there ain't a dugout! An' onless I'm quite a
bit off my reckonin', it's inside our line." For several moments the two
scrutinized the structure, which was half cabin, half dugout. From the
side of a steep bank the log front of the little building protruded into
the ravine. Smoke curled lazily from a stovepipe that stuck up through
the snow-covered roof. The single window was heavily frosted, and a deep
path had been shovelled through a huge drift that reached nearly to the
top of the door. The trail the two had been following began and ended at
that door, and without hesitation they approached and knocked loudly.
The door opened, and in the dark oblong of the interior stood the
grotesque figure of a little old man. A pair of bright, watery eyes
regarded them from above a tangle of grey beard, and long grey hair
curled from beneath a cap of muskrat skin from which the fur was worn in
irregular patches. "Phwat d'yez want?" he whined, in a voice cracked and
thin. "Is ut about me money?"

[Illustration: "PHWAT D'YEZ WANT?" HE WHINED.]

"Yer money?" asked Saginaw. "We don't know nothin' about no money. We're
from the log camps over on Dogfish. What we want to know is what ye're
doin' here?"

"Doin' here!" exclaimed the little old man. "Oi'm livin' here, that's
what Oi'm doin'--jest like Oi've done f'r fifteen year. Come on in av ye
want to palaver. Oi'm owld an' like to freeze standin' here in th'
dure, an' if ye won't come in, g'wan away, an' bad cess to yez f'r not
bringin' me back me money."

Saginaw glanced at Connie and touched his forehead significantly. As
they stepped into the stuffy interior, the old man closed the door and
fastened it with an oak bar. Little light filtered through the heavily
frosted window, and in the semi-darkness the two found difficulty
picking their way amid the litter of traps, nets, and firewood that
covered the floor. The little room boasted no chair, but, seating
himself upon an upturned keg, the owner motioned his visitors to the
bunk that was built along the wall within easy reach of the little cast
iron cooking stove that served also to heat the room.

"Ye say ye've lived here for fifteen years?" asked Saginaw, as he drew
off his heavy mittens.

"Oi have thot."

"Ye wasn't here last winter."

"Thot's whut Oi'm afther tellin' yez. Last winter I wuz to the city."

"This here shack looks like it's old, all right," admitted Saginaw.
"Funny no one run acrost it last winter."

"Ut snowed airly," cut in the little man, "an' if they ain't no wan here
to dig her out, she'd drift plumb under on th' furst wind."

"Who are you?" asked Connie. "And what do you do for a living? And what
did you mean about your money?"

"Who sh'd Oi be but Dinny O'Sullivan? 'An' phwat do Oi do fer a livin'?'
sez ye. 'Til last winter Oi worked f'r Timothy McClusky, thot owned this
trac' an' w'd died befoor he'd av sold ut to th' Syndicate. Good wages,
he paid me, an' Oi kep' off th' timber thayves, an' put out foires, an'
what not. An' Oi thrapped an' fished betoimes an' Oi made me a livin'.
Thin, McClusky sold th' timber. 'Ye betther come on back wid me, Dinny,'
sez he. 'Back to the owld sod. Ut's rich Oi'll be over there, Dinny, an'
Oi'll see ye'll niver want.'

"But, ut's foorty year an' more since Oi come to Amurica, an' Oi'd be a
stranger back yon. 'Oi'll stay,' Oi sez, 'f'r Oi've got used to th'
woods, an' whin they cut down th' timber, Oi'll move on till somewheres
they ain't cut.' 'Ut's hatin' Oi am to lave yez behind, Dinny,' sez he,
'but, Oi won't lave ye poor, fer ye've served me well,' an' wid thot,
he puts his hand in his pocket loike, an' pulls out some bills, an' he
hands 'em to me. 'Put 'em by f'r a rainy day, Dinny,' he sez, an' thin
he wuz gone. Oi come insoide an' barred th' dure, an' Oi counted th'
money in me hand. Tin bills they wuz, all bright an' new an' clane, an'
aich bill wuz foive hunder' dollars. 'Twas more money thin Oi'd iver
see, or thought to see, an' ut wuz all moine--moine to kape or to spind,
to t'row away er to save. 'Oi'll save ut,' sez Oi, 'loike McClusky said,
ag'in' a rainy day.' An' Oi loosed a board in th' flure--'tiz th' wan to
th' left in under th' bunk, yonder--an' Oi put th' bills in a tobaccy
tin an' put 'em in th' hole Oi'd scooped out, an' put back th' board."
The little old man paused and poked noisily at the stove, fumbled in his
pockets and produced a short, black cutty pipe and a pouch of tobacco,
and continued:

"Oi've wor-rked hard from six years owld to siventy, but ut's not in th'
name av O'Sullivan to lay an-nything by. 'Twus come hard an' go
aisy--but f'r a month Oi niver lifted th' board. Thin wan day Oi tuk 'em
out an' counted 'em. Th' nixt wake Oi done th' same. Th' days begun to
git shorter, an' th' noights colder, an' th' ducks come whistlin' out
av th' narth. Ivery day, now, Oi'd take thim bills out an' count 'em. Oi
cut three little notches in the carners wid me knife--'tis the mark Oi
file on me thraps, so whin an-nyone sees 'em, 'Tiz Dinny O'Sullivan's
bill,' they'll say, an' Oi can't lose 'em. ''Tiz a cowld winter comin',
Dinny,' sez Oi, 'f'r th' mushrats is buildin' airly. Yer gittin' owld
f'r th' thrappin',' sez Oi, but Oi know'd 'twuz a loie whin Oi said ut;
'beloike ye'd betther go to th' city.' 'Ye'll not!' sez Oi, moindin'
what McClusky said about a rainy day. An' Oi put back th' bills an'
covered thim wid th' board. Th' nixt day ut wuz cloudy an' cowld, an' Oi
set be th' stove an' counted me bills. 'Th' loights is bright av an
avenin' in th' city, Dinny,' Oi sez, 'an' there's shows an' what not,
an' min av yer koind to palaver. Ut's loike a mink ye'll be livin' in
yer hole in th' woods av ye stay. There's too much money, an-nyhow,' Oi
sez; 'av ye don't git sick, ye don't nade ut, an' if ye do, 'twill
outlast ye, an' whin ye die, who'll have th' spindin' av thim clane new
bills? They's prob'ly O'Sullivans lift unhung yit in Oirland,' sez
Oi--though av me mimory's good, they's few that aught to be--'Oi'll
spend 'em mesilf.' Th' wind wailed t'rough th' trees loike th' banshee.
Oi looked out th' windie--'twuz rainin'. ''Tis a token,' sez Oi; ''tiz
th' rainy day thot McClusky said w'd come.'" The old man chuckled. "'Tiz
loike thot a man argys whin ut's himself's th' judge an' jury.

"So Oi put th' bills in me pocket an' tuck th' thrain fer St. Paul. Oi
seen Moike Gillum on th' thrain an' Oi show'd um me money. 'Go back to
th' woods, Dinny,' he sez. 'There's no fool loike an owld fool, ye'll
moind, an' they'll have ut away from yez.' 'They'll not!' sez Oi. 'An'
Oi'll be betther fer a year av rist.' He thried to argy but Oi'd have
none av ut, an' Oi put up wid th' Widdy MacShane, 'twuz half-sister to a
cousin av a frind av moine Oi know'd in Brainard in nointy-sivin. Foive
dollars a week Oi paid fer board an' room an' washin'--Oi'd live in
style wid no thought fer expince. Oi bought me a hat an' a suit wid
brass buttons t'w'd done proud to Brian Boru himsilf."

The old man paused and looked out the window. "To make a long story
short, be Christmas Oi wuz toired av me bargain. Oi've lived in th'
woods too long, an' Oi'll lave 'em no more. Oi stuck ut out 'til th'
spring, but, what wid th' frinds Oi'd picked up to hilp me spind ut,
an' th' clothes, an' th' shows ut costed me three av me clane new bills.
Comin' back Oi shtopped off at Riverville, an' showed Mike Gillum the
sivin Oi had lift. 'Yez done well, Dinny,' sez he. 'An' now will yez go
to th' woods?' 'Oi will,' sez Oi, 'f'r Oi'm tired av ristin'. But Oi'm
glad Oi wint, an' Oi don't begrudge th' money, f'r sivin is aisier thin
tin to count an-nyway an' Oi've enough av ut rains f'r a year.' So Oi
come back an' wuz snug as a bug in a rug, 'til ut's mebbe two wakes ago,
an' snowin' that day, an' they comed a Frinchy along, an' he sez, 'Oi've
a noice fat deer hangin'; ut's a matther av a couple av moile from here.
Av ye'll hilp me cut um up, Oi'll give ye th' shoulders an' rib
mate--f'r ut's only th' quarters Oi want.' Oi wint along an' we cut up
th' deer, an' he give me th' mate an' Oi packed ut home. Whin Oi got
back Oi seen somewan had be'n here. Ut wuz snowin' hard, an' th' thracks
wuz drifted full loike th' wans me an' th' Frinchy made whin we started
off to cut up th' deer, so Oi know'd the other had come jist afther we
lift. I dropped me mate an' run in an' pulled up th' board. Th' tobaccy
tin wuz impty! Th' thracks headed narth, an' Oi tuck out afther th'
dirthy spalpeen, but th' snow got worse an' Oi had to turn back. Whin ut
quit Oi wint to Willow River where Mike Gillum is runnin' a Syndicate
crew, but he said they wuzn't none av his men gone off th' job. 'Oi'll
do all Oi kin to thry an' locate th' thafe,' sez he; 'but yez sh'd put
yer money in th' bank, Dinny.' Well, Oi hurd nawthin' more from him, an'
this marnin' Oi wint up there ag'in. He'd found out nawthin', an' he sez
how he don't think ut wuz wan av his min--so Oi comed back, an' th' nixt
thing Oi knows yez two comed along--ye've th' whole story now, an' ye'll
know av th' rainy days comes, Dinny O'Sullivan's a-goin' to git wet."

"What d'ye think of yer fine friend, Mike Gillum now?" asked Saginaw Ed,
breaking a silence that had lasted while they had travelled a mile or so
through the woods from Denny O'Sullivan's cabin.

"Just the same as I did before," answered Connie, without a moment's
hesitation. "You don't think Mike Gillum swiped the old man's money, do
you?"

Saginaw stopped in his tracks and faced the boy wrathfully. "Oh, no! I
don't think he could possibly have swiped it," he said, with ponderous
sarcasm. "There ain't no chanct he did--seein' as he was the only one
that know'd the money was there--an' seein' how the tracks headed
north--an' seein' how he denied it. It couldn't of be'n him! The old
man's got his own word fer it that it wasn't."

"If those I. W. W.'s wer'n't locked up safe in jail, I'd think they got
the money. I know it wasn't Mike Gillum," maintained the boy, stoutly.
"If you knew Mike you wouldn't think that."

"I don't know him, an' I don't want to know him! It's enough that I know
Hurley. An' anyone that would claim Hurley was crooked, I wouldn't put
it beyond him to do nothin' whatever that's disreligious, an' low-down,
an' onrespectable. He done it! An' him writin' like he done about
Hurley, _proves_ that he done it--an' that's all they is to it."

Connie saw the uselessness of arguing with the woodsman whose devoted
loyalty to his boss prevented his seeing any good whatever in the man
who had sought to cast discredit upon him. "All right," he grinned. "But
I'm going to find out who did do it, and I bet when I do, it won't be
Mike Gillum that's to blame."

Saginaw's momentary huff vanished, and he shook his head in resignation,
as he returned the boy's grin. "I've saw a raft of folks, take it first
an' last, but never none that was right down as stubborn as what you be.
But, about findin' out who got the old man's money, you've bit off more
than you kin chaw. You ain't got enough to go on." A partridge flew up
with a whirr and settled upon the bare branch of a young birch a few
yards farther on. Saginaw took careful aim and shot its head off. "I got
one on you this time, anyhow. That's five fer me, an' four fer you, an'
it's gittin' too dark to see the sights."

"Guess that's right," admitted the boy. "But I'll get even, when I show
you who raided the old man's cabin."

"'Spect I'll do a little projektin' 'round myself, if I git time. It
might be such a thing I'll git _two_ on ye." Thus they engaged in
friendly banter until the yellow lights that shone from the windows of
the camp buildings welcomed them across the clearing.

The next day Connie hunted up Frenchy Lamar. He found him in the stable
carefully removing the ice bangles from the fetlocks of his beloved
horses. He had spent the morning breaking trail on the tote road.

"Why don't you get yourself some real horses?" teased the boy. "One of
those log team horses will outweigh the whole four of yours."

"Log team! _Sacre!_ Dem hosses fat, lak wan peeg! Dey go 'bout so fas'
lak wan porkypine! Dey drag de log 'roun' de woods. Dey got for have de
ice road for haul de beeg load to de rollway. But, me--I'm tak' ma four
gran' hoss, I'm heetch dem oop, I'm climb on ma sleigh, I'm crack ma
wheep, an--monjee! Dem hoss she jomp 'long de tote road, de bells dey
ring lak de Chreestmas tam, de snow fly oop from de hoof, an' dem hoss
dey ron t'rough de woods so fas' lak de deer! Me--I ain' trade wan
leetle chonk ma hoss's tail for all de beeg fat log team w'at ees een de
woods."

"You're all right, Frenchy," laughed the boy. "But, tell me, why didn't
you slip me a chunk of that venison you brought in the other day?"

The Frenchman glanced about swiftly. "_Non!_ W'at you mean--de
_venaison_? I ain' keel no deer--me. Hurley she say you ain' kin keel
no deer w'en de season ees close."

"Sure, I know you didn't kill it. But you brought it in. What I want to
know is, who did kill it?"

"I ain' breeng no _venaison_ een dis camp since de season git shut."

"Oh, you took it to Camp Two! Slue Foot shot the deer, did he?"

"How you fin' dat out? Hurley ain' lak I'm tak' de _venaison_ to Camp
Two, no mor' lak Camp Wan. She fin' dat out she git mad, I'm t'ink she
bus' me wan on ma nose."

"Hurley don't know anything about it," reassured the boy. "And I'll give
you my word he never will find out from me. I just happen to want to
know who sent you after that meat. I won't squeal on either one of you.
You can trust me, can't you?"

"_Oui_," answered the teamster, without hesitation. "You pass de
word--dat good. Slue Foot, she keel dat deer wan tam, an' hang heem oop
to freeze. Wan day she say, 'Frenchy, you go rat ovaire on de wes' line
an' git de deer wat I'm got hangin'.' I ain' lak dat mooch, but Slue
Foot say: 'She startin' for snow an' you track git cover oop. Me an'
you we have wan gran' feast in de office, an' Hurley she ain' gon fin
dat out. Wan leetle ol' man she got cabin 'bout two mile nort' of where
de deer hang by de creek where four beeg maple tree stan' close beside.
You git de ol' man to help you cut oop de meat, an' you breeng de hine
qua'ter, an' give heem de res'. He ees poor ol' man, an' lak to git som'
meat.' I'm t'ink dat pret' good t'ing Slue Foot lak to giv' som' poor
ol' man de meat, so I gon an' done lak he says."

"It was snowing that day, was it?"

"_Oui_, she snow hard all day. I'm git back 'bout noon, an' ma tracks
ees snow full."

"Was Slue Foot here when you got back?"

"_Oui_, an' dat night we hav' de gran' suppaire. Slue Foot say dat
better you ain' say nuttin' 'bout dat deer, 'cause Hurley she git mad
lak t'undaire. I'm tell you 'bout dat 'cause I'm know you ain' gon' try
for mak' no trouble. Plenty deer in de woods, anyhow."

Connie nodded. "Yes, but orders are orders. If I were you I wouldn't
have anything to do with deer killed out of season. Suppose Hurley had
found out about that deer instead of me. You'd have been in a nice fix.
When Hurley gives an order he generally sees that it's obeyed."

"Dat rat," agreed Frenchy, with alacrity. "Dat better I ain' got Hurley
mad on me, ba goss!"



CHAPTER XIV

A PAIR OF SOCKS


A week later Connie was roused from his desk in the little office by the
sound of bells. There was a loud "Whoa!" and Frenchy, wearing his long
stocking cap of brilliant red yarn, and clad in his gayest mackinaw,
pulled up his four-horse tote-team with a flourish before the door, and
stepped smiling from the sleigh.

"W'at you t'ink, now, _m's'u l'infant_? S'pose I'm trade ma gran' team
for de beeg fat log hoss, de cook she don' git no supply for wan week.
Den, mebbe-so you got to eat porkypine an' spruce tea. Me--I'm back
to-mor' night, wit ma gran' tote-team, _bien!_"

Connie laughed. "I guess you've got the right team for the job, Frenchy.
But it seems to me you picked out a bad day for the trail." It had
turned suddenly warm during the night, and the boy indicated a shallow
pool of muddy water that had collected in the depression before the
door.

"De snow she melt fas' w'ere she all tromp down an' dirty, but on de
tote road w'ere she w'ite an' clean she ain' melt so fas'." He paused
and cocked an eye skyward. "I'm git to Dogfish before she melt an'
tonight she gon' for turn col', an' tomor', ba goss, I'm com' back on de
ice, lak de log road."

[Illustration: "WHAT'S THIS?" ASKED THE BOY, PUSHING UP A SMALL BUNDLE.]

"What's this?" asked the boy, picking up a small bundle done up in brown
wrapping paper that lay upon the seat of the sleigh.

"Oh, dat wan pair wool sock Slue Foot sen' down to Corky Dyer for ke'p
he's feet wa'm. I'm mak' dat go on de, w'at you call, de express."

Connie picked up the package and regarded it with apparent unconcern.
"Who's Corky Dyer?" he asked, casually.

"Corky Dyer, she ke'p de s'loon down to Brainard. She frien' for Slue
Foot, lak wan brudder."

As Frenchy's glance strayed to Steve, who came hurrying toward them with
his list of supplies from the cook's camp, Connie's foot suddenly
slipped, the package dropped from his hand squarely into the middle of
the puddle of dirty water, and the next instant the boy came heavily
down upon it with his knee.

"O-o-o-o!" wailed the excitable Frenchman, dancing up and down. "Now I'm
ketch, w'at you call, de t'undaire! Slue Foot, she git mad on me now, ba
goss! She say, 'You mak' dat leetle package los' I'm bre'k you in two!'"

Connie recovered the package, from which the wet paper was bursting in a
dozen places. He glanced at it ruefully for a moment, and then, as if
struck with a happy thought, he grinned. "We'll fix that all right," he
said reassuringly, and turned toward the door.

"_Non_," protested Frenchy, dolefully, "dat ain' no good, to put on de
new _papier_. De sock she got wet, an' de new _papier_ she bus', too."

"You just hold your horses----"

"I ain't got for hol' dem hosses. Dey broke to stan' so long I want
'em."

"Come on in the office, then," laughed the boy, "and I'll show you how
we'll fix it." Frenchy followed him in, and Connie opened the wanagan
chest. "We'll just make a new package, socks and all, and I'll copy the
address off on it, and Corky Dyer's feet will keep warm this winter just
the same."

"_Oui! Oui!_" approved the Frenchman, his face once more all smiles. He
patted the boy admiringly upon the back. "You got de gran' head on you
for t'ink."

"You don't need to say anything about this to Slue Foot," cautioned the
boy.

The Frenchman laughed. "Ha! Ha! You t'ink I'm gon' hont de trouble? Slue
Foot she git mad jes' de sam'. She lak for chance to growl. I tell him
'bout dat, I'm t'ink he bus' me in two."

It was but the work of a few minutes to duplicate the small bundle, and
the teamster took it from the boy's hand with a sigh of relief. "So
long!" he called gaily, as he climbed into the sleigh and gathered up
his reins with an air. "Som' tam' you lak you git de fas' ride, you com'
long wit' me." His long whip cracked, and the impatient tote-team sprang
out onto the trail.

Footsteps sounded outside the door, and Connie hurriedly thrust the
package into his turkey. Saginaw entered, and, with a vast assumption of
carelessness, walked to the wall and took down his rifle. "Guess I
might's well take a siyou out into the brush an' see what fer meat they
is stirrin'."

"Want a partner?"

"Sure," answered the man, "I wish't you could go 'long, but I don't
guess you better. The log roads is softenin' up, an' I give orders to
keep the teams offen 'em. They ain't nothin'll sp'ile a log road like
teamin' on 'em soft. The teamsters won't have nothin' to do, an' they'll
be hornin' in on ye all day, to git stuff out of the wanagan. Hurley an'
Lon's both up to Camp Two, so I guess yer elected to stick on the job."

"That's so," answered the boy, "but, I bet the real reason you don't
want me is because you're afraid I'd kill more game than you do."

"Well, ye might, at that," laughed Saginaw. "But we'll have plenty of
chances to try out that part of it. I'm gittin' old, but I ain't so old
but what I kin see the sights of a rifle yet." He drew the rackets from
under his bunk and passed out, and as Connie watched him swing across
the clearing, he grinned:

"You're hiking out to see if you can't hang a little evidence up against
Mike Gillum, and that's why you didn't want me along. Go to it, old
hand, but unless I miss my guess when you come in tonight you'll find
out that your game has turned into crow."

Saginaw had prophesied rightly. The wanagan did a land-office business
among the idle teamsters, and at no time during the day did Connie dare
to open the package that lay concealed in his turkey. Darkness came, and
the boy lighted the lamp. The teamsters continued to straggle in and
out, and, just as the boy was about to lock the office and go to supper,
Saginaw returned.

"What luck?" inquired Connie.

"Never got a decent shot all day," replied the man, as he put away his
rifle and snow-shoes. "I got somethin' to tell you, though, when we've
et supper. Chances is, Hurley an' Lon'll be late if they ain't back by
now. We kin powwow in the office onless they come, an' if they do, we
kin mosey out an' hunt us up a log."

Supper over, the two returned to the office and seated themselves beside
the stove. Saginaw filled his pipe and blew a great cloud of blue smoke
toward the ceiling. "I swung 'round by Willer River," he imparted, after
a few shorter puffs. Connie waited for him to proceed. "Ye mind, the old
man said how it was a Frenchy that got him to help cut up that deer?
Well, they's a raft of French workin' up there fer the Syndicate."

"Any of 'em been deer hunting lately?" asked the boy, innocently.

"Gosh sakes! How'd ye s'pose I kin tell? If I'd asked 'em they'd all
said 'no.' I jes' wanted to see if they was Frenchmens there."

Connie nodded. "That looks bad," he admitted.

"Yes, an' what's comin' looks worst. On the way back, I swung 'round by
the old Irishman's. He hadn't heard nothin' more from this here Mike
Gillum, so he went up ag'in yesterday to see him. Gillum claimed he
hadn't found out nothin', an' then the old man told him how he was
broke an' needed grub to winter through on. Well, Gillum up an' dug down
in his pocket an' loant him a hundred dollars!"

"Good for Mike Gillum!" exclaimed Connie. "That's what I call a man!"

"What d'ye mean--call a man?" cried Saginaw, disgustedly. "Look a-here,
you don't s'pose fer a minute that if Gillum hadn't of got the old man's
pile he'd of loant him no hundred dollars, do ye? How's he ever goin' to
pay it back? Gillum knows, an' everyone knows that's got any sense, that
what huntin' an' fishin' an' trappin' that old man kin do ain't only
goin' to make him a livin', at the best. He ain't never goin' to git
enough ahead to pay back no hundred dollars."

"So much the more credit to Gillum, then. What he did was to dig down
and give him a hundred."

"Give him a hundred! An' well he could afford to, seein' how he kep'
thirty-four hundred fer himself. Don't you think fer a minute, kid, that
any one that's low-down enough to blackguard a man like Hurley would
give away a hundred dollars--he'd see a man starve first. It's plain as
the nose on yer face. We've got a clear case, an' I'm a-goin' to git
out a search warrant ag'in' him, 'fore he gits a chanct to send that
money out of the woods. He's got it, an' I know it!"

Connie smiled broadly. "He must have got it while we were at supper,
then."

Saginaw regarded him curiously. "What d'ye mean--supper?" he asked.

For answer the boy crossed to his bunk, and, reaching into his turkey,
drew out the soggy package. "Do you know who Corky Dyer is?" he asked,
with seeming irrelevance.

"Sure, I know who Corky Dyer is--an' no good of him, neither. He lives
in Brainard, an' many's the lumberjack that's the worse off fer knowin'
him. But, what's Corky Dyer got to do with Mike Gillum an' the old man's
money?"

"Nothing, with Mike Gillum. I was only thinking I hope Corky can keep
his feet warm this winter, I sent him down a nice pair of wool socks
today."

Saginaw bent closer, and stared at the boy intently. "Be ye feelin' all
right, son?" he asked, with genuine concern.

"Sure, I feel fine. As I was going on to say, Slue Foot felt sorry for
Corky Dyer's feet, so he picked out a pair of nice warm socks----"

"Thought ye said----"

The boy ignored the interruption, "and gave them to Frenchy to send to
Corky by express. When Frenchy stopped here for his list I happened to
pick up the package and while I was looking at it my foot slipped and I
dropped it in a mud puddle and then fell on it. I hated to think of poor
Corky wearing those dirty wet socks, and I didn't want Frenchy to get an
awful bawling out from Slue Foot for not taking care of his package, so
I just took a new pair out of the wanagan and sent them to him. I guess,
now, we'd better open this package and wring these wet ones out, or
they'll spoil."

Saginaw continued to stare as the boy drew his knife and cut the cord.
Then he exploded angrily: "What in thunder d'ye s'pose I care about
Corky Dyer's socks? An' what's his socks got to do with gittin' old
Denny O'Sullivan's money back fer him? I thought ye was a better sport
than that--Ye see yer fine friend's got cornered, an' right away ye
switch off an' begin talkin' about Slue Foot, an' Frenchy, an' Corky
Dyer's wet socks! Fer my part, Corky Dyer's feet could git wet an'
froze fer six foot above 'em--an' it would be a good thing fer the
timber country, at that!"

As Saginaw raved on, Connie unrolled the grey woollen socks and smoothed
them out upon his knee. Saginaw watched, scowling disapproval as he
talked. "They's somethin' in one of 'em," he said with sudden interest.
"What's it got in it?"

Connie regarded him gravely. "I don't know, for sure--I haven't looked,
but I think maybe it's Denny O'Sullivan's missing bills."

Saginaw Ed's jaw dropped, and his hands gripped the chair arms till the
knuckles whitened, as the boy thrust his hand into the damp sock. "Yes,
that's what it is, all right," he said, as he drew forth the missing
bills. "They're not quite as new and clean, maybe, as they were, but
they're the ones--see the little notches in the corners, just like the
marks on his traps."

Saginaw stared in silence while the boy finished counting: "--five, six,
seven." Then, as full realization dawned upon him, he burst forth, and
the roars of his laughter filled the little log office. "Well, dog my
cats!" he howled, when at length he found his voice. "'My foot
slipped,' says he, 'an' I dropped it in a mud puddle an' fell on it!'"
He reached over and pounded the boy on the back with a huge hand. "You
doggone little cuss! Here you set all the time, with the missin' bills
tucked away safe an' sound in yer turkey--an' me trompin' my legs off
tryin' to find out what's became of 'em!" He thrust out his hand. "Ye
sure outguessed me, kid, an' I don't begrudge it. When it comes to
headwork, yer the captain--with a capital K. An' believe me! I'd give a
hull lot to be where I could see Corky Dyer's face when he unwrops that
package of socks!"

Connie laughed. "So you see," he said, as he shook the extended hand,
"we've got a clear case, all right--but not against Mike Gillum."



CHAPTER XV

HURLEY PREPARES FOR THE DRIVE


The two camps on Dogfish hummed with activity. Both Saginaw Ed and Slue
Foot Magee had their crews "laying 'em down" with an efficiency that
delighted the heart of Hurley, who came into the little office of Camp
One after an inspection of the rollways, fairly radiating approval and
good humour. That evening around the roaring stove the big walking boss
lighted his pipe, and tilting back in his chair, contentedly wriggled
his toes in the woollen socks, cocked comfortably upon the edge of his
bunk, the while he held forth upon the merits of his crews to Lon Camden
and Saginaw Ed and Connie Morgan who shared the quarters with him:

"The best crews ever went into the woods!" he began, "barrin' none. I've
logged from Westconsin to the coast, an' never I seen the like. It's
partly because the men is doin' what they never thought to be doin'
again--layin' down white pine. An' it's partly the bosses, an' the cook,
an' the scaler, an' the clerk. I'll show the owner a profit this year
that'll make him fergit last year's loss like a busted shoestring. I've
twict as many logs on the rollways of each camp as I had altogether last
year."

Lon Camden shook his head: "Yeh, that's so, Hurley, but logs on the
rollways ain't logs at the mills. Ye had enough banked along the river
last year to show a good profit--an' ye can bet yer last dollar the
Syndicate's foulin' our drive wasn't no accident."

"But our brands was on the logs," insisted Hurley. "Even the Syndicate
wouldn't dare to saw branded logs."

The scaler shook his head doubtfully: "I do'no, boss, some one sawed
'em. To my certain knowledge there was better than two million feet on
the landin's when we broke 'em out--an' two million feet of white pine
ort to showed a good profit."

Hurley nodded, glumly: "Sure it ort," he agreed. "I seen the logs myself
on the rollways, an' when they got to the mills, the boom scale was--"
The big boss paused and scratched his head thoughtfully, "--well, I
ain't got no noodle fer figgers, an' I disremember jest what it was, but
it was short enough so it et up the profits an' handed us a
fourteen-thousan'-dollar loss, or thereabouts. An' me with the owner way
up in Alasky, an' thinkin' mebbe I done him out of his money. 'Twas a
long head I had when I stuck out fer a two-year contrack, an' this year
if we don't roll eight million feet in the river my name ain't Jake
Hurley!"

"Yes," broke in Saginaw Ed, "an' if we make the same rate of loosin',
the loss this year'll figger somewheres up around fifty thousan'."

Hurley's eyes grew hard "They ain't a-goin' to be no loss this year!" he
replied savagely. "The Syndicate had more logs in Dogfish than me last
year, an' a bigger crew, an' more white-water birlers amongst 'em, so
Long Leaf Olson, the foreman of the Syndicate camp, ordered me to take
the rear drive. I tuk it--an' be the time I'd got through cardin' the
ledges, an' sackin' the bars, an' shovin' off jill-pokes, the main drive
was sorted an' the logs in the logans, an' I was handed me boom scale at
the mills. But, this year it's different. I'll have agin as many logs
as them, an' two crews, an' when we git to the mills I'll have men of my
own at the sortin' gap."

"If they was dams on Dogfish the rear drive wouldn't be so bad," opined
Saginaw.

"If they was dams on Dogfish, we'd be worse off than ever," growled
Hurley, "because the Syndicate would own the dams, an' we'd stand a fat
show of sluicin' anything through 'em. No sir! We'll go out with the
ice, an' me on the head of the drive, an' if Long Leaf fouls us, I won't
be carin'. I see through the game he done me last year--keepin' me on
the rear, an' it worked like this: Dogfish runs out with a rush an' then
falls as quick as it run out. All the logs that ain't into the big river
on the run-out is left fer the rear drive, an', believe me, we had a
plenty dry-rollin' to do. For why? Because that thievin' Long Leaf
nipped every jam before it started, an' left me with a month's work
gittin' the stranded logs out of Dogfish. This year, it'll be me that's
boss of the main drive, an' if a jam starts I'll let 'em pile up--an'
I'll see that one starts, too--that'll back the water up behind 'em an'
give the rear plenty of river to float down on, then when everything's
caught up, I'll put some canned thunder in under her an' away we go to
the next jam."

"Ye' talk like ye could jam 'em whenever ye wanted to," said Lon Camden.

Hurley regarded him gravely: "It's twenty-three miles from here to the
big river. There'll be a jam ten miles below here, an' another, one mile
above the mouth." The three stared at him in surprise. "You see," the
boss continued, with evident satisfaction in their astonishment, "when I
got the boom scale last summer, it turned me sick. I made out me report
an' sent it to Alasky, an' then I went home to Pine Hook an' hoed me
garden a day, an' put in the next one choppin' firewood. It was after
supper that day an' the kiddies to bed, the wife comes out to where I
was an' sets down on the choppin' log beside me. I smokes me pipe, an'
don't pay her no mind, 'cause I was sore in the heart of me. After while
she lays a hand on the sleeve of me shirt. 'Jake,' she says, 'all the
winter an' spring the childer gabbles about the fun they'll be havin'
when daddy comes home.'" The man paused and grinned, slyly. "It's like a
woman to begin at the backwards of a thing an' work up to the front. I
bet when one gits to heaven it'll be the health of Adam an' Eve they'll
be inquirin' about furst, instead of John L. Sullivan, roight out.
Anyway, that's what she says, an' I replies in the negative by sayin'
nothin'. 'An' here you be'n home two days,' she goes on, an' stops, like
they's enough be'n said.

"'An' I've hoed the garden, an' cut the firewood,' says I. 'What would
you be havin' me do?'" Again Hurley grinned: "I dropped a match in the
bung of an empty gasoline bar'l onct, that had laid in the sun behind
the store, thinkin' to see if it would make a good rain bar'l. It
didn't. Part of it made fair kindlin's, though, an' I was out an' around
in a week. Giant powder, gasoline, an' wimmin is all safe enough if ye
don't handle 'em careless--but, if ye do, ye git quick action--an'
plenty of it.

"'Do!' she says, in the same tone of voice used by the gasoline bar'l
that day. 'Well, if you can't think of nothin' else to do, give the poor
darlints a beatin' just to let 'em know you're around!' Then she gits up
an' starts fer the house." Hurley held a match to his pipe and puffed
deeply for a few moments, "I never believed much in signs," he grinned,
"but they's some signs I heed--so I laughed. The laugh come from the
throat only, an' not from the heart, an' at the sound of it she turned,
an' then she come back slow an' set down agin on the choppin' log. 'Tell
me what's wrong, Jake,' she says. 'Two kin carry a load better than
one.' So I up an' told her, an' she set for quite a while an' looked out
over the slashin'.

"'Is that all?' she says, after a bit. 'Is that what ye've be'n hoein'
an' choppin' over fer two days, an' gittin' madder with every whack--an'
not payin' no heed to the important things that's been pilin' up to be
done.' 'What's to be done?' says I, 'if it ain't the wood an' the
garden?' 'It's the first time ye ever come back from the woods an'
didn't see fer yerself what's to be done,' she says. 'With two wheels
busted off Jimmy's tote wagon, an' Paddy's logs in the crick an' on his
landin's waitin' fer daddy to show him how to build his dam an' sluice,
an' Jimmy with the timber all out fer his Injun stockade, an' waitin'
fer daddy to tell him does the logs go in crossways or up an' down!'

"So the next week I put in loggin' on the crick behind the pig pen. We
put in a dam an' sluice, an' run a season's cut through, an' sorted 'em
an' boomed 'em, an even rigged a goat-power saw-mill that would jerk
the logs out of the crick but wouldn't cut 'em. An' by gosh, when the
week was gone I had some good schemes in me own head, an' takin' five
men with me, I went off up Dogfish an' studied the stream, an' this
spring they'll be jams where I want jams! An' I'm the bucko that'll be
on the head end, an' I'll bust 'em when I want to!"

"You ain't obstructed navigation, have ye?" asked Lon, with concern.
"Cause if you have the Syndicate'll take it up in a minute, an' they'll
law ye out of ten seasons' profit. Buckin' the Syndicate has cost many a
little feller his pile. If they can't steal ye poor, they'll law ye
poor--an' it's the same thing fer the small operator."

"Never you fret about the lawin', Lon. What I an' me five hearties put
into Dogfish last summer looks like drift piles from a summer rain, an'
the same charge of canned thunder that busts the jam will blow the
log-an' rock foundations of the drift piles to smithereens."

Lon smoked in silence for a few moments, as though pondering the boss's
words, and as he smoked his lips gradually expanded into a grin of
approval. Hurley noted the smile: "An' it all come of me workin' out
the problems of a six-year old kid on the little crick behind the pig
pen. An' what's more, I've got some of the problems of the big river
more clear in me noodle."

Saginaw Ed winked at Connie; and leaning over, whispered into the boy's
ear: "Hurley's done a smart thing," he confided, "an' it'll hurry the
drive out of Dogfish. But he ain't got to the meat of the trouble--an'
that's up to you an' me."

As the season progressed Hurley had increased his crews until each
numbered one hundred and twenty-five men, and the daily work of these
men was an unceasing source of interest to Connie. Every moment that
could be spared from his duties, the boy was out among them, swinging an
axe with the swampers, riding the huge loads of logs that slipped
smoothly over the iced log roads on their trips to the landings,
standing beside Lon Camden as he scaled the incoming loads, or among the
sawyers, watching some mighty pine crash to earth with a roar of
protest.

"I never seen a clerk before that ye could prize away from the office
stove with a pickpole," remarked Lon Camdon, one day, as he and Hurley
watched the boy riding toward them balanced upon the top log of a huge
load.

"He'll know more about loggin' be spring," replied the boss, "than many
an' old lumberjack. It's the makin' of a fine boss the kid has."

"He kin scale as good as me, a'ready," admitted Lon. "An' that other
kid, too--why just from trottin' 'round with this one he's got so he
shows some real stuff. If ever I picked a kid fer a bad egg it was him."

"Me too," admitted Hurley. "But Connie stuck up for him, even after he'd
throw'd in with the I. W. W's. Steve kin have anything I've got," he
added, after a pause. "He saved me life, an' after the drive I'm goin'
to take him home with me up to Pine Hook, instead of turnin' him loose
to go to the bad around such dumps as Corky Dyer's where I picked him
up. He'd got a wrong start. It's like he was follerin' a log road, an'
got switched off onto a cross-haul--but, he's back on the main road
again, an' it's Jake Hurley'll keep him there."

"He's all right, an' the men like him--but he ain't got the head the
other one has."

"Sure he ain't!" agreed Hurley. "You kin take it from me, Lon, before
that there Connie is thirty, he'll be ownin' timber of his own."

"I'd almost bet money on it," said Saginaw Ed, who had come up in time
to hear Hurley's prophecy. "Say boss, them irons come in fer the cook's
bateau; I expect we better put to work on it. Month from now, an' we'll
be listenin' night an' day fer the boomin' of the ice."

The boss assented: "Hop to it, fer we don't want no delay when this
drive starts."

Saginaw turned toward the blacksmith shop to give his orders regarding
the scow, in which the cook would follow the drive and furnish hot meals
for the rivermen. His eye fell upon Connie as the boy slid from the
load: "Better get over to the office, son," he grinned. "Slue Foot's
over there just a-meltin' the snow, 'cause you ain't around to sell him
a plug of terbacker." The boy joined him, and Saginaw cast a look at the
rollways: "Lots of logs on the landin's, son," he remarked.

"Seven million, three hundred thousand feet, up to last night," said the
boy proudly. "Everything looks fine."

"Fine as frog hair, son--which some folks holds is too fine to last."

"What do you mean?"

"Well nothin' that I could name--only, what you said about Slue Foot's
bein' mixed up with the I. W. W. It's like I told you, them birds gits
jobs just so they kin git a chanct to distroy property. They don't want
to work, an' they don't want no one else to work. We caught three of 'em
tryin' to burn the stables, which is about their size, an' if the
sheriff served Doc's warrants, I guess they're in jail now. But how do
we know that them three was _all_ the I. W. W.'s in the outfit? An' how
do we know that Slue Foot ain't plottin' some move that'll put a crimp
in us somehow er other?"

The boy smiled: "I've thought of that, too," he answered. "But I don't
think there is much danger from the I. W. W.'s. I've been watching Slue
Foot, and I know that he's not going to start anything. He was glad to
get those I. W. W.'s off the works. You see he's got a fish of his own
to fry. He belongs to the I. W. W. just because it's natural for him to
throw in with crooks and criminals, but he's so crooked himself that he
won't even play square with his gang of crooks. He saw a chance to make
some crooked money for himself, so he threw his friends over. We're all
right, because the more logs we put into the river the bigger his graft
is. And we've got him right where we want him. We can nail him in a
minute, if we want to, for swiping the old Irishman's money--but I don't
want to spring that unless I have to until I get the goods on the
Syndicate."

Saginaw nodded: "I guess that's good dope, all right. But, if I was you,
I'd git a line on his scheme as soon as I could. You can't never tell
what'll happen in the woods--an' when it does, it's most generally
always somethin' different."

As the boy continued his way to the office, after parting from Saginaw
at the blacksmith shop, he decided to carry out Saginaw's suggestion at
once. In fact, for a week or ten days Connie had been watching for an
opportunity to force Slue Foot to show his hand. And now he decided, the
time had come. There was no one in sight; the boss of Camp Two had
evidently gone into the office.



CHAPTER XVI

SLUE FOOT "COMES ACROSS"


As Connie pushed open the door he was greeted with a growl: "It's a
doggone wonder ye wouldn't stay 'round an' tend to business onct in a
while! Here I be'n waitin' half an' hour fer to git a plug of terbacker,
an' you off kihootin' 'round the woods----"

"Save your growling, 'til someone's round to hear it," grinned the boy,
as he produced the key to the chest. "Here's your tobacco, twenty cents'
worth--makes thirty-two dollars and sixty cents, all told."

"Thirty-two sixty!" Slue Foot glared: "Thought Hurley's outfits never
gouged the men on the wanagan?" he sneered. "My tab ain't over
twenty-five dollars at the outside."

"Get it out of your system," retorted the boy. "You can't bluff me.
Thirty-two sixty's down here. Thirty-two sixty's right--and you know
it's right! What's on your mind? You didn't walk clear down from Camp
Two for a twenty-cent plug of tobacco, when you've got the biggest part
of a carton in your turkey."

With his back to the stove, the boss scowled at the boy! "Smart kid,
ain't you?" The scowl faded from his face, an' he repeated: "Smart
kid--an' that's why I tuk a notion to ye, an'--'" he paused abruptly and
crossing to the window, took a position that commanded the clearing.
"--an' let ye in on some extry money."

Connie nodded: "Yes, and it's about time you were loosening up on the
proposition--you haven't let me in yet."

"Ain't let ye in!" exclaimed Slue Foot. "What ye mean, 'ain't let ye
in'? How about shadin' the cut?"

"Shading the cut," exclaimed the boy, with contempt. "What's a couple of
hundred dollars? That's a piker's job--Injun stealing! You promised to
let me in on something big--now, come across."

Slue Foot stared at him: "Say, who's runnin' this, you? Yer all-fired
cocky fer a kid. When I was your age a couple hundred dollars looked
big as a township o' timber to me."

"Well, it don't to me," snapped the boy. "And you might as well come
across."

Slue Foot advanced one threatening step: "Who d'ye think ye're talkin'
to?" he roared. "I'll break ye in two!"

"And when I break, you break," smiled the boy. "Let me tell you this,
Slue Foot Magee, I've got these books fixed so that if anything happens
to me, your nose goes under, and all that's left is a string of
bubbles--see? I've been doing some figuring lately, and I've decided the
time's about right for me to get in on the other. According to the talk,
it will be twenty or thirty days yet before the break-up. But, suppose
the break-up should come early this year--early and sudden? You'd have
your hands full and couldn't waste time on me. And besides you'd never
let me in then, anyway. You're only letting me in because I'm supposed
to furnish the dope on what's going on here. I'm playing safe--see the
point?"

Slue Foot glowered: "An' what if I've changed my mind about lettin' ye
in?" he asked truculently.

"Oh, then I'll just naturally sell your cut-shading scheme out to
Hurley and his boss for what I can get--and let you stand the gaff."

Slue Foot's fists clenched, a big vein stood out upon his reddened
forehead, and he seemed to swell visibly: "You--you'd double-cross me,
would you?"

"Sure, I would," said the boy, "if you don't come through. Look here,
Slue Foot, business is business. I wouldn't trust you as far as I can
throw a saw log, and you may as well get that right now."

"How do I know you won't double-cross me on the big deal?" asked the
man.

"Matter of figures," answered Connie. "You don't suppose Hurley and his
boss would pay me as much as we can get out of the logs do you? Of
course they won't--but they might agree to pay me as much as I'll get
out of the cut-shading--especially if I tell them that you've got a
bigger game up your sleeve. You might as well be reasonable. It'll be
better all around if you and I understand each other. They're beginning
to talk in here about the drive. If I don't know what your scheme is,
how am I to know what to remember? I can't remember everything they
say, and if I'm onto the game I can pick out what'll do us good, and
not bother with the rest."

Once more Slue Foot took up his place by the window, and for some
minutes the only sound in the little office was the ticking of the alarm
clock. Finally the man spoke: "I figgered you was smart all
right--smarter'n the run of kids. But I didn't figger you could
out-figger me--or believe me, I'd of laid off of ye." The boss of Camp
Two sat and scowled at the boy for several minutes. Then he spoke,
sullenly at first, but as he warmed to his topic, the sullenness gave
place to a sort of crafty enthusiasm--a fatuous pride in his cleverly
planned scheme of fraud. "I was goin' to let ye in anyhow, so I s'pose
it might's well be now as later. But, git this, right on the start: ye
ain't bluffed me into takin' ye in, an' ye ain't scared me into it.
You've augered me into it by common sense ... what ye said about they
might come a sudden thaw, an' we'd be too busy to git together--an'
about you knowin' what to remember of the talk that goes on here.

"It's like this: The logs is paint-branded, an' the mark of this outfit
is the block-an'-ball in red on the butt end. They're branded on the
landin's, an' I done the markin' myself. Last year Hurley inspected 'em
an' so did Lon, an' they know the brands showed up big an' bright an'
sassy. But when them logs reached the booms an' was sorted they
wasn't near as many of them wearin' the red block-an'-ball as
when they started--an' the difference is what I split up with the
Syndicate--boom-toll free!"

"You mean," asked the boy, "that the Syndicate men changed the brands,
or painted them out and painted their own over them?"

Slue Foot sneered. "Ye're pretty smart--some ways. But ye ain't smart
enough to change a red block-an'-ball to a green tripple X. An' as fer
paintin' over 'em, why if a log hit the big river with a brand painted
out they'd be a howl go up that would rock the big yaller ball on top of
the capital. No sir, it takes brains to make money loggin'. The big ones
has stole and grabbed up into the millions--an' they do it accordin' to
law--because they've got the money to make the law an' twist it to suit
theirselves. They put up thousands fer lobbys an' legislaters, an' fer
judges an' juries, an' they drag down millions. The whole timber game's
a graft. The big operators grab water rights, an' timber rights, an'
they even grab the rivers. An' they do it legal because they own the
dummies that makes the laws. The little operator ain't got no show. If
he don't own his own timber he has to take what he can get in stumpage
contracks, an' whether he owns it or not they git him on water-tolls,
an' when he hits the river there's boom-tolls an' sortin'-tolls, an' by
the time he's got his logs to the mills an' sold accordin' to the boom
scale he ain't got nawthin' left, but his britches--an' lucky to have
them. All business is crooked. If everyone was honest they wouldn't be
no millionaires. If a man's got a million, he's a crook. It ain't no
worse fer us little ones to steal agin' the law, than it is fer the big
ones to steal accordin' to law." Fairly started upon his favourite
theme, Slue Foot worked himself into a perfect rage as he ranted on.
"This here outfit's a little outfit," he continued. "It ain't got no
show, nohow. I seen the chanct to git in on the graft an' I grabbed
it--if I hadn't, the Syndicate would have had it all. An' besides I got
a chance to git square with Hurley. They's two kinds of folks in the
world--them that has, an' them that hain't. Them that has, has because
they've retch out an' grabbed, an' them that hain't, hain't because
they wasn't smart enough to hang onto what they did have." Connie
listened with growing disgust to the wolfish diatribe. Slue Foot's eyes
blazed as he drove his yellow fangs deep into his tobacco plug. "But
people's wakin' up to their rights," he continued. "There's the
Socialists an' the I. W. W.'s, they're partly right, an' partly wrong.
The Socialists wants, as near as I kin make out, a equal distribution o'
wealth--that ain't so bad, except that there's only a few of 'em, an'
they'd be doin' all the work to let a lot of others that don't do
nawthin', in on their share of the dividin'. What's the use of me
a-workin' so someone else that don't help none gits a equal share? An'
the I. W. W.'s is about as bad. They try to bust up everything, an'
wreck, an' smash, an' tear down--that's all right, fer as it goes--but,
what's it goin' to git 'em? Where do they git off at? They ain't
figgered themselves into no profit by what they do. What's it goin' to
git me if I burn down a saw-mill? I don't git the mill, do I? No--an'
neither don't they. What I'm after is gittin' it off them that's got it,
an' lettin' it stick to me. I ain't worryin' about no one else. It's
every man fer hisself--an' I'm fer _me!_" The boss prodded himself in
the chest, as he emphasized the last word. "An' if you want yourn, you'd
better stick with me--we'll gather."

It was with difficulty that Connie masked the loathing he felt for this
man whose creed was more despicable even than the creed of the organized
enemies of society, for Slue Foot unhesitatingly indorsed all their
viciousness, but discarded even their lean virtues.

For three years the boy's lot had been cast among men--rough men of the
great outland. He had known good men and bad men, but never had he known
a man whom he so utterly despised as this Slue Foot Magee. The bad men
he had know were defiant in their badness, they flaunted the law to its
face--all except Mr. Squigg, who was a sneak with the heart of a weasel,
and didn't count. But this man, as bad as the worst of them, sought to
justify his badness. Connie knew what Waseche Bill, or big MacDougall
would have done if this human wolf had sought to persuade them to throw
in with him on his dirty scheme, and he knew what Hurley or Saginaw Ed
would do--and unconsciously, the boy's fists doubled. Then came the
memory of McKeever and Ricky, the men of the Mounted with whom he had
worked in the bringing of bad men to justice. What would McKeever do?
The boy's fists relaxed. "He'd get him," he muttered under his breath.
"He'd throw in with him, and find out all he could find out, and then
he'd--_get him!_"

"Whut's that?" Slue Foot asked the question abruptly, and Connie faced
him with a grin:

"Your dope sounds good to me," he said, "but come across with the
scheme. Hurley or Saginaw may drop in here any time. If the Syndicate
didn't change the brands, or paint over them, how did they work it?"

"They didn't work it--it was me that worked it. All they done was to
furnish me the paint an' put their own marks on the logs after I'd got
'em into the big river, brand free. It's this way: Brandin' paint will
stand water. You kin paint-brand a log here an' the brand will still be
on it if it floats clean to New Orleans. That's the kind of paint Hurley
furnished. An' that's the kind of paint that went on some of the logs.
But another kind went on the rest of the logs. It was just as red an'
just as purty lookin' as the other--while the logs stayed on the
rollways. After they'd b'en in the water a while they wasn't no paint on
'em. German chemists mixed that paint--an' water'll take it off, like
it'll take dirt offen a floor--easier 'cause you don't have to use no
soap, an' you don't have to do no scrubbin'--it jest na'chelly melts an'
floats off. Hurley bossed the rear end drive, an' when our crews got to
the mills, the Syndicate had saw to it that all unbranded logs was took
care of an' wore the green tripple X."

Connie nodded and Slue Foot continued: "Pretty slick, eh? But they's
more to it than that. It's got to be worked right. I had to slip Long
Leaf Olson the word when the rollways would be busted out so he could
foul our drive an' git his logs in on the head end. Then, there was the
dickerin' with the Syndicate. It took some rammin' around before I got
next to old Heinie Metzger--he's the big boss of the Syndicate. I worked
it through passin' myself off fer Hurley to a stuck-up young
whipper-snapper name of von Kuhlmann, that's old Heinie's
side-kick--confidential secretary, he calls him. Them Germans is slick,
but at last we got together an' made the deal, an' they paid me all
right, boom scale, when the logs was in. This here von Kuhlmann hisself
slipped me the money--he's a funny galoot, always swelled up an' blowin'
like he owned the world, an' always noddin' an' winkin', like they was
somethin' he was holdin' out on ye, as if he know'd somethin' that no
one else know'd--an' brag! You'd ort to hear him brag about Germany,
like they wasn't no other reg'lar country, the rest of the world just
bein' a kind of place that wasn't hardly worth mentionin'. They say the
Syndicate stock is all owned in Germany, an' some of the cruisers that's
worked fer 'em say it's a sight the amount of stuff they make 'em put in
their reports. Accordin' to his job a cruiser or a land-looker is
supposed to estimate timber. But the cruisers that works fer the
Syndicate is supposed to report on everything from the number of box
cars an' engines on the railroads, to the size of the towns, an' the
number of folks in 'em that's Socialists an' I. W. W.'s. an' their name.
They don't care nawthin about wastin' postage stamps, neither, 'cause
all that stuff is sent over to Germany. What do they care over in the
old country how many box cars is on some little old branch loggin' road
in the timber country, or how many I. W. W.'s. lives in Thief River
Falls?

"An speakin' of I. W. W.'s--them Germans is slick some ways, an' blamed
fools in another. With the I. W. W.'s. threatenin' the timber interests,
these here Germans, that owns more mills an' standin' timber than any
one else, is eggin' 'em on an' slippin' 'em money to keep 'em goin'. The
I. W. W.'s., don't know that--an' I wouldn't neither except fer a lucky
accident, an' I cashed in on it, too." The man paused and grinned
knowingly. "In Duluth, it was, we pulled off a meetin' right under the
nose of the police, an' not one of 'em in the hall. Called it a
Socialist meetin', an' word was passed that they was a feller name of
Mueller, from Germany, a student that was wised up to every wrinkle from
blowin' up dams to wipin' out the Government. He come with greetin's
from the 'brothers acrost the sea,' he said, an' what was more to the
point, he brung along a nice fat package of cash money which he claimed
had be'n raised by subscription fer to help the cause over here. I
listened an' kep' a studyin' about where I'd saw this here Mueller
before, but it didn't stand to reason I had, an' him just over from
Germany. But they was somethin' about him made me sure I know'd him. He
was dressed cheap an' wore glasses half an inch thick, an' they hadn't
no barber be'n into his hair fer quite a spell; he'd needed a shave fer
about three weeks, too, an' he looked like a reg'lar b'ilin' out
wouldn't of hurt him none. Anyways, before the meetin' was over, I'd
spotted him, so 'long about midnight, after the meetin' had be'n over
about an hour I loafs down to the hotel. It was a cheap dump, a hang-out
fer lumberjacks an' lake sailors, an' I know'd the clerk an' didn't have
no trouble gittin' to his room.

"'Hello, von Kuhlmann,' I says, when he opens the door, an' with a wild
look up an' down the hall to see if any one had heard, he reaches out
an' yanks me in. Tried to bluff it out first, but it wasn't no use."
Slue Foot grinned: "I come out in about a half an hour with five hundred
dollars in my jeans. These here 'brothers from acrost the sea' is sure
some donaters when you git 'em where you want 'em--'course this here
student business was all bunk. But, what I ain't never be'n able to git
onto is, what in thunder does the Syndicate want to be slippin' the I.
W. W. money fer?"

"Are you an I. W. W.?" Connie shot the question directly.

Slue Foot hesitated a moment and then answered evasively. "Git me
right, kid, I'm anything that's agin' capital--an' I'm anything that's
agin' the Government. First and foremostly, I'm fer Magee. No man kin
make money by workin'. I've got money, an' I'm a-goin' to git more--an'
I don't care how it's come by. I'm a wolf, an' I'll howl while the
rabbit squeals! I'm a bird of prey! I'm a Government all my own! All
Governments is birds of prey, an' beasts of prey. What do you see on
their money, an' their seals, an' their flags--doves, an' rabbits, an'
little fawns? No, it's eagles, an' bears, an' lions--beasts that rips,
an' tears, an' crushes, an' kills!

"You're lucky to git to throw in with a man like me--to git started out
right when yer young. If you wasn't smart, I wouldn't fool with ye, but
I'll git mine, an' you'll git yourn--an' some day, von Kuhlmann's kind
of let it slip, they's somethin' big comin' off. I don't know what he's
drivin' at, but it's somethin' he's all-fired sure is a-goin' to
happen--an' he's kind of hinted that when it comes he kin use a few like
me to good advantage."

"What kind of a thing's coming off?"

"I jest told ye I don't know--mebbe the Syndicate's goin' to grab off
all the timber they is, or mebbe it's figgerin' on grabbin' the hull
Government, or the State--but whatever it is, he kin count on me bein'
in on it--if he pays enough--an' by the time he pays it, I'd ort to know
enough about the game so's I kin flop over to the other side an' sell
him out. It's the ones that plays both ends from the middle that gits
theirn--brains makes the money--not hands."

Slue Foot glanced out the window and turned to the boy. "Here comes
Saginaw. When he gits here I'll growl an' you sass. Remember to keep
your ears open an' find out when Hurley's goin' to break out the
rollways, an' where he's goin' to deliver the logs. I've tended to the
brandin'--if they's anything more I'll let ye know." Slue Foot paused
and scowled darkly: "An' don't try to double-cross me! They ain't
nothin' I've told ye that ye could prove anyhow. An' even if ye could,
it's just as you said, this outfit won't pay ye as much as what you'll
git out of the deal by playin' square with me."

The door opened and Saginaw Ed entered, to interrupt a perfect torrent
of abuse from Slue Foot, and a rapid fire of recrimination from the boy.
Presently the boss of Camp Two departed, threatening to have Connie
fired for incompetence, as soon as he could get in a word with Hurley.

[Illustration: SLUE FOOT TURNED. "THINK Y'RE AWFUL SMART, DON'T YE?"]

On the tote road at the edge of the clearing, Slue Foot turned and gazed
at the little office. And as he gazed an evil smile twisted his lips:
"Think yer awful smart, don't ye? Well, yer in on the scheme--'cause I
need ye in. An' I'll use ye fer all there is in ye--but when cashin'-in
time comes, yer goin' to be left whistlin' fer yourn--er my name ain't
Slue Foot Magee!" Then the smile slowly faded from his face, and
removing his cap, he thoughtfully scratched his head. "Only trouble is,
he _is_ smart--an' where'll I git off at, if it turns out he's too
_doggone_ smart?"

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVII

HEINIE METZGER


Saginaw Ed listened as Connie detailed at length all that Slue Foot had
told him. When the boy finished, the woodsman removed his pipe and
regarded him thoughtfully: "Takin' it off an' on, I've know'd some
consider'ble ornery folks in my time, but I never run acrost none that
was as plumb crooked as this here specimen. Why, along side of him a
corkscrew is straight as a stretched fiddle gut. He ain't square with no
one. But, a man like him can't only go so far--his rope is short, an'
when he comes to the end of it, they ain't a-goin' to be no knot fer to
hang holt of. A man that's double-crossed folks like he has ain't got no
right to expect to git away with it. If they don't no one else git him,
the law will."

"Yes," answered the boy, "and we've got enough on him so that when the
law gets through with him he's not going to have much time left for any
more crookedness."

"How d'you figger on workin' it?" asked Saginaw.

Connie laughed: "I haven't had time to dope it out yet, but there's no
use starting anything 'til just before the drive. Slue Foot's crowding
'em up there in Camp Two, putting every last log he can get onto the
landings--he said he'd have close to three million feet branded with his
own paint."

"Expects Hurley's goin' to let Long Leaf boss the drive agin, I s'pose
an' the Syndicate crew do the sortin'!"

"I guess that's what's he's counting on," answered the boy. "Hurley will
tend to that part. And now we know his scheme, the logs are safe--what
we want is evidence. When we get him we want to get him right."

Saginaw Ed rose to go. "It's up to you, son, to figger out the best way.
Whatever you say goes. Take yer time an' figger it out good--'cause you
want to remember that the Syndicate owes ye some thirty-odd thousand
dollars they stoled off ye last year, an'----"

"Thirty-odd thousand?"

"Sure--ye stood to clean up twenty thousan', didn't ye? Instead of which
ye lost fourteen thousan'--that's thirty-four thousan', ain't it? An'
here's somethin' fer to remember when yer dealin' with the Syndicate:
Never law 'em if you can git out of it. They've got the money--an' you
ain't got no square deal. Git the dope on 'em, an' then settle out o'
court, with old Heinie Metzger."

When Saginaw had gone, Connie sat for hours at his desk thinking up
plans of action, discarding them, revising them, covering whole sheets
of paper with pencilled figures.

When, at last, he answered the supper call and crossed the clearing to
the cook's camp, a peculiar smile twitched the corners of his lips.

"I've got to go up the road a piece an' figger on a couple of new
skidways," said Saginaw, when the four who bunked in the office arose
from the table. "It's good an' moonlight, an' I kin git the swampers
started on 'em first thing in the morning."

"I'll go with you," decided the boy, "I've been cooped up all the
afternoon, and I'll be glad of the chance to stretch my legs."

Leaving Hurley and Lon Camden, the two struck off up one of the broad,
iced log roads that reached into the timber like long fingers clutching
at the very heart of the forest. The task of locating the skidways was
soon finished and Saginaw seated himself on a log and produced pipe and
tobacco. "Well, son," he said, "what's the game? I watched ye whilst we
was eatin', an' I seen ye'd got it figgered out."

After a moment of silence, Connie asked abruptly: "How am I going to
manage to get away for a week or ten days?"

"Git away!" exclaimed Saginaw. "You mean leave camp?"

The boy nodded: "Yes, I've got to go." He seated himself astride the log
and talked for an hour, while Saginaw, his pipe forgotten, listened.
When the boy finished Saginaw sat in silence, the dead pipe clenched
between his teeth.

"Well, what do you think of it?"

The other removed the pipe, and spat deliberately into the snow. "Think
of it?" he replied, "I never was much hand fer thinkin'--an' them big
figgers you're into has got me woozy headed. Personal an' private, I'm
tellin' ye right out, I don't think it'll work. It sounds good the way
you spoke it, but--why, doggone it, that would be outfiggerin' the
_Syndicate!_ It would be lettin' 'em beat theirself at their own game!
It can't be did! They ain't no one kin do it. It ain't on."

"What's the matter with it?" asked the boy.

"Matter with it! I can't find nothin' the matter with it--That's why it
won't work!"

Connie laughed: "We'll make it work! All you've got to remember is that
if any stranger comes into the camp asking for Hurley, you steer him up
against Slue Foot. This von Kuhlmann himself will probably come, and if
he does it will be all right--he knows Slue Foot by sight. The only
thing that's bothering me is how am I going to ask Hurley for a week or
ten days off? Frenchy's going in tomorrow, and I've got to go with him."

Saginaw Ed slapped his mittened hand against his leg: "I've got it," he
exclaimed. "There was three new hands come in today--good whitewater men
fer the drive. One of 'em's Quick-water Quinn. I've worked with him off
an' on fer it's goin' on fifteen year. He'll do anything fer me, account
of a little deal onct, which he believed I saved his life. I'll slip
over to the men's camp an' write a letter to you. Then later, when we're
all in the office, Quick-water, he'll fetch it over an' ask if you're
here, an' give it to ye. Then ye read it, and take on like you've got to
go right away fer a week er so. You don't need to make any
explainin'--jest stick to it you've got to go. Hurley'll prob'ly rave
round an' tell ye ye can't, an' bawl ye out, an' raise a rookus
generally, but jest stick to it. If it gits to where ye have to, jest
tell him you quit. That'll bring him 'round. He sets a lot of store by
you, an' he'll let ye go if ye make him."

And so it happened that just as the four were turning in that night, a
lumberjack pushed open the door. "Is they any one here name o' C.
Morgan?" he asked.

Connie stepped forward, and the man thrust a letter into his hand:
"Brung it in with me from the postoffice. They told me over to the men's
camp you was in here."

Connie thanked the man, and carrying the letter to the light, tore it
open and read. At the end of five minutes he looked up: "I've got to go
out with Frenchy in the morning," he announced.

Hurley let a heavy boot fall with a thud, and stared at the boy as
though he had taken leave of his senses. "Go out!" he roared, "What'ye
mean, go out?"

"I've got to go for a week or ten days. It's absolutely necessary or I
wouldn't do it."

"A wake er tin days, sez he!" Hurley lapsed into brogue, as he always
did when aroused or excited. "An' fer a wake or tin days the books kin
run theirsilf! Well, ye can't go--an' that's all there is to ut!"

"I've got to go," repeated Connie stubbornly. "If I don't go out with
Frenchy, I'll walk out!"

The boss glared at him. "I know'd things wuz goin' too good to last. But
Oi didn't think th' trouble wuz a-comin' from ye. Ye can tell me, mebbe,
what, Oi'm a-goin' to do widout no clerk whoilst yer gaddin' round
havin' a good toime? Ye can't go!"

"Steve can run the wanagan, and Lon, and Saginaw, and Slue Foot can hold
their reports 'til I get back. I'll work night and day then 'til I catch
up."

"They ain't a-goin' to be no ketch up!" roared Hurley. "Here ye be, an'
here ye'll stay! Av ye go out ye'll stay out!"

Connie looked the big boss squarely in the eye: "I'm sorry, Hurley.
I've liked you, and I've liked my job. But I've got to go. You'll find
the books all up to the minute." Hurley turned away with a snort and
rolled into his bunk, and a few minutes later, Connie blew out the lamp
and crawled between his own warm blankets, where he lay smiling to
himself in the darkness.

By lamplight next morning the boy was astir. He placed his few
belongings in his turkey, and when the task was accomplished he noticed
that Hurley was watching him out of the corner of his eye. He tied the
sack as the others sat upon the edge of the bunks and drew on their
boots. And in silence they all crossed the dark clearing toward the
cook's camp.

With a great jangle of bells, Frenchy drew his tote-team up before the
door just as they finished breakfast. Connie tossed his turkey into the
sleigh and turned to Hurley who stood by with Lon Camden and Saginaw Ed.
"I'll take my time, now," said the boy, quietly. "And good luck to you
all!"

For answer the big boss reached over and, grabbing the turkey, sent it
spinning into the boy's bunk. "Ye don't git no toime!" he bellowed.
"Jump in wid Frenchy now, an' don't be shtandin' 'round doin' nawthin'.
Tin days ye'll be gone at the outsoide, an' av' ye ain't at yer disk
here be th' 'leventh day, Oi'll br-reak ye in two an' grease saws wid
the two halves av ye!" Reaching into his pocket, he drew forth a roll of
bills. "How much money d'ye nade? Come spake up! Ye kin have all, or
par-rt av ut--an' don't ye iver let me hear ye talk av quittin' agin, er
Oi'll woind a peavy around yer head."

Connie declined the money and jumped into the sleigh, and with a crack
of the whip, Frenchy sent the horses galloping down the tote road. When
they were well out of hearing the Frenchman laughed. "Dat Hurley she lak
for mak' de beeg bluff, w'at you call; she mak' you scairt lak she gon'
keel you, an' den she giv' you all de mon' she got."

"He's the best boss in the woods!" cried the boy.

"_Oui_ dat rat. Ba goss, we'n she roar an' bluff, dat ain' w'en you got
for look out! Me--A'm know 'bout dat. A'm seen heem lick 'bout fifty men
wan tam. Ovaire on----"

"Oh, come now, Frenchy--not fifty men."

"Well, was seex, anyhow. Ovaire on Leech Lak' an' _sacre!_ He ain' say
nuttin', dat tam--joos' mak' hees eyes leetle an' shine lak de _loup
cervier_--an' smash, smash, smash! An', by goss, 'bout twenty of dem
feller, git de busted head."

Connie laughed, and during all the long miles of the tote road
he listened to the exaggerated and garbled stories of the
Frenchman--stories of log drives, of fights, of bloody accidents, and of
"hants" and windagoes. At the railroad, the boy helped the teamster and
the storekeeper in the loading of the sleigh until a long-drawn whistle
announced the approach of his train. When it stopped at the tiny
station, he climbed aboard, and standing on the platform, waved his hand
until the two figures whisked from sight and the train plunged between
its flanking walls of pine.

In Minneapolis Connie hunted up the office of the Syndicate, which
occupied an entire floor, many stories above the sidewalk, of a tall
building. He was a very different looking Connie from the roughly clad
boy who had clambered onto the train at Dogfish. A visit to a big
department store had transformed him from a lumberjack into a youth
whose clothing differed in no marked particular from the clothing of
those he passed upon the street. But there was a difference that had
nothing whatever to do with clothing--a certain something in the easy
swing of his stride, the poise of his shoulders, the healthy bronzed
skin and the clear blue eyes, that caused more than one person to pause
upon the sidewalk for a backward glance at the boy.

Connie stepped from the elevator, hesitated for a second before a
heavily lettered opaque glass door, then turned the knob and entered, to
find himself in a sort of pen formed by a low railing in which was a
swinging gate. Before him, beyond the railing, dozens of girls sat at
desks their fingers fairly flying over the keys of their clicking
typewriters. Men with green shades over their eyes, and queer black
sleeves reaching from their wrists to their elbows, sat at other desks.
Along one side of the great room stood a row of box-like offices, each
with a name lettered upon its glass door. So engrossed was the boy in
noting these details that he started at the sound of a voice close
beside him. He looked down into the face of a girl who sat before a
complicated looking switchboard.

"Who do you wish to see?" she asked.

Connie flushed to the roots of his hair. It was almost the first time in
his life that any girl had spoken to him--and this one was smiling. Off
came his hat. "Is--is Heinie Metzger in?" he managed to ask. Connie's
was a voice tuned to the big open places, and here in the office of the
Syndicate it boomed loudly--so loudly that the girls at the nearer
typewriters looked up swiftly and then as swiftly stooped down to pick
up imaginary articles from the floor; the boy could see that they were
trying to suppress laughter. And the girl at the switchboard? He glanced
from the others to this one who was close beside him. Her face was red
as his own, and she was coughing violently into a tiny handkerchief.

"Caught cold?" he asked. "Get your feet dry, and take a dose of quinine,
and you'll be all right--if you don't get pneumonia and die. If Heinie
ain't in I can come again." Somehow the boy felt that he would like to
be out of this place. He felt stifled and very uncomfortable. He
wondered if girls always coughed into handkerchiefs or clawed around on
the floor to keep from laughing at nothing. He hoped she would say that
Heinie Metzger was not in.

"Have you a card?" the girl had recovered from her coughing fit, but her
face was very red.

"A what?" asked the boy.

"A card--your name."

"Oh, my name is Connie Morgan."

"And, your address?"

"Ma'am?"

"Where do you live?"

"Ten Bow."

"Where? Is it in Minnesota?"

"No, it's in Alaska--and I wish I was back there right now."

"And, your business?"

"I want to see Heinie Metzger about some logs."

A man passing the little gate in the railing whirled and glared at him.
He was a very disagreeable looking young man with a fat, heavy face,
pouchy eyes of faded blue, and stiff, close-cropped reddish hair that
stuck straight up on his head like pig's bristles. "Looks like he'd been
scrubbed," thought Connie as he returned glare for glare. The man
stepped through the gate and thrust his face close to the boy's.

"Vat you mean, eh?"

"Are you Heinie Metzger?"

"No, I am not _Herr_ Metzger. _Unt_ it pays you you shall be civil to
your betters. You shall say _Herr_ Metzger, _oder_ Mister Metzger. _Unt_
he has got not any time to be mit poys talking. Vat you vanted? If you
got pusiness, talk mit me. I am _Herr_ von Kuhlmann, confidential
secretary to _Herr_ Metzger."

"I thought you were the barber," apologized the boy. "But anyhow, you
won't do. I want to see Heinie Metzger, or 'hair' Metzger, or Mister
Metzger, whichever way you want it. I want to sell him some logs."

The other sneered: "Logs! He wants to sell it some logs! _Unt_ how much
logs you got--on de vagon a load, maybe? Ve dondt fool mit logs here,
exceptingly ve get anyhow a trainload--_unt_ _Herr_ Metzger dondt
mention efen, less dan half a million feets. Vere iss your logs?"

"I've got 'em in my pocket," answered the boy. "Come on, Dutchy, you're
wasting my time. Trot along, now; and tell this Metzger there's a fellow
out here that's got about eight or nine million feet of white pine to
sell----"

"Vite pine! Eight million feets! You krasy?" The man stooped and swung
open the little gate. "Come along _mit_ me, _unt_ if you trying some
foolishness _mit_ _Herr_ Metzger, you vish you vas some blace else to
have stayed avay." He paused before a closed door, and drawing himself
very erect, knocked gently. A full minute of silence, then from the
interior came a rasping voice:

"Who is it?"

"It is I, sir, von Kuhlmann, at your service, _unt_ I have _mit_ me one
small poy who say he has it some logs to sell."

Again the voice rasped from behind the partition--a thin voice, yet, in
it's thinness, somehow suggesting brutality: "Why should you come to me?
Why don't you buy his logs and send him about his business?"

Von Kuhlmann cleared his throat nervously: "He says it iss vite
pine--eight million feets."

"Show him in, you fool! What are you standing out there for?"

Von Kuhlmann opened the door and motioned Connie to enter:

"_Herr_ Morgan," he announced, bowing low.

"Connie Morgan," corrected the boy quickly, as he stepped toward the
desk and offered his hand to the small, grey-haired man, with the
enormous eyeglasses, and the fierce upturned mustache. "I suppose you
are Heinie Metzger," he announced.

The man glared at him, his thin nostrils a-quiver. Then, in a dry,
cackling voice, bade Connie be seated, giving the extended hand the
merest touch. Von Kuhlmann withdrew noiselessly, and closed the door.
Metzger opened a drawer and drew forth a box of cigars which he opened,
and extended toward the boy. Connie declined, and replacing the cigars,
the man drew from another drawer, a box of cigarettes, and when the boy
declined those he leaned back in his chair and stared at Connie through
his glasses, as one would examine a specimen at the zoo.

[Illustration: HE LEANED BACK IN HIS CHAIR AND STARED AT CONNIE THROUGH
HIS GLASSES, AS ONE WOULD EXAMINE A SPECIMEN AT THE ZOO.]

"Young man, how do I know you have any logs?" the question rasped
suddenly from between half-closed lips.

"You don't know it," answered the boy. "That's why I came here to tell
you."

"White pine, you said," snapped the man, after a pause. "Eight million
feet?"

"Yes, white pine--at least eight million, maybe nine, and possibly more,
if we continue to have good luck."

"Where are these logs?"

"On our landings on Dogfish River."

"Dogfish! You're the man from Alaska that bought the McClusky tract?"

"I'm his partner."

"Show a profit last year?"

"No. But we only had one camp then, and this year we have two and each
one has cut more than the one we had last year."

"Who did you sell to, last year?"

"Baker & Crosby."

"Satisfied with their boom scale?"

"Well, no, we weren't. That's why we thought we'd offer the cut to you
this year, if you want it."

"Want it! Of course we want it--that is, if the price is right."

"What will you pay?"

_Herr_ Heinrich Metzger removed his glasses and dangled them by their
wide black ribbon, as he glanced along his thin nose. "Sure you can
deliver eight million feet?" he asked.

"Yes, our foreman reports eight million already on the rollways, or in
the woods all ready for the rollways. Yes, I can be sure of eight
million."

"We have a big contract," said Metzger, "that is just about eight
million feet short of being filled. If we can be sure of getting the
entire eight million in one lump, we could afford to pay more--much
more, in fact, than we could if there was anything short of eight
million feet."

Connie nodded: "There will be eight million feet, at least," he
repeated. "What will you pay?"

For a long time the other was silent, then he spoke: "It is a large
deal," he said. "There are many things to consider. Lest we make haste
too quickly, I must have time to consider the transaction in all it's
phases. Meet me here one week from today, at eleven o'clock, and I will
give you a figure."

"A week is a long time," objected the boy, "And I am a long way from
home."

"Yes, yes, but there are others--associates of mine in the business with
whom I must consult." The boy had risen to go, when the man stayed him
with a motion. "Wait," he commanded. "Your name is----?"

"Morgan--Connie Morgan."

"To be sure--Connie Morgan." He picked the receiver from the hook of his
desk phone. "Get me the Laddison Hotel," he commanded, and hung up the
receiver. "The delay is of my own making, therefore I should pay for it.
You will move your luggage into the Laddison Hotel, which is the best in
the city, and shall remain there until our deal is closed, at the
expense of this company----"

"But," objected the boy, "suppose the deal don't go through?"

"The expense will be ours whether the deal goes through or not. You see,
I am confident that we can deal."

The telephone rang and Metzger made the arrangements, and again, turned
to the boy. "Each evening at dinner time, you are to ask at the desk for
an envelope. In the envelope you will receive a ticket to the theatre.
This, also, at our expense." He smiled broadly. "You see, we treat our
guests well. We do not wish them to become tired of our city, and we
wish those with whom we have dealings to think well of us."



CHAPTER XVIII

CONNIE SELLS SOME LOGS


Connie Morgan left the office of the Syndicate, and once more upon the
sidewalk, filled his lungs with the keen air. "It's going to work!"
"It's going to work!" he repeated over and over to himself as he made
his way toward the store where he had left his discarded clothing
stuffed into a brand new brown leather suitcase. The boy returned
unhesitatingly to the store, not by means of street signs, but by the
simple process of back-trailing. Trained in observation, his eyes had
unfailingly registered the landmarks in his brain--even when that brain
had been too busy wondering what was to be the outcome of his conference
with Heinie Metzger, to know that it was receiving impressions. It was
this trained habit of observation that had enabled him to select his
wearing apparel and the brown leather suitcase. He had simply studied
the passengers on the train, and selecting a man who looked well
dressed, had copied his apparel and even his suitcase.

The clerk at the store directed him to his hotel, and a few minutes
later he stood in the window of a thickly carpeted room, and stared out
over the roofs of buildings. "It's--it's like the mountains," he mused,
"stretching away, peak after peak, as far as you can see, and the
streets are the canyons and the valleys--only this is more--lonesome."
Tiring of looking out over the roofs, he put on his overcoat and spent
the afternoon upon the streets, admiring the goods in the store windows
and watching the people pass and repass upon the sidewalks. It was a
mild, sunshiny afternoon and the streets were thronged with ladies, the
browns, and greys, and blacks, and whites of their furs making a pretty
kaleidoscope of colour.

At the Union Station he procured a folder and after looking up the
departure of trains, returned to his hotel. He walked back at the time
when factories, stores, and office buildings were disgorging their human
flood onto the streets, and the boy gazed about him in wonder as he
elbowed his way along the sidewalk. He smiled to himself. "I guess I
don't know much about cities. In the store I was wondering where in the
world they were going to find the people to buy all the stuff they had
piled around, and when I was looking out the window, I wondered if there
were enough people in the world to live in all the houses--and now I'm
wondering if there is enough stuff to go around, and enough houses to
hold 'em all."

In this room Connie glanced at his watch, performed a hasty toilet, and
hurried into the elevator. "Gee, it's most six!" he muttered, "I bet I'm
late for supper." He was surprised to find men in the lobby, sitting
about in chairs or talking in groups, as they had been doing when he
left in the afternoon. "Maybe they don't have it 'til six," he thought,
and seating himself in a leather chair, waited with his eyes on the
clock. Six o'clock came, and when the hand reached five minutes after,
he strolled to the desk. "Anything here for me?" he asked. The clerk
handed him an envelope. "Heinie's making good," thought the boy, and
then, trying not to look hungry, he turned to the clerk: "Cook hollered
yet?" he asked casually.

The man smiled: "Grill's down stairs," he announced, pointing to a
marble stairway at the other end of the room.

"I ain't too late, am I?" asked the boy.

"Too late! Too late for what?"

"For supper. It ain't over is it?"

"The grill is open from eight in the morning until midnight," explained
the man, and as Connie turned away, he called after him: "Oh, Mr.
Morgan----"

"Connie Morgan," corrected the boy gravely.

"Well, Connie, then--you are not to pay your checks, just sign them and
the waiter will take care of them."

"That suits me," smiled Connie, and as he crossed the tiled floor he
muttered: "If they hadn't wasted so much space making the office and
rooms so big, they wouldn't have to eat in the cellar. In Fairbanks or
Skagway they'd have made four rooms out of that one of mine." At the
door of the grill a man in black met him, conducted him through a maze
of small tables at which men and women were eating, and drew out a chair
at a table placed against the wall. Another man in black appeared,
filled a glass with water from a fat bottle, and flipped a large piece
of cardboard in front of him. Connie scanned the printed list with
puckered brow. Way down toward the bottom he found three words he knew,
they were tea, coffee, milk. The man in black was waiting at his side
with a pencil poised above a small pad of paper. "Go ahead, if you want
to write," said the boy, "I won't bother you any--I'm just trying to
figure out what some of these names mean."

"Waiting for your order, sir."

"Don't 'sir' me. You mean you're the waiter?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I'm hungry, suppose you beat it out and bring me my supper."

"What will it be, sir? I will take your order, sir."

"Cut out that 'sir,' I told you. If these things they've got down here
stand for grub, you'll just have to bring along the whole mess, and I'll
pick out what I want."

"Might I suggest, s----"

"Look here," interrupted the boy, grasping the idea. "If any of these
names stand for ham and eggs, or beefsteak, or potatoes, or bread and
butter, you bring 'em along."

The man actually smiled, and Connie felt relieved. "Whose place is
that?" he indicated a chair across the table.

"Not reserved, sir."

Connie glanced around the room: "You ain't very busy, now. Might as well
bring your own grub along, and if you can ever remember to forget that
'sir' business, we'll get along all right--I'm lonesome."

When the waiter returned with a tray loaded with good things to eat,
Connie again indicated the empty chair. "Against the rules," whispered
the waiter, remembering to leave off the "sir."

Connie did justice to the meal and when he had finished, the man cleared
the dishes away and set a plate before him upon which was a small bowl
of water and a folded napkin. "What's that?" asked the boy, "I drink out
of a glass."

"Finger bowl," whispered the waiter. "Do you wish a dessert?"

"Might take a chance on a piece of pie," answered the boy, "here take
this along. I washed up-stairs."

When the waiter presented his check, Connie took the pencil from his
hand, signed it, and passed it back.

"Very good. One moment, 'til I verify this at the desk." He hurried
away, and returned a moment later. "Very good," he repeated.

Connie handed him a dollar: "I'm going to be here a week," he said, "I
want three good square meals a day, and it's up to you to see that I get
'em. No more lists of stuff I can't read. No more 'yes sir,' 'no sir,'
'very good sir.'"

The waiter pocketed the dollar: "Thank you, s--. Very good. Always come
to this table. I will reserve this place for you. You will find your
chair tilted, so. I shall speak to the head waiter."

Connie went directly to his room and putting on his cap and overcoat,
returned to the lobby and again approached the man at the desk: "What
time does the show start?" he asked.

"Curtain rises at eight-fifteen."

"Where is it?"

"Which one?"

The boy reached for his envelope and handed the ticket to the clerk.

"Metropolitan," informed the man, with a glance at the cardboard.
"Marquette, between Third and Fourth." The boy glanced at the clock. It
was a quarter past seven. Hurrying to Nicollet Avenue, he walked
rapidly to the depot and accosted a uniformed official: "Is the
seven-fifty-five for Brainard in yet?"

"Naw, third gate to yer right, where them folks is waitin'."

Connie turned up his collar, pulled his cap well down over his eyes, and
strolled to the edge of the knot of people that crowded close about one
of the iron gates. His eyes ran rapidly over each face in the crowd
without encountering the object of his search, so he appropriated an
inconspicuous seat on a nearby bench between a man who was engrossed in
his newspaper, and an old woman who held a large bundle up on her lap,
and whose feet were surrounded with other bundles and bags which she
insisted upon counting every few minutes. Closely the boy scrutinized
each new arrival as he joined the waiting group. Beyond the iron grill
were long strings of lighted coaches to which were coupled engines that
panted eagerly as they awaited the signal that would send them plunging
away into the night with their burden of human freight.

Other trains drew in, and Connie watched the greetings of relatives and
friends, as they rushed to meet the inpouring stream of passengers. It
seemed to the lonely boy that everybody in the world had someone waiting
to welcome him but himself. He swallowed once or twice, smiled a trifle
bitterly, and resumed his scrutiny of the faces. A man bawled a string
of names, there was a sudden surging of the crowd which rapidly melted
as its members were spewed out into the train shed. A few stragglers
were still hurrying through the gate. The hands of a clock pointed to
seven-fifty-four, and Connie stood up. As he did so, a man catapulted
down the stairs, and rushed for the gate. He was a young man, clothed in
the garb of a woodsman, and as he passed him, Connie recognized the
heavy face of von Kuhlmann.

"That's just what I've been waiting for," he spoke aloud to himself,
after the manner of those whose lives are cast in the solitudes. The man
glanced up from his newspaper, and the old woman regarded him with a
withering scowl, and gathered her bundles more closely about her feet.

The play that evening was a musical comedy, and during the entire
performance the boy sat enthralled by the music and the dazzling
costumes. He was still in a daze when he reached his hotel, and once
more stood in his room and gazed out over the city of twinkling lights.
He turned from the window and surveyed his apartment, the thick carpet,
the huge brass bed, the white bath tub in the tiny room adjoining, with
its faucets for hot and cold water, the big mirror that reflected his
image from head to foot--it seemed all of a piece with the play.

Instantly the boy's imagination leaped the snow-locked miles and he saw
the tiny cabin on Ten Bow, the nights on the snow-trail when he had
curled up in his blankets with the coldly gleaming stars for his roof;
he saw the rough camp on Dogfish and in a flash he was back in the room
once more. "This ain't real _living_," he muttered, once more glancing
about him, "It's--it's like the show--like living in a world of
make-believe."

Undressing, he drew the white tub nearly full of water. "I'm going to
make it just as hot as I can stand it. Any one can take a bath in cold
water." He wallowed in the tub for a long time, dried himself with a
coarse towel, and rummaging in his new suitcase, produced a pair of pink
pyjamas which had been highly recommended by the clerk at the big store.
Very gingerly he donned the garments and for some moments stood and
viewed himself in the mirror. "Gee," he muttered, "I'm sure glad
Waseche Bill ain't here!" and switching out the light, he dived into
bed.

[Illustration: VERY GINGERLY HE DONNED THE GARMENTS AND FOR SOME MOMENTS
STOOD AND VIEWED HIMSELF IN THE MIRROR.]

Promptly at eleven o'clock, one week from the day he arrived in
Minneapolis, Connie Morgan again presented himself at the office of the
Syndicate. That he had been expected was evidenced by the fact that the
girl at the switchboard did not ask him any questions. She greeted him
by name, and touching a button beneath the edge of her desk summoned a
boy who conducted him to Metzger's private office. The lumber magnate
received him with an oily smile: "Promptly on the minute," he approved.
"That's business. Sit here and we will see whether two business men are
able to make their minds meet in a contract that will be profitable to
both." The man placed the points of his fingers together and sighted
across them at Connie. "In the first place," he began, "the quantity of
logs. You are sure you can deliver here at our mills at least eight
million feet?"

"Yes."

"Because," continued the man, "owing to the conditions of a contract we
have on hand, any less than eight million feet would be practically of
no value to us whatever. That is, we have concluded to rely entirely
upon your logs to fulfill our big contract, and should you fail us, the
other contract would fail, and we would be at the expense of marketing
the lumber elsewhere."

"How much more than eight million feet could you use?" asked the boy.

"As much more as you can deliver. Say, anything up to ten million."

Connie nodded: "That's all right," he assented, "and the price?"

"Ah, yes--the price." Metzger frowned thoughtfully. "What would you say
to twenty dollars a thousand?"

Connie shook his head. "I can get twenty-five anywhere."

"Well, twenty-five?"

Again the boy shook his head. "You told me you could pay liberally for
the logs if you could be sure of getting them all in one lot," he
reminded. "I can get twenty-five, anywhere, and by hunting out my market
I can boost it to thirty."

Metzger's frown deepened. "What is your price?" he asked.

"Fifty dollars."

"Fifty dollars!" The man rolled his eyes as if imploring high heaven to
look down upon the extortion. "Ridiculous! Why the highest price ever
paid was forty!"

"We'll make a new record, then," answered the boy calmly.

"Forty dollars--if you must have it," offered the man. "Forty dollars or
nothing. And, even at forty, we must insist on inserting a protective
clause in the contract."

"A protective clause?"

"Yes, it is this way. If we assume to pay such an outrageous price for
your logs, we must insist upon being protected in case you fail to
deliver. Suppose, for instance, something prevented your delivering the
logs, or part of them at our mills. Say, you could deliver only four or
five million. We could not pay forty dollars for them, because our price
is fixed with the understanding that we are to receive eight million."

"That's fair enough," answered the boy; "we'll fix that. If we don't
deliver eight million, then you take what we do deliver at twenty
dollars."

Metzger pondered. "And you will bind yourself to sell to us, and not to
others, if you deliver a short cut?"

"Sure we will."

"Well, there is fairness in your offer. We will say, then, that we are
to pay you forty dollars a thousand for any amount between eight and ten
million, and only twenty dollars if you fail to deliver at least eight
million."

"I said fifty dollars," reminded the boy.

"And I say we cannot pay fifty! It is unheard of! It is not to be
thought of! It is exorbitant!"

Connie arose and reached for his cap: "All right," he answered. "The
deal's off." At the door he paused, "I liked your hotel, and the shows,"
he said, but Metzger cut him short:

"The hotel and the shows!" he cried. "Bah! it is nothing! Come back
here. You are an extortionist! You know you have us at your mercy, and
you are gouging us! It is an outrage!"

"See here, Metzger." The man flinched at the use of his name, shorn of
any respectful _Herr_, or Mister. But he listened. "It's my business
to get as much for those logs as I can get. There is nothing more
to talk about. If you want 'em at fifty dollars, take 'em, if you
don't--good-bye."

Muttering and grumbling, the man motioned him back to his seat. "We've
got to have the logs," he whined, "but it is a hard bargain you drive.
One does not look for such harshness in the young. I am disappointed.
How would forty-five do?"

"Fifty."

"Well, fifty, then!" snapped Metzger, with a great show of anger. "But
look here, if we go up ten dollars on our part, you come down ten
dollars on your part! We will pay fifty dollars a thousand for all logs
between eight and ten million--and ten dollars a thousand for all logs
delivered short of eight million--and you bind yourself to sell us your
entire drive on those terms."

"That's a deal," answered the boy. "And our crew to work with yours at
the sorting gap. When will you have the papers?"

"Come back at two," growled the man, shortly.

When Connie had gone, Metzger touched one of a row of buttons upon his
desk, and von Kuhlmann entered, and standing at military attention,
waited for his superior to speak.

For a full minute Metzger kept him standing without deigning to notice
him. Then, scribbling for a moment, he extended a paper toward his
subordinate. "Have a contract drawn in conformity with these figures,"
he commanded.

Von Kuhlmann glanced at the paper. "He agreed? As it iss so said here in
America--he bite?"

Metzger's thin lip writhed in a saturnine grin: "Yes, he bit. I strung
him along, and he has an idea that he is a wonderful business man--to
hold out against me for his price. Ha, little did he know that the top
price interested me not at all! It was the lesser figure that I was
after--and you see what it is, von Kuhlmann--_ten dollars a thousand_!"

The other made a rapid mental calculation: "On the deal, at five million
feet, we make, at the least, more than three hundred thousand!"

Metzger nodded: "Yes! That is business!" he glared into von Kuhlmann's
face, "This deal is based on _your_ report. If you have failed us----!"

Von Kuhlmann shuddered: "I haff not fail. I haff been on Dogfish, and I
haff mit mine eyes seen the logs. I haff talk mit Hurley, the boss. He
iss mit us. Why should he not be mit us? We pay him well for the logs
from which comes the paint off. He haff brand with the dissolving paint
three million feets. Mineself I apply vater _unt_ from the ends, I rub
the paint, in each rollway, here and there, a log."

Metzger pencilled some figures on a pad. "If you have failed us," he
repeated, "we pay _four hundred thousand_ dollars for eight million
feet. _Four hundred thousand!_ And we lose forty dollars a thousand on
the whole eight million feet. Because we expect to pay this Hurley ten
dollars a thousand for the three million feet branded with the
dissolving paint--and also to pay ten dollars a thousand for the five
million that will be delivered under the contract." The man paused and
brought his fist down on the desk: "Ha, these Americans!" the thin lips
twisted in sneering contempt, "they pride themselves upon their
acumen--upon their business ability. They boast of being a nation of
traders! They have pride of their great country lying helpless as
a babe--a swine contentedly wallowing in its own fat, believing
itself secure in its flimsy sty--little heeding the Butcher, who
watches even as he whets his knife under the swine's very eyes,
waiting--waiting--waiting only for--THE DAY!" At the words both Metzger
and von Kuhlmann clicked their heels and came to a stiff military
salute. Standing Metzger, continued: "Traders--business men--bah! It is
the Germans who are the traders--the business men of the world. Into the
very heart of their country we reach, and they do not know it. Lumber
here, iron there, cotton, wool, railroads, banks--in their own country,
and under protection of their own laws we have reached out our hands and
have taken; until today Germany holds the death-grip upon American
commerce, as some day she will hold the death-grip upon America's very
existence. When the Butcher thrusts the knife the swine dies. And, we,
the supermen--the foremost in trade, in arms, in science, in art, in
thought--we, the Germans, will that day come into our place in the sun!"

"_Der Tag!_" pronounced von Kuhlmann, reverently, and with another
clicking salute, he retired.

At two o'clock Connie found himself once more in Metzger's office. The
head of the Syndicate handed him a copy of a typed paper which the boy
read carefully. Then, very carefully he read it again.

"This seems to cover all the points. It suits me. You made two copies,
did you?"

Metzger nodded. "And, now we will sign?" he asked, picking up a pen from
the desk, and touching a button. Von Kuhlmann appeared in the doorway.
"Just witness these signatures," said Metzger.

"If it's just the same to you, I saw Mike Gillum, one of your foremen,
waiting out there; I would rather he witnessed the signing."

"What's this? What do you mean?"

"Nothing--only I know Mike Gillum. He's honest. I'd like him to
witness."

"Send Gillum in!" commanded Metzger, glaring at the boy, and when the
Irishman appeared, he said brusquely. "Witness the signature to a
contract for the sale of some logs." Arranging the papers he signed each
copy with a flourish, and offered the pen to Connie.

The boy smiled. "Why, I can't sign it," he said. "You see, I'm a minor.
It wouldn't be legal. It wouldn't bind either one of us to anything. If
the deal didn't suit me after the logs were here, I could claim that I
had no right to make the contract, and the courts would uphold me. Or,
if it didn't suit you, you could say 'It is a mere scrap of paper.'"

Metzger jerked the thick glasses from his nose and glared at the boy.
"What now? You mean you have no authority to make this contract? You
have been jesting? Making a fool of me--taking up my time--living at my
expense--and all for nothing?"

Connie laughed at the irate magnate: "Oh, no--not so bad as that. I have
the authority to arrange the terms because I am a partner. It is only
the legal part that interferes. Hurley, our walking boss has the power
of attorney signed by my partner, who is not a minor. Hurley is
authorized to sell logs and incur indebtedness for us. I will have to
take those contracts up to our camp and get his signature. Then
everything will be O.K."

Metzger scowled: "Why did you not have this Hurley here?"

"What, and leave a couple of hundred men idle in the woods? That would
not be good business, would it? I'll take the contracts and have them
signed and witnessed, and return yours by registered mail within two
days."

The head of the Syndicate shot a keen sidewise glance at the boy who was
chatting with Mike Gillum, as he selected a heavy envelope, slipped the
two copies of the contract into it, and passed it over. Connie placed
the envelope in an inner pocket and, buttoning his coat tightly, bade
Metzger good-bye, and passed out of the door.

Alone in the office Metzger frowned at his desk, he drew quick, thin
lined figures upon his blotting pad: "These Americans," he repeated
contemptuously under his breath. "To send a boy to do business with
_me_--a past master of business! The fools! The smug, self-satisfied,
helpless fools--I know not whether to pity or to laugh! And, yet, this
boy has a certain sort of shrewdness. I had relied, in case anything
went wrong with our plan, upon voiding the contract in court. However,
von Kuhlmann is clever. He has been this week on the field. His judgment
is unerring. _He is German!_"

Late that evening, clad once more in his woodsman's garb, Connie Morgan
sat upon the plush cushion of a railway coach, with his new leather
suitcase at his feet, and smiled at the friendly twinkling lights of the
farm-houses, as his train rushed northward into the night.



CHAPTER XIX

THE UNMASKING OF SLUE FOOT MAGEE


Connie Morgan did not leave the train at Dogfish Spur, but kept on to
the county seat. In the morning he hunted up the sheriff, a bluff
woodsman who, until his election to office, had operated as an
independent stumpage contractor.

"Did you arrest three I. W. W.'s in Mike Gillum's camp on Willow River a
while back?" he asked, when the sheriff had offered him a chair in his
office in the little court-house.

"D'you mean those two-legged skunks that tried to brain Hurley when he
was bringin' 'em in fer tryin' to burn out his camp?"

"Those are the ones."

"They're here. An' by the time they got here they know'd they hadn't
be'n on no Sunday-school picnic, too. Doc swore out the warrants, an' I
deputized Limber Bill Bradley, an' Blinky Hoy to go an' fetch 'em in.
'Treat 'em kind,' I tells 'em when they started. But, judgin' by looks
when they got 'em out here, they didn't. You see, them boys was brought
up rough. Limber Bill mixed it up with a bear one time, an' killed him
with a four-inch jack-knife, an' Blinky Hoy--they say he eats buzz-saws
fer breakfast. So here they be, an' here they'll stay 'til June court.
They started hollerin' fer a p'liminary hearin', soon as they got here,
but I know'd Hurley was strainin' hisself fer a good showin' this year,
an' wouldn't want to stop an' come down to testify, so I worked a
technicality on 'em to prevent the hearin'."

"A technicality?"

"Yeh, I shuck my fist in under their nose an' told 'em if they demanded
a hearing, they'd git it. But it would be helt up in Hurley's camp, an'
Limber Bill, an' Blinky Hoy would chaperoon 'em up, an' provided they
was enough left of 'em to bother with after the hearin' them same two
would fetch 'em back. So they changed their minds about a hearin', and
withdraw'd the demand."

Connie laughed: "I'm Hurley's clerk, and I just dropped down to tell
you that if those fellows should happen to ask you how you got wind of
where they were hiding, you might tell them that Slue Foot Magee tipped
them off."

"If they'd happen to ask!" exclaimed the sheriff. "They've b'en tryin'
every which way they know'd how to horn it out of me, ever since they
got out here. What about Slue Foot? I never did trust that bird--never
got nothin' on him--but always livin' in hopes."

"I happen to know that Slue Foot is an I. W. W., and if these fellows
think he doubled-crossed them, they might loosen up with some
interesting dope, just to even things up. You see, it was Slue Foot who
advised them to go to Willow River."

"O-ho, so that's it!" grinned the sheriff. "Well, mebbe, now they'll
find that they _kin_ pump me a little after all."

"And while I'm here I may as well swear out a couple of more warrants,
too. You are a friend of Hurley's, and you want to see him make good."

"You bet yer life I do! There's a man! He's played in hard luck all his
life, an' if he's got a chanct to make good--I'm for him."

"Then hold off serving these warrants 'til just before the break-up.
When the thaw comes, you hurry up to Hurley's camp, and nab Slue Foot."
The sheriff nodded, and Connie continued: "First I want him arrested for
conspiring with the Syndicate in the theft of thirty-four thousand
dollars' worth of logs during April and May of last year."

"With the Syndicate--stealin' logs!"

"Yes, if it hadn't been for that, Hurley would have made good last
year."

The sheriff's lips tightened: "If we can only rope in Heinie Metzger! He
ruined me on a dirty deal. I had stumpage contracts with him. Then he
tried to beat me with his money for sheriff, but he found out that John
Grey had more friends in the woods than the Syndicate had. Go on."

"Then, for conspiring to defraud certain sawyers by shading their cut.
Then, for the theft of three thousand, five hundred dollars from Denny
O'Sullivan. And, last, for conspiracy with the Syndicate to steal some
three million feet of logs this year."

The sheriff looked at the boy in open-eyed astonishment. "D'you mean you
kin _proove_ all this?"

"I think so. I can prove the theft of the money, and the shading the
cut--when it comes to the timber stealing, with the Syndicate's money
back of 'em, we'll have a harder time. But I've got the evidence."

The sheriff grinned: "Well, when Slue Foot let go, he let go all holts,
didn't he? If you've got the evidence to back you up, like you say you
have, Slue Foot'll be usin' a number instead of a name fer the next
lifetime er so."

Shortly after noon of the tenth day, following his departure from camp,
Connie stepped off the train at Dogfish Spur, to find Frenchy waiting
for him with the tote-team. "Hurley say, 'you go long an' git de kid.
She gon' for com' today--tomor'--sure, an' I ain' wan' heem git all tire
out walkin' in.' Hurley lak you fine an' Saginaw lak you, but Slue Foot,
she roar an' growl w'en you ain' here. Bye-m-bye, Hurley tell heem 'shut
oop de mout', who's runnin' de camp?' an Slue Foot gon' back to Camp Two
mad lak tondaire."

The trip up was uneventful. Frenchy's "gran' team" was in fine fettle,
and just as the men were filing into the cook's camp for supper, he
swung the team into the clearing with a magnificent whoop and flourish.

After supper, in the office, Lon Camden began to shuffle his reports,
arranging them day by day for the boy's convenience. Saginaw and Hurley
filled their pipes, and the former, with a vast assumption of
nonchalance, removed his boots and cocked his heels upon the edge of his
bunk. Hurley hitched his chair about until it faced the boy, and for a
space of seconds glared at him through narrowed eyes.

"Ye made a mistake to come back! Ye dhirty little thayfe! An' me
offerin' to lind ye money!" The blood left Connie's face to rush back to
it in a surge of red, and his lips tightened. "Oh, ye don't nade to
pertind ye're insulted," the huge man's voice trembled with suppressed
rage. "Ye had me fooled. Oi'd of soon caught wan av me own b'ys in a
dhirty game--Oi thought that well av ye. But whin Slue Foot com' ragin'
down whin he heer'd ye'd gon' for a wake er so, Oi misthrusted there was
a rayson, so Oi tuk a luk at th' books, an' ut didn't take me long to
find out yer dhirty cut-shadin' scheme."

Connie met the glare eye for eye. "Yes," he answered, "it is a dirty
deal, isn't it? I don't blame you fer bein' mad. I was, too, when I
threw in with it--so mad I came near spilling the beans."

Hurley was staring open mouthed. "Well, av all th' nerve!" he choked out
the words.

"But I held onto myself," continued the boy, "and now we've got the
goods on Slue Foot--four ways from the jack. You noticed I kept a record
of just how much has been shaved off from each man's cut? If I hadn't
you would never have tumbled to the deal, no matter how long you studied
the books. We are going to return that money to the sawyers who have it
coming--but not yet. We want those false vouchers issued first. By the
way, how much do you figure we've got on the landings, now?"

"Eight million, seven hundred thousan'--and clost to three hundred
thousan' layin' down. Th' thaw's right now in th' air--'an we're t'rough
cuttin'. Tomorrow all hands wor-rks gittin' the logs to the rollways.
But what's that to ye? An' what d'ye mane settin' there ca'm as a lake
on a shtill noight, an' admittin' ye wuz in on a low-down swindle? An-ny
wan 'ud think ye wuz accused av shwoipin' a doughnut off the cook!"

"I'll come to that directly," answered the boy. "First, I wish you'd
sign this contract. Saginaw or Lon will witness the signature. And we
can get it into the mail tomorrow."

"Contrack!" roared Hurley, snatching the paper from the boy's hand. The
boss's eyes ran rapidly over the typewritten page, and with a low
exclamation he moved the chair to the light. For ten minutes there was
tense silence in the little office. Then Hurley looked up. "Fifty
dollars a thousan'!" he gasped. "Fer an-nything from eight to tin
million! Tin dollars a thousan', fer an-nything less nor eight million!
From th' Syndicate!" With a bellow of rage the big boss leaped from his
chair and stood over the boy. "Niver Oi've wanted to paste a man so
bad!" he foamed. "Oi said ye wuz shmar-rt--an' ye ar-re. But ye ain't
shmar-rt enough to put this over on me--ye an' Slue Fut--yer game is
bushted!" He shook the paper under the boy's nose. "Somehow, ye figger
on soide-thrackin' enough av thim logs to turn in less thin eight
million--an the Syndicate gits the cut fer tin dollars a thousan'--an'
ye an' Slue Fut divoides up the price av the logs that's missin'."

Connie laughed. "You've hit the idea pretty well, boss--only you've got
the wrong boot on the wrong foot."

"What d'ye mane wid yer boots and futs? Oi see yer game, an' Oi know now
ut it wuz Slue Fut had a hand in the lasht year's loosin'. Wait 'til Oi
git me hands on thot dhirty cur! Wait--" In his wrath the man hurled the
paper to the floor, and reached for his mackinaw with one hand, and his
peavy with the other.

Lon Camden sat looking on with bulging eyes, and beyond the stove
Saginaw Ed shook with silent mirth as he wriggled his toes in his thick
woollen socks.

"Hold on, Hurley," said Connie, as he rescued the precious contract from
the floor. "Just sit down a minute and let's get this thing straight. As
soon as the thaw sets in, John Grey will be up to tend to Slue Foot. I
swore out three or four warrants against him, besides what the I. W.
W.'s are going to spill."

"John Grey--warrants--I. W. W.'s." The man stood as one bewildered. "An'
the kid ca'm as butter, flashin' contracks aroun' th' office, an' ownin'
up he's a thayfe--an' Saginaw a-laughin' to hisself." He passed a rough
hand across his forehead as the peavy crashed to the floor. "Mebbe,
ut's all here," he babbled weakly. "Mebbe thim I. W. W.'s give me wan
crack too many--an' me brain's let go."

"Your brain's all right," said Connie. "Just sit down and light your
pipe, and forget you're mad, and listen while I explain."

Hurley sank slowly into his chair: "Sure, jist fergit Oi'm mad. Jist set
by quiet an' let ye ate th' doughnut ye shwoiped off th' cook. Don't say
nawthin' whoilst ye an' Slue Fut an' the Syndicate steals th' whole
outfit. Mebbe if Oi'd take a little nap, ut wid be handier fer yez." The
man's words rolled in ponderous sarcasm. Lon Camden arose and fumbled in
his turkey. A moment later he tendered the boss a small screw-corked
flask.

"I know it's again' orders in the woods, boss. But I ain't a drinkin'
man--only keep this in case of accident. Mebbe a little nip now would
straighten you out."

Hurley waved the flask aside: "No, Oi'm off thot stuff fer good! Ut done
me har-rm in me younger days--but ut kin do me no more. Av Oi ain't
going crazy, Oi don't nade ut. Av Oi am, ut's betther to be crazy an'
sober, thin crazy an' drunk. Go on, b'y. Ye was goin' to mention
somethin', Oi believe--an' av me name's Jake Hurley, ut betther be a
chinful. In the first place, what business ye got wid contracks, an'
warrants, an-nyhow?"

"In the first place," grinned the boy, "I'm a partner of Waseche Bill,
and one of the owners of this outfit. Here are the papers to show it."
While Hurley studied the papers, Connie proceeded: "We got your report,
and then a letter from Mike Gillum saying that you were in the pay of
the Syndicate----"

Hurley leaped to his feet: "Moike Gillum says Oi wuz in the pay of th'
Syndicate! He's a dhirty----"

"Yes, yes--I know all about that. Slue Foot is the man who is in the pay
of the Syndicate--and he borrowed your name." Hurley subsided, somewhat,
but his huge fists continued to clench and unclench as the boy talked.
"So I came down to see what the trouble was. It didn't take me long,
after I had been with you for a while, to find out that you are
square as a die--and that Slue Foot is as crooked as the trail of a
snake. I pretended to throw in with him, and he let me in on the
cut-shading--and later on the big steal--the scheme they worked on you
last winter, that turned a twenty-thousand-dollar profit into a
fourteen-thousand-dollar loss. When I got onto his game, I asked for a
leave of absence and went down and closed the deal with the
Syndicate--or rather, I let Heinie Metzger and von Kuhlmann close a deal
with me. I had doped it all out that, if Metzger believed Slue Foot
could prevent the delivery of part of the logs, he'd offer most anything
for the whole eight million, because he knew he would never have to pay
it, providing he could get the figure way down on anything less than
eight million. So I stuck out for fifty dollars a thousand on the eight
million, and he pretended it was just tearing his heart out; at the same
time I let him get me down to ten dollars a thousand on the short
cut--And we don't care how little he offered for that, because _we're
going to deliver the whole cut_!"

Hurley was staring into the boy's face in open-mouthed incredulity. "An'
ye mane to say, ye wint to Minneapolis an' hunted up Heinie Metzger
hisself, an' let him make a contrack that'll lose him three or foor
hundred thousan' dollars? Heinie Metzger--the shrewdest lumberman
in the wor-rld. Th' man that's busted more good honest min than he
kin count! Th' man that howlds th' big woods in the holler av his
hand! An' ye--a b'y, wid no hair on his face, done thot? Done ut
deliberate--figgered out befoor hand how to make Heinie Metzger bate
hisself--an' thin went down an' _done ut_?"

Connie laughed: "Sure, I did. Honestly, it was so easy it is a shame to
take the money. Heinie Metzger ain't shrewd--he just thinks he is--and
people have taken him at his own valuation. I told Saginaw the whole
thing, before I went down. Didn't I, Saginaw?"

"You sure did. But I didn't think they was any such thing as puttin' it
acrost. An' they's a whole lot more yet the kid's did, boss. Fer one
thing, he's got them three I. W. W. 's locked in jail. An'----"

Hurley waved his arm weakly: "Thot's enough--an' more thin enough fer
wan avenin'. Th' rist Oi'll take in small doses." He struggled into his
mackinaw and reached fer the peavy that lay where it had fallen beside
the stove.

"Where ye headin', boss?" asked Saginaw.

"Camp Two. Oi've a little conference to howld with the boss up there."

Lon Camden removed his pipe and spat accurately and judiciously into the
woodbox. "The kid's right, Hurley," he said. "Let John Grey handle Slue
Foot. All reason says so. If anything should happen to you just before
the drive, where'd the kid's contract be? He's done his part, givin' the
Syndicate the first good wallop it ever got--now it's up to you to do
yourn. If you lay Slue Foot out, when John Grey comes he wouldn't have
no choist but to take you along--so either way, we'd lose out."

"But," roared Hurley, "s'pose John Grey don't show up befoor the drive?
Thin Slue Fut'll be free to plot an' kape us from deliverin' thim logs."

"Slue Foot's done!" cried Connie. "He can't hurt us now. You see, the
Syndicate people furnished him with a paint that looks just like the
regular branding paint. When the logs have been in the water a short
time the paint all comes off--And, last year, with you bossing the rear
drive, by the time they got to the mills all the logs they dared to
steal were wearing the green triple X."

"An' ye mane he's got thot wash-off stuff on them logs now?"

"On about three million feet of 'em," answered the boy. "All we've got
to do is to sit tight until John Grey comes for Slue Foot, and then put
a crew to work and brand the logs with regular paint and get 'em into
the water." The boy laughed aloud, "And you bet I want to be right at
the sorting gap, when old Heinie Metzger sees the sixth, and seventh,
and eighth, and ninth million come floating along--with the red
block-and-ball bobbing all shiny and wet in the sun! Oh, man! Old
Heinie, with his eyeglasses, and his store clothes!"

Hurley banged the peavy down upon the wooden floor. "An' ut's proud
Oi'll be to be sthandin' be yer soide whin them logs rolls in. Ut's as
ye say, best to let th' law deal with Slue Foot. Yez nade have no
fear--from now on 'til John Grey sets fut in th' clearin'--fer all an-ny
wan w'd know, me an' Slue Foot could be brother-in-laws."



CHAPTER XX

CONNIE DELIVERS HIS LOGS


The following days were busy ones in the two camps in Dogfish. Connie
worked day and night to catch up on his books, and while Saginaw
superintended the building of the huge bateau, and the smoothing out of
the rollways, Hurley and Slue Foot kept the rest of the crew at work
hauling logs to the landings. Spring came on with a rush, and the fast
softening snow made it necessary for the hauling to be done at night.
The thud of axes, the whine of saws, and the long crash of falling
trees, was heard no more in the camps, while all night long the woods
resounded to the calls of teamsters and swampers, as huge loads of logs
were added to the millions of feet already on the rollways.

Then came a night when the thermometer failed to drop to the freezing
point. The sky hung heavy with a thick grey blanket of clouds, a steady
drenching rain set in, and the loggers knew that so far as the woods
were concerned, their work was done. Only a few logs remained to be
hauled, and Hurley ordered these peeled and snaked to the skidways to
await the next season.

The men sang and danced in the bunkhouse that night to the wheeze of an
accordion and the screech of an old fiddle. They crowded the few
belongings which they would take out of the woods with them into
ridiculously small compass, and talked joyfully and boisterously of the
drive--for, of all the work of the woods it is the drive men most love.
And of all work men find to do, the log drive on a swollen, quick-water
river is the most dangerous, the most gruelling, and the most torturing,
when for days and nights on end, following along rough shores, fighting
underbrush, rocks, and backwater, clothing half torn from their bodies,
and the remnants that remain wet to their skin, sleeping in cat-naps
upon the wet ground, eating out of their hands as they follow the logs,
cheating death by a hair as they leap from log to log, or swarm out to
break a jam--of all work, the most gruelling, yet of all work the most
loved by the white-water birlers of the north.

Next morning water was flowing on top of the ice on Dogfish, and the big
bateau was man-hauled to the bank and loaded with supplies and a
portable stove. Strong lines were loaded into her, and extra axes,
pickpoles, and peavys, and then, holding themselves ready to man the
river at a moment's notice, the crew waited.

And that morning, also appeared John Grey, worn out and wet to the
middle by his all night's battle with the deep, saturated slush of the
tote road. He had started from Dogfish with a horse and a side-bar
buggy, but after a few miles, he had given up the attempt to drive
through, and had unharnessed the horse and turned it loose to find its
way back, while he pushed on on foot. After a prodigious meal, the
sheriff turned in and slept until noon. When he awoke, his eyes rested
for a moment on Connie, and he turned to Hurley: "Quite some of a clerk
you got holt of, this season, Jake," he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

"Yeh," replied Hurley, drily. "He's done fairly good--for a greener. I
mistrusted, after he'd be'n in here a spell, that he wasn't just a
pick-up of a kid--but, I didn't hardly think he'd turn out to be the
owner."

"Owner?"

"Yup. Him an' his pardner owns this timber, an' the kid come down to
find out what the trouble was----"

"Y'ain't tellin' me a kid like him----"

"Yup--they come that way--up in Alasky. He's put in a year with the
Canady Mounted, too. I ain't a-braggin' him up none, but I'm right here
to tell you that what that there kid don't know ain't in the books--an'
he kin put over things that makes the smartest men me an' you ever
heer'd of look like pikers."

John Grey smiled, and the boss continued: "Oh, you needn't laff! Old
Heinie Metzger busted _you_, didn't he? An' he busted a-many another
good man. But this here kid slipped down an' put a contrack over on him
that'll cost him between three an' four hundred thousand dollars of his
heart's blood. The contrack is all signed and delivered, an' when
Dogfish lets go tonight or tomorrow, the logs'll start."

"Where is Slue Foot?" asked the sheriff, after listening to Hurley's
explanation.

"Up to Camp Two, we'll be goin' up there now. Me an' you an' the kid
an' Lon'll go long. An' a crew of men with paint buckets and brushes.
Saginaw, he'll have to stay here to boss the breakin' out of the
rollways, in case she let's go before we git back."

At the edge of Camp Two's clearing Hurley called a halt: "We'll wait
here 'til the kid gits Slue Foot's signature to them vouchers. When ye
git 'em kid, open the door an' spit out into the snow--then we'll come."

"I'll just keep out these," grinned Slue Foot, as he selected the false
vouchers from the sheaf of good ones, "so them birds don't git no chanct
to double-cross me. You've done yer part first rate, kid. There's a
little better than three million feet on the rollways that'll be wearin'
the green triple X again they hit the sortin' gap. Von Kuhlmann was up
here hisself to make sure, an' they's goin' to be a bunch of coin in it
fer us--because he says how the owner is down to Minneapolis an'
contracted fer the whole cut, an' old Heinie Metzger made a contrack
that'll bust this here Alasky gent. He'll be so sick of the timber game,
he'll run every time he hears the word log spoke. An' Hurley--he's broke
fer good an' all. I be'n layin' to git him good--an' I done it, an' at
the same time, I made a stake fer myself."

Connie nodded, and opening the door, spat into the snow. A moment later
there was a scraping of feet. The door opened, and John Grey, closely
followed by Hurley and Lon Camden, entered the office.

"Hullo, John," greeted Slue Foot. "Huntin' someone, er be ye up here
tryin' to git some pointers on how to make money loggin'?"

The sheriff flushed angrily at the taunt: "A little of both, I guess,"
he answered evenly.

"Who you huntin'?"

"You."

"Me! What d'you want of me? What I be'n doin'?"

"Oh, nothin' to speak of. Countin' the four warrants the kid, here,
swore out, I only got nine agin ye--the other five is on information
swore to by yer three friends down in jail."

With a roar of hate, Slue Foot sprang straight at Connie, but Hurley who
had been expecting just such a move, met him half way--met his face with
a huge fist that had behind it all the venom of the big boss's pent-up
wrath. Slue Foot crashed into a corner, and when he regained his feet
two steel bracelets coupled with a chain encircled his wrists. The man
glared in sullen defiance while the sheriff read the warrants arising
out of the information of the three I. W. W.'s. But when he came to the
warrants Connie had sworn out, the man flew into a fury of impotent
rage--a fury that gradually subsided as the enormity of the offences
dawned on him and he sank cowering into a chair, wincing visibly as he
listened to the fateful words. "So you see," concluded the sheriff, "the
State of Minnesota is mighty interested in you, Slue Foot, so much
interested that I shouldn't wonder if it would decide to pay yer board
and lodgin' fer the rest of yer natural life."

"If I go over the road there'll be others that goes too. There's them in
Minneapolis that holds their nose pretty high that's into this as deep
as me. An' if I kin knock a few years offen my own time, by turnin'
State's evidence, yer kin bet yer life I'll spill a mouthful." Suddenly
he turned on Connie: "An' you," he screamed, "you dirty little
double-crosser! What be you gittin' out of this?"

"Well," answered the boy, "as soon as the crew out there on the rollways
get the red block-and-ball in good honest paint on the ends of those
logs, I'll get quite a lot out of it. You see I own the timber."

[Illustration: HURLEY HAD REMAINED AT THE UPPER CAMP, AND AS THE DRIVE
AT LAST BEGAN TO THIN OUT, HE CAME FLOATING DOWN, STANDING ERECT UPON A
HUGE LOG.]

Just at daylight the following morning the Dogfish River burst its
prison of ice and "let go" with a rush and a grind of broken cakes;
breakfast was bolted, and the men of the drive swarmed to the bank where
they stood by to break-out the rollways as soon as the logs from the
upper Camp began to thin out. Connie stood beside the big bateau with
the cook and John Grey and watched Camp Two's drive rush past--a
floating floor of logs that spanned the river from bank to bank. Hurley
had remained at the upper Camp and as the drive at last began to thin
out, he came floating down, standing erect upon a huge log. When
opposite the camp the big boss leaped nimbly from log to log until he
reached the bank, where Saginaw stood ready to order out the breaking
out of the first rollway. Many of the men of the upper drive had passed,
riding as Hurley had done upon logs--others straggled along the shore,
watching to see that no trouble started at the bends, and still others
formed the rear drive whose business it was to keep the stranded logs
and the jill-pokes moving.

So busy were all hands watching the logs that nobody noticed the
manacled Slue Foot crawl stealthily from the bateau and slip to the
river's brink. A big log nosed into shore and the former boss of Camp
Two leaped onto it, his weight sending it out into the current. The plan
might have worked, for the next bend would have thrown Slue Foot's log
to the opposite bank of the river before any one could possibly have
interfered, but luck willed otherwise, for the moment the unfortunate
Slue Foot chose as the moment of his escape was the same moment Saginaw
Ed gave the word for the breaking-out of the first rollway. There was a
sharp order, a few well-directed blows of axes, a loud snapping of
toggle-pins, and with a mighty roar the towering pile of logs shot down
the steep bank and took the river with a splash that sent a wave of
water before it.

Then it was that the horrified spectators saw Slue Foot, his log caught
in the wave, frantically endeavouring to control, with his calked boots,
its roll and pitch. For a moment it seemed as if he might succeed, but
the second rollway let go and hurtled after the first, and then the
third, and the fourth--rolling over each other, forcing the tumbling,
heaving, forefront farther and farther into the stream, and nearer and
nearer to Slue Foot's wildly pitching log. By this time word had passed
to the men at the rollways and the fifth was held, but too late to save
Slue Foot, for a moment later the great brown mass of rolling tumbling
logs reached him, and before the eyes of the whole crew, the boss of
Camp Two disappeared for ever, and the great brown mass rolled on.

"Mebbe ut's best," said Hurley, as with a shudder he turned away, "'tis
a man's way to die--in the river--an' if they's an-ny wan waitin' fer
him um back there, they'll think he died loike a man." In the next
breath he bellowed an order and the work of the rollways went on.

It was at the first of his cleverly planned obstructions that Hurley
overtook the head of the drive, and it was there that he encountered
Long Leaf Olson and the men of the Syndicate crew.

Long Leaf was ranting and roaring up and down the bank, vainly ordering
his men to break the jam, and calling malediction upon the logs, the
crew, river, and every foot of land its water lapped. Hurley had ordered
Saginaw to the rear drive, promising to hold the waters back with his
jams, and now he approached the irate Long Leaf, a sack of dynamite over
his shoulder and a hundred picked men of his two crews at his back.

"Call yer men off thim logs!" he bellowed, "Thim's my logs on the head
end, an' I want 'em where they're at."

"Go on back to the rear end where you belong!" screeched Long Leaf;
"I'll learn you to git fresh with a Syndicate drive! Who d'you think you
be, anyhow?"

"Oi'll show ye who I be, ye Skanjehoovyan Swade! An' Oi'll show ye who's
runnin' this drive! Oi'm bossin' th' head ind mesilf an' Saginaw Ed's
bossin' the rear, an' av ye've fouled our drive, ye'll play the game our
way! What do Oi care fer yer Syndicate? Ye ain't boss of nawthin' on
this river this year--ye' ain't aven boss of the bend-watchers!"

Long Leaf, who's river supremacy had heretofore been undisputed, for the
simple reason that no outfit had dared to incur the wrath of the
Syndicate, stared at the huge Irishman in astonishment. Then placing his
fingers to his lips he gave a peculiar whistle, and instantly men
swarmed from the jam, and others appeared as if by magic from the woods.
In a close-packed mob, they centred about their boss. "Go git 'em!"
roared Long Leaf, beside himself with rage. "Chase the tooth-pickers off
the river!"

"Aye, come on!" cried Hurley. "Come on yez spalpeens! Come on, chase us
off th' river--an' whoilst yer chasin' ye bether sind wan av ye down to
Owld Heinie fer to ship up a big bunch av long black boxes wid shiney
handles, er they'll be a whole lot of lumberjacks that won't go out av
the woods at all, this spring!"

As the men listened to the challenge they gazed uneasily toward the crew
at Hurley's back. One hundred strong they stood and each man that did
not carry an axe or a peavy, had thoughtfully provided himself with a
serviceable peeled club of about the thickness of his wrist.

"Git at 'em!" roared Long Leaf, jumping up and down in his tracks. But
the men hesitated, moved forward a few steps, and stopped.

"They hain't nawthin' in my contrack calls fer gittin' a cracked bean,"
said one, loud enough to be heard by the others. "Ner mine," "ner mine,"
"ner mine." "Let old Metzger fight his own battles, he ain't never done
nawthin' to me but skinned me on the wanagan." "What would we git if we
did risk our head?" "Probably git docked fer the time we put in
fightin'." Rapidly the mutiny spread, each man taking his cue from the
utterance of his neighbour, and a few minutes later they all retired,
threw themselves upon the wet ground, and left Long Leaf to face Hurley
alone.

"Git out av me road," cried the big Irishman, "befoor Oi put a shtick av
giant in under ye an' blow ye out!" Long Leaf backed away and,
proceeding to a point opposite the jam, Hurley seated himself upon a
log, and calmly filled his pipe.

"If you think you're bossin' this drive, why in tarnation ain't you
busted this jam," growled Long Leaf, as he came up a few minutes later.

"They ain't no hurry, me b'y, not a bit of a hurry. They'll be another
wan just a moile above th' mouth. Ut's a way good river-min has got to
let the rear drive ketch up."

"You wait 'til Metzger hears of this!" fumed Long Leaf.

Hurley laughed: "Oi'll be there at th' tellin'. An' you wait 'til
Metzger sees eight er noine million feet av my logs slidin' t'rough his
sortin' gap--an' him havin' to pay fifty dollars a thousand fer um. D'ye
think he'll doie av a stroke, er will he blow up?"

"What do you mean--eight million--fifty dollars----"

Hurley laughed tantalizingly: "Wait an' see. 'Twill be worth th' proice
av admission." And not another word could Long Leaf get out of him.

During the previous summer Hurley had studied his ground well. For
several miles above the jam the river flowed between high banks, and it
was that fact that made his scheme practicable, for had the land
extended back from the river in wide flats or meadows, the backwater
from the jam would have scattered his drive far and wide over the
country. It was mid-afternoon when the rear-drive crew came up and then
it was that Hurley, bearing a bundle of yellow cylinders, crept out
along the face of the jam. A quarter of an hour later he came crawling
back and joined the men who watched from the edge of the timber. Five
minutes passed and the silence of the woods was shattered by a dull
boom. The whole mass of logs that had lain, heaped like jack-straws in
the bed of the river, seemed to lift bodily. A few logs in the forefront
were hurled into the air to fall with a noisy splash into the river, or
with a crash upon the trembling mass that settled slowly into the stream
again. For an instant the bristling wall quivered uncertainly, moved
slowly forward, hesitated, and then with a roar, the centre shot
forward, the sides tumbled in upon the logs that rushed through from
behind, and the great drive moved.

The breaking of the second jam was a repetition of the first, and when
the drive hit the big river there were left on the bars and rock-ledges
of the Dogfish only a few stragglers that later could be dry-rolled by a
small crew into the stream and rafted down.

The crew worked indefatigably. Lumbermen said it was as pretty a drive
as ever took water. In the cook's bateau Connie and Steve worked like
Trojans to serve the men with hot coffee and handouts that were kept on
tap every minute of the day and night.

At the various dams along the great river the boy never tired of
standing beside Hurley and watching the logs sluiced through, and at
last, with Anoka behind them, it was with a wildly beating heart that he
stepped into a skiff and took his place in the stern beside Hurley,
while the brawny men of the sorting crew worked their way to the front
of the drive.

As the black smudge that hovered over the city of mills deepened, the
boy gazed behind him at the river of logs--his logs, for the most part;
a mighty pride of achievement welled up within him--the just pride of a
winter's work well done.

News of the drive had evidently preceded them, for when the skiff
reached the landing of the Syndicate's sorting gap, the first persons
the boy saw, standing at the end of the platform, apart from the men of
the sorting crew, were Metzger and von Kuhlmann.

The former greeting Connie with his oily smile. "Ah, here we have the
youthful financier, himself," he purred. "He has accompanied his logs
all the way down the river, counting them and putting them to bed each
night, like the good mother looks after the children. I am prepared to
believe that he has even named each log."

"That's right," answered the boy evenly. "The first log to come through
is named Heinie, and the last log is named Connie--and between the two
of them there are four hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of
assorted ones--you're going to pay for them--so I left the naming to
you."

Metzger shot him a keen glance: "How many logs have you brought down?"

"About nine million feet of mine, and about three million and a half of
yours--from your Dogfish Camp--at least that's what we estimated when we
sluiced through at Anoka."

Von Kuhlmann had turned white as paper: "Where's Hurley?" he asked in a
shaky voice.

[Illustration: CONNIE PLACED HIS HAND AFFECTIONATELY UPON THE ARM OF THE
BIG BOSS WHO STOOD AT HIS SIDE GRINNING BROADLY.]

Connie placed his hand affectionately upon the arm of the big boss who
stood at his side grinning broadly: "This is Jake Hurley--my foreman,"
he announced, and then to the boss: "The old one is Heinie Metzger, and
the shaky one's von Kuhlmann."

"But," faltered von Kuhlmann--"there iss some mistake! Hurley I haff
seen--I know him. I say he iss not Hurley! There iss a mistake!"

"Yes, there's a mistake all right--and you made it," laughed the boy.
"And it's a mistake that cost your boss, there, dearly. The man you
have been dealing with was not Hurley at all. He passed himself off for
Hurley, and last year he got away with it. Your game is up--you crooks!
The three million feet that Slue Foot Magee, alias Hurley, branded with
your disappearing paint, have all been repainted with good, honest,
waterproof paint--and, _here they come!_" As the boy spoke, a log
scraped along the sheer-boom, and for a moment all eyes rested upon the
red block-and-ball, then instantly lifted to the thousands of logs that
followed it.

Several days later when the boom scale had been verified, Connie again
presented himself at the office of the Syndicate and was shown
immediately to Metzger's private room. The magnate received him with
deference, even placing a chair for him with his own hands. "I hardly
know how to begin, _Herr_ Morgan----"

"_Connie Morgan_," snapped the boy. "And as far as I can see you can
begin by dating a check for four hundred and forty-eight thousand, three
hundred and twenty dollars--and then you can finish by signing it, and
handing it over."

"But, my dear young man, the price is exorbitant--my stockholders in
Germany--they will not understand. It will be my ruin."

"Why did you agree to it then? Why did you sign the contract?"

"Ah, you do not understand! Allow me----"

"I understand this much," said Connie, his eyes flickering with wrath,
"that you'd have held me to my bargain and taken my logs for ten dollars
a thousand, and ruined me, if I hadn't been wise to your dirty game."

"Ah, no! We should have adjusted--should have compromised. I would
have been unwilling to see you lose! And yet, you would see me
lose--everything--my position--my friends in Germany--surely your heart
is not so hard. There should be fellowship among lumbermen----"

"Is that the reason you ruined John Grey, and Lige Britton, and Lafe
Weston, and poor old Jim Buck? Every one of them as square a man as ever
lived--and every one of them an independent logger, 'til you ruined
them! What did you answer when they sat right in this office and begged
for a little more time--a little more credit--a little waiver of toll
here and there? Answer me that! You bloodsucking weasel!" The cowardly
whine of the beaten German made the boy furious. He was upon his feet,
now, pounding the desk with his fist.

A crafty gleam shot from Metzger's eyes, and abruptly he changed his
tactics: "Let us not abuse each other. It is probable we can come to an
agreement. You are smart. Come in with us. I can use you--in von
Kuhlmann's place. I paid von Kuhlmann eighteen-hundred a year. Make a
concession to me on the contract and I will employ you with a ten year
contract, at ten thousand a year. We are a big corporation; we will
crush out the little ones! I can even offer you stock. We will tighten
our grip on the timber. We will show these Americans----"

"Yes," answered the boy, his voice trembling with fury, "we'll show
these Americans--we'll show 'em what _fools_ they are to allow a lot of
wolves from across the water to come over here and grab off the best
we've got. I'm an American! And I'm proud of it! And what's more, I'll
give you just five minutes to write that check, Metzger, and if it isn't
in my hands when the time's up, I'll get out an attachment that'll tie
up every dollar's worth of property you own in the State, from the mills
to your farthest camp. I'll tie up your logs on the rollways--and by the
time you get the thing untangled you won't have water enough to get
them to the river. You've got three minutes and a half left."

Slowly, with shaking fingers, Metzger drew the check, and without a
word, passed it over to Connie, who studied it minutely, and then thrust
it into his pocket. At the door he turned and looked back at Metzger who
had sloughed low in his chair.

"If you'd listened to those other men--John Grey and the others you've
busted, when they were asking for favours that meant nothing to you, but
meant ruin to them if you withheld them--if you'd played the game square
and decent--you wouldn't be busted now. And, when you get back to
Germany, you might tell your friends over there that unless they change
their tactics, someday, something is going to happen that will wake
America up! And if you're a fair specimen of your kind, when America
does wake up, it will be good-bye Germany!" And as the door slammed upon
the boy's heels, Metzger for a reason unaccountable to himself
shuddered.


THE END



Connie Morgan with the Mounted

By

James B. Hendryx

Author of "Connie Morgan in Alaska"

_Illustrated._


It tells how "Sam Morgan's Boy," well known to readers of Mr. Hendryx's
"Connie Morgan in Alaska," daringly rescued a man who was rushing
to destruction on an ice floe and how, in recognition of his
quick-wittedness and nerve, he was made a Special Constable in the
Northwest Mounted Police, with the exceptional adventures that fell to
his lot in that perilous service. It is a story of the northern
wilderness, clean and bracing as the vigorous, untainted winds that
sweep over that region; the story of a boy who wins out against the
craft of Indians and the guile of the bad white man of the North; the
story of a boy who succeeds where men fail.



Connie Morgan in Alaska

By

James B. Hendryx

Author of "The Promise," "The Law of the Woods," etc.

_12°. Over twenty illustrations_


Mr. Hendryx, as he has ably demonstrated in his many well-known tales,
knows his Northland thoroughly, but he has achieved a reputation as a
writer possibly "too strong" for the younger literary digestion. It is a
delight, therefore, to find that he can present properly, in a capital
story of a boy, full of action and adventure, and one in whom boys
delight, the same thorough knowledge of people and customs of the North.



The Quest of the Golden Valley

By

Belmore Browne

Author of "The Conquest of Mount McKinley"

_12°. Eight full-page illustrations_


The story of a search for treasure which lies guarded by the fastnesses
of nature in the ragged interior of Alaska. The penetration of these
wilds by the boys who are the heroes of the story is a thrilling
narrative of adventure, and with every step of the journey the lore of
the open is learned. The reader follows them through the mountains
wreathed in misty enchantment, over swollen rivers, into inviting
valleys, until the great discovery of gold is made, and then the
adventure does not close but may be said to reach its height, for a wily
good-for-nothing, who, under false pretenses, has inveigled in his
scheme some men innocent of wicked intent, attempts to steal the prize,
and there follows a race of days through the northland, involving
innumerable dangers and culminating in a splendid rescue.



The White Blanket

By

Belmore Brown

Author of "The Quest of the Golden Valley," etc.

_12°. Illustrated_


A sequel to _The Quest of the Golden Valley_, this time taking the chums
through the vicissitudes of an Alaskan winter. They trap the many
fur-bearing animals, hunt the big game, camp with the Indians, do
dog-driving, snow-shoeing, etc. With the coming of spring they descend
one of the wilderness rivers on a raft and at the eleventh hour, after
being wrecked in a dangerous canyon, they discover a fabulous quartz
lode, and succeed in reaching the sea coast.


        G. P. Putnam's Sons
    New York             London



Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Illustrations have been moved closer to the relevant text.





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