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Title: First at the North Pole - Two Boys in the Arctic Circle
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward, 1862-1930
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: "And now, a cheer for the first boys at the North Pole!"]



FIRST AT THE NORTH POLE

OR

TWO BOYS IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE

BY

EDWARD STRATEMEYER

  Author of
  Oliver Bright's Search, Richard Dare's Venture,
  The Last Cruise of the Spitfire, True to
  Himself, Joe, the Surveyor,
  Shorthand Tom, Etc.

ILLUSTRATED BY CHARLES NUTTALL

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS :: NEW YORK

Published, December, 1909

Copyright, 1909, by Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.

All rights reserved



CONTENTS
    CHAPTER I--ANDY AND HIS UNCLE
    CHAPTER II--AT THE LUMBER CAMP
    CHAPTER III--SOME PAPERS OF VALUE
    CHAPTER IV--CHET GREENE'S PAST
    CHAPTER V--THE MAN ON THE LEDGE
    CHAPTER VI--A WORLD-WIDE HUNTER
    CHAPTER VII--CHET AND THE MOOSE
    CHAPTER VIII--A TALK OF IMPORTANCE
    CHAPTER IX--SOMETHING ABOUT THE NORTH POLE
    CHAPTER X--BRINGING IN SOME GAME
    CHAPTER XI--A SERIOUS LOSS
    CHAPTER XII--A LETTER OF INTEREST
    CHAPTER XIII--BARWELL DAWSON REACHES A DECISION
    CHAPTER XIV--THE FIRE ON THE STEAMER
    CHAPTER XV--THE START OF THE COOK EXPEDITION
    CHAPTER XVI--A TRICK, AND WHAT FOLLOWED
    CHAPTER XVII--AN ENCOUNTER WITH ICEBERGS
    CHAPTER XVIII--SHOOTING WILD GEESE
    CHAPTER XIX--GREENLAND AND THE ESQUIMAUX
    CHAPTER XX--FAST IN THE ICE
    CHAPTER XXI--A FIGHT WITH POLAR BEARS
    CHAPTER XXII--THROUGH THE LONG NIGHT
    CHAPTER XXIII--"NORTH POLE OR BUST!"
    CHAPTER XXIV--THE LAST HUNT
    CHAPTER XXV--CROSSING THE GREAT LEAD
    CHAPTER XXVI--ON A FLOATING MASS OF ICE
    CHAPTER XXVII--HOW COMMANDER PEARY REACHED THE POLE
    CHAPTER XXVIII--THE TOP OF THE WORLD AT LAST
    CHAPTER XXIX--FIGHTING OFF STARVATION
    CHAPTER XXX--HOME AGAIN
    CHAPTER XXXI--GOOD NEWS--CONCLUSION



PREFACE

  "First at the North Pole," relates the particulars of a marvelous
  journey from our New England coast to that portion of our globe
  sometimes designated as "the top of the world."

  Filled with such dreams as come to all explorers, Barwell Dawson
  fitted out the _Ice King_ for a trip to the north. Because of what had
  happened, it was but natural that he should invite Andy and Chet to
  accompany him, and equally natural that they should hasten to accept
  the invitation.

  The boys knew that they would have no easy time of it, yet they did
  not dream of the many perils that awaited the entire party. Once the
  staunch steamer was in danger of being crushed by an immense iceberg,
  in which event this chronicle would not have been written. Again, the
  boys and the others had a fierce fight with polar bears and with a
  savage walrus. When the ship was jammed hard and fast in the ice a
  start was made by the exploring party, accompanied by some Esquimaux
  and several dog sledges. All had heard of the marvelous achievements
  of Cook and Peary, and all were fired with a great ambition to go and
  do likewise. With the thermometer often at fifty degrees below zero,
  they pushed on steadily, facing death more than once. To add to their
  troubles they had sickness in camp, and snow-blindness, and once some
  Esquimaux, becoming scared, rebelled and tried to run off with their
  supplies. Then, when the North Pole was at last gained, it became the
  gravest kind of a problem how to return to civilization alive.

  In penning this volume I have had a twofold purpose in mind: the first
  to show what pure grit and determination can do under the most trying
  of circumstances, and the second to give my readers an insight into
  Esquimaux life and habits, and to relate what great explorers like
  Franklin, Kane, Hall, DeLong, Nansen, Cook, and Peary have done to
  open up this weird and mysterious portion of our globe.

                                                   Edward Stratemeyer.
  November 15, 1909.



CHAPTER I

ANDY AND HIS UNCLE


"What be you a-goin' to do today, Andy?"

"I'm going to try my luck over to the Storburgh camp, Uncle Si. I hardly
think Mr. Storburgh will have an opening for me, but it won't hurt to
ask him."

"Did you try Sam Hickley, as I told you to?" continued Josiah Graham, as
he settled himself more comfortably before the open fireplace of the
cabin.

"Yes, but he said he had all the men he wanted." Andy Graham gave
something of a sigh. "Seems to me there are more lumbermen in this part
of Maine than there is lumber."

"Humph! I guess you ain't tried very hard to git work," grumbled the old
man, drawing up his bootless feet on the rungs of his chair, and
spreading out his hands to the generous blaze before him. "Did you see
them Plover brothers?"

"No, but Chet Greene did, day before yesterday, and they told him they
were laying men off instead of taking 'em on."

"Humph! I guess thet Chet Greene don't want to work. He'd rather fool
his time away in the woods, huntin' and fishin'."

"Chet is willing enough to work if he can get anything to do. And
hunting pays, sometimes. Last week he got a fine deer and one of the
rich hunters from Boston paid him a good price for it."

"Humph! Thet ain't as good as a stiddy, payin' job. I don't want you to
be a-lazin' your time away in the woods,--I want you to grow up stiddy
an' useful. Besides, we got to have money, if we want to live."

"Aren't you going to try to get work, Uncle Si?" asked the boy
anxiously, as he gazed at the large and powerful-looking frame of the
man before him.

"To be sure I'm a-goin' to go to work--soon as I'm fit. But I can't do
nuthin with my feet an' my stomach goin' back on me, can I?"

"I thought your dyspepsia was about over--you've eaten so well the past
week. And you've walked considerably lately. If you got something
easy----"

"Now, don't you go to tellin' me what to do!" cried the old man,
wrathfully. "I'm a sick man, that's what I am. I ain't able to work, an'
it's up to you as a dootiful nevvy to git work an' support us both. Now
you jest trot off to the Storburgh camp, an' don't you come home till
you git work. An' after this, you better give up havin' anything to do
with thet good-fer-nuthin, lazy Chet Greene."

The boy's eyes flashed for an instant and he was on the point of making
a bitter reply to his relative. But then his mouth closed suddenly and
he turned away. In silence he drew off his slippers, donned his big
boots, and put on his overcoat and his winter cap. Then he pulled on his
gloves, slung a game bag over his shoulder, and reached for a gun that
stood behind a door.

"Wot you takin' thet fer?" demanded Josiah Graham, with his eyes on the
gun. "Didn't I tell you to look fer a job?"

"That's what I'm going to do," was the reply. "But if I come across any
game on the way I want the chance to bring it down."

"Humph! I know how boys are! Rather loaf around the woods than work, any
time."

"Uncle Si, if you say another word----" began the youth, and then he
stopped short, turned on his heel, and walked from the cabin, closing
the door none too gently behind him.

It was certainly a trying situation, and as he stepped out into the snow
Andy felt as if he never wanted to go back and never wanted to see his
Uncle Si again.

"It's his laziness, nothing else," murmured the boy to himself, as he
trudged off. "He's as able to work as I am. He always was lazy--father
said so. Oh, dear; I wish he had never come to Pine Run!"

Andy was a youth of seventeen, of medium height, but with well-developed
chest and muscles. His face was a round one, and usually good to look
at, although at present it was drawn down because of what had just
occurred.

The boy was an orphan, the son of a man who in years gone by had bought
and sold lumber throughout the northern section of Maine. His mother had
been taken away when he was a small lad, and then he and his father had
left town and come to live in the big cabin from which Andy was now
trudging so rapidly. An old colored woman had come along, to do the
cooking and other household work.

A log jam on the river had caused Mr. Graham's death two years before
this tale opens, and for a short time Andy had been left utterly alone,
there being no near neighbors and no relatives to take care of the
orphan. True, he had been offered a home by a lumber dealer of Bangor,
but the man was such a harsh fellow that Andy shrank from going with
him.

Then, one day, much to everybody's surprise, Josiah Graham appeared on
the scene and announced his intention to settle down and live with his
nephew. Josiah was an older half-brother to Andy's father, and the boy
had often heard of him as a shiftless, lazy ne'er-do-well, who drifted
from one town to another, seldom keeping a job longer than two or three
weeks or a month. He did not drink, but he loved to smoke, and to tell
stories of what he had done or was going to do.

"I'm a-goin' to take Andy in hand an' make a man of him," he declared,
shortly after his arrival. "A young feller like him needs a guardeen."
And then he had his trunk carted to the cabin and, without asking Andy's
permission, proceeded to settle down and make himself comfortable.

At first it looked as if matters might go along smoothly enough, for
Josiah Graham managed to obtain a position as time-keeper at one of the
lumber camps, where Andy was employed as a chopper. But soon the man's
laziness manifested itself, and when he did not do his work properly he
was discharged.

"It was the boss's fault, 'twasn't mine," he told Andy, but the youth
knew better. Then he got into a quarrel with the negro woman who did the
housework and told her to go away.

"'Twill be one less to feed," he said to his nephew. "We can do our own
work." But he did not do a stroke extra, and it fell to Andy's share to
sweep, and wash dishes, and make his own bed. Uncle Si wanted him to
make the other bed too, but he refused.

"If you want it made, you can make it yourself!" declared Andy, with
spirit. "You are not working at the camp, while I am." This led to a
lively quarrel. After that Josiah Graham did make up the bed a few
times, but usually when he crawled into it at night it was in the same
mussed-up condition as when he had crawled out in the morning.

Another quarrel came over the question of money. The uncle wanted Andy
to hand over all his earnings, but this the lad refused to do. Josiah
Graham had already gotten possession of the fifteen hundred dollars left
by Andy's father, but this was lost in a wildcat speculation in lumber
for which the old man was morally, if not legally, responsible. The
youth felt that he must be cautious or his uncle might make him
penniless.

"I'll pay the bills and give you a dollar a week," he told Josiah
Graham. "That will buy those tablets you take for your dyspepsia. You
had better give up smoking."

"Smoking is good for the dyspepsy," was the reply. "You give me the
money an' I'll pay the bills," and then, when Andy still refused, the
uncle waited until pay-day and went to the lumber camp and collected his
nephew's wages. This brought on more trouble, and, because of this, Andy
lost his position.

It was midwinter, and to get another job was by no means easy. The youth
tramped from place to place, but without success. The money in the hands
of Josiah Graham was running low, and he was constantly "nagging" Andy
to go and do something. He was perfectly able to look for work himself,
but was too indolent to make the effort. He preferred to sit in front of
the blazing fire and give advice. Once or twice a week he would shuffle
off to the village, two miles away, to sit behind the pot stove in the
general store and listen to the news.

"The laziest man in the whole district," declared the storekeeper. "It's
a pity he showed up to bother Andy Graham. I think the boy could have
done better without him." And this verdict was shared by many. But
nobody dared to tell Josiah Graham, for fear of provoking a quarrel with
the man.

As mentioned before, Andy's father had left fifteen hundred dollars. He
had also bequeathed to his son, when he should become of age, an
interest in a large timber tract in upper Michigan. On his deathbed the
father had secretly given his son some papers referring to the land,
telling him to beware or some "lumber sharks" would get the better of
him and take his property away. Andy now had these papers hidden in a
box under his bed. He had not told his uncle of them, feeling that his
relative was not capable of looking after his rights. Andy's education
was somewhat limited, yet he knew a great deal more than did Josiah
Graham, who had been too lazy to attend school, even when he had the
chance.

"I'll keep the papers secret," the lad told himself, "and some day, when
I get the chance and have the money, I'll go down to Bangor or Portland
and get a lawyer to look into the matter for me. If I let Uncle Si have
them he'll allow the land sharks to cheat me out of everything."

Andy's father had been more or less of a hunter, and the boy took
naturally to a rifle and a shotgun. He was a fair marksman, and the
winter previous had laid low three deer and a great variety of small
game. One of the deer had been brought down on a windy day and at long
range, and of that shot he was justly proud. The venison and other meat
had come in handy at the cabin, and the deer skins and the horns of a
buck had brought him in some money that was badly needed.

"If I can't get a job, I'm going hunting for a few days," said Andy half
aloud, as he trudged through the snow. "It's better than doing nothing,
Uncle Si to the contrary. Maybe I can get Chet to go along. I don't
think he has anything else to do. Somehow or other, it seems to be
awfully dull around here this winter. Maybe I would have done better if
I had tried my luck down in one of the towns."

Andy had to pass through the village of Pine Run, consisting of a
general store, blacksmith shop, church, and a score of houses. As he
approached the settlement he saw a horse and cutter coming toward him at
a smart rate of speed. In the cutter sat a man of about thirty, dressed
in a fine fur overcoat.

"Whoa!" called the man to his steed, as he approached the youth, and the
horse soon came to a halt. "Say, can you tell me, is this the road to
Moose Ridge?" he asked.

"It's one of the roads," answered Andy.

"Then there is another?"

"Yes, sir, just beyond that fringe of trees yonder."

"Which is the best road?"

"What part of the Ridge do you want to go to?"

"Up to a place called the Blasted Pines."

"Then you had better take the other road. You won't get through this
way."

"You are sure of that? I don't want to make any mistake."

"Yes, I am sure. I've been up there hunting myself," added Andy. He saw
that the cutter contained a game bag and two gun cases.

"Is the hunting any good?"

"It was last year. I haven't been up there this year. I got a fine big
deer up there. Maybe I'll get up there later--if I can't find work."

"Out of employment, eh?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, if you come up there perhaps we'll meet again," said the man, and
started to turn the cutter back to the other road. "Much obliged for the
information."

"You're welcome," answered Andy. And then he watched the turnout swing
around and dash away for the other road.

Little did he dream of the strange circumstances under which he was to
meet this man again, or of what that encounter was to bring forth.



CHAPTER II

AT THE LUMBER CAMP


Leaving the village behind him, Andy struck out bravely for the
Storburgh lumber camp, three miles up the river. The thermometer was low
but there was no wind, and he did not mind the cold, for he had plenty
of good red blood in his veins. All he was worried about was the
question of getting work. He knew that he must have money, and that it
could not very well be obtained without employment.

"If I were a fellow in a fairy story book I might find a bag of gold,"
he mused. "But as I'm only a Yankee lad, I guess I'll have to hustle
around for all I get. Even if I went hunting and brought down a deer or
two, or a moose, that wouldn't bring in enough. If I were a regular
guide I might get a job with that gentleman in the cutter. He looked as
if he had money to spend. He must be a stranger in these parts, or he
wouldn't ask about the road to Moose Ridge."

It was nearly noon when Andy came in sight of the lumber camp. From a
distance he heard the ringing sounds of the axes, and the shouts of the
men to "stand from under" as a mighty monarch of the forest was about to
fall. Skirting the "yard," he approached the building which was known as
the office.

"Is Mr. Storburgh around?" he asked, of the young man in charge.

"He is not," was the reply, and the clerk scarcely looked up from the
sheet upon which he was figuring.

"When will he be here?"

"I don't know--he's gone to New York."

"Do you know if he has an opening for a chopper, or on the teams?"

"No opening whatever. We laid off four men last week, and we're going to
lay off four more this coming Saturday."

The clerk went on figuring, and in silence Andy withdrew. He had had a
walk of nearly five miles for nothing. Was it any wonder that he was
disheartened?

"It's the same story everywhere," he told himself, as he moved away
slowly. "I might tramp to the Elroy place--that's six miles from here--but
what's the use? I'll wear out boot-leather for nothing. I guess Uncle Si
and I will have to pull up stakes or starve."

Not knowing what else to do, Andy walked along to where a number of men
were at work. Just then the twelve o'clock whistle sounded, and the
workers "knocked off" for their midday meal.

"Hello, Andy!" sung out a cheery voice, and, turning, the boy saw a
brawny chopper named Bill Carrow approaching. Carrow had once worked
with Mr. Graham, and knew the son fairly well.

"Hello," returned the youth. "Going to feed the inner man?" and he
smiled.

"That's what, son. How are you?" And the lumberman shook hands.

"Fairly well, but I'd feel better if I had a job."

"Out of work, eh? That's too bad. I don't suppose there is any opening
here."

"The clerk said there wasn't any--said they were discharging hands
instead of taking 'em on."

"That's true. Business is bad--account of the panic last year, you know."
Bill Carrow paused a moment. "Had your dinner?"

"No, but I can wait until----"

"You ain't going to wait. You come with me and I'll fill you up. Your
father did the same for me many a time. Come on."

Andy was hungry, and could not resist this kindly invitation. Soon the
pair were eating a plain but substantial dinner, which Carrow procured
from the camp cook. It was disposed of in a corner of the mess cabin,
apart from the other lumbermen. As they ate the lumberman asked the
youth about himself and his uncle.

"That uncle of yours ought to be ashamed of himself, that's my opinion
of it," said Bill Carrow. "If I was you, I'd not lift my finger to
support him. He was the laziest young feller I ever knew, and it's
nothing but laziness now. He ought to be supporting you instead of you
supporting him."

"I can support myself--if he'd only leave me alone and not try to get my
money away from me."

"He squandered that money your father left--I know all about it. I'd make
him go to work."

"I can't make him do anything."

"The boys ought to go over and ride him on a rail, or tar and feather
him. I guess that would wake him up."

"Oh, I hope they don't do that! He's a bad man when he gets in a rage."
Andy did not want any more trouble than had already fallen to his
portion.

"By the way, Andy, did a man named Hopton call on you lately?" asked
Carrow, after a pause.

"Hopton? I never heard of him. Who is he?"

"Why, as near as I can learn, he is a real estate man--deals in timber
and farm lands. He came here a week or so ago, thinking you had a job
here. I told him where you lived, and I supposed he called on you."

"I didn't see him. What did he want?"

"He wouldn't say--leastwise, I didn't ask him, seeing's it was none of my
business. But he did ask me, confidential like--after he found out that I
had known your father well--if your folks had any timber lands over in
Michigan."

"Oh!" Andy uttered the exclamation before he had time to think. "Did
he--that is, did he ask about any land in particular?"

"No. I told him I didn't think you owned any land anywhere. He looked
satisfied at that and went away. But I thought he called on you."

"Where was he from?"

"I don't know. But they might tell you at the office. Have you got any
land?"

It was an awkward question. Andy did not wish to tell a falsehood, nor
did he wish to disclose the secret left by his parent. He bit off a
mouthful of bread and pretended to choke upon it.

"Hi, look out, or you'll choke to death!" cried Bill Carrow, slapping
him on the back. Then Andy ran to the door and continued to cough, until
the awkward question was forgotten. Other workmen came up, and the talk
became general. Perhaps Carrow suspected that the boy did not wish to
answer him, for he did not refer to the matter again.

After thanking his friend for the dinner, Andy walked back to the
office. He found the clerk smoking a pipe and reading a Bangor
newspaper, having finished his midday meal a few minutes previously.

"It's no use," he said, as Andy came in. "We can't possibly take you
on."

"I came back to get a little information, if you'll be kind enough to
give it. Do you know a man named Hopton?"

"Why, yes. I suppose you mean A. Q. Hopton, the real estate dealer."

"Does he deal in timber lands?"

"I think he does."

"Where is he from?"

"He has an office in Portland, and another in Grand Rapids, Michigan."

"Do you know where he is now?"

"No. He was here on business some days ago. Perhaps he went back to
Portland."

"Thank you."

"Want to buy a few thousand acres of land?" and the clerk chuckled at
his joke.

"No, I thought I could sell him a linen duster to keep the icicles off
when he's on the road," answered Andy, with a grin. And then, as there
seemed nothing more to say, he walked away, and was soon leaving the
Storburgh lumber camp behind him.

What he had heard set him to thinking deeply. What did this A. Q. Hopton
know about the lumber tract in Michigan? Was it valuable, and did it
really belong to his father's estate?

"I wish I knew more about such things," mused Andy. "The last time I
tried to read the papers over I couldn't make head or tail of them. I
guess it would take a smart lawyer to get to the bottom of it--and a
lawyer would want a lot of money for the work. I wonder----" And then Andy
came to a sudden halt.

Was it possible that Mr. A. Q. Hopton had called at the cabin during his
absence and interviewed Uncle Si? And if so, how much had Uncle Si been
able to tell the real estate dealer? Had the two gone on a hunt for the
papers, and, if so, had they found the documents?

"If Uncle Si has gone into any kind of a deal on this without consulting
me, I'll--I'll bring him to account for it!" cried the youth, vehemently.
"After this he has got to leave my affairs alone. He lost that fifteen
hundred dollars--he's not going to lose that timber land, too."

It occurred to Andy that the best thing he could do would be to get home
at once and interview his uncle. For the time being he lost his interest
in looking for work, and also lost his desire to go gunning.

"I've tramped far enough for one day, anyway," he told himself. "I'll
just stop at the store for a few things, and then go straight home."

It was a long walk to the village, and once there he was glad enough to
rest while the storekeeper put up the few things he desired. These he
paid for in cash, for he did not wish to risk a refusal should he ask
for trust.

"Your uncle was here--got some tobacco," said the storekeeper. "He said
you would pay for it."

"He'll have to pay for it himself, Mr. Sands," answered Andy, firmly.

"Yes? All right, Andy, just as you say."

"I pay for what I buy, and he can do the same."

"Well, I don't blame you, my boy." And the look of the storekeeper spoke
volumes. He handed over some change that was due. "By the way, did you
know there was a real estate dealer in town to see you?" he inquired.

"A Mr. Hopton?"

"That's the man."

"When?"

"To-day,--only a few hours ago. I was telling him where you lived when
your uncle came along for the tobacco. They talked a while together, and
then went off."

"Towards our place?"

"Yes, they took that road. The real estate man had a sleigh, and your
uncle got in with him."

"What did Mr. Hopton want?"

"I don't know exactly. I heard some words about papers, and your uncle
said he had them. Mr. Hopton said something about three hundred dollars
in cash--but I don't know what it was."

Andy's heart leaped into his throat. Was it possible that his uncle had
found the timber claim papers, and was going to let Mr. A. Q. Hopton
have them for three hundred dollars?

"He sha'n't do it--I'll stop him--I must stop him!" the boy told himself,
and catching up his bundles he left the general store, and struck out
for home as fast as his tired limbs would carry him.



CHAPTER III

SOME PAPERS OF VALUE


Ever since his father had left him the papers Andy had thought they
might be of considerable value, but now he was more convinced than ever
of their importance.

"For all I know, that claim may be worth a fortune," he reasoned.
"Anyway, it's worth something, or that man wouldn't be so anxious to get
the papers."

The youth tried his best to increase his speed, but the snow was deep in
spots, and his long journey to the Storburgh camp had tired him, so it
took some time to get even within sight of the cabin that was his home.
To the rear, under the shed, he saw a horse and cutter.

"He is there, that's sure," he told himself. "I wonder what they are
doing?"

The path to the cabin wound in and out among some trees, so that those
inside could not witness his approach unless they were on the watch. As
the youth came closer a sudden thought struck him, and he darted behind
some bushes, made a detour, and came up in the shed. Here there was a
back door opening into a summer kitchen.

Placing his bundles on a shelf in the shed, Andy softly opened the door
to the summer kitchen and entered the place. Here there was another
door, opening into the general living room of the cabin. It was not well
hung, and stood open several inches.

"Well, I know something about timber lands," he heard his uncle saying.
"If they are wuth anything, they are generally wuth considerable."

"I am offering you more than this claim is worth," was the reply from
Mr. A. Q. Hopton. He was standing in front of the fire warming himself,
while Josiah Graham was hunched up in his usual attitude in the easy
chair. Both men were smoking cigars, the real estate man having stood
treat.

"Wot makes you so anxious to git the papers?" went on Josiah Graham.

"My client simply wants to clear away this flaw, as I told you,"
answered A. Q. Hopton, smoothly. "Of course he could go ahead and claim
everything just as it is, and I don't think you could do a thing, but he
prefers to treat everybody right. Mr. Graham gave a hundred dollars for
this claim, so when you get three hundred for it you are getting a big
price."

"Humph!" Josiah Graham fell back on his favorite exclamation. "If I--that
is, if I let you have them papers, Andy may object."

"How can he? You're his guardian, aren't you?"

"Sure I am, but----"

"Then you have a right to do as you please. You don't want me to buy the
papers from him, do you?"

"No! no! You give the money to me!" cried Josiah Graham, in alarm. "He
don't know the vally of a dollar, an' I do. If he had thet three hundred
dollars he'd squander it in no time."

"Very well, give me the papers and I'll write you out a check."

"Can't you give me cash? It ain't no easy matter fer me to git a check
cashed up here." Josiah Graham did not add that he was afraid the check
might be worthless, although that was in his mind.

"I don't carry three hundred dollars in my clothes. I can give you fifty
in cash though," went on the real estate agent, as he saw the old man's
face fall. "And if you wish, I'll get one of the lumber bosses up here
to vouch for the check."

"Humph! I suppose thet will have to do then. But--er--one thing more, Mr.
Hopton----"

"What is that?"

Josiah Graham leaned forward anxiously.

"Don't you let the boy know about this right away. You give me a chanct
to tell him myself."

"Just as you wish. You're his guardian, and I'll not interfere with you.
Get the papers and I'll give you the check and the cash right now." And
the real estate agent drew a pocketbook and a checkbook from his inside
coat.

Andy had listened to the conversation with bated breath. So far as
worldly experience went he was but a boy, yet he realized that, in some
way, this Mr. A. Q. Hopton was trying to swindle him out of his
inheritance, and that his Uncle Si was willing to aid the schemer just
for the sake of getting possession of the three hundred dollars.

As his uncle arose to enter the room in which his nephew slept, the boy
slipped into the cabin. Like a flash he darted to his bedroom, jumped
inside, and shut and bolted the door after him.

"Hi there! What's this?" cried the real estate dealer, in astonishment.

"It's--it's the boy, my nevvy!" gasped Josiah Graham. "He come in through
the back door! He must have been a-listenin' to our talk."

"Is that so? That's too bad." The real estate agent was dazed by the
sudden turn of affairs. "He had a gun with him."

"Yes, he took it with him when he went for work." Josiah Graham walked
over to the door and tried it. "Andy, open that door."

"I will not," was the answer.

"Was you a-listenin' to our talk?"

"I was."

"Humph! Nice thing fer a boy to do!"

"I guess I had a right to listen," was the cool answer. As he spoke,
Andy was examining the box in which he had stored the papers. He found
things much disarranged, showing that his uncle had gone through the
contents during his absence. But the papers were there, and the sight of
them caused him to breathe a sigh of relief.

"They sha'n't have these papers, no matter what happens," he said to
himself, and stuffed the documents into an inside pocket.

"Open thet door!" commanded Josiah Graham, and his voice now sounded
harsh and threatening.

"I guess you had better teach that boy manners," was Mr. A. Q. Hopton's
comment.

"I'll teach him sumthin'!" answered the old man. "Open thet door, I say,
an' come out here."

"You want to get those papers," said Andy. He was wondering what to do
next.

"Well, ain't I your guardeen, an' ain't I got a right to 'em?"

"The papers are mine, and I'm not going to give them up," answered Andy,
doggedly. "I don't like that Mr. Hopton, and he's not going to get the
papers. I'm going to turn them over to a lawyer."

At these words the real estate man was much disturbed.

"That boy is an imp," he said, in a low voice. "I'd not let him talk to
me that way if I were you."

"I ain't goin' to," answered Josiah Graham. "Andy, you open thet door,
or I'll bust it in!"

"Don't you dare break down the door!" answered Andy, in increased alarm.
"If you do--I'll--I'll--Well, remember, I've got my gun--and it's loaded,
too."

"Don't ye shoot! Don't ye shoot!" yelled Uncle Si, in sudden terror, and
he backed away several steps. "Don't ye dare! Oh, was ever there sech a
boy!"

"Do you think he'd dare to shoot?" asked the real estate dealer.

"I dunno. He's got lots o' spirit sometimes."

"Maybe we had better try to reason with him."

"All right." Josiah Graham raised his voice. "Andy, this is
all--er--foolishness. Come out o' there."

To this the youth did not answer. He was considering what he had best do
next. He did not want to shoot anybody, and he was afraid that the two
men would in some manner get the better of him and take away the papers.

"Andy, do ye hear me? Come out--I ain't goin' to hurt ye."

"You'll take those papers away from me."

"He is going to sell me the papers, and at a good price," broke in A. Q.
Hopton.

"I don't want to sell--to you," answered Andy. He was moving around the
bedroom rapidly, having decided on a course of action.

"I'm your guardeen, an' I know wot's best," broke in Josiah Graham.
"Open the door, an' no more foolin' about it."

"I don't recognize you as my guardian," was Andy's reply. As he spoke he
tiptoed his way to the window and opened it. Then he threw out a small
bundle, and his gun and game bag followed.

"I am your guardeen!" stormed Josiah Graham. "You open the door!"

Instead of answering, Andy pushed a chair to the window. In another
instant he had mounted it, and then he crawled through the opening. He
landed in a heap in the snow, and scrambled up immediately. With bundle,
gun, the game bag in his possession, he ran back of the shed and then
down the road leading to the village.

At that minute he did not know where he was going, or what he was going
to do. He had the precious papers in his pocket, and his one idea was to
keep these away from his uncle and Mr. A. Q. Hopton.

"I'll not go back until I've stored the papers in a safe place," he told
himself, finally. "I wonder who would keep them for me without asking
too many questions?"

Although the sun hung low in the west, it was still light, and reaching
a turn in the road, Andy stopped to look back. Much to his chagrin, he
saw that his flight had already been discovered.

"They are coming after me!" he murmured, as he saw the horse and cutter
flash into view. His uncle and the real estate dealer were on the seat,
and the latter was urging the horse into a run through the heavy snow.

Unfortunately for Andy, there was but one road in that vicinity, and
that ended at the Graham cabin. On all sides were the pine woods, with
their scrub timber and underbrush, still partly laden with the fall of
snow of the week previous.

"If I stick to the road they'll catch me sure, and if I leave it I'll
have to go right into the woods, and they'll easily see my trail," he
reasoned.

He broke into a run, and thus managed to pass another bend of the
highway. Behind him he heard the jingle of the sleighbells as the cutter
drew closer. In a few minutes more his pursuers would be upon him.

"I'll chance it in the woods," he muttered, and, reaching a spot where
the undergrowth was thick, he leaped between the bushes and then walked
on to a clump of pines. He was barely under the pines when he heard the
cutter dash past. The men were talking excitedly, but he could not make
out what was being said.

As the jingle of the sleighbells grew more distant, another thought came
to Andy's mind, one that made him smile grimly in spite of the
seriousness of the situation.

"Might as well return and get something to eat," he told himself. "They
won't come back right away."

It did not take him long to retrace his steps to the cabin. The cutter,
with its occupants, had kept on towards the village, so he had the place
entirely to himself. He quickly found something to eat and to drink, and
made a substantial meal. Then he placed a few more of his belongings in
his bundle.

"It won't do for me to stay here as long as I have the papers with me,"
he told himself. "I guess I'd better try to get to the old Smith cabin
for tonight. Then I can make up my mind what to do in the morning."

The Smith cabin was a deserted place nearly a mile away. To reach it,
Andy had to tramp directly through the woods. But the youth did not mind
this, for he had often been out hunting in the vicinity.

"I might get a shot at something," he mused. "A rabbit or a couple of
birds wouldn't go bad for breakfast."

He lost no time in striking out. Half the distance was covered when he
saw a big rabbit directly in his path. He blazed away, and the game fell
dead. Then he caught sight of a squirrel, and brought that down also.

"Now I'll have something besides crackers and bacon when I'm hungry," he
told himself, with satisfaction.

Soon he came in sight of the old Smith place. Much to his surprise,
smoke was curling from the chimney, and he saw the ruddy glare of an
open fire within.

"Somebody is here," he thought. "Some hunter most likely. Wonder who it
can be." And he strode forward to find out.



CHAPTER IV

CHET GREENE'S PAST


"Hello, Andy!"

"Hello, Chet! I never expected to find you here! This is a real
pleasure!" And Andy rushed into the old cabin, threw down his luggage,
and grasped another lad by the hand.

"And I never expected you to come here tonight," said Chetwood Greene,
as a smile lit up his somewhat square face. "I thought I was booked to
camp here alone. What brought you, hunting?"

"Not exactly. It's a long story, Chet. Say, I'm glad you have a fire.
I'm half frozen from tramping through the woods. The snow was pretty
deep in spots."

"I know all about it, for I have been out all day. Here, draw up to the
blaze. I was just getting supper ready. You've got some game, I see. I
had very little luck--three rabbits and a wild turkey. I looked for deer,
but it was no use."

"You've got to go pretty well back for deer these days," answered Andy.

"Thought you were going to strike Storburgh for a job."

"So I did, but it's the same story everywhere."

"Too bad! Well, you are no worse off than myself. I'm sick of even
asking for work. I've about made up my mind to try my luck at hunting. I
guess I can bring down enough to live on, and that's better than
starving."

Chetwood Greene, always called Chet for short, was about the same age as
Andy, but a trifle taller. He had a square chin, and dark, piercing
eyes, that fairly shot forth fire when Chet was provoked. He was a good
fellow in the main, but he had a hasty temper that occasionally got him
into much trouble. Andy liked him very much, and the two boys were more
or less chums.

There was a mystery surrounding Chet which few folks in that district
knew. Many supposed that both of his parents were dead. But the fact of
the matter was that Chet's father disappeared when the lad was fourteen
years old. Some thought him dead, while others imagined he had run away
to escape punishment incidental to a large transaction in lumber. Some
signatures were forged, and it was held that Tolney Greene was guilty.
He protested his innocence, but failed to stand trial, running away
"between two days," as it was termed. He was traced to New Bedford, and
there it was reported that he had last been seen boarding a sailing
vessel outward bound. What had become of him after that, nobody knew.

Mrs. Greene had believed her husband innocent, and it grieved her
greatly to be thus deserted. She tried to bear up, however, but during
the following winter contracted pneumonia, and died, leaving Chet alone
in the world.

Nobody seemed to want anything to do with the lad--thinking him the son
of a forger, and possibly a suicide. Some tried to talk to him, but when
they mentioned the supposed guilt of his parent, he flew into a rage.

"My father wasn't guilty, and you needn't say so!" he stormed. "If you
say it I'll lick you!" And then he knocked one man flat. He was subdued
after a while, but he refused utterly to live with those who offered him
a home, saying he did not want to be an object of charity, and that he
could get along alone. He took his belongings, and a little money left
by his mother, and moved to another part of the State--close to where
Andy resided. Here he lived with an old guide for a while, and then got
employment at one of the lumber camps. The old guide had departed during
the past year for the Adirondacks, and Chet was now living alone, in a
cabin that had seen better days.

It had been no easy matter for Andy and Chet to become chums. At first
when they met, at a lumber camp where both were employed, Chet was
silent and morose. But little by little, warmed by Andy's naturally
sunny disposition, he "thawed out," and told his story in all its
details. He knew a few things that the general public did not know, and
these he confided to Andy.

"My father went off on a whaler named the _Betsey Andrews_," he once
said. "He said he would come back some day and clear himself. The mate
wrote to my mother that my father's mind was affected a little, but he
hoped he would be all right by the end of the trip."

"Well, hasn't the _Betsey Andrews_ got back yet?" had been Andy's
question.

"No."

"Where is she?"

"That's the worst part of it--nobody knows."

"Do you think she was lost?"

"I hope not--but I don't know," had been Chet's somewhat sad answer. He
lived in daily hope of hearing from his parent again.

Chet knew Andy's story, of Josiah Graham's meanness and laziness, and of
the papers left by Andy's father, and he now listened with deep interest
to what his chum had to tell about the visit of Mr. A. Q. Hopton, and of
the escape through the bedroom window.

"Now what do you make of the whole thing, Chet?" asked Andy, after he
had finished his recital.

"It looks to me as if this real estate dealer was mighty anxious to get
the papers," was the answer. "And that means that the papers are
valuable."

"Just what I think."

"Your uncle has no right to sell 'em for three hundred dollars, or any
other amount," pursued Chet. "I understand enough about law to know that
he's got to get a court order to sell property. To my way of thinking,
he'd like to do this on the sly, and pocket the three hundred. He's no
good, even if he is your uncle."

"He's only my father's half-brother, and he always was a poor stick. I
wish I knew of some lawyer to go to."

"Why not try Mr. Jennings, over at Lodgeport? I've heard he's a good
man, and smart, too."

"I might try him. But it's a twelve-mile tramp."

"Never mind, I'll go along, and we may be able to pick up some game on
the way," answered Chet.

The boys talked the matter over for two hours, during which time Chet
prepared supper, and the two ate it. Then Andy fixed the fire for the
night, and the boys turned in, tired out from their long tramps through
the snow.

It took some time for Andy to get to sleep, for the events of the day
had disturbed him greatly. But at last he dozed off, and neither he nor
Chet awoke until it was daylight.

"Phew! but it's cold!" cried Chet, as he put his head out of doors. "And
it snowed a little last night, too."

"Is it snowing now?" questioned Andy, anxiously. His mind was on the
trip to Lodgeport. A heavy fall of snow might mean much delay.

"No, the storm is clearing away."

"Then let us get breakfast and start."

Both of the youths had been camping so often that they knew exactly what
to do. The fire was stirred up, and fresh wood put on, and they prepared
a couple of cups of coffee, and broiled two squirrels. They had bread
and crackers, and a little cheese, and thus made quite a good breakfast.

The meal over, they lost no time in packing up, and placing the larger
portion of their outfits in hiding in the old cabin. To carry them to
Lodgeport would have been too much of a load.

"We can carry a little food and our guns," said Chet. "If we can't get
back tonight, we can return tomorrow. I don't believe anybody will come
here during that time."

"I hope I don't meet Uncle Si--or Mr. Hopton," said Andy.

"We can watch out and easily keep out of their way."

To get to the road that led to Lodgeport, the two lads had to cross a
heavy patch of timber. Here, under the pines, it was intensely cold, and
they had to move along rapidly to keep their blood in circulation.

"Talk about Greenland's icy mountains, I guess this is bad enough!"
cried Chet, as he slapped his hands to keep them warm.

"We'll soon be out in the sunlight again," answered Andy. But he was
mistaken, for by the time they reached the open country once more, the
sun had gone under a fringe of light clouds, so it was as cold as ever.

At the end of four miles they passed through one of the lumber
settlements, and then, leaving the wagon road, took to a trail running
in the neighborhood of Moose Ridge.

"I met a man yesterday who was coming out to the Ridge to hunt," said
Andy. "Wonder if he'll have any success."

"Hunting is not as good as it might be," answered his chum. "The best of
the game was killed off at the very beginning of the season. Still, he
may get some deer, or a moose, if he's a good hunter."

"I'd like to get a moose myself, Chet."

"Oh, so would I. If you see one, kindly point him out to me." And Chet's
usually serious face showed a grin.

"I will--after I have brought him down with my gun," answered Andy, and
then both laughed.

Less than fifteen minutes later they came on the trail of a deer. The
marks were so fresh, both boys could not resist the temptation to go
after the game. They plunged through some bushes, and Andy went headlong
into a hollow.

"Wuow!" he spluttered, as the snow got into his ears and down his neck.
"What a tumble!"

"Maybe you're training for a circus," cried Chet.

"Not out here--and in this cold. Help me up, will you?"

Chet gave his chum a hand, and slowly Andy came out of the hollow. He
had dropped his firearm, but this was easily recovered from the
snowdrift.

"I don't want another such tumble," said the unfortunate one, as he
tried to get the snow out of his coat collar. "I'm cold enough already."

Once more they went on, after the deer, but the game had evidently heard
their voices and taken fright, for when they came to a long, open
stretch, no living creature was in sight.

Another mile was covered in the direction of Lodgeport, and then they
reached one end of the rock elevation locally termed Moose Ridge. Here
there was a good-sized cliff, with smaller cliffs branching off in
various directions.

"There used to be some good hunting around here," said Chet, as, having
climbed a small rise, they paused to catch their breath. "I once brought
down a dandy buck over yonder."

He had scarcely spoken, when from a distance ahead there sounded out the
crack of a rifle, followed, a few moments later, by a second report.

"Somebody is out!" cried Andy. "Wonder if he hit what he was aiming at."

"Maybe we'll see. Come ahead."

"I hope he isn't shooting this way."

"The reports came from the top of the big cliff."

The two boys moved on, keeping their eyes on the alert for the possible
appearance of the hunter who had fired the two shots.

"Look! look!" cried Andy, suddenly, and pointing over the top of a small
tree that stood between them and the big cliff ahead.

"What did you see?"

"Maybe I was mistaken, but I thought I saw a man tumble off the cliff!"

"A man? Perhaps it was a deer, or a moose."

"No, it looked like a man to me. Come on! If he fell to the bottom he
may be killed!"

Andy set off as rapidly as the depth of the snow permitted, and Chet
followed in his footsteps. Soon they rounded half a dozen trees and came
in full view of the big cliff. Both uttered cries of horror, and with
good reason.

Halfway down the edge of the cliff was a narrow ledge, and on this
rested the body of a man,--a hunter, as was shown by his gun and game
bag. He had tumbled from the top of the cliff, and the fall had rendered
him unconscious. He lay half over the edge of the ledge, and was in
imminent danger of falling still further and killing himself.



CHAPTER V

THE MAN ON THE LEDGE


"Is he dead?" questioned Chet, in a strained voice.

"I don't know--but I don't think so," answered Andy. "He has certainly
had a nasty tumble."

"It looks to me as if he was going to tumble the rest of the way, unless
he holds on."

"Let us see if we can't help him."

Both youths stood their guns against a tree, and made their way to the
bottom of the cliff. As they did this, they saw the man's body shift
slightly, and then came a low moan.

"He's alive!" cried Andy. "Hi, there!" he shouted. "Look out for
yourself, or you'll get another tumble!"

To this, the man on the ledge did not answer. But the boys, listening
intently, heard him moan again.

"I wonder if we can get at him?" mused Chet. "I don't see any way up the
cliff from here, do you?"

"Oh, we must find a way to get to him!" cried Andy.

"Maybe we can catch him if he falls. If we--Look out!"

Andy leaped to one side, and the next instant the man's gun dropped down
on the rocks and fell in the snow. The game bag followed. They now saw
the man in his unconscious state turn partly over.

"He'll fall sure, unless we help him," said Chet. "But I don't know what
to do."

"I have it," returned his chum. "Come on."

"Where to?"

"I'll show you."

Wondering what his friend had in mind to do, Chet followed Andy to where
was located an ash sapling of fair size. It had been broken off about
two feet above the ground--how, they could not tell.

"We can put that against the cliff, and use it as a ladder," said Andy.

"Provided we can get it over, Andy."

Both began to tug at the sapling, and at last got it free from the stump
end. Then they fairly rushed with it to the bottom of the cliff.

"You hold the end, and I'll raise it up," said Chet, who was a little
the stronger of the two. "We can put the top right against the man, and
that will keep him from rolling down."

"If it will reach that far."

"I think it will."

Their experience as lumbermen stood them in good stead, and while Andy
kept the bottom of the ash sapling from slipping in the snow, his chum
raised it slowly but steadily, until it stood upright. Then Chet let it
go over against the cliff with care, so that the man might not be
further injured. The little tree reached several feet above the man's
head.

"I'll go up and see what I can do for him," said Andy, throwing off his
overcoat. "You steady the tree, Chet."

"All right. But be careful."

From early boyhood days Andy had been a good climber, and he went up the
ash sapling with ease. The young tree was strong, so there was no danger
of its breaking beneath his weight. Soon his feet touched the ledge, and
he knelt down beside the hurt man.

"Why, I know him!" he called down to his chum. "He's the man I told you
about--the one who asked me about the road to Moose Ridge."

"Pull him back, before he has a chance to slip," ordered Chet, and this
Andy did. The movement made the man groan, and presently he opened his
eyes for an instant.

"Oh, what a fall!" he murmured, and then relapsed into unconsciousness
again.

"We'll have to get him down from here and try to do something for him,"
announced Andy. "He has a bad cut behind his left ear. I can't do
anything for him up here--it's too slippery."

"Can't you climb down the tree with him? I'll hold it steady."

"I'll try it."

Andy made his preparations with care, for what he proposed to attempt
was difficult and dangerous. A tumble to the rocks at the foot of the
cliff might mean broken limbs, if not worse.

With care he raised the unconscious form up and placed it over his
shoulder. Then he turned around, and, inch by inch, felt his way out on
the sapling.

"I'm coming!" he called. "Hold it, Chet, or we'll both come down!"

"I'll hold it," was the confident reply.

Gripping the knees of the man with his left hand, Andy held on to the
sapling with his right. Stepping and sliding, he came down slowly. The
young tree bent and threatened once to slip to one side, but Chet braced
it with all his strength. In a minute more Andy was down, and had
stretched the man out on the snow. The boy was panting from his
exertions.

"I suppose we ought to have a doctor for him," said Chet, as he made an
examination of the unfortunate one's wounds. "But I don't know of any
around here."

"Nor do I. We can't leave him here,--he'll freeze to death. Where do you
suppose we ought to take him?"

"I don't know of a single place within a mile,--and I don't suppose we
ought to carry him as far as that. He may be hurt inside, and if he is,
it won't do to move him too much."

Much perplexed by the situation which confronted them, the two boys
talked the matter over. It was so cold at the foot of the cliff that to
remain there was out of the question. At last Chet suggested moving to a
clump of pine trees, where they might fix up some sort of temporary
shelter and build a fire. They picked up their guns and the belongings
of the man, and Chet took the unfortunate over his shoulder. He groaned
several times, but did not speak or open his eyes.

"He is certainly hurt quite seriously," said Andy. "I hope he doesn't
die on our hands."

"Do you know his name, or where he comes from?"

"No, but I guess we can find that out by looking in his pockets. He must
have cards or a notebook, or something."

"He looks as if he was well off. That gun is an A No. 1 piece."

"Yes, and look at the fine clothing he is wearing."

It was a hard walk, and they had to take turns in carrying the
unconscious man. To add to the gloom of the situation, it now commenced
to snow again.

Presently they reached a spot that looked good to them. There were a
series of rocks to the northward, backed up by a thick growth of pines.
At the foot of the rocks grew some brushwood.

Chet had calculated to spend some time hunting, and had with him a
hatchet, with which to cut firewood. In a very few minutes he had cut
out some of the brushwood, leaving a cleared space about eight feet
square. Over the top of the cleared space he threw some saplings and
pine branches, and then "wove in" pine branches around the sides. By
this means he soon had a shelter ready, which, while it was by no means
air-tight, was a great deal better than nothing. On the floor of the
shelter he placed other pine branches, and there he and Andy made the
suffering man as comfortable as possible. As soon as they had reached
the spot, Andy had started up a fire, right in front of the opening, and
this now gave out a warmth that was much appreciated.

With some warm water made from melted snow, the lads washed the wounds
of the man, and then bound them up with strips torn from their shirts.
They used other water for making coffee, and poured some of this down
the man's throat. They also rubbed his hands and wrists, doing what they
could think of to revive him.

In the meantime the snow continued to come down, lightly at first, and
then so thickly that the entire landscape around the shelter was blotted
out.

"It's going to be a corker of a storm," announced Chet, as he gazed out.

"I can't see a thing anywhere," was Andy's answer. "Wonder how long it
will last."

"Several hours, maybe."

"I don't see how we are going to get a doctor to come here while it is
like this."

"Better not try to find one. If you go out, you may lose your way."

They replenished the fire, and cut a good stock of wood, and then sat
down to watch the man. In one of his pockets they found a card-case.

"His name is Barwell Dawson," announced Andy, "and he comes from
Brooklyn."

"What business is he in?"

"It doesn't say."

That the stranger was rich was quite evident. He wore a fine gold watch
and chain, and an elegant diamond ring. In one pocket he had a wallet
filled with bills of large denomination.

"He is one of your high-toned sportsmen," announced Chet. "Some of 'em
come up to Maine every fall to hunt."

"It's a wonder he didn't have a guide, Chet."

"Oh, some of 'em think they can do better without one."

Suddenly the man opened his eyes wide, stared around for a moment, and
then sat up. The change was so unexpected that the boys were amazed.

"Where--Who are you?" he stammered.

"You've had a bad fall--came down over the cliff," answered Andy.

"What? Oh, yes, so I did. I--I----" The man felt of his head. "Why, I'm all
bandaged up!"

"You got cut pretty badly," said Chet. "We're wondering if you broke any
bones."

"Yes?" The man gave a little groan. "I'm hurt, that's sure. Oh!" And
then he put his hand to his side.

"You had better keep quiet for a while," said Andy, gently. "It won't do
you any good to stir around. We'd get a doctor, only it's snowing so
we're afraid we might miss the trail."

"Snowing? It wasn't snowing when I fell."

"That was nearly two hours ago."

"And I've been knocked out all that time?" The man fell back on the pine
boughs. "No wonder I feel so broken up."

He closed his eyes, and the boys thought he was going to faint. Chet got
some more coffee.

"Here, drink this, it will do you good," he said, and placed the tin cup
to the sufferer's lips. The man gulped down the beverage, and it seemed
to give him a little strength. Presently he sat up again.

"Did you two see me take the tumble?" he questioned, with a weak attempt
at a smile.

"I saw you," answered Andy. "You didn't come all the way over the cliff.
You struck a ledge and hung there, and we got you down and brought you
here."

"I see."

"We were afraid some of your bones were broken," put in Chet. "Are
they?"

"I don't know." Slowly the man moved his arms and his legs. He winced a
little.

"All right but my left ankle," he announced. "I reckon that got a bad
twist. Beats the Dutch, doesn't it?" he added, with another attempt at a
smile.

"It's too bad," returned Andy.

"No, you don't understand. I mean my coming to Maine to do a little
quiet hunting, and then to get knocked out like this. Why, I've hunted
all over this globe,--the West, India, Africa, and even in the Arctic
regions--and hardly got a scratch. I didn't think anything could happen
to me on a quiet little trip like this."



CHAPTER VI

A WORLD-WIDE HUNTER


The two boys listened to the man's words with keen interest. He had
hunted in the wild West, in India, Africa, and even in the Arctic
regions! Surely he was a sportsman out of the ordinary.

"You're like old Tom Casey," said Andy. "He fought the forest fires here
for years, and never got singed, and then went home one day and burnt
his arm on a red-hot stove. I hope the ankle isn't bad."

"I can't tell about that until I stand on it. Give me a lift, will you?"

Both boys helped the man to his feet. He took a couple of steps, and was
then glad enough to return to the pine couch.

"It's no use--I can't walk, yet," he murmured.

"Do you think you need a doctor?" asked Chet.

"Hardly--although I'd call him in if he was handy. I'm pretty tough,
although I may not look it. Who are you?"

"My name is Chet Greene, and this is a friend of mine, Andy Graham."

"I am glad to know you, and very thankful for what you have done for me.
I'll make it right with you when I'm able to get around. My name is
Dawson--Barwell Dawson. I'm a traveler and hunter, and occasionally I
write articles for the magazines--hunting articles mostly."

"Oh, are you the man who once wrote a little book about bears--how they
really live and what they do, and all that?" cried Andy.

"Yes, I'm the same fellow."

"I've got that book at home--you once gave it to my father, when I was
about eight years old."

"Is that so? I don't remember it."

"My father was up on the Penobscot, lumbering. He went out with you into
the woods and you found a honey tree. You gave him the book for his
little boy--that was me."

"Oh, yes, I remember it now!" cried Barwell Dawson. "So that was your
father. How is he?"

"My father is dead," answered Andy, and his voice dropped a little.

"Indeed! I am sorry to hear it. And your mother?"

"She is dead, too."

"Then you are alone in the world? Do you live near?"

"I live two miles from Pine Run, with an uncle. It was I who told you
how to get to Moose Ridge, when you were driving on the wrong road."

"Oh, yes, I thought I had seen you somewhere."

Here the conversation lapsed, for Barwell Dawson was still weak. He lay
back and closed his eyes, and the boys did not disturb him.

It continued to snow, until the fresh fall covered the old to the depth
of several inches. The boys kept the campfire going, and cooked such
game as they had brought along.

"We are booked to stay here for a while, that's certain," observed Chet.
"No Lodgeport today."

After a while Barwell Dawson sat up again, and gladly partook of the
food offered to him. His injuries consisted of a hard shaking up, a
bruised ankle, and several cuts on his head.

"I am thankful that no bones are broken, and that I did not get killed,"
he said, and then he requested them to give the details of the rescue
from the ledge. The boys related their story, to which he listened
closely.

"It was fine of you to get me down," he declared. "Fine! I'll have to
reward you."

"I don't want any reward," answered Andy, promptly.

"Nor do I," added Chet.

"Well, you ought to let me do something for you," persisted the one who
had been rescued.

"You might tell us of some of your hunting adventures," said Andy, with
a smile. "I'd like to hear about hunting in the far West and other
places."

"So would I," added Chet. "If I had the money, I'd like to do like you
have done, travel all over the world and hunt." And his eyes glistened
with anticipation.

"What do you do now?"

"Nothing at present. We can't get an opening at any of the lumber
camps."

"I understand business is very dull this season."

After that Barwell Dawson asked for more particulars concerning the
boys, and they told him how they were situated. He was surprised to
learn that Chet was practically alone in the world.

"It is certainly hard luck," he said, kindly. "You must let me do
something for you."

Then, after his ankle had been bathed in hot water, and bound up, the
hunter and traveler told them of his trips to various portions of the
globe, and how he had hunted deer and moose in one place, bears and
mountain lions in another, and tigers and other wild beasts elsewhere.
He had two very interested listeners.

"It must be great!" murmured Chet. "Oh, that would suit me down to the
ground--to go out that way!"

"I have made one trip to the north," continued Barwell Dawson, "and I am
soon going to make another."

"You mean to Canada?" queried Andy.

"Not exactly. I am going to Greenland, and then into the polar regions.
I want to hunt seals, polar bears, and musk oxen."

"You'll be frozen to death!"

"Hardly," answered the hunter. "On my previous trip I stood the cold
very well, and this time I shall go much better prepared. Somehow, I
like hunting in the Arctic Circle better than hunting anywhere else.
Besides, I wish to--But never mind that now," and Barwell Dawson broke
off rather abruptly. Then he told a story of a hunt after polar bears
that made Chet's eyes water.

"That's the stuff!" whispered Chet to Andy. "That beats a deer hunt all
hollow!"

"Yes, provided the polar bear doesn't eat you up."

"Huh! I'd not be afraid. I don't believe a polar bear is any more
dangerous than a moose."

"I saw a moose just before I had the tumble," said Barwell Dawson. "I
climbed up the cliff after him, but I couldn't get very close. I took
two shots at him, but he got away."

"If we are going to be snowed up here we ought to try for some game,"
said Chet. "Maybe I can stir up some rabbits, or something."

It was decided that he should go out, leaving Andy to look after Mr.
Dawson and the campfire.

"But don't go far," cautioned Andy. "The snow is coming down so thick
that you may get lost."

"Oh, I'll take care of myself," answered Chet.

He knew it would be a bad move to go out into the open, so he kept to
the timber, blazing a tree here and there as he went along. He knew very
little game would be stirring.

"If I get anything it will be more accident than anything else," he
reasoned. "No animal is going to stir out in this storm."

He was just passing under a big spruce tree when, chancing to glance up,
he saw a sight that quickened his pulse. On a limb close at hand were
several wild turkeys, huddled together to keep warm.

With great caution he moved to one side, to get a good aim. Then,
raising his gun, he blazed away. There was a whirr and a flutter, and
two of the turkeys came down, one dead and the other wounded. Rushing
forward, Chet caught the wounded bird by the neck, and soon put it out
of its misery.

"That's a good start," he told himself, with much satisfaction. "I hope
my luck continues."

Placing the game in his bag, he went forward again, looking for more
signs of birds, and also for signs of squirrels and rabbits.

It was growing dark, and Chet began to think it was time to turn back,
when he saw some rabbits in a thick clump of bushes. He sprang in after
them, and they leaped out into the snow and across a small opening.
Then, before he could fire, they were out of sight again.

"You shan't get away from me as easily as that," the youth muttered to
himself, and ran out into the opening. Here the snow was so thick he
could see but little, yet he kept on, and soon reached more brushwood.
He saw some branches close to the snow move, and blazed away in the
dark.

His aim proved true, for when he came up he found one rabbit dead.
Another had been wounded, as the blood on the snow showed. In all haste
he made after the limping game. But the rabbit had considerable life
left in it, and dove deep into the brushwood. But at last it had to give
up, and Chet secured the additional game without much trouble.

It had grown dark rapidly, and in some anxiety the young hunter turned
back, in an endeavor to retrace his steps. This was no easy matter, for
the snow was coming down as thickly as ever, and he could scarcely see
two yards ahead of him.

"It won't do for me to get lost out here," he reasoned. "If I don't get
back, Andy will be worried to death."

Bending to meet the snow--for the wind was now blowing briskly, Chet
pushed forward until another clump of trees was gained. Walking was
becoming irksome, and he panted for breath. Under the trees he paused to
get his bearings.

"I must be right," he thought. Yet, try his best, he could not locate
any of the trees he had blazed a short while before.

Any other lad might have become frightened at the prospect, but Chet was
used to being alone, and he simply resolved to move forward with
increased caution.

"If the worst comes, I can fire three shots in succession. Andy will
know what that means," he reasoned. On previous trips to the woods the
boys had arranged that three shots meant, "I am lost. Where are you?" A
single shot was to be the answer--repeated, of course, as often as
necessary.

Another hundred feet were covered, and Chet was looking vainly for one
of the blazed trees, when an unexpected sound broke upon his ears.

It was an unusual and uncanny noise, and he stopped short to listen. It
came from a clump of spruces to his left.

"Now, what can that be?" he asked himself. "I never heard a noise like
that before."

He listened, and presently the sound was repeated. To him it seemed as
if some unseen giant were in deep distress.

Chet was not superstitious, or he might have thought he heard a ghost.
He knew there must be some rational reason for the unusual noise, and he
resolved to investigate.

"Anybody there?" he cried, as he raised his gun in front of him, and
tried to peer through the snow-laden air.

There was no answer, nor was the peculiar sound repeated. With cautious
steps he advanced toward the clump of spruces. Underneath all was now as
dark as night could make it.

Again he paused, something warning him to be extra cautious. His nerves
were now at a high tension, for he felt something unusual was coming.

An instant later it came. Through the snow and darkness Chet caught a
momentary gleam of a pair of eyes shining like two balls of fire. Then a
bulky form shot out of the darkness, and bumped up against him, hurling
him flat. Ere he could arise, the form leaped over him, and went limping
off, puffing and snorting as it did so.

"A moose!" gasped Chet, as he felt in the snow for his gun. "And
wounded! It must be the one Mr. Dawson tried to get!"

He thought the big beast was retreating, but soon found out otherwise.
The moose was badly wounded, and ugly in the extreme. Around he wheeled,
and then came straight for Chet. The lad could not locate his gun, and,
feeling his peril, darted for the nearest tree and leaped high up among
the branches.



CHAPTER VII

CHET AND THE MOOSE


"Phew! that was a narrow escape!"

Such were Chet's words as he drew himself higher up into the tree. The
big beast below had come up, and struck the tree a blow that made it
shiver from top to bottom. Had he not been holding on tightly the boy
would have been hurled down, and at the very feet of the moose.

The animal was full-grown, powerful, and with wide and heavy antlers. He
had been wounded in one of the forelegs, but was still able to stand.
Now he stood under the spruce, on three legs, gazing up at Chet
speculatively.

"Like to smash me, wouldn't you?" murmured the youth. "Well, I guess
not--not if I know it!"

Chet wished with all his heart that he had his gun. But the weapon was
out of sight under the snow, and the moose was standing over the spot.

What to do next, the lad did not know. The moose did not show any
inclination to leave. He breathed heavily, as if his wound hurt him, but
Chet was certain that there was still a good deal of fight in the
creature.

"Perhaps he'll keep me here all night," thought the boy, dismally.

Presently an idea came to him to call for help. Andy might hear him, and
come up with his gun.

"That shelter is a long way off, but it won't do any harm to try it,"
Chet reasoned, and expanding his chest, he let out a yell at the top of
his lung power. He repeated the cry several times, and then listened
with strained ears. No answer came back but the gentle sighing of the
rising wind, as it swept through the woods.

"Huddled inside the shelter, I suppose, to keep warm," Chet murmured,
dismally. "I might yell my head off and it wouldn't do a bit of good.
I'll have to try something else."

What that something else was to be was not clear. He moved from one
branch to another to investigate, then a thought struck him, and he
resolved to act upon it.

With caution, so as not to attract the attention of the moose, he
climbed far out on a branch of the spruce, and thus gained a grip on the
wide-spreading limb of another tree. He swung himself to this, and
crawling along and past the trunk of the second tree, moved to the end
of a branch on the opposite side.

He was now a good twenty-five feet from where the moose was standing.
Would it be wise to drop down in the snow and make a dash for liberty?

"If he catches me, he'll kill me--he's so ugly from that wound," Chet
told himself. "If it wasn't so awful cold, I'd stay here till morning."

Cautiously he lowered himself toward the snow below. He was on the point
of dropping when he heard the moose move. The animal came on the rush,
and in drawing up into the tree again, Chet had one foot scraped by the
moose's antlers.

"No escape that way," he told himself, and lost no time in pulling
himself still higher into the tree.

Thus far he had managed to keep warm, but now, as he sat down to rest,
and to study the situation, he became colder and colder. Occasionally
the wind drove in some of the snow, to add to his discomfort.

Presently Chet thought of another idea, and wondered why it had not
occurred to him before. He knew that all wild animals dread fire. He
resolved to make himself a torch, and try that on the moose.

Making sure that he had his matches, he got out his jackknife and cut
off the driest branch that he could find. Then, holding it with care, he
struck a match, shielding it from the wind as best he could, and lit the
end of the branch. At first it did not ignite very well, but he "nursed"
the tiny flame, and soon it blazed up into quite a torch.

"Now we'll see how you like this," Chet muttered, and started to climb
to the lower branch once more.

With eyes that still blazed, the moose had watched the flaring up of the
light. At first he was all curiosity, but as the flame grew larger he
gave a snort of fear. Far back in the past he had felt the effects of a
forest fire, and now he thought he saw another such conflagration
starting up. As Chet swung down he turned and limped off, moving faster
at every step.

"Hurrah! that did the trick!" cried the boy, in deep satisfaction, and
then, as he saw the moose plowing off through the deepening snow, he
jumped to the ground and rushed off to where he had dropped his gun.
Perhaps he could lay the beast low after all.

As luck would have it, Chet did not have to look long for the firearm.
The moose had kicked the snow from part of the barrel, and the glare of
the torch lit upon this. In a trice the youth had the gun in his hand.
The moose was disappearing in the snow and darkness, but taking hasty
aim, he fired.

The animal went on, but Chet felt certain his shot had gone true.
Hastily reloading, so that he might have both barrels ready in case he
wanted them, he set off after the game as fast as the now heavy fall of
snow would allow. He was a true sportsman, and made up his mind that now
he had his firearm once again, the moose should not escape him.

As is well known, although a moose is one of the swiftest of wild
animals on clear ground, or even on the rocks and in the woods, the
creature is at a disadvantage in soft snow, because of its small legs
and hoofs. Its weight causes it to sink to the very bottom of every
hollow.

Chet had advanced less than two hundred feet when he saw the moose
floundering in the snow behind some bushes over which it had leaped.

"Now I've got you!" cried the boy, and advancing fearlessly, he took
careful aim and blazed away. The animal went down, thrashed around,
sending the snow in all directions, and then lay still.

Not to be caught in any trap, Chet reloaded once more, and then came up
with caution. But the big creature was dead, and the heart of the young
hunter bounded with delight. It was an event to lay low such a monarch
of the forest as this.

"As big a moose as I've seen brought in from these parts," he mused.
"Won't Andy be surprised when he sees the game! But Mr. Dawson deserves
some of the credit--he hit the moose first."

What to do with his prize Chet did not know. To haul it to the temporary
camp alone, and through such deep snow, was impossible. And if he left
it where it was, some wolves or other wild beasts might get at it.

"I'll kick the snow over it, and let it go at that," he finally decided.
"It's time I got back. It's so dark it won't be long before I can't see
a thing."

Sticking his torch in the snow, he made a mound over the game, and on
top stuck a stick with his handkerchief tied to it. Then he retraced his
steps to the clump of spruces, and searched once again for the blazes he
had made on the trees.

At last, just as he was about to shoot off his gun as a signal of
distress, he found one of the blazes, and a minute later discovered
another. He now had the proper direction in mind, and set off as rapidly
as his weary limbs and the ever-increasing depth of snow would permit.

"Hullo, Chet! Where are you?"

It was a call from Andy, sounding out just as the young hunter came in
sight of the campfire. Andy was growing anxious, and had come forth from
the shelter several times in an endeavor to locate his chum.

"Here I am," was the answer. "Christopher, but I'm tired!"

"Any luck?"

"A little. How are those for wild turkeys?"

"Fine! Now we'll have a good breakfast, anyway."

"How is Mr. Dawson?"

"He says he feels pretty easy. But his ankle is badly swollen. Say, he's
a splendid man, and one of the greatest hunters you ever heard of, Chet.
And he's rich, too--he owns a ranch out West and a bungalow down on the
Jersey coast, and a yacht, and I don't know what all."

"You can tell him I brought down the moose he wounded."

"What!" And Andy's eyes showed his astonishment.

"It's true. The moose almost laid me low first, but I got the best of
him after all."

"Where is the animal?"

"About a quarter of a mile from here. I covered him with snow, and put a
stick and my handkerchief over the spot."

"Did he attack you?"

"He certainly did," answered Chet.

Both boys entered the temporary shelter. Barwell Dawson was awake, and
he and Andy listened with keen attention to the story Chet had to tell.

"It must have been the moose I hit," said Barwell Dawson. "But I think
he's your game anyway, Chet."

"Well, we can divide up," answered the young hunter, modestly.

The tramp in the snow, and the excitement, had made Chet weary, and he
was glad enough to lie down and go to sleep. During his absence, Andy
had cut more pine boughs and piled them around the sides and on top of
the shelter, so it was now fairly cozy, although not nearly as good as a
cabin would have been.

In the morning Andy was the first to stir. He found the entrance to the
shelter blocked by snow, and the campfire was all but out. The snow had
stopped coming down, but the air seemed to be still full of it.

"We've got to get out of here, or we'll be snowed in for certain," he
told Chet, and then kicked the snow aside and started up the fire, and
commenced to get breakfast. They cooked one of the wild turkeys, and it
proved delicious eating to the lads, although Mr. Dawson thought the
meat a trifle strong.

The man who had had the tumble over the cliff declared that he felt
quite like himself, aside from his ankle, which still pained him. The
swelling of the member had gone down some, which was a good sign.

"I guess your uncle will wonder what has become of you," said Chet to
Andy. "I suppose he'll hunt all over the village for you."

"Let him hunt, Chet. I am not going back until I find out about that
timber land, and about what sort of man that Hopton is. The more I think
of it, the more I'm convinced that Mr. A. Q. Hopton is a swindler and is
trying to swindle both Uncle Si and myself."

"Well, it's no credit to your uncle to stand in with him."

"Of course it isn't--and I'll give Uncle Si a piece of my mind when I get
the chance."

"I don't think you're going to get to Lodgeport today."

"Well, it doesn't matter much. I don't think there is any great hurry
about this business. The matter has rested ever since father died."

This talk took place outside the shelter, so Barwell Dawson did not hear
it. Inside, the man dressed his ankle, while the boys cleared away the
remains of the morning meal, and started the fire afresh with more pine
sticks.

"We really ought to try to get out of here," said Andy, after an hour
had passed. "I think it will snow again by night, and it would be rough
to be snow-bound in such a place as this."

"I'd like to get out myself, but I am afraid I can't walk," said Barwell
Dawson, with a sigh. "A bruised ankle is worse than a broken arm--when it
comes to traveling," he added, with a grim smile.

"Supposing we took turns at carrying you?" suggested Chet. "I think we
could do it."

"How far?"

"Well, we might try for a cabin that is about three-quarters of a mile
from here. We'd be far more comfortable at the cabin than here,--and
maybe you could get some liniment for your bruises."

"Well, I'm willing to try it if you are," answered Mr. Dawson, who did
not like the temporary shelter any better than did the boys.

Preparations were accordingly made, and half an hour later the party of
three set off. It was agreed that Chet should first do the carrying of
the hurt one, and Andy brought up the rear with the guns, game bags, and
other things.



CHAPTER VIII

A TALK OF IMPORTANCE


The cabin for which the little party was headed was one owned by a man
named Upham Jeffer. This man was something of a hermit and scientist,
and rarely showed himself in the settlements of that vicinity. But on
two occasions Chet had done Professor Jeffer a good turn, and he was,
therefore, hoping they would get a cordial reception.

But just now, the main question was, Could they reach the Jeffer place?
The boys had the way fairly well fixed in their heads, but walking was
hard and treacherous. On the level, the snow was at least a foot deep,
while they ran the risk of going down in deep hollows filled by the
wind.

"Anyway, I'm glad the wind is on our backs," said Andy, as they trudged
along. "If it was in our faces it would be awful."

"You must take frequent rests," came from Barwell Dawson. "There is no
use in exhausting yourselves by hurrying."

When about one-quarter of the distance had been covered, they rested,
and then Chet and Andy exchanged loads. They had now some rough ground
to cover, and of a sudden Andy went down in a hollow, taking the man he
was carrying with him.

"Be careful!" cried Chet, in alarm.

Andy and Mr. Dawson rolled over and over, and landed in snow up to their
necks. Fortunately the fall was a soft one, or both might have been
seriously injured.

Chet threw down his load, and aided the pair to get out of the hollow.
Andy came out with a neck full of snow, and his coat half off his back.

"Say, I don't want any more of that!" he panted, digging the snow from
one ear.

In a few minutes they went on again, Chet with the outfit taking the
lead. Progress was slow, and all were glad to rest when the top of a
small rise was gained.

"There is the Jeffer cabin," said Chet, pointing it out.

"I don't see any smoke," added Andy. "What shall we do if Professor
Jeffer isn't at home?"

"Oh, I don't think he's away," answered his chum. "But even so, I guess
he'll let us use the place--in such a snow as this."

"We can pay him for the accommodations," put in Barwell Dawson. "I'll
take care of that."

It was nearly noon when they gained the cabin, rather a large structure,
set in a grove of pines, and on the edge of a brook that was now covered
with snow and ice. Chet, who was in advance, knocked loudly on the door.

At first there was no answer. Then a low voice asked who was there.

"It is I, Chet Greene, Professor."

"Oh! Come in--if you can get the door open."

Chet tried the door--to find it bolted. Then he heard a movement within,
and the barrier was opened.

"Oh, I thought you were alone," said the man within. He was tall and
thin, and wore a heavy beard and big spectacles.

"No, Professor Jeffer. This is my friend, Andy Graham, and this is a
gentleman who fell over Moose Ridge cliff and got hurt. Can we bring him
in?"

"Why, yes, certainly, of course!" cried Upham Jeffer. "Hurt, eh? Where?"

"He has a bruised ankle, and some cuts on his head."

"I see. Well, bring him in, and what remedies I have on hand shall be at
his service. I'm a bit sick myself--been making some experiments with
nitrogen that didn't agree with me. You see, I reasoned out that if
nitrogen could be dissolved by means of----"

"Where can I place the gentleman?" broke in Chet, who knew Upham
Jeffer's weakness for going off into scientific discussions.

"Oh, yes, of course, I forgot. Why, place him anywhere. Make yourselves
at home." The old scientist looked around rather helplessly. "There is
my medicine closet. Use whatever you can find there."

He was really a fine old man, but so wrapped up in his scientific
experiments that he paid little attention to the world at large, or what
was going on around him. He was very learned, but apt to be forgetful to
the last degree. He lived alone, and it was reported that he had a
goodly sum in the bank. Certainly he never seemed to want for funds,
although his mode of living was far from extravagant.

Barwell Dawson was placed in an easy-chair in the living apartment, and
the professor busied himself in getting out some medicine and a liniment
which he said would do much good.

"Shall I start up the fire?" asked Andy, who saw that the blaze had been
allowed to die down.

"Why, yes, of course! I forgot all about the fire," answered Upham
Jeffer. "You see, when I get interested in my experiments, I usually----"
And then he stopped talking, being busy measuring some medicine in a
glass.

Andy stirred up the fire, and brought in some wood from a pile in a
near-by shed. In the meantime Chet introduced Barwell Dawson to the old
scientist.

"Why, I know you, sir!" cried Mr. Dawson, as he looked closely at the
professor. "Weren't you once up north--with the Welber Exploring
Expedition?"

"Why, yes, of course!" answered Professor Jeffer. "And you--it seems to
me your face looks familiar. Why, yes, I have it now! You were up there
at the same time, on a hunting trip."

"You've struck it. I am glad to meet you again, Professor Jeffer."

"I have forgotten your name, Mr.----"

"Dawson--Barwell Dawson."

"Ah, yes, of course! I remember it well now! Strange how I should
forget. But you know I am so wrapped up in my experiments that I--but let
us stop talking and attend to this ankle of yours. We'll wash it well
with hot water, and pour on this liniment, and the swelling will soon go
down. You see, the curative qualities of witch hazel, when combined with
wintergreen and----" And then the professor stopped and went to work.

Inside of half an hour Barwell Dawson's hurts had all been attended to,
and he felt much better. The cuts on his head had stopped bleeding, and
he insisted upon having the bandages removed.

"I'm not such a baby as you think," he said. "I'll be all right by
tomorrow, watch and see. All I want is a good smoke to cure me," and he
lit his briar-root pipe.

"I'll be glad to hear it," answered Andy.

"Nevertheless, don't imagine that I don't appreciate what you two lads
have done for me," went on Mr. Dawson, earnestly. "It was a fine thing
to do, and I'll not forget it in a hurry."

It had begun to snow again, and all three were glad that they had
exchanged the temporary shelter in the woods for the large and
comfortable cabin of the old professor. The cabin was well furnished,
and on the walls hung horns and skins of various wild animals. There
were a good-sized table and some chairs, and in one corner stood a
bookcase with a hundred volumes or more. Opening out of the living room
were a kitchen and two bedrooms. It was in the kitchen that Professor
Jeffer had been conducting the experiments which had made him ill. A
powerful odor filled the air of the apartment, and to get rid of it,
Chet opened a window for a while.

"I should have had something open when I tried the experiment," said the
professor. "But I became so interested that I forgot. If you hadn't come
when you did, I don't know what would have happened."

"You want to be careful in the future, Professor," said Barwell Dawson.
"Science cannot afford to lose a man like you." And this latter remark
tickled the old scientist very much. He was really quite learned, and he
was glad to have it known.

"If this snow keeps on, we'll have to stay here all night," said Andy to
Chet.

"You are welcome to remain as long as the storm lasts," answered
Professor Jeffer, who overheard the remark. "I have a well-filled
larder, and with what you have brought we can get along very well."

"We have a moose about a mile from here--if only we could bring him
here," said Chet.

"I'm afraid your game will have to wait. If you went for it now, you'd
surely get lost. It is snowing furiously."

What the professor said about the storm was true. The snow was
accompanied by a high wind, which whistled loudly around the cabin. All
of the party were glad enough to gather in front of the big open
fireplace, for that was the one spot that was thoroughly warm.

As they sat around, Chet told in detail his story of the moose, and then
the boys listened while Barwell Dawson and Professor Jeffer related some
things that had happened to them when they had met in the far north.

"I should like exceedingly to take another trip to the polar regions,"
said the professor. "The other trip was too short for me. I did not gain
half the knowledge I desired."

"I am going up there again," answered Barwell Dawson, quietly.

"Ah, indeed! When?"

"As soon as my ship is ready for me."

"Your ship? Are you equipping a ship?" demanded Professor Jeffer, while
the boys listened in astonishment.

"I am. I have not said much about it as yet, for I did not want to
excite public comment. But I am fitting out a ship for polar
exploration." And Barwell Dawson smiled quietly, as if fitting out such
an expedition were an everyday occurrence.

"Why, really, you--you astonish me!" cried the professor. "This is most
extraordinary, sir. Are you, may I ask, fitting out this ship yourself?"

"I am footing the bill, yes."

"It will cost a large amount of money."

"I guess I can afford it. I am fairly well-to-do, and last year an uncle
died and left me several hundred thousand dollars."

"I see--very good." Professor Jeffer rubbed his hands together. "It is a
grand thing to be able to gratify one's wish in this manner. Now, I have
a little money, but not enough to fit out such an expedition as you
mention. Still, I'd like very much to go north again."

"Could you stand the trip?"

"Me? Why, sir, I am as strong as iron,--you can ask Captain Welber about
it. I withstood the cold and the hardships long after some of the others
succumbed. I am a little weak just now--the effects of that foolhardy
experiment,--but by tomorrow I'll be as well and strong as ever. Why,
sir, I can tramp twenty or thirty miles a day with ease, and I can go
forty-eight hours without food if it is necessary."

"Are you anything of a hunter?"

"Yes. Since I came to Maine I have done considerable shooting."

"Indeed he has," broke in Chet. "I've been with him, and I know of three
first-class shots that he made."

"Any one who is to go with me must be a good shot, and must be able to
withstand great hardships," pursued Barwell Dawson.

"How long do you expect to be gone?" asked Professor Jeffer, with
increased interest.

"I don't know exactly--perhaps two years."

"Two years--in the land of ice and snow!" cried Andy. "That's a pretty
long trip."

"Yes, but I have planned to do a great deal," answered Barwell Dawson.
"As I stated before, I don't want to say too much about it yet, for if I
do, I'll have all sorts of curiosity seekers at my heels. If some folks
knew what I had in mind to do, they'd be crazy to be taken along."

"Well, I presume I am one of the crazy ones," returned Professor Jeffer.

"With you, Professor, it is different. You have been to the far north,
and know what to expect,--and besides, you are learned, and your
knowledge might prove valuable."

"Ah! then you will agree that I shall go?" demanded the scientist,
eagerly.

"That depends. I have not told you all yet. I am going to the far north
to hunt, but I am likewise going for something else--something of greater
importance."

"And that is?" asked the professor, while the boys listened in wonder.

"I am going to try to reach the North Pole."



CHAPTER IX

SOMETHING ABOUT THE NORTH POLE


It was with much amazement that Andy and Chet, as well as Professor
Upham Jeffer, listened to the words of Barwell Dawson.

"Going to try to reach the North Pole!" repeated Andy.

"Yes."

"It's never been done--at least, not by anybody who came back alive,"
said Chet.

"A grand project, nevertheless," were Professor Jeffer's words. "A truly
grand project. But have you counted the cost?--I do not mean in money. It
may cost you your life."

"I shall be as careful in my plans as possible," answered Barwell
Dawson. His eyes lit up, and he arose to his feet. "I don't mind telling
you that to reach the North Pole has been my ambition ever since I first
went hunting in the Arctic regions."

"It has been the dream of many men," said Professor Jeffer. "I once had
the dream myself--I presume all those who go to the north have it."

"It's a good long journey from Maine," said Andy.

"How do you expect to get there?" asked Chet. "You can't take a ship
that far, no matter how strongly she is built."

"I shall do as the majority of North Pole explorers do," was Barwell
Dawson's answer. "I shall sail as far north as the ship will go, then
winter in the ice, and as soon as summer comes again, make a dash over
the ice for the Pole with dogs, sledges, and Esquimaux."

"It will assuredly be a grand trip," said Professor Jeffer. "I envy
you."

"You would like to go with me?"

"Very much, sir. I have absolutely nothing to keep me here, being alone
in the world."

"Then, perhaps, it can be arranged."

"I have here some books and maps relating to Polar discoveries,"
continued the professor. "Perhaps you won't mind pointing out on the
maps what you hope to do."

He brought from the bookcase several books and maps, and placed them on
the table. The boys, who were sitting on the floor near the open
fireplace, took them down and gazed at them with interest. Here was
something that was surely new and novel.

"I have a larger map in my bedroom," went on Professor Jeffer. "I'll get
that."

While he was gone, the two boys and Mr. Dawson pored over the books and
maps, and the hunter mentioned a place on one of the maps where he had
once gone hunting.

"Here is the coast of Greenland," he said, pointing it out. "I shall
take my vessel up Baffin Bay as far as Cape York, and possibly to
Etah,--and maybe further, if the ice will permit. There we shall have to
spend the long Arctic night."

"How long?" asked Andy.

"From October to February."

"What, as long as that?" cried Chet. "Won't there be any sun at all
during that time?"

"No sunshine, but I think we can look for good moonlight, especially
when the moon is full."

"And how long is it going to take to get to the North Pole from Etah?"
asked Andy. "That is, what do you calculate?"

"I haven't any idea, excepting that I shall try to carry enough food to
last for the entire summer. And I shall also do all the hunting
possible, so long as there is any game in sight. I do not expect to find
any in the vicinity of the Pole."

"And what do you think is at the Pole?" questioned Chet.

"Ice and snow principally," answered Barwell Dawson, smiling. "I do not
look for anything out of the ordinary. It is only the honor of having
been able to reach that point."

"And a great honor it will be," said Professor Jeffer, as he re-entered
with another map.

"I suppose a whole lot of men have tried to reach the Pole," said Chet.

"Yes, explorers from all over Europe as well as from America have tried
their hand at it," answered Barwell Dawson.

"One of the books I have here tells of the various American
expeditions," said Professor Jeffer, thumbing over a volume rapidly.
"Ah, here it is. You ought to read it--it is very interesting."

"I have read over the accounts many times,--trying to map out a route of
my own," said Barwell Dawson.

Then he told the boys of what had been done by various explorers to lift
the mystery of the frozen north.

"One of the well-known Arctic explorers was Sir John Franklin, an
Englishman," said he. "Franklin was lost somewhere up north, and when he
did not return, various expeditions were sent out for his relief. The
first from America was that commanded by Lieutenant E. J. De Haven, of
the United States Navy, in 1851. De Haven reached 78° N. He was
followed, three years later, by Elisha Kent Kane, who sailed north by
way of Smith Sound, and gained 80° 35' N. lat."

"How far was that from the Pole?" questioned Chet, whose knowledge of
degrees and latitude was rather hazy.

"The highest degree is ninety, which is at the Pole," explained the
professor. "Roughly speaking, a degree of latitude is equal to seventy
miles."

"Then Kane was still nearly seven hundred miles from the Pole."

"About six hundred and fifty."

"After Kane," continued Barwell Dawson, "Commodore John Rodgers
commanded an expedition that went through Bering Strait and reached
Herald Island, at 71° 18' N. lat. Then, in 1860, Isaac L. Hayes reached
Grinnell Land, at Cape Joseph Goode, and from 1860 to 1869 Charles F.
Hall explored the Cumberland Gulf, and reached the Polar Sea northwest
of Greenland, in 82° 11' N."

"That was crawling a little closer," was Andy's comment.

"After that, explorations were made by Lieutenant P. H. Ray, Lieutenant
G. A. Doane, and Commander George W. De Long, all of the government
service. The latter explored the Arctic Ocean to the coast of Asia. Then
followed the International Polar Expedition, under Lieutenant,
afterwards General, A. W. Greely, of the United States Army. This
expedition reached a point north of 83° 24'."

"What about Peary?" asked Chet. "I know he is a great polar explorer."

"I was going to speak of him," answered Barwell Dawson. "Commander
Robert E. Peary is the greatest Polar explorer we have had. He has been
at it since 1892, and during that time he has covered the entire
northern portion of Greenland, the northern portion of Grinnell Land,
and a goodly portion of the Arctic Ocean. On April 21, 1906, he managed
to reach 87° 6' N. lat.,--within less than two hundred miles of the
Pole."

"It's a pity he couldn't make the two hundred miles--after going so far,"
was Andy's comment.

"He is now fitting out another expedition," said Professor Jeffer. "I
believe he will keep at it until he gains the Pole."

"There have been numerous other expeditions, under Walter Wellman,
Robert Stein, A. P. Low, E. P. Baldwin, and some Canadian explorers,"
continued Mr. Dawson, "but nobody has been able to equal Commander
Peary's record."

"It's a wonder that somebody doesn't try to reach the Pole with an
airship," said Chet.

"One explorer intends to try that. A European explorer, Andree, once
went up from Spitzbergen in a balloon, and he was never heard of again.
It's a dangerous piece of business, for one cannot tell where one is
going to land, and to get much in the way of supplies in that forsaken
portion of the globe is out of the question."

"Maybe somebody will reach the Pole with an aeroplane," suggested Andy.

"Not all the exploring has been done by the Americans," resumed Barwell
Dawson. "One of the greatest foreign explorers was Dr. Fridtjof Nansen,
a Norwegian. He made a memorable voyage in a vessel named the _Fram_,
and managed to reach 86° 14' N. lat."

"Almost as high as Commander Peary got," cried Chet.

"Another explorer of note was the Duke of the Abruzzi, an Italian, who
sailed for Franz Josef Land and wintered at Teplitz Bay, in 1899 and
1900. The Duke managed to reach 86° 33' N. lat., thus doing a trifle
better than Nansen."

"Good for the Duke," said Chet.

"You certainly know a lot about the Pole," said Andy, admiringly.
"You've got it on your fingers' ends."

"Ever since I took the question up seriously I have read everything I
could find on the subject," answered Barwell Dawson. "I do not intend to
go at this in a haphazard fashion. My ship is going to be fitted out
with the best possible care,--reënforced throughout the entire hull to
resist the ice pressure,--and I shall pick my crew from among the
strongest and bravest fellows I can find. To take a weakling on board
would be foolhardy, for he could never stand the cold."

"I suppose it is much colder than here in Maine," said Chet.

"Yes, although not always. Even in upper Greenland the weather is at
times comparatively mild. The worst time is the Long Night, as it is
termed. Then, it is not only bitterly cold, but darkness is apt to take
the heart out of a fellow. Some men cannot stand the night at all, and
nearly go crazy, but I have never been affected that way."

"Give me a good lamp and I shall not mind it," said Professor Jeffer. "I
would spend the time in profitable reading, or in writing a book or
magazine article."

"When you were up there hunting, did you sail along the Greenland
coast?" asked Chet, suddenly.

"Of course."

"Did you ever meet any whalers?"

"Oh, yes, quite a number. Some of them go north quite a distance. They
have to sail many miles to get the right kind of whales."

"Did you--did you ever meet a whaler named the _Betsey Andrews_?"

"The _Betsey Andrews_?" mused Barwell Dawson. "Where was she from?"

"From New Bedford, Captain Jacob Spark."

"Why, yes, I did. What do you know of her?"

"I don't know much, excepting that my father sailed on her some years
ago, and the vessel has failed to come back--so far as I know."

"That's too bad. So far as I can remember, the ship was all right when I
saw her. If I remember rightly, however, our captain said he thought she
was pretty far north for a whaler."

"Do you think she was wrecked in a storm?"

"I don't know. We did have some pretty fierce storms just before I
landed to go hunting. I know one storm came up right after a dense fog,
and it nearly ran us into a tremendous iceberg.

"Maybe an iceberg sunk the _Betsey Andrews_," said Chet, and his voice
quivered a little in spite of his effort to control himself.

"Have you made inquiries about the whaler lately?" asked Professor
Jeffer. "You know there is a regular record kept of all marine
disasters."

"I didn't know where to go--or who to write to," answered Chet. "I hated
to bother strangers."

"But you want to find your father, don't you?" asked Barwell Dawson.

"Oh, very much!"

"Then we'll have to look into this matter--when this storm clears away,
and we are able to get out of here."

After that the hunter questioned Chet about his parent, and the youth
told him how his father had shipped aboard the whaler. He did not
mention that Tolney Greene had disappeared under a cloud, as it did not
seem necessary, and Chet wanted to avoid anything that was so
unpleasant.

Following this, Barwell Dawson told more of his proposed trip north. Now
that he had revealed what was on his mind, he was very enthusiastic, and
he communicated a great deal of his enthusiasm to his listeners.

"You must take me along!" cried Professor Jeffer. "I will pay my
way--that is, so far as I am able,--and I will promise not to be a
hindrance. You'll certainly want one scientist on your expedition, even
though it is not what you might term a scientific expedition."

"I will give the matter every consideration," answered Barwell Dawson,
"and if I can possibly arrange it, you shall become one of the party."

"How many will there be?" asked Chet.

"Outside of the captain and the crew, I do not expect to carry more than
five or six men. Of course, up in Greenland, I shall hire a number of
Esquimaux, to do some hunting for me, and to manage the dogs and
sledges."

Chet said no more just then. But he was wondering if it would aid him to
find his father if he should join this expedition to the frozen north.

"I'd be willing to suffer anything--if only I could learn where dad was,"
he told Andy, afterwards.



CHAPTER X

BRINGING IN SOME GAME


The snowstorm proved such a heavy one that for three days the party at
Professor Jeffer's cabin were completely stormbound. Once Andy and Chet
went out--in an endeavor to bring the dead moose in, but were unable to
accomplish their object.

During the time spent at the cabin, the boys became very well acquainted
with Barwell Dawson, and found the hunter and explorer a person very
much to their liking. Although he was rich and well educated, he did not
act as if he considered himself above them. He took a lively interest in
all they had to tell, and knew how to "draw them out," so that, almost
before he knew it, Andy had related the details of his troubles with his
shiftless Uncle Si and with the mysterious Mr. A. Q. Hopton.

"More than likely that fellow, Hopton, will bear close watching," said
Barwell Dawson. "If he is a sharper--and it looks as if he might be--he
will try to swindle both you and your uncle. It was very unwise for your
uncle to try to do business with him without seeing a lawyer."

"Uncle Si wanted to get the money without my knowing it," answered Andy,
bitterly. He was glad to open his heart to somebody who could understand
him.

"I believe you--and that is not to your uncle's credit. You say he is
shiftless and lazy?"

"Very--and everybody around here knows it."

"Then he is not fit to be your guardian."

"I don't believe he is, legally. He just said he was going to be, that's
all."

"Well, that doesn't make him so," answered the hunter, with a grim
smile.

With Andy he went over the papers the boy had brought from home. They
seemed to prove that the lad's father owned a divided interest in a
large tract of timber in the upper portion of Michigan. The papers had
evidently been drawn up by somebody who knew very little about legal
matters, and the phraseology was highly perplexing. After poring over
them for an hour, and asking Professor Jeffer's advice, Barwell Dawson
shook his head slowly.

"I think it is an honest claim, and in your father's favor," he said.
"But it will take a skillful lawyer to unravel it. Certainly your father
bought something, and paid for it, for here are the words, 'one thousand
dollars, the receipt of which from Andrew S. Graham is hereby admitted.'
The writer meant 'acknowledged,' but I guess 'admitted' is good enough."

"I was going to take it to a lawyer in Lodgeport."

"Is he a reliable man, Andy?"

"I don't know--I suppose so."

"Well, supposing you let me look into this matter with you? I am in no
hurry to get away from these parts, and I feel that you ought to let me
do something in return for what you and Chet did for me."

"I'll be very glad to have your help, Mr. Dawson--if you can spare the
time."

"I hope the claim proves of value--for I take you to be the kind of a lad
who deserves to get along," said Barwell Dawson, smiling.

During the time spent in the cabin, Barwell Dawson and Professor Jeffer
discussed the trip to the far north in many details, and the hunter even
traced out an imaginary route on one of the scientist's maps. Both men
were equally enthusiastic, and after Mr. Dawson had asked the professor
some more questions about himself, he at last consented that the latter
should become one of the exploring party.

"But remember," he said, impressively; "if you suffer great hardships or
lose your life, nobody must blame me."

"Trust me; no one will be blamed but myself," answered Professor Jeffer,
with equal gravity. Then his face beamed. "It will be a wonderful trip,
wonderful! And we shall see so many new things,--make so many interesting
discoveries! I shall take along a set of the best instruments available,
and make all sorts of observations. Such a record alone will be worth
all it costs to get it."

"I do not doubt it, Professor."

"And then the fame--think of it, the fame! Why, sir, if we succeed in
gaining the North Pole,--or even if we succeed in going above Commander
Peary's highest mark, latitude 87° 6',--it will be something for the
entire civilized world to know."

"True."

"From today on I shall go into the hardest kind of training," continued
Professor Jeffer. "I shall fit myself to withstand the most intense
hunger and the most intense cold. It is the only way."

"It is certainly a good idea," answered Barwell Dawson. "It won't do to
go up north 'soft,' as they call it."

On the morning of the fourth day it cleared, and Andy and Chet decided
to go out once more after the moose. Mr. Dawson's ankle was now well,
but he did not want to try walking a long distance on it just yet.

"You can get your game today," he said, "and we can start for Lodgeport
tomorrow. There I'll see that lawyer for Andy, and then I'll try to
return to my camp back of Moose Ridge, and see what the storm did to
it."

"If you want me to, I'll go back to the Ridge with you," said Chet. "I
haven't anything else to do, now that I can't get work at one of the
lumber camps."

"Very well, I'll be glad of your company."

Andy and Chet were soon on their way to where the latter had left the
moose. Fortunately they had been able to borrow snow-shoes from
Professor Jeffer, who owned several pairs. Both lads knew how to use the
articles, and glided over the newly fallen snow with ease.

"Just imagine we were bound for the North Pole!" cried Andy. "Wouldn't
it be great!"

"I'd like to look for my father, Andy," and Chet's face clouded.

"Oh, Chet, I'm sorry I spoke--I didn't want to remind you----"

"Oh, it's all right, Andy. If I don't hear from my father soon, I'd like
first-rate to go north with Mr. Dawson's expedition."

"I don't think he'd want to bother with boys."

"We are not so very young. And both of us know how to rough it--and we
are pretty good shots, too."

"I guess you've been thinking about it pretty strongly."

"Haven't you?"

"Yes, I have. Mr. Dawson seems to be such a splendid man, the trip ought
to be fine, even if the North Pole wasn't reached."

"Just my idea. We would do lots of hunting, and riding behind the
Esquimaux dogs. Just think of being on a sledge with eight or ten dogs
to pull you over the ice and snow!"

"And the thermometer 50° below zero! Don't forget it is fearfully cold
up there."

"Well, it's mighty cold here, sometimes. Anyway, I'd like to go--if he'd
take me."

"Same here--but he doesn't want boys, he wants men, and tough ones, too."

So the talk ran on, as the boys made their way to the clump of spruces
where Chet had had his adventure. At a distance they saw the stick, with
the handkerchief, deep in the snow.

"Well, there is your landmark, anyway," said Andy. "I hope nobody
disturbed the game."

"It looks all right," answered his chum. "But of course the snow would
cover any tracks, even if the game was disturbed."

With eager hands they uncovered the mound, and soon brought to light the
big moose with his wide-spreading antlers.

"Certainly a dandy!" cried Andy, as he surveyed the game. "You can be
thankful he didn't hit you before you reached the tree, Chet. He would
have smashed you into a jelly."

"Well, as it was, he caused Mr. Dawson a bad fall."

The boys went back to the trees, and after a careful inspection, took a
hatchet and cut a long branch for a drag. On this they bound the deer,
and then started on the return to Professor Jeffer's cabin, hauling
their load behind them.

It was hard work to make progress through the deep snow, and they had to
rest several times to catch their breath.

"I think we had better take the long way around," said Chet, after half
the distance had been covered. "We can't very well get up the hill this
side of the cabin, and, besides, there is a bad gully to cross this side
of the brook."

"You show the way," answered his chum. "You know these parts a little
better than I do."

By the new route they had to pass through a patch of woods where the
snow made the branches of the trees hang low. It was hard work to pass
between some of the trees, and once it looked as if they would have to
turn back.

"We are earning this meat," was Andy's comment, as he paused to pick up
the cap that a branch had swept from his head.

"Looks like it," answered Chet, laconically.

"I guess we should have waited until the weather was better."

Now, as it chanced, Chet was as tired as Andy, and consequently his
quick temper showed itself.

"You didn't have to come for the moose if you didn't want to," he cried,
quickly.

"Oh, I'm not complaining, Chet."

"It's the same thing."

"Not at all--and there is no cause for you to get mad about it."

"Well, then, don't find fault. I'm pulling as hard on this load as you."

"I know it. We made a mistake to come this way, I am afraid."

"Oh, yes, that's you,--blame that on me, too." Chet now looked thoroughly
angry. "I've a good mind to leave the old moose where he is." And he let
go of the branch on which the game rested.

"Chet!"

Andy uttered the name reproachfully, and gazed fearlessly into his
chum's eyes. There was an awkward pause. Then the face of the
quick-tempered youth grew red.

"Well, I don't care----" he began, and took hold of the drag again.

"Yes, you do care,--and I care, too. We can't afford to quarrel, and all
over nothing. Come on, we'll get through somehow," said Andy.

"Guess I said too much," murmured Chet, and began to haul on the load as
if his life depended upon it. "I thought----Oh, Andy, there's a shot for
us!"

The quick-tempered lad, who was equally quick-eyed, stopped and pointed
to a tree some distance on their right. Andy saw something move, but
could not make out what it was.

"Partridge," announced his companion, and swung his gun around. "I'm
going to take a shot when they go up."

He glided over the snow, and Andy came behind him. Then up went four
partridge with a whirr that would have startled one not accustomed to
the sound. Bang! went Chet's gun, and bang! came the report of Andy's
immediately after. Two of the partridges came fluttering down, while the
two others circled around in a helpless, dazed fashion.

"We must get those, too!" cried Chet, and blazed away again, and then
Andy took another shot. Down came the game, and the boys glided forward
to secure the prizes. The partridges were of good size, and plump, and
the lads gazed at them and turned them over in deep satisfaction.

"We'll prove to Mr. Dawson that we can hunt," cried Chet. His recent ill
humor had completely disappeared.

In getting back to where they had left the moose, Andy struck an icy
rock and rolled over and over in the snow. Chet was compelled to laugh,
but quickly subsided, thinking his chum might be angry. But though he
had hard work to get up and secure the game he had been carrying, Andy
retained his peace of mind.

"Fortune of war," he said, as he dug the loose snow from his clothing.
"Birr! but it's cold."

"Want to go to the North Pole now?" said Chet, quizzically.

"This minute, if I had the chance," was the quick reply.

The partridges were tied on top of the moose, and once again the two
lads headed for the cabin. Soon they came in sight of the place, and set
up a loud whistling, which brought the two men to the door.

"A fine moose!" cried Barwell Dawson. "And fine partridge, too."

"Don't you think we are pretty fair hunters?" asked Chet.

"First-class," returned Mr. Dawson.



CHAPTER XI

A SERIOUS LOSS


Having brought their game around to the shed attached to the cabin, the
boys were glad enough to rest before the generous fire, while Professor
Jeffer proceeded to cut out some choice moose meat, having been
requested by Barwell Dawson to do so.

"The moose is yours," Mr. Dawson said to the boys. "But I must have at
least one steak, although it may be rather tough."

"You can have as much as you like," answered Chet. "I don't think Andy
wants it all, and I am sure I don't."

Darkness was settling down once more around the cabin, when Andy chanced
to think of the papers concerning the land claim in Michigan. He had
placed them in an inside pocket of his jacket, and now he inserted his
hand to bring them forth, to make certain that they were safe.

"Oh!" he cried, and his heart began to beat wildly.

"What's the matter?" queried Chet, who was near. "Hurt?"

"The papers!"

"What of them?"

"They are gone!"

"Gone?" repeated Chet, and now Professor Jeffer and Barwell Dawson
listened with interest.

"Yes, gone--I can't find them anywhere." Andy rapidly went through every
pocket in his clothing, and in the overcoat he had hung on a horn. "Yes,
they are gone," he groaned. "Oh, this is the worst luck yet!"

"But they must be somewhere around," said Barwell Dawson. "Have you any
idea where you dropped them?"

"No, although it might have been when I took that tumble in the snow."

"If you lost 'em there, we ought to go back for 'em right away,"
declared Chet. "The wind is rising, and that will drift the snow over
'em."

A vain search was made around the cabin and the shed, and then, tired as
he was, Andy donned his overcoat and cap to go out. Chet did the same.

"Oh, you needn't mind, Chet," said Andy.

"I just will mind, Andy. We are going to get those papers back," was the
brisk reply.

"Here, take a lantern," said Professor Jeffer, and brought forth an
acetylene lamp, similar to those used on bicycles. "That ought to help
you find the papers," he added.

In a minute more the two lads had set off through the snow. As Chet had
said, the wind was rising, and it often caught the snow up in a mad
whirl and hurled it into their faces.

"Phew! this is not so pleasant," panted Chet, when they paused to catch
their breath, having covered about a quarter of the distance to where
Andy had fallen. "Takes the wind right out of a chap. But never mind,
come on," he continued, and started on once more.

The rays of the acetylene lamp lit up the way fairly well, and here and
there they could see their former trail, although it was growing more
indistinct every moment. The wind now whistled through the pines and
spruces,--a sound as dismaying as it was lonely.

"Might have brought down some game, with the aid of this lamp," said
Chet, as they trudged forward on their snowshoes.

"I'm not looking for game just now."

At last they reached what they thought was the spot where Andy had had
the fall. So far they had seen no trace of the missing documents. Now
they gazed around, much crestfallen. The hollow was completely filled
with the drifting snow, and a ridge had formed, wiping out the trail
utterly.

"I am going to try digging," said Andy. "Wish I had brought a shovel
along."

The lamp was hung on the branch of a tree near by, and both youths set
to work, shoving and kicking the snow to one side or another. Thus they
worked, in something of a circle, for the best part of an hour. Not a
trace of the papers could be seen anywhere.

"Maybe I lost them further back--where we found the moose," said Andy.
"I'm going to look. But you needn't go with me if you don't care to,
Chet."

"I'll go where you go, Andy. I want to see you get those papers back."

Again they moved forward, the wind and snow cutting each in the face,
and sometimes almost blinding them. They had to rest twice before they
reached the spot of Chet's thrilling adventure.

Again the search began, and it was kept up until both lads were wellnigh
exhausted from stooping over and "sifting" the snow. Andy straightened
his back and gave a sigh.

"I guess it's no use," he groaned. "They are gone! I'll never see them
again! And that claim is gone, too!"

"Oh, don't give up yet!" cried Chet, trying to cheer him up. "If we
can't locate them tonight, we'll do it in the morning when the sun
shines. They must be somewhere around. They made quite a package, with a
rubber band around it, and such a package can't vanish completely."

To this Andy could only answer with a sigh. He doubted very much if the
precious documents would ever come to light again.

Utterly fagged out, the boys turned their backs on the wind and made
their way to Professor Jeffer's cabin. Here they found the others
anxiously awaiting their return.

"What luck?" sang out Barwell Dawson.

"None," answered Andy, and dropped into a chair as tired out as he was
disheartened.

"You'll have to go out in the morning."

"Just what I said," came from Chet. "Oh, we'll get those papers back,
don't worry." But although he spoke thus lightly, it was only to cheer
his chum up. He, too, was afraid the documents were gone forever.

Andy's sleep was a troubled one. He dreamed that his Uncle Si was after
him, and that both had a tussle in the snow over the papers. Then A. Q.
Hopton came up with a pitchfork, speared the papers, and bore them off
in triumph. He awoke to find Chet shaking him.

"Andy, stop your groaning!" Chet was saying. "You are going on to beat
the band!"

"I guess I had a nightmare," answered Andy, sheepishly. "What time is
it?"

"Just getting daylight."

"Then I am going to get up, eat a little breakfast, and start on another
search for those papers."

"Sure--and I'll go along."

The boys arose as quietly as possible, and dressing, went to the kitchen
and prepared their morning meal of wheat cakes and a small moose steak,
and coffee. They were just finishing the repast when Professor Jeffer
showed himself.

"Up early, I see," he said, with a smile.

"We are going to look for those papers again," explained Chet.

"To be sure. Well, I trust you find them, although I am afraid you will
have quite a search."

The sun was just peering over the trees to the eastward when the two
lads left the cabin. It promised to be a clear day. It was intensely
cold, and the wind still blew, although not so hard as during the day
and the night gone by.

Andy took the lead, and each boy strained his eyes to catch sight of
anything that might look like the documents. Once Andy saw something at
a distance, and ran to it with a rapidly beating heart. But it was
nothing but a strip of birch bark, and again his heart sank.

The noon hour found them still on the hunt. Fortunately they had brought
some lunch along in one of the game bags, and they sat down in a sunny
and sheltered nook to eat this, warming up a can of coffee over a tiny
campfire Chet kindled. Then the hunt was renewed, and kept up in various
places until the sun began to go down over the woods to the westward.

"It will be dark in an hour more, Andy," said Chet, kindly. "I guess we
had better return to the cabin. We can come out again tomorrow, if you
wish."

"I--I don't think it will be any use to come out again, Chet." Andy's
voice was very unsteady. "I am afraid the papers are gone for good!"

"Oh, I wouldn't give it up yet!"

"If I only knew where I had dropped them! But I don't know. They may be
right around here, and they may be half a mile away."

It was with a downcast heart that Andy followed his chum back to the
cabin. Somehow, he had hoped that the timber claim would prove a
valuable one, and that he would get a goodly share of it. Now that hope
was shattered.

"I won't be able to prove a thing without the documents," he told
himself. "And it would be useless to try."

That evening the matter was talked over by the men and the boys from
every point of view, but nothing came of it. Barwell Dawson agreed with
Andy that nothing could be accomplished until the missing documents were
brought to light.

"I really think your uncle is to blame for this," said the hunter. "If
he had not acted as he did, you would not have been forced to run away,
and then the papers might be safe and sound at your cabin."

"I'd like to know what became of that A. Q. Hopton," said Andy.

"Well, he didn't get the papers, and that's one comfort," said Chet,
with a sickly grin.

There was now no use in going to Lodgeport to see a lawyer, and instead,
Andy and Chet went out again for another search. But this was as useless
as the others. Not a trace of the missing documents could be found
anywhere.

"Might as well give it up," sighed Andy. "They are gone, and that is all
there is to it."

Again matters were talked over, and Barwell Dawson advised Andy to go
home and face his uncle.

"If you wish, I'll go with you," said the hunter. "Perhaps I can get him
to tell just what that A. Q. Hopton was up to."

"I'd like it first-rate, if you would go along, Mr. Dawson," answered
the boy quickly.

"Want me along?" asked Chet.

"You might as well come," answered Andy. "We can take some of the moose
meat. The horns are yours, Chet."

They set off for the Graham cabin on the following morning. Barwell
Dawson's ankle was now quite well, although he was prudently careful how
he used it. It had cleared off rather warm, so the trip was a pleasant
one. The boys had with them all the meat they could carry, and also
their guns, and wore the snow-shoes Professor Jeffer had loaned them.

On the way Chet asked Barwell Dawson how soon he expected to start for
the north.

"I hope to get the _Ice King_ ready by the middle of February or first
of March," was the hunter's reply. "You see, for such a trip we require
an immense amount of stores, and of just the proper kinds. It won't do
to take stuff that will freeze and burst open. Once I remember I was up
there, and had some bottles of catsup along. The bottles froze and
burst, and we had catsup scattered all over the camp."

"I suppose you can't get much up there?" said Chet.

"Absolutely nothing outside of game--musk oxen, polar bears and hares,
seal, walrus, and some birds. In some parts of Greenland you can get
moss that you can put in soup, but it doesn't amount to a very hearty
meal. In a cold climate like that, one needs to eat plenty of meat, and
the more fat, the better. The Esquimaux live on the fattest kind of meat
they can get, and on blubber, and they think tallow candles a real
delicacy."

"Excuse me from eating candles," said Andy.

"If you were real hungry, you'd eat anything," answered Barwell Dawson,
gravely. "I was once lost on the ice, and was glad enough to chew strips
of seal hide to ease the pangs of hunger. When I got back to camp, my
stomach was in such a condition that they fed me my first meal very
carefully, just a bit at a time. If I had eaten my fill quickly, I might
have died."



CHAPTER XII

A LETTER OF INTEREST


"The place looks shut up," observed Chet, when the party came in sight
of the Graham homestead. "Not a bit of smoke, and the snow isn't cleared
away from the doorstep."

"Maybe Uncle Si is sick and can't get around," answered Andy, quickly.

"Sick? Lazy, you mean," returned his chum.

They advanced to the front door and knocked. There was no sound from
within, and Andy walked around to the shed. The door was locked, but the
key was on a shelf near by, and he quickly opened the door.

"Uncle Si is away," he announced, as he walked through the cabin, and
let the others come in. "My! but it's cold here! We'll have to start a
fire right away."

"I'll do that," answered Chet. "You sit down and rest that sore ankle,"
he went on, to Barwell Dawson, and the hunter was glad to do as bidden.

While Chet started a lively blaze in the big open fireplace, Andy went
through the cabin, looking for some trace of his uncle. Much to his
surprise, he found Josiah Graham's traveling bag missing, and also all
of the man's clothing.

"He has gone away!" he cried, and then caught sight of a letter, pinned
fast to the top of a chest of drawers. The outside of the letter was
addressed to Andy Graham. The communication was written in lead pencil,
in a chirography anything but elegant, and ran as follows:

  "_My dere Nephy Andy_ i hav got a chanct to git a job up Haveltown way
  and i think I beter tak it you dont seme to car for to have me tak car
  of you so i am goin to leave you to tak car of yourself Mr. Hopton
  wanted to treet you square but you would knot listen so you must tak
  the konseakenses. he said the pappers aint much akont anyhowe. i leave
  my lov even if you dont lik me.                     --_Josiah Graham_"

It took some time for Andy to decipher the communication, and for the
first time in his life he realized how very limited had been the
education of his father's half-brother. He read the epistle to Chet and
Barwell Dawson.

"He has deserted you!" cried Chet. "Well, 'good riddance to bad rubbish'
say I!"

"I think he was afraid that you would make trouble for him," was Mr.
Dawson's comment. "He thought you would take those papers to some
lawyer, or to the authorities, and tell how he tried to sell them to Mr.
A. Q. Hopton on the sly."

"I guess that's the way it is," said Andy. He drew a deep breath. "Well,
I am glad to get rid of him so easily. I sincerely hope he stays away."

"But he won't stay away," returned Chet. "He'll wait until he thinks
everything is all right again, and then he'll sneak back, to live on
you."

"He'll not live on me again," declared Andy. "I know him thoroughly,
now. If he wants to stay here he'll have to work, the same as I do."

"Well, you are in possession of your own," declared Barwell Dawson, as
he rested in the chair Uncle Si had used. "You can now take it as easy
as you please," and he smiled broadly.

"I don't see how I am going to take it easy, if I can't get work,"
answered Andy, soberly. "A fellow can't live on air. Of course, I can go
out hunting and fishing and all that, but that isn't earning a regular
living."

"You can't get work anywhere? You look like a strong young man, and
willing."

"I am strong, and willing, too. But times are dull, and there are more
men up here than there is work. If it wasn't for having the cabin here,
I think I'd try my chances elsewhere."

"Where?"

"I don't know--perhaps down in one of the towns."

Andy invited Barwell Dawson to remain at the cabin for the rest of the
day, and the invitation was accepted. The chums set to work to prepare a
good dinner, and of this the hunter partook with great satisfaction.

"You boys certainly know how to cook," he declared, as he finished up.

"A fellow has to learn cooking and everything, in a place like this,"
answered Andy.

"It's a good thing to know how to cook. I've found it so, many a time,
when off on a hunt."

"Mr. Dawson, I'd like to put a proposition to you," burst out Andy. "Of
course, if it doesn't suit, all you've got to do is to say no. But I
hope you will give it serious consideration." And Andy looked at Chet,
as much as to say, "Shall I go ahead?" To which his chum nodded eagerly.

"What is the proposition?"

"That you take Chet and me with you on your trip north. I know you would
prefer men, but we are not so young, and each of us is strong and
healthy, and we can do about as much as a man. We are both used to cold
weather, and to roughing it, and you know we can shoot, and tramp over
the ice and snow--and cook. We talked this over between us, and we'd like
to go very much. We don't want any pay, or any reward. All we want is
our food, and some ammunition, and we are perfectly willing to rough it
along with the rest. We are both practically alone in the world, so
nobody will be worried over us, even if we don't come back alive."

"Yes, but you want to come back, don't you?" asked Barwell Dawson,
quizzically.

"Of course. But we realize the danger, and we are ready to face it."

"We'll go wherever you go," broke in Chet. "And we'll do just whatever
you want us to do. As Andy says, we are used to roughing it, and I think
both of us can stand as much as anybody. Why, I don't know that I've had
a sick day in my life."

"And I have been sick very little--none at all since I grew up," added
Andy.

The hunter and explorer looked sharply at the two boys. He saw by the
clear look in their eyes that they were honest to the core, and in
earnest in all they said.

"Well, it is something not to have any family ties," he said. "I have
two friends who wish to go along, but both have wives, and one has two
children. I don't think it would be fair to take them. I am a bachelor
myself, and my relatives do not care what I do. I believe if I died, all
some of them would think about would be my money." He added the last
words rather bitterly.

"Then you will consider taking us?" pleaded Andy.

"Yes, I will consider it. But I must think it over a week or two before
I give you my answer. When a man plans such a trip as this, he cannot be
too careful as to who are his companions. I must say I like you lads
very much, and I haven't forgotten how you aided me at the cliff. But I
must have time to think it over carefully, and make a few inquiries."

With this the lads had to be content, and for the time being the subject
was dropped. But later on Barwell Dawson showed his interest by asking
them a great number of questions about themselves.

"I think he'll take us along," whispered Chet to Andy, on retiring for
the night. "And I sincerely hope he does. It may give me a chance to
find out what became of the _Betsey Andrews_ and my father."

"Don't be too sure of our going," answered Andy. "If you are, you may be
bitterly disappointed."

In the morning it was decided that the two lads should accompany Barwell
Dawson to the lodge he had occupied back of Moose Ridge. They went along
gladly, wishing to become better acquainted with the hunter and
explorer. The storm had now cleared away entirely, the wind had died
down, and the clear sun shone upon the ice and snow with great
brilliancy.

On the way the party managed to pick up some small game, and Barwell
Dawson showed his skill by hitting a partridge at a great distance. He
shot with ease, showing that he was thoroughly familiar with the use of
firearms. He even gave the boys "points" for which they were grateful.

"He certainly knows how to shoot," said Andy to Chet. "I don't see how
he missed that moose."

"He lost his footing, that's how," was the reply. "The very best of
sportsmen miss it sometimes."

"Isn't he a splendid fellow, Chet!"

"The finest I've met. Oh, I do hope he takes us along with him!"

When the lodge was reached the boys built a fire and cooked another
appetizing meal, the hunter meanwhile resting his ankle, which was still
sore. The reader can rest assured that Andy and Chet did their best over
the meal, for they wanted to let Mr. Dawson know of their real abilities
in the culinary line. The repast was as much liked as the other had
been.

"If you go with me, I'll have to throw out the man I was going to take
for a cook," declared the hunter and explorer. "I don't believe anybody
could serve food better than this."

"Oh, we'll do the cooking all right!" declared Chet, enthusiastically.

"Of course there will be a ship's cook," explained Mr. Dawson. "But he
won't go along over the ice and snow. He'll have to remain with the
sailors on the ship."

"How many will be in the party to leave the ship?" asked Andy.

"I don't know yet--probably five or six, and the Esquimaux."

Having reached Barwell Dawson's lodge, the party settled down for a
week, to hunt and to take it comfortably. During that time the hunter
and explorer asked Chet much about himself and his father.

"We must try to find out about that whaler as soon as I go back to
town," said Barwell Dawson. "Somebody ought to know something about
her."

During the week the hunter and the boys became better friends than ever.
The man liked the frank manner of the lads, and Andy and Chet were
fascinated by the stories the explorer had to tell.

"I am going down to Portland next week," announced Barwell Dawson one
day. "If you both want to go along and see the city, I'll take you, and
foot the bill. Then we can go up to the little town where the _Ice King_
is being fitted out, and you can let me know what you think of the
ship."

This proposal filled the boys with delight, and they accepted on the
spot. Both Andy and Chet made hurried trips to their cabin homes, and
came back with the best of their belongings in their grips. Then they
helped Barwell Dawson pack up; and two days later started for Pine Run.

There was mild surprise in the village when it was learned the two boys
were going away, even though it might be only for a short while. To
nobody in the village did Barwell Dawson mention his proposed trip to
the frozen north.

"They wouldn't understand it, and it would only make me out an object of
idle curiosity," he explained to the boys.

From the general storekeeper Andy learned that his Uncle Si had tried to
borrow ten dollars, but without success. The storekeeper said Josiah
Graham and Mr. A. Q. Hopton had had a bitter quarrel, and parted on bad
terms. He did not know where either individual was now.

"Well, let Uncle Si shift for himself," said Andy to Chet. "It will do
him good."

"Right you are, Andy. But what a shame that you lost those papers."

"Oh, don't mention them, Chet. It makes me feel bad every time I think
of it."

"You ought to go back some day and take another look for them. I'll help
you."

"Yes, I intend to go back--if not right away, then when the snow clears
off."

"Provided we are not bound north by that time."

"Yes, provided we are not bound for the Pole!"



CHAPTER XIII

BARWELL DAWSON REACHES A DECISION


The trip to Portland proved full of keen interest to both boys, who had
spent most of their lives in the backwoods. Barwell Dawson procured
rooms for all at a hotel not far from Monument Square, and then he
allowed the lads to do all the sightseeing they pleased. They took
several trolley trips, and visited many points of interest, not
forgetting the big stores, which were as much of a revelation as
anything to them.

The hunter and explorer set to work without delay to find out if
possible what had become of the whaler, _Betsey Andrews_. At first he
could learn little, but one day came a letter from New Bedford, from a
maritime agency, stating that the whaler had not been heard of since
stopping at Disko Island, off the coast of Greenland, two years before.
It was supposed that she had either been hit by an iceberg, or been sunk
in a storm, with all on board. Once a small boat belonging to the whaler
had been found washed up on the coast of Greenland, but it had contained
no persons, dead or alive.

This news was very disheartening to Chet, and for several days he was
not himself at all, and Andy could do little to cheer him up. But it was
not as bad as if the youth had not expected something of this sort
before, and his hopes soon came back to him.

"I'll not believe father is dead until I see the proofs," he told his
chum. "He may have been cast away on the coast of Greenland, and been
unable to find a ship to bring him back home."

"Let us hope that is true," answered Andy. "And let us hope that he gets
back soon." But though Andy spoke thus, he had small expectations of
ever seeing Mr. Greene alive.

"I expect Professor Jeffer down tomorrow," said Barwell Dawson, one
morning after reading his mail. "As soon as he comes we'll run up the
coast to where the _Ice King_ is being fitted out."

The weather had cleared off warm, and the snow was fast vanishing. The
professor arrived on time, and was full of enthusiasm concerning the
proposed trip to the north.

"I wish we were sure of going," said Andy, to him, and then told of what
had been said to Mr. Dawson.

"I like you lads very much," returned the old scientist. "I hope Mr.
Dawson sees fit to take you along."

"Perhaps you can put in a good word for us," suggested Chet.

"I'll do it," was the prompt answer.

Professor Jeffer was as good as his word, and that evening he and
Barwell Dawson had a long talk concerning the boys. The hunter and
explorer could not help but smile at Upham Jeffer's enthusiasm.

"Well, if you are on their side too, I'll surely have to take them," he
said at length. "But it is a risky thing to do--they are not men,
remember."

"They will stand the trip as well as though they were men," was the
professor's answer. "They are in the best of health, and full of vigor.
Besides, it is well to have the enthusiasm of youth with us. It may help
to cheer up many a lonely hour."

"I like the idea of their being without close family connections,
Professor. I hate to take a man away from those near and dear to him."

"True, sir, true--especially when it is not actually necessary. Yes, I'd
take the boys by all means. I do not think you'll regret it. Of course,
though, each will have to have a complete outfit."

"You can trust me to get the best there is."

When Andy and Chet heard the good news they could scarcely contain
themselves. Andy danced a jig right in the hotel room, while both lads
had to shake Barwell Dawson by the hand several times, and then they
shook hands with Professor Jeffer, too.

"It makes me feel just as if we were one big family," cried Andy,
enthusiastically. "Oh, Chet, just to think of it! We'll hunt musk oxen,
and polar bears, and seals, and walruses! And go clear to the Pole,
too!"

"And travel on dog sledges," put in Chet. "Say, I'm ready to go this
minute!"

"So am I! Mr. Dawson, you can't start any too soon for us."

"Well, boys, don't be too enthusiastic. Remember, this is going to be no
child's play--trying to get to the North Pole. And we won't try to reach
that point at all unless, when we get into the Arctic regions, we find
the conditions more or less favorable. You must remember that many brave
and vigorous men have tried to reach the Pole and have failed. There are
immense fields of ice and snow to cross, and 'leads' or rivers of icy
water. And if you lose your supplies, there remains nothing to do but to
starve."

Nevertheless, even though he spoke thus, Barwell Dawson was secretly as
hopeful as were the boys. Could he have seen what was before him, his
enthusiasm might have quickly died within him.

Now that it had been settled that they could go, the two boys were eager
to see the vessel which was to be their home during the coming summer
and winter. The _Ice King_ was being fitted out at the seaport town of
Rathley, and they took the train for the place, arriving there about
noon. The vessel was tied up at the dock, and the lads and Professor
Jeffer were invited by Mr. Dawson to come on board.

"I'll introduce you to Captain Williamson," said the hunter. "He is in
charge of the repairs that are being made. He is a fine man, and I know
you will like him."

The captain proved to be a bluff and hearty old salt, who had at one
time commanded a whaler. He shook hands with a grip that made Andy and
Chet wince, and looked them over with a twinkle in his eye.

"So you are going to try to hunt polar bears and such, eh?" he said.
"Well, you look out that the bears don't eat you up," and he laughed
broadly.

"We'll try to keep out of the way," answered Chet, modestly.

"And what are you going to do when the thermometer drops to fifty below
zero?"

"Work around and keep warm," answered Andy, with a grin, and this made
the captain laugh again.

"Guess you'll do," he said. "Anyway, we'll try you."

The _Ice King_ was a two-masted steamer that had been built for use in
the icy seas of the north. She was small, broad of beam, and shallow,
with an outer "jacket" of stout oak planks, and a prow and stern of
steel. Inside, all the bracings were extra heavy, and the railings of
the deck were of the hardest kind of timber. She carried an engine of
great power, and steam could be gotten up both with coal and with oil.

"You see, it will not do to take too large a ship," explained Barwell
Dawson. "A small vessel can often get through where a big one would get
stuck. The _Ice King_ is built shallow, so that instead of being crushed
in the floating ice, she will slide up on it, or over it. The sides are
two feet thick, and they ought to resist a tremendous pressure. We have
to have great engine power, and a steel prow, for sometimes we'll have
to simply smash our way through."

The entire lower portion of the ship was to be given over to the storage
of provisions and coal, and coal was also to be stored, at the start, on
deck. The quarters for the crew were forward, in a forecastle of the
usual order. At the stern was a fair-sized cabin, half above and half
below the deck, with quarters for Barwell Dawson, the captain, and the
others. The boys were conducted to a stateroom not over six feet by
seven. It had an upper and a lower berth on one side, and a tiny
washstand and some clothing hooks on the other.

"We'll all have close quarters," said Barwell Dawson. "My own room is
but two feet larger than this."

"It's large enough," said Andy. He turned to his chum. "We'll be as snug
as a bug in a rug in here, won't we?"

"Suits me right down to the ground," returned Chet. "Not much room for
clothing, but as we haven't much, that's all right."

Professor Jeffer was to share his stateroom with another man, who had
not yet arrived. He asked for a cabinet, in which he might store his
scientific instruments, and Mr. Dawson said he would attend to the
matter.

"Next week I shall commence the purchase of all supplies," said the man
who headed the expedition. "Until that time there will be little for any
of you to do, and you can go where you please."

"I'm going back home--to have another look for those missing papers,"
said Andy. "Besides, I want to bring away the rest of my things, and
nail up the cabin."

"And I'll go along," said Chet. "I want to get my things, too. About the
cabin, I don't care much what becomes of it, for it has seen its best
days."

The two boys spent three days in the vicinity of Pine Run. During that
time both went out twice to look for the documents Andy had lost, but
without success.

"They are gone, and I'll have to make the best of it," said Andy, with a
deep sigh.

The two boys packed up what few things they wished to take along, and
then each cabin was nailed up tightly. Both wondered if they would ever
see the places again.

"Maybe we'll never come back from the far north," said Chet.

"Are you afraid, Chet?" demanded Andy, quickly.

"Not a bit of it. Just the same, we may never see Maine again. What
happened to my father may happen to us."

Professor Jeffer had come back also, to ship his case of scientific
instruments, and also another case of books. The professor did not want
much in the way of clothing, but it would have been a real hardship had
he been deprived of his other belongings.

"The success of this trip will depend upon accurate scientific
observations," said he to the boys, when on the return to Rathley. "It
is all well enough to hunt, and even to reach the North Pole, but of
what use is it if we cannot return with full data of what we have
observed?"

"You are right, Professor," answered Andy. "But your instruments are
beyond me."

"I will teach you how to use some of them, after we are on board ship.
There will be many days when you boys will have little to do, and it
will be an excellent opportunity to improve your minds."

"Well, I wouldn't mind a little more education," said Chet, bluntly.

"I'll be pleased to teach you, my boy. I was once a
schoolmaster--although that was years ago."

"Professor, do you really think we'll reach the Pole?" asked Andy,
earnestly.

"I do not think; I hope. Many have tried and failed, but I believe the
Pole will be gained some day, and we'll have an excellent chance of
success. Mr. Dawson is a wonderful man--he seems more wonderful every
time I talk to him. He is fitting up his ship with the greatest possible
care and forethought, and has made a deep study of polar conditions.
Besides, he has had practical experience on the fields of ice and snow,
and knows just what to expect in the way of hardships."

The run to Rathley was made in less than two hours. It had been decided
that the party should put up at a hotel for a few days, until some
painting on board the _Ice King_ was finished. Then they were to go
aboard and make themselves at home as best they could until the day set
for the departure.

They reached the hotel in the evening, and that night all slept soundly.
In the morning, after breakfast, Chet suggested they walk down to the
steamer and see how the painting was progressing.

"Hark!" cried Andy, when they were within two blocks of the wharf. "What
is that man crying?"

"Fire! fire! fire!" yelled the individual in question, as he came
rushing up the street.

"Where is it?" asked Andy and Chet in a breath.

"Down at the dock! A steamer is on fire!"

"A steamer!" exclaimed Professor Jeffer. "Can it be the _Ice King_?"

"Oh, I hope not!" burst out Andy, and then he set off on a run, with
Chet by his side, and the professor following more slowly.



CHAPTER XIV

THE FIRE ON THE STEAMER


"She is doomed! There goes our chance to reach the North Pole!"

Such were the words that escaped from Chet's lips, as he and Andy came
out on the dock where the _Ice King_ was tied up.

Before them lay the two-masted steamer, with a thick volume of smoke
rolling up from her main hatchway. The fire alarm was sounding, and men
and boys were running to the scene of action.

"What a catastrophe!" The words came from Professor Jeffer. He was
almost out of breath from running. "I hope they can save her!"

"Wonder what is burning?" queried Andy. He, too, felt his heart sink
within him.

"Can of benzine exploded," answered a man standing near. "The painters
had it, and one of 'em dropped a lighted match on the can."

"He ought to be blown up with it," fumed Chet. "Who ever heard of such
carelessness!"

There was the tooting of a whistle, and a fire engine came dashing down
the street, followed by a hose cart and a hook and ladder company. In
the meantime, Captain Williamson had sounded the alarm on the ship, and
set some men to work at a hand pump, for the engineer had no steam in
the boilers.

"Can we do anything, Captain?" asked Andy, as he ran up the gangplank.

"I don't know," was the short answer. "Might help at the pump, or help
carry buckets of water. If we had the engine going we'd soon get a good
stream on that blaze, but we didn't look for anything like this."

Andy and Chet tried to get to the pump, but found that already manned.
Then they got buckets and ropes, and commenced to haul up water over the
side, and a number of other boys and men did likewise. Some sailors took
the full buckets and threw the water down the hatchway, where they
thought it would do the most good. Then the fire engine on the dock got
into action, and a steady stream was directed down into the interior of
the steamer.

But the conflagration had gained considerable headway, and some cans of
paints and oils added ready fuel to the blaze. The smoke grew thicker
and thicker, and presently a tongue of flame shot skyward.

"She's doomed sure!" groaned Chet. "Oh, was there ever such luck!"

"The trouble is that the water doesn't do much good on the paint and
oil," exclaimed Professor Jeffer. "Sand or dirt would be better."

"Here comes a chemical engine!" cried Andy. "Maybe that will do some
good."

"It will do more good than throwing water," said the old scientist.

The chemical engine got into action without delay, and as the chemicals
were forced down the hatchway the smoke became even thicker than before.
But the tongues of flame died down, which the boys took for a good sign.

Barwell Dawson was not on hand, he having gone to Boston on business.

"If the vessel isn't saved, it will be an awful blow to him," was Andy's
comment.

The boys continued to work, and so did the sailors and the firemen. Thus
an anxious quarter of an hour passed. Then the chief of the fire
department happened to pass Chet.

"Will the vessel be saved?" asked the lad.

"Sure thing!" cried the old fire-fighter. "But it's a blaze hard to get
at. If a man tried to go down there, he'd be smothered in a minute."

Nevertheless, some of the hook and ladder men went into the engine room,
and there chopped a hole through a bulkhead into the hold. Then more
chemicals were used, and more water, and soon it was announced that the
fire was under control. A little later the smoke cleared away, and the
firemen went below, to put out any stray sparks.

It was found that the total damage was confined to that portion of the
hold where the painters had stored their paints and oils. Here the
woodwork was much charred, and some beams and braces were burnt through.
But Captain Williamson estimated that two hundred dollars would make
everything as good as ever.

"And that I'm going to get out of those painters," he went on, doggedly.
"If they don't pay up, I'll have 'em arrested for gross carelessness."
It may be said here that in the end the painters had to pay for the
repairs, although they did so unwillingly.

A telegram was sent to Mr. Dawson, and he came from Boston on the first
train. He was much disturbed, and roundly berated the painter who had
caused the conflagration. The man had been smoking, and the hunter gave
orders that in the future they were to smoke on deck only, and use no
matches whatever while below.

The repairs made necessary by the fire were made within ten days, and
then the task of getting the _Ice King_ ready for her long trip to the
Arctic regions went forward as rapidly as ever. Mr. Dawson was a busy
man, for he superintended the buying of everything, from fur clothing to
pemmican.

"Pemmican is the great thing in the Arctic regions," he explained one
day, when Andy asked about the food. "It is nothing but the round of
beef, cut into strips and dried, and then mixed with beef tallow and
currants. It will keep for a long time, and is highly nutritious."

"Is it appetizing?" asked Andy, with a grin.

"It is when you are good and hungry, Andy. Besides, it is comparatively
light, and easily carried. I don't know what explorers would do without
it. Of course, as long as we can get fresh meat, we'll eat that. But
we'll have to fall back on pemmican more or less. You'll find it more
appetizing than seal blubber, such as the Esquimaux eat."

The hunter purchased for the lads some silk underwear that was extra
warm, and some stout boots, and outer garments of wool and of fur, and
also some oilskins for wet weather. Then he took them to a gun shop in
Portland and fitted them out with pistols, repeating rifles, and stout
hunting knives. He also purchased for them water-tight match safes, and
colored goggles of the automobile variety--the latter to ward off
headache and snow-blindness.

"You need not wear the goggles all the time up north," he explained.
"But as soon as your eyes hurt the least bit, put them on."

"You are very kind to get us all these things," said Chet. The new
repeating rifle made his eyes sparkle with pleasure.

"Indeed you are kind!" cried Andy. "We didn't expect half so much."

"I want you to go away completely equipped," answered Barwell Dawson.
"Half of the failures of exploring expeditions is due to the lack of
proper equipment. It's like going hunting with a gun that won't shoot
straight. Sometimes you hit your game, but more times you don't."

The hunter and explorer also went over the scientific instruments with
Professor Jeffer, to see that nothing should be lacking to take all
manner of observations and measurements. Some linen notebooks were also
provided, which could not be torn easily, and likewise fountain pens,
and ink made of liquids that would not readily freeze. Mr. Dawson also
procured a number of cameras for taking pictures, and films that would
not be affected by the intense cold.

"You've got to think about the cold every time you buy anything,"
observed Andy. "Wonder what about a jack-knife? I was going to buy a new
one, and I don't want to ask Mr. Dawson about it--he has bought enough
already."

"I guess you can get any kind you want," answered his chum. "But don't
use it when it's too cold, or the steel will stick to your skin."

"Oh, I know that. I once put my tongue on some cold iron, and I had a
terrible time getting it off again."

The boys were in Portland, and set off to buy some trifles, having still
a few dollars of their own. Andy purchased the knife at a hardware
store, and they were just coming from the place when Chet caught him by
the arm.

"What is it, Chet?"

"Look at the man across the way! It is your Uncle Si!"

"Uncle Si!" cried Andy. "So it is! And he has seen me!"

Andy's first impulse was to run, but he did nothing of the sort. He
stood his ground, and gazed at his uncle coldly as the latter shuffled
up. Josiah Graham looked anything but tidy and prosperous, and Andy
rightly imagined that his relative had been going through some hard
times.

"Humph! So here you be!" were Josiah Graham's first words. "I was
a-wonderin' what had become of yer."

"What are you doing here, Uncle Si?" asked Andy, as calmly as possible.

"Me? Wot's thet to you, I'd like to know?"

"Oh, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to."

"I'm a-lookin' fer work. Be you workin' now?"

"Not just at present."

"How did you git here?"

"Came on the train."

"Humph! Needn't be so pert! Maybe you had an offer o' work here?"

"No."

"We haven't got to look for a job," said Chet. "We've got something
better to look forward to."

"Better, eh? Wot is it?" And Josiah Graham's small eyes gazed shrewdly
at the youths.

"Never mind what it is," broke in Andy, hastily, with a warning look at
his chum.

"Ah, I know!" cried the man, with a leer. "You came down to sell thet
land claim! Goin' to do it without my knowledge an' consent!"

"No, I didn't come for that."

"You can't tell me, Andy Graham! I know better, I do!" the old man
shrilled. "But you remember I'm your guardeen, an' you can't sell
nuthin' without me!"

"You are not my guardian, Uncle Si. You went away of your own free will,
and now I want you to let me alone."

"Did you sell them papers yet?"

"No."

"Then you better give 'em to me. You was a big fool to run away as you
did. I was a-goin' to make a good bargain fer yer."

"Uncle Si, if you had sold those papers to that Mr. A. Q. Hopton, I
could have had you arrested," said Andy, quietly but firmly.

At these words the face of the shiftless man changed color, and his jaw
dropped.

"Me? Arrested?" he stammered.

"Yes, arrested. I have had advice on the subject. You had no right to do
a thing without the consent of the court."

"Humph! so you have been to a lawyer, eh? Pretty way to do--not to trust
your uncle, who allers did so well by yer. Has thet lawyer got them
papers now?"

"I won't tell you a word about the papers."

"Humph! You ain't got no right to run away like this."

"I am not running away. I have a right to go where I please--and do as I
please."

"Who told you thet?"

"Never mind who told me."

"You're a-gettin' too high-toned fer your boots, Andy Graham! How much
money have you got?"

"That is my business."

"Ain't you a-goin' to tell me?"

"No."

"Where be you a-stopping?"

"That is my business, too."

"Don't git sassy."

"I am not 'sassy,' as you call it. I intend, in the future, to mind my
own business, and I want you to mind yours."

"You had better leave Andy alone," put in Chet, who saw that the
shiftless man was working himself up into the worst possible humor. "You
never helped him, and he doesn't want anything to do with you."

"Say, this ain't none o' your business, Chet Greene."

"Andy is my friend."

"Humph! he better not be!" snarled Josiah Graham. "You ain't no fit boy
fer nobuddy to go with--you the son o' a thief, an' mebbe wuss. I want
you----Oh!"

What Josiah Graham wanted next was never made known, for just then he
landed flat on his back in the gutter, where a well-directed blow from
Chet's fist had sent him.



CHAPTER XV

THE START OF THE COOK EXPEDITION


If ever a man was surprised, that man was Josiah Graham. Even Andy was
astonished, for he had not dreamed that Chet could be so quick-tempered.

"Oh, Chet, that was a hard blow!"

"He deserved it," was Chet's answer. His voice was strained, and his
face pale. "I'll allow nobody to talk that way to me."

"Yo--you young villain!" spluttered Josiah Graham, as he rolled over in
the dirt of the gutter and picked himself up. "I'll--I'll----"

"After this you keep a civil tongue in your head!" interrupted Chet. He
still had his fists clenched.

"You--you----"

"If you call me any more names, I'll knock you down again."

Chet's manner was so aggressive that Josiah Graham retreated several
feet. A few persons had witnessed his fall, and a crowd began to
collect.

"What's the trouble?"

"Is it a fight?"

"Do you want a policeman?"

"No, we don't want any policeman," said Andy in alarm. "Chet, we had
better get out of this," he whispered. "If we don't, we'll all be taken
to the station house!"

"Your uncle is the meanest man I ever met! He ought to have a sound
thrashing!" answered Chet, recklessly.

"I know, but we don't want to have the police come down on us."

"I've a good mind to have the law on yer!" howled the man who had been
knocked down.

"Do so--and I'll have the law on you," retorted Chet. "You can't slander
me for nothing,--and you can't try to rob Andy, either."

The last shot told, and Josiah Graham backed still further away.

"We'll settle this some other time!" he muttered, and then turning, he
disappeared into the crowd and hurried away much faster than was his
usual speed.

Not to be questioned by those who had gathered, Andy and Chet pushed
through the crowd in the opposite direction. Soon they were a couple of
blocks from where the encounter had taken place, and then they slackened
their pace.

"The miserable hound!" muttered Chet. He was still completely upset.

"Don't take it so hard, Chet," answered Andy, soothingly. "It's just
Uncle Si's mean way, that's all."

"I suppose he tells everybody what he thinks I am!"

"Oh, I don't think that. He was riled up, and wanted to say something
extra mean. And it was mean--as mean as dirt!" added Andy.

He continued to talk soothingly to his chum, and presently Chet cooled
down somewhat. But he still said he wished he had stayed and given
Josiah Graham the thrashing of his life.

"He thinks I have the lost papers," said Andy, later on.

"And I'd let him continue to think so," answered his chum. "If you say
they are lost, your uncle may tell that fellow, Hopton, and the real
estate man may fix it up to do you out of that claim anyway. I'd keep
them in complete ignorance of the truth."

Andy thought this a good idea, and resolved to follow the suggestion. He
wondered if his uncle would make another move against him. He was soon
to learn how really mean Josiah Graham could be.

For the two boys, waiting for the steamer to sail on her momentous
voyage, the days passed slowly. After their outfits had been purchased
and stowed away aboard the _Ice King_, there was little for them to do.
They read some books on polar exploration, and spent hours in poring
over the maps of the Arctic regions which Barwell Dawson and the
professor possessed. They traced out the routes of Kane, De Long,
Greely, Peary, and others, and wondered what route Mr. Dawson would
pursue.

"He is going up the west coast of Greenland anyway," said Chet. "And
that suits me, for that is where the _Betsey Andrews_ was last heard
of." No matter what was going on, thoughts of his missing parent
continually drifted across his mind. Would he ever see his father again,
and would his parent be able to clear himself of the accusations brought
against him?

"Do you suppose there are any other exploring expeditions north just
now?" asked Andy of Professor Jeffer, at the breakfast table one
morning. All were now stopping at a hotel in Rathley.

"But very few, I believe. I understand Robert Peary is about to try it
again this coming summer, just as we are going to do, and Mr. Dawson
tells me that a noted hunter and explorer from Brooklyn, Dr. Frederick
A. Cook, is now somewhere up north. This Dr. Cook went up north to hunt
walrus and polar bears, but he is quite an explorer, and he may take it
into his head to strike out for the Pole, especially as he had for his
captain Robert Bartlett, who commanded Peary's ship, the _Roosevelt_,
during Peary's wonderful trip in 1905 and 1906."

"Do you think we'll meet any of those other parties up there!" asked
Chet.

"It is possible, but not probable, for the country is so large. But we
shall probably hear of Dr. Cook's party through the Esquimaux as soon as
we arrive. Those men of the frozen north make good messengers, and news
travels for hundreds of miles in an incredible space of time,
considering the ice and snow."

What Professor Jeffer had to say about Dr. Frederick A. Cook was true,
and as the name of this famous hunter and explorer was soon to be on
everybody's tongue, it will be well to give more details concerning him
and his party.

Dr. Cook was born in Hortonville, New York State. He was of German
descent, and his family originally spelt the name Koch. His father was a
physician, and so was his grandfather, so it was but natural that the
lad should take up the study of medicine.

In his younger life he had to work hard. The family moved to Port
Jervis, N. Y., and there Frederick entered High School. Then the family
moved again, this time to the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn, N. Y.
While studying, the boy did his best to earn some money, working with a
produce dealer in Fulton Market, and also as a printer. Then he
purchased a milk route, and having gotten ahead a little financially,
entered a Medical School, from which, in due course of time, he received
his diploma. While in college he was married, but his wife died shortly
after the wedding.

The young doctor was looking around for an opening, when he heard that
Commander Peary was fitting out an expedition for polar exploration.
This was the first Peary expedition, and a competition was opened for
the position of surgeon with the party. Dr. Cook won in the contest, and
thus took his first trip to the far north, in the ship, _Kite_, in 1891.
The north-western coast of Greenland was explored, the party reaching a
north latitude of 82°, and Dr. Cook received a splendid training for
future work in that territory.

Returning home, he married again, and for a short time settled down to
the practice of a physician. But the wish for hunting and for
exploration was in his heart, and in 1893 he went north again, and took
a third trip the year following. Then came a voyage on an ill-fated
ship, the _Miranda_, and the explorer came close to going to the bottom
of the ocean. The ship collided with an iceberg off the coast of
Labrador, and also hit some reefs off the coast of south Greenland. A
transfer was made to another vessel, and the _Miranda_ was left at sea,
a hopeless derelict.

In 1897 Dr. Cook joined the _Belgica_ Arctic Expedition, as surgeon and
anthropologist, and spent nearly two years in that service. Then he went
north in another ship, the _Erie_, carrying supplies for the Peary
party, then again in the polar regions.

After that a trip was made to Alaska, and the intrepid explorer tried
the ascent of Mount McKinley, said to be 20,300 feet high--the tallest
mountain in America. At first he failed, but another year he came back
and made the grand ascent, a truly great achievement. He wrote a book on
the subject, and also another volume relating his experiences while a
surgeon and explorer in the frozen north.

Dr. Cook had a great friend in Mr. John R. Bradley, a man of means, who
was a well-known traveler and hunter. The two talked the matter over,
and decided to fit out a vessel and make a trip as far north as
possible. In the main, the project was kept secret, and neither boasted
of what they were about to attempt to do. At Gloucester, Mass., they
found a ship that suited their purpose, and she was thoroughly
overhauled and renamed the _John R. Bradley_. Suitable provisions for a
long trip were taken on board, and the vessel left Gloucester harbor
July 3, 1907. It did not look at all like a "North Pole" expedition, and
its departure excited very little comment. It was thought that Mr.
Bradley and Dr. Cook had merely gone off on a hunting trip after bears
and walrus.

It took until the end of August for the _Bradley_ to reach the upper end
of Smith Sound, in Baffin Bay. Here was located the port of Etah, and
not many miles away another port called Annootok. All of the provisions
and other supplies were landed at the latter port, and then the vessel
sailed back to the United States, leaving Dr. Cook and his party to hunt
and explore to their hearts' content. The vessel's return created some
surprise, and then the word gradually spread that it was possible Dr.
Cook would try to reach the North Pole. Mr. Bradley was at once besieged
with questions, but gave no definite information.

At Annootok Dr. Cook found many Esquimaux assembled, all ready for a
great bear hunt. As he could speak their language, he talked to them,
and engaged a number of them, with their dogs and sledges, to serve him.

Work was at once begun to make Annootok a regular base of supplies. A
small house was erected, and also a storehouse and a workshop. All the
provisions brought along were packed away, and the explorer obtained
from the native hunters large quantities of polar bear meat and other
game.

And so he set off on his memorable trip northward, and what this brought
forth we shall learn later.



CHAPTER XVI

A TRICK, AND WHAT FOLLOWED


"Day after tomorrow we shall set off on our trip to the frozen north."

It was Barwell Dawson who made the announcement to the boys and
Professor Jeffer, after a long consultation with Captain Williamson.

"Good!" shouted Andy, swinging his cap in the air.

"Suits me," added Chet. "I've been on pins and needles to go for a month
and more."

"You mustn't be impatient," replied Mr. Dawson, with a smile. "Even as
it is, we'll be getting away nearly a month before I originally planned
to go. But I am ready, and so is Captain Williamson, so there is no use
in delaying."

"What about Mr. Wilson?" asked Andy, referring to a man who had signed
for the trip.

"He is sick, and cannot go. But Dr. Slade will be on hand, and likewise
Mr. Camdal. They sent me a telegram last night."

"I suppose all the crew are here?" questioned Professor Jeffer.

"To a man--and all as anxious as we are to start."

"Do they know we are going to try for the Pole?"

"Not exactly, but I've told them--and so has the captain--that we intended
to stay in the polar regions for at least two years."

Winter had passed, and now it was the middle of Spring. The weather was
warm and pleasant, just the sort for a cruise, as Andy declared.

The boys had had but little to bother them outside of another meeting
Andy had with his Uncle Si, who had followed him to Rathley. Josiah
Graham had tried to "bulldoze" the youth, and had wanted Andy to give
him ten dollars, but the boy had refused, and walked away, leaving his
uncle in a more bitter frame of mind than ever.

"I don't know how he manages to live," Andy told Chet. "He doesn't seem
to work."

"If he isn't willing to work, he ought to starve," answered Chet. He had
no tender feelings for the man who had called him the son of a thief.

"I am sorry he came to Rathley. I don't understand how he found out we
were here."

"Oh, he'd take more trouble to find you than to hunt up a job," answered
Chet.

On the day previous to that set for the _Ice King_ to sail, Chet was
walking down one of the docks, when he saw two men in earnest
conversation. One man was pointing his long forefinger toward the vessel
that was bound north, and drawing closer, Chet recognized Josiah Graham.

"Now what can he be up to?" the youth asked himself. "He seems to be
quite excited."

The men were standing near a high board fence that separated one dock
from another. Chet ran back through a warehouse, and scaled the fence,
coming up quickly on the other side. Through a knothole he could see the
two men, and hear all that was being said.

At first he could not catch the drift of the talk, but presently
discovered that the stranger was some sort of officer of the law. The
two were talking about Andy, and at last Josiah Graham said:

"I don't want him to run away from me. It's up to you to stop him, an' I
want for you to do it."

"Are you his guardian?"

"O' course I be--I'm his only livin' relative. He's got property, but
he'll go to the dogs if he ain't looked after. I want him brung ashore
when thet ship sails, an' I understand she's a-goin' to sail to-morrer."

"Well, I'll see what can be done," answered the stranger. "Will you come
to the office and make some sort of a complaint?"

"Have I got to do that?" questioned Josiah Graham, anxiously.

"It would be best."

"All right then, I'll do it. It's fer his own good," answered the
shiftless one. "We'll catch him when he leaves the hotel to go to the
ship." Then the two men walked away towards the center of the town.

"The mean rascal--to try to keep Andy from going on this trip!" murmured
Chet to himself. "I'll soon put a spoke in his wheel!"

He started on a hunt for Andy, who had gone uptown to make a small
purchase. He looked into several stores, and at last located his chum in
a barber shop.

"Last haircut for some time to come," announced Andy. "After this, I
guess I'll let my hair grow--it will be warmer."

"I've got something to tell you," returned Chet. "Hurry up."

"Can't hurry, when I'm getting my hair cut, Chet."

Nevertheless, Andy told the barber not to waste time, and ten minutes
later both boys were on the street. There Chet related what he had
overheard, Andy listening in wonder.

"He certainly is the limit, Chet. Now, what do you suppose I had best
do?"

"I don't know--tell Mr. Dawson, I suppose."

"But I don't want to get him into trouble."

"Do you think it will do that?"

"It might--and he might tell me it would be best for me to stay behind,"
answered Andy, gloomily. "And I'm not going to stay behind!" he cried,
desperately.

"Then I know what you can do!" exclaimed Chet, struck by a sudden idea.

"What?"

"Play a trick on your Uncle Si. But it will cost you a five-dollar
bill."

"That's cheap--if only I can get rid of the old curmudgeon."

"Then come with me, to the writing-room of the hotel."

Andy did as requested, and there Chet unfolded his plan. Andy agreed to
it at once, and without loss of time the following letter was penned:

  "_Dear Uncle Si_: I am sorry I caused you so much trouble. Will you
  come to Pine Run at once? I inclose five dollars for the trip. How
  much money can you get for those papers? Thought I'd like to go on
  that ocean trip, but I suppose sailoring is harder than lumbering,
  isn't it?

                                                      "Your Nephew,
                                                          "_Andy_."

Andy had in his pocket an envelope postmarked Pine Run, and addressed to
himself. With care he erased the name "Andrew" and substituted "Josiah,"
and then he changed the address. He knew where his uncle was stopping, a
cheap lodging house.

"I guess that will set him off the trail," said Chet, with a grin, after
the envelope had been sealed with care. "And we haven't told him any
falsehood, either."

The boys laid their plans with care, and hired a youth employed around
the lodging house to hand the letter to Josiah Graham, but without
stating where it came from. Then Andy and Chet set watch.

In the middle of the afternoon they saw Josiah Graham enter the lodging
house. They waited impatiently, and half an hour later saw him emerge,
carrying his faded grip in his hand. He headed directly for the depot.

"I guess the plan is going to work," whispered Chet. "Let us follow
him."

"He mustn't see me--or it would spoil everything."

They followed on behind the man, and saw him enter a police station. He
came forth five minutes later, looking flushed and humiliated.

"I'll wager he has withdrawn his charge against you," said Chet, and his
surmise was correct.

From the station house Josiah Graham hurried to the depot. It was three
o'clock, and a train for Pine Run was due in fifteen minutes.

"Pine Run ticket," Chet heard him demand, at the window, and it was
handed to him. Then he came out on the platform, and sank down on a
bench, with his grip at his feet.

"You are rid of him, Andy," cried Chet, gayly.

"It was fine of you to think of the trick," responded Andy, gratefully.

"Say, I've got a good mind to have some fun with the old man," went on
Chet.

"Fun? I hope you don't mean to knock him down?"

"No, for he might have me arrested, and that would keep me from going on
the trip. I'll just quiz him a little."

"Better be careful."

"Don't worry--I know what I am doing."

While Andy still kept out of sight, Chet sauntered slowly across the
depot platform, as if looking for somebody. Josiah Graham stared at him
and leaped to his feet.

"Wot you a-doin' here?" demanded the lazy man.

"Oh!" cried Chet, in well-assumed surprise. "Is Andy with you?" he
questioned, anxiously.

"No, he ain't," snapped Josiah Graham.

"Do you know where he has gone?"

"Don't you know?"

"He was at our hotel yesterday, but he isn't there now."

"Mebbe he's on thet ship," sniffed Josiah Graham.

"No, he isn't on that ship, either."

"Wasn't he a-goin' to sail with you?"

"So he said, but----" Chet paused. "Then you really don't know where he
is?"

"If I do, I ain't a-goin' to tell you, Chet Greene."

"Don't be hard on me, Mr. Graham, now I am down on my luck."

"Humph! It's your own fault you ain't got no work. Why didn't you stay
around Pine Run?"

At this question Chet only sighed. He took on a very forlorn look.

"Would you--er--would you----"

"Wot?"

"I hate to ask it, but would you mind lending me the price of a ticket
for Pine Run?" he said, falteringly.

"Me?" shrilled Josiah Graham. "Not much I won't! You go an' earn your
money, young man. Serves you right if you are out o' pocket an' ain't
got a cent."

"Then you won't--er--even give me the price of a--er--a dinner?"

"Not a cent! You don't deserve it. I see how it is," went on Josiah
Graham, craftily. "Thet man who owns the ship has got sick o' you an'
Andy, too, an' don't want nuthin' more to do with yer! Well, I don't
blame him. Now ye can both go back to Pine Run an' go to work."

"How can a fellow get back if he hasn't the price of a ticket?" asked
Chet, in a hopeless fashion, although he could scarcely keep from
laughing.

"Go to work an' earn money, I tell yer! I have to do it, an' you ain't
no better nor I be."

"Have you been working?"

"O' course I've been working."

"Then you won't even give me ten cents for some bread and coffee?"

"No. Go to work--it will do yer good."

"Will you tell me about Andy?"

"Well, if ye want to know so awful bad, Andy has gone back to Pine Run.
He has found out the errors o' his ways, an' has sent fer me to take
care o' him. I don't think he'll be a-runnin' away ag'in very soon."

"Too bad! too bad!" And the mischievous Chet placed a handkerchief to
his eyes.

"It's wot a boy gits when he won't mind his uncle," went on Josiah
Graham, stiffly. "After this I guess he'll toe the mark! It's a pity you
ain't got nobuddy to bring you to your senses."

"Maybe you'd like to take me under your care?" suggested Chet, with a
most woe-begone look on his face.

"No--I got my hands full with Andy. Here is my train, so I can't talk to
yer no longer. Go to work an' earn somethin' to eat, an' the price o' a
railroad ticket." And then Josiah Graham swung himself aboard the train,
which pulled out from the station a moment later.

"Oh, Chet, how could you do it!" roared Andy, when the chums were alone.
"I thought I'd split, listening to the talk!"

"Wouldn't even give a fellow the price of a meal," returned Chet,
coolly. "Well, I rather think he'll be surprised when he gets back to
your cabin and finds everything locked up." And then he, too, laughed
heartily over the trick that had been played on Andy's shiftless
relative.



CHAPTER XVII

AN ENCOUNTER WITH ICEBERGS


"Off at last, Chet!"

"Yes, and your Uncle Si didn't stop you, either!" responded Chet, with a
broad grin.

"If only we could have seen him when he got to the cabin!" exclaimed
Andy. "I'll wager he was mad!"

"Well, boys, it will be a long while before you see the United States
again," remarked Barwell Dawson as he came up. "So use your eyes for all
they are worth."

"Just what we are doing," answered Andy.

The _Ice King_ had cast off her lines quarter of an hour before, and a
steam tug had headed her out of the harbor of Rathley. Now, under the
steam of her own powerful engines, she was heading straight out into the
Atlantic Ocean.

It was an ideal day, and the boys were in the best of spirits, even
though they were leaving their native land for the first time. Chet was
full of the hope that in some manner he would hear something about the
missing whaler and his father.

The _Ice King_ was loaded "to the brim," as Andy expressed it. Below,
every available space was filled with provisions and other necessities,
and coal, and on deck many bags of coal were piled up amidships.

"To get through the ice, the ship must have a good head of steam on,"
said Mr. Dawson. "And to have that, we've got to have coal, or oil."

"How soon do you suppose we'll strike ice?" questioned Chet.

"Oh, any time after we round the coast of Nova Scotia."

At the last moment some extra supplies had come on board, and these were
still awaiting proper distribution. The boys watched land slowly
disappear in the blue haze of distance, and then set to work to assist
in making everything ship-shape.

"It will seem queer to live on a ship, I'm thinking," said Chet.

"I hope we don't get sick," answered his chum.

"Oh, I don't think we shall."

"Don't be too sure."

The boys had already become acquainted with the other members of the
party, Dr. John Slade, a quiet but friendly gentleman, who had once
spent two years in lower Greenland, and Mr. Samuel Camdal, an old
hunter, who had shot with Barwell Dawson in the far West and in Africa.
Mr. Camdal could tell some famous stories,--of hunting, and of narrow
escapes from wild animals,--and the lads felt that he would make good
company during the days when there was not much to do.

It was a real pleasure for the lads to put their stateroom in order.
Although the room was small, it had a homelike air about it that was
pleasing. Neither lad was burdened with excess baggage, so they were not
as crowded as they might otherwise have been.

The course of the _Ice King_ was to be up the coast of Nova Scotia and
Newfoundland, and then into Davis Strait, to Baffin Bay. The boys had
studied the chart thoroughly, for a sea trip was altogether a novelty to
them.

"Shall we stop anywhere along the coast of Greenland?" asked Chet, of
Barwell Dawson.

"Yes, I have arranged to stop at Upernivik, for an extra supply of coal
which a collier from the lower coast is to bring up for us."

"How long do you suppose we'll be at Upernivik?"

"Two or three days at least--perhaps a week."

"And can Andy and I go ashore?"

"Certainly. But it is only a small settlement, and you won't find much
of interest."

"I wanted to make inquiries about the _Betsey Andrews_."

"Oh, I see. Well, I'll help you, Chet. But don't be too sanguine. You
may not hear a word of the whaler."

"I want to do all I can to hear from my father."

"I don't blame you. I'd be that way myself, if my father were missing."

In a few hours the _Ice King_ was out on the broad Atlantic. The long
swells made the steamer roll a good deal, and soon the two boys felt
this in their legs, and then in their stomachs. Each looked at the other
in a woe-begone manner.

"What's the matter?" asked Andy.

"Nothing," returned Chet, manfully striving to overcome a feeling he
could not subdue. "What's the matter with you?"

"Nothing much, only--I--I feel sort of crawly inside."

"You're seasick, Andy!"

"How about yourself?" retorted Andy, and he made a movement toward the
side of the steamer.

"I guess I--I am--with--you!" gasped Chet, and also ran for the rail.

After that, the two chums lost all interest in living for several hours.
They felt as miserable as a person with a dose of seasickness can feel.
They remained on deck for a while, and then sought the seclusion of
their stateroom. Here Dr. Slade came to their assistance.

"Two more down, eh?" said the physician, with a little smile. "Well,
I'll do what I can to fix you up," and he brought forth his medicine
case.

"Wh--who else is sick?" asked Andy. In seasickness, "misery loves
company" every time.

"Mr. Camdal and Ben Haven, the first mate."

"The first mate?" queried Chet, between his groans. "Do sailors get
sick?"

"Some of them do. I know the captain of an ocean liner who has crossed
the Atlantic forty or fifty times. He told me confidentially that he is
sick about every third or fourth voyage. It's just the condition his
stomach happens to be in."

"Then it isn't so--so babyish after all," said Chet, and that gave him a
grain of comfort.

The doctor did what little he could for the two lads, and by noon the
next day they felt quite like themselves. Let me add, that during the
remainder of the voyage they were not seasick again.

Although well weighted by her heavy cargo, and by the extra planking on
her sides, and extra bracings inside, the _Ice King_ made good time on
her trip. It was summer, yet as the vessel turned northward it became
colder daily, and soon the boys were glad enough to take Barwell
Dawson's advice and don heavier underwear. Then, as it grew still
colder, they put on thicker outer garments also.

"I think we'll see some icebergs soon," announced Captain Williamson,
one evening. "I can feel 'em in the air," and he threw back his head to
take in a deep breath. Many old sailors who have been in northern waters
affirm that they can often "smell" icebergs before the bergs can be
seen.

The boys retired as usual that night, and slept soundly until about five
o'clock in the morning, when a tremendous thump on the vessel's side
aroused them and threw Chet sprawling on the floor.

"For goodness' sake! what's that!" gasped the lad, as he scrambled up.

Before Andy could speak there came another tremendous thump, which added
to their alarm. A series of smaller thumps followed. On deck they heard
Captain Williamson giving a series of rapid-fire orders.

"I think I know what's up!" cried Andy, at last, as he donned his
clothing with all possible speed. "We've struck some floating ice."

"That must be it," answered Chet, and he, too, began to dress with
dispatch.

When the youths reached the deck, a cry of astonishment burst from their
lips. It seemed as if during the night the _Ice King_ had entered
another world. On all sides were large and small cakes of floating ice,
and in the distance half a dozen big icebergs loomed up.

"Looks as if we were getting to the North Pole fast," remarked Andy,
grimly.

"Phew! but it's cold!" added Chet, as he buttoned his clothing tightly
about him.

"Well, boys, how do you like this?" sang out Barwell Dawson, as he
noticed them.

"Got into it kind of sudden like, didn't we?" asked Chet.

"I think so, although the captain said last night to expect it."

"Shall we have this all the way up now?" asked Andy.

"Hardly. I think, and so does Captain Williamson, that there is clear
water beyond."

The captain was on deck with his glass, scanning the ocean ahead
anxiously. Several large icebergs appeared to be drifting directly
toward the steamer, and he gave orders that the course be changed
slightly.

"The _Ice King_ won't mind the small ice," said he, "but there is no
sense in trying the big bergs, yet. We'll get all we want of that
later."

"Right you are, sir," responded Barwell Dawson. "Don't take any chances
when they are not necessary."

After watching the ice for a while the boys went below for breakfast. At
the table they sat down with Professor Jeffer and Dr. Slade.

"I am going to try to get some photographs of the icebergs," said the
professor. "I trust we get close enough to them to get some good views."

"They ought to make good pictures," responded the doctor.

All the while the boys were eating, the small cakes of ice thumped
against the sides of the steamer. But this did no damage, although, as
the professor explained, there was danger of some ice getting caught in
the propeller.

"And we can't afford to have that damaged," he added.

When the boys came on deck again, they saw that the _Ice King_ was much
closer to several of the large icebergs. In fact, the steamer appeared
to be picking her way through a veritable field of floating ice.

"It is much thicker than the captain expected," said Barwell Dawson,
gravely.

"Is there any danger?" asked Andy, quickly.

"There is always danger when so much ice is floating about. But we hope
to get through all right."

The lads could readily see that not only Mr. Dawson, but also the
captain, mate, and sailors were much concerned. Captain Williamson still
had his glass in use, and was scanning the sea ahead.

"I think we can make it," he said to Mr. Dawson. "But it is going to be
a tight squeeze."

"Well, we don't want such a tight squeeze that we get our ribs stove
in," answered the explorer.

"Are we going to pass between the icebergs yonder?" asked Chet.

"We'll have to--to reach the clear sea beyond," answered the captain.

The speed of the steamer had been reduced, and the course again changed.
They were pushing away from one of the big bergs that seemed to tower up
into the sky like some giant of the polar regions.

"If that iceberg hit us, it would knock us to flinders," was Chet's
comment, as he viewed the oncoming mass.

On one side of the ship were the icebergs, and on the other the floating
cakes, the latter growing thicker every minute. The _Ice King_ was
turned into the floating cakes, which thumped and bumped loudly on the
bow and sides. Then came an unexpected crashing from the stern.

"What's that?" cried the mate, who was at the wheel, steering under
Captain Williamson's directions.

"Ice in the propeller!" answered a sailor.

As he spoke the engine stopped, and in a twinkling the steamer swung
around until her bow pointed directly toward the big iceberg.

"Look! look!" yelled Andy. "We are going to be hit, sure!"

"If we are, we are doomed!" echoed Chet.

Before anything could be done the big iceberg came drifting on them,
slowly and majestically, a very mountain of crystal-like whiteness. So
terrible was it that it fascinated the boys, who could do nothing but
stare in commingled wonder and horror. An upper mass of the iceberg hung
over the top, as if ready to fall and crush the steamer beneath it.

A moment passed--to the lads it seemed an eternity,--and then the big
iceberg scraped the side. There was a strange grinding and crashing, and
some pieces of ice came showering on the deck. Then the steamer began to
rock, and some of the shrouds became entangled in the mass that overhung
the deck. The _Ice King_ commenced to move backward.

"We are being carried along by the iceberg!" cried Barwell Dawson, and
his words told the truth of the awful situation.



CHAPTER XVIII

SHOOTING WILD GEESE


It was certainly a time of extreme peril, and the boys realized it fully
as well as did the men. The steamer was caught in the grip of the big
iceberg, and the deck was directly beneath an overhanging portion that
might at any time break off and crush the vessel and all on board.

Captain Williamson had run aft to learn what could be done with the
propeller, and he had already told the mate to get the sailors out with
fenders to save the ship as much as possible from chafing on the side of
the berg.

"The loose ice on the other side helps to keep us against the big berg,"
said Barwell Dawson.

"I have tried to get some pictures, but the big iceberg is too close,"
came from Professor Jeffer, who was as cool as if nothing out of the
ordinary had happened.

"Well, we're going to get away from it mighty quick,--if we can,"
answered Mr. Camdal, pointedly. The close quarters did not suit him any
better than it suited Mr. Dawson and the boys.

To clear the propeller a man had to be hoisted over the stern in a
sling. He carried with him a pickpole, and with this dug out the cake
which had become caught in the blades of the propeller.

This work had hardly been accomplished when another grinding sound came
from the big iceberg, and a shower of small ice came down on the
forecastle, knocking out several lights of glass. Andy was struck on the
head and hurled flat.

"Oh, Andy, are you hurt?" cried Chet, in alarm, as he rushed to his
chum's assistance.

"Not much, but that was a pretty good crack," was Andy's reply, as he
felt his head where a lump was rapidly rising.

"You boys had better go below," said Barwell Dawson. "You can't do
anything up here, and you may get a worse dose next time."

But the lads were loath to retire, and so lingered on the deck, but took
good care to keep out of the way of the ice that fell a little later.

Finding that the propeller would now work, Captain Williamson gave
orders for full speed astern. As soon as the engines started there was
more crashing of ice, the small stuff being ground down under the ship,
and the ice of the pinnacle breaking off along the shrouds. Everybody on
deck had to get out of the way, for the deck took on the appearance of
"an ice-house upset," as Chet put it, big chunks of the frozen material
lying in all directions.

"Hurrah! we are leaving the big iceberg behind!" cried Andy, a few
minutes later, and his words proved true.

"I can see clear water ahead!" called out Professor Jeffer, shortly
afterwards, and then he turned, to get the photographs he wanted of the
big iceberg.

The report concerning open water was correct, and, having left the
vicinity of the big iceberg, Captain Williamson had the steamer steered
in something of a big circle. Thus they avoided all but the small ice.
The latter, however, thumped and bumped on the bow and sides as strongly
as ever, and once there came a shock that threw everybody on the deck
headlong.

"I hope that doesn't damage us any," observed Andy, when this new scare
was over.

"It may start some of the seams," answered Barwell Dawson, "although the
vessel was reënforced to withstand just such knocks."

Inside of an hour the _Ice King_ had passed all the big icebergs and a
large portion of the floating cakes. Clear blue water was ahead, for
which all on board were thankful.

"I didn't expect this, so far south," said Captain Williamson, after
making a tour of the ship, and having had the deck cleaned up. "It is
unusual."

"I know it," answered Barwell Dawson. "I am thankful we didn't run into
the big iceberg at night."

"Yes, darkness would have made the situation much worse."

"Have we started any of the ship's seams?" asked Dr. Slade.

"Not as far as I have been able to discover."

The boys went to the forecastle to see what damage had been done there,
and found the ship's carpenter putting in some new lights of glass. One
sailor had received a black eye from a chunk of falling ice, but
otherwise little bodily harm had resulted.

"Well, I call that a narrow escape," said Andy, after the excitement was
over.

"So do I," responded Chet. "I don't want another such experience."

"You will have to go through harder things than that up north," said
Barwell Dawson, who overheard the talk.

"We'll be prepared then," answered Andy. "This wasn't expected."

"I am afraid you boys don't realize what you are up against," went on
the hunter and explorer. "We are going to face many perils in the polar
regions. If you feel you don't want to go further, you can leave us when
we get to Upernivik."

"No! no! we want to see this thing through, perils or no perils," cried
Andy, hastily.

"Indeed we do!" added Chet. "I guess you'll find we can stand as much as
anybody after we get used to it."

Late that afternoon the steamer came in sight of a large flock of wild
geese. Professor Jeffer calculated that there must be thousands of them,
and ran for his camera, to take some snap-shots.

"Can't we do a little shooting?" asked Chet, of Mr. Dawson. "They are
heading this way."

Permission was granted, and both boys rushed below for shotguns. When
they came up, the geese were flying almost directly over the _Ice King_,
uttering their strange cries as they did so.

It did not take Andy and Chet long to get into action, and both shotguns
spoke up at almost the same time. Each youth fired twice in rapid
succession. The geese were so thick they could not help but strike some
of them, and three came fluttering down on the deck of the vessel.

"Not a bad haul," was Barwell Dawson's comment. "Now you can have roast
goose stuffed with onions for tomorrow's dinner."

"And we'll invite all hands to join us," answered Chet, gaily. "I guess
there will be enough to go around."

"I don't know about this shooting birds from the ship," said Captain
Williamson, in a low voice. "Some of the sailors don't believe in that
sort of thing. They think it brings bad luck."

"What do you think?" asked Chet.

"Oh, I am not superstitious," responded the commander.

The master of the vessel was right--some of his hands were very
superstitious--and these deplored the killing of the geese, and refused
to touch any of the meat when it was cooked.

"We'll have trouble, see if we don't," said one sailor.

"Maybe it will sink us," said another, with a serious shake of his head.
Then they muttered among themselves, and cast ugly glances at Andy and
Chet.

"Too bad," whispered Chet to his chum. "If I had known the sailors would
take it so seriously, I'd not have shot those geese."

"Oh, the affair will soon blow over," was Andy's answer. But his surmise
did not prove correct.

In the morning the boys heard that the _Ice King_ had sprung several
leaks. The captain had had the well-hole sounded, and had ordered the
pumps started.

"The icebergs and the floating cakes did it," said Barwell Dawson. "I
was hopeful we would escape, but it seems not."

"What are you going to do?" asked Andy.

"I don't know yet--we'll see how bad the leaks are."

The ship's carpenter was below, examining the seams, and now Captain
Williamson and Barwell Dawson joined him. A thorough examination was
effected, and when the party came on deck again they were talking
earnestly.

"It's pretty bad, I guess," said Andy to Chet.

A consultation took place in the cabin, between the captain and the
explorer, and at the conclusion the course of the vessel was changed.

"Instead of heading for Upernivik we are going to put in at Holstenborg
for repairs," explained Barwell Dawson to Professor Jeffer and the
others. "I am sorry for the delay, but it cannot be helped. The ice must
have hit us harder than we thought."

"Well, the delay won't worry me," answered the scientist, calmly. "It
will give me a chance to see something of another part of Greenland."

"Where is Holstenborg?" questioned Chet.

"It is on the western coast of Greenland, about four hundred and fifty
miles below Upernivik. It is not much of a place, but Captain Williamson
thinks it would be unwise to attempt to reach Upernivik in our present
condition."

"Well, I don't care if we do land further down the coast," said Chet,
thinking that here would be another chance to make inquiries concerning
the lost whaler.

It soon became whispered around that the _Ice King_ was leaking badly.
Some of the hands took the matter calmly, but others were excited.

"It's because those geese were shot," cried one sailor. "It was wrong to
do it, and I said so."

"Those boys ought to be heaved overboard," said another.

"Right you are," answered the tar who had first found fault.

Some of this talk presently reached the ears of Ben Haven, the mate, and
watching his chance, he came up to where Chet and Andy were standing
amidships.

"I want to tell you lads something," said he in a low voice.

"What is it?" asked Chet.

"If I were you boys, I'd not walk forward for the present," went on Ben
Haven. "Some of the sailors are down on you for killing those geese.
Better keep out of their way until we reach port--which will be tomorrow
morning."

"Why, do you think they'd try to--to harm us?" asked Chet.

"They might--if matters get worse with the ship. Some sailors are awfully
headstrong when they get frightened."

Chet and Andy promised to heed the warning, although both were inclined
to laugh at it. They kept away from the forecastle, and it was not until
after supper that one of the sailors came near them. It was then
reported that the steamer was leaking worse than before, and the pumps
were kept going constantly.

"You boys are responsible for this," said the sailor. He was a tall,
thin individual, who rejoiced in the name of Pep Loggermore.

"What do you mean?" demanded Chet, stiffly.

"You know well enough what I mean," growled the tar. "If we go to the
bottom, there won't be nobody to blame but you!"

"That's nonsense," broke in Andy. "The ice started the ship's seams--we
had nothing to do with it."

"You shot them geese, and----"

"Oh, that's foolishness!" cried Chet. "We don't want to hear it. A man
with sense ought to know better than to talk that way."

"I know what I am talking about," grumbled Pep Loggermore.

"You go on about your business," said Andy, sharply.

Loggermore was about to argue some more, when Captain Williamson put in
an appearance. He slouched off, but when out of sight, turned and shook
his fist at the youths.

"I ain't going to sail with no such fellers as you," he muttered to
himself. "And I don't think the other men will want to sail with you,
either. If we ever get ashore alive, we'll see to it that you two fools
don't come aboard again!"

"What did that fellow want of you?" demanded the captain, of the chums.

"Oh, it wasn't much," answered Andy, evasively. He did not want to get
Loggermore into trouble.

"Did he threaten you?"

"He didn't like it, because we shot the geese," said Chet.

"What tomfoolery!" muttered the captain. "Well, if he bothers you again,
let me know, and I'll teach him to mind his own business."

"What about the leaks, Captain?" asked Andy, to change the subject.

"They are pretty bad, but I hope to reach port without serious trouble,"
was the reply.

But the look on the face of the commander of the _Ice King_ showed that
he was greatly worried.



CHAPTER XIX

GREENLAND AND THE ESQUIMAUX


There was a good deal of ice near the coast, yet, by setting a constant
watch in the crow's nest of the steamer, Captain Williamson was able to
steer a fairly straight course for Holstenborg.

"It is only a small Danish settlement," said Barwell Dawson, in reply to
a question from Chet. "Ordinarily, on account of the marine laws made by
Denmark, we might have trouble in landing, but being in need of repairs,
I fancy there will be no difficulty."

A little later land was discovered, and presently the coast loomed up,
dark and rocky, with the mountain tops covered with snow and ice. Then,
through the glasses, they made out a few buildings, of stone and wood,
clustered together near a natural harbor.

"Not much of a town, that's sure," was Andy's comment.

Signals were set, and as the steamer came to anchor, a small boat came
out from shore. It contained one of the government officials, a
round-faced, pleasant-looking Dane, with yellowish hair and mild blue
eyes.

It was with some difficulty that matters were explained, and then
arrangements were made to have the _Ice King_ towed to a spot where the
necessary repairs could be made. Work on the vessel began the next day,
and while this was going on the boys received permission to go ashore.

They found but little to see. There was a mine back of the settlement,
where ore was being blasted out, and they watched several blasts go off.
Then they walked to where a fishing vessel had just come in with, a
large quantity of seals, and some fish which were called cod, but which
they found to be of a different variety from those caught off the New
England coast.

"Those seals ought to be valuable," said Andy. "Think of the price of a
sealskin coat!"

"Not this kind of seal," answered Professor Jeffer, who chanced to be
near at the time. "The seals from which we get sealskin coats such as
you refer to come from the coast of Labrador and from Alaskan waters.
These seals, as you will find by close examination, do not have a skin
of fur, but one of hair, like a horse. But the Esquimaux use them for
garment-making. An Esquimau woman will make herself a very fine dress
out of these sealskins."

The boys watched the fish and seals taken ashore, and then caught sight
of a man in the crowd who looked as if he might be American or English.

"I'd like to talk to that man," said Chet, and watching his chance, he
called to the individual. The fellow called back, and when his work was
ended, walked over to the boys.

"My name is Rooney, Jack Rooney," he said after the youths had
introduced themselves. "I'm from New Brunswick, although I once lived in
Maine. Glad to know you." And he shook hands.

"Have you been along the coast of Greenland long?" asked Chet.

"About fifteen years, off and on."

"Then you must know something about the whalers that come up here."

"Yes, I've been aboard plenty of 'em,--one time and another."

"Did you ever see the _Betsey Andrews_?"

Jack Rooney stood for a moment in deep thought, and then scratched his
grizzled chin.

"How long ago is it she was in these parts?"

"Oh, two years ago at least."

"Who was her captain, do you know?"

"Captain Jacob Spark."

"Spark? Oh, yes, I remember him! A one-armed man, an old war veteran."

"Yes, I was told he had but one arm." Chet's heart began to beat a
little faster. "Then you remember him and his ship?"

"Oh, yes."

"My father was on board the _Betsey Andrews_. He shipped the last time
she left New Bedford."

"I see."

"She never came back, and I can't find out what became of her,"
continued Chet.

"What! was she lost at sea? But hold on, I remember hearing something
about that." Jack Rooney scratched his head. "Let's see, who was it told
me? Oh, I remember now, Tom Fetjen. He told me something about her
getting fast in the ice, but I don't remember the particulars."

"Who is Tom Fetjen?"

"Oh, he's a fellow who travels up and down the Greenland coast,
bartering with the Esquimaux--in a small way, you know."

"You don't remember what he said about the _Betsey Andrews_?"

"None of the particulars, no. But Fetjen could tell you, I am sure. He
knew this one-armed Spark quite well. Often told stories about the
captain."

"Where is Tom Fetjen now?"

"I don't know, but maybe I can find out," answered Jack Rooney.

The fisherman became interested in the boys, and had Chet tell more
about his missing parent. Then he went in search of some men who had
business dealings with Tom Fetjen, and talked to them in Danish.

"They say Tom Fetjen went up the coast to Upernivik," said Rooney, after
the interview. "If your ship is bound for that port, you'll probably
find him there. He owns a boat called the _Northland_, a little
two-master."

This was all the information Chet could obtain in Holstenborg concerning
the missing whaler.

"Well, that's something," said Andy. "You can talk to this Tom Fetjen
when we reach Upernivik."

"If he doesn't leave there before we arrive."

"Rooney said he was apt to stay there quite a while, Chet."

"I know he did. Well, I suppose I can only wait and see." And Chet
heaved a deep sigh.

While Andy and Chet were ashore interviewing Jack Rooney and others who
could speak English, Captain Williamson was waited on by three of his
hands. The delegation was headed by Pep Loggermore.

"What do you want?" demanded the master of the _Ice King_, briefly. He
could readily see that trouble was brewing.

"We came to speak about them boys," replied Loggermore, doggedly. "We
been talkin' amongst ourselves, and we don't want to take no more
chances."

"What boys?" asked the captain, although he knew perfectly well who were
meant.

"The boys that shot them geese and brought us bad luck."

"See here, Loggermore, this is all nonsense."

"Excuse me, Cap'n, but it ain't nonsense at all. We talked it over, and
we are sure it was the killin' of them geese----"

"You talk like a fool," interrupted the master of the steamer. "Those
boys are no more responsible for our ill luck than you or I. The ice
knocked us a bit too hard, that's all."

"We want them boys kept ashore!" cried Pep Loggermore. "Ain't that so,
mates?" he added, turning to his companions, and they nodded.

"What! Are you going to try to dictate to me?" roared Captain
Williamson.

"We ain't asking anything but what's right. We----"

"Not another word, Loggermore. Go for'ard, all of you, and don't let me
hear another word of this nonsense," said the captain, sharply.

"But, Cap'n----"

"Not another word, I told you, unless you want the cat!" answered
Captain Williamson.

He drew himself up, and his eyes flashed dangerously, and the men
silently left him and resumed their work in the forward part of the
ship.

"Sailors are queer fellows," was Dr. Blade's comment. "Once they get an
idea in their heads, you can't drive it out."

"I'll drive it out, don't fear!" answered the captain.

"It is too bad that the boys have made such enemies," went on the ship's
physician. "I am afraid it will spoil a good deal of their pleasure."

When the chums came back to the steamer that evening, they noticed that
two of the sailors looked at them darkly. Yet nothing was said to them
of what had occurred, the sailors being afraid to speak, and the others
not wishing to make the boys uneasy.

But among the sailors there was quite a talk over Andy and Chet.

"We'll make 'em stay ashore if we can," said Loggermore. "Just wait
until we are ready to sail. I am not going to trust myself with fellows
like that to bring me bad luck."

The repairs to the _Ice King_ took the best part of a week to make, but
at the end of that time the ship's carpenter pronounced the craft as
seaworthy as ever.

"She may stay up here for a year now, and never start those seams
again," he said.

"Let us hope so," answered Barwell Dawson. "A leaky ship isn't at all to
my liking."

Pep Loggermore and a crony watched for a chance to catch Andy and Chet
ashore. What the sailors might have done, there is no telling, but
certainly they would have done all in their power to prevent the boys
from returning to the _Ice King_. But the lads kept on the vessel, there
being nothing more to visit on land.

"We might heave 'em overboard some night," suggested Loggermore, but the
other sailor would not listen to this proposal. He was willing to have
the youths left behind, but that was as far as he cared to go.

"Never mind, we can watch them at Upernivik," said the tar. "There will
be a better chance to leave them behind there than there was here." And
with this proposal the affair rested, although Loggermore declared that
if there was any more killing of birds from the ship he would heave the
boys overboard sure. This may seem a terrible threat to some of my
readers, but they must remember that some sailors, especially ignorant
ones, are extremely superstitious, and they deem the killing of a bird
at sea the worst kind of a bad omen.

The run up the Greenland coast was made without unusual incident. They
passed a number of icebergs, but always at a distance, and the small ice
did not bother them seriously. The weather moderated a little, so that
life on deck proved delightful. The boys saw more wild geese, some
ducks, and also some northern petrel, but, warned by Captain Williamson,
did no more shooting.

"Upernivik is about the last settlement north of any importance," said
Professor Jeffer to the boys. "It can be called the most northern town
in the world. It is a trading station for the Esquimaux, and also has a
mine, from which large quantities of cryolite are obtained."

"And what is cryolite?" asked Chet, curiously.

The professor smiled faintly. "It is a substance, found only in
Greenland, from which washing soda is made, and also some kinds of
baking powder. The metal, aluminum, is obtained from it, and it is also
used in the making of certain kinds of glass. Greenland has a very large
stratum or deposit of cryolite, and it is a source of considerable
revenue to the mine owners, and also to the Danish government, the
latter putting a heavy export tax on it."

It was nightfall when the steamer dropped anchor in the harbor of
Upernivik. From the deck of the vessel Barwell Dawson, who had visited
the settlement before, pointed out the governor's house, the Moravian
church, and other buildings.

"There are quite a number of Esquimaux here, full-blooded and
half-breeds," said he. "Most of them live in the stone huts along the
mountain side."

"What do you mean by half-breeds?" questioned Andy.

"The half-breeds are the families of the Danish men who have married
Esquimaux women," replied the explorer. "Some of the half-breeds are
very intelligent, and they are also much cleaner than the full-blooded
Esquimaux."

"Are the Esquimaux very dirty?" asked Chet.

"They are the dirtiest people on earth," was the emphatic answer. "And
why shouldn't they be? They never wash, and the only thing they rub on
their bodies is whale or seal oil, to keep out the cold and to help
limber them up."

"Gracious! I shouldn't want to live in the same house with them!" cried
Andy.

"You couldn't live with them, that is, not for any great length of time.
The smell would make you sick."



CHAPTER XX

FAST IN THE ICE


"Well, there is one piece of luck," said Barwell Dawson, the next
morning. "Our collier is here, so we can take on coal at once, and get
away from here inside of three or four days."

"Yes, we want to take advantage of the weather while it lasts," answered
the captain of the _Ice King_. And the task of transferring the coal
began an hour later.

Andy and Chet asked for permission to go ashore, and, after word had
been sent to the governor of the place, they entered a steam launch in
company with Barwell Dawson and Professor Jeffer. The explorer knew what
was on Chet's mind, and aided him to find out if the _Northland_ was at
Upernivik.

"She is here," said Barwell Dawson, after making inquiries. "I will have
you taken to her."

Chet found Tom Fetjen, a Danish-American, tall and powerful, with a
shrewd but kindly face. He listened to the boy's story with interest,
and then shrugged his big shoulders.

"I no can tell you mooch 'bout dat whaler, _Betsey Andrews_," he said,
slowly. "I not know for truf what happen to him. But I hear som't'ing
las' year. Two Esquimaux men come to me an' da say dat de whaleboat he
got stuck by de ice far up dare." And Tom Fetjen waved his hand
northward.

"Stuck in the ice?" queried Chet.

"Dat is what de Esquimaux men say. Da climb up de ice mountain an' see
him ship stuck fast, but go--what you say him?--float, yes, float up dat
way," and again the trader pointed northward.

"Do you mean that the _Betsey Andrews_ got stuck in some floating ice,
and was carried northward?" asked Chet.

"Yes, dat is eet. Nobody hear more of de whaleboat."

"Where did you hear this?"

"Hear him at Etah, las' summer."

"How did the Esquimaux know it was the _Betsey Andrews_?" asked Andy.

"One Esquimau big chief, got glass to look. He see de cap'n who got de
one arm. He try to git to ship, but tumble in water--'most drown heem.
Den snowstorm come big an' can't see de ship no more."

This was all the trader could tell. He was of the opinion, however, that
the whaler had been finally crushed in the ice, and all those aboard had
been lost.

But Chet would not believe this. He shut his teeth hard and looked at
his chum.

"I've got to have positive proof before I give up," he said, in a voice
that choked with sudden emotion.

Although the boys were not aware of it, Pep Loggermore and his crony did
their best to follow them around Upernivik, hoping to place them in some
position whereby it would be impossible to regain the ship. But, by mere
chance, the boys kept out of the sailors' way, and when the coaling was
at an end, and the _Ice King_ sailed, they were on the ship.

"Let us try it again at Etah," said Loggermore to his crony.

"As you please, Pep," answered the other. His hatred of the lads who had
killed the geese had somewhat subsided. But Loggermore was as much
against Andy and Chet as ever. He had it firmly fixed in his mind that
if they were taken along, dire disaster would surely overtake the
expedition.

The course of the _Ice King_ was now up Baffin Bay and past Cape York to
the entrance to Smith Sound. Although it was midsummer, the weather
seemed to grow colder hourly, and it was not long before the boys were
glad enough to don additional clothing.

"As soon as we get to Etah you will get your first taste of polar
exploration," said Barwell Dawson. "We'll go out on a hunt."

"Is it much of a settlement?" asked Chet.

"Hardly any settlement at all. In the summer the Esquimaux have their
skin tents pitched there, and in the winter they put up a few _igloos_,
that is, ice huts, and that's all."

That night came another scare. They almost ran into a tremendous iceberg
that towered like a giant in the water. But the lookout saw the monster
just in time--it was rather foggy, or he would have seen it sooner--and
they sheered to windward.

"What a high iceberg!" exclaimed Chet, when the danger was past.

"Yes, and to think that it is much deeper in the water than out of it,"
added Andy.

They reached the inlet leading to Etah in a fog, and that afternoon
experienced a snowstorm that lasted for over two hours. Then the weather
cleared, and they made out a number of tents lining the coast. Here and
there they saw some Esquimaux in their strange little boats, fishing.
The natives set up a shout when the _Ice King_ came to anchor, and some
lost no time in coming on board. They were strange-looking creatures,
short of form and round of face, with straight black hair and mouths
unusually large. But they were good-natured, and smiled and laughed as
they talked to Barwell Dawson, Professor Jeffer, and Captain Williamson,
all of whom could speak a little of the Esquimaux tongue.

The boys were allowed to go on a hunt the next day. Led by two of the
Esquimaux, the party went off in one of the small boats to a point where
it was said game might be found. They were out for six hours with
Barwell Dawson, and came back loaded down with birds, and with a small
polar bear. Chet and Andy had shot the bear between them, and were proud
of their haul.

"The first polar bear!" cried Andy. "I don't think it will be the last."

Before returning to the ship, the two boys went off on a little
excursion by themselves. Pep Loggermore followed them, and tried to
think of some way of keeping them from returning to the _Ice King_, but
got no opportunity of carrying out his plan to do them harm.

At Etah a large quantity of meat was purchased from the Esquimaux, who
had been awaiting Mr. Dawson's arrival for over a month. They had been
out hunting bears, musk oxen, walrus, seals, and other game for him, and
they had likewise collected for him over a hundred of the best Esquimaux
dogs to be found. With the dogs they brought six sledges, that were
light but strong.

"My, but those Esquimaux do smell!" was Andy's comment when ten of them
came on board and took quarters in the forward part of the ship. "They
smell worse than a fish market!"

The dogs were penned up, and made the air hideous with their barking and
snarling. All the supplies were taken on board, and then the _Ice King_
steamed away from Etah on her voyage into the great Unknown.

"It's good-by now to everything, civilized and uncivilized," said
Barwell Dawson. "From now on we have got to trust to luck as to what
comes."

It was the explorer's plan to push as far as the ice would let him into
Smith's Sound. Then, when the _Ice King_ could sail no further, they
would disembark and prepare for the coming winter--the terrible Long
Night. Now it was summer, and daylight at all hours of the twenty-four.

A good deal of floating ice was encountered within six hours after
leaving Etah, and after that the thumping and grinding on the sides was
kept up night and day. Although the vessel had full steam up, the
engines were run slowly, as too hard a crash might result disastrously.
Occasionally they could make out the shore line, but usually low
icebergs shut the land from sight.

"I don't think we can go much further," remarked Andy, on the third day
out from Etah. "The ice seems to be closing in all around us."

Nevertheless, the next day they struck a wide "lead," and ran through
this for miles. But then the ice became thicker than ever, and Captain
Williamson shook his head gravely.

"Not much further, Mr. Dawson," he said. "I think we had best make for
the shore yonder," and he pointed with his gloved hand.

"As you think best, Captain," was the explorer's reply. "We have now
come about as far as I thought we could go."

The boys watched the working of the vessel until late that night. When
they awoke in the morning, they found that the engines had stopped. They
dressed and ran on deck.

"Well, I never!" cried Andy. "We are high and dry now, and no mistake!"

All around them were immense fields of ice and snow. The _Ice King_ had
slid up on the ice, and the big, transparent blocks held her as if in a
vise. Not far away was an iceberg that looked like a small mountain.

"This is as far as the ship will go," said Professor Jeffer to the lads.
"The rest of our journey will be made by walking, or on the dog
sledges."

It was so cold the boys were glad enough to hurry below and drink some
steaming coffee. While eating, they learned that Barwell Dawson had
already arranged to take the most of the supplies ashore and house them
on a hill not far away. The Esquimaux were getting out the sledges and
dogs to do the carting.

"We'll go off on a hunt soon," said the explorer. "But before we do that
we must get ready for winter, which will ere long be upon us."

Several days of hard labor for all hands followed, as many of the
supplies were taken off the steamer and carted on the sledges to a small
hill, upon which the Americans erected a living hut and a storehouse,
and the Esquimaux put up half a dozen _igloos_ and dog shelters. The
boys were glad to work, for it helped to keep their blood in
circulation.

The Esquimaux had a perfect system regarding their dogs and sledges, and
were under the leadership of a chief named Olalola. Olalola had the
largest sledge and the best dogs, and it was a sight to see him load up
and start his team of half a dozen or more.

Crack! would go the whip, and away the dogs would bound with their load.
Sometimes the boys or the men would ride on the sledge, and Andy and
Chet thought it the best sport they had ever experienced.

A week passed, and during that time they experienced two blinding
snowstorms. But then the weather cleared off as if by magic, and Barwell
Dawson asked the boys if they wanted to go off on a hunt after polar
bears.

"Just the thing!" cried Andy, and Chet said practically the same.

It was decided that the party should be made up of Mr. Dawson, the boys,
Olalola, and several others. The Esquimau was to take along some
provisions on the sledge, for it was thought the party might be out
several days.

"This is something like it!" cried Chet, as they trudged along over the
snow and ice. "I hope we bag about a hundred polar bears!"

"Why not make it two hundred while you are at it?" answered his chum,
dryly.

The first day was a disappointment, as no game of any sort appeared in
sight. But on the following morning Olalola said there were bears ahead,
and they soon came upon unmistakable traces of the game.

They were going toward an icy hill, and rounding this they saw at least
a dozen bears. Telling the Esquimau and the others to remain to the
rear, Barwell Dawson crept up on the bears, taking Andy and Chet with
him.

"Don't fire until I give the command," said the hunter, and both boys
nodded to signify that they understood.

It was a thrilling moment for Andy and Chet, but they were used to
hunting big game, so they did not get nervous. Coming up within gunshot,
Mr. Dawson gave the signal, and all three fired their weapons. One bear
fell dead, and another was badly wounded.

"Hurrah! that's the way to do it!" cried Andy. "Come on, let us bag some
more!"

He ran forward, and Chet and Mr. Dawson followed. The polar bears were
evidently dumfounded, and did not know for the moment what to do. Some
turned to run away, but others arose on their hind legs to do battle.

"Some of 'em are coming for us!" cried Chet, in alarm, and then Mr.
Dawson's rifle spoke up, and another of the big fellows was laid low.
But the other bears leaped for the boys, as if to hug them to death or
eat them up.



CHAPTER XXI

A FIGHT WITH POLAR BEARS


"Look out, he's coming for you!" shouted Barwell Dawson.

Both Chet and Andy heard the words, but paid no attention. Their guns
were raised, and each was aiming at the bear nearest to him. Crack! went
Andy's firearm, and the polar bear was halted by a wound in the forepaw.

Chet was not so fortunate, as his gun failed to go off. The next instant
the polar bear leaped on him and bore him to the ice. As boy and beast
went down, Barwell Dawson opened fire, and the bear was hit in the side,
a wound that made him more savage than ever.

Although Chet was sent sprawling, he did not lose his presence of mind.
As quick as a flash he rolled over, from under the very forepaws of the
polar bear, and continued to roll, down a slight hill to one side.

By this time Andy and Mr. Dawson were firing again, and Olalola, coming
up, used several spears with telling effect. At the increase in
noise,--the Esquimau adding his yells to the cracks of the weapons,--one
after another of the bears turned and commenced to run away.

"Don't go after them!" sang out Barwell Dawson. "They may turn again, if
you do. Shoot them from a distance."

Once more he discharged his gun, and Andy did likewise. Then Chet
scrambled up and used his firearm, the piece this time responding to the
touch on the trigger.

Another of the bears was now killed outright, while the largest of the
group was badly wounded in the hind quarters. This bear dropped behind
the others and, drawing closer, Chet let him have a shot in the ear that
finished him. The other beasts disappeared behind a hummock of ice, and
that was the last seen of them.

"Are you hurt?" asked Andy of his chum, as soon as the excitement was
over, and while all were reloading their weapons and the Esquimau was
securing his spears.

"Got a scratch on the back of the neck," answered Chet. "It's bleeding a
little, but that's all. Say, this is a dandy haul, isn't it?" he
continued, enthusiastically.

"We must be more careful in the future," said Barwell Dawson. "Usually
polar bears are timid and run away, but these chaps must have been very
hungry, and that made them aggressive."

The largest of the polar bears was all of eight feet long, and
correspondingly heavy. To lift him on the sledge was no easy task, and
with the others, the hunters found they had all the game the dogs could
drag over the ice and snow.

"We may as well start for the ship at once," said Barwell Dawson.
"Olalola thinks a snowstorm is coming, and we don't want to get caught
out in it if we can help it."

They returned to where they had encamped for the night, and picked up
the few belongings left there. Then they started direct for the shelters
put up near the ship.

The last half-mile of the journey was covered in a heavy snowstorm, and
all were glad when they caught sight of the _Ice King_. They found
Captain Williamson and Professor Jeffer on the deck, watching for them.

"I was afraid you would be snowbound," said the captain.

He and the professor were astonished at the sight of the polar bears.
The game was taken to one of the storehouses, where some of the natives
were set to work to prepare it for use during the winter now close at
hand.

It had been arranged that the Esquimaux and some of the sailors were to
live on shore, while Barwell Dawson and his party, and the captain and
engineer and two others, remained on the steamer. Thus all had more
"elbow room" than if they had crowded the entire party in one place or
the other. From the hold of the vessel several large lamps were produced
and put into readiness for use.

"The darkness of the winter months is the worst feature of a trip to
these parts," explained Barwell Dawson to the boys. "Of course, I hope
for a great deal of moonlight, but even so the dark days are many, and
lights are absolutely necessary."

"The darkness has a strange effect on some people," said Professor
Jeffer. "I have heard of sailors going mad because of it. But I trust
nothing of the sort happens to any one in our party."

After that, there was a good deal to do for a week around the ship and
up at the hut, and the days passed swiftly. Then, one clear morning, the
explorer called to Andy and Chet.

"Come with me, if you want to get your last look at the sun for some
months," said he.

They left the _Ice King_ and walked to the top of an icy cliff a mile
away. Professor Jeffer was with them, and so were Dr. Slade and Mr.
Camdal.

On the top of the cliff they had to wait nearly an hour before the sun
showed itself. The long beams of light flashed across the ice, and then
gradually grew dimmer and dimmer, and then disappeared altogether.

"Gone!" said Chet, in a low tone. All had been very silent for several
minutes.

"Yes," answered Barwell Dawson. "And you'll not see the sun again until
next February!"

"What a night!" murmured Andy, and somehow his heart seemed to sink
within him.

It was a silent party that returned to the ship. Andy and Chet both
began to wonder how the long spell of darkness was going to affect them.

"It won't be so bad the first few days--or nights," said Andy. "But after
that----" He finished with a grave shake of his head.

"Let us try to occupy our minds with work and by reading," answered
Chet. "I guess it's the only way to keep from going crazy."

The lights were lit after that, and kept burning brightly all through
the long winter--one large lamp on the deck of the _Ice King_, and
another equally large in front of the hut on shore. Smaller lamps were
likewise kept burning constantly indoors.

Hunting continued from week to week, and the boys aided in the shooting
of more polar bears, and also in bringing down several large musk oxen.
The musk oxen, with heads resembling big buffalo bulls, were a source of
great wonder to the lads.

"This is hunting, and no mistake," said Andy. "I wonder what the fellows
in Maine would say to these, if they could see them."

"Beats moose hunting, doesn't it, Andy?"

"Rather. By the way, Chet, I'd like to know how my Uncle Si is making
out."

"He ought to be up here. Phew! wouldn't he complain of the cold! It was
38° below zero this morning!"

"I know it, and Professor Jeffer says it will be colder than that before
long."

They had to guard carefully against the cold, for it would have been an
easy matter to have an ear or one's nose frostbitten. As it was, one of
the sailors had a big toe "nipped" by the frost, and suffered greatly
because of it. The boys found it unwise even to touch anything metallic
with a bare hand, for fear the member would get "burnt" or cling fast.

It was late in November that something happened which disturbed the
party not a little. Late in the day, while Andy and Chet were dozing in
their bunks, they not having anything to do, there came a curious
grinding sound from the sides of the _Ice King_.

"What is that?" asked Andy, as he sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"Bless me if I know," responded Chet. "Let us go on deck and see."

They donned their fur coats and mitts, and ran out on the deck just as
the grinding increased. They found Captain Williamson and Barwell Dawson
engaged in earnest conversation.

"It's the ice pack," explained the explorer. "It is closing in on us."

"Closing in!" cried Andy. "Why, it's as close in now as it can get!"

"Not quite," was the grim reply.

"Why, do you mean----" Andy stopped short.

"Isn't the _Ice King_ strong enough to stand the pressure?" questioned
Chet.

"The steamer is braced to stand a great deal. But this ice has an
enormous power," replied Captain Williamson. "If it comes against us too
strongly, it may crush the ship like an eggshell."

At first the commander could think of nothing to do to relieve the
vessel, but presently it was suggested that the ice be chopped away from
the bow and one side in a slanting direction. All hands, including the
boys, went at the work, with picks, and crowbars, and spades.

It was a fight against nature and the elements, and never did men and
boys work harder. As they labored, the ice of the vast pack continued to
move closer to the ship, causing the _Ice King_ to groan and crack in
every timber.

"If she breaks, jump for your lives!" cried Captain Williamson. He was
more anxious than words can describe, yet he managed to keep cool, and
directed the work as well as he was able.

By night the ice had been chopped away to the depth of a foot and a half
the entire length of the vessel. Then the wind, which had been blowing
strongly from one direction, shifted to another, and the pressure on the
vessel let up a little.

"I think we are safe for the present," said the captain. "All hands can
rest for a few hours. But come in a hurry if I blow the whistle."

Utterly exhausted by their labors, the boys went to their stateroom and
threw themselves down to rest. Both fell asleep instantly, and it seemed
to Andy that he had not slept more than five minutes when Chet shook
him.

"On deck!" cried the former. "The whistle is blowing!"

They had been asleep five hours, and the rest had refreshed them
greatly. They hurried again to the deck, and as they did so they felt
the _Ice King_ tremble from stem to stern.

"I'd rather be outside than in--if she is going to be crushed," said
Andy, in a voice he tried in vain to steady. He well knew what it would
mean to be cast away in the Arctic regions without a ship.

Again everybody was set to work to cut away the ice at the side and the
bow of the _Ice King_. Small holes were drilled, and cartridges exploded
in them to help the work along. In the meantime the crashing of the ice
pack continued, as the wind, having changed to its former course, drove
the great white mass tighter and tighter against the vessel.

"I am afraid the ship is doomed!" cried Professor Jeffer. He was
laboring as well as his years permitted.

"A little deeper!" cried Captain Williamson. "And throw all the coal on
deck overboard!"

The coal added considerable to the weight of the ship, and when this was
deposited on the ice, the vessel's draught was lessened by several
inches. With a straining and cracking she came up, and then the work of
cutting the ice at her side continued.

By noon, the prospect of clearing the _Ice King_ was almost hopeless.
The interior timbers were cracking, and one had snapped in twain. To
prevent a conflagration, the fires were put out, and the lamps also
extinguished.

"Another hour will tell the tale," said Barwell Dawson, almost sadly. "A
little more pressure, and if she doesn't come up she will be smashed as
flat as a pancake!"

Captain Williamson was now trying to raise the vessel by means of steel
cables slipped under the bow and stern. The cable ends on the ice pack
side were fastened down by crowbars set in deep holes, and the other
ends were hauled as near taut as possible by means of temporary
windlasses.

"I believe we'll make it!" cried the captain, presently. "Now then, one
more turn on the cables!"

The windlasses groaned and twisted, and then, of a sudden, one broke
from its fastenings and hit the side of the ship, letting the steel
cable slip down into the water. This allowed the bow to rise and the
stern to go down.

"The ice pack is moving!" yelled one man. "It's coming in for all it is
worth! The _Ice King_ is doomed!"



CHAPTER XXII

THROUGH THE LONG NIGHT


The crashing and cracking sounds which rent the air seemed to justify
the man's cry. It was true the ice pack was being driven in sharply by
the wind, which had greatly increased during the past hour. It pressed
on the side of the ship with telling force, and all those outside heard
several timbers give way inside and collapse.

But just at the crucial moment the work the men had been doing proved
its worth. The ice began to crack and split a little deeper down, and
suddenly the _Ice King_ gave a start upward.

"I think she is coming up!" cried Dr. Slade, and even as he spoke the
steamer rose up higher as part of the ice pack got under the hull. Then
came a swishing sound, some water spurted up into the air, and the
vessel came up still higher, while the ice appeared to close in solidly
under the keel.

"Saved!" roared Captain Williamson, and his face showed his relief.

"Are you sure?" asked Andy, anxiously.

"Yes, my lad. The _Ice King_ is now riding on top of the ice instead of
between it. Any additional move of the ice pack will simply force us
upward."

"She may tip over on her side!" cried Chet.

"We can easily guard against that, Chet. Yes, we are saved, and I am
mighty glad of it."

"And so am I," added Barwell Dawson.

The grinding of the ice pack continued for several days, and the vessel
was squeezed several inches higher. But the pressure on the side was
gone completely, and the ship's carpenter was set to work to repair the
damage done. One of the timbers running across the boys' stateroom had
been snapped in twain, and the lads viewed the wreckage in deep concern.

"If we had been sleeping in here when that happened, we might have been
killed," said Chet, and his chum agreed with him.

During the following three weeks it snowed a great deal. It was,
however, clear on Christmas Day, and the boys went out for a walk in the
vicinity of the vessel. All hands were treated to a dinner of wild duck
and plum pudding, and something of a church service was held by the
captain, assisted by Dr. Slade, who had a good tenor voice, and had once
sung in a church choir.

"Makes a fellow feel just a little bit less like a heathen," remarked
Chet, after the church service had come to an end.

"Indeed, that is true," answered Andy. At Pine Run he had attended the
village chapel whenever he had the chance to do so.

As Professor Jeffer had predicted, it grew steadily colder, and there
were many days between Christmas and the middle of January when the boys
did not care to venture outside. Outdoor work was out of the question,
and all hands busied themselves within as best they could. The men
smoked and played games, and sometimes got up boxing matches. The boys
often took part in the games, and Chet showed his skill as a boxer by
flooring two of the tars hand-running.

Yet with it all the time passed slowly, and both Andy and Chet were
anxious for the Long Night to come to an end. The darkness was beginning
to tell on many of the party, and Pep Loggermore especially began to act
strangely. Once he began to sing hysterically, and the doctor had to
give him some medicine to quiet him.

"He's a strange Dick, that chap," said Captain Williamson. "I am sorry I
had him sign articles with me. He's one of the old-fashioned
superstitious kind that I don't like."

The boys were glad when the full moon shone down on the ship, for then
it was almost as bright as day. The moonshine made the distant cliffs
and peaks of ice look like castles of white, and added a rare beauty to
the scene. Professor Jeffer took several photographs in the
moonlight,--of the ship, the hut and storehouse, and of different members
of the party. To pass the time, some of these films and plates were
developed on the ship, and the boys aided in printing the pictures, many
of which proved very good.

One moonlight night Andy and Chet determined to take a short walk to a
point some distance behind the storehouse, and in the direction of the
_igloos_ of the Esquimaux. So far, they had not seen the inside of any
of the houses of ice, and they were a bit curious to know just how the
natives lived.

They soon met Olalola, who had been on a hunt, and he invited them
inside his temporary home, and one after another they crawled through
the passageway that answered for a vestibule.

Inside, the _igloo_ was about ten feet in diameter, and rounding upward
into a dome a foot or two above their heads. Here lived six of the
Esquimaux. They had some dirty skins on the floor and in the center was
a tiny fire, resting on some flat stones, the smoke escaping through
some small holes in the top of the dome.

The smell was something awful in the place, coming from some seal meat
that was cooking over the fire, and also from the pipes of the
Esquimaux, who were all smoking stuff that the lads later on learned was
a combination of plug tobacco and seal hair--the hair being added to the
tobacco to make the latter last longer.

Olalola could speak a few words of English, and he invited the lads to
have some of the stew that was being made. Just for the novelty each lad
tried a mouthful. But to swallow the nauseating mess was impossible, and
they had to spit it out. At this all of the Esquimaux laughed loudly.
They were not in the least offended because the boys did not like the
food.

"Boy no eat, me eat," said Olalola, and filled his mouth with great
gusto. Then the youths excused themselves and got out as fast as
possible.

"Phew! talk about fresh air!" cried Chet, when he and his chum were in
the open. "Wouldn't you think the Esquimaux would die in that kind of
rot?"

"I don't believe they are very healthy," answered Andy. "Dr. Slade says
they are not."

"They all need a bath, and need it badly," said Chet, in deep disgust.
It was his first and last visit to the _igloos_.

When it was clear the Esquimaux often played games. One was leapfrog,
and another was of the "snap-the-whip" variety. In the latter sport they
would roar loudly when the last man was sent whirling over and over on
the ice.

"You'd think he'd break his head," was Andy's comment, as he saw one
unfortunate land with a crash on a hummock of ice.

"Well, they are rough fellows, and so their sports must be rough,"
answered Professor Jeffer.

Nearly every Esquimau is skillful with the dog-whip, and one of their
pastimes amused the boys very deeply. The men would gather around in a
big circle, and in the center of this a small object, usually of wood,
would be half buried in the snow. Then the men, each with his long
dog-lash, would try to "snap" the object from the ring. Crack! would go
the lash, making a report like a pistol, and the snow would come up in a
little whirl, and sometimes the object would come with it.

"Pretty good shots, some of them," said Andy.

"Wait until we get on the road with the sledges," answered Barwell
Dawson. "Then you'll see some fancy doings with the whips. Some of those
chaps can reach a dog twenty feet away, and take a nip out of his hide
as quick as a wink. That's the way they get the dogs under such perfect
control."

"I wish I could learn how to drive the dogs," said Andy.

"You'll have plenty of chance, when we get on the move again," returned
the explorer.

Two days later, Andy was walking from the storehouse to the ship when,
in the dim light from the lamp near the hut, he saw something unusual
that attracted his attention. A man was crawling along on all-fours,
muttering wildly to himself.

"Whatever can that fellow be up to?" asked the boy of himself. For the
instant he thought he might be mistaken, and that the form was that of
some wild beast.

His curiosity aroused to a high pitch, the lad stopped short, and then
made a detour, coming up on the opposite side of the storehouse. Here he
found the man, still on all-fours, bending over a case of some sort.

"Oh, this darkness! Why don't the sun shine?" the man was muttering to
himself. "I must have light! I will have light!"

"It is Pep Loggermore, and he is as crazy as a loon!" murmured Andy. "I
had better tell the captain of this at once! The sailor may hurt
somebody if I don't!"

Andy turned around, to make a quick run toward the ship, when he heard
the scratching of a match. A tiny flash of flame followed, and in that
little flare of light he saw the crazed sailor bending over what looked
to be a can of oil!

"He is going to set something on fire!" thought Andy. "Maybe the
storehouse! That's his crazy idea of getting light!"

Andy was right, Loggermore was trying to set fire to the storehouse.
Already he was pouring oil from the can over a number of boxes, the ends
of which formed that side of the shelter.

"If I run to the ship, it will take time," reasoned Andy. "By the time I
get back with some of the others it may be too late. What shall I do?"

It was a hard question to answer. He had no desire to tackle the crazy
sailor alone. But even while he stood debating with himself he saw
Loggermore strike another match.

"Stop! Don't light that, Loggermore!"

So shouting, Andy leaped toward the man, who was still crouched down,
mumbling to himself about wanting a light. At the sound of the youth's
voice, the sailor turned, and something like a snarl broke from his
lips.

"Go away! Go away!" he shrieked.

"Loggermore, you mustn't set anything on fire."

"I want light! I must have light! I hate the darkness!" growled the
crazed sailor.

"You'll burn up all our stores. If you do that, we'll starve to death!"
continued Andy, as he drew closer.

"I want light!" went on Loggermore, doggedly. "The darkness hurts my
head--I can't think straight. Stand back and see what a fine light I'll
soon have!" And so speaking, he lit another match, for the other had
fallen in the snow and gone out.

"Help! help!" yelled Andy, at the top of his lungs. He could think of
nothing else to do. "Help! help!"

"Shut up!" cried the crazed sailor. "Shut up!" And now, dropping the
match he had just struck, he leaped at Andy and caught him by the
shoulder and the arm.

The grip of the crazy fellow was like steel, and do his best, the boy
could not break away. Pep Loggermore whirled him around and sent him
crashing up against the boxes of the storehouse. There both stood,
panting heavily, with the sailor's eyes glowing like two balls of fire.

"Le--let me go!" gasped Andy. "Loggermore, you are crazy--you don't know
what you are doing. Don't be so foolish, that's a good fellow----"

"No, no, I'll not let you go! You are a Jonah, Andy Graham! You shot the
geese, you and that other lad, and you've brought us all kinds of
trouble! I'll not let you go!" shrieked Loggermore and then he slammed
Andy against the boxes once more. The feet of both came down on the can
and on the box of matches the sailor had dropped, smashing each down
into the ice and snow.

Then suddenly a light flared up, coming from the broken box of matches.
They spluttered an instant and set fire to the oil, and also to the
clothing of the man and the boy. Loggermore was too crazy to mind this,
but Andy was filled with horror.

"Let go!" yelled the youth, and struggled in vain to release himself.
But he could not break that awful hold, and so he dragged the tar with
him, and both rolled over and over in the snow. Andy tried to kick out
the fire around his legs, and in the meanwhile Loggermore got a grip on
his windpipe as if to strangle him. The boy tried to fight the man off,
but could not, and presently all grew dark around him, and then he knew
no more.



CHAPTER XXIII

"NORTH POLE OR BUST!"


Down in the cabin of the _Ice King_, close to a roaring fire, Captain
Williamson and Barwell Dawson were playing a game of checkers--the
captain's favorite amusement. Chet had been watching with interest, but
had now gone on deck for a few minutes, to get the fresh air and to see
what had become of his chum.

Suddenly through the stillness of the Arctic night Chet heard Andy's cry
for aid. He strained his eyes and saw the flicker of a light, as
Loggermore struck one of the matches.

"Something is wrong," cried Chet to himself, and then tumbled down the
companionway in a hurry.

"What's the matter?" exclaimed Captain Williamson, startled by the
youth's abrupt entrance.

"Something is wrong with Andy--he is calling for help!" answered Chet.

Both the captain and the explorer leaped up, scattering the checkers in
all directions. Each ran for his fur coat and mitts, and each caught up
a gun, and Chet did the same. Then they scrambled up on deck in
double-quick haste, and leaped over the side of the steamer on to the
uneven ice below.

"Where is he?" asked Barwell Dawson.

"Up at the storehouse. He yelled----Look, the place is on fire!"

Both men gazed in the direction, and then Captain Williamson let out a
yell that could be heard throughout the entire ship: "All hands turn out
to fight fire!"

Chet started on a run, with Barwell Dawson at his heels, the captain
remaining behind to rouse the hands to action, for in a twinkling he
realized what it would mean were the stores burned.

When Chet reached his chum, Andy lay flat on his back in the snow,
motionless. Pep Loggermore was dancing before the ever-increasing
flames, shouting gleefully.

"Light at last! I told you I'd have light!" shrieked the crazed sailor.

"Andy, what is it?" asked Chet, and bent over his chum. Then he saw some
sparks on Andy's clothing, and saw that part of his lower garments had
been burnt off. Loggermore had had sense enough to extinguish the blaze
on his own clothing.

Soon half a dozen of the sailors and Esquimaux were on the scene, and
they began to put out the flames by throwing snow and cakes of ice on
the storehouse. In the meantime Chet pulled Andy to a safe distance. As
he did this the latter opened his eyes and started up.

"Le--let go, Loggermore!" he gasped.

"It's all right, Andy."

"Oh, is that you, Chet! Whe--where is Loggermore?"

"Dancing around like a maniac."

"He is crazy. He--he tried to burn me and strangle me!" panted Andy.

"What in the world made him crazy?"

"The darkness. He wanted a light, so he set fire to the storehouse."

By this time Andy felt a little better. But he was very weak, and Chet
had to help him back to the steamer. Here he sat down and told his tale.
Then Chet went out to relate what he had heard to Captain Williamson and
the others.

It took but a few minutes of energetic work to put out the fire. When
the commander of the _Ice King_ saw the battered oil can and box of
matches he was furious.

"The man who did this ought to be strung up on the yardarm!" he
exclaimed.

"Loggermore did it, but he is not accountable," said Chet, and told what
Andy had had to say.

"Where is Loggermore?" asked Dr. Slade. "I'll have to take him in hand."

A hurried search was made for the crazed man, but he had run away. A
party was sent out for him, and he was found nearly a mile from the
ship, dancing on the ice, singing loudly, and tearing his clothing to
shreds. It was with difficulty that he was brought back and placed in
the ship's brig. Then Dr. Slade gave him a sleeping potion and he sank
into a profound slumber. When he came out of his sleep, he said he had
had some bad dreams, but he could not remember anything of the fire or
of his attack on Andy.

"He is not to be trusted," said the ship's physician. "You can give him
his liberty, but I advise that an eye be kept on him."

"We'll keep an eye on him, never fear," answered Captain Williamson,
grimly.

Andy suffered very little from the attack of the frenzied sailor, and in
a day or two he felt as well as ever.

"But I'll never trust Loggermore again," he told Chet. "After this he
must keep his distance."

Day after day passed, and at last the Long Night came to an end. There
was general rejoicing, and when Andy saw the sun once more he threw up
his cap in his delight, and fairly danced a jig.

"It's grand, Chet!" he cried.

"Grand doesn't express it," was Chet's answer. "It's sublime! Andy, I
don't know how you feel, but I don't want to go through another such
spell of darkness."

"Nor I,--not for a hundred thousand dollars! Oh, a fellow doesn't know
how good sunshine is until he can't have it!"

Preparations for the departure northward had been going on steadily, the
Esquimaux getting their dogs and sledges in readiness, and Barwell
Dawson and the others going over the supplies to be taken along. Of the
supplies the greater portion was pemmican, over a thousand pounds being
placed on the sledges. They also had bear meat, peas, beans, bacon, and
a small quantity of coffee and tea, with salt, sugar, and pepper. They
likewise carried a portable alcohol stove with some tins of alcohol,
matches in water-tight boxes, and such cooking utensils as were
absolutely necessary. Professor Jeffer had the scientific instruments,
including a high-grade sextant, thermometer, and barometer, and also a
good film camera with numerous rolls of films. Four shotguns were taken
along, and three rifles, with a large quantity of ammunition. Dr. Slade
carried his medicine case.

As soon as the Long Night was at an end, more Esquimaux put in an
appearance, with their dogs and sledges. One of these was named
Estankawak, and Barwell Dawson learned that he was considered one of the
best dog-drivers in the Arctic region.

"Then we must have Estankawak by all means," said the explorer, and
interviewed the fellow without delay. When he came back from the
interview, his face showed his excitement.

"I have just heard great news!" he cried, to Professor Jeffer and Dr.
Slade.

"What is it?" asked the professor, while the boys listened with
interest.

"According to what this fellow Estankawak says, Dr. Frederick Cook
reached the North Pole last Spring."

"Reached the North Pole!" exclaimed Professor Jeffer and Dr. Slade in a
breath.

"Yes. He got there April 21, 1908, and he is now on his way back to the
United States to break the news."

"Was the Esquimau able to give you any particulars?" questioned the
doctor.

"Some, but not a great many. He says Dr. Cook left Annootok about the
middle of February, taking with him eleven natives with their sledges,
and over a hundred dogs. The party pushed on steadily day after day,
across Ellesmere Land to the Garfield Coast, hunting considerably on the
way. From Nansen Sound Dr. Cook made almost a bee-line for the Pole, a
distance of about eight degrees, or, roughly speaking, five hundred and
fifty miles. On his final dash, he had with him only two Esquimaux, the
others being sent back at various times."

"And where is he now?" questioned Andy.

"He is getting back to civilization as fast as possible, to send word
home. If what Estankawak says is true, Dr. Cook has done a wonderful
thing--something for which explorers have been striving for ages."

"Then we won't be the first at the Pole!" said Chet, ruefully.

"Never mind, Chet, if we get there, we'll be the first boys at the
Pole!" answered Andy, quickly.

"That's so," answered Chet, and looked a little relieved.

"Did you ask the Esquimau if he knew anything about Commander Peary's
trip this year?" questioned Dr. Slade.

"Yes. He tells me that Peary is north of us, at Cape Sheridan, and has
been there since the middle of last September. He, too, is going to make
a dash for the Pole, and may even now be on the way."

"Perhaps we'll meet him!" cried Andy.

"It is not likely with so many miles of snow and ice between us,"
answered Barwell Dawson.

The news concerning Dr. Cook made the explorer more anxious than ever to
be on the way, and one bright Wednesday afternoon it was announced that
the expedition would start northward on the following morning. The party
was to consist of Mr. Dawson, the professor, Dr. Slade, Mr. Camdal, and
the two boys, and eight Esquimaux. The natives were to drive eight of
their best sledges drawn by ninety-six dogs. They were to travel
northward to Grant Land, and then make a straight dash for the Pole.
Captain Williamson and his men were to remain as near them along the
coast as the weather would permit, awaiting their return.

"And I hope with all my heart that you all come back safe and sound,"
said the commander of the _Ice King_.

"Wish you were going along, Captain," said Andy.

"So do I, lad; but my place is by the ship. You'll want the _Ice King_
when you get back."

At last came the moment for leaving. All the sledges were packed, and
the dogs harnessed and ready for action. At the side of the leading team
stood Estankawak, long whip in hand.

"All ready!" shouted Barwell Dawson, after a general handshaking.

"Good luck to you!" cried Captain Williamson. "Be sure and bring that
North Pole back with you!"

"Sure--on our shoulders!" answered Andy, gleefully.

The explorer motioned to the Esquimau. Crack! went Estankawak's long
whip, and off the leading sledge started. The others followed in rapid
succession. There was a cheer from those left behind, and an answering
cheer from those who were leaving.

"It's North Pole or bust!" said Chet, with a curiously dogged look on
his face.

"North Pole or bust!" answered Andy.

"Do not be too sanguine," said Dr. Slade. "Because Dr. Cook has reached
that point does not say that we shall be equally successful."

"Don't you think we'll get there, Doctor?" asked Chet, quickly.

"I hope so, but I am prepared to take what comes. I do not believe that
you boys understand the dangers and difficulties of the trip before us.
We may not reach the Pole, and we may not even get back alive. Arctic
explorations have, in the past, cost many hundreds of lives."

"Don't discourage the lads," broke in Professor Jeffer, briskly. "We
shall succeed--I know it, I feel it. And when we stand on the apex of the
world,--where there is no east, no west, no north, only south--ah, what a
glorious prospect!" And he waved his arms enthusiastically.

"That's the talk!" shouted Andy. "We'll get there somehow, and don't you
forget it!"

"It's North Pole or bust!" repeated Chet, "North Pole or bust!"



CHAPTER XXIV

THE LAST HUNT


It was Barwell Dawson's intention to strike out directly for Cape
Richards, the most northerly point of Grant Land. It may be added that
this locality was only a short distance west of the point from which
Commander Peary made his successful dash for the Pole. Dr. Cook's route
was still further westward, so Mr. Dawson's trail lay almost midway
between those of the world-renowned Pole-seekers.

It was a clear, mild day, and for the first few miles the going was
excellent. Everybody was in the best of humor, and the boys felt like
whistling. Estankawak was in the lead with his sledge, and Olalola
followed him, while the others came behind in a bunch. The dogs trotted
along evenly, and the drivers had little trouble with them.

"This weather is fine," remarked Barwell Dawson. "I only trust it
continues."

"Well, it will continue for a few days, that is certain," answered
Professor Jeffer. "But after that----" He shrugged his shoulders. "We'll
have to take what comes."

For several days the expedition traveled through the heart of Ellesmere
Land, and there found excellent hunting. Polar bears, musk oxen, and
caribou were there in plenty, and the party also laid low many Arctic
hares and foxes, and likewise a few Arctic petrel.

"We must hunt while we have the chance," said Barwell Dawson. "The more
meat we secure now, the greater will be our stock of provisions when we
get to where there is nothing but ice and snow." And all understood
this, and hunted to the best possible advantage.

By the time the north shore of Grant Land was reached it was much
colder, and now they occasionally encountered snowstorms, but
fortunately these were of short duration. Reaching the vicinity of Cape
Richards, they went into a temporary camp, to rest up and repair some of
the sledges which had become broken.

"I am going on another hunt tomorrow--possibly our last," announced
Barwell Dawson. "Do you boys want to go along?"

Both were eager to go, and the start was made directly after breakfast.
They took with them two rifles and a shotgun, and provisions to last for
four meals.

After skirting a small hill of ice, they came upon a narrow lead of
clear blue water and following this, reached a point where the ice had
been driven in a tight pack for miles. Here they saw the traces of a
polar bear, and were soon hot on the trail, which led them along the
lead, and then into the interior.

"I see him!" whispered Andy, after nearly a mile had been covered. "He
is lying down behind yonder hummock!"

Andy was right, but before they could reach his bearship, the animal
scented them and hobbled away.

"He is lame!" cried Chet. "I think we can catch him! Anyway, let us
try."

The others were willing, and away they went over the ice, which soon
became comparatively smooth. Once Chet lost his footing and went flat.
But he soon got up and continued after the others.

Finding he could not escape those who were pursuing him, the polar bear
turned as if to attack them. Both Andy and Barwell Dawson fired at the
beast, and he rolled over in a death convulsion, and was speedily put
out of his misery by Chet with his hunting knife.

"See, his forefoot is gone," said Andy, as they surrounded the game.
"Looks to me as if some other animal had chewed it off."

"If it hadn't been for that, he would have outrun us," answered Mr.
Dawson.

They spent the remainder of the day looking for more game, and toward
nightfall started for camp, dragging the bear after them.

"We'll take him as far as possible, and then send the Esquimaux out for
him with a sledge," said the explorer.

All thought they knew the direction of the camp, but in looking for game
they had become more or less turned around, and now Barwell Dawson
called a halt.

"We may as well camp here for tonight," he said. "We don't want to tire
ourselves out when it isn't necessary."

Some snow was scraped up, and a hut constructed, and they went inside
and had supper. It was a cold meal, but they were hungry, and enjoyed
every mouthful. Then they fixed the snow hut a little better, and lay
down to sleep.

They had been resting for about three hours, when Chet awoke with a
start. A loud barking had awakened him.

"Dogs!" he murmured. "Must be one of the Esquimaux has come for us."

The barking had also awakened the others, and getting up, the three
crawled out of the snow hut.

"They are not dogs, they are foxes!" cried Barwell Dawson.

"Yes, and look at the number!" ejaculated Andy. "Must be fifty at
least!"

"Fifty?" repeated Chet. "All of a hundred, or else I don't know how to
count!"

Chet was right--there were all of a hundred foxes outside, sitting in a
bunch, with their heads thrown back barking lustily. They had followed
the blood-stained trail of the polar bear, and wanted to get at the
game.

"This is very unpleasant," said the explorer, gravely. "I didn't think
we'd meet foxes so far north. They can't get much to eat up here, and
they must be very hungry."

"Do you fancy they will attack us?" questioned Andy.

"I don't know what they will do. They want the bear, that's certain."

"If we only had a good campfire that would keep them at a distance."

"Yes, but there is nothing here with which to build a fire."

"Supposing we give 'em a dose of shot?" suggested Chet.

"You can try it."

Chet had the shotgun, and taking careful aim at the pack of foxes, he
fired. The flash of the firearm was followed by a wild yelp from the
animals, and three leaped up, and then fell on the ice badly wounded.
The others of the pack retreated for a few minutes, then came back to
their former position, barking more loudly than ever.

"They are certainly game," said Mr. Dawson. "Killing off a few of them
don't scare the others."

"What are we to do?" asked Chet, dubiously. He had fancied the foxes
would disappear at the discharge of the shotgun--for that was what foxes
usually did down in Maine.

"We'll do our best to stand them off until it grows lighter," answered
Barwell Dawson.

"Do you think they will run away if we go out after them?"

"Not if they are very hungry. Remember, a hungry animal is always
desperate."

Sleep was now out of the question, and they took turns in watching the
foxes from the entrance to the snow hut. It was too cold to remain
outside long.

"They are coming closer," announced Andy, after two hours had passed.
The foxes had stopped barking some time previously.

The report was true. The beasts were coming up stealthily, moving a foot
or two, and then stopping to reconnoiter.

"I'll give them another shot from the gun," said Chet, and was as good
as his word. This time two of the foxes were killed, and almost
immediately their companions fell upon the carcasses, and began to tear
them apart.

"That shows how hungry they are," declared Barwell Dawson.

"Shall we give up the bear to them?" asked Chet.

"Not yet--but we may have to do so in order to escape them," answered the
explorer, with a doubtful shake of his head.

Another hour went by slowly, and by shouting they managed to make the
foxes keep their distance. But then the animals commenced to come closer
once more, slowly but surely encircling the snow hut.

It was a perilous situation to be in, and the youths realized it fully,
as did Mr. Dawson. At any moment the foxes might make a concerted
attack, and what could three persons do against ninety or more of such
beasts?

But now it was growing lighter, for which those in the hut were
thankful. As the glow of the morning sun shone in the sky, Andy set up a
loud shout and flung a fair-sized cake of ice at the foxes. The ice went
gliding along, and struck one fox in the forelegs, wounding him
severely.

"Hurrah! why didn't we think of that before!" cried Chet.

"A good idea," put in Barwell Dawson. "We'll treat them as if they were
ten-pins!"

Some loose ice was handy, and taking aim at the foxes, they sent piece
after piece bowling over the icy surface on which they stood. The
animals had again gathered in a pack, so they could not be missed. If
one leaped out of the way, the chunk of ice hit the next, and soon there
were howls of pain from several. Then the foxes retreated, and when Chet
fired another shot, they suddenly turned tail, and trotted off, around a
distant hill and out of sight.

"They didn't like the ice and the daylight," said Barwell Dawson. "I
doubt if they come back very soon. They may try it again tonight, but
we'll be in camp by that time."

Again they took up the march for camp, dragging the bear behind them as
before. Going was fairly easy, and dragging the bear over the smooth
surface was not much work, but whether they were heading just right was
a question. Many times Barwell Dawson tried to get his bearings, but
without success.

"I think I'll have to climb yonder hill and take a look around," said
he, when the sun was fairly high. "We ought to be able to locate the
camp from there."

"We'll go along," said Andy, who did not care to be left alone in such a
field of desolation.

"Yes, I would like to take a look around myself--just to see how the
land--or, rather, ice--lies," added his chum.

Leaving the bear where it was, the three started to climb the icy hill
on their left. The snow on the side aided them, and they reached the
summit with little difficulty.

"Phew! here is where one feels the wind!" cried Andy, as he drew his
coat closer.

"Cuts like a knife, doesn't it?" answered Chet. "Wonder what it will be
up at the Pole."

"Colder than this--you may be sure of that," answered Barwell Dawson.

All gazed around them. To the east and west, as well as the south, lay
the long stretches of snow and ice. Northward were the same ice and
snow, with numerous leads of clear, bluish water.

"There is our camp," said the explorer, pointing to some dark objects in
the distance.

"How far is it?" asked Chet.

"I can't say exactly. Probably two miles. Distances are very deceiving
in this atmosphere."

"There is that lead of water we must have followed yesterday," said
Andy, pointing.

"Yes," answered Barwell Dawson. "We won't go back that way, though--we'll
try the route over yonder."

They were soon down the hill again, and making for the spot where they
had left the polar bear. Resuming the load, they struck off as best they
could in the direction of the camp.

About half the distance had been covered when they found themselves
quite unexpectedly on the edge of some "young" ice,--that is, ice
recently frozen. It did not seem safe, and Barwell Dawson decided to
turn back, in the direction of the route they had followed when leaving
camp. This brought them to the lead of the day previous, and they were
surprised to note that the water was much wider than before.

"The ice must be moving," said Barwell Dawson. "I think the sooner we
get back to camp the better."

They had a small hill of ice before them, and started to skirt this.
Andy was in the lead, and as he passed a rise of ice and snow, he heard
a sudden roar that made him jump.

"What was that?" he cried, in alarm.

"A walrus!" answered Barwell Dawson. "And close at hand, too. Get your
guns ready, boys!"



CHAPTER XXV

CROSSING THE GREAT LEAD


In less than a quarter of a minute more they came in sight of the
walrus, stretched out on the ice close to the lead. It was a large
specimen, weighing a good many hundred pounds, and as awkward as it was
heavy.

At the sight of the man and boys the beast raised itself up slightly and
started as if to turn back into the water. As it did this, Barwell
Dawson raised the rifle, took steady aim, and sent a bullet through its
head.

"That's a fine shot!" exclaimed Andy as the walrus fell back, uttering a
roar of pain. "Shall I give it another?"

"Might as well," was the explorer's answer, and the lad quickly
complied, the shot scattering into the walrus's head, killing it almost
instantly.

Scarcely had the echo of the discharge penetrated the air, when there
came a number of loud roars from a little further around the icy hill.
The hunters advanced, and Chet uttered a yell:

"Look! look! Did you ever see so many walruses in your life!"

He pointed ahead, but there was no need to do this, for all saw, only a
couple of hundred feet away, a veritable herd of walruses numbering at
least a hundred if not twice that number. They had heard the death-cry
of their mate, and were lumbering forward to see what was the matter.

"We can't fight such a crowd as that!" exclaimed Andy, aghast. "We had
better clear out."

"I wish the Esquimaux were here," returned Barwell Dawson. "We could
make a mighty haul of walrus meat, and that is what we need." He looked
at the boys. "Who is the better runner of you two?" he asked.

"Andy," answered Chet, promptly. "He can outrun me twice over."

"Then supposing you leg it for camp just as hard as you can," continued
the explorer. "Tell the Esquimaux and Mr. Camdal to come as quickly as
possible."

Without waiting for more words, Andy was off like a shot, directly past
the walruses, who simply raised themselves up to gaze stupidly at him.
The others had withdrawn from sight, and when the beasts saw Andy
running away they thought themselves alone. Slowly they lumbered over
the ice and surrounded their dead companion, uttering hoarse roars that
could be heard a long way off.

Andy had the direction of the camp well in mind, and made as straight a
run for it as the nature of the ice permitted. With such heavy clothing
a record run was impossible, yet he covered the distance in good time.

He found the Esquimaux outside of their _igloos_, listening to the
roaring of the walruses, which could be heard far away over the ice. He
soon made them acquainted with what was wanted, and with a glad shout
they started off with their spears and bows and arrows. Then he aroused
Mr. Camdal, and the latter got his shotgun and an ax.

"An ax is sometimes better than a gun," explained Mr. Camdal. "You can
sometimes crush a walrus's skull with one well-aimed blow from an ax."

The Esquimaux were ahead, but the others soon caught up with them. The
walruses were still roaring and bellowing. One of the natives said this
was a sign that they were getting ready to move.

As they drew closer, the Esquimaux spread out in a semicircle, and held
up their spears ready for use. Olalola was in the lead, for he was
considered by all to be the best hunter.

The walruses were found almost where they had been when Andy went for
aid. A few surrounded the dead beast, sniffing the carcass suspiciously.
Evidently they had never been hunted, and did not know the meaning of a
gunshot.

As soon as the Esquimaux were sufficiently close, they threw their
spears, and followed these up with a number of arrows. In the meantime
the others discharged their firearms, and then Mr. Camdal rushed in
boldly with his ax. By this means eight of the huge creatures were laid
low before they could help themselves. The others turned to gain the
open water, and went sousing in, sending the icy spray in all
directions.

In his enthusiasm, Chet had drawn close to the lead, and before he knew
it he found two of the walruses confronting him. He dodged one, but the
other beast knocked him flat with one blow of a flipper. It looked as if
his life would be crushed out a moment later.

Andy saw his chum fall, and for the moment his heart leaped into his
throat. Then he jumped to the front, and sent a bullet into the breast
of the walrus. But this was not fatal, and the walrus still lurched
forward.

"Pull Chet away!" yelled Mr. Dawson, and fired from a distance, the
bullet hitting the walrus just below the head. Then a spear whizzed
through the air, thrown by Olalola. This caught the beast in the mouth,
and went part way down its throat. The walrus flopped backward, and at
that moment Andy caught his chum by the leg, and dragged him out of
danger. Then Mr. Camdal came to the front, and a blow from the ax
finished the beast.

The battle was now practically over, for the walruses that were alive
had taken to the water. Those that were badly wounded could not swim
very well, and the Esquimaux went after them, bringing in two. The total
killing amounted to thirteen.

"That's a lucky thirteen," was Barwell Dawson's comment, after the
excitement was over. "The meat is just what we want, for the Esquimaux
and the dogs, and the hides will come in handy, for footwear and
harness."

It was no easy task to get the walruses and the polar bear to the camp,
and several of the dog sledges had to be brought up for that purpose.
Then two days were spent in getting the meat ready for use, and in
preparing the hides.

It was a clear, cold day when the next start northward was made. A light
wind blew from the westward. Barwell Dawson calculated that they might
cover twenty, if not twenty-five, miles.

"From now on we must do our best," said he. "We can afford no more
delays, otherwise our food supply may give out before we get back."

Fortunately all were in the best of health, although Professor Jeffer
suffered a little from snow-blindness. He at once donned a pair of
smoked goggles, and several of the others did likewise.

The end of the week found them a hundred and fifteen miles closer to the
Pole. They had encountered two leads, but had managed to get across
without great difficulty. One of the sledges had been badly damaged, and
it was resolved to break it up, and use the parts in repairing the other
turnouts. Two of the dogs were sick, and had to be killed.

The next day the weather changed, and for forty-eight hours they
struggled on through a heavy snowstorm, with the wind fortunately on
their backs. During this storm one of the sledges fell into some open
water, and three dogs were drowned, while a small portion of the outfit
went out of sight into the Arctic Sea.

"All hands must be more careful after this," said Barwell Dawson. "As we
advance, going will probably become more treacherous. Keep your eyes
wide open."

As soon as it cleared off, Professor Jeffer brought out his sextant and
his artificial horizon (a pan of mercury), and took an observation. He
announced that they were close to the eighty-fourth degree of north
latitude.

"That means we have but six more degrees to cover,--about four hundred
miles," said Chet.

"Professor, will you explain how you take the observation?" asked Andy.

"To be sure, certainly," was the reply of the scientist. "It is very
easy when one knows how. Here is the sextant, shaped, as you can see,
like a piece of pie. The curved side has a scale on it, which is just
one-sixth of a circle, hence the name of the instrument. Here is a
telescope which is adjustable, and here are two glasses, one for the
rays of the sun, or a star, and one for the horizon. At sea, I would use
the natural horizon, but that is impossible here amongst the ice and
snow, and so I use an artificial horizon made of a pan of mercury.

"When I want to take an observation, I watch my chronometer and wait
until it is exactly twelve o'clock. Then I point the sextant in such a
fashion that the rays of the sun, reflected downward, seem to meet or
'kiss' the horizon. As soon as I have the light of the sun in a direct
range with the horizon, I use this thumbscrew, which sets the scale
below, which, as you see, is divided into degrees, minutes, and seconds.
As soon as I have read the scale by means of this magnifying glass, I
consult this book I carry, the Ephemeris, or Nautical Almanac, and
knowing the altitude of the sun, I readily calculate just where we are
located, in degrees, minutes, and seconds north latitude."

"It's certainly a great instrument," said Andy. "I'd like to try it some
day."

"You shall do so," answered Professor Jeffer, and the very next day he
allowed Andy to aid him in getting a true sight, and showed the boy how
to work out the necessary calculations, and also make some
allowances,--for such observations are not absolutely perfect in
themselves.

They had now to advance with more caution than ever, and several days
later came to some open water that looked as if it would bar all further
progress. The lead was six or seven hundred feet wide, and ran east and
west as far as eye could reach.

"Looks as if we were stumped," murmured Chet. "How are we ever going to
get across?"

A consultation was held, and then Barwell Dawson sent one party of
Esquimaux to the eastward, and another to the westward, to look for a
crossing place.

The Esquimaux were gone for two days, and during that time a fierce
snowstorm came up, blotting out the landscape on all sides. It was so
cold that the boys could do nothing outside, and were glad enough to
crouch in an _igloo_ for warmth. During the snowstorm, more of the dogs
became sick, and four of the finest of the animals died.

"Something is wrong with them," said Barwell Dawson, and had Dr. Slade
make an examination. It was then learned that the dogs had been poisoned
by eating tainted seal meat. The meat was inspected, and over a hundred
pounds thrown away.

When the natives who had been sent out came back, they reported that to
the east and the west the lead was wider than ever.

"Any smooth, floating ice?" asked Barwell Dawson.

Yes, some smooth ice had been seen, and the explorer went out the next
day to investigate. As a result some large cakes were floated close to
the temporary camp, and these were lashed together with walrus thongs.

"What do you intend to do with those?" questioned Professor Jeffer.

"I am going to try to get across to the other side," answered Barwell
Dawson. "We'll use the flat ice for a ferry."

"It's a dangerous piece of business, sir."

"I know it. But we must do something," was the firm answer.

Two of the Esquimaux agreed to get on the floating cakes of ice, taking
with them one of the teams and a sledge. It was no easy matter to induce
the dogs to go aboard, as it might be called, and the natives were a
good hour getting started. But once afloat, they crossed the lead
without serious danger, and then began the task of getting the rest of
the expedition over. This took all of that day, and also the next. On
one of the trips an Esquimau went overboard, and Dr. Slade also took an
icy bath, but both were quickly rescued, and bundled up in clothing that
was dry and warm.

"There, I am glad we are over that lead!" exclaimed Barwell Dawson, when
the last of the men and sledges had crossed. "I trust we don't have any
more of the sort to cross."

"I am afraid we'll have a great many," answered Professor Jeffer.
"Getting to the North Pole is going to be the hardest kind of a
struggle."

"We'll get there--if we keep our health, and the provisions last," said
the explorer, confidently.

Once again they turned northward, into that vast region of ice, and
snow, and solitude. It was certainly a gigantic undertaking. Would they
succeed, or would all their struggles go for naught?



CHAPTER XXVI

ON A FLOATING MASS OF ICE


"One hundred and thirty miles more, Andy!"

"Who said so?"

"Professor Jeffer. He just took an observation," answered Chet, as he
crawled into the _igloo_ and slapped his mittened hands to get them
warm.

Andy shook his head slowly. "Chet, it doesn't look as if we'd make it,
does it?"

"Barwell Dawson says we are going to make it, or die in the attempt."

"Well, I'm just as eager, almost, as he is. But eagerness isn't going to
make these leads close up, and isn't going to give us extra food and
drink."

"Getting sick of pemmican and walrus meat?"

"Aren't you?"

"Rather--but there is no use in kicking."

"Say, do you know what day this is?"

"No."

"The first of April. Maybe some folks would call us April fools, to try
to reach the Pole."

Here the two boys became silent, for both were too tired and too cold to
do much talking.

The last few weeks of traveling had been very bad,--so bad in fact that
half of the Esquimaux had been turned back, to make a camp and wait the
return of the others. Mr. Camdal had been taken sick, and he had been
left behind, and now Dr. Slade was ailing, and so were two of the
natives. Sixteen of the dogs had perished, and their bodies had been fed
to the other canines.

The hardships had been beyond the power of pen to describe. They had
encountered numerous snowstorms, and a cutting west wind had for three
days made traveling impossible. The smooth ice had given way to little
hills and ridges that battered the sledges frightfully. One more had
gone to pieces, and the parts had been used for mending purposes, as
before.

The effects of the hardships were beginning to tell on everybody. The
boys were thin and hollow-eyed, and when they walked, or, rather, toiled
along, their legs felt like lead. To get up any speed was impossible,
and if in ten hours' walking they managed to cover fifteen or twenty
miles they thought they were doing well. The glare on the ice and snow
also affected them, so that their eyes appeared like little slits.
Professor Jeffer had been in danger of having his nose frost-bitten, but
the boys had noticed it just in time, and come to the old scientist's
rescue by rubbing the member with soft snow, thus putting the blood
again in circulation.

"Well, lads, how do you feel?" asked Barwell Dawson, as he entered the
_igloo_, followed by Professor Jeffer. "Dead tired, I suppose."

"Tired doesn't fit it," answered Chet, with a sickly grin. "I am
next-door to being utterly played out."

"Perhaps I had better leave you two boys behind, while Professor Jeffer
and myself, with one sledge, make the final dash."

"No; now I've come so far I'm going to stick it out," answered Chet,
grittily.

"And so am I," added Andy. "I guess we'll feel better after a good
sleep," he went on, hopefully.

A few minutes later all sank into a profound slumber, from which they
did not awaken until well in the morning. Then the barking of the dogs
and the shouting of one of the Esquimaux made them leap up and crawl
outside.

"Olalola says the wind has died down," said Barwell Dawson. "We may as
well make the most of it."

A hasty breakfast was prepared, and inside of half an hour they were
again on the way, toiling over ice that was rough in the extreme. They
pushed on steadily until noon, when, it being bright sunlight, Professor
Jeffer took another observation.

"One hundred and sixteen miles more," he said, after his calculations
were complete. "We are gradually lessening the distance! We shall make
it after all!" And his face showed his enthusiasm. To such a scientist
as the professor, gaining the Pole meant far more than it did to the
boys.

In the middle of the afternoon came another setback. Another lead came
into view, broad, and with the water flowing swiftly. At this the
Esquimaux shook their heads dismally.

"We cannot go over that," said one, in his native tongue.

"We must," answered Barwell Dawson, briefly. With the North Pole so
close at hand, he was determined that nothing should keep him from
reaching the goal.

The party gathered at the edge of the lead, and there found the ice
cracked and uncertain. Andy was with Olalola, who had a sledge drawn now
by but six dogs.

Suddenly, as the men were walking up and down the shore looking for some
means of crossing the water, there came an ominous cracking. Andy tried
to leap back, and so did Olalola, but ere they could do so the ice upon
which they and the dogs and sledge were located broke away from the main
field, and floated out into the lead.

"Look out, there!" exclaimed Chet, in horror.

"Throw us a rope!" yelled Andy, while Olalola uttered a cry in his
native language.

But no rope was handy, and in a few seconds the strong current of the
water carried the cake of ice far out into the lead. It still kept its
balance, but there was no telling how soon it might turn over and send
Andy, the Esquimau, and the dogs to their death.

"Oh, we must save Andy!" screamed Chet. "What can we do?"

"We'll do all we can," answered the explorer.

He ran to one of the loads and tore from it a long rope. Then he hurried
along the edge of the lead, in the direction whence the current was
carrying the flat cake of ice with its human freight.

Andy and Olalola saw the movement, and both understood at once that they
must make some sort of a fastening for the rope, should they be able to
catch it. With a sharp-pointed knife, Andy picked away a small hole, and
in it set a peg taken from the sledge.

While the lad was doing this, Barwell Dawson curled up the rope as if it
were a lasso. His outings on the plains now stood him in good stead, and
he threw the end of the rope with the skill of a cowboy lassoing cattle.
Olalola caught it and slipped it over the peg, and then he and Andy did
all they could to hold the peg in the ice.

It now became a question if the explorer could haul the floating ice in,
or if the current would be too strong for him. Chet came to his aid, and
so did two of the Esquimaux.

"Beware of where you stand!" sang out Chet. "The shore is cracked all
along here!"

This was true, and all were in danger of going down. The ice was the
most rotten they had yet encountered--why, they could not tell.

Working with care, they at last turned the floating mass shoreward,
until it bumped lightly. But just as they did this, the ice at their
feet began to give way.

"Jump for it! Don't wait!" yelled Barwell Dawson, and Andy jumped, and
so did Olalola. The latter tried to drive the dogs, but ere he could do
so the peg came up, allowing the rope to free itself, and off floated
the big cake again, carrying the dogs, sledge, and supplies with it.
Andy and Olalola got into water up to their knees, but managed to throw
themselves headlong on the firm ice and roll over and over to safety.

"I'm glad to see you safe," said Mr. Dawson, "but it's too bad about
those dogs and the supplies."

"Can't we get them in?" asked Professor Jeffers.

"We can try it."

They did try it. But just below where they stood the lead widened out,
and another lead cut crosswise, so their further progress was barred.
They stood on the edge of the ice watching the dogs and sledge disappear
around a hill to the north of the lead. The dogs howled dismally, as if
knowing they were doomed.

The loss of so many dogs and so much of their outfit sobered the entire
party, and Estankawak berated Olalola soundly for allowing the team to
get away from him. Estankawak had been faint-hearted for several days,
and now he came to Barwell Dawson and advised that all turn back.

"We cannot reach the Big Nail," said he. "We have not enough food and
not enough dogs." By the "Big Nail" he meant the North Pole.

"We have certainly suffered a severe loss, but I think we can reach the
Pole anyway," answered Mr. Dawson.

"Estankawak wants to go back."

"Very well, you can go back if you want to,--but you'll have to go
alone."

This, of course, did not suit the Esquimau at all. He said he wanted the
other Esquimaux to go with him, and walked away, grumbling to himself.

"He'll have to be watched," said Chet to Andy, when he heard of this
talk.

"Right you are," answered his chum. Andy had not suffered from his
adventure, but it must be confessed that he had been badly scared.

On the following morning, while they were still trying to get over the
lead, a strong wind came up from the northeast. This began to move the
ice on the north shore, and in less than six hours the lead was
completely choked up with it. When they looked at this transformation,
the boys could scarcely believe their eyesight.

"Now is our chance!" cried Barwell Dawson. "Olalola says it is perfectly
safe to cross the ice, although it will be a terribly rough journey."

They went forward, Estankawak most unwillingly, and inside of two hours
left the lead behind them. They now struck ice that was comparatively
smooth, so progress became more rapid. By the next day they were within
just a hundred miles of their goal.

"We'll get there!" cried Andy, but in less than ten hours his tune
changed, for it commenced to snow furiously, while the wind became a
perfect gale. All hands were glad enough to crawl into some
hastily-constructed _igloos_, and even the dogs sought whatever shelter
they could find.

They were thus stormbound for several days. To make any move whatever
would have been folly, and Barwell Dawson attempted none. Yet he chafed
roundly at the delay, the more so as he saw his stock of supplies
rapidly diminishing.

"We must go on shorter rations," said the explorer, and cut down the
quantities that very day. This led to increased dissatisfaction on the
part of Estankawak, and he conversed earnestly with another of his
tribe, Muckaloo by name, but not in the hearing of Olalola.

"He is up to no good, and we must watch him," whispered Andy to Chet.
"Maybe he will try to bolt, and take some of our things with him."

This was just what Estankawak had in mind to do, and he readily got
Muckaloo to join in the scheme. Early in the morning of the next day,
when the weather showed signs of clearing, the two Esquimaux crawled out
of their hut and sneaked over to one of the sledges and harnessed up the
team of six dogs. On the sledge they placed such of the stores as were
handy.

The boys were watching them, and Andy immediately notified Barwell
Dawson.

"Going to mutiny, eh?" cried the explorer, and snatching up a shotgun he
ran outside without waiting to don his fur coat. He saw Estankawak and
Muckaloo at the sledge, just ready to drive off.

"Stop, you rascals!" he roared, in the native tongue. "Go a step, and
I'll shoot you down!"

The Esquimaux were startled, for they had not dreamed that any one
outside of themselves was stirring in the camp. They looked at Barwell
Dawson, and at the leveled shotgun, and Estankawak dropped the whip he
had raised, while Muckaloo hung his head.

"You are going to stay with us," went on the explorer. "If you want to
leave, you must go without any of our things."

"It is death to try to reach the Big Nail," growled Estankawak.

"It will be death if you try to run off with any of my things," replied
Barwell Dawson, grimly. "Go back to your _igloo_, and stay there until I
call you." And at the point of the shotgun he made the mutinous natives
retire to one of the ice huts.



CHAPTER XXVII

HOW COMMANDER PEARY REACHED THE POLE


After the trouble with Estankawak and Muckaloo, Mr. Dawson had a close
conference with Olalola. He found the latter as faithful as ever, and so
put him in sole charge of the dogs and sledges, and warned him to keep a
close watch on the others.

"Do not let them steal anything," said the explorer, "and when we return
to civilization you shall be richly rewarded. I will give you a boat, a
gun, and a hunting knife."

This, to the Esquimau, was riches indeed, and he promised to keep watch
day and night. He had a stern talk with Estankawak and Muckaloo and came
close to thrashing them both. After that the mutinous natives caused but
little trouble.

Two days went by, and slowly but surely the party drew closer to the
Pole. The professor took another observation, and announced that they
had now but sixty-eight miles more to cover to reach the Top of the
World.

"That wouldn't be so bad if walking was good, but it seems to grow
worse," said Andy. He had already worn out two pairs of walrus-hide
foot-coverings, and now the third pair looked woefully ragged.

"I'd like to know something of Commander Peary," observed Chet. "He must
be in this region."

"He is," answered Barwell Dawson. "But just where, there is no telling.
Perhaps he has been to the Pole, and is now coming back."

They would have been much surprised if they had known that Commander
Peary was at that moment less than a hundred miles away from their camp.
This intrepid explorer had pushed his way steadily northward over the
ice from Cape Columbia, to which point he journeyed from Cape Sheridan
during the latter part of February. His outfit at this time consisted of
seven members of the expedition, seventeen Esquimaux, 133 dogs, and
nineteen sledges. It was the largest and best outfit Lieutenant Peary
had ever had at his command for this work.

It was the explorer's plan to establish supply stations all along the
route, and for this purpose some of the party were at first sent ahead.
They found conditions very similar to those which I have already
described, and lost several sledges and a good many dogs, while some of
the natives became sick and had to be sent back.

By hard work Commander Peary reached the 85th degree of north latitude
on March 18th, and five days later managed to cover another degree. It
was intensely cold, the thermometer registering fifty and more degrees
below zero. One man had his foot frozen, and had to be sent back to one
of the bases of supplies.

Feeling that the goal was now within his grasp, Commander Peary kept on
steadily, and soon passed the 87th degree of latitude--his highest point
during the expedition previously taken. This was a day of rejoicing.
Here he dispensed with his last supporting party, and pushed into the
Great Unknown with only a handful of faithful followers.

At the end of March he was held up most unexpectedly by open water, and
every one of the party was much disheartened. But this water was crossed
April 2d, and two days later the great explorer found himself within one
degree of his goal.

Despite the intense bitterness of the cold, he pushed on as steadily as
ever. It was a nerve-racking ordeal, yet he had but one thought, one
ambition--to reach the goal for which he had been striving for twenty
years. He could scarcely sleep and eat, so anxious was he to get to the
end of the task he had set for himself.

At last he stopped, on April 6th, to take another observation. This
showed him to be within a few miles of the Pole, and if he went wild
with joy, who can blame him? He called to those with him, and away they
went over the ice, paying no heed to the keen wind that cut like a
knife.

And then came the supreme moment of joy. The North Pole was gained--the
height of his ambition had at last been realized. He really and truly
stood upon the Top of the World. It was to him the moment of moments,
and yet he could not realize it, for it all seemed so commonplace. At
the Pole it did not look different from what it did for miles around the
sought-for spot. All was a field of ice and snow, vast and desolate.

Thirty hours were spent at and around the Pole, taking observations and
photographs, and in planting the Stars and Stripes, and also some
records. Then Commander Peary started back, to break the news of his
success to a world that had just been astonished by the reports of Dr.
Cook's achievements of the year before.

It was but a few hours after the professor had made the announcement
that they had but sixty-eight miles more to cover that the party under
Barwell Dawson came to another lead. It was wide and of great depth, as
a sounding proved, and how to cross this became the next problem. Even
Olalola shook his head.

"There is no end to it," he said, sadly. "I go with you, but how?"

"We must find a way," answered the explorer, and he and Chet went out on
a tour of discovery.

They came back discouraged, and that night all rested on the edge of the
lead, wondering what they should do next. At last Barwell Dawson called
the boys and the professor to him.

"I think it best that we make the rest of the journey alone," said he.
"We can take the best of the dogs, and the best sledge, and try to make
a quick dash, leaving the others here to await our return. What do you
say?"

The boys were willing to do anything, and the professor was of a like
turn of mind.

"But how are you going to get over the lead?" asked Andy.

"I'll find some kind of a way," answered the explorer.

The matter was explained to Olalola. He was sorry to have them leave
him, but promised faithfully to look after the camp, and after Dr.
Slade, who was still ill, while they were gone. He said that by
following the lead westward, they might be able to cross it.

"I think so myself," answered Mr. Dawson.

The start was made early the next day, Andy and Chet taking turns at
driving the six dogs, the pick of what were left of the pack. The course
was along the lead westward, and after a mile had been covered, they
reached a spot where some new ice covered the water.

"Do you think it will hold us?" asked Andy.

"I'll test it and see," was Mr. Dawson's reply.

After an examination the explorer came to the conclusion that they might
risk the new ice.

"But we must go over it quickly," he cautioned. "Don't let the dogs
stop."

They walked a distance back, and set the sledge in motion. Then out on
the ice they spun, Chet cracking his long whip in true Esquimau fashion.
The new ice cracked and groaned under their weight, and when they were
in the middle of the lead it began to buckle.

"Spread out--don't keep together!" yelled Barwell Dawson. "Chet, whip up
the dogs and let 'em go it alone!"

The boy understood, and gave the canines the lash. Away they sped at
breakneck speed. Then Chet leaped to one side, and he and the others
continued on their way a distance of fifty or more feet from each other.

It was a great risk they had assumed, and each instant they thought the
ice would break and let them down in the water. A rescue under such
conditions,--with the thermometer standing at fifty-three degrees below
zero,--would have been out of the question.

"The ice is going down!" screamed Andy, just as he was within a rod of
the north shore. "Hurry up!"

There was no need to sound the warning, for all understood the peril
only too well. They increased their speed, and slid the remaining few
feet. Then, just behind them, they saw the ice buckle and break,
allowing a stream of icy water to run over it.

"Safe, and thank Heaven for it!" murmured Barwell Dawson, when he could
catch his breath.

"Don't ask me to take another such run," panted Professor Jeffer. "I
thought we'd surely be drowned!"

As soon as they had recovered somewhat from the dash, they walked on to
where the dogs had stopped. In letting them go, Mr. Dawson had known
that they were in no physical condition to run out of sight. When the
travelers came up, they found the canines stretched out resting. The
harness was in a snarl, and it took them the best part of a quarter of
an hour to get the team straightened out again.

"Did you notice that the ice looks purple?" remarked Andy, as they went
on once again.

"I did," answered Barwell Dawson. "It is as peculiar as it is
beautiful."

He had noticed the purple ice several days before, and also several
mirages in the sky,--mirages that looked like hills and mountains, but
which he knew were only optical delusions. Coming northward, the party
had also had a splendid view of the _aurora borealis_, or Northern
Lights, that mysterious glow thought to be electrical or magnetic. Once
Andy had said that he could hear the lights, and that they sounded like
the low hissing of steam.

It grew colder that night, and it was all the explorers could do to keep
from freezing. They had a small quantity of tea left--a quarter of a
pound--and after melting some snow over their alcohol stove, drank the
beverage boiling hot. Then they made themselves a hot stew of pemmican
and ground-up peas. Each of the dogs received a chunk of frozen walrus
meat, something they gnawed on savagely, so great was their hunger.

The next day the sun was clouded, so that it was impossible for the
professor to take any observations. But they knew they had not yet
reached their goal, and so they pushed on, over ice that was hummocky,
but not nearly as bad as it had been.

"Hello!" cried Andy, about the middle of the afternoon. "What's that
yonder?"

He pointed to their left, where a dark object lay on the ice, half
covered with loose snow.

"Might as well see what it is," said Barwell Dawson, who was as curious
as the others. So far, in that land of desolation, they had seen
absolutely nothing but ice, snow, and open water.

They moved to the spot and saw that the dark object was the carcass of a
dog, frozen stiff. Beside the dog lay a board of a sledge.

"Look!" exclaimed Barwell Dawson, as he held up the board. "Do you see
what it says?"

All looked at the bit of wood and saw, burnt upon it, the following:

                         PEARY--1909

"It is something from the Peary expedition!" said Professor Jeffer. "He
must have gotten up here ahead of us!"

"It certainly looks that way," answered Barwell Dawson. "Well, he
deserved to reach the Pole, after his many years of untiring efforts."

Leaving the board as a silent monument, the four continued on their way
northward. Again the wind was blowing from the west, and they calculated
that it was on the increase.

"With the thermometer down so low, if it blows very strong we'll be
frozen stiff," declared Chet. "Why, a winter in Maine is a hothouse
alongside of this!"

The next day, owing to the wind, they made but scant progress. It was
cloudy, yet just around noon the sun peeped from behind the clouds, and
Professor Jeffer hurried to take an observation. Barwell Dawson gave him
the correct time, and the old scientist quickly succeeded in making his
computations.

"Well, how do we stand?" asked Mr. Dawson, when Professor Jeffer had
finished.

"We are within twenty-two miles of the Pole," was the answer that
thrilled the hearts of all.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE TOP OF THE WORLD AT LAST


"We'll get there tomorrow!"

"If the weather permits, Andy."

"Oh, we must get there, Chet! Just think of it--only twenty-two miles
more! Why, it's nothing alongside of what we have already traveled."

"Well, food is running very low."

"Oh, I know that. Didn't I take an extra hole in my belt last night
after supper? I feel as flat as a board."

A day had been spent in camp, with the wind blowing furiously, and a
fine, salt-like snow falling. They had tried to go on, but had covered
less than half a mile when Barwell Dawson had called a halt.

"It's no use," he had said, with a sigh. "We can't do anything in this
wind. Let us keep our strength until it subsides."

They had spent the day in mending the sledge, which was in danger of
going to pieces, and in fixing up their foot coverings, which were
woefully ragged.

It was still blowing when they started again on their journey. But it
was not nearly so bad as before, and the snow had ceased to come down.
The sun, however, was still under the clouds, and the sky looked gray
and sullen.

"I don't know that I'd care to live here the year round," said Andy,
with an attempt at humor. "It would be too hard to dig the potatoes."

"Or go swimming," answered Chet. "Every time a fellow wanted a bath,
he'd have to chop a hole in the ice."

"Or tumble in a lead."

"But, just the same, if we do reach the Pole, what a story we'll have to
tell when we get back!"

"We'll not be the first at the Pole."

"We'll be the first boys at the Pole."

"Right you are."

They trudged on, occasionally urging the lagging dogs. The canines
seemed to realize the loneliness of the situation, and occasionally
stopped short, squatted down, and rent the air with dismal howlings.

"They don't see any food and shelter ahead, and I don't blame them,"
said Barwell Dawson.

By nightfall they calculated they had covered twelve miles. If that was
true, only ten miles more separated them from their goal.

"And we'll make that tomorrow or bust!" cried Andy. He was dead-tired,
and ached in every limb, but a strange light shone in his eyes--the same
fire that lit up the eyes of Barwell Dawson.

In the morning the sky looked more forbidding than ever. But there was
only a gentle breeze, and the thermometer registered forty-eight
degrees,--several degrees warmer than it had been.

"We'll travel until noon," announced Barwell Dawson. "Then we'll make
camp, and wait until we can take an observation."

They progressed almost in silence, the boys occasionally cracking the
whip and urging the dogs. Barwell Dawson and Professor Jeffer were busy
with their thoughts. Their fondest hopes seemed about to be realized.
The boys thought of home. Would they ever see Maine again?

"Seems like a lifetime since we left Pine Run!" remarked Chet once.

"Two lifetimes," responded Andy. "One such trip as this is enough for
me."

The lads were footsore and weary to the last degree, but neither
complained. They did not want to worry Barwell Dawson, and what would
have been the use? He could not aid them. It was now a question of every
one for himself.

It was one o'clock when the explorer called a halt. On every hand was
the field of ice and snow. But far ahead could be seen something which
looked like a big iceberg. The sun was still under a cloud.

"I think we have gone far enough," said Barwell Dawson. "We'll camp
here, and wait until we can take an observation."

No time was lost in gathering cakes of ice and building a fair-sized
_igloo_. The boys worked with renewed interest. Had they really and
truly reached the North Pole at last?

"At the most we cannot be over a mile or two away from it," said the
explorer.

All were glad to rest, yet sleep was almost out of the question. The one
thought of each member of the party was, "Are we at the Pole, or how
much further have we to go?"

Early in the morning it was cloudy, but about ten o'clock the sun came
out faintly.

"Unless it comes out full, I cannot take an accurate observation," said
the professor.

All waited impatiently and watched the sky. When it was a quarter to
twelve the clouds rolled away to the eastward, and the sun burst forth
with dazzling brightness.

"Now is our chance!" cried Chet.

All assisted the professor in his preparations to take the all-important
observation. The old scientist's chronometer was compared with that of
Barwell Dawson.

"A difference of but three seconds," said the former. "We will split the
difference when I take the observation," and this was done.

The sextant was raised, and the old scientist looked through it with
great care. His artificial horizon had been arranged but a short
distance away.

"Time!" roared Barwell Dawson, and the professor set the thumbscrew of
his instrument. Then, through the magnifying glass, he read the figures
and set to work with pen and pencil, making his computations, with his
Nautical Almanac before him. All awaited breathlessly what he might have
to say. Suddenly the aged man threw down the paper and pencil and threw
his arms into the air.

"We are at the 90th degree of north latitude!" he cried. "We have
reached the North Pole!"

"Hurrah!" yelled Andy and Chet, simultaneously, and Barwell Dawson
joined in the cheer.

"You are certain of that?" asked the explorer. "We must make no
mistake."

"Read the observation for yourself," answered the old scientist.

"It is true," said Barwell Dawson, when he had verified the figures. "We
are really and truly at the North Pole. Now, then, to raise the flag!"

The others understood. All through the bitter journey they had carried
an American flag and a fair-sized flagpole. Once the flag had become
torn but they had mended it with care.

In a twinkling the pole was brought forth, and planted in the ice and
snow. Then the flag was raised, and it floated proudly in the breeze.

"Three cheers for Old Glory!" cried Barwell Dawson, and the cheers were
given with a will.

"Three cheers for Barwell Dawson!" cried Andy, and he and Chet and the
old scientist gave them, roundly. Then there followed a cheer for
Professor Jeffer.

"And now a cheer for the first boys at the North Pole!" cried Barwell
Dawson, and he and Professor Jeffer raised their voices as loudly as
they could. The boys could scarcely contain themselves, and both danced
a jig, and then Andy turned half a dozen handsprings, just by way of
working off his superfluous spirits.

It was wonderful what a difference reaching the Pole made in them. All
the hardships of the past weeks were forgotten, and even the men acted
like schoolboys out for a holiday. They walked around the vicinity of
the _igloo_, and sang and whistled, and for once completely forgot their
hunger. Then, during the course of the afternoon, Professor Jeffer took
more observations and a number of photographs.

The next day the sun continued to shine brightly, and promptly at noon
another observation was made. This gave the same result as before, so
all were assured that they were really at the 90th degree of north
latitude.

"We must be at the North Pole," said Andy. "For see, while we call one
part of the twenty-four hours day and the other night, the sun goes
right around us and never seems to rise or sink."

"Yes, that is something of a test," answered Professor Jeffer. "But it
is not as infallible as that made by the sextant. The earth is more or
less flat here, and that makes a difference."

To make "dead certain" that they had covered the North Pole, the entire
party journeyed five miles further ahead, and also an equal distance to
the right and left. At one point they saw traces of another exploring
party, but the snow and ice had covered up the records left behind.

"And now to get back," said Barwell Dawson, at the close of the third
day spent at and around the Pole. "We have no time to spare, if we want
to get out of this land of desolation before winter sets in again."

"I am ready," answered Professor Jeffer. "I have taken all the
observations and photographs I wish, and have collected a valuable
amount of data."

"You can't get back any too quick for me," said Chet, dryly.

"There is no use in disguising the fact that our provisions are very
low," continued Barwell Dawson, gravely. "We have very little left for
the dogs."

"What will you do with them?" asked Chet.

"One is a little lame. If the worst comes to the worst, we'll kill him
and feed him to the others."

They left the _igloo_ standing, and on the top placed a metallic box
containing a brief record of their trip. Then they took down the flag
and placed it on the sledge.

They started on the return at seven in the morning. The weather was not
so cold as it had been, and going seemed to be better, so they covered
the twenty-two miles to their old camp without much difficulty. Here
they had to repair the sledge again, and also had to kill off the lame
dog. This made a feast for the others, and gave them some food that was
much needed.

"I could almost eat dog meat myself," said Chet.

"It may come to that," answered Andy. "I guess it is a heap better than
nothing, when a chap is starving."

They found the new ice on the lead much thicker than it had been, and so
crossed with ease. But now came on a heavy fall of snow, and all traces
of their former trail were wiped out.

"We'll have to steer by eyesight and the compass," announced Barwell
Dawson.

The boys were so hungry that they kept an eye open continually for game.
But not so much as a bird showed itself. It was truly the land of ice
and snow, and nothing else.

On the fifth day, the case containing alcohol sprung a leak, and all of
the precious stuff was lost in the snow.

"We'll have to eat our meals cold after this," said Barwell Dawson. "Too
bad, but it can't be helped."

"I don't care how cold they are, if only we could get enough," grumbled
Chet. An almost empty stomach did not tend to put him in good humor.

Another day passed, and again it snowed. The flakes were so thick they
could not see around them, and so had to halt and go into camp. Their
provisions were now so low that only half rations were dealt out.

"We can't stand this," cried Chet. "I've got to have something to eat."

"Oh, Chet, don't grumble," answered Andy. "We are as bad off as you
are."

"To-morrow, if we find it necessary, we'll kill off one of the dogs for
food," said Barwell Dawson. "That will leave us a team of four, and we
ought to be able to get back to where we left the others with those. The
sledge has next to nothing on it now."

The morning dawned, dull and cheerless. They had a few mouthfuls of
food, and then hitched up the dogs once more. Nobody felt like talking,
and they started on their long journey in silence.

Painfully they covered fifteen miles. Each was footsore and weary to the
last degree, and not able to go another step. They sat down on a ridge
of ice, and looked at each other.

"We have got to have something to eat," declared Chet. "I am going to
have one square meal, if I have to die tomorrow!"

"Chet!" exclaimed Andy, reprovingly.

"We'll kill one of the dogs and eat him," said Barwell Dawson. "It's the
only way out of it."



CHAPTER XXIX

FIGHTING OFF STARVATION


Yet to kill off one of the dogs was a serious undertaking, as they well
knew. In that country to travel without a dog sledge was all but
impossible, and the remaining animals might fail them at any moment.

"Let us wait until tomorrow," said Andy. "Something may turn up."

"I'd rather have something to eat now," growled Chet.

"I will deal out a little pemmican," answered Barwell Dawson, and served
each person about five ounces.

Then, with increasing slowness, they covered three miles more. Ahead was
a little hill, and the explorer thought to climb this and take a look
around, to get his bearings.

Hardly had he climbed the hill when he uttered a cry, calling the others
to him.

"There is something to our right," he said. "Some dark object half
hidden in the snow."

"Perhaps another memento of the Peary expedition," grumbled Chet. "I
don't want any more of 'em--I want to get back."

"We'll have a look," cried Andy. He turned to his chum. "Come, brace up,
Chet, and stop grumbling, that's a good fellow."

"All right!" exclaimed Chet, suddenly. "I suppose you've got as much
right to grumble as I have. But my stomach is as flat as a pancake," he
continued, woefully. "I could fill up on sawdust, if I had any."

All of the party set off in the direction of the object Barwell Dawson
had discovered. The explorer was in advance, and suddenly he set up a
ringing shout:

"Saved! saved!"

"What do you mean?" asked Chet, quickly.

"It is our old sledge--the one the dogs ran away with. It is stuck in a
crack of the ice."

"Are the stores on it?" asked Andy.

"Yes, everything seems to be here," returned the explorer, joyfully.

How the sledge had gotten there they did not know, and, at that moment,
they did not care. Probably the floating ice had bumped against the
shore and the dogs had started northward, not knowing what else to do.
Then the sledge had become caught in the crack, and the dogs, growing
impatient, had broken their harness. They had gnawed at the coverings of
the stores, but had been unable to get at the food, and had then
disappeared utterly.

The finding of the sledge with its provisions, and its supply of
alcohol, filled the entire party with joy, and they uttered a prayer to
Heaven for their deliverance from what looked to be starvation. As
quickly as it could be done, they fixed the little stove and lit it, and
made themselves a steaming hot broth, which they devoured with gusto.
Then they fed the dogs, built a rough _igloo_, and sank down in a
profound slumber, from which nobody awakened until ten hours later.

"Although we have found these supplies, we must be very sparing of
them," said Barwell Dawson, when they awoke. "There is no telling when
or how we will be able to get more--certainly not until we have joined
the rest of our party, and gotten down to where we can find game."

All were now anxious to rejoin those who had been left behind, and they
journeyed steadily southward as fast as the weather would permit. They
had one wide lead to cross, and it took a whole day to get to the south
shore. Then came more snow, and they had to lose a day.

But luck was with them, and one day, late in the afternoon, they heard a
loud shout, and saw an Esquimau, standing on a hillock of ice, waving
his arms at them. It was Olalola, and they soon reached him.

"Chief Dawson reach the Big Nail?" asked the Esquimau, eagerly.

"We did," was the answer.

"Olalola much glad," went on the native, and his smiling face proved his
words.

All in the camp, including Dr. Slade, who was better, were glad that
those who had gone to the Pole had returned, and the very next day
everything was packed on the sledges, and the journey to the ship was
begun. The food supply was very low, and all the extra dogs were killed
and fed to the other canines. The Esquimaux lived on blubber and walrus
meat. The boys tried blubber once, but had to give it up.

"It turns me wrong side out in a minute," was the way Andy expressed it.

As they drew further south the weather moderated, for which they were
thankful. But they had much open water to cross, and this consumed a
good deal of time.

"I wouldn't mind it, if only we could find something to eat," said Chet.
He suffered more from hunger than did any of the others, for he had
always been a hearty eater.

The next morning there was great excitement among the natives. A musk-ox
had been seen, and all were eager for the hunt.

"We must get that beast by all means," said Andy. "Think what it
means--ox-roast galore!"

The trail of the game was readily followed, and about seven o'clock in
the evening the hunters came upon a herd of six musk oxen, resting in
the shelter of a small hill. They surrounded the game, and succeeded in
bringing down three of them. The others were pursued, but managed to get
away.

"This ends short rations," was Chet's comment, and his eyes brightened
wonderfully. What he said was true, and that evening the explorers
enjoyed a better meal than they had had for many weeks. The Esquimaux
and dogs came in for their full share, and the big meal put even
Estankawak in good humor, and he thought no more of deserting them.

As they came down into the heart of Ellesmere Land they picked up Mr.
Camdal and his party. They shot other game, and so had all the food they
could eat, and more. The hunting just suited Barwell Dawson, for, as he
told the boys, he was more of a hunter than he was an explorer.

"How soon do you suppose we'll reach the _Ice King_?" asked Andy, one
day.

"If we have luck, we ought to sight the vessel in four or five days."

"Will you sail for home at once?"

"I think so, Andy. I presume you'll be glad to get back," and Mr. Dawson
smiled faintly.

"Yes and no," replied the youth. "I won't know what to do after I
return. I don't want to live with Uncle Si."

"You ought to go on another hunt for those missing papers."

"I'll do that, of course."

"And even if you can't find them, I'll look into the matter, and see if
I can't learn what rights your father had in that timber tract. I'll not
have much to do myself for a while. I'll not want to go on another
exploring expedition in a hurry."

So far, aside from Dr. Slade's attack, there had been but little
sickness in the party, but on the next day Barwell Dawson was taken
down, and all had to go into camp for three days until he felt better.
During that time, Andy and Chet went out hunting, and brought down
another polar bear, of which they were justly proud.

"It's a great place to hunt," said Andy. "But I don't think I care to
come up here again."

"Nor I," added Chet. Then he heaved a long sigh. "I wish----" He stopped
short.

"What, Chet? Were you thinking of your father?" And Andy's voice
softened.

"Yes, I was. I thought sure, when I came up here, that I'd get some
trace of him."

"It's too bad. I wish I could help you," answered Andy, and that was all
he could say.

With their broken sledges and their small dog teams, the party moved
slowly forward, to where the _Ice King_ had been left along the coast.
They did not expect to find the vessel fast in the ice, but hoped that
Captain Williamson would be cruising near, on the lookout for them.

"When we get to the coast, if the vessel is not in sight, we'll fire
some signals," said Barwell Dawson. "The captain will be sure to answer
them."

Two days more passed, and they came to something of an open bay, dotted
here and there with floating ice. At the sight, the boys set up a cheer:

"The sea! The sea!"

It was indeed the sea--or, rather, the upper entrance to Smith Sound. The
party had traveled too far to the eastward, and had now to turn
southward, skirting the coast. Here the going was very rough, and the
very next morning one of the sledges went down in a crack of the ice,
and was smashed completely.

"Thank goodness we do not need it any longer," was Barwell Dawson's
comment. What stores the sledge had contained were hauled up from the
crack and loaded on the remaining turnouts.

Another day passed, and now all kept on the lookout for a sign of the
ship. But though they climbed to the top of a high hill, skirting the
coast, no sign of a vessel was to be seen anywhere.

Again they resumed their journey, and thus two days passed. Then Andy,
who was in the lead with Olalola, set up a cry:

"I see the hut and the storehouse!"

He was right; they had at last arrived at the spot where they had
embarked from the _Ice King_. The place was deserted, and they could
easily see where the steamer had pushed through the floating ice, and
made her way to the broad lead beyond.

"We'll hoist our flag, and fire a signal," said Barwell Dawson, and
without delay a pole was nailed to the top of the storehouse, and Old
Glory was swung to the breeze. Then one of the shotguns was fired off
three times in succession. All waited long for some answer to the
reports, but none came.

"He must have gone off for some reason or other," said Barwell Dawson.
"All we can do is to wait for his return."

"Perhaps the steamer was hit by an iceberg and sunk," suggested
Professor Jeffer.

"Let us hope no such calamity has befallen us," answered the explorer,
gravely.

It sobered all of the party a good deal to find themselves alone at the
spot where they had so confidently thought to find the _Ice King_. They
knew that there was great danger of a "squeeze" in the floating ice, and
wondered what they should do if the craft had gone to the bottom of the
polar sea. They might possibly get down to a point opposite Etah, but it
would be a hard journey, and after it was made there was no telling if
they could cross the water to that settlement.

Three days went by, and the hearts of the party sank lower and lower. A
few went out hunting, for the larder was again getting low. But for the
most part all remained in the vicinity of the shore, awaiting eagerly
some sign of the missing steamer.

At last, early one morning, Andy made out a cloud of smoke far off on
the water. He drew Chet's attention to it, and then called Olalola. The
three watched the cloud draw nearer, and at last the Esquimau began to
smile.

"Ship," he said. "Ship with fire!"--meaning thereby a steam vessel.

The word was soon passed that a ship was in sight, and all gathered to
watch the approach of the craft. As it came closer, they saw that it was
the _Ice King_, and on the deck stood Captain Williamson and his crew
waving them a welcome. The captain had seen them with his spyglass.

"Hurrah for the _Ice King_!" cried Chet, and the cheer was given with a
will.

"This ends our troubles here," added Andy. "Now to get aboard and start
for home!"



CHAPTER XXX

HOME AGAIN


It was no easy matter for the _Ice King_ to push, her way through the
ice and reach the shore, but at last this was accomplished, and a
gangplank was put out, so that our friends could go aboard.

"Did you reach the Pole?" were Captain Williamson's words.

"We did," answered Barwell Dawson. "But it was a hard journey, I can
tell you!"

"Good! I mean, I'm glad to know you got to the Pole," went on the
captain. He looked over the party. "Look well, too."

"We look better than we did a few weeks ago," said Andy. "Then you might
have taken us for a lot of starved cats."

"Have you been on a trip?" questioned Chet. He saw that the commander of
the _Ice King_ was looking at him rather curiously.

"Yes, I left here eight days ago, after I had heard of a whaler that had
gone to pieces in the ice. Some Esquimaux brought the word, and said
that a crew of five white men and one negro were on the shore to the
northwestward."

"And did you find them?" asked Chet, eagerly.

"I did, lad, and I've got news for you."

"About my father?"

"Aye, Chet."

"Was it the _Betsey Andrews_ that went down? Is my father among the
men?"

"Yes, it was the _Betsey Andrews_ that was caught in the ice. She
drifted for months before she got a squeeze that finished her. Then the
crew went ashore, and did what they could to save themselves."

"But my father--is he--alive?"

"Yes,--or he was, the last that was heard of him."

"He isn't with the men you found?"

"No, they are on board, and you can listen to their story later. After
the whaler went to pieces, another vessel came along--a small ship bound
for Nova Scotia, the _Evans_, and she took six of the crew with her, and
among those was your father."

"The _Evans_? What port was she bound for?"

"Halifax."

"And was my father all right when the _Evans_ sailed?"

"Yes, although he had suffered somewhat from exposure, as had all of the
crew."

The fact that word had at last been obtained of his parent filled Chet's
heart with joy. He lost no time in introducing himself to the sailors
who had been rescued by Captain Williamson, and from them obtained a
full account of the ill-fated trip of the _Betsey Andrews_.

The ship had been all over the whaling grounds, and had had almost a
full supply of oil and whalebone, when the commander, against the wishes
of the mate and many of the crew, had decided to turn northward in quest
of another whale or two. The captain had acted queerly, as if out of his
mind, and had run the ship into a situation among the icebergs from
which it was impossible to escape.

Many months of anxiety had been passed on the whaler, and the climax had
come when the awful squeeze crushed her as if she had been an eggshell.
In that calamity the captain and two of the men had lost their lives.

After the disaster the mate had taken charge, and the men had
transferred their supplies to the shore and gone to living there. They
had had more than enough oil to burn, and during the winter had kept a
beacon light going, hoping it might bring some one to their assistance.
Several had proved themselves good hunters, so they did not suffer for
something to eat, although their diet was a limited one.

At last the _Evans_ put in an appearance, and lots were drawn as to who
should go aboard. Tolney Greene was one of the lucky ones, and the
_Evans_ had left, promising to leave word regarding the others at
Upernivik and other ports.

"Oh, I am so thankful to know that father is alive!" said Chet to Andy.

"I am glad, too, Chet," answered his chum. "I hope you meet him as soon
as we get back."

"So do I. But it's a long sail, Andy!" And Chet heaved a sigh.

One day was spent in getting the things aboard the _Ice King_, and then
the bow of the steamer was turned southward, and the long trip homeward
was begun.

It was a slow and tedious journey, with many perils from icebergs and
fogs, and during that time Captain Williamson had more trouble with Pep
Loggermore. As a result, the sailor was put in irons. At Upernivik he
was allowed to go ashore, and that was the last seen of him.

"If he has deserted, I am glad of it," said the captain, and Andy and
Chet said the same.

At Upernivik the Esquimaux were paid off, and Barwell Dawson rewarded
Olalola as he had promised. The native shook hands warmly with the boys.

"Nice boys," he said. "Olalola wish he had boys like you!"

"Take good care of yourself, Olalola," said Andy.

"And if you ever visit the States, come and see us," added Chet.

"No come to States," said the Esquimau. "Too big sun, fry Olalola like
fat!" And this quaint remark made the lads laugh.

At Upernivik the _Ice King_ took on a fresh supply of coal, and then
without delay continued on her journey southward. Chet had had a long
talk with Barwell Dawson, and the explorer had promised to stop at
Halifax to learn what had become of the _Evans_ and Mr. Greene.

"And I will do all in my power to see that your father gets a square
deal," added Mr. Dawson. "Of course, if he is guilty, I can do nothing
for him, but if he is innocent, then we'll do what we can to bring the
guilty parties to justice."

"I know he is innocent," answered Chet, stubbornly.

"I trust that you prove to be right, Chet," was all the explorer could
say.

As the steamer drew southward the weather became milder, until it was a
real pleasure to be on deck. The boys discarded their furs, which they
hung up as relics of the great trip.

"Looking back, it seems like a dream, doesn't it?" said Andy.

"A good deal that way," responded his chum.

"I suppose by this time the whole country is talking about what Dr. Cook
and Commander Peary have done."

"More than likely."

At last they reached Halifax, and all in a quiver of excitement Chet
made inquiries regarding his father. He learned that Mr. Greene had had
a chance to ship for Portland, Maine, and had done so, eight days
previously.

"I'll meet him there!" cried Chet.

"So you will," answered Andy. "For we are going to Portland instead of
Rathley."

The run to Portland was made without special incident, and as soon as
the _Ice King_ had tied up, Chet went ashore, with Andy, to hunt up the
_Evans_.

He found that the craft lay at a dock three blocks away and soon covered
the distance. She had come in the day before, and was busy unloading her
cargo.

"So you are Tolney Greene's son, eh?" said the captain to Chet. "I've
heard of you, for your father spoke of you several times."

"And where is he?"

"Started for home yesterday--to find you, he said, and to catch a rascal
named Hopton, who had gotten him into trouble."

"Hopton!" ejaculated Andy, who was present. "Do you mean a man named A.
Q. Hopton?"

"That's the fellow. Mr. Greene had it in for him good and proper. He
committed some kind of a crime, and then fixed it on Mr. Greene, but
Greene had the evidence against him--picked it up somewheres, just after
signing to go on the _Betsey Andrews_."

This was all the captain of the _Evans_ could say, but it was enough,
and without delay Chet arranged to go to Pine Run, and Andy said he
would go along. Barwell Dawson agreed to meet them later, and insisted
upon giving each youth a small roll of bankbills, for expenses.

It was midsummer, and hot,--a big contrast to the weather which the lads
had so recently experienced. As the train rolled toward their home they
discussed Mr. Greene's affairs, and wondered how Mr. A. Q. Hopton had
gotten him into trouble.

"But he is equal to it," said Andy. "I know that by the way he tried to
treat me, and how he tried to pull the wool over Uncle Si's eyes."

"Where do you suppose your Uncle Si is now?"

"Hanging around, most likely, waiting for something to turn up," replied
Andy.

"I hope you're not going to let him have any of that money Mr. Dawson
gave you."

"Not a cent. If he wants any money, he'll have to go to work and earn
it."

At last the two youths reached Pine Run, and both walked to the general
store, that being the center for information as well as supplies. The
storekeeper looked at them in surprise.

"Back again, eh?" he cried.

"Have you seen my father?" questioned Chet.

"Yes, he was here this morning, Chet. He was full of business."

"Where did he go?"

"Up to your cabin. He was very much put out that you had gone away."

"Do you know anything of my Uncle Si?" asked Andy.

"Well, rather." The storekeeper laughed outright. "Richest thing ever
was!" he chuckled.

"What?"

"The way the men around here treated him. They got tired of his laziness
and habit of borrowing money, and told him he must go to work. He
wouldn't do it at first, and they hauled him out of bed one night, and
said they were going to tar and feather him. Then he got scared to
death, and promised to go to work, and he's been at work ever since--over
at Larrington's sawmill. He came in last Saturday and paid his bill in
full, and bought some groceries for spot cash. I reckon he's turned over
a new leaf."

"I'll be thankful if he has," said Andy.

"By the way," continued the storekeeper, "he was talking of some
property that is coming to you."

"Property?"

"Yes,--some timber land in Michigan. I believe you had the papers and
lost 'em. Well, one day some hunters found the papers in the
woods--pretty well soaked, but all there--and they brought 'em to your
Uncle Si. He's got 'em now, and he's waiting to hear from you. He told
me a real estate fellow named Hopton wanted 'em, but he was going to
hold on to 'em until he heard from you."

"Good for Uncle Si!" cried Andy. "He is coming to his senses at last! I
am glad the papers have been found. I must see him at once!"



CHAPTER XXXI

GOOD NEWS--CONCLUSION


To get to his own place, Chet had to pass the cabin belonging to Andy,
and so the chums left the village together, in a carriage they hired
with some of the money Barwell Dawson had given them.

The thoughts of each youth were busy, so but little was said by them
during the journey. As they came in sight of Andy's home, they saw smoke
curling from the chimney.

"Uncle Si must have gotten back from work," said Andy. "Most likely he's
cooking supper. Chet, will you stop?"

"Well, I'd rather see my father first," was the answer.

"I don't blame you. Well, come over tomorrow, unless----Hello, there is a
stranger!"

Andy pointed to a man who had come to the cabin door, he having heard
the sound of the carriage wheels. Chet stared hard at the individual.
Then he took a flying leap to the ground and ran forward.

"Father!"

The man started, and then flung out his hands.

"If it isn't Chet--my own son Chet!" he burst out, joyfully. "I was just
wishing with all my heart that I knew where you were." And he shook
hands over and over again.

"And I've been hurrying to you as fast as I could for weeks," answered
Chet, with a glad look in his eyes. "I heard you were at our cabin, and
was going there."

"I was there, and came here to ask Mr. Graham about you," answered
Tolney Greene.

Josiah Graham had come to the door, holding in his hand a frying pan
containing bacon. He gave one look at the newcomers.

"Andy!" he burst out, and in his amazement let the frying pan clatter to
the doorstep, scattering the strips of bacon in all directions. "Is it
really you, or your ghost?"

"No ghost about me, Uncle Si," answered the boy. "They tell me you have
gone to work."

"Why, er--ye-as, I have a job at the sawmill."

"I am glad to know it."

"I--er--I got over my sickness, an' so I'm a-goin' to work stiddy after
this," went on Josiah Graham, lamely.

"That's the best news I've heard in a year."

"Where have you been, Andy?"

"Oh, on a little trip, to the North Pole and elsewhere," was the cool
reply.

"You're joking me! But have your fun,--it ain't none o' my affair. But I
want to tell yer somethin'," went on the old man, impressively. "I got
them papers back."

"So I heard. I hope you'll not give them to that A. Q. Hopton."

"Not much! Hopton is a swindler--I found thet out in Portland, when I was
there."

"What about Hopton?" demanded Mr. Greene, who had been in earnest
conversation with Chet. "Do you mean the real estate dealer?"

"I do," answered Josiah Graham.

"Where is he now? He is the man who caused me all my trouble. Just let
me get at him! He covered up his tracks pretty well, but I've now got
the evidence against him."

"I don't know where Hopton is now, but I guess I kin find out," answered
Josiah Graham.

All entered the cabin, and there each told his story in detail. The men
listened to the boys in open-mouthed wonder.

"And to think you came north, and was so close to me!" said Mr. Greene
to his son.

He said he had been half crazy when he signed articles for the trip on
the _Betsey Andrews_. Then he had gotten word about A. Q. Hopton, and
had discovered that the real estate man was guilty of the crimes of
which he himself was accused. He had gone to the captain of the whaler
to get his release, but the captain had refused to let him go, and had
locked him up aboard the ship until the voyage was well begun.

"He was a strange man, that captain," said Mr. Greene. "And it is no
wonder that he lost his ship and his life in the frozen north."

"And you have the evidence to prove your innocence, and prove this A. Q.
Hopton guilty?" asked Chet.

"Yes, my son, I can prove that Hopton was guilty, and nobody else."

"Oh, how glad I am of it!" murmured Chet.

A substantial supper was prepared for all,--Andy assisting his uncle in
getting it ready.

"Uncle Si isn't a bit like his old self," whispered Andy to Chet, when
they sat down. "Going to work has waked him up and made another man of
him."

"Hope he sticks to it," answered Chet.

That evening, after all the stories had been told in detail, Josiah
Graham brought out the papers Andy had lost in the woods. As the
storekeeper had said, they had been well soaked by the snow and rain,
but they were still decipherable.

"I am going to tell Mr. Dawson about them, and then turn them over to
some first-class lawyer," said Andy. "If they are really worth anything,
I want to know it."

On the following day the two boys and Mr. Greene returned to Portland.
Chet's father conferred with the police, and as a consequence Mr. A. Q.
Hopton was located, some days later, in Augusta, and placed in custody.
He was subjected to a close examination, and finally broke down, and
confessed his guilt. He said that Tolney Greene had had nothing to do
with the crimes, and Chet's father was completely exonerated. He also
told about the timber land in Michigan, and through a firm of good
lawyers Andy's claim to a substantial interest was established,--an
interest said to be worth fifteen thousand dollars.

"With all that money, you won't have to work no more," said Josiah
Graham to the boy.

"But I am going to work, just the same," answered Andy. "And you are
going to work with me, Uncle Si. Some day, we'll have a big lumber camp
of our own."

"And what is thet Greene boy goin' to do?"

"He is going into partnership with me--when we are old enough," answered
Andy.

"Do you think it's wuth it, to work so hard when you've got so much
money?" asked Uncle Si, wistfully.

"Certainly I do. It's the best thing for me--and for you, too. I
shouldn't want to be idle, even if I was a millionaire."

"Well, jest as you say, Andy." The old man heaved a long sigh. "I
suppose you are right--anyway, it's your money." And then he went to work
again, and said no more on the subject.

As soon as his name was cleared, Tolney Greene looked around for work.
Through Andy's influence, he obtained the position of superintendent at
the lumber tract in Michigan, and Chet went to work with him.

"And what are you going to do?" asked Chet of Andy, one day.

"I am going to rest for a month or so," was the answer. "Then Mr.
Dawson, who has been appointed my guardian, is going to send me to a
first-class boarding school."

"And after that, Andy?"

"I am going into the lumber business--and you are going with me, Chet."

"Me?"

"Yes."

"But I haven't any money."

"Never mind, when I go in for myself you are going to have an interest,"
replied Andy, and his tone showed that he meant what he said.

The report that the Barwell Dawson expedition had reached the North Pole
created a great stir. Many would not believe it, and the explorer and
Professor Jeffer were called upon to submit proofs. This they did
willingly. Then Barwell Dawson was asked to lecture, but declined. But
Professor Jeffer took to the platform, and made a great deal of money
thereby, and from the book he issued later.

"It was a grand trip--a truly marvelous trip," the professor was wont to
say. "But--but I do not think I desire to go again."

"You are right," answered Barwell Dawson. "Once is sufficient. After
this I shall devote my time to hunting and exploring in localities not
quite so cold."

"And where there is plenty of food," put in Andy.

"Yes, don't forget the food," said Chet. "As long as I live I never want
to get so close to starving again!"

And all the others agreed with him.

THE END





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