Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Johnny Longbow
Author: Snell, Roy J. (Roy Judson), 1878-1959
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Johnny Longbow" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                       _Mystery Stories for Boys_



                             Johnny Longbow


                                  _By_
                              ROY J. SNELL


                          The Reilly & Lee Co.
                          Chicago    New York


               _Printed in the United States of America_

                           _Copyright, 1928_
                                   by
                          The Reilly & Lee Co.
                         _All Rights Reserved_



                                CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  I The Last Arrow                                                    11
  II Mysterious Fear                                                  36
  III The Knife in the Tree                                           54
  IV Green Gold                                                       64
  V A Mad Moose                                                       70
  VI A Strange Meeting                                                80
  VII A Look Beyond                                                   95
  VIII A Haven of Refuge                                             105
  IX A Moving Island                                                 121
  X Treachery in the Night                                           135
  XI The Dancing Shadow                                              148
  XII The Great Banshee                                              153
  XIII The Answered Challenge                                        164
  XIV A Mysterious Visit in the Night                                169
  XV On the Trail of the Great Banshee                               182
  XVI Down with the Avalanche                                        188
  XVII The Giant Hunchback                                           202
  XVIII Saved by a Line                                              216
  XIX Gordon Duncan’s Story                                          233
  XX Adrift in the Night                                             243
  XXI The Battle of the Bears                                        251
  XXII The Hunchback Leads On                                        264
  XXIII Three Bear Skins                                             271
  XXIV Left Behind                                                   279
  XXV Adventure in Pantomime                                         285
  XXVI Into the Ice Jamb                                             293
  XXVII Green Gold at Last                                           304



                               CHAPTER I
                             THE LAST ARROW


Johnny Thompson caught his breath as his feet shot from beneath him and
he plunged into a rushing torrent of icy water. Thoughts flashed across
his mind, mental pictures of homes and firesides. Echoes of laughter
sounded in his ears.

Yet in this wilderness there was no laughter save the boisterous roar of
an Arctic stream. There were no homes save those of the muskrat, the
beaver and the white owl. The nearest cabin was fifty miles or more back.
An all but impassable forest of scrub spruce, fir and pine lay between.
There was time for but a flash back before Johnny found himself fighting
for his life against the torrent that was dragging him over rocks and
sunken logs, splashing, ducking, pulling at him and threatening every
moment to make an end of him.

But Johnny Thompson was not one to be beaten at once by this rushing
torrent of northern Canada. Swimming strongly, warding off overhanging
branches here, dodging great protruding boulders there, he still watched
for a gently shelving bank that might offer him so much as a moment’s
rest. Since no such haven offered itself at once, he shot the rapids like
a salmon.

A long, slender oiled canvas sack hung at his back. Twice this threatened
to prove his undoing. It caught upon a tough willow branch and dragged
him beneath the surface. Hardly had he freed himself than this same sack
that apparently contained some stiff and stubborn affair of wood or steel
caught in a rocky crevice to throw him high and wide. This involuntary
pole vault left him with breath quite crushed out, but still struggling.

Suddenly, straight ahead, he caught sight of that which must prove his
salvation or his undoing. Undermined by the torrent a green spruce tree
lay squarely across his path.

Ten seconds to wonder. Would he be caught in the branches and drowned, or
would he mount those same branches to freedom?

Sixty seconds of terrific battle and the splendid muscles of the boy won
against relentless nature. Panting, triumphant, he sat astride the
branches.

He was saved. There remained but to climb back to land. He was cold and
wet. A roaring fire would remedy that. His blanket roll lay where he had
tossed it on this side of the stream before he attempted to ford the
treacherous tumult of water. The way back to his blankets would be rough
going. He’d manage that.

But suddenly the smile on his face faded. His eyes had fallen upon the
long sack that had hung at his back.

“Gone,” he muttered, “torn open by the same branch. And they’re gone, all
gone but one.”

After adjusting the torn fastenings as best he could, he worked his way
over the swaying tree trunk to solid earth. Then with sober face, he
began making his way back over the rocks to the spot where his blanket
roll lay. The situation was a serious one.

An hour later he sat before a roaring campfire of fir and balsam boughs.
Dressed in a change of clothing and wrapped in a blanket, with his
costume of an hour before sending clouds of steam toward the sky, he
might have seemed the picture of contentment. He was far from contented.
Presently he removed a small coffee pot from the fire and poured a cup of
dark brown liquid. The aroma of coffee seemed good. He smiled. Then,
without sugar or cream, he gulped it down black and hot. Nor did he eat
after that. There was nothing to eat.

Had you chanced to look into his pack you would have found there neither
firearms nor ammunition. The nearest cabin that he knew of in all that
vast northern wilderness was fifty miles back over an ill-defined trail.
That cabin was deserted. He had slept there four nights back.

So Johnny sat by the fire meditating, thinking on matters of greater or
less importance. And as he meditated, at a point somewhat more than a
mile downstream, as the crow flies, a figure appeared among the rocks
that kept the rushing stream in tumult.

A girl in her late teens, she moved out from among dark pines into a
patch of light. The touches of sunset, lighting up her dark brown hair
and adding a touch of gold to her ruddy freckled cheeks, transformed her
for the moment into a goddess of the forest.

Sensing the change, she stood motionless as a statue for a full moment.
Then, into that glory of the sunset she smiled, and the smile made her
seem more alive than any wild thing that had ever ventured to the brink
of that tumultuous stream.

In her hand she held a rustic bucket. Its handle, a thong of caribou
sinew, its bottom a circle of wood cut from some fallen spruce tree, its
sides white birchbark, this bucket seemed a part of the wilderness.

As she stooped to fill the rustic bucket, her eyes caught sight of some
unusual object bobbing up and down in the water.

One moment, a flash of red and gold, she saw it. The next it was lost in
a rush of foam. In a twinkling the bucket was dropped among the rocks and
she went racing downstream in hot pursuit.

A hundred yards, leaping from boulder to boulder, she plunged onward
until, red-cheeked, panting, she came upon an eddy, a still dark pool,
twenty feet across, and at its very center, moving serenely about, was
the coveted prize.

With the aid of the slow current and a long dry pole, she succeeded at
last in coaxing the thing ashore.

As she grasped it, a trio of bright feathers bound to a slender shaft
came to view. She caught her breath again. And as she pricked her hand on
the broad head sharp as a razor at the other end of the shaft, her face
lost some of its heightened color.

Turning, she raced back to the spot where the crude bucket still rested.
There, without pausing to complete her errand, she dashed up the slope to
a spot where a tumbled-down cabin rested among the trees.

A man, very tall, very straight and quite old, a bearded patriarch, rose
at her approach.

“Grandfather!” she exclaimed, almost in a whisper. “We must leave this
cabin at once.”

The old man threw her a questioning look. For answer she held up the
arrow she had found floating feather up in the stream.

Taking it from her, he examined it closely in the waning light.

“White man,” he pronounced at last, as if reading from a book. “Somewhat
new at the game, but possessed of a considerable knowledge of the art. A
very good arrow.

“We must go up,” he said after a moment of silence. “We will go up at
once.”

They entered the cabin together. Some twenty minutes later, with well
arranged packs on their backs, they emerged from the shadowy interior to
go marching briskly down toward the banks of the rushing stream. There
they began leaping from rock to rock. In this manner they traveled a
considerable distance without leaving a single tell-tale footprint
behind.

So they moved on into the twilight, a powerful old man and a short,
sturdy girl, marched on into a wilderness that is acquainted only with
the voice of the wolf, the caribou and the white owl.

Once as they paused for a moment’s rest beside a great flat rock, the
girl removed some object from her pack and held it up to the uncertain
light.

“It’s strange,” the old man rumbled. “An arrow, a well-shaped,
well-constructed arrow with a death-dealing steel point! Had it been a
shot gun shell, that would not have seemed strange. But an arrow!”

“But Grandfather, we——” The girl stroked a strong longbow that hung at
her side.

“Yes, I know.” The old man’s smile was good to see. “But we are of a
bygone race, at least I am. This is 1928. Except for such as we are, the
bow and arrow are of the past. But see!” He started up. “It is getting
dark.”

A few yards farther down the strange pair left the stream’s bank to go
clambering up a rocky run. Even here they avoided snow. And so, marching
sturdily forward, they faded into the gathering darkness and deep shadows
of pines.

You have perhaps guessed that the arrow found bobbing its way downstream
came from Johnny Thompson’s quiver. In fact at the very moment when the
old man and the girl left the cabin, he was engaged in the task of oiling
two stout bows and waxing their strings. Having done this, he looked
sorrowfully at the single broadhead arrow that remained in his quiver,
took one more long gulp of hot black coffee, then set to wondering what
lay before him.

To be facing a wilderness alone with bows and arrows as one’s sole means
of securing food might seem bad enough. To have but one arrow; what could
be worse? A missed shot, a shattering rattle against the rocks, and this
arrow might be gone forever.

And then? Blunt arrows, sent crashing into the side of resting rabbit or
sleeping ptarmigan would be as deadly as spear point when fired from
Johnny’s sixty-pound bow. There was wood all about for shafts. But what
of feathers and weights for the tips? One might come upon a sleeping owl.
Here would be feathers.

“And yet,” he told himself, “I have not seen a living thing for three
days. The country is deserted. But no, not quite. There was the caribou
track.”

Ah, yes, that very afternoon he had come upon the trail of a caribou. It
had been this very caribou that led him to disaster. The beast had
crossed the river. In attempting to follow he had come near losing his
life, and had lost all but one of his arrows.

“Ah, well,” he sighed, “to-morrow my luck will turn. A single arrow is
enough for a caribou and I am now on his side of the stream. I will take
up the trail in the morning.”

With that, after replenishing his fire, he rolled up in his blankets and
prepared for a night’s repose.

Was it the coffee? Was it hunger? Or was it the silence of the night in
that strange land that robbed him of coveted slumber? For long his eyes
remained closed. Yet sleep did not come.

At last, yielding to the inevitable, he opened his eyes wide to stare
upward through sighing pine branches to the infinite heavens above, where
a myriad stars twinkled and beamed as they appeared to leap across
tossing clusters of pine needles.

Like a story told by a poet, a picture thrown on the screen, his life of
the past few months moved before him.

Arriving from dreamy tropical seas and deep tangled swamps of Central
America, he had in late Autumn arrived at the mid-western city which was
inseparably linked with his childhood.

There, as he felt the crisp tang of autumn mornings and caught the gleams
of frost on the corn, he felt again the lure of the North.

Months of hot tropical sun lay behind him. He had come to loathe the soft
warmth that saps men’s energies, thins their blood and weakens their
wills. He yearned now for the long white trail, the screaming of sled
runners, the song of dogs that is an Arctic night.

But at this moment a fresh fancy seized him. Burton Bronson, an old-time
friend, had by chance shown him a hunting bow with which he had performed
marvelous feats. The wolf, the wild cat, mountain lion and bear had felt
the bite of his broadhead arrows.

Johnny had been skeptical. Bronson had demonstrated his power. Johnny had
come to believe. He was at once fascinated by this new form of sport. The
longbow, the arrow, and wide open spaces took him in hand.

Long weeks they led him over sand dunes, across broad prairies, through
silent forests.

When weather became too bleak for out-of-doors sport, he had retreated to
the cover of the North Shore Archery. There he had so perfected his form
that no small game was safe from his straight speeding arrow.

Then it was that his longing for the North returned. On top of this came
the resolve to stake his fortune for the immediate future on his recently
acquired skill. He would go into the North with no other weapon than the
bow and arrow. With these alone, as the savages had done before him, he
would make his way northward through Canada until, fortune attending him,
he should reach the headwaters of the mighty Yukon in time to witness
that greatest of nature’s panoramas, the Spring breakup on the river.

So here he was. Over many a long mile Fate had been kind to him. Indians
and white men alike had treated him well. They had laughed good-naturedly
at his weapons, but had admired the strength and skill he exhibited in
using them. The Indians of the first trading post had dubbed him “Johnny
Longbow.” Johnny Longbow he was after that. He was not ashamed of the
nickname, nor the things for which it stood.

Beside him now, there in the midst of the great white wilderness, lay his
two bows. One was of yew wood, backed with calfskin thin as parchment;
the other an affair of his own making. Carved from the hardest and
toughest of wood, osage orange, this bow was the pride of his life. He
loved and trusted it as a friend. It had never failed him.

“If only I had arrows for you!” he whispered now. “But we will have that
caribou to-morrow.”

With that he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Johnny Longbow’s breakfast next morning consisted of two cups of black
coffee and a handful of sour berries he found clinging to their stems
just as a premature winter had found them.

Placing his pack in the crotch of a tree and marking the spot well, he
slung his handmade osage bow across his back, thrust his lone arrow
sword-like through his belt, then marched forth into the crisp glory of
Arctic morning, to seek out the lost trail of that lone caribou.

It was late afternoon when, with heart pounding painfully against his
ribs, he stood neck deep among scrub spruce trees.

The scene before him was one to inspire an artist’s brush or lend fire to
a poet’s pen. A young buck caribou, a superb creature of shining brown
and glistening black, stood before him in a narrow circle of green.
Walled in on every side by dark young fir trees, the wild creature’s
miniature pasture seemed to have been planned by some famous director for
the setting of a scene in a wildwood drama.

The caribou was feeding toward him.

“Another minute, just one more,” he told himself.

His watch ticked loudly. It seemed certain that the wild creature must
hear. The snap of a twig off to the right came near spoiling it all. The
caribou lifted its head. Johnny’s unnerved hand all but lost its grip on
his bow.

The day’s trail had been long and tiresome. Over rocky slopes, down icy
streams, across treacherous snows, the caribou had led the way until the
boy, weak from lack of food, was near to the point where one gives up in
despair. Twice, as if to tempt him, a snowshoe rabbit leaped from his
path, only to pause among the rocks and stare at him. Twice he had strung
his bow, twice nocked his single arrow for a shot. Twice he had told
himself that a miss among those rocks meant a shattered shaft, that at
most the rabbit offered but a meal or two of indifferent food. Twice he
had slipped the arrow in his belt, had unstrung his bow to take up the
task of dogged tracking.

“It’s to be the caribou or nothing!” he had told himself. “A month’s
provision, or famine.”

And now, here, just before him, feeding peacefully, was the caribou. For
the moment he was well over at the far side of his narrow pasture. A few
moments more, and he would be close enough for a sure shot, and then! The
boy caught his breath as he thought what the speeding of that single
arrow meant to him.

Closing his eyes, he saw himself, a load of meat across his shoulders,
beating his way back to the last outpost of civilization where were
feathers, wood and steel for the making of many arrows. Then again the
picture went dark. He saw the shadow of his present self, struggling over
long lost trails, eagerly sucking bitter bark or grubbing into frozen
earth for some crude substance with which to allay his hunger.

“I must win!” he told himself stoutly. “I must not miss!”

And still, as the moments passed, as the caribou moved nearer and nearer,
the zero hour came closer to hand, he found his faith wavering.

“One arrow,” he thought over and over, “only one.”

But “Now! Now!” he breathed at last. “Can’t wait any longer.”

As the antlered monarch of the far north raised his head to stand there
silent, listening, still as a statue, Johnny’s bow twanged, his arrow
sped.

With a bound high and free the wild creature leaped away.

One, two, three bounds, and he had cleared the spot of light green.
Another, another and yet another, he went thrashing breast deep in the
young firs.

“Missed!” Johnny groaned. “Missed! And he carries into the forest my only
arrow!”

But what was this? Just as his head fell in dejection he saw the caribou
make one more leap, high and wide, then come to a sudden stand. Still
breast deep in darkest green, he appeared to view the scene before
another wild dash.

“Oh, for one more arrow!” the boy groaned.

“There is no other, so what’s the use?”

In the forlorn hope that his lone arrow might by chance have glanced and
fallen on the green, he moved toward the narrow circle of wild pasture.

Then suddenly he stood still. There had come to his sensitive ear a sound
of movement in the brush.

“Not the caribou either,” he told himself as his heart skipped a beat.
“Some wild beast of prey, a bear or a wolf.”

But no, a greater surprise awaited him. Before him, much closer to the
caribou than to him, a khaki clad back appeared. A boyish head, an old
cap, a pair of stout arms held high, a bow, a quiver of arrows. A
second’s suspense, and an arrow flew straight and fair at the statuesque
caribou.

“’Twon’t do,” Johnny told himself, rubbing his eyes. “This is Nineteen
Twenty-eight. Strange enough for me to be here. But a girl with only a
bow and arrow in these wilds? It can’t be!”

And yet it was. As he looked again the girl was still there. So too was
the caribou.

“Two arrows, and still he stands there motionless. That creature, this
place is bewitched. I’ll break the spell.”

He was about to lift his voice in a loud “hello” when the girl, turning
half about, fitted a second arrow to her bow and let fly.

“Straight to the mark, as I live!”

Johnny spoke his thought out loud. “And still he stands.”

The girl wheeled about to stare at him in blank surprise. Then, as
surprise and fear left her, she exclaimed:

“The beast is surely charmed! I’ve shot him, and yet he does not stir!”

Suddenly the shining black antlers sank low. The whole head of the
caribou disappeared in the brush. Still his body remained erect.

“Mystery here!” Johnny sprang forward.

The girl, as if in fear of losing the prize, started forward.

“It’s all right,” said Johnny. “He’s yours. I missed him fair enough.”

“You—you missed?” The girl’s tone showed surprise.

Johnny did not hear.

“Mystery solved!” he shouted back a moment later. “When he made that last
leap he landed so squarely on the tops of a half dozen young fir trees
that they did what his legs no longer could. They supported him.

“But say!” he called. “It’s queer. Come here, please.”

As the girl advanced he had time for a brief study of her fine, strong,
khaki clad figure.

“Eighteen or twenty. English or Scotch. An outdoor girl,” was his mental
comment.

“Question is,” he smiled as the girl came close, “Who’s caribou is it?
Three arrows, all quite near the heart. Two are yours, one mine.”

“You—yours?” The puzzled look of a moment before returned to the girl’s
face.

“Yes. I shot first. You did not see me. But there’s my arrow.

“But really,” his tone changed as the girl seemed suddenly crestfallen,
“there’s no need of mine and thine in the forest. I am glad as I can be
to know that there’s a fellow creature near. That was my last arrow.”

“And you are alone?”

“Quite alone.”

“You look hungry,” she said suddenly.

“I am, a little. Haven’t really eaten for—well, for some time. Luck went
against me. Couldn’t even get a fish.”

“We’ll take the caribou to camp,” she said. “It’s only a half mile, all
down grade. Grandfather—”

She broke off quite suddenly as one does who has found himself in danger
of saying too much.

“You—you have a camp of your own—” she hesitated, “perhaps—” Again she
paused.

As Johnny watched, he read in her face signs of conflicting emotions.
Native hospitality, a longing for companionship, youth calling to youth,
were battling with fear. This much he understood. But why the fear? She
had spoken of a grandfather. Surely then there could be no objection to
his joining them in a feast off the venison they had secured.

“Perhaps,” she began again. “Here,” extending her quiver filled with
arrows, “take these. We have others.”

“I’ll dress the deer and we’ll divide it,” said Johnny, exasperated by
what seemed to him cool effrontery. He did not so much as look at the
proffered arrows.

Hanging her quiver on a spruce bough, the girl assisted him in lifting
the caribou to a strong bough and stringing him up. It was then that
Johnny came to know of her superb strength.

“Like a man,” he told himself.

She sat watching in silence as he performed his task. When, however, he
had dressed the deer, severed its head from its body and was studying the
problem of a fair division without an axe or butcher’s cleaver, she spoke
again.

“Lift the fore parts to my shoulder,” she said quietly. “I think we can
carry it to camp.”

That she had arrived at some decision as he worked Johnny guessed. What
decision, and why? This he did not know.

The girl led the way. The going was rough. More than once she slipped and
all but fell. Yet each time her recovery was that of the perfect
woodsman, like the spring of a creature made of steel. Once she fell
forward, and the caribou dropped to earth. Before Johnny could come to
her aid she was up with a low laugh and lifted the burden to her shoulder
once more.

“She’s wonderful!” he told himself. “I hope——”

He was not quite sure what it was he hoped. He had been a long time in
the wilderness, had been facing starvation, too. He had not realized
until this moment how bleak and lonely it had been.

“But now—”

His thoughts were broken short off by the girl’s actions. She had come to
a sudden stop.

“Drop—drop it down here.” Her words came uncertainly.

Johnny obeyed. The next instant she had disappeared into the brush that
surrounded them on every side, nor had he seen which way she had taken.

“Gone,” he told himself.

Dismay overtook him. She might not return. There was something altogether
strange about the whole affair. But half a caribou in a wilderness! Yes,
she would return. So he sat down to wait, and as he waited, there came to
him, wafted along by a gentle breeze, faint odors of campfire smoke and
bacon frying.



                               CHAPTER II
                            MYSTERIOUS FEAR


In spite of his great hunger and the maddening odors that came to him,
filling his heart with a wild desire to break his promise, to wait no
longer, but dash into the strange camp, Johnny had fallen into a doze
when the girl, silent as a snow bunting, returned.

She touched his arm. He jumped, stared blinkingly, then smiled.

“You are American,” she said quietly.

“Yes.”

“Do you know much of Canada?”

“Nothing much. Been over the border a month; came in from the northwest.”

“I told Grandfather. Come.”

She made as if to take up her share of the burden.

With a quick move Johnny threw the entire weight of the caribou squarely
across his own shoulders.

“Lead on,” he said.

She led the way in silence. Carefully pushing the branches aside,
indicating by a downward glance a spot where the footing was uncertain,
testing a half rotted log and rejecting it as treacherous, she played the
part of a perfect guide until, with an air of finality, she parted the
spruce branches to exclaim:

“There!”

As Johnny lowered his burden to the earth he found himself astonished at
the sight before him. He had expected to see a hunter’s lodge of some
proportions, at least a homeseeker’s cabin in fair state of preservation.
Instead he found a mere lodge built of poles, bark and boughs. Walled in
on three sides, with one side open to the campfire, it formed but a
temporary abode.

“What can these people be doing in such a place and so far from the
haunts of man?” he asked himself.

He was destined to ask that question many times in the weeks that were to
come.

But now his thoughts were broken off. The girl was speaking.

“Grandfather, this is the young man,” she said simply as she nodded
toward Johnny. “He’s bringing his own venison.”

“She had a hand in it,” said Johnny modestly as a great, grizzled
six-foot Scotchman, stooping low that he might pass out of the lodge,
gave him a smile and offered a hand.

“He killed the caribou.” The girl’s laugh was low and pleasing. “After he
had killed him I shot him twice just to make sure he was dead.”

Then in a few words she narrated the adventure.

“Rather strange,” the big Scot rumbled. “But see here, young man, you are
an American, are you not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then how is it that you are hunting with bow and arrow?”

“It’s a bit of a fad, I suppose,” said Johnny, not wishing to overplay
his part. “But even in America we feel that some traditions and arts
should be preserved. There’s a lot of sport in really shooting straight
and true with one of man’s most ancient weapons. Don’t you think so?”

“I do!” the old man’s answer was emphatic. “And, furthermore, I believe
the world would be better off if it had never smelled gunpowder. We as a
generation—”

“But, Grandfather,” the girl broke in, “he has not eaten for three days.”

“No? Is that true?”

“Well,—nearly,” Johnny admitted.

“There’ll be time for talking by the evening campfire. Faye, bring out
the broiler. I’ll stir up the fire. We’ll have you a broiled venison
steak you’ll not soon forget.

“Inside the cabin by the door you’ll find a basin,” the old man went on.
“There’s water in the brook and soap in the little box under the eaves.
In the north woods one lives the simple life. But you’re welcome to such
as we have.”

Corn cakes fried in bacon grease, a rich, juicy steak broiled over the
coals, made the feast all that Gordon Duncan, the old Scot, had promised
it should be.

The meal over, pine chips that had been used in lieu of plates were
tossed into the fire, aluminum cups, spoons and forks were cleansed at
the brook, then for a space of time the three sat silently contemplating
the fire.

As he had entered the shelter in search of the basin, Johnny had allowed
his eyes to rove about the place. In one corner, tightly rolled up and
tied with thongs, were two sleeping bags. In another stood a canvas
receptacle which, he concluded, must contain bows and arrows. A single
bow of powerful proportions stood against the back wall. Not a single
firearm of any sort was in sight.

“Strange,” he had thought to himself. “Our meeting seems to have been
arranged by some great director of destinies. And yet—”

He was thinking now of the uncertainty and great secrecy that had
attended his entrance to their inner circle.

“What can one fear up here?” he thought.

At once the answer came back, “The law!”

Who has not read of the far reaching arm of the law in this land, the
Mounted Police?

“Can they be fugitives from justice?” The thing seemed absurd. And yet?

As he sat by the fire, now watching its leaping flames and now staring
into the mystery haunted darkness that lay all about him, he wondered
anew, but most of all he listened, waiting for a word that would bid him
join them here in the heart of the wilderness.

He realized as never before how lonely life in the Arctic could become,
how uncertain life’s span. He had been on the verge of starvation. Now he
was fed. His arrow, shot into the heart of the caribou, had not been
broken. He had salvaged that. It lay close beside him. Yet this was his
only arrow. There had been a little thawing of snow on sunny slopes, but
winter was still here. The low swish and sigh of the pines suggested a
cold wind from the north with a possible blizzard. To be alone in such a
storm, with but a single arrow—

As if reading the boy’s thought, the old man spoke. “We can offer you
little protection and no bed, but you are welcome to a place before our
fire.”

“I—I’ve got blankets.” Johnny’s tone was eager as he sprang to his feet.
The smile he had seen on the girl’s face returned. He believed that she
too was pleased.

“Be a great pal,” he told himself. “Strong as a man. And how she can
shoot!”

To Gordon Duncan he said, “I’ll go for my blankets.”

“Are you sure you know the way?”

“It’s by a bend in the river where three great pines shade the stream.”

“I know the place,” said the girl, springing up. “I—I’ll take you as far
as the river. You’ll have no trouble after that. There’s something of a
trail.”

Together they left the narrow circle of golden light cast by the campfire
and plunged into black shadows.

As her eyes became accustomed to the darkness, the girl appeared to
experience no difficulty in following the mere suggestion of a trail that
led down the hillside. Johnny noted the habit she had acquired of leaping
from rock to rock and avoiding snowbanks. Hardly knowing why, he followed
her example.

As they came to the bank of the rushing stream that even the winter’s
cold could not conquer, they paused for a moment to watch the moonlight
play across its surface.

The girl moved quite close to him. Their shoulders nearly touched. He
seemed to feel the splendid strength, the abounding life that was in her.
She somehow seemed a part of it all, of the forest, the night and the
rushing river.

“Do you know,” she said quietly, “I’m glad you’ve come. I—I hope you’ll
like us. Grandfather is a little queer, and he has bad spells with his
heart. And—and we can’t go back, not—not just yet.

“There’s your trail.” Her voice changed suddenly. “You won’t get lost.
But if you do, just cup your hands and shout like this: ‘Whoo Hoo.’”

Her voice rose clear and penetrating above the rush of the river. An owl
rose from a nearby tree and went flapping away. There was a scratching of
feet on the hard packed snow. From above came the answering boom of the
old man’s voice.

She was gone.

Johnny turned to hurry on his way. Still his mind was not all on the
uncertain trail. She had said they could not go back, not just yet. “Go
back to what?” he asked himself. “And why not?” Surely it was strange.
Yet he was very sure he was going to like them. He’d go where they went.
Why not? He was adventuring, living in the wilderness with bow and arrow.
Curious they should be doing the same thing. Yes, he’d go with them.

An hour of difficult tracking and he was at his camp of the night before.
Feeling not the least desire to loiter here, he slung his pack across his
back and went trudging away toward that other camp.

As he neared a certain spot on the river trail, the moonlight seeping
down through the overhanging boughs showed him footprints leading up the
slope. It took but a single glance to enable him to recognize them. They
had been made by the girl’s moccasins.

Curiosity led him to follow this fresh trail. In a space of three minutes
he was at the door of the substantial cabin, deserted but the day before
by the girl and the old man.

“They were living here. They left this for a temporary shelter. I wonder
why?”

He read the answer. They had discovered that some person besides
themselves was in the country. How had they made the discovery? Why were
they afraid?

“Time unravels all mysteries,” he told himself. “Enough for to-night that
I have found human companions and a place beside a campfire.” He returned
down the slope. A half hour later, he was lying propped by one elbow
against his blanket roll, staring at the campfire of his newfound
friends. A little way from him sat the girl.

On his return she had greeted him with one of those rare smiles. That was
about all. Ten minutes passed into eternity as they sat there in silence,
encircled by the dark mysteries of night and brooded over by the hush of
a wilderness.

Johnny’s mind was never idle. It was busy now. He was asking himself
questions. Who was this girl, so ruddy and strong? And who was her
grandfather? Had they always lived thus in the wilds, supporting
themselves with bow and arrow alone? His fancy pictured them so; yet
reason told him it could not be true. Why were they afraid? Afraid of
being discovered? Whom did they fear?

“Oh well,” he said to himself, “it is evident that they no longer fear
me. I am from the United States and have not been long in Canada. That is
enough.”

A half formed resolve entered his mind, a resolve that was to gain in
strength as the days passed. He would not leave the company of this
strange pair until he had solved the mystery that hung over them like a
ghostly fog in the night.

The fire burned low. The north wind swept in sharp and chilling. Rising,
he took a small axe that lay close by and went into the outer darkness.
The girl rose and followed silently.

Soon they returned, dragging heavy pine logs after them. He had noted
with admiration that she chose a log as large and heavy as his own.

Three times they retreated into the darkness; three times returned
heavily laden. Then, each working at the end of a log, they replenished
the fire. Logs were piled high. Small branches were thrown on. As the
fire leaped up the girl spoke.

“Where were you going?” she asked.

“Why, nowhere in particular. Just bumming, you might say.”

She looked at him in a peculiar way.

“Well,” he said half apologetically, “it wasn’t exactly that. Been in the
North before, but not with bow and arrow; not Canada either. Alaska. The
North called me back.”

“I know.” Her voice was low and deep. “It always does.”

“As for the bow,” he spoke again, “I’m a mere novice. But there’s a charm
to such hunting that does not come with firearms. And these primeval
forests always have seemed to call to me. The wilderness has voices, a
thousand voices.”

The girl nodded.

“I took the dare that nature threw down to me,” he said abruptly, “and
here I am.”

“But your arrows? You had only one.”

“Lost the others yesterday in the river. It was deeper and swifter than I
thought.”

Rising, she went into the birchbark cabin. She returned at once with an
arrow. She held it out to him.

“This,” she said, “I believe is yours.”

“Yes,” said Johnny in great surprise. “You found it.”

“It came bobbing along to me on the surface of the river. It’s a fine
arrow. I’ve asked the fairies of this northwood to bless it. Take it
back; it may bring you good luck.”

“So that—” Johnny broke off abruptly. He was about to say, “So that is
how you knew I was near?” He would make no attempt to surprise these new
friends into divulging their strange secret. No. He would try to prove
himself worthy of their friendship and confidence.

As if conscious of that which went on within his mind, the girl lapsed
again into silence.

When at last she spoke again her tones were deep and mellow like the low
notes of a cello.

“Grandfather and I,” she said, “have gone into the woods every year since
I was ten. The bow and arrow are his hobby. They have become mine. He
never uses firearms. He has dreadfully sensitive ears. The explosion of a
shotgun drives him frantic.

“Always before,” she went on after a pause, “we have come to the
wilderness for pure pleasure, the joy of the out-of-doors. But this
year—” She paused again as if for reflection. “This year we have gone
farther than before.”

Johnny caught his breath. He had thought she was about to reveal a
secret, and didn’t more than half want to hear it. A mystery half ripened
is no mystery at all. He need not have feared.

“To-morrow,” she said, “we will go farther north.”

“Why?” The word slipped out unguarded.

She looked at him in silence, then said quite calmly, “I don’t know why,
not quite all together. This year Grandfather acts quite strangely. He
tells me he sees signs.”

“Of what?”

“He—he doesn’t tell me that. Perhaps he doesn’t quite know. He is very
old; yet his mind is bright, clear as a bell. He—”

Suddenly the girl put out a hand to touch Johnny’s lips. She had caught a
sound that had escaped him. The old man was returning. Ten seconds later
he came tramping in through the brush.

“Everything is splendid,” he beamed. “Been five miles downstream. The
trail is good. Country is opening up. To-morrow we will go on.

“Ah!” he sighed as he dropped on a bed of pine needles. “You know how to
make a fire, you two. It feels good!” He rubbed his hands together with
great satisfaction.

That night, ere he made up his bed of pine needles before the fire and
rolled up in his blanket for a few hours of perfect repose, Johnny
witnessed a curious and impressive ceremony.

As they sat there before the fire, the three of them, Gordon Duncan took
from his pocket a small, well worn volume. After thumbing its pages for a
moment, he found a place and began to read. The words of a very ancient
poet, who had learned centuries ago to place his trust in a power that
was higher and greater than all earthly things, came from the lips of the
venerable Scot like a benediction.

When at last he closed the book and lifted his voice in petition, it was
as if they were savages, children of nature, an old man, a girl and a
boy, as if the earth were new again and they were asking the All Seeing
One to send caribou, rabbit and ptarmigan, to withhold the cunning of the
wolf and the power of the bear, to hold the bitter north wind in check
and send the gentle south wind to fan their cheeks.

When it was over, when the old man and the girl had retired to their
frail shelter for the night, and Johnny had wrapped himself in blankets
before the fire of pine logs, he felt within him a glow of warmth and a
sense of security such as he had not experienced before in all his
wanderings.

The next day a strange discovery was made. A fresh mystery pressed itself
upon them. In the unraveling of this mystery, Faye Duncan was to take a
fair part.



                              CHAPTER III
                         THE KNIFE IN THE TREE


Next morning as they sat munching corn bread and strips of caribou
broiled on the coals, Gordon Duncan put down his coffee cup and turned to
Johnny.

“Young man,” he began, “in the home of my childhood on the crags of the
Scottish Highlands, the word stranger spelled welcome. Here we have no
home worthy of the name. Even this we are leaving for the unknown that
lies just beyond. Your way leads down the river; or if you can so shape
your course that it may be so, we would be glad to have you join us.”

There was a gentleness and a warmth in the old man’s tone that went to
the boy’s heart. Before making reply, however, he turned toward the girl.
At once he was rewarded by that frank and friendly smile.

“I am going nowhere in particular,” he said. “I am thankful for human
companionship, more thankful than I can tell. Yesterday I was in a bad
way. It may be that you have come between me and starvation. I should be
ungrateful indeed did I not remain with you with a hope that I might in
some way repay your kindness.”

“Young man,” in Gordon Duncan’s eyes shone a gleam of light, “in this
world one seldom repays a kindness, an act of courtesy or a friendly lift
along the way, but one may always pass it on to some other member of the
great human family. He—but we are talking too long. The trail beckons.”

Packs were soon made. Johnny was surprised at the lightness of the
sleeping bags used by his friends. “Scarcely five pounds apiece,” he told
himself. Bacon, cornmeal, coffee, a few dried beans, three cans of
condensed milk, such was the food supply of these wanderers. Each took in
his pack as much caribou as he could comfortably carry. When Johnny saw
that the girl proposed to carry a full third of the load, he offered to
carry her caribou meat.

As she received his offer, her face flushed and her lips parted as if
with a quick retort. Then, seeming to sense the spirit in which the offer
was made, she allowed those same lips to open in a friendly smile as she
said:

“I am used to the load. Without it I should not be hungry at noontime. It
is enough if you break trail for us.”

Johnny soon realized the truth of this last remark. The effect of the
slight thaw of two days before was gone. The snow on the sloping
hillside, hard packed as it was by many an Arctic blast, offered a
surface so smooth and hard that more than once his feet shot from beneath
him and he went speeding straight down to the gentler slopes a hundred
feet below.

To avoid following his example the old man with his hunting knife cut
steps across the perilous places.

Noon found them nearing a clump of pines. As they came close to it, some
object quite like a rolling ball of snow moved swiftly before them.

At once Faye’s pack was off her shoulder and her stout arms stringing her
bow as she whispered,

“Birds. Ptarmigan. A whole covey of them!”

Next moment she and Johnny were off in swift pursuit.

After a half hour’s exciting chase, they returned with four of these
white quail of the Arctic. To Johnny’s chagrin, Faye had out-shot him
three to one.

“But you are not used to these birds,” she said generously. “You’ll learn
soon enough.”

The days were growing long. There seemed little reason for haste. For,
where were they going, after all? They took time to build a fire and
prepare a hearty meal. The birds they saved for supper. For the present
they feasted on caribou meat.

“It is well,” said Gordon Duncan, “to build up muscle, fat and bone while
you may. So you will be able in the time of want to withstand the pangs
of hunger. Savage people everywhere know this. We in our sleek
complacency of plenty too soon forget.”

It was mid-afternoon when the thing happened which was destined to change
the entire order of their lives and carry them away on a mad quest that
might well end in disaster and death.

It often happens as one travels along life’s pathway that he comes of a
sudden to that which is to change the very nature of his being. But does
he know it? More often than otherwise he does not. It was even so now. As
the wandering trio came over the crest of a ridge and began to descend
into a valley down a narrow run that led them back to the river, they saw
before them a scraggy pine of unusual height. Surrounded as it was by a
low growth of cottonwoods, it seemed a beacon.

To one member of the party it was a beacon. Hardly had Gordon Duncan’s
eyes fallen upon it than he suddenly pressed a hand to his forehead to
exclaim:

“The tree! As I live! The very tree!”

“Why Grandfather! What—” The girl looked at him in alarm.

He was gone. Leading on at a pace that was hard to follow, he headed
directly for the lone pine.

Once there, he dropped on hands and knees to point at some object
protruding from the gnarled trunk of the giant tree.

“The knife!” he said hoarsely. “The knife!”

At that he fell backward, panting for breath.

All the splendid color left Faye Duncan’s cheeks as she bent over his
prostrate form and began struggling with the buttons of his mackinaw and
shirt.

“It’s his heart,” she said. “There’s nothing much we can do. He’ll come
round presently. But some day—”

She did not finish, but the wrinkles that came in her brow told all.

“But what does it mean?” said Johnny pointing to the hilt of a hunting
knife that protruded a short two inches from the trunk of the pine. “Must
have been there twenty years. A few years more and it would have been
completely buried.”

If Faye Duncan knew what that knife meant and why it had stirred up such
violent emotions in her grandfather’s breast, she did not say so. She sat
staring at the thing that had brought tragedy so near.

Giving up the problem, Johnny kindled a small fire, then put water on to
boil for coffee.

Presently the old man sat up to stare dully about him. The instant his
eyes fell upon the knife hilt they were alight once more.

“Twenty-one years!” he muttered, pressing his forehead once more.
“Twenty-one years! All these years, and now I have found it—perhaps too
late.”

At that he began fumbling at an inside coat pocket. In the end he drew
forth a small square packet. Having unrolled a wad of thin oiled cloth,
he unfolded a square of soft white skin. On this, done perhaps in pencil
and later traced with India ink, were many lines and strangely shaped
figures. Here and there words were written.

Drawn involuntarily to his side, the boy and girl stared at the map with
surprised and eager eyes.

Johnny read words written there: “The river,” “Mountains,” “The Pass,”
“The cabin,” he read. And last, but not least, “Green Gold.”

Apparently quite unconscious of their presence, the old man placed a
trembling finger on a certain spot and mumbled:

“We are here. The trail leads downstream, four miles perhaps. The river
forks there. We cross the river below the fork, and ascend the upper
fork. The trail leads over the mountains. The cabin lies beyond the
mountain, the cabin and green gold. A mine of green gold. That was
Timmie’s dream. But then, perhaps he was mad. But there was green gold,
quantities of it, and so heavy, so—”

He looked up and for the first time became conscious of Faye and Johnny.

“We’ve found the tree,” he said simply, as if they should know all about
it. “The trail leads downstream a little way, then across the river.”

By the haunted look in her eyes, Johnny read that Faye Duncan knew little
regarding the strange turn affairs had taken.

“It’s his heart,” she whispered. “We must keep him quiet.”

“Yes,” she said to Gordon Duncan, “the trail leads downstream. We will
take it to-morrow. For the night we will camp beneath this friendly old
giant of a tree and rest.”

“Rest!” said Gordon Duncan, a great weariness overtaking him. “Rest.
That’s what we need. And then,” with a fresh eagerness, “then the long,
long trail. Green gold it was, green like the copper in the bed of the
stream, but gold, real gold.”

Johnny assisted in arranging a comfortable resting place for him, then he
nursed his small fire along until it was a laughing, roaring young
conflagration.

“The trail leads downstream and across the river,” he thought to himself.
“Fine chance!” He could catch the rush of waters a hundred yards away.
That was the river. He had tried crossing that rushing torrent once, and
had come near losing his life.

“Never again!” he told himself. “Unless in a boat. And where in all this
wild land does one get so much as a birchbark canoe?”

As if reading his thoughts the old man sat up quite suddenly.

“Somewhere down the river,” he said, “the land slopes away into low
hills. Here the river is less rapid. It freezes over. If we get there
before the breakup, we may cross on the ice. But that,” he added, “is a
long, long trail.”



                               CHAPTER IV
                               GREEN GOLD


“A long, long trail.” The old man’s words echoed in Johnny’s ears as half
an hour later, he sat before the fire of great glowing logs. Chilled by
the cold and the dark, warmed by the golden glow of human companionship,
he sat there half asleep, when the girl spoke.

Strangely enough, her words echoed his thoughts.

“A long, long trail,” she was saying in a tone that was resonant with
mystery and longing.

“He has come upon something,” she said after a moment of silence, “from
out his past.” She turned to nod at the rude brush shelter beneath which,
deep in his sleeping bag, the old man slumbered. Worn out by excitement
and his sudden heart attack, he had yielded to his granddaughter’s
entreaties, and retired early.

As for the girl and the boy, nothing was further from their thought than
sleep. They had come to a valley of decision. This they knew.

“He will go,” the girl said, glancing again at the sleeping one. “That
trail has to do with his past. More than twenty years ago, with a partner
called Timmie, he went into these mountains prospecting. I know little
enough about it. What I know my mother told me. She’s dead now; been dead
eight years. He is all I have, and I am his only grandchild.”

Once more, save for the little circle of light sent out by the campfire,
all was darkness. Save for the snap and crack of burning logs, all was
silence.

A light wind stirred the branches of the giant pine beneath which they
had camped. As if endeavoring to tell the secret of the hunting knife
buried deep in its heart, it sighed and whispered with the breeze.

“He came back once, my mother told me,” the girl went on at last. “It was
a whole year later. Someone found him wandering in the forest. He was
snow-blind and delirious. In the long weeks of sickness that followed he
babbled of Timmie, of a mine of green gold, and of a knife driven into a
tree.

“That,” she said, pointing to the giant pine, “is the tree. It must be.
And that is the knife.”

“But what of Timmie? What of green gold?” Johnny’s voice was low.

“I don’t know. I only know,” she said slowly, “that he will go all the
way over that long, long trail. It is his last great adventure. He may
not live to complete it. There is his heart. He may—”

She became silent. Cupping her chin in her hands, she stared at the fire.

“Do you know,” she said at last, without changing her position, “our home
is a wonderful place. It’s only a cottage. But a cottage may be quite
wonderful. In summer vines grow all over it, and old fashioned roses
bloom by its side. The song sparrow, quite unafraid, builds her nest in
the vines and squirrels come from the woods to sit on our doorstep. It’s
home.”

She repeated the word softly, “Home. Nothing in the world could be more
wonderful than a home.”

Again silence, and the night closed in upon them.

“You are thinking,” said the girl at last.

“I was thinking of you and of your grandfather.”

“Grandfather is well worthy of your thoughts. He gave his two sons to his
country. The war, that terrible war! They never came back. One was my
father. I—I think my mother died of grief. But Grandfather, he just
carried on.”

Yes, Johnny believed Gordon Duncan worthy of his thoughts. For the
moment, however, he was thinking of the girl, following her in his mind’s
eye over that long, long trail marked out on Gordon Duncan’s map; saw her
making her way forward staunchly, fearlessly into the great unknown with
an old man as her only companion.

“And then death overtakes her grandfather,” he whispered to himself.

He tried to picture her making her way alone, back over those endless
perilous miles.

“It can’t be done,” he told himself again.

A sudden resolve brought him sitting bolt upright.

“That green gold interests me,” he said in as quiet a tone as he could
command.

“You don’t believe there is such a thing?”

He read incredulity in the girl’s words.

“Stranger things have been discovered.”

Of a sudden the meaning of his words came to her.

“You will go with us?”

Her hand was on his arm, her eyes searching his face.

“I have nothing more worth while to do.”

“Oh!” she breathed, and again, “Oh!” He felt the pressure of her hand on
his arm, that was all.

For a long time after that there was silence.

The next day they took up that long, long trail, and the day following
saw one member of the party very near to the end of all trails.



                               CHAPTER V
                              A MAD MOOSE


Johnny Thompson was tired. He was hungry, and was feeling down on his
luck. He had hunted the rugged hills since early morning, yet no game had
gone into his bag save one great white owl.

“I wonder where Faye is?” he thought to himself. “Hoped I’d meet her on
this ridge.”

He still hoped this. It was a long, lonely tramp back to camp, and he was
a sociable being. Besides, he felt rather sure that she, like himself,
had met with little luck, and misery loves company.

On the morning of that second day after the momentous decision they found
themselves below the fork of the river, standing on the bank of a
tumultuous stream. Beyond this ice-rimmed torrent lay Gordon Duncan’s
promised land. How were they to bridge the chasm? It seemed certain that
Gordon Duncan was right. Once the stream left the high, rocky hills, its
mad rush must be abated. They might then cross upon the ice, or at least
on a raft.

But their supply of provisions was low. The way was long. Gordon Duncan
was not yet restored to his full strength. Having found a rocky shelf
walled in by nature on three sides, they decided to give the day over to
hunting. Gordon Duncan would make camp and prepare a supply of wood.
Johnny and the girl would hunt with bow and arrow. The ground seemed
suited for the chase. Here and there were treeless spots overgrown with
blueberry bushes. Where the wind had swept the snow, frozen berries clung
stubbornly to their stems. Ptarmigan might be feeding here. Willow bushes
close to the river bank showed fresh markings done by snowshoe rabbits.
Once during the previous day they had chanced upon a spot where a caribou
had come gliding down a steep slope to swim the river.

“He may have recrossed lower down,” Johnny had said.

So they had gone hunting, the two of them, but not together. A narrow run
led away to the left from their camp. It was agreed that Johnny should
take the left slope of this run and Faye the right. They might meet on
the ridge above.

Since he was ready first, Johnny had struck out alone up the slope. He
had heard nothing, seen nothing of the girl all day.

Little game had come his way. Once a ptarmigan had gone fluttering out
from a clump of blueberries. He had lost himself at once in tall brush. A
great white owl hooted at him. He had bagged him at once, not for food,
but because of his broad feathers. He must make more arrows. There was an
abundance of wood. Gordon Duncan had offered him steel points. He must
provide his own feathers.

The land where he stood was rough, rocky and rolling. In places dark
tamarack stood so thick in the narrow bottoms that it was impossible to
pass. To his amazement, as he stood there looking, listening, the sound
of a tremendous tearing and thrashing suddenly smote his startled senses.
No sound came to him save the crashing of brush and rending of branches,
yet even as he looked he caught a gleam of bright red among the tamarack
trees.

“That’s strange,” he told himself, involuntarily tightening his grip on
the six foot bow. “Can’t be a bird. Too big. I’ll see what’s going on.”

Catching at a branch here, another there, without a sound he let himself
down the slope. As he dropped lower the spot of color was lost to his
view. This did not disturb him. His sense of location was splendid. A
tree taller than its fellows, a branch twisted off by some storm, a pine
squirrel’s nest, these were his beacons. If he needed further guidance,
the surprising tumult continued.

Then of a sudden as he rounded a clump of trees he saw it all at a
glance. With a checked cry of surprise he stepped swiftly back to grip
his bow and draw an arrow.

His movement was not missed. For a space of ten seconds silence reigned
in that bit of northern wild. Then, as his bow sang taut a red-eyed fury,
a giant of that wilderness, a bull moose, plunged head on, straight at
him as he crouched for a shot.

A bull moose, interrupted in his display of anger, is a terrible creature
to behold. As the boy looked into his bloodshot eyes, as he took in at
once his huge head, his broad spiked antlers, his powerful neck, he
wondered about his chances for life, and in the flash of a second knew as
never before what a glorious possession life was. Yet he did not waver
for an instant. Another life was at stake, the life of one without means
of defense.

In that tense ten seconds before the moose charged he had seen that which
caused him to doubt the accuracy of his vision. The flaming red spot in
the top of the young tamarack tree was a red sweater worn by Faye Duncan.
He had not seen that sweater before. She had worn a gray mackinaw in
their travels.

But now, still crouching, he waited his shot. It must be well aimed, back
of the shoulder, a perfect shot, or—

Twang! The arrow flew. The next instant, with agility born of long
training, he dropped sideways and backward. He was not a second too soon.
The terrible impact of that powerful head, the awful rending of those
spiked antlers; what chance had a boy against these?

With all the force and fury of a crazed elephant, the moose went
thundering straight on.

With his senses reeling, the boy fought his way into a standing position
in the tangle of briars and young trees, then drew another arrow.

It was well that he found himself so prepared, for the moose, having
checked himself in his mad career, turned and charged again. This time,
only Providence could have saved him. Enmeshed as he was in the
underbrush, he was in no position to dodge. A small tree, directly
between him and the charging terror, saved him.

Blinded by rage, the moose charged straight into the tree. The sound of
the impact was like the dropping of a pile driver. The stout tree snapped
off at the roots. But the great beast was stopped.

It was enough. Again the bow twanged. A moment later the giant moose lay
beating the brush in his death throes.

“Well,” Johnny said, turning to the girl, who by this time had climbed
down from the tree, “that’s what I call close.”

The look on her sunbrowned face was deeply serious. “Yes, it was. I am
sorry to put you in such grave danger.”

“Oh, that!” he said, shrugging. “It wasn’t great. I could have climbed a
tree. Then there would have been two of us.” He laughed.

“But you didn’t.” The look on the girl’s face was still serious. “I have
to thank you for that.”

“It’s all in a day’s adventure,” said Johnny. “Mystery and adventure add
to the joy of life. Meanwhile, between us, we have a supply of food.”

“Yes, and such a supply!”

“We had better take as much as we can carry,” Johnny sighed. He was
thinking of the weary trek back to camp. “The part we can’t carry away on
our further journeys we can hide up in the rocks where foxes and
wolverines can’t get at it. It’s a good thing to have a storehouse to
which one may return.”

The girl agreed. Drawing her hunting knife, she assisted him quite
skilfully in skinning the great beast and preparing the meat for packing.

Once as she straightened up, he read in her eyes a question. She was
looking at the skin which he thought of only as waste product.

“I’ve seen pictures of boats made of skin drawn over a framework of
wood,” she said.

“The Eskimos make them so. Large ones. Thirty-five feet long.”

“This skin is tough,” she said. “It’s large, too. I wonder—”

“Hate to trust it,” said Johnny. “Ice might cut a hole in it, then
where’d you be? Fresh water ice isn’t like salt water ice. Salt water ice
is crumbly. Fresh water ice is like flint. It gets a cutting edge.”

She said no more.

“Guess we’re ready,” Johnny said a few moments later.

Wrapping a great piece of dark red meat in a square of skin, he lifted it
to her shoulders.

“Carry it?” he said.

“Easy.”

“All right. Let’s go.”

He felt like a brute, loading a girl so; yet in future their lives might
depend upon that meat. Night was approaching. To return in the dark was
out of the question. And who could say what the little foxes, the wolves
and wolverines would do to that dead moose during the night?

So they trudged on with weary limbs, but light hearts. As the darkness
deepened there came over Johnny a feeling that was hard to analyze. It
was a pleasing sensation, and had to do with the girl. He was her
guardian, her protector. This day, with his bow and arrow he had saved
her life. There could be no question about that. The tree she had climbed
was partially dead. In time, under the mad bull’s wild onslaught, it must
have fallen.

“And then,” he shuddered at the thought.

“Do you know,” she said quite suddenly, “I didn’t do a thing to that
moose? Not a thing.”

“Except invade his territory in a bright red sweater,” Johnny chuckled.
“That was enough.”



                               CHAPTER VI
                           A STRANGE MEETING


“That moose was very far north,” said Gordon Duncan, as they sat dreaming
by the fire after their first meal of moose steak. “One seldom finds them
here. He was alone. Moose and men are like that sometimes. They prefer to
live alone. Timmie was that way. He longed for solitude.”

The old man’s eyes were half closed. He appeared to be living in the
past. “Yes,” he mused, “Timmie liked me. He promised to wait for me back
there behind the mountains. But he liked to be alone. He’s waiting there
still, behind the mountains.”

Johnny’s lips were parted for a question regarding this long lost partner
and the green gold, but feeling the pressure of the girl’s hand on his
arm, he left the question unasked.

“She’s afraid of getting him excited and bringing on another attack,” he
thought to himself.

That night as he lay rolled in his blankets and the others slept farther
back in the cave-like shelter, he fell to wondering about the strange
pair. Why had they gone so far into the wilderness? Why had they appeared
to be afraid of other human beings? Why, in the end, had they lost all
their fear of him and accepted him as a traveling companion? How much was
to be expected from the future? Was the old man’s partly told tale of a
lost partner and the finding of green gold purely a work of the
imagination, a fairy story, or was it all true? Would they find Timmie?
Was he waiting still? Would the green gold be there? Was there much green
gold? Was it valuable? Was—

So, wondering on and on, he fell asleep.

Next day, as they entered a narrow valley, after toiling down a
treacherous slope, they came quite suddenly upon a well marked trail.
Trees had been blazed here and there, and brush cleared away. True, there
were no marks of recent travel. Only here and there were signs that told
of someone passing weeks, perhaps months before. This trail came from the
left, down a narrow ravine, then paralleled the river on its way
northward.

For a long time after discovering this trail, Gordon Duncan stood quite
motionless, apparently buried in deep thought.

When at last he led the way onward, it was to take up this trail. This he
did in silence. Not a word was uttered by any member of the party.

To Johnny this silence was eloquent. What had passed in Gordon Duncan’s
mind? Had he read in this freshly discovered trail signs of danger? Had
he feared that his plans might be brought to nought? Had he, in the end,
decided to risk it, to take the chance, to follow the trail? To all these
questions Johnny could find no certain answer.

Noon came. They ate a cold lunch, then pressed forward. This day the old
man seemed eager and tireless.

“There’s more to him than I thought,” Johnny told himself as he mopped
his brow. “He may have a trick heart, but he certainly can cover the
miles, may live to see us all in our graves yet.”

By mid-afternoon they were passing over a level stretch of forest. To the
right, the left, before, behind, short stout fir trees stood like
sentries. The silence about them was oppressive. Not a branch quivered,
not a pine needle stirred. When a white owl rose and went flap-flapping
away, his wings beat noisily.

In a moment he was gone, and only the steady pat-pat of feet on the trail
was to be heard.

Then slowly, as in a dream, there came to their overstrained ears a
sound. Faint, indistinct, it seemed at first but the approach of wind
through the treetops.

As they marched straight on this sound took form, the sound of many small
tinkling bells.

“Bells!” the girl whispered, stopping short in her tracks. “Sleighbells.
A dog team.” She clutched at her mackinaw as if to still the beating of
her heart.

Without a word, the old man turned and marched away at right angles to
the trail. There was no concealing their tracks here. The ground was
level, the soft snow ten inches deep. Soon, however, they came to a
barren ridge. Here they might walk upon rocks. Soon they were lost from
sight in a dark clump of fir trees.

There, breathing silently, uttering not a word, they waited.

“Why all this secrecy?” Johnny asked himself. “They know; I do not.” He
felt annoyed by it all. He turned to the girl, and was about to speak
when, putting one hand to her lips, she pointed with the other.

A stout dog team had appeared down the trail. Behind the sled, clad in
the blue trousers and red jacket of the Mounties, trotted a strapping
six-footer.

“It’s all right.” A look of relief spread over Gordon Duncan’s face.
“It’s Corporal Simons of the Mounted. He has been in the wilderness for
months. We’ll go to meet him. He may be able to tell us of a way across
the river.”

“Queer business,” Johnny thought to himself as he followed Gordon Duncan
back to the trail.

“My old friend Gordon Duncan, as I live!” exclaimed the sturdy Corporal
as he caught sight of them. “And Faye. But Man!” he exclaimed. “Why so
far back into this great beyond? Is it safe? You with your bows and
arrows.”

“No place is far in this fair land of ours,” said Gordon Duncan. “As for
the bows and arrows, you’ll find fresh meat in our packs.”

“That’s more than you’ll find in mine,” said the Corporal, “but I’ve been
traveling light and fast on the King’s business. Sad business it is to
be, I fear. But say! The sun is about down. Back on my trail a half mile
or so is a cabin of a sort. There’s a rough fireplace and a Dutch oven on
the hearth. I thought of putting up there for the night. Since you’re
here I’ll turn back. When a man’s been on the trail among Indians and
Eskimos he welcomes a woman’s hand at the cooking. I’ve a few supplies
back there.” He gave Faye a warm smile.

“But who is this?” There was a note of distrust in his tone as he spoke.
He had seen Johnny for the first time.

“Only another nimrod we picked up by the way,” said Gordon Duncan.

“Well, we’ll be getting on. Gee!” the Corporal spoke to his leader. The
team whirled about. Grasping Faye’s pack, the driver dropped it on the
sled, then tossed her after it.

“No sort of thing for a girl to be doing,” he grumbled, “packing her way
through these wilds.”

An hour later Johnny found himself seated at the corner of a rude stone
fireplace. Before the fire, enjoying their pipes, sat Gordon Duncan and
the Corporal. From the hearth came delicious odors. From the Corporal’s
meager supply of stores Faye had secured the proper ingredients for a
cake. It was now browning to a turn in the Dutch oven.

As the boy sat there dreaming and wondering about many things he caught
the voice of the Corporal. He was telling of some recent happening.

“What do you suppose happened to the trader?” he demanded of Gordon
Duncan.

“Anything might. Snow-blindness, blizzard, wolves, an overflow on the
river.”

“Fact is he didn’t arrive.” The Corporal’s voice rose. “Those Caribou
Eskimos have come to depend upon him for ammunition. So there they are.
And there they’ll be starved in their tents. I can do nothing for them.
Should I try to return with supplies it would be too late.”

“It’s as I have always said,” Gordon Duncan’s tone was low and deep. “The
natives are better off without us. They lived before we came. How? By the
bow, the spear, the snare and the deadfall. But now we have taught them
to use firearms and if there is no ammunition they must starve.

“Two hundred miles, did you say?” He rose and began pacing the cabin
floor. “It is incredible that men should starve when we are so near.
There must be a way.”

“But there is no food here,” said the Corporal. “A dozen rounds of
provision here in this cabin. You chanced on a moose yesterday; otherwise
you would be hungry, too.”

“But the caribou will be flooding in from the Southwest.”

“In another month, perhaps sooner. What does it matter? I do not have
ammunition. Neither do you. You have only your bows and arrows.”

“Corporal Simons,” the old man paused to bang the table with his fist,
“with bows and arrows we will save them. This young man, if he will, and
Faye will go with me. We will show you what primitive weapons will do.”

“Calm yourself.” The Corporal’s tone showed consternation. “You wouldn’t
drag a young woman into that barren land. I tell you they are starving.
Desperate. Who can say what they might do? And after all,” he added,
“they are but Eskimos, mere savages. It is sad, but the world will not
miss them.”

“There are no savages,” said Gordon Duncan, resuming his place by the
fire. “In the eyes of the All Seeing One, all men are the same. In the
past many a white man, many a member of your force, has owed his life to
these simple people. Is it not so? Then we owe them their lives in
return.”

It was evident to Johnny that the Corporal knew something of Gordon
Duncan’s state of health, for at a look from Faye he said no more.

A half hour later they were seated round a rough board table graced by
such a feast as only a Scotch girl accustomed to the wilds could have
spread before them.

The evening meal over, Gordon Duncan dropped into a great rustic chair
before the fire. As Johnny watched he saw the old man start as a change
came over him. A battle of conflicting emotions played across his
expressive face. Twice he half rose in his chair. Many times he clenched
his fists tight. Three times he turned to speak to the Corporal. At last,
as he sank down deep in his chair, a look of resignation came over his
face. Peace now reigned where a battle had raged. He was soon sleeping in
his chair.

Johnny could not read all the story that had been recorded there. He knew
too little regarding the two possible courses of action that lay before
them and the purposes and emotions that were back of them. He did know
that an idea had taken possession of Gordon Duncan. He had had a partner
in the past. They had found some metal. He called it green gold. Was it?
Whatever it was, the whole soul of the old man had been bent on finding
that partner and his treasure.

Now a man, an officer of the law, had told him of a starving people. He
had at once conceived of a plan for helping them. Just what those plans
were Johnny did not clearly know. Of one thing he felt certain. Having
observed the old man and understanding something of his deep convictions,
he felt sure that he would feel compelled to go to the aid of those who
faced starvation.

“Faye will go,” the old man had said.

“Will I?” Johnny asked himself this question in all seriousness, but did
not attempt to answer it. He had seen much of life, had lived in many
climes; but to go into the great white wilderness to a desperate tribe of
starving half savages in the company of an old man and a girl, armed only
with bows and arrows—

“What good could we possibly do?” he asked himself.

The simple household duties of the cabin done, Faye joined them beside
the fire.

She had been sitting there but a short time when a great shaggy dog, one
of the Corporal’s team, rose from the floor and approached her. After
kissing her hand he laid his shaggy head in her lap.

“He knows you,” said the Corporal in surprise.

“Yes,” she said. “He used to belong to a next door neighbor. You must
have bought him from that man. We are great friends,” she said,
addressing the dog. “Aren’t we, Tico?”

At the sound of the name Tico, the dog gave forth a low woof, then stood
staring intently into her eyes.

“Tell you what,” the Corporal said quite suddenly. “I’ll give him to you.
Then if you go—” he hesitated, “wherever you go, he’ll be company,
protector and guide.

“He’s not much account in the team, anyway,” he added half
apologetically. “Too old when I took him. Dogs need to be trained young.”

“I—I—why, thank you! That would be grand, wouldn’t it, Tico?”

The dog woofed again; then, as if he had understood everything that had
been said, dropped to a place at her side.

“So now we are four,” Johnny thought to himself as, rising from his place
he took up the axe and went out into the night to gather a fresh supply
of fuel.

When he returned Gordon Duncan was still fast asleep. Sitting quite close
to the girl, the Corporal was talking in low tones. As Johnny took his
place he caught the word cabin. A little later a boat was spoken of, then
timber and a broad tundra.

Taking the stub of a pencil and a sheet of paper from his pocket, the
officer drew what was likely to be a rough map.

Johnny understood in a general way what was happening. The Corporal
realized that he had, without intending to do so, stirred up in Gordon
Duncan’s breast a fire not easily quenched. He had so worked upon his
almost exaggerated sense of duty that he would be driven to attempt the
seemingly impossible. Without adding fuel to the flames by giving the old
man a detailed description of the route to be taken, he was imparting
that knowledge to Faye Duncan.

“Well thought out and mighty decent of him,” was Johnny’s mental comment.
With that thought uppermost in his mind, he went about the business of
preparing for a night’s repose.



                              CHAPTER VII
                             A LOOK BEYOND


The Corporal was up and away before dawn. Having assisted him with his
dogs, Johnny returned to the cabin.

In his sleeping bag on a rude bunk in the corner Gordon Duncan still
slept. Before the fire sat Faye Duncan. She had thrown fresh fuel on the
fire. The flames were leaping up the chimney.

“I suppose you know,” she said as he took a seat beside her, “that
Grandfather will accept this new mission.”

“I had supposed he would.”

“He doesn’t want to. The finding of his long lost partner and the green
gold has obsessed him for years. It is natural that he should want to go
on. But he is deeply religious and, what is better, has a great heart.
There are those who suffer. It is possible for him to give them aid. Duty
calls. He must go.”

“But only three of us!” said Johnny. “How can we help? We may starve,
ourselves. In their ignorance, superstition and great need they may
attack us.”

“We have eight bows between us,” the girl said quietly. “A bow weighs
very little. We always carried a good supply. Never as many as now.
Providence must have directed us. We have many arrow points. Thongs,
feathers, material for shafts may be had in the wilderness. A bow is a
precious thing. Its wood must be of the best and seasoned many months. We
are fortunate in having so many.”

“After all, we can use but three bows at a time,” Johnny said.

“Grandfather believes that there are old men among the Eskimos who have
been archers and have not forgot. If he can arm these with our extra
bows, if we can somehow ambush the caribou when they come, we may save
those starving ones yet.”

Johnny looked at her in silence. His mind was in a whirl. Here was an old
man and a girl who but a few days before, as if guilty of some crime,
were hiding in the brush. Yet, at this moment they were planning a long
and dangerous journey far out on the tundra in the hope of saving the
lives of a few half savage people.

“Queer folks,” he told himself.

“So here we are,” the girl went on after a moment’s silence. “In an hour
we shall be on our way. Before us is the wilderness, after that a river,
the land of little sticks and the silent, white tundra. We carry only our
precious bows and arrows. It seems a foolhardy and futile undertaking.

“But think!” Her voice became vibrant with emotion. “Unless someone comes
to them, men, women and cute little brown babies will starve—starve!”

She cupped her chin in her hands to stare at the fire. “I don’t fear for
myself,” her tone was deep and solemn. “I only fear for him. He is old,
though he has the heart of a boy.

“I hear him stirring,” she said softly, springing to her feet. “I must
prepare breakfast. He is always impatient of delays.”

“Listen,” said Johnny. “I promised to go with you. I’ll not turn back
now. Count me in.”

The girl did not speak. She put out a hand. It was a good, strong,
capable hand. Johnny gripped it heartily. And there in the dawn was
sealed a compact that was to live through many a long day of wild
adventure.

Noon of that day found the little party looking down upon a scene of
surpassing beauty. This was one of those days of crystal-like clearness.
From the promontory on which they now stood, the crest of the range,
their vision stretched mile on mile, seeming never to end.

Spreading out a roughly drawn map, Gordon Duncan traced for Johnny the
course they were to take. He had gotten it from Faye, who in turn had it
from the Corporal. Here, down the ridge, they followed the blazed trail.
There, where a huge black tamarack tree stood, they bent to the right. A
short way farther, and they came to the boiling and tumultuous stream
again. Following this as best they might over rock pile and ledge,
through dense forest and thicket, they would come at last to a broad,
tree covered valley.

“At the entrance to that valley,” the old man ended, carefully refolding
his map, “unless we have gone wrong, we will find a rude shelter and
close beside it an Indian dugout canoe. The canoe was left there six
months ago, but the Corporal thinks it is still in condition.”

“Here’s hoping,” said Johnny. “For if it is not, our journey ends there.”

“And with its ending the fate of many human lives is sealed,” said Gordon
Duncan solemnly. “It is strange that so much should depend upon so
little. But we must do our part. We are enlisted in a great cause, the
welfare of a vanishing race.”

As Johnny stood there looking away to the north, where even now it seemed
he caught the gleam of a snow blanket, strange thoughts passed through
his mind.

In a spirit almost of bravado, he had one morning slung his quiver of
arrows over his back, bound his pack together, seized his bow and walked
away into the wilderness.

“I meant to be away a month,” he told himself. “I would remain in the
wilderness a month and receive no support save that which came from my
bow and arrow. Well,” his face twisted into a doubtful smile, “it will be
a month right enough, probably two, perhaps three. And the bow and arrow
must support us, not one but three. There is no other way.”

“Two months! Perhaps three!” He said the words out loud. “Why, they’ll
think me dead! I must go back. It isn’t treating them right. I must go
back!” He was thinking of his own people.

“And yet—” As he closed his eyes to think he saw a group of little brown
people, many groups, seated round the fast vanishing lights of crude
tallow lamps. He saw the wan faces of mothers, the eyes of children that
gleamed the bright gleam of death by starvation.

“One must always think of the highest good of the greatest number.” He
quoted the words of a great teacher.

“Are we ready?” said Gordon Duncan.

“We are ready,” said Johnny. “Lead on.”

Once more they marched on.

Two days later the girl and boy stood upon the crest of a high hill.
Gordon Duncan was back some distance on the trail. Johnny would have gone
back for his pack. But the aged Scotchman was still proud of his
strength. This was the last climb for the day. Their camping place for
the night was at the foot of the hill just before them.

Here there were no trees, only rocks. Their view was not obstructed. Far
away behind hills that had turned to pure gold and mountains that
appeared to smoke with the snow driven far and wide by the wind of their
summits, the sun was setting. Far below was the river, a golden ribbon
winding across a field of white satin.

So they stood there, the boy and the girl. Life, beautiful, glorious
life, surged through their beings. It was inconceivable that anyone in
all the world could be starving at this moment.

Spring was in the making. They did not see it. The willows by the river
were not budding. The snow of the trail was hard as the rocks on which
they now stood; yet spring was coming. They could feel it in their blood.

Youth, spring, life. The night before they had stood for a moment beneath
the starry heavens wondering what life could exist in those great
distances beyond.

“Whatever it may be,” Johnny told himself, “it could not be more
wonderful than life here and now.”

Life! The great cities with their noise and dirt, with their
artificiality, their fraud and sham, were far away. The girl that stood
at his side was real. From toes to fingertips, she was genuine. Her
mackinaw was faded, her knickers frayed in spots, but the color in her
cheeks, the smile on her lips, the glint of pure joy in her eye, were
real.

“Real!”

He said the word aloud. She heard and understood.

It was well for them that they enjoyed this perfect moment together, for
the days that were to come were such as require strong and beautiful
memories to lessen their pain.

Gordon Duncan came toiling up the hill. Seeing the halo of sunset glory
that had been cast about them, he said;

“It is truly wonderful. Who could believe that less than two hundred
miles from this spot men, women and little children may be starving?
There are men who will tell you that nature is God. A cruel God indeed
who could furnish us such beauty and offer to them only death.”

The sun sank from sight. Darkness and a sudden chill overtook them.
Turning, they marched down the hill in silence.

Several nights later, with only a shelter of poles covered by boughs,
Johnny slept again in his blankets before the fire. His was the sleep of
one whose burdens are heavy, whose trails have been long, but whose heart
is light.

“The canoe is fit,” was the last word of Gordon Duncan before they went
to rest. “Fit as a fiddle. To-morrow the river takes us on the way.”

“But remember,” said his granddaughter, “that there are rapids in the
river.”

“There are never rapids in any life till we reach them,” said the rugged
old Scot. “And when we do reach them we can but do our part. God will see
that all is for the best.”



                              CHAPTER VIII
                           A HAVEN OF REFUGE


“It is going to storm.” The old Scot dropped his paddle to the bottom of
the dugout long enough to turn up the collar of his jacket, then he took
up the mechanical swing of his brawny arms that had done so much in the
days that had just passed to speed the three adventurers on into the
Northland.

“Going to be a bad one!” Johnny threw a fleeting glance at the girl
before him. Like her grandfather, she performed wonders. She had kept up
the steady, monotonous swing of paddle until Johnny thought she must be
working in her sleep. The muscles of her arms had grown hard as a man’s.

They had found the Corporal’s cottonwood dugout a good one. For three
days it had carried them straight on into the great unknown.

“After all, she’s only a girl,” he told himself, thinking once more of
the girl. “This storm will be a bad one. Wish we’d come to shelter. The
map shows a cabin or something down here somewhere. Be easy enough to
pass it in the storm. Map don’t show which bank. Wish—”

Just then the advance guard of the storm struck. A rattling drive of
cutting snow, a sudden gust that set their canoe on side, and it was
gone.

“But there will be other blasts and worse ones,” he told himself.

In this he was right. A half hour had not passed before they were
shooting along through a veritable wall of driving white. One of those
sudden and terrible storms that haunt the Arctic had come driving down
from the North.

“Have to go ashore and try to get up something of a camp,” said the old
Scot, as with the greatest difficulty he unbent his benumbed fingers.
“Can’t stand this. Cold and damp will get us. Wind off that ice water is
terrible.”

Once more Johnny looked at the girl. Gripping her paddle, she still swung
her arms in rhythmic motion.

“Half froze,” he thought, with a tightening of the throat. “She’s doing
and enduring all for the good of people she has not seen.”

Just then there was a stir in the prow of the canoe. Tico, the dog given
to Faye by the Corporal, had crept from his snug corner to lift his nose
to the air, point toward the farther shore, and let out an unhappy wail.

“Something over there.” The girl spoke now for the first time in a half
hour. “Maybe game. That’s something. Our food supply is very low. Better
go over.”

Neither the old Scot nor Johnny questioned her judgment. Turning the
canoe half about, they struck for that distant shore.

It was a perilous journey. The moment they left the sheltering bank,
waves began crashing over the gunwale.

The boat was half filled when the girl, dropping her paddle, began to
bale. The men toiled unremittingly at the oars.

“Wind’s with us. Be there soon,” Johnny said cheeringly.

“Wa-roo!” answered the dog. Standing high in the prow, he appeared to
direct their course.

They were still half a boat length from shore when with a mighty leap the
dog, clearing the boat, landed on the ice that edged the water and at
once shot away into the forest.

“Tico! Tico!” the girl cried. “Come back! Come back!”

Wind and water drowned her cries. The dog did not return.

“All we can do is to follow him,” said Johnny as he made the boat fast to
a bough that hung far out over ice and water, then tested the ice with an
axe.

“Here, let me have those,” he said as Gordon Duncan was about to throw
his bundle of bows and arrows ashore.

“Guess you better carry them,” said Gordon Duncan. “Can’t be too careful
of your artillery in such a land.”

After a dangerous slide or two they were on land.

Following the dog’s steps in the snow, Johnny led the way into the
tangled brush. To his great joy he found indications of a rough trail.

“May have been made by moose or caribou, for all that,” he told himself.

“What was that?” the girl exclaimed suddenly, stopping short.

From behind them had come a cracking sound.

Dropping the bundle of arrows he carried, Johnny sprang back over the
trail.

“It’s gone!” There was a touch of despair in his voice as he called to
his companions. “The boat’s gone! The branch tore away.”

Never in his life had he felt more miserable. No food, no blankets, no
shelter in a strange land, hundreds of miles from known human habitation,
with a blizzard tearing at them.

“And it’s all my fault,” he said. “It was I who tied the boat. I should
have tested the moorings.”

“No,” said Gordon Duncan. There was force and dignity in his tone. “It is
not entirely your fault. We were there to offer counsel. And this is not
the end. It is but the beginning. We have bows and arrows. There is game
here as elsewhere. There is always a way to prepare a shelter and make a
fire.”

“But first we must find Tico,” said the girl, who had just come up to
them. “I can’t imagine what madness has seized him.”

“Dogs,” said Gordon Duncan, “are sometimes wiser than humans. There may
be something in his actions that is worth investigating. Let us be
going.”

In this he was more right than he knew.

They had not gone a hundred yards when the trail widened. Another hundred
yards, and a dark bulk loomed through the whirling snow.

“A cabin or a boulder,” said Johnny a little breathlessly.

“Either will prove a boon,” said the old Scot. “A shelter in the time of
storm.”

“A cabin! A cabin!” the girl cried joyously as the dog came bounding back
to meet her.

And such a cabin as it proved to be! Built of massive logs, with a door
that required the strength of two to swing it wide, what a haven! It was
equipped with rude bunks, a hand hewn table and chairs and a massive
stone fireplace.

“This,” said Gordon Duncan, a note of deep, silent joy creeping into his
voice, “is the very place we were to leave the canoe and strike away
across the tundra. Truly we have been guided by a great good God.”

“God, and Tico,” whispered the girl as she sank down upon a chair. There
was no suggestion of irreverence in her tone.

“Aye, and the dog,” said the old Scot. “I doubt not that many times the
great Creator finds a dog’s course more easy to direct than that of a
human.”

A hasty survey of the cabin revealed many delightful surprises. Built, no
doubt, by some trader and trapper of bygone days, it had been fashioned
to shut out the rigor of winter and the tearing rush of wild northern
gales. It had been equipped with massive iron cooking utensiles which
were still serviceable. It had, beyond doubt, been used by the Mounted
Police as a temporary station, for, hidden away among the rafters were
blankets, a coffee pot, a small quantity of flour and baking powder, a
can of coffee, a sack of beans and a square of bacon.

“Man! Did I not tell you?” exclaimed the joyous Scot. “’Twas God’s hand
that led us. ’Tis a royal feast we’ll have.

“No better fritters were ever made than those moulded by the hands of the
bonny lassie here. Bacon, fritters, coffee beside a fire that laughs up a
generous chimney. Who could ask for more?”

Johnny joined with the old Scot in his rejoicing. He had not, however,
forgotten that their boat was irretrievably lost and that it was many,
many weary miles back, even to the cabin where they had enjoyed their
last real night’s sleep.

Being young and strong, possessed of a healthy body and a vigorous mind,
he did not trouble about the future for long, but springing out into the
storm, began dragging in dry brush and logs.

“Ah, now the storm may laugh and the wind crack her cheeks!” exclaimed
the Scot as he attacked the branches with an axe he had found in the
corner.

Bacon, fritters and coffee might seem a meager feast. But to those who
had lived for days on caribou steak, rabbits, partridge and squirrel, it
was indeed a rich repast. Even Tico enjoyed it beyond his power to
express.

When at last the feast was over and the heavy pots and pans hung in their
places Johnny piled three great spruce logs in the center of the
fireplace, thrust dry branches and wind wrecked splintered fragments in
the niches between, then with his friends sat down to watch with dreamy
eyes the leaping, laughing, roaring flames.

The old Scot was soon nodding in his chair. Lower and lower his head sank
upon his breast until only the tangled gray of hair and beard were
visible.

Softly, on tiptoe, the girl went to bend over his chair. As she tiptoed
back to her place beside the boy, she whispered:

“Sleeping.”

Johnny nodded.

For a long time, save for the roar of the wind outside answered by the
crackle of the fire within, there was silence. But who can say what
communion may be had between hearts loyal and true in moments of silence?

When the girl spoke her tone was deep and low. “I am afraid for him. His
heart,” she said, glancing toward the sleeping patriarch, “Some day—”

She did not finish, but once more sat starring at the fire.

“This,” she said at last, “is to be his one great adventure. He has the
heart of youth, of a knight, a Crusader. We have always lived quietly on
our farm, except for these trips into the forest. Always since he was a
boy, he has told me, he has longed for an opportunity to render a great
service. He believes this is his great opportunity, his crowded hour,
this and his final search for old Timmie and his green gold. What a
triumph it will be if he accomplishes all!” Again she stared at the fire.

Johnny nodded. He understood.

“We will do all we can to help him realize his highest hope,” he said
huskily.

A moment later, as the wind shook the cabin, the girl’s mood changed. She
found herself longing for the home of many simple comforts she had left
to follow her grandfather on this strange and uncertain quest.

“You have never seen our home,” she said dreamily. “It’s not a palace,
but it’s home. Just a cottage with vines climbing up the front and with
fine old fashioned roses, yellow, pink and red, on either side. There’s a
cozy little parlor with a reed organ in one corner. Grandfather loves to
sing to it on a Sunday afternoon, those old, old fashioned tunes that are
so quaint and so—so sort of wonderful. You should hear him boom them out.

“My room,” she went on as if speaking to herself, “looks out upon a field
of red clover at the side, and at the back is a clump of forest. The
squirrels are so tame that they come to perch on my window sill and beg
for sweets and nuts.”

As she ceased speaking Johnny looked at her and realized as never before
that she was, despite her rugged face and splendid untiring muscles, only
a girl very far from the nest that she called home.

“But,” she exclaimed suddenly as if waking from a dream, “we must not
turn back! We must go on! Go on for him!” She nodded toward the sleeping
grandfather. “And for the little brown people who, but for us, may
starve.”

Three days the storm raged on. Restful days these were, but not idle
ones. Some of their arrows had gone downstream with their ill-fated
cottonwood boat. Fortunately they found within the cabin two steel sled
runners and a home-made feather duster. The dusters were made of wild
goose feathers. No better for arrows can be found. With the aid of fire
and such tools as were at hand, they succeeded in cutting the sled
runners into bits and fashioning them into arrow heads. Dry fir furnished
them shafts for the arrows. Long hours, working side by side over the
table, the boy and girl, directed by the old man, worked at the task of
making arrows. Cutting, scraping, shaping, pounding, forging, binding,
with grimy hands but gleaming eyes they worked on and on until when the
storm broke and the sun came out they found themselves better armed than
ever before.

“So we may say the storm was a blessing in disguise,” said Gordon Duncan.
“To-morrow we must be on our way,” he said as he gazed upon the fading
tints of their first red sunset in the wilderness. “We must hurry. The
caribou may come and pass to their northern feeding grounds before us.
Then indeed our little brown friends will starve.”

“And we with them,” Johnny wanted to add, but did not.

That night, by the light of the fire, Johnny spent a full hour studying
three maps he had spread out on the table. More than once a sudden
exclamation escaped his lips. At last he rose and began pacing the floor.
The old Scot was asleep in his chair. Faye Duncan had watched Johnny with
keen interest. Now as she caught the light of a quizzical smile playing
across his face, she said,

“What is it?”

“Why look!” he replied, leading her to the table. “See, here are three
maps, the one done on white leather by your grandfather so many years
ago, the roughly drawn one by the Corporal to guide us on this trip, and
an old general map of the country which I found here in the cabin.

“It’s strange,” he said, straightening up, “but when you trace the two
routes out, the one your grandfather proposed to follow in his search for
that more or less mythical partner of his—”

“Don’t say that!” Her finger touched his lips. “It’s all very real to
him.”

“Well, anyway, we are now across the river, and if we follow the route
the Corporal has marked out for us we will be going almost directly
toward the spot your grandfather has marked for Timmie’s cabin.

“So,” he said, reading the surprise and joy in her eye, “the longest way
round is the shortest way home, after all! See!” He pointed to a spot on
the map. “See. There is the camp of the Eskimo. And here, just a short
way across the tundra, then over these low mountains, is Timmie’s cabin
and the—the green gold.”

“So in choosing to be of service to the natives, Grandfather was really
serving himself,” the girl said as they returned to their places before
the fire. “How often life is like that.”

“Green gold.” She repeated the words thoughtfully after a time. “Do you
suppose there is any such thing?”

“Yes, of course there is,” said Johnny. “They use it for making jewelry,
rings, watch-cases and the like. But where it comes from I haven’t the
least notion.”

“Is—is it very valuable?”

“Why yes, it must be.”

“And if there was a lot of it, a mine or something, and Grandfather has a
share, we would be—might be—”

“Quite rich.”

“Oh!” Her eyes shone.

“You know,” she said after some time, “we are quite poor and
we—Grandfather might need money badly to—to defend—”

Johnny waited long for the rest of that sentence. It never came.

“Well,” he said at last, “to-morrow it’s the long, long trail once more.”



                               CHAPTER IX
                            A MOVING ISLAND


“They’re coming!”

Johnny Thompson thought he heard the beating of Faye Duncan’s heart as
she whispered these words in his ears.

They lay close together on the snow against a little rise of land. From
this place they could see nothing before them. A faint crackling sound
was all that told them that a moving island of brown, a great herd of
caribou, was moving up the narrow valley and would, within the space of a
quarter of an hour, be abreast of them and within easy bow shot.

Their position was not without its element of danger. Johnny’s heart
missed a beat at the thought. The caribou, when they had last seen them,
were moving with the steady precision of an army. There were thousands of
them.

“But if a mother wolf and her pack appears to the right of them, then
what?” Johnny asked himself. He knew how broad and sharp were the hoofs
of the caribou. It was these very hoofs that made the steady click and
crash as of a thousand batons beating on wooden rails. Visions of that
vast herd stampeding and rushing down upon them like a relentless sea
passed before his mind’s eye.

“Perhaps we shouldn’t have come,” he whispered.

“It was our only chance,” the girl whispered back. “Our chance for the
Eskimos and for ourselves.”

In this she appeared to speak the truth. Johnny lapsed into silence.

Four days had passed since on that bright morning they had left the
abandoned trapper’s cabin.

Borrowing blankets and a little food from the cabin, they had started
out.

The going had been heavy from the start. The forest had disappeared
almost at once. Guided by the dog Tico, they had found themselves
following a northerly course over a flat and trackless tundra.

Day after day they had tramped on. For a time there had been plenty of
game, ptarmigan on little ridges, rabbits in the bottoms.

As they advanced these had disappeared. And now for an entire twenty-four
hours they had eaten nothing.

An hour before they had mounted a narrow rise of land to find themselves
gazing upon a curious sight. A broad brown island, long and narrow and
weaving in and out, had been moving toward them.

“The caribou! We are too late!” The excitement had been too much for
Gordon Duncan. Seized by a sudden heart attack, he had fallen upon the
snow. All he could do as his stout hearted companions assured him that
all was not lost was to lie flat upon his blankets and struggle painfully
for breath.

“We will take our bows and arrows and hide in one of the little runs,”
Johnny had explained.

“When that throng is passing we surely can pick off a number of caribou.
The Eskimo village must not now be far away. We will build a cairn for
the meat and can return for it.”

Johnny wondered now as the sound of thousands of crackling hoofs grew
louder, whether his words would prove true. Was the Eskimo village near?
Would they succeed in shooting enough caribou to be of real service?
Could the meat be kept away from the wolves?

“At least we shall eat again,” he whispered stoutly.

“Yes,” the girl whispered back, as with nervous fingers she gripped her
bow. She had been loath to leave her grandfather back there alone on the
tundra. He had insisted. So here they were. And here, coming closer, ever
closer, was the moving island of brown.

“There! There is one!” she whispered as a pair of massive antlers
appeared above the ridge’s crest.

A splendid young buck, having climbed the ridge, had risen above the
snow. There for a moment he stood, head high, sniffing the air. That
moment was his last, for with the speed and precision that would have
done credit to a daughter of William Tell, the stout hearted Scotch girl
sent an arrow unerring to its mark.

The next instant Johnny and Faye were on their feet making the most of
their opportunity.

That the opportunity was poor enough they were soon to learn. Like a
mighty stream that breaks its bonds to race over land, this mass of brown
flowed away before their very eyes.

A dozen arrows shot, half of them lost forever, and only two caribou to
show for it all. This was their score.

“Well,” said the girl, dropping to the snow, weak with excitement, “as
you said before, we will eat to-night. As for the Eskimos, there must be
some other way.”

“Yes,” said Johnny, “there must be some—some other way.” He seemed
suddenly to have grown very weak and old.

“We-l-l, it’s not so bad.” It was the voice of an old man grown suddenly
strong that sounded in Johnny’s ear. A moment more and Gordon Duncan,
with Tico hitched to an improvised sled, stood beside them.

“As for yonder little brown people, God will provide in his own good
way,” he said as he led them down the ridge.

That night between the sheltering banks of a narrow gorge, they built a
shanty of willow bushes. The beds they slept on after a royal feast of
roasted caribou steak were made of rustling willow leaves.

Next morning, after cutting a draw line from a caribou skin, Johnny piled
all the remaining meat on the sled, and putting his own shoulder to the
harness, bade Tico lead on.

It was hard, grinding toil, but he hung to the task until, after climbing
a slight elevation, Faye let out a cry of joy. Before them in the valley,
pitched in an irregular circle, were a half dozen skin tents.

“The Caribou Eskimos.” The words that came from the old Scot’s lips spoke
volumes of joy. What did it matter now that the way had been long and
hard, that they had faced death by water, storm and cold? What did he
care that they had but two caribou on their sled and that the great
caribou band had passed northward? They had found the people they had
come to serve. God would find a way to perfect their labors.

“But where are the people?” Faye asked.

Where indeed? Not a living creature was stirring about the tents. Not a
film of smoke curled up from the tent poles.

“It’s like a village of the dead,” Johnny said in an awed whisper. In
this he was more nearly right than he knew.

“Gone hunting,” said Gordon Duncan. His words carried no conviction.

“Come on. Let’s hurry,” said the girl, springing forward.

Once more Johnny put his shoulder to the sled. Gordon Duncan and Faye
also seized the strap and together they went racing away down the slight
incline that led to the village.

No sadder sight had this trio known than that which met their eyes as
they peered within the first low, circular tent. Sprawled upon deer
skins, sitting bent over as in a stupor, or lying prone like dead men,
nine Eskimos greeted their entrance with not so much as a mumbled word or
a stare.

“Dead,” was Johnny’s mental comment as he felt the girl’s impulsive grip
on his arm.

“No,” he said aloud, “they’re not dead; only in a stupor from lack of
food.”

“Hello!” he shouted.

“Hello!” came back in a hollow tone as if from a tomb. One of the
squatting figures attempted to rise. His knees doubled up under him and
he rolled upon the deerskins.

“Food!” Johnny said. “We have caribou meat.”

It seemed certain that but one of the Eskimos understood, the man who had
made a futile attempt to rise.

“There is no caribou meat here,” he mumbled hoarsely.

“We have caribou meat for you, a sled load.”

Rolling himself into a half sitting position, the English speaking Eskimo
said a few words in his own tongue.

The effect was electrical. It was as if a strong current had been sent
through the motionless bodies that lay about on the deerskins. With one
accord they began creeping, crawling, tumbling toward the entrance to the
tent.

For this Johnny was prepared. Quickly unlashing the sled, he produced a
quantity of roasted meat. This he cut into little squares and handed to
the Eskimos.

They ate like famished wolves. Yet, in this extremity they did not forget
their fellow villagers. When each had eaten a little they waved their
hands toward the other tents.

Fortunately the remaining tents were not so crowded as this one. Sad to
relate, two of the occupants were beyond human aid.

When night fell upon the white sweep of the tundra and the three rescue
workers, worn out by the day’s excitement and labor, sought the little
tent and the pile of deerskins that had been surrendered to their use,
the dead had been carried to their last resting place and the living had
been made as comfortable as possible. Then it was that they took stock of
supplies and cast about for signs of the future.

“Looks rather hopeless,” Johnny said as he sank down upon the deerskins.
“Food we have can’t do more than revive them. What next?”

As if in answer to his question, the English speaking Eskimo came
creeping into the tent.

“Have you cartridges?”

“No cartridges,” said Gordon Duncan.

The man’s face fell. “White man,” he mumbled, “no got cartridges. No
cartridge.”

“Listen!” said Gordon Duncan, with eyes alight. “Before the white man
came, how did your people live?”

“Caribou meat. Plenty caribou.”

“How did they kill them?”

“Bow and arrow.”

“Where are your bows and arrows now?”

The man shrugged, then went through the motion of breaking something over
his knees. “No good, bows and arrows. Rifles better, think mine. Think
that every Eskimo.”

“What could you do now if you had cartridges for your rifle?” Duncan
asked.

“Get caribou.” The Eskimo’s eyes were alight with hope.

“But they have gone far north.”

“Some caribou. Not all caribou. Come more soon.”

“What?” Gordon Duncan was on his feet.

“Yes. Come more. Not tell lie, mine. Come more. Mebby to-morrow. Mebby
next day. Can’t tell. Come, that’s all.”

“Then, see here!” Gordon Duncan unbound his bundle of bows. “They’ll all
shoot true and strong,” he said. “Just give me the right man to draw
them. There are old men among you?”

“Three,” said the Eskimo. “Kit-me-suk, Teragloona, Omnakok.”

“Send for the wisest of them all.”

The man was brought in. There followed two hours of talking, relating,
explaining, planning. Through the young interpreter the aged Eskimo
related adventures of long ago, tales of mighty caribou hunts he had
known before the white man came with his firearms.

Gordon Duncan in his turn outlined a hunt for the caribou that were yet
to come, which, if his dream came true, was to be the mightiest hunt of
all time.

In the end, with their splendid imaginations on fire, the old man and the
young interpreter returned to their people to inspire them in turn with
high hope and with dreams of wild adventure.

A long time that night Johnny lay awake among his deerskins. There were
thoughts enough to keep him awake. A whole tribe of little brown people
now were dependent upon the skill and prowess of Gordon Duncan in
organizing a hunt. Most of the actual execution must fall upon Johnny’s
young shoulders, for Gordon Duncan was old. Little wonder, then, that he
did not sleep.

“We are trusting all to this one grand endeavor,” he told himself.
“Little of our caribou meat is left. If the next drove does not pass this
way, if we fail in the hunt, then we too must starve.” He thought of Faye
Duncan and her aged grandsire and wished they had not chosen to come.

“We must succeed,” he told himself. “We must! MUST!”

The plan they were to follow, the ancient plan used by the Eskimos, was
not a complicated one. Yet it required skill and prowess. As the drove
came in from the rolling hills to the south they were to be directed by
native drivers on a course that would take them across a narrow, shallow
stretch of water that lay between two lakes.

As they neared this narrow stretch of water the caribou would find
themselves cut off by native drivers and imaginary natives built of stone
piles and deerskins. They would then take to a deeper, broader stretch of
water which would force them to swim. At the far bank, in ambush the
hunters would wait with drawn bows.

“If we succeed,” Johnny thought. “If we do.” He had visions of a long
journey over hard packed snow with meat aplenty on Tico’s sled, and after
that a long, long rest in a cabin somewhere on at the back of beyond.

“And after that?” He thought of Timmie, the old man’s one time pal, and
his green gold. The season would not be over until that mystery was
solved or abandoned forever.

“If we succeed?” he thought again. He remembered the fear that Gordon
Duncan and Faye had shown on meeting white men. Would they return to that
cottage that Faye called home? Who could tell?



                               CHAPTER X
                         TREACHERY IN THE NIGHT


“I hear them! They are coming! Oh, Grandfather! Johnny Thompson! They are
coming! The caribou are coming!”

As on that other occasion, the girl’s words were uttered in a low
whisper, yet so tense were her feelings that her whispered words left in
Johnny Thompson’s mind the impression of a sharp, shrill cry.

At once the boy’s mind was in a whirl. Had she heard them? Were they
truly coming? Faye Duncan’s ears were keen as a fox’s. Her imagination
also was keen. Had imagination deceived her? He had heard nothing.

“If they are coming, they may not pass this way.” This he whispered to
the girl. “We must not hope too much.”

“No, we must not,” she answered quietly. “But I did hear it distinctly,
the crack-crack of their hoofs! The wind brought in the sound. It’s died
down now. I can hear it no longer. But,” she whispered tensely, “they
must come! They must!”

To this Johnny agreed. Three days had passed since they arrived at the
Eskimo camp. In that time, enheartened and strengthened by the white
man’s caribou meat, the Eskimo had killed with bow and arrow five
rabbits, three foxes and eight ptarmigan. But what were these among so
many? The caribou meat was gone. Rabbit, fox, ptarmigan, all were gone,
and starvation stared both Eskimos and whites in the face.

As the caribou had delayed their coming, there had been grumbling among
the Eskimos. An aged witch doctor had said that the presence of the white
men in the village had offended the spirits of all dead caribou and that
they had told the living caribou to go north over some other route.

“We shall all starve,” the Eskimo had said, shaking with fear of the
future.

“If only they were not such children!” the old Scot had said to Johnny.
“If they had more courage and determination they might live a long time
on small game. But, having become accustomed to living upon game taken by
the rifle, they see only death ahead when no ammunition is to be had.”

In the midst of all this waiting and doubting an Eskimo had come running
in from a long hunt in the distant hills. He had seen a band of caribou.
They were coming.

“How many?” Johnny had asked eagerly.

“Desra! Desra!” (plenty! plenty!) The man had spread his arms wide.

At once all was noise and confusion. It had been with the greatest
difficulty that Gordon Duncan had silenced their noisy chatter and had
organized the hunt that was to mean life or death to the whole band.

Women and children were sent away into the hills. One band of men was
stationed at the right of the lakes. These were to rush in at the proper
time and urge the caribou on. A second group was concealed in a clump of
willows close to the narrow neck of water which the caribou would expect
to cross. These, at the proper time, would turn them to another course
and force them to a swimming passage.

Carefully concealed in a second clump of willows on the opposite bank
were the true hunters. Seven Eskimos, the older men who retained some
skill with bow and arrow, were here. So too were the three whites.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Johnny told himself, “especially for the
girl. We will be wading deep in stinging water. And these natives have
been able to provide us with no waterproof skin garments for our
protection. The sea Eskimos could have given us hip boots of sealskin.”

With this thought he was led to wonder that a people who had dwelt for so
long a time upon the border of the sea should have come inland to live.

“It’s not so strange, after all,” he told himself. “It is so in other
lands. In Borneo there are the sea dwellers and the mountain tribes. In
Siberia are the Reindeer Chukchees and the Sea Hunting Chukchees. It
seems—”

His thoughts were broken off by a sharp whispered,

“There! There! Don’t you hear them?”

Johnny listened and, as he held his breath, above the dry rustle of dead
willow leaves, he did catch the unmistakable crash and rattle of an
oncoming army of caribou.

“God grant that they may not turn back!” said Gordon Duncan as he
whispered a fervent prayer to his God that He might prove that day that
He, the great Father, and not the spirit of some dead animal, directed
the flight of wild birds and the courses of the herds of all wild
creatures.

Johnny thought again of the chilling water where a film of thin ice was
forming, and shuddered.

Knowing that their wait might be long, he had spent much time in
preparing a comfortable place of concealment. He had cut armfuls of
slender willow shoots to which the dry leaves still clung. From these he
had made a soft cushioned resting place. About this he had built a tight
wall of leafed branches. This wall kept out the wind. Here, huddled close
together, they were comfortable indeed. Compared to this, the very
thought of the sweeping north wind and the cold black water sent a chill
to his very marrow.

“Perhaps,” he whispered hesitatingly, “perhaps it might be that you’d do
well to stay here.” He was speaking to the girl.

“Stay here?” The girl’s tone showed surprise.

“It—it’s going to be hard out there, and—and a bit dangerous. There are
enough native hunters. We have supplied them with weapons.”

“I—” The girl hesitated. There can be no doubt but that there was an
angry retort upon her lips. She, after all, was but human, and the
moments that had just passed had been tense ones.

One look at Johnny’s honest, earnest face, and the remark died unuttered.

“I would not be worthy of my Scotch ancestry,” she said after a moment of
silence, “nor of my grandfather, if I did not go when the call comes.”

After that, for a long time, as the click of hoofs and clash of antlers
grew louder, there was silence in the place of hiding. As the girl sat
half hidden by willow branches the dry leaves rustled to the time of her
wildly beating heart.

“There!” Johnny whispered at last. “There! They have taken to the water.
Now is the time.”

Creeping through the bushes until they were at the brink of the water,
they plunged silently in.

“Good!” Johnny exclaimed hoarsely, “The Eskimos are doing their part
nobly.”

It was true. A thin line of hunters, hip deep in the water, stood
awaiting the great drove of caribou who had come too far to turn back.

A half minute more, and an arrow sped; another and yet another. Came a
great splashing and thrashing of waters. In his dying frenzy a caribou
beat an Eskimo into the freezing water. The Eskimo, bow in hand, was up
in an instant and drawing to shoot again.

So went the battle. Drenched to the skin by water thrown upon him by the
rushing herd, the vanguard of which had even now reached the bank, the
old Scot stood his ground and drew such a bow as never in his life had he
drawn before, while back to back with him the girl did her part.

Ten minutes of nerve wrecking strain, and all was over. Not, however,
until food for many a long moon was supplied for every member of the
strange little band.

“We-e-l-l,” said the old Scot as a half hour later, dressed in dry fur
garments, loaned him by an Eskimo, he sat beside a willow bush fire,
“with God’s help we won. And our God must be thanked.”

At that he dropped upon his knees and offered up a prayer of thanks to
the God who provides all that is good. The Eskimos saw and marveled,
though perhaps not one of them all understood. To this remote tribe no
missionary had ever come.

It was during the feast following the hunt that a surprising and
disturbing drama was played out before the great roasting fire of the
tribe.

A hammer of perfectly good American make lay upon the ground at Johnny’s
feet. He sat munching a delicious bit of broiled steak and wondering how
that hammer had come all the way to these barren lands, what dog team or
boat had brought it, how many fox skins it had cost the Eskimo owner, and
what use it had ever been put to in a land where there are neither boards
nor nails, when of a sudden he conceived of an immediate use for it. A
young Eskimo was attempting to obtain the juicy marrow from the bones of
a roast leg of caribou. He was pounding the bone with a round stone. The
stone slipped from his grip. The bone did not break. Again he tried
without success.

“Here, let me have it.” Seizing the bone, Johnny laid it upon a flat rock
and crushed it with a single blow of the hammer.

But what was this? As Johnny glanced about him, he found a dark frown
upon the face of every Eskimo. As he offered the broken bone with its
rich marrow exposed to the Eskimo boy, who a moment before had appeared
so eager to possess it, he was met with a sudden;

“No me! No me!” Then the boy turned and walked away.

It was strange. Johnny could not fathom the mystery of the tribe’s
actions. From that very moment they stood aloof. The joyous noise and
chatter of feasting was at an end. They gathered in little groups, to
speak to one another in mumbled gutturals. Soon they went to their tents,
leaving only the three whites by the dying embers of the feast fire.

“What did I do?” Johnny asked. “Crushed a bone with a hammer, tried to do
the boy a kindness, that was all.”

“You may never know,” the old Scot’s tone was low and serious. “We’d
better be getting away. Morning will do. We’ll sleep. Then we’ll go.”

“It’s a queer way to treat us,” Johnny grumbled. “Here we have saved
their lives, helped them secure food to tide them over, and at once they
turn their backs upon us.”

“You must not judge them,” said Duncan slowly. “Let God do that. They are
but children. To them every living creature and every dead one too has a
spirit. If you offend the spirit of a dead caribou or a musk-ox or wolf,
he may do you great harm. There are a hundred things you must do and a
hundred others you must not do. You who have lived all your life in the
light of civilization know little enough of the torment that comes from
being a heathen. But we must sleep if we are to travel to-morrow.”

Faye Duncan realized the truth of these last words quite as well as her
grandfather did. Yet, for some reason, as she lay among the deerskins
with her grandfather breathing in peaceful slumber nearby, she found
herself unable to sleep. The day had been an exciting and trying one. The
great crisis, in so far as the Eskimos’ needs were concerned, had been
reached and passed.

She was about to fall asleep when she thought again of Johnny’s strange
experience with the young Eskimo and the hammer.

At that very moment she caught a slight sound outside the tent. The
sound, coming as it did in the silence of the night, was disturbing.
Parting the tent flaps, she looked out. The next moment she barely
suppressed a scream. The tent in which Johnny slept was not ten feet from
their own. Moonlight made all bright as day. At that very moment an
Eskimo with a long knife in his hand was lifting the skins at the back of
Johnny’s tent. As he turned half about the girl recognized the young
Eskimo of the evening, he who had refused to accept the marrow bone
crushed by Johnny’s hammer.



                               CHAPTER XI
                           THE DANCING SHADOW


The tent Johnny slept in was a small one. He slept in it alone. There
could be no mistaking the intent of the Eskimo with the long knife.

“He will kill Johnny,” the girl told herself, gripping at her heart.

Her first impulse was to cry out. The cry was stifled by the thought that
the whole village would be awakened.

“They might all turn upon us. Then what chance have we?”

All this flashed through the girl’s mind. The next instant she shot
silently out of the tent. Her bare feet left tracks in the snow but made
no sound.

Just as the Eskimo was creeping into Johnny’s tent, he felt himself
seized from behind and dragged violently backward. The next instant a
heavy body came crashing down upon him. The knife flew from his hand. His
breath was knocked from him. He uttered one low grunt and that was all.

Thirty seconds later, powerful hands gripped his shoulders while in a
hoarse whisper a voice spoke.

“What was he doing?” It was the old Scot.

“Try—trying—” The girl struggled hard to retain her composure. “He had a
long knife. He was trying to kill Johnny.”

For a moment the old Scot sat in silent meditation.

“They are ungrateful beasts!” The girl’s low whisper was tense with
indignation.

“No, no, girl, you must not think that! They are but children, frightened
children. Afraid, that’s what they are. Afraid of the trees in the
forest, of spirits that do not exist at all, afraid, afraid. You must not
blame them.”

Lifting the young Eskimo to his feet, he pointed away toward the little
village of native tents, then gave him a gentle shove.

“Johnny!” he called in a low tone.

There came no answer.

A new terror gripped the girl’s heart. What if, after all, she had been
too late?

“Slept through it all!” the old Scot grumbled. “Have to shake him a bit.”

He disappeared within the tent. A moment later, to her intense relief,
Faye heard the two conversing in low tones.

“We’ll pack up,” said the grandfather as he emerged from the tent.
“Something has gone amiss. Can’t tell what. There’s no use to stay. Let’s
get away as soon as we can.”

An hour later, with a glorious yellow moon hanging low in the sky to
light their way, and with Tico to lead them on, the little party pushed
off into the night.

All through the remainder of the night and the greater part of the day
they moved forward. A strange spectacle, a dog, an old man, a young man
and a girl moving over an endless expanse of white, doing a forced march
to escape from those whom they had come to save. They were following an
entirely new course, one which Johnny believed would bring them to their
journey’s end, Timmie’s cabin and green gold.

“Forgive them, child. Forgive them,” the old Scot said as he read the
look of unhappiness on his granddaughter’s face. “Learn to pray the
prayer of one much more worthy than we, ‘Father, forgive them; they know
not what they do.’ Some day a missionary will come to them. He will teach
them. Then they will understand.”

Strange to say, as they traveled away from the tundra toward the forest
at the foot of the mountain, a brown spot like a drifting shadow or
prowling wolf followed them. When at last they came to the edge of the
forest and began making camp, this shadowy figure did not enter the
forest, but sought out the shelter of a cut bank of earth, to drop down
upon a flat rock and remain quite motionless for many hours.

Later he wakened and prowled as a wolf would have prowled. He did not
come too near the party of three, for all through the long hours, as the
girl slept curled up in her blankets, the old man and the young man took
turns at making fire and guarding camp.

Toward dawn as Johnny sat half asleep by the fire, the girl, waking from
refreshing slumber, sat up blinking at the fire to talk softly of a vine
clad cottage where squirrels came to eat from one’s hand, where daffodils
cast their fragrance to the air in the springtime, and old fashioned
roses bloomed in summer.

“I hope I may see you there some day,” said Johnny huskily. But as he
recalled the way they had come, it seemed very, very far away.



                              CHAPTER XII
                           THE GREAT BANSHEE


Next day they marched straight away over the white expanse. A fog,
hanging low over the tundra, hid all but a narrow circle from view. They
traveled by the compass and the ancient map Johnny had found in the cabin
by the river. That it was a long chance the boy admitted to himself. What
if the map were wrong? Few maps of this country are accurate.

“Can’t turn back now,” he told himself. “Have to take a chance. Take a
chance.” As he repeated the words, to his surprise he found that he was
beginning to hate them. All his life, so it seemed as he looked back upon
it, he had been taking chances. And what had he gotten out of it?
Precious little.

He thought of the cozy cottage the girl had described to him so often.
“That’s the life,” he told himself. “And yet they left it for this. They
took a chance. And here they are.” For the hundredth time he wondered
why.

The land became more rolling as they advanced. The tundra was left
behind. This the boy took for a good sign. “Coming to the mountains,” he
told himself. But were they?

As night fell the fog thickened. “Going to be dark as a dungeon,” Gordon
Duncan mumbled. “Tough luck. No wood for a fire. No place to camp.”

What he said was true. For the first time Johnny felt regret for the
course they had taken. All about them was rolling ground. Snow blanketed
all. Cropping out here and there were bunches of last year’s grass, but
these poor wisps of wind-shrouded straw would provide neither fire nor
bed.

When darkness had fully come, they yielded to the inevitable. Having
scooped away the snow as best they could from a narrow patch of turf,
they spread out their blankets, sat upon them while they ate a cold and
cheerless supper; then with Tico in their midst, huddling together as
best they could, they prepared to defy the damp chill of a late winter
night in the Arctic.

It must have been some time past midnight that Johnny, wakened by a low
growl from Tico, sat up to peer into the inky darkness and listen.

What he heard caused his blood to run cold. A faint chopping sound
drifted in from the dark. Now coming from the right, the left, before
him, behind, it seemed all about him at once.

Putting out a hand, he shook the shoulder of Gordon Duncan.

“Listen! Wolves!” he said in a tone that was low and deep.

“What is it?” the girl asked, sitting up.

“Listen! Wolves!” Johnny repeated.

At once, above the chop-chop of the distant enemy, he heard the girl’s
teeth chatter.

“Get out the bows and arrows,” said Gordon Duncan. “If only we had a
fire.”

“If we only had!” the girl echoed.

“But we’ll do for ’em!” the old man declared stoutly.

“Here! There! Stop him!” The girl sprang to her feet.

She was too late. Tico had leaped away into that darkness and fog.

A moment of suspense, then from out that shadow-land came sounds of a
terrific encounter.

With a cry of dismay the girl leaped to her feet and would have gone to
the aid of her faithful friend. But Gordon Duncan pulled her back.

“No! No! child!” he exclaimed. “It won’t do. We must stay together. It’s
our only chance.”

“There are many,” he rumbled on. “More than I have ever known before.
They do not as a rule travel in packs, these white phantoms of the
Arctic. They go about in families. But when caribou are passing they are
sometimes thrown together in packs. This is the time when they are most
dangerous.”

“Listen!” Faye caught her breath as the growl and howl of Tico was
blended with the yip-yip of wolves. “They’ll kill him. What can we do?”
She gripped Johnny’s arm until it hurt.

Fortunately this question did not need answering. Fierce as the battle in
the dark was, it ended quite suddenly. A moment later the dog came
limping back. One shoulder was terribly torn. His strength was completely
gone.

Torn and bloody as he was, the girl gathered him in her arms to wrap him
in a blanket and lay him down beside her.

“Brave old boy!” she murmured.

For a half hour after that they sat there back to back waiting,
listening, staring into the dark, but seeing nothing.

Then a sudden gust of wind sweeping in from the great unknown before them
rolled the fog away, to leave them gasping at the size and ferocious
appearance of the gray-white creatures that surrounded them, a grim,
silent circle.

As if this were the sign for an advance, the wolves rose each in his
place and began a slow advance.

“Now!” said Gordon Duncan. “When I give the word, shoot the one before
you, and for the good of all, don’t miss. It may mean death.”

Poised each on a knee, back to back, they set their bows and nocked their
arrows, then waited breathless for the old Scot’s whispered command.

To Johnny it seemed that he caught the glint of a gray beast’s eye before
the whisper came:

“Now!”

Five seconds of suspense for steadied nerves, then Johnny’s arrow sped.
Before him a gray streak reared in air to fall sprawling and clawing at
nothing. The arrow had gone clean through him, then glanced away over the
snow.

“What luck for her and for the old man?” he asked himself. There was no
time for looking.

In this warfare there was no frightening din. The wolves who had escaped
the biting arrows came straight on. A particularly ferocious creature
came stealing upon the boy. Now he was ten paces away, now five, now
three. A spring and—

Again his bow twanged low. A second arrow found its mark.

But now, before he could turn, before he could as much as realize his
danger, a gray streak launched itself upon him.

Down he went. Snapping teeth and tearing claws, and after that a shock.
He was beneath a combat, not a part of it. One frenzied effort and he was
free.

A glance told him much. The wolf had leaped upon him. Maimed as he was,
Tico had come to his aid. The brave dog was down now, the wolf at his
throat.

Lacking better weapons, the boy seized the wolf by the throat and gripped
him hard. Trained as they were for every form of combat, the grip of the
boy’s hands was like steel.

The struggle that followed was a terrific one. Not daring to release his
hold, yet fearing every instant that he would be frightfully torn by the
beast’s claws, Johnny hung on like grim death.

Of a sudden the sight that appeared before him drove him to desperation.
As the girl sprang back, a wolf leaped for her throat. They went down
together.

Quite forgetting self he released his hold on the first wolf to seize the
axe that in the struggle had been thrown from their kit, and with a
single blow dispatched the beast that threatened Faye Duncan’s life.

And through it all, like the ancient warrior he was, Gordon Duncan
remained in his place calmly nocking arrows and sending them crashing
into the ribs of his enemies.

“There are more,” Johnny panted, helping the girl to her feet.

“More,” she panted, “More!”

But what was this? Just when the tide seemed set against them there came
a strange roaring sound from the distance. This resembled more than any
other the call of a wild beast, a challenge to battle.

Pausing, the gray streaks appeared to listen. Then, one by one, they went
trotting away into the night.

Hardly a moment had elapsed before there came a sharp yip of pain,
another and yet another. A moment of silence, then the night was made
hideous by the noise of battle.

“Wha—what can it be?” The girl’s words came in stifled whispers.

“Can’t tell,” said Johnny.

“Get your bows and arrows,” commanded Gordon Duncan. “They may be back
upon us at any moment.”

“And—and that other monstrous thing!” Faye Duncan’s nerves were
shattered.

“Five out there.” Gordon Duncan’s voice was calm. He was pointing in the
direction his arrows had sped.

Johnny was feeling a little ashamed of his record when his eyes fell upon
the wolf that had attacked Tico. He was dead, strangled.

“Not so bad,” he thought as he once more gripped his bow and sought out
an arrow.

There was, as it turned out, no need for further worry. As they sat there
shivering, gripping bows with hands benumbed with cold, they listened to
the distant tumult rise, then fade away into the night.

“All over,” Johnny said at last, rising to ease his stiffened limbs.

“Who—what could it have been?” The girl gripped his hand hard as he
assisted her to rise.

“That,” said Johnny, “as far as I can tell was the great banshee.”

“But look,” he said suddenly. “Over there not a quarter of a mile away is
a small forest.”

What he had said was true. Had they marched but a quarter of a mile
farther they might have slept warm by a roaring fire which would have
served to keep the wolves away.

Needless to say, they were not long in packing up and moving to this
place of greater safety and comfort.

A half hour later, seated before a fire that fairly blistered their
cheeks, the boy and girl, conversing in awed whispers, discussed the
strange happenings of the night. In the meantime, rolled in his blankets,
and quite as if nothing had happened, Gordon Duncan slept the sleep of
the just.

“Heart, did you say?” Johnny nodded toward the sleeping one. “Did you say
his heart was bad? Mine was in my throat all the time.”

“So was mine. But he—he’s different. He—he’s a Bruce,” the girl whispered
back. “His ancestry goes back to the famous Bruce of old Scotland.”



                              CHAPTER XIII
                         THE ANSWERED CHALLENGE


Had one chanced to have been passing over that vast white expanse over
which the three, Johnny, Faye and Gordon Duncan, traveled next day; had
his eye caught sight of the dark figure that, ever pressing forward in
the fog, continually dogged their footsteps, he must have paused in
amazement. A stranger creature could scarcely be imagined.

Stooping low, lurching forward, moving in little jerks, perhaps on four
legs, perhaps on two, his form at times seemed grotesquely human. At
others it seemed that the impossible had happened, that some huge gorilla
from tropical wilds had found his way to this land of ice and snow.

Had curiosity led one to inspect his footprints in the snow, his
amazement must have grown. Measuring full twenty inches from toe to heel,
they resembled nothing quite so much as the footprints of a fair sized
polar bear. Yet as everyone knows, the polar bear lives upon the ice of
the ocean. Seldom does he wander more than a dozen miles inland. To look
for him here some hundreds of miles inland was to give credence to that
which has never been.

This fearsome creature it was that uttered a challenge to the wolves who
were rapidly getting the upper hand in the battle with Johnny and his
friends.

What was it that had turned them away? Was this challenge but a call
telling of the past? Did the memory of other bloody frays spur the wolves
on? Or did they see in this lone figure an easy victory and a toothsome
feast?

Whatever their hopes, they were soon enough dashed to earth, for hardly
had they arrayed themselves in a grinning circle than one after another
of their number began biting, clawing, snapping and yip-yipping in mortal
pain. When, in mad desperation they charged, it was no better. Two of
their number, being seized by their bushy tails, had their brains
speedily dashed out against a rock. A third was thrust through, and a
fourth trampled into pulp. Whereupon those few who remained found safety
in flight.

After tramping about for some little time in what appeared to be wild
fury, the strange and terrible creature had seized five dead wolves by
their tails and, turning sharply to the right, climbed the hill.

Before entering the dark fringe of scrub forest, he had paused to stand
blinking at the campfire some distance away. Dropping the wolves, he had
taken a dozen steps toward the fire. Then, appearing to take other
counsel, he had returned to his dead wolves, had given them a vicious
kick, had seized them again by the tails, then disappeared into the dark
depth of the evergreen thicket.

As for the trio by the fire, they had realized that some strange creature
was afoot; but being once more in possession of strong bows and plenty of
arrows, with bright flames dispelling the darkness about them, they had
felt quite at ease and secure from any manner of sudden attack. How
little they really knew of the ways of the wild in this strange
wilderness!

Next evening, as they lay before a roaring campfire, chins propped on
elbows, watching, dreaming, half asleep, the two of them, the boy and
girl, they heard the old man stirring in his sleep. Of a sudden he sat
up. By his staring eyes they knew that he spoke as one in a dream.

“I told him the things were copper.” His voice was pitched and strained.
“But Timmie said ‘No, they are green gold.’ And he must have been right,
for he had worked with a silversmith and had helped make alloys.

“He said they were copper, gold and silver, melted together.

“I said the natives had melted them together.

“He said ‘No, they’re too ignorant for that. God and nature made the
alloy. Somewhere in a great caldron of a volcano, long ago when the earth
was new, gold, silver and copper were melted together and poured away in
a stream of green gold. And somewhere in the hills there is a placer mine
of green gold. We’ll find it.’

“Timmie said that, and he’s back there behind the hills waiting still,
and he knows where the mine is. I’ve dreamed that many times, and it’s
true.”

Johnny’s lips were open for a question, but the girl held up a hand for
silence.

“The day has been hard,” she whispered. “He is half asleep. Don’t excite
him.”

A moment later the old man had dropped to his place deep among the
blankets and save for the crackling of the fire silence lay upon hills
and tundra.



                              CHAPTER XIV
                    A MYSTERIOUS VISIT IN THE NIGHT


Next morning they opened their eyes to a new world. The fog was gone, the
sun shone bright. Up from the south had come a gentle wind that brought
with it the breath of spring.

Far away before them, like the jagged teeth of a worn out saw, was a
range of mountains. The tops of these mountains still appeared to smoke
with the snow swept over the summits.

“I wonder what it’s like up there,” the girl said to Johnny.

“In time you are sure to know,” he said. “Our trail leads over that
range. May God grant us a low pass.”

“You may well say that.” Gordon Duncan’s eyes seemed to see things far
distant and remote. “But as you say, the trail leads over those
mountains. There is no other way.”

The week that followed will linger long in the memory of Johnny Longbow
and his smiling companion of the trail, for it was spring, and who could
forget such an occasion?

In the Arctic winter lingers long. Spring is thrice welcome. This year,
creeping up behind a veil of fog, it appeared to burst upon them like a
revelation.

The snow grew soft beneath their feet. Little rivers began coursing away
to the north. The surfaces of lakes, long locked with ice, glistened with
water that buried the solid depths of ice that still lingered.

Little snow-buntings, silent for long, began their cheerful chee-chee,
and far above in the bluest of skies an early covey of wild ducks winged
their silent way.

The first touch of spring brought out small game in abundance. Snowshoe
rabbits, leaving their hiding places, hopped about in a leisurely
fashion. Ptarmigan were so numerous that the wandering bowmen grew expert
in the art of beheading them with a well shot broadhead arrow. And what
could be sweeter than a ptarmigan roasted over a glowing bed of coals?

Once, creeping through tall dead grass of a year’s standing, they came
upon a flock of gray ducks that had come all the way from the southland.

As he smiled over the breast of a fine duck that evening Johnny’s face
suddenly sobered. He had bitten upon something that had nearly cost him a
tooth.

“A shot,” he said as he produced a mashed bit of lead. “Someone shot at
him way down there where there is no ice and snow, and he brought this, a
message from another land.”

For a moment as he sat dreaming, eyes half closed, he thought of himself
as a young native of the land, the old man the last patriarch of his
tribe and the girl the last link of a vanishing race.

“Huh!” he smiled as he wakened from his revery. “Strange world! In a
month we will be with white men, living as they live.” But would they?

With all the hunting and their keen enjoyment of the spring, they did not
neglect the trail. Each day brought them nearer to the range of snow
blown mountains. Each hour hastened the time when they must try the pass.

Sometimes at night by the campfire they spoke of it in awed whispers. At
other times, under bright midday skies, they laughingly talked of the
long slide they would take when they reached the other side. How little
they knew of that which lay before them.

Gordon Duncan thought only of Timmie and his green gold. Faye Duncan
lived most for the care and protection of the kindly old man she loved
more than her own life. Johnny dreamed strange dreams of gold, fortune,
and a dark haired handsome Scotch girl. At times he wondered why they had
feared to meet a fellow human being. That wonder was fading. Growing ever
stronger was his desire to solve the mystery of Timmie and his green
gold.

“Just over the mountains, and we’ll know,” he told himself many times.

So at last they reached the foothills of those vast and silent mountains,
and their troubles began.

As they passed the lower levels game vanished. Only once in two days did
they see a rabbit. Then it escaped into the brush.

At the end of three days, after skirting many a spring-born freshet and
creeping about a score of cliffs, they arrived at the base of a mountain,
the lowest of all the range, but startling in its whiteness and
immensity. There, sore footed and weary, they built another campfire and
sat down to a meal of steaming coffee and frozen berries.

The girl looked at Johnny. There was a question in her eyes. “Dare we try
the mountain?”

“It is three days’ travel back to the land of game,” he replied. “Can it
be worse ahead? Will he turn back?”

He looked at the grizzled old Scot, who as ever sat dozing by the fire.

“He will not.”

“Will he live to—to see the other side of the mountain?”

“We can only hope.”

For a long time after that they sat there in silence. What were the
girl’s thoughts? Johnny would gladly have known. As for himself, he was
thinking of the possibility of sudden tragedy for the old Scot and of
their battle to win their way back to the haunts of civilized man.

“What a burial place for such a man!” he thought to himself. “A whole
unmolested mountain for a tomb!

“But,” he thought a moment later, “as she has said, we must hope. It
would break her heart.”

Next day they started early. There was hope in each heart that they might
make the pass before sunset and camp for the night on the other side.

One thing was in their favor; they soon passed from the zone of spring
into the high level where winter still reigned. No longer was the snow
soft under their tread, no longer were they obliged to skirt the banks of
streams for a safe passage. There were no streams. All was ice and snow
and barren rocks.

“Look at it,” Johnny said after an hour of desperate struggle up an all
but perpendicular wall. “Not a shrub, not a scrub birch or fir. Barren as
the hills of doom. No living creature could be here. Tonight we go
supperless and without a fire.”

Faye Duncan shuddered. It was mid-afternoon, and the smoking mountain
peak still loomed far above them.

“No wood, no food, no shelter!” Gladly would she have turned back. But
one look at the grim look of determination on the old Scot’s face sealed
her lips.

“He crossed these mountains in his prime,” she told herself. “He will
cross them again or die.”

“Look!” Johnny pointed excitedly toward a sloping waste of barren rocks.

“What is it?”

“Something moving over there.”

“I can’t see—”

Turning her about and pointing over his shoulder, he said, “See! Just
beyond that great boulder, something white.”

“It is!” she exclaimed. “A mountain goat! Oh, Johnny, can we?”

“We can, or my name is not Johnny Longbow.”

Vision of a feast of wild goat’s steak done to a turn floated before his
eyes. In his excitement he quite forgot that they had no wood.

Carefully they prepared their attack. He would climb the narrow ledge to
the right and come out above the goat. She would work round to the left
and station herself among the rocks prepared to cut off his retreat up a
narrow run.

For a half hour after that Johnny climbed from rock to rock until, with a
deep intake of breath, he bent his bow, nocked his arrow, then of a
sudden stood up.

His heart went wild as he saw the goat not fifty yards away. As he stood
there hope, despair and high resolve fought for first place in his soul.
The result was a bad shot. Or was it? He could not tell. All he knew was
that the nimble beast leaped high in air, then went racing away.

A second arrow followed the first. On such slopes, among such rocks,
there could be no hope of recovering an arrow.

Sitting limply down upon a rock, the boy watched the great bobbing horns
disappear from sight.

“Missed!” he muttered, then turning, began making his way back.

Sitting in a sheltered spot at the back of a great rock that overlooked
the narrow gorge, Faye Duncan, as she waited and watched, thought of many
things, of her grandfather and Johnny Longbow, of Timmie and his
mysterious green gold, of her home and her own cozy room there. Her heart
warmed at this last thought, but chilled again as she looked up at the
smoking crest which they must cross.

“Will we make it? Can we do it? Well—”

Of a sudden she sprang to her feet. There had come to her alert ears a
sound. It seemed close at hand.

“The goat!” Seizing her bow, she nocked a broadhead and waited.

“Yes, there. There.” Her hand trembled. The great horned creature was
making straight for her.

Not a hundred yards away, he was coming straight on.

“Has he seen me? Would a wild goat charge his enemy?” She did not know.
Her heart stood still.

“Must be sure of my shot,” she told herself.

Bracing herself, she waited. Now he was eighty yards away, now sixty, now
forty, and now—now—

A second more, and her broadhead arrow would have flown. But of a sudden
the wild creature’s forelegs crumpled beneath him and he fell with a
great rattling of horns, to go rolling over and over down a twenty-foot
embankment.

Fleet as the wind, the girl leaped clear of her retreat and away down
that slope. “He may merely have stumbled, may be up and away.” Little she
knew of wild goats, whose feet are surer than any other thing in life.
The goat was dead. Johnny’s first arrow had pierced him through and
through.

One look at the fallen creature was enough. His eyes were glazed in
death.

Climbing to the top of a boulder, she cupped her hands to give forth a
long, shrill call.

“Who-hoo!”

Three times this was repeated. Then came the answer echoing back.

“He has heard. He will come.” She smiled.

That evening they ate goat’s meat prepared by cutting it into narrow
strips and allowing it to freeze. That night they slept huddled together
for warmth beneath a rude snow hut which Johnny, under the old man’s
directions, was able to build against a wall of rock.

“One thing is sure,” Johnny said as he prepared for rest. “There is no
need for maintaining a watch to-night.”

He was destined to have another thought regarding this next morning.
Beside the pile of goat’s meat they had left carelessly on a rock, he saw
a single footprint. The goatskin and a portion of the meat was gone.

“Did us no harm,” he told Faye as he pointed in astonishment at the
footprint. “We still have more meat than we can carry. And the skin was
worth nothing to us.”

“But that creature!” she said with a shudder. “Look! The footprint is
twice the length of a man’s.”

“And there are no toe marks,” he added.

“Tell you what!” There was an air of mystery in his tone. “Remember that
creature that defied the wolves that night?”

She nodded.

“It’s the same; the great banshee!”

Here indeed was a mystery. But graver matters called for their attention.
In spite of all they could do they had come near perishing with cold.
They must be off the mountain before the end of the day, or tragedy was
sure to overtake them.



                               CHAPTER XV
                   ON THE TRAIL OF THE GREAT BANSHEE


Mid-afternoon of that day found them at the crest of the mountain, caught
in the grip of such a storm as one dreams of but seldom meets in real
life.

A sixty-mile gale drove particles of snow fine as white sand and cutting
as steel into their burning cheeks. When they attempted to go forward it
was as if they were leaping against a fine meshed but unbreakable net.
They could but drop on hands and knees and crawl. When they went with the
wind they were appalled by the push and drive of it and by the sweeping
whirls of snow that leaping fifty, a hundred feet in air, appeared nearly
to reach to the very sky.

“Now,” said the girl in a half sob, “I know why these mountains appear to
smoke.”

“If only we could find a way down,” said Johnny as he lent an arm to
Gordon Duncan, who was struggling against the wind.

Of a sudden a burst of wind more terrible than ever seized the girl and
sent her whirling down the white slope toward the unknown abyss beyond.

In the nick of time Johnny grasped the belt of her mackinaw. Throwing
himself flat behind a low rock, he clung there like grim despair until
the wind lost its power and the girl was drawn back to safety.

“You—you remember,” the girl panted, “we were going to try to slide down
on the o—other side. I nearly did.”

“Game to the last,” Johnny thought.

“But your face is freezing!” Snatching off her deerskin mittens, the girl
held snow against his cheeks to draw out the frost.

“There,” she said, “that’s done for this time. And now—”

“Now we must find a way down,” said Johnny.

“Tico,” the boy said, speaking to the dog cowering at his feet, “show us
the way.”

As if understanding his mission, the dog began creeping forward along the
ridge. Knowing nothing better to do, his human companions followed.

Ten yards, twenty, thirty, battered at and buffeted, faces cut by snow,
knees bruised from creeping over rocks and hard packed snow, they moved
forward.

Now they paused to thaw cheeks and noses. And now, as a ruder blast
struck them, they flattened themselves against the snow and clung
together like grim death. But still they struggled on.

But what was this? The dog had disappeared in the snow fog before them.
Plucking up hope, they redoubled their efforts. Another twenty yards
found them half sheltered by a ledge; another, and they were standing on
their feet pushing forward down a gentle incline.

“Hurray! We win!” the boy shouted. “Good for Tico!”

Ten minutes later, beneath a cave-like sheltering ledge they paused to
rest their trembling limbs and to take counsel for the future.

They were resting there in silence when of a sudden, some distance away,
they heard the dog growl.

“It’s something dangerous or he wouldn’t growl like that. Come on,” said
the girl.

“Only a footprint in the snow,” said Johnny a moment later as they came
to the spot where the dog stood.

“But such a footprint!” said the girl, shaking as if seized with a sudden
chill. “What can it be?”

“It’s the same as before,” said Johnny. “It’s the great banshee!”

Then, seeing that the girl was truly frightened, he added: “That, I am
convinced, is the footprint of a man.”

“But look! Twice the size of our own!”

“The Eskimos have many legends regarding giants. It has always been
supposed that these legends had to do with white men from the south. But
supposing—”

“You wouldn’t believe such things?”

“What is one to believe? There is the footprint in the snow.”

“Come,” said Gordon Duncan, who now joined them, “this is no time for
fairy stories. The night will be upon us. Let’s be going down.”

As they descended they marveled more and more at the downward passage
Tico had discovered.

“It is as if the giants had really cut the way through,” said Johnny.

“Look!” said the girl as they paused after an hour of steady tramping.
“There is another footprint in the snow.”

At that they all fell silent. Night was descending upon them.

“If only we could have a fire to-night,” the girl said wearily. “I feel
as if I should die of fear in the dark.”

“But look!” cried Johnny as they rounded a turn. “The good banshee has
granted your wish. There is a scrub forest not ten minutes away.”

It was true. The gnarled trees, twisted and bent, were scarce six feet
tall, but dead trunks were dry as tinder. Soon, in a sheltered spot, they
had built a roaring fire and were preparing to boil coffee and roast the
goat’s meat they had packed across the mountain.

“To-morrow,” said Gordon Duncan, “we shall see the valley of green gold.”



                              CHAPTER XVI
                        DOWN WITH THE AVALANCHE


The sun was setting over a wilderness of snow and winter-washed, bleak,
bare land, as late next day the three travelers, rounding a towering
granite crag, came at last into full view of all that lay beyond. It was
the promised land, the valley of green gold.

For a full moment they stood there, motionless. The scene that lay before
them, glistening snow turned to a rosy hue by the setting sun, crags,
torrents, mists, rushing little streams, all that go to make mountains,
valleys and rugged hills, all that is the spring break-up in a land of
ice and snow was here. Many days before they had started for this divide.
Weeks of toilsome travel, weeks of perils and adventure had come into
their lives since Gordon Duncan had said, “There is the knife. The trail
leads up this ridge.”

Now they were at the divide, ready to descend into a wild valley. And
why? Perhaps Gordon Duncan knew all. Johnny and Faye knew little enough.
Yet, with the tender feeling of youth for an old man who was perhaps on
his last long journey, his final joyous adventure, they had followed his
lead. Now here they stood.

“There’s a great river yonder,” said Johnny, lifting his field glasses to
his eyes. “Wouldn’t be surprised if it were the headwaters of the Yukon.”

“But look!” he exclaimed. “There’s something moving down there. Here,
tell me what it is. It seems to be marooned on that little island in
midstream. Water’s overflowing the ice. Water must be rising. May flood
the island.”

The girl took the glasses and with steady gaze studied the spot he
pointed out.

As for Gordon Duncan, he stood there erect, motionless, seeing all that
lay before him, mountains, rivers, hills and valleys. He appeared to
search for that which he did not see.

“Should be to the right down there,” he mumbled once. “Can it be that I
have mistaken the pass? No. That could not be. Yet if it were there one
would see a curl of smoke. It is growing dusk. Time for the evening
meal.” He shaded his eyes to look again.

“There _is_ something moving there,” the girl said to Johnny. “I can’t
make out what it is. Might be caribou; might be Indians. Can’t tell. In
the morning light we can tell.”

“Indians.” The thought gave Johnny a start. Even today in this wild
out-of-the-way corner of the world, Indians were not to be trusted too
far. In a fit of anger, in a moment of greed, they might kill. And who
would be the wiser?

“We can’t camp here,” Johnny said as a cold wind, sweeping across the
perpetual snow of the mountain side chilled him to the bone. “Have to go
on down. May find a sheltering ledge.” He slung his pack over his
shoulder, then motioned the older man to guide them on.

“The way is down,” Gordon Duncan said huskily. “That’s all I know. Young
man, your foot is surer than mine. Lead on.”

So Johnny took up the task of trail blazer, and even as his eyes worked
out a passage here and a detour there, his mind went back to that day
when he first met Faye Duncan, the day on which they killed their first
caribou. Woven with his thoughts of that which had happened then were
wonders regarding the creatures moving about on the river island, and
Gordon Duncan’s purpose in bringing them on this wild chase into the
unknown.

An hour later in a sheltered nook they pitched their small tents and
built a crackling fire of scrub fir trees. Over the fire they cooked the
last of their goat’s meat, and boiled coffee.

After that for a time they sat over their crude table of rocks to stare
away over the moonlit mountains. Johnny and the girl were wondering about
many things. The great river, the island with living creatures moving
upon it, their strange mission in this stranger land, all these came in
for their share of perplexing thought.

It was quite wonderful as they sat there thinking of all that had gone
before, and that which lay about them. On the far side was a storm, on
the crest a wild tumult, but down here was quiet and peace.

There were no clouds. The moon came up. Everywhere were purple shadows,
silent and deep. Not a breath of air stirred. Not a wild creature in all
that land but appeared to be at rest.

“It’s like all of life,” Gordon Duncan said solemnly. “At times we find
ourselves in the midst of terrible trouble, storms of life. We may have
companions in these troubles, or they may be hidden away, our own secret
troubles. In any case, it is quite wonderful to feel that about us,
standing shoulder to shoulder with us, are friends ready at an instant’s
notice to reach out a helping hand.

“Much of the meaning of life is just here.” His tone became more
thoughtful. “Life, after all, is a storm and in a way the worst of
storms, for many of us haven’t the faintest notion whither we are bound.
One thing alone we know, we must struggle on. The one thing that makes
the struggle far more than worth while is the splendid human
companionship we enjoy while we are in the midst of the storm. As we
travel on, it seems there is always a hand outstretched to guide us
home.”

“A hand outstretched,” Faye said, thinking out loud. Before her mind’s
vision she saw again the glistening slope down which she had been about
to glide when Johnny seized her and drew her back.

“Back from what?” she asked herself.

As if in answer, Johnny said, “Look!”

Her eyes followed the direction of his arm. Then her cheeks went white.

The moon, rising higher and higher, had brought out the upper ridges of
the mountain they had crossed. At the point where she had lost her
footing and had been saved from a sudden plunge by the boy, the snow,
blown over and beaten down by countless storms, had taken on the form of
an inverted saucer. The edge of this great saucer hung more than a
hundred feet over the edge of a gigantic precipice. From the outer rim of
this snow saucer to the rocky ridges below was thousands of feet. The
girl’s head whirled, her heart went sick at thought of that which she had
escaped by so little. One second more of downward glide over that
glistening saucer, and she would have been lost forever.

“An arm reaching out to one during the storms of life,” she said in a
tone that was deep with emotion.

“Let’s not think of it,” said Johnny. “See how the moonlight plays on the
river far below. It has painted a path of gold, a path that leads beyond
doubt to home and the little cottage you love.”

“If you’ll excuse me,” he said a moment later, “I think I’ll take a
stroll along the ledge. Sort of want—want to think a little.”

For a considerable distance the shelving rocky ledge led upward. Johnny
followed it, to find himself at last standing upon a natural platform
twenty feet square.

From this point the whole world seemed spread out before him in the
moonlight. White stretches of snow, black piles of rock, gleaming ribbons
of water that were creeks and rivers, all these he saw as in a dream.

Throwing back his shoulders, he took in three breaths of fresh air. A
whirring of wings told that wild ducks were passing. Spring was here. And
with spring a young man dreams of work, success, power. The life he had
lived during the past few weeks seemed, as he looked at it now, quite
purposeless.

He had been helping someone else solve mysteries and run down one or two
for himself. But one who spends his life running down mysteries gets
nowhere. One must think of his future. True, no one was dependent upon
his earnings. Yet, sometime, someone was likely to be. He meant to have a
home of his own. Money earned and saved paved the way to such a future.

“And yet—” He saw the face of Gordon Duncan, and the eager, anxious look
of the girl who, without perhaps knowing it, had come to depend upon his
wisdom, skill and strength.

“Huh!” he grunted. “What’s the good of having a purpose to your every
act? What’s youth for if not for adventure?”

Turning his back upon the moon and the shimmering valley below, he went
tramping back toward camp.

As he rounded a rocky point he came in sight of the cheery glow of their
campfire. He saw a short cut back.

“Right over there,” he said to himself, “straight across that broad
stretch of winter packed snow. What could be sweeter? I’ll use my bow as
an Alpine staff. Not a bit of danger. Be there in no time.”

Having been raised on the plains, Johnny knew little of the mountains.
The great broad bank of snow he was to cross, ten feet deep here, twenty
there, was indeed hard packed by beating winter winds. But beneath it,
forces of nature had long been at work. Little trickles of melted snow,
working from pebble to pebble, had worn narrow beds beneath the bank.
These tiny trickles had become rushing rivulets. The great snowbank,
clinging there to the steep mountain side, was gradually being
undermined.

Totally unconscious of all this, Johnny marched blithely along down the
white incline.

Here the grade was steeper and he was obliged to move with care. There
the surface was like a great broad pavement. Here he paused to admire the
reflection of the moon in a dark pool of water, and there stood staring
away at a wavering light far out and below.

“Might be on that river island. May be Indians,” he thought.

Faint and from some distance down came a disturbing sound. It was like
some heavy body plunging down.

“What could that have been?” He quickened his pace.

Coming to a broad break in the snow, he gripped his bow securely and
leaped the chasm.

Was it the shock of his landing that loosened the avalanche? Who can say?
Enough that at this precise moment there came a solemn threatening
rumble, and the boy felt himself moving downward.

With one last effort, he threw himself flat, gripped his bow, then
committed his spirit to the great Father of all. The next instant the
cutting of cold air across his face told him he was going down, down,
down—to what?

This lasted for a space of seconds that seemed years. Then came a sudden
shock; after that silence and darkness.

Faye Duncan and her grandfather, as was their custom before retiring for
the night, were partaking of a cup of tea when the sudden thunder of the
avalanche reached their ears. A serious, questioning look passed from the
girl to her grandsire as they sprang to their feet. The glance was
returned. Not a word was spoken.

As they stood there listening, intent, motionless, a swift cold breath of
air fanned their cheeks, a thin film of snow gathered on their garments.
That was all.

It was all over in a moment. Once more the vast silence of the wilderness
at night settled about them.

Gordon Duncan was by nature a silent man. Suspense only served to deepen
that silence. For a full hour he sat there beside his granddaughter while
the firelight played across his immobile face.

“If he comes to-night,” he said at last, rising slowly, “he’ll be late.
We’ll heap the fire high. It will serve as a beacon. We—we can look in
the morning,” he added slowly. “By night the mountain is treacherous.
Nothing is to be gained.”

Faye Duncan lay beneath her blankets a long time before sleep came. In
her mind many questions revolved themselves like the turn of a heathen
prayer wheel. Where was Johnny Longbow? Why did he not return? What was
it that had brought them so far into the wilderness? An old man’s dream
of treasure. Her grandfather had said it should be near here. Was it? Was
their search to end so soon? Would Johnny return? If not, what then? What
of those moving creatures on the river island?

“The river is rising,” she told herself. “Soon that low island will be
flooded. They must leave it. If they are human beings, I hope they have a
boat.”

Then a thought struck her all of a heap. Her grandfather would find in
the need of these people, if need there was, a mission. Would this delay
their search, their return? She hoped not. Of late the wilderness had
seemed to be closing in upon her, shutting her from the world she had
known. She longed for the return to their cozy cabin where the first
snowdrops would be blooming and all the air fragrant with spring.

“But I must see this through,” she told herself stoutly. “One can not—”

Her thoughts broke off. Gordon Duncan was talking in his sleep.

“We found it together.” His words were distinct. “I was sure it was a
great discovery. I urged him to help me bring it out. I talked of money,
of the name he would have. But he would not listen. He was a recluse. He
would not come. I went for food. He’s there still—out there in the hills
alone. For long years I could not recall the way. But now I know. It all
came to me there by the tree of the knife. I shall see him soon. He will
still be there. He is a recluse—a recluse—he—” His voice trailed off into
nothingness, and again the oppressive silence of the mountains brooded
over all.



                              CHAPTER XVII
                          THE GIANT HUNCHBACK


Before she fell asleep that night Faye found herself wondering about many
things. Why had her grandfather brought her so far into the white
wilderness? Why had he not told her of the earlier chapters of his life?
Who was the man of mystery, her grandfather’s friend of other days? What
was the treasure he had babbled of in his sleep? Above all, her mind was
troubled by the strange disappearance of Johnny Longbow. Had the
avalanche swallowed him up? Had he slipped from some ice encrusted ledge?
Had he fallen into the hands of unfriendly whites or Indians?

In the midst of all these puzzlings she fell into troubled sleep to dream
of bleak mountains, rushing floods and wild Arctic storms.

Day was breaking when on awakening she struggled to an upright position
to gaze wildly about her.

Realizing at last where she was, she took a moment for recalling that
which had befallen them on the previous day, then sprang into action.

After a hasty toilet she kindled a fire and put coffee on to boil.

Next she took up Johnny’s light field glass, and walking to a point of
vantage, began sweeping the horizon.

She was searching for some sign of their lost companion. The wide
circling of her glass continued for a full three minutes. Then of a
sudden, as her lips parted and her face became tense, the glass remained
directed at one spot, far off in the river valley.

“Grandfather! Grandfather!” she exclaimed after ten tense seconds, “Wake
up! There are people on that river island. They are marooned! The river
is rising. The floods will reach them and sweep them away unless help
comes. We must go!”

Gordon Duncan was now on his feet. Seizing the glass, he studied the
situation for a moment, then said quietly:

“You are right. We must help them. At once!”

“But how?” said the girl. “We have no boat.”

“God will show us the way.”

Three minutes later, disregarding the water boiling for coffee, carrying
only their bow and quiver of arrows apiece, they went racing down the
mountain side.

The memory of that race will remain long with Faye Duncan. Slipping,
sliding, now racing, now gliding and now creeping, they made their way
downward. Now their path was a plateau, now a cliff, and now the bed of a
boiling, rushing stream. Now they seemed about to send an avalanche
sweeping down. And now, as they attempted to cross a turbulent torrent
they appeared in greater danger than those whom they would rescue.

In the end they won the race, only to find themselves standing at the
river’s brink with a hundred yards of rushing water between them and
those whom they would save, and with no apparent means of rendering any
aid.

“Well,” said the girl, “what next?”

“What indeed?” said Gordon Duncan, a look of despair coming over his
face.


Had Faye chanced to have wakened from her sound sleep of the previous
night at a time shortly after one in the morning; had the moonlight been
bright enough and her glass strong enough to enable her to see clearly
for the distance of a mile, she might have witnessed as strange a drama
as ever was played upon the white stage of the North. As it was, only the
eye of the All-Seeing One witnessed that which passed at the end of the
great snow pile created by the avalanche Johnny Longbow’s foot had
loosened.

By some strange bit of Providence the boy was not buried by the avalanche
that had carried him down. He was struck on the head by a block of hard
packed snow ice, and rendered unconscious. After that he was pitched and
tumbled, knocked, bumped and beaten until his body was a mass of bruises.
He was left at last, still unconscious and half dead, at the foot of the
now silent, inanimate avalanche that had been his undoing.

At this hour two figures, approaching from opposite directions, came near
to the unconscious boy. One was a great gaunt brown beast. The other, a
short, squat, powerful figure, might at a moment’s notice have puzzled a
skilled man of science. Was he man or beast? Was he an Indian of these
wilds, or was he some giant ape escaped from captivity?

He wore clothes. This marked him for a man.

Truth was, the creature was a man. Yet so bent and twisted was his body,
so bowed his crooked legs, so ugly and distorted his visage that one
might have traveled America from end to end without meeting with another
being such as he.

As his small eyes caught sight of the unconscious boy, they gleamed like
twin stars. Johnny’s stout hand still gripped his bow. This strong bow
was a prize in any land. How much more in a wilderness! Not less valuable
was the quiver of arrows that lay nearby. And if he were dead? But then,
too often in wild lands it matters little that one is not dead. If he
were to be found helpless, this is enough to excuse robbery.

The curious deformed creature was bending over the boy when of a sudden
his alert ear caught some slight sound, a scraping perhaps, or a sniffing
breath. Looking up quickly, he found himself staring into the burning
eyes of a great gaunt bear which had, beyond doubt, been disturbed from
his hibernating sleep by the thundering avalanche.

Some form of grizzly, a silver-tip perhaps, this bear promised to be a
formidable foe. At such a time of half stupor and intense hunger he must
be doubly dangerous.

The Indian took one step backward. Then he paused. The next instant, with
hands that were as powerful as man has known, and fingers as cunning, he
wrenched the bow from the unconscious boy’s grasp and sent an arrow
crashing into the gaunt beast’s side.

For a period of five minutes after that he stood motionless, watching the
dying throes of the bear.

Then, with no apparent effort, he lifted the boy to a position of ease
across his deformed shoulders, picked up the bow and arrows, and went
marching away.

He tramped doggedly on for the better part of the night. Just as dawn was
breaking he arrived at the door of a long, low, crudely built cabin.
Depositing his burden by the door, he went inside.

                            * * * * * * * *

Faye Duncan and her grandfather watched the movements of the frightened
natives on the little island for some time before anything like a
solution of the problem offered itself to their minds.

That these people were natives they did not doubt. Whether they were
savage or half civilized they did not for a moment question. They were
human. That was enough. If a way offered, they must be saved.

Racing along beside the men were several dogs. Close to the water’s edge
were well packed sleds. The constant rising of the water was shown by the
fact that twice the sleds had to be drawn back.

“It’s a matter of an hour,” said Gordon Duncan. “Perhaps not that. What’s
to be done?”

Suddenly the girl’s face lighted with a gleam of hope. Quickly drawing
off her sweater that had protected her from many an Arctic gale, she did
a strange thing. Having cut the end of a sleeve squarely off at the lower
end to break the binding stitches, she began rapidly unraveling it and
dropping the yarn in a loose pile upon the ground.

Not understanding at all, her grandfather stood watching in unfeigned
astonishment.

When the entire sleeve became a mere coil of yarn on the earth, she
looked away at the rushing flood.

She seemed to measure the distance with her eye. Apparently satisfied
with the results, she suddenly took up her quiver, selected an arrow,
then began tying one end of the yarn tightly about it.

Then Gordon Duncan understood.

“Good girl!” he murmured. “May God grant you success!”

Setting the arrow to her bow, the girl, aiming high, sent the arrow with
the slender line attached speeding across the flood.

That the keen eyed natives on the opposite shore saw and, to an extent,
understood, was shown by their sudden grouping beside a long pine that
grew at the water’s brink.

“Fell short,” the girl murmured, a note of despair creeping into her
voice.

The distance was greater than she thought. The arrow, having curved to
the flood, dropped with a splash and being caught in the grip of dark
waters, went speeding downstream.

Faye drew the stout yarn line in slowly. It was wet now, heavy. No use to
make another try.

But Gordon Duncan carried in his veins the blood of the mighty Bruce. He
was engaged in the business of unraveling Faye’s other sleeve.

“You’re a fine shot, Lass,” he rumbled, “but for a burst of power take an
arm of old hickory like Gordon Duncan’s own.”

It was a great deal for the modest old man to say. That it was not too
much was proven when, a moment later, his arrow, with the last available
coil of yarn sailing fast and low, lost itself in the branches of the
lone pine on the opposite shore. A shout of admiration and triumph came
from the distant shore.

That the natives knew what was expected of them was soon shown. After a
moment of wild scrambling in which dogs were trampled upon and sleds
overturned, they began the business of tying together a long cord of
their own. And this was of strong rawhide.

“If only the yarn holds,” Faye murmured breathlessly.

“Never fear,” said the old Scot. “’Twas a present to your mother from a
French Canadian granny. Homespun from native wool it is. Nae bit o’
shoddy there!”


That the curious creature who had sent Johnny’s arrows crashing into the
gaunt bear’s side, and so beyond doubt saved the boy’s life, had not
carried him that distance to his own rude cabin without purpose, was
shown the moment he arrived there. What that purpose might be remained
locked within his own misshapen breast.

Having entered his cabin, he took down first a rude soapstone jar of
water, and second a skin bottle half filled with some liquid.

After feeling the boy over carefully, possibly for broken bones, he sat
up with a grunt of apparent satisfaction. He next poured the water over
Johnny’s neck and bare shoulders. And now, with beady eyes searching for
signs of life, he removed the wooden stopper from the leather bottle and
poured a part of its contents down the boy’s throat.

What was this strange liquid? Native medicine, beyond doubt. Carefully
selected leaves, stems, roots and bulbs, boiled over a slow fire perhaps.
Who knows? That it was a potent drug one was soon enough to know. Two
minutes had not passed before the boy groaned, moved, sat up, stared
about him, then asked in a dazed fashion:

“Where am I?”

Without answering his question, if indeed he understood it at all, the
brawny hunchback lifted him from the earth and, with greatest care,
carried him inside to deposit him upon a litter of skins in the corner.


Of a sudden, as Gordon Duncan waited the results of the preparations that
were going forward on the river island, his eyes wandered to the
mountainside, and his gaze became transfixed.

“The cabin!” he exclaimed. “Timmie’s cabin! And smoke is coming from the
chimney! He is still there! Still there!” At once he became greatly
agitated.

“He is a recluse!” he went on rapidly. “A natural recluse, but a good man
and a faithful companion. He once saved my life. And to think—” he drew
his hand across his eyes, “to think that this moment of all those long
years I am able to look upon that cabin again!”

He took a step forward as if to scale the mountain. But Faye tugged at
his arm.

“The natives,” she insisted. “Without our aid they may perish.”

“Ah, yes.” He became calm. “I must wait. Our duty is always to do the
greatest good to largest numbers. It’s God’s law. All things in His good
time.”

Turning, he watched with ever increasing anxiety the preparations that
were going forward on the little island across the waters.



                             CHAPTER XVIII
                            SAVED BY A LINE


Exactly a quarter of an hour, measured by Gordon Duncan’s large and
ancient timepiece, elapsed before the natives on the island announced by
a wild burst of shouting that they were ready for Gordon Duncan and Faye
to haul away on the line of homespun yarn.

Faye found her heart beating wildly as she seized the slender line that
spanned the rushing water. Well enough she knew that should this line
fail them, a half score of lives must be lost.

“And life,” she told herself as her lips moved in silent prayer, “life is
such a precious heritage.”

Slowly, steadily, they began to haul away. Moment by moment the tug on
that slender line grew stronger.

Now as the current rising in mad fury redoubled its efforts to defeat
them, it seemed that surely the slender line must snap.

“It—it’s like landing a great trout,” the girl told herself.

And now, just as it seemed the line must break, the rush subsided.
Hauling away with a will they at last gave forth an exultant shout.
Gordon Duncan’s hand gripped the end of the stout rawhide rope that now
spanned the flood.

“We have won, child! We have won!” he panted.

But had they? There was much work yet to be done. A stout line now
connected them with the imperiled ones. How would these work out their
salvation?

Gordon Duncan dragged the line to a stout tree and fastened it securely
there. This done, his work for the time was over.

It will not seem strange that his eyes wandered once more to that
mysterious cabin that had, beyond doubt, at one time been his home.
Hardly had he done this than he leaped to his feet with a wild
exclamation on his lips:

“He’s leaving! He—he—he’s running away!”

This seemed true. Certainly a tall, fur clad man, driving four huge
wolfhounds hitched to a long sled, left the cabin and was now racing
along a narrow plateau at top speed. And ever as he ran, he appeared to
urge his dogs to greater effort.

“He’s leaving!” Gordon Duncan said more quietly. “He’s running away, and
he has the treasure on his sled. You don’t think—” He turned troubled,
questioning eyes on his granddaughter. “You don’t believe Timmie’d run
away with the green gold?”

“No,” said the girl without knowing why, “No, I don’t think he would. He
probably does not know you are Gordon Duncan.”

“Unless it is the years. Man’s mind is queer,” said Gordon Duncan. “God
knew best when he said, ‘It is not well for man to dwell alone.’”

“But see!” the girl exclaimed suddenly. She pointed across the flood.

A strange procession was taking off from the distant shore. Three dog
teams drawing three loaded sleds, lashed one before the other, went
fearlessly into the flood. Clinging to the sleds were ten or more human
beings, men, women and children.

“Bravo!” exclaimed Gordon Duncan. “They will win yet. They can’t swim. No
matter. Their dogs can. They will cling to the sleds. The rawhide line
will save them from the terrible flood and land them safely on this
shore.”

“But come on!” the girl shouted. “We must be downstream to help them.”

She sped downstream, closely followed by her sturdy grandfather whose
eyes ever and anon looked longingly away to the spot where the team of
great gray dogs was fast disappearing.

As for Faye, her thoughts were all for the little brown people who had
put so boldly out into the racing white waters with only a slender cord
to save them from certain destruction.

As the teams and sleds with their clinging human freight were caught by
the flood, they swung squarely about, facing upstream. It was then that
the little brown huskies proved themselves true heroes. Beaten back,
carried off their feet, buffeted at, half drowned by the racing torrent,
these dogs kept their small feet going at a feverish rate.

Had it not been for these many pairs of little brown feet, each doing its
bit, there can be no doubt but that the rawhide rope must have snapped.
As it was, it held and like a great pendulum, dogs, sleds, men and cord
swung slowly, surely across the racing peril.

Faye’s heart stood still as, pausing at the point where they must arrive,
if indeed they were to arrive at all, she caught the slow sweep that was
bearing them on.

Would they make it? Could they? Would the little brown beasts give up in
despair? Would the rope part?

Now they were a quarter way across, and now a half. Here at the very
heart of the torrent, they appeared to hang suspended.

“They do not move,” she breathed.

And yet, yes, yes, they must be moving. A tree on the opposite bank,
hidden ten seconds before, was visible now.

Of a sudden fresh peril appeared. Beneath the water was winter ice that
had not yet thawed. Loosing its grip, a broad cake of this rose suddenly
to the surface. Twenty yards above the drifting band it appeared about to
ram them, to snap their support, to overturn their sleds and send them to
the bottom.

But again, as if an invisible hand had reached down to shove them
forward, the pendulum swung faster. The ice, missing them, raced
harmlessly on.

A moment later Faye was lifting a laughing brown child from his mother’s
arms, and a joyous group of nomad people were clambering up the shelving
bank to safety.

Faye’s joy knew no bounds. They had been instrumental, with God’s help,
in saving a half score of lives. While Gordon Duncan shared quietly in
her joy, his heart was in the hills. His eyes followed the trail over
which the four great dogs and their white bearded master had vanished.

Sensing all this, Faye resolved at once to enlist their new-found friends
in a fresh endeavor to come up with her Grandfather’s former companion,
and so to solve that which for her had become a great mystery.

“But first,” she told herself, with a fresh pang of pain throbbing at her
heartstrings, “we must try to find some trace of Johnny Longbow.”

The little brown people they had saved proved to be Indians from the land
of Little Sticks. In their search for food they had been forced farther
and farther north until they came to the upper reaches of the mighty
Yukon. Having killed three caribou, they had found their needs supplied
for the moment. This was enough. They had pitched their tents on the
little island. As they rested before the long journey back to their
accustomed hunting grounds, they had been caught unawares by the flood.

Always a wandering people, ever grateful for kindness, they were ready
for any undertaking or adventure. There was still a supply of caribou
meat on their sleds. What next should be done?

To the one member of their company who could understand English, Faye
explained the curious circumstances that had brought them so far north.
She told also of the misadventure that apparently had befallen their
traveling companion.

No sooner was a simple meal of stewed meat and tea over than the entire
company spread out fan-shape in a search for the lost boy.

Four o’clock found them returning to camp one by one with reports of
failure. Only one clue was brought to light. The three men of the Indian
party returned bearing on their shoulders great pieces of bear meat. This
bear, they explained, had been slain with a bow and arrow. They produced
the arrow as proof. And they explained further with many a strange
exclamation that the man who shot the arrow was the most powerful giant
that ever lived. No Eskimo, no Indian, no white man they had ever known
pulled a bow with such a force and power. They felt quite sure he must be
some strange spirit being, not human at all.

“It is Johnny’s arrow,” said Faye at once. “But he was possessed of no
such strength. Who could have shot the arrow?”

She suggested the aged recluse, but Gordon Duncan shook his head.

“He was a rather frail man. Now he is old. It is impossible.”

Here, then, was fresh mystery.

“We can do no more for Johnny Longbow,” said Gordon Duncan. “He is in
another’s hands. To-morrow we will follow the trail of my ancient friend.
Since this is true it is well that I tell you something of that which
befell me on this very mountain many years ago.”

Dropping upon one of the Indians’ deerskins, Faye awaited eagerly the
strange story which she believed was at last to be unfolded.

Gordon Duncan was slow in beginning. The girl’s heart was sore. It is
little wonder that her mind should return to thoughts of her brave young
companion and his tragic disappearance.

“Grandfather,” she said suddenly, “God is cruel.”

Knowing full well that she was seeing in her mind’s eye the tumbled heaps
of snow, earth and rock piled up by the avalanche, Gordon Duncan spoke
quietly.

“You are thinking of God as if he were all nature.

“God is not nature, and nature is not God. I think there can be no doubt
but that God often works through nature to do His will. Perhaps no man
living knows precisely God’s relation to nature. Of one thing we may rest
assured, whatever God does through nature is sure to be just and kind.”

A hush settled over the mountain and something whispered to the girl that
all would be well. So, once more in perfect calm, she settled back to
await Gordon Duncan’s story.


In the meantime, in a far away cabin, still weak from his terrible
experience, Johnny Longbow lay upon a bed of skins and watched a creature
of prodigious strength and surpassing ugliness boil a pot of broth over a
fire in a crude hearth set up in one corner of the cabin.

“Where am I?” he asked himself. “What has happened to me? Where are my
friends? What is to become of me?”

To none of these questions did he find a satisfactory answer, so once
more he gave himself over to thoughts of his strange host.

“This,” he told himself, “is the being we have called the great banshee.”
A thrill coursed up his spine at the thought. Had other evidence been
lacking, the size and shape of the man’s feet would be proof enough.

“They’d fit those tracks we have been seeing to perfection,” he told
himself.

Truth was, the creature’s feet were so deformed and long as to suggest
that a second foreleg which bent forward had taken the place of a foot.

Long and anxiously Johnny studied this strange being. That he was human
there could be no question. Was he Eskimo, Indian or white man? There was
something of all these in him. His skin was the brownish copper of an
Indian. He dressed like an Eskimo. Yet he was a giant of a man in spite
of his deformity.

“Were he able to stand erect as other men do, he would measure six feet
six,” Johnny said to himself. “Who ever heard of an Eskimo that size?”

Once more he took to studying the man, his face, his actions.

“He seems bright enough and that stuff he’s boiling smells good,” he
mused. “Hope he gives me some. Wonder how he lives? Hunting, I suppose.
But what weapons?”

As if reading his thoughts, the hunchback stepped to a dark corner and
brought forth two bows.

One Johnny recognized at once as his own.

“That’s fine,” he told himself. “When I am strong enough to leave this
place I won’t starve at once. Shows some intelligence, his saving my bow
for me.” His joy in this matter was destined to be short lived.

But now his eyes fell on the other bow.

“A back breaker,” he told himself. “Never saw such a bow. Must take a
pull of eighty-five, perhaps a hundred pounds to shoot it. Man, Oh, man!”
His knowledge of the hunchback’s powers was growing. Nor was it lessened
when this strange man nocked an arrow fully thirty-six inches in length
and, with the greatest ease, drew his bow to send the arrow crashing into
the opposite wall.

The next move sent consternation into the boy’s heart. Seizing Johnny’s
fifty pound yew bow, the hunchback picked up a second arrow of the same
length and nocked it for a shot.

Now Johnny used twenty-eight inch arrows. To bend his bow for a
thirty-six inch arrow was to court disaster. His mouth opened in a cry of
alarm. But too late. The iron arm of his curious host drew back. For the
fraction of a second the bow stood the strain, then, just as the arrow
sped, there came a rending crash, and the bow broke.

Standing there, dazed, with the two fragments of the bow still in his
hand, the giant hunchback, as if expecting an explanation to this
startling affair, stared stupidly about him.

Of a sudden, dropping the shattered bow, he seized his own bow and,
pointing at it, began jabbering in a tongue which Johnny understood not
at all.

What he did understand was that the hunchback considered his own bow a
very superior affair, and Johnny’s little more than a toy.

“Well, that puts a long question mark after the probability of my getting
out of this land,” Johnny told himself.

“In the meantime,” he thought a moment later, “how about a little stew?”

He made some motions as of eating. The hunchback understood. Soon, like
friends of long standing, they were eating out of a single huge wooden
bowl.

There was little enough ceremony about this meal. With their fingers they
took dripping morsels from the stew and ate them so. Ptarmigan and rabbit
meat with some dried roots and seeds of native growth had gone into the
stew. Yet Johnny thought he had not tasted a better one. When only the
thick broth was left, they took turns at tipping up the bowl and drinking
from its rim.

“It’s a curious world,” Johnny told himself, “a very strange and
startling world. I wonder what is to become of me now?”

As he looked about the rude shelter he saw no signs of a food store. “My
bow is broken,” he told himself. “Without this queer creature’s aid I
shall starve.”

At that he forgot his troubles in watching the hunchback. He was beating
his breast and repeating over and over, “Omnakok! Omnakok! Omnakok!”

“Perhaps he’s trying to tell me his name,” the boy thought. At this he
pointed at the hunchback and said:

“Omnakok.”

The face of this queer being expanded in a crooked grimace which Johnny
took to be a smile. Then, turning about, he took down a heavy slab of
wood. Having grasped a sharp instrument similar to a carpenter’s
drawshave, he began making the shavings fly.

“What now?” thought Johnny, as he dropped back to his place among the
skins in the corner.



                              CHAPTER XIX
                         GORDON DUNCAN’S STORY


“It was years back, so many I have fairly lost track.” Gordon Duncan’s
tone was deep and vibrant with emotion as he began his story of a recluse
companion and the treasure of green gold. “There had been some
discoveries of gold back of the Beyond among the hills and I went. I was
younger then. Went alone. That was my way.

“I met with great misfortune. I found no gold. Food was scarce. I knew
little of the longbow in those days. In making a try for a mountain goat,
I fell over a ledge and broke a leg.

“I might have died there like some maimed wild creature, had it not been
for him.” His eyes wandered to the mountain side, to the lone cabin and
the trail that led away and away.

“He was a recluse then, but a kindly soul. He found me, carried me to his
cabin and cared for me.

“When I was well, he hunted for us both. It was he who taught me to prize
the longbow and arrow.

“In time I grew proficient in the use of these primitive weapons. Then,
like him, I wandered far in search of food.

“It was on one of these hunting trips that I came upon a strange sort of
grotto in the side of a cliff. There were ashes of a long burned out
campfire near the entrance. My curiosity was aroused by this. Making a
rude torch of dry willow twigs, I lighted my way back a hundred feet or
more.

“There on a ledge, half buried in dust, I found some curious objects.

“‘Copper,’ I said at once. ‘Not worth much. Take some back for
souvenirs.’

“I chose a crudely formed lamp for burning tallow, and a rudely fashioned
bowl.

“But how heavy they were! I had not seen such copper before.

“I carried them to our cabin and set them upon the hand-hewn table. When
Timmie returned, with half a caribou slung across his back, he looked at
my find with interest.

“Once he had lifted them he became excited. Questions came thick and
fast. Where had I found them? Was it far? Were there many such? How his
words flew!

“‘Why?’ I asked at last. ‘They are only copper. There is no want of
copper here; whole boulders of it in the beds of streams.’

“‘Copper!’ he exclaimed. ‘Copper! That’s not copper. Haven’t you lifted
them? They’re made of green gold.’

“Green gold! I thought he was mad. But he was not.” Again Gordon Duncan’s
eyes wandered to the hills. “He was sane enough. He’d had a course in
such things at some University; worked in a jeweler’s place, too. Seems
they mix some copper with gold. The result is a greenish combination
called green gold.

“And there you are.” His words became deeply reminiscent. “I had been
hunting gold for months, digging here, panning dirt there, but when I did
find gold I needed neither pick nor pan. And I didn’t know it was gold.

“The next day we made three trips to that cave. Each time we brought back
all the green gold we could carry. That cave must have been a goldsmith
shop of some ancient tribe. Every nook and cranny was crowded with green
gold.

“‘All we have to do now,’ I said, ‘is to take this out to civilization.
We are rich.’

“‘Civilization?’ Timmie said, his eyes dreamy with thoughts of wide open
spaces, ‘Who wants to go back to that?’ You see he was a born recluse.
‘Besides,’ he went on, ‘there’s the gold mine. We must find that.’

“Well, up to that time I hadn’t once thought of the mine from which this
gold had been taken. But from that moment the finding of that mine became
an obsession with both of us.

“We thought of nothing else until an unusually heavy snowfall drove all
game away and left us facing starvation.

“I wanted him to come away then.” Once more Gordon Duncan’s tone was
mellow with memories. “He wouldn’t come; but told me to go, to return
with fairer weather, and carry away my share of the treasure.

“It was a hard trek back. I was lost many times. Then I went snow blind.
Before my sight was gone I drove my knife in the tree, as you saw it back
there.

“‘I’ll find that and be able to make my way back,’ I told myself.

“But I never did, until just the other day. I reached the shelter of
civilization more dead than alive. My sight was a year coming back. Then
all memory of trails was gone.

“Not until I saw that knife in the tree did it all come back to me. And
now,” he said sadly, “he is gone!”

“We must follow,” said the girl. Her voice was husky.

“Yes, we must follow, not for the green gold, but for him,” said Gordon
Duncan.

“I have learned since,” said the old man, after a long silence, “that
those strange implements, dishes and ornaments, coming as they do from
the long lost past, are worth many times their weight in yellow gold.

“It is this that I would tell him, and that it is not good for him to
live alone; that in the end disaster must befall him here, just as it did
to the lone moose back there in our native forest.”

Faye found herself greatly impressed by her grandfather’s story. She was
as puzzled as he by the actions of the recluse, and as eager to follow
his trail. Only one thought dampened her ardor. Every mile that led away
from this mountain seemed to lessen their hopes of ever seeing Johnny
Longbow again. Yet fate is often very strange.

She slept well that night, and woke early, to find herself on tiptoe,
filled with a desire to be away. To their great joy they found their new
found Indian friends eager to join them.

“Their dogs will be of great service in following the trail,” said Gordon
Duncan as he hurried through final preparations for what, they both felt,
was to be a long and dangerous march.

Dangerous indeed it proved in the end.

Dawn found Gordon Duncan and his granddaughter with two of the Indian men
and their best dog team on the up-bound trail. The Indian women and
children remained behind. They had a supply of food. Caribou would soon
be trekking northward. The air would be full of wild fowl, geese, ducks,
swans, cranes. Spring was on the way. They would not want.

For the first hour and a half of the journey the native dog-team lagged.
They must be urged forward. But, of a sudden, as they reached a higher
level, they put their noses to the earth, sniffed two or three times,
then went straight away at a brisk trot.

“Good!” said Gordon Duncan as a satisfied smile overspread his wrinkled
face. “They have found Timmie’s trail.” He always spoke of the recluse as
Timmie, the only name he had known him by. “Now they will not pause nor
lag until they have come up with him.”

All day they followed the team. Spring surely was coming. They saw it in
little rushing streams. They smelled it in the moisture that rose from
the rocky ledges. They heard it in the honking of the first flock of wild
geese.

But the signs of spring only saddened Faye Duncan. “Spring means life,”
she thought, “renewed life. And poor Johnny Longbow who came with us so
far, who in such an unselfish way gave up his own plans to aid
Grandfather in the realization of his life’s dearest dream, lies beneath
the eternal snows.”

But did he? She could not be sure. She dared hope, for was not his arrow
found piercing the carcass of that monstrous bear? If his arrow had
escaped had not he? Who could have shot that arrow?

To this question she found no answer. Of one thing she was certain—if
Johnny Longbow were free to come to them he would be at her side. Her
heart swelled with undefinable emotion at the thought.

Still they traveled on. Over a ledge, down a ravine, across a plateau,
the trail led.

At times they caught glimpses of the river, a bright blue ribbon, far
below.

In places the river was white. This meant that ice had risen to the
surface.

“Soon go out, that one ice,” said the Indian who spoke English. “Then,
whooee! Big splash, big rush, plenty noise!”

Faye found herself hoping that they might be within sight of the river
when the breakup came. That was one of Nature’s dramas she had long
desired to see.

Just at sunset the dog team plunged down a steep embankment and piled up,
sled and all, forty feet below.

From that time until dark they went down. Down, down, down the trail ran
until, as camping time came, they were surprised to find themselves in a
narrow valley on a level with the river.

“Can he be mad enough to take to the river?” Gordon Duncan asked.

“Surely not,” Faye answered.

Gordon Duncan shook his head.

As for the Indians, they looked from Gordon Duncan to the girl, then back
to Duncan again. Whatever thoughts passed through their primitive minds
remained unexpressed.



                               CHAPTER XX
                          ADRIFT IN THE NIGHT


The ways of the savage and the highly civilized man are vastly different.
One is tempted to believe at times that the savage has the better end of
the bargain. Civilized man, from the time he enters school at six or
seven, until he is able to work no longer because of old age, rises at a
certain time each morning, goes at a stated hour to an appointed place,
stays a specified number of hours for study or work, then returns to his
home. This program is seldom varied.

The savage has no program. He rises one morning, comes upon the track of
game, begins a hunt that may lead him far and consume two days and a
night. The game at last run down and captured, he eats, then lies down to
sleep while the sun goes round the earth and returns to shine again.
Waking, he eats again. Then finding that some part of his hunting tog
requires attention, he consumes unlimited hours on the task.

It was so with Omnakok, the hunchback. Johnny, lying propped up among the
deer skins, watched him shaving away at the slab of tough wood for two
hours before he realized what he was about.

“He’s making a bow,” he told himself, “a bow, that’s it. Wonder what sort
of wood it is?”

To this question he could find no answer. Many strange woods were found
here. Besides, it is known that trade between the strange northern tribes
extends over thousands of miles.

“May have come from Russia or Greenland,” he told himself.

When his bumps and bruises began to make themselves felt and his eyes
grew heavy he dropped back among the deer skins and, entrusting himself
to the One who notes the sparrow’s fall, passed into the land of dreams.

When he awoke, several hours later, the bow was fully fashioned but still
the hunchback stood bending over it.

“He’s backing it with some tissue,” the boy told himself. “I know. It’s
reindeer sinew. I’ve heard of that. A bow so backed will never crack.”

Then a thought struck him all of a heap.

“He’s making that bow for me!” His heart gave a great leap. Perhaps no
boy in all the world ever felt such real joy over prospects of a new bow.

That it was intended for him he could not doubt for, though made on the
same lines and in the identical manner of Omnakok’s own, it was much
lighter.

“Fifty pounds, perhaps sixty,” he told himself. “How well he has judged
my strength.”

Sitting up, he felt his bumps. “Not so bad. Guess I could walk.” He stood
up, took a few steps, made a wry face, rubbed his legs, took a few more
steps, then gave vent to a low laugh. He was getting fit; be able to
travel soon.

Having placed the damp sinew, well mixed with fish glue, at the back of
the bow, Omnakok placed the bow before the fire, then dropping into a
corner, with legs crossed and long arms hanging down, he fell asleep.

On tiptoe Johnny wandered from corner to corner of the cabin. He had been
right. There was no food. The hunchback had shared his last meal.

“Some old sport,” he thought. “Not so bad for a savage.”

“When he wakes,” he told himself, “my new bow will be dry. Then we will
go for a hunt. Wonder what the game will be like?”

Had he known he surely must have shuddered. Had he known what was
happening to his good pal Faye Duncan, he must have rushed from the cabin
in a mad desire to reach her side and bring her aid. Knowing none of
these things, he replenished the fire, then sat down patiently to wait
the next move on the strange checkerboard of life.


Faye Duncan and her grandfather had joined the Indians in a meal of
stewed bear meat. Gordon Duncan had taken his place by the fire for his
evening nap, when Tico, who had been sleeping with nose on paws, suddenly
rose to sniff the air, then to go away into the night.

Her fear of the unknown overcome by curiosity, the girl followed him.
They had not gone a hundred paces before they came to a trail in the
snow. Many hours old, even distorted as they were by the melting of the
snow, the footprints were unmistakable.

“The—the great banshee!” the girl whispered under her breath.

As for the dog, he lifted up his voice in a howl which was an
unmistakable plaint for a lost friend. Little wonder. The trail had been
made by the hunchback as he had carried Johnny to his cabin.

Having completed his dirge of the night, Tico, nose to the snow, went
trotting away.

“He’s on the trail of the great banshee!” The girl gripped her breast to
still her heart’s wild beating. “Sha—shall I follow? Dare I?”

She answered her own question by again taking up the trail.

A quarter mile farther on, she came to that which made her start and
stare. A little to one side of the trail, a dark spot stood out against
the whiteness of the earth’s snow blanket.

“A—a mitten,” she said, picking it up. “It, why it—” again she strove in
vain to still her heart. “It’s Johnny’s!”

Who can say what wild thoughts surged through her breast as she stood
there in the snow beneath the starry heavens, alone in a vast hostile
wilderness?

Whatever they may have been, they at last urged her on at redoubled
speed. So, half walking, half running, she came at last to the brink of
the river. And there catastrophe befell her.

At this point on his long journey the hunchback had descended a sloping
bank of snow to travel for a time upon the river’s ice which was still
frozen to the bank. Since his passing, the ice had broken away. Many
yards of his trail had gone floating downstream.

Knowing nothing of this, the girl tried in vain to discover the way he
had gone.

“He can’t have taken to the river,” she told herself. “Still, there may
have been a boat. There—”

In leaning over the bank for a better look, she loosened the undermined
mass of snow and together they plunged into the racing river.

“It’s the end,” she told herself in despair as she felt the sting of icy
water. “No one can live in such a torrent.”

But what was this? Something touched her cheek. It was Tico. Seeing his
mistress adrift, he had plunged boldly in, determined to live or die with
her.

“Good old Tico!” Her voice choked. “We’ll die fighting.”

At that she put forth all her strength in an effort to regain the bank.

“But what’s the use?” she thought. “It’s only a steep bank of snow. No
one could scale it.”

With that thought, hoping against hope that something might come her way,
a log, a snag, an overhanging tree, she gave herself over to drifting and
quiet strokes that kept her afloat.



                              CHAPTER XXI
                        THE BATTLE OF THE BEARS


Much sooner than Johnny expected, the hunchback awoke. Perhaps the pangs
of hunger were making themselves felt. Be that as it may, the night was
not half gone when, each armed with a stout bow and a quiver of arrows,
they stole out into the vivid moonlight.

“Night hunting,” Johnny thought. “Wonder what sort of game will be afoot
at such an hour? Have to be large. Can’t see well enough for snowshoe
rabbit or ptarmigan.”

He was soon enough to know.

                            * * * * * * * *

As Faye drifted rapidly downstream, now threatened by floating fragments
of ice, and now caught and whirled around by mad swirls of racing water,
she expected every moment to reach the end of life. So long, however, as
the faithful Tico swam at her side she could not give up hope. So, with
the moon painting a mocking golden path to shore and all the starry
reflections dancing about her, she drifted on.

But what was this? Something cut her face. Another. This time came a
stinging blow. Putting up a hand to protect herself, she grasped
something and held on for a second.

“Willows,” she told herself. “Overhanging willows. There’s a chance—”

Again her hand went up. At once it was struck a glancing blow.

“Oh—Oo!” The pain in her wrist for the moment was intense, yet she
persevered. The next attempt was better. Arrested in her mad flight, she
swung round and hung there for a second. Once more her hold was broken.
Not however until her other hand had gone up. Before the current had
gotten her under way, she had gripped a stouter, stiffer branch. With a
supreme effort she threw herself half out of the water to grasp the
branch with her free hand.

The branch was strong. It held her half free from the water. Another
struggle and she was astride the branch. At once the branch was
submerged. But riding so, she was able to look about her and to catch a
few fleeting thoughts as to how the affair would end.

The branch, she discovered, had swung in quite close to shore. There was
a rim of ice before her, but by working her way down the branch she could
reach a position close to other and stronger branches.

“I’ll get hold of those and swing up,” she said aloud.

To her surprise she caught an answering sound.

“Tico!” she called as she caught the dog’s encouraging woof.

By the moonlight she made out his form, dancing on the shore. How had he
made it? She was astonished. But leave it to a dog!

Ten minutes of heart-breaking struggle and her hands gripped a stronger
branch. Even this dipped low, leaving her only abreast of the ridge of
ice. With one hand she gripped the slippery surface. For a second she
held on, then all but plunged head foremost into the tide.

“I must!” she told herself. “It’s my chance. My strength is leaving me.”

Once more she threw herself forward. This time as she felt herself
slipping back she was seized by the collar of her stout mackinaw and
pulled like a rag doll, up, up, up until she lay flat on the ice,
completely exhausted, but safe.

“Good old Tico!” she breathed faintly. “Good Tico!”

The dog licked her cold cheeks.

When strength returned, she crept forward until she found herself on a
bank of soft snow. There she stood up and looked about her. Matters did
not seem much improved. She was on a narrow island in the midst of the
river. The night was cold. It had been thawing during the day. Now it was
freezing.

“Got—got to get these things off.” Her teeth were chattering.

Struggling with her sodden garments, she got them off one by one and,
after wringing them out, hung them on the willows. At last, quite
undressed, she danced about and beat off the dampness that still clung to
her. Such garments as could be managed under the condition she drew on
again.

As her hand touched the pocket of her mackinaw she felt something hard.

“Matches,” she laughed in spite of her despair. “And yet—”

It was a little wooden box of sulphur matches such as are used in the
North. They had been wrapped in oiled cloth.

“Might be a chance,” she told Tico solemnly. “Nothing like hoping.”

After drying her hands on some dead willow leaves that still clung to the
branches, she carefully unwrapped the little box.

“Seems dry.” Her heart beat faster.

With elaborate care she gathered willow leaves and small dry twigs, then
laid on larger branches.

“If it works, Tico! If it only does!”

The first tiny match turned blue, sent up sulphurous fumes and went out.
The second did the same. Hope was ebbing when the blue of the third match
turned to red and the dry leaves were kindled.

“Whoops! Whoopee!” the girl shouted, dancing up and down. “We win! We
win!”

So they did. Fifteen minutes later a roaring flame was mounting toward
the sky. Dry leaves and green willows make a hot fire.

Before this fire, turning round and round like a top, was the girl, while
on willow branches, close as she dared have them, were her steaming
garments.


Johnny Longbow saw the light of that fire against the sky, but a hill lay
between him and the river. He believed the reflection to be a display of
Northern Lights.

They were hunting, he and the hunchback, when he saw that light. A moment
after he saw it the hunchback showed him that which set his blood racing
and drove all thoughts of the light out of his head.

It was strange, this hunting in the moonlight—strange and a bit uncanny.
From over the silver crested hills, the moon shone upon them. Shadows
black as ink were all about them. Every little depression in the snow
seemed a deep well of mystery. Beneath their feet the snow, softened as
it had been by the day’s thaw, gave forth not the slightest sound.

So, with bows unstrung and quivers swinging at their sides, they advanced
upon a low hill. Mounting this, they dropped down upon the other side.

They were half way down the slope when the hunchback, stopping dead in
his tracks, braced his bow and nocked an arrow. He stood there, a
grotesque statue in the moonlight.

“What has he seen?” the boy asked himself. Then, without knowing the
reason for it, he put the lower end of his bow against his instep and
bent it. After that he selected a broadhead from his quiver. Still he saw
nothing, heard nothing.

“It’s strange,” he thought, “Strange and—”

His thoughts broke short off. Down in the center of the valley, not fifty
yards before them where the shadow of the hill plunged all in midnight
blackness, something had stirred. After that had come a grunt.

“Like a pig,” Johnny thought. “But of course—”

Again his thoughts broke off. A head had risen above the shadow line, a
great grizzly head with a red, lolling tongue. This was no pig.

One instant it was there, the next it was gone. But the boy had seen
enough to set his heart racing. Squatting down with one knee on the snow,
he swung his bow into place and waited.

He had not long to wait. The creature, a great northern grizzly bear, was
moving now. She was coming out of the shadows. Johnny’s breath came hard
as he saw the size of her. His heart stopped beating altogether when he
realized that she was leading two half grown cubs.

“Bows and arrows,” he thought. Never had they seemed such frail weapons
as now, yet he was prepared to do his best.

As these thoughts passed through his mind, the three bears moved out into
the field of light.

Johnny felt a light pressure on his arm. He understood. They were to
shoot. Once more his heart raced. Yet his hand was steady as he drew his
bow. By instinct he seemed to understand that he was to shoot at the
larger of the two cubs. The hunchback would aim at the great beast’s
heart.

“Here’s hoping!” Johnny’s whole body stiffened. His arrow flew, and with
it another.

In an instant there was tumult in the bears’ camp. Having neither seen
nor smelled their enemies, both the cubs and the old one blamed his
companion for the pain that had leaped upon them from the dark. At once
they fell upon one another. Such growling and roaring, such cuffing and
scratching Johnny had not known in his life.

It was all so ludicrous that he wanted to roll in the snow with laughter.
Yet there was a more serious side. Neither of the bears had received a
mortal wound. Tumbling about as they were now, there was little chance
for a good shot. How long would it be before they discovered their
mistake and came charging up the hill? Nocking a second arrow, he awaited
the next turn of events.

                            * * * * * * * *

From her island fastness Faye Duncan heard the noise of battle, and
shuddered. Growling savagely, the dog marched back and forth in the snow.
But neither girl nor dog knew what it was all about.

One thought was uppermost in the girl’s mind. She must get off the island
and rejoin her companions. But how was this to be done? She had saved her
Indian friends from a similar predicament, but now there was no yarn to
bring a rawhide rope to her. Besides, the rope was now far back in the
camp of women and children.

A little ice was passing. Mere fragments, these would not support her
weight. She was interested to note, however, that swinging round a sharp
bend, the current brought these fragments very near the bank.

“If only they were large enough to support my weight!” she thought.

But the fire was burning low. The night chill was creeping in. Her
clothing was not yet dry.

                            * * * * * * * *

“More wood,” she thought as she twisted away at a tough willow branch.

In the meantime the battle of bears was slowing down. Seeing an opening,
the hunchback sent a second arrow crashing into the ribs of the old
grizzly. Was it this arrow that suggested a foe from without? As the
bear’s great head turned about, the bristle hair on her neck and
shoulders began to rise.

Johnny saw it as in a dream. He woke from the dream with a start when the
grizzly, at a pace not exceeded by the fastest horse, charged straight up
the hill.

For this the hunchback was prepared. He had lain five of his best arrows,
tipped with points of volcanic glass, side by side in the snow. Now, as
if shot from some new form of repeating blowgun, one by one these arrows
went crashing into the charging monster.

As for Johnny, his usually alert mind seemed frozen. Only after the
hunchback’s third arrow had found its mark with the beast still plowing
forward did he get into action. Then, realizing that his arrow, a good
broadhead with razor edge, was in place, he wondered where to aim.

There was no time to be lost. Instinctively he picked the beast’s lolling
red mouth. Twang! The arrow sped. The next instant, to his vast
astonishment, he saw the beast rear high, utter one wild roar and drop
backward dead.

Three shots from the hunchback’s bow silenced the two younger bears
forever. Then it was time for investigation. The arrow that Johnny shot
had entered the bear’s mouth, had pierced the thin bone at the top and
had entered the brain.

As the hunchback realized this, he turned and looked at Johnny. A smile
overspread his face and he patted the boy clumsily on the shoulder.

After that, leaving the old bear where she lay, he partially skinned one
of the cubs and, after slinging a good hundred pounds of meat across his
shoulder, beckoned the boy to follow.



                              CHAPTER XXII
                         THE HUNCHBACK LEADS ON


Someone else saw the light of Faye’s fire against the sky. Sitting
crosslegged on their deerskins, the two Indians squinted at it for a time
in stolid silence. After that a few guttural exclamations passed between
them. Then, having drawn their moccasins on, they hurried away down the
river, leaving Gordon Duncan asleep by the fire.

What words had they spoken? Had they judged the girl too long gone from
camp? Did they fear for her safety? Or did they suspect a hostile
encampment?

Whatever it may have been, they traveled rapidly. Passing through a clump
of pine trees they chose two hard knots, then hurried on. By the time
they came within sight of the island Faye’s clothes were dry. She had
donned them again, and might be seen moving about replenishing the fire.
Accustomed as they were to accurate observation of living things at a
distance, the Indians had no trouble in recognizing her.

At once they lighted their torches. The girl saw, and her heart leaped
with joy. Her plight had been discovered. Here was hope.

Noting that the ice fragments that drifted by were growing larger, she
endeavored to calculate the possibility of riding one to safety.

“Won’t do,” she told Tico. “Not yet.”

                            * * * * * * * *

Though Johnny Longbow had seen the light of his good friend’s fire, and
she in turn had heard the noise of his battle with the bears, morning was
destined to find them once more far apart. To Johnny’s great surprise the
hunchback, after replenishing their larder, did not lead the way back to
the cabin where they had last slept.

Instead he struck away across the hills. When they had traveled for the
greater part of an hour and had come to a barren and rocky dry ravine, he
piled a heap of large stones in the form of a rude oven. Beneath this he
kindled a fire and roasted meat.

After giving Johnny a liberal supply of bear meat and devouring great
quantities himself, he again took up his burden and led away over other
hills.

“How is this all to end?” Johnny asked himself. “It doesn’t much matter
where we go. I haven’t the slightest notion which direction would lead me
to my friends.”

That the hunchback was pleased with him was shown by his actions as they
paused now and then to rest. At such times he went through the motions of
a charging bear. Opening his mouth wide he acted a pantomime of receiving
a mortal wound in the mouth, and falling backward dead. These actions
were followed by loud laughter.

“This,” Johnny told himself, “probably indicates approval.”

He was not the least bit displeased that the hunchback held a friendly
feeling for him; yet he was led to wonder many times and how long he was
to wander and how the affair was to end.

                            * * * * * * * *

Faye’s escape from her island was less dramatic than that of the Indians
she had saved. As she waited, a surprisingly large cake of ice drifted
by. Seizing the opportunity, she sprang once more into the chilling
waters, swam a few strokes, clambered aboard, drifted close to shore, was
caught and dragged to land by the husky natives. Then, followed by the
dripping Tico, she raced away to camp.

For a second time that night her garments were hung by a fire to dry.
This time, however, she did not dance away the chill, but creeping deep
down among the blankets and deerskins, fell asleep to dream of towering
icebergs and racing floods.

                            * * * * * * * *

As he tramped on and on, mile after mile over low ridges, down narrow
valleys, through sparse growth of fir and tangled masses of willows,
following his strange guide through the night, Johnny wondered over and
over what their destination might be.

More than this, his mind was filled with wild speculations regarding the
future. What were the plans that revolved in the mind of this hunchback?
Had he any plans? His attitude amused Johnny. Of course he was only a
boy, but in the wilds where he so often takes a man’s part a boy soon
enough gets to rate himself as a man.

“He seems to think of me as a child,” he told himself after the strange
being had finished patting him on the head. “No, not quite that either;
more like a cub. That’s it, a bear cub.”

In a park where bears were protected and tame, Johnny had often amused
himself by watching the actions of mother bears and their cubs.

“He seems a great hunter of bears,” Johnny told himself. “No doubt,
living as he does in such isolation, he knows more about bears than human
beings. But am I to be his cub weeks on end?”

He pictured himself living in the wilderness with this curious wanderer,
dressing in skins, hunting with bow and arrow, fishing with crude nets,
living the life of a savage.

“No,” he told himself. “It can’t be.”

The hunchback heard. Turning about, he leered at him in a strange
fashion. Then they tramped on.

Just as dawn was breaking they came upon a thick growth of fir trees
crowning the crest of a hill. At the very center of this they found a
cabin.

This cabin was much more perfectly built than the other. The stones for
its chimney were cut in squares. The logs had been hewn off on two sides.
And beside the fireplace hung two heavy iron skillets and three
stew-pans.

“Did he build it, or appropriate it after some trapper or prospector had
left it?” the boy asked himself.

Too weary for thought, he went about the business of frying bear steak
over the fire kindled by his companion. After eating, he buried himself
in a great heap of furs and lost himself in the land of dreams.



                             CHAPTER XXIII
                            THREE BEAR SKINS


Early next morning, before Gordon Duncan was astir, and while the girl
still slept the sleep of exhaustion, the Indians crept from beneath their
caribou skins and journeyed forth in quest of food.

Within the hour they returned. And such a load as they carried on their
backs! Three bear skins and two hundred pounds of meat they cast down
upon the ground. Then kicking off the hungry dogs, they cut away broad
slices to throw them in the midst of the fighting pack.

“Three bears!” said Faye when she saw them. “How can they have killed
them so soon?”

“Not kill,” said the Indian who understood English. “Dead, that one, two,
three bear.”

“Dead! Then there is someone about.”

“No. Not anyone.”

“Then who killed them?” She was examining one of the skins. The marks she
found there had not been made by bullets, but by arrows.

“White man no save,” said the Indian, shaking his head. “That one
Indian,” nodding to his companion, “how you say it? Him one doctor, one
shamin. Plenty spirits help him. Spirit eagle, spirit white fox, spirit
old man, long time dead, never shoot rifle, always bow and arrow, that
one help him.

“So this one morning he say, that one (another nod toward his companion),
that one say, ‘Spirit of old man, kill bear for my dinner. Kill one, two,
three bear. Kill him.’ That’s all. See old man’s tracks, mine. So big!”
He stretched out his arms at full length.

“He is trying to tell you,” said Gordon Duncan, “that his companion has a
familiar spirit; that he is in league with the ghost of an old man and
that the ghost, at his request, has killed three bears.”

Faye shook her head. She did not believe it.

“Neither do I.” Her grandfather smiled. “But we have the meat. It is
enough. Now we may resume our journey in search of Timmie and the green
gold.”

Had Faye been alone she most certainly would have visited the valley of
dead bears. Had she done so, she must surely have recognized at once the
footprints of her lost pal and the “great banshee.”

But, looking at the drawn face of her aged sire and realizing what long
miles must still lie before him, she permitted him to have his way
without a word.

All day the dogs followed the faint trail left by the fleeing Timmie and
his wolfhounds. That night they camped beneath a sheltering cliff that
lay at the foot of a heavily timbered hill. At the crest of that hill was
a cabin, and in that cabin Johnny Longbow slept. Had a shot been fired by
one of the Indians he must have heard it. No shot was fired. There was
food in abundance. Besides, there was nothing to kill.

So, early next morning, they prepared again for the trail.

“Wonder why they carry those raw skins along,” Faye said to Gordon Duncan
as the natives lashed the three bear pelts to their sled. “They weigh as
much as our whole kit. And what possible good can they be?”

“Faye,” the old man rumbled, “to a native of this land a pelt of any kind
is a precious thing. All year round he dresses in skins, always he sleeps
beneath them. His home in summer is built of them, and in winter they
form the floor mat which protects his feet from the cold earth. His dog
harness is made of skins, his sled lashed together with them. To these
Indians a pelt is a thing of great value. To cast it away is to offend
the spirit of the dead bear.”

All that he said was true enough. Too soon he was to discover the real
reason these sturdy little brown men were willing to put their own
shoulders to the harness that the skins might remain upon the sled.

As they broke camp that day, Faye found herself wondering about many
things. Would they come up with Timmie? Did he carry on his sled the
strange collection of green gold antiques? Was he truly attempting to run
away with the gold? If so, why? And what of Johnny, her good pal of the
long trail? They had experienced many adventures together. Would their
trails ever cross again? She could not quite believe him dead.

“Adventures,” she thought. “How little enjoyment one gets from an
adventure when he has no one to share it!”

Adventure came soon enough that day. But first they arrived at that which
appeared to be an impasse in their journey.

The trail that morning led for three miles across a barren tundra. There
it lost itself in a tangled wilderness of trees and bushes. The trusty
dogs did not so much as falter. Their senses were sure; their aim true.

But what was this? After an hour of travel through the silent forest they
came to an abrupt halt. Before them lay a tangled mass of freshly cut
boughs.

“He made camp here last night,” said Faye as her heart gave a great leap.
“Per—perhaps he is still here.”

Certainly she hoped this might be true. The trail had been long, very,
very long, and she was weary. It was not the weariness that comes from
one day of strenuous toil, but the bone weariness of the long, long
trail.

“He’s gone!” Gordon Duncan said a moment later. “Gone down the river.”

“Not—not down the river!” Faye passed round the pile of brush, to drop
weakly to earth as she read unmistakable signs of a raft built and pushed
off from the shore.

“To think,” she said, her eyes reflecting the tragedy of her heart, “he
was here working while we slept! And now he is gone; gone forever. And we
have come all this way but to know defeat!”

“We must follow,” said Gordon Duncan.

“The break-up will come. We will perish!”

“We must trust God, and go.”

“But how?”

The Indians answered this question. Producing their bear skins they began
cutting willows.

“We make skin boat,” they said. “Tie wood together so; stretch skin so;
sew it this way; not leak. Very good boat. Ride water. Ice not break.
Very strong. Very good.”

“Wonderful!” said Gordon Duncan. “God sent you to us.”

“Eh-eh, the Great Spirit,” said the Indian.

Late that afternoon, in a boat that might have been made by some
primitive man three thousand years before, they glided from the shore and
away through the water that ran above the surface of six foot ice which,
soon enough, would rise and go booming and crowding and grinding toward
the sea.

Faye’s heart missed a beat as she took her place in the prow. They were
facing grave dangers. Would this be her last ride?

And yet it was to be a race, a race between a raft and a skin boat on a
turbulent river. Races are always thrilling. Soon her nerves were all
a-tingle.



                              CHAPTER XXIV
                              LEFT BEHIND


That the hunchback was a great sleeper Johnny was soon enough to know.
After their long journey he slept far into the day. Even after he awoke
he appeared to be in a dull stupor, produced, Johnny supposed, by eating
great quantities of bear meat.

Grateful as he was for the rest, the boy found himself growing restless.
Longing to know more about his strange surroundings and especially eager
to discover whether or not he was in a region visited at times by white
men, he slipped out of the cabin, then went slipping and sliding down the
steep hill.

He discovered little enough. In the scrub forest he found no mark of the
white man’s axe. Had he chanced to go down the other slope he would have
seen plenty, as you well know. For two days, the while preparing his
raft, the aged recluse had camped at the far end of that slope.

After a two-hour ramble, Johnny returned to the cabin. In one pocket was
a double handful of last year’s blueberries. In one hand he carried two
grouse which had fallen before his bow.

“These,” he told himself, “will make a more appetizing meal than greasy
bear meat.”

The hunchback sat just as he had left him, doubled up in the corner,
asleep or at least dozing.

“He hibernates like a bear,” the boy told himself in disgust.

“I could leave him,” he thought later as he plucked the feathers from his
two birds. “Strike right away into the wilderness, be gone so far and so
fast that he’d never find me.”

There was a thought for you. But did he want to leave? Crude and
repulsive as the creature was, he had beyond doubt saved his life. Then,
too, he knew the ways of the country, was used to procuring food in it.
With no companion one might easily meet up with starvation on the trail.

“Anyway,” he concluded, “if he keeps this up, at least I will get out and
see more of the country. May find a way out. To-morrow I will go toward
the river.”

Had he but known it, at that very moment Gordon Duncan was lighting his
campfire at the foot of the hill. He did not know it. Since the scrub
forest was dense here, no gleam of firelight, no whiff of smoke announced
to him the presence of his friends. So once more, in the midst of rich
furs he fell asleep.

Before his strange host was up and about the boy crept from the cabin to
go tramping away through the silent forest. The rise on which the cabin
stood was more a ridge than it was a hill. It ran for miles along the
river.

The slope on the river side was steep and rocky. In places there were
sheer precipices of forty or fifty feet. To avoid a dangerous fall, he
continued along the crest of the ridge.

Having caught a gleam of water far below, he realized that he was
following down the stream. At last, wearying of continual attempts to
find a way down, hoping to discover a pass, he climbed a steep rocky
pinnacle that gave him an unobstructed view of the river.

There he saw that which brought an exclamation to his lips and set his
heart beating wildly. A boat had just pushed off from the bank and was
swinging out into mid-channel. Lacking efficient paddles, the men at prow
and stern were managing the craft with poles. A curious sort of boat it
was, crudely built and hard to navigate; yet these Indians managed it
well.

“Indians,” Johnny thought. “But the two in the center of the boat. One’s
a girl. The other’s too tall. He—”

Of a sudden, like a revelation it came to him. The man was Gordon Duncan,
the girl Faye.

With a sudden headlong rush, he was off the rocky tower and away down the
hill. Little matter now that the way was steep and rocky. This was a
race, a hurdle race for a precious prize.

“If only they stall the boat. If only they turn back,” he panted as,
gripping the bough of a spruce tree, he fairly hurled himself to the next
tree. Down, down, down. Now a rocky ledge, now a glistening bank of snow,
now a clump of trees, over, under, through he went until at last, ragged,
torn, bleeding, he reached level land and in time the river’s brink.

“Too late,” he groaned as his eyes swept the river. Not a moving thing
was to be seen on its surface.

“It—it—why, it’s as if I dreamed that I saw them,” he said aloud.

As if to convince himself that he had not been dreaming, he followed
along the bank to the spot where the crude bearskin boat had pushed off.
There he found unmistakable signs; footprints told who had been there but
an hour before.

“Left behind!” He buried his face in his hands.

At that instant a sound from behind him caused him to start. Turning
quickly about, he found himself staring into the beady eyes of the
hunchback.



                              CHAPTER XXV
                         ADVENTURE IN PANTOMIME


On a river ever broadening as it made its way toward the far distant sea,
rode a crude skin canoe. In the canoe rode Gordon Duncan, his
granddaughter Faye and the two Indians. They had not left that canoe
since they entered it, and that had been sixteen hours back.

To the white man and the girl this wild journey had been a constant
strain; to the Indians it was but the day’s work. Many times before for
twenty, thirty hours they had ridden thus without sleeping.

To land now was impossible; to turn back was out of the question.
Besides, who would turn back? Had they not, but a quarter of an hour ago,
caught a glimpse of that which they sought?

They had rounded a rocky ledge where the river ran between low hills and
had come upon a long, straight stretch of water. At the end of that
stretch a dark object specked the water.

Gordon Duncan had lifted the glass once to his eyes and said:

“It’s Timmie.”

The raft and the man had disappeared at once beyond a bend in the river;
yet there was now ground for hope. And here they were still driving their
boat forward, still hoping that before disaster befell that aged recluse
and his crazy craft, they might overtake him and save him from a terrible
death. For, should they fail, disaster from crowding ice, rushing rapids
and the mad spring upheaval must surely overtake him.

“And he once saved my life,” said Gordon Duncan. “We may have been hasty,
followed him too far. It’s too late to think of that now. We can only
follow on.”

The journey thus far had been exciting, but quite safe. There was a wild
charm about it all, the racing water, the black, brown and green of
fleeting landscape, the occasional flocks of wild ducks that shot by
them, and the smell of spring everywhere charmed the young Scotch girl.

Yet it was dangerous. They might meet disaster at any turn. Her
grandfather had told Faye this, and she believed it. The water they
passed over at first had seemed white. That was because the winter ice
still lay still beneath the surface water that had rushed down from hills
and mountains.

“If it should rise beneath us!” she said with a shudder.

When, after a half hour of dreamy half-sleeping, she looked at the water,
it was black.

“Ice has gone out down here,” her grandfather explained.

“Then we are safe?”

“Far from it. The ice before us may jam at any point. It will then pile
mountain high. If there are steep banks as here, we will face disaster.”

The girl did not say, “Then why not turn back?” She knew the man too
well. He had seen what seemed to him a duty. He could but go on.

“If only Johnny Longbow were here!” she thought.

                            * * * * * * * *

Johnny Longbow was surprised and not a little frightened on seeing the
hunchback close beside him.

“What now?” he thought as his heart skipped a beat. “He was not so sleepy
as I supposed. He’s followed me. Did he believe me to be running away? If
so, what then?”

Whatever might be the strange creature’s feelings in the matter, the grin
he bestowed upon Johnny was friendly enough. His actions during the next
few minutes showed plainer than words that he knew more than Johnny did
about the whole affair.

Selecting a smooth surface of snow, he scooped out a channel for a
distance of twenty feet. This channel was a foot wide and two inches
deep. Next, having searched out a bundle of brittle twigs, he began
breaking one up and laying the pieces side by side in the bottom of the
channel. When he had constructed a rude square some eight inches across,
he selected certain bent and twisted bits of wood and, with a skill that
seemed extraordinary, created a tiny image of a man with a paddle in his
hand. This he placed well to the front upon the small platform. Back of
this he built up a miniature sled and four dogs.

All this was Greek to Johnny. When, however, with a few clever twists the
man had made a small boat and, after placing four figures within it, had
dropped it in the shallow channel, it all came to Johnny like a flash.

“The snow channel represents the river,” he told himself. “The figures in
the skin boat are my friends and the two Indians. But that before them
must be a raft. What of that?”

He studied over this for some time without reaching a conclusion. That a
raft was passing on before his friends, and that it carried a man, a sled
and four dogs, this much was certain. But who was the man?

“Don’t matter,” he told himself. “Might be anyone, a trapper, a
prospector, a lone Indian. But my comrades have gone ahead. How am I to
overtake them?”

In his eyes as he tried in vain to catch some glimpse of those who had
glided from his field of vision was a glint of despair.

The hunchback, who during all this time had been studying his face, did
not appear satisfied.

Selecting larger sticks, he constructed on the ground a larger raft. With
infinite pains he built up a new wooden man, four dogs and a sled.

Then, with equal care he began moulding small models from snow. One was a
rude cooking pot, another a flat pan, a third a prehistoric lamp. Other
figures were added. When all these were done, he piled them on the newly
made raft, and atop them all, a disc of metal taken from a pocket of his
skin trousers.

Still Johnny did not understand. When he shook his head, the hunchback
seized the metal affair and pressed it into his hand.

“Green,” he told himself as he turned it over, “Green like copper, but
heavy as lead. What can it be? What—

“Green gold!” he cried excitedly. “And now I understand. It is Timmie and
his green gold they are following. He rides ahead on a raft.”

Seeing that he was at last understood, the hunchback roared with hoarse
laughter.

After that, having seized Johnny’s hunting knife, with a few clever
strokes he shaped a miniature canoe. In this he placed two sticks. After
pointing to one, he struck Johnny a light blow. Then, after touching the
other, he smote his own breast.

Dropping the toy canoe in the snow channel, he moved it along until it
was abreast the skin boat. Then both boats overtook the raft.

“That’s plain enough,” the boy told himself. “We are to get into a boat
and pursue them. We will overtake my friends. Then together we will
overhaul Timmie and his raft load of dogs and green gold. Only question
is, where’s our boat?”

As if understanding the question, the hunchback laid heavy hands upon
him, turned him half about and marched him down the river.



                              CHAPTER XXVI
                           INTO THE ICE JAMB


“Ah!” sighed Gordon Duncan, as once more they caught sight of Timmie’s
raft. “We shall be up with him soon. Once we are close, when he sees my
face he will know it is I, his friend Gordon Duncan. We will bring him
and his treasure to the outside world. His last days shall be happy ones
after all.”

“But look!” exclaimed the girl, gripping his arm.

One look, and he started to his feet. The white-haired man before them
appeared to leap and dance upon the water. Appearances were deceiving.
The raft leaped and danced over rapids. And mingled with the rapids were
broken fragments and great heaps of ice. Here the water boiled and
foamed, there it rushed like mad.

“We shall all be drowned!” said the girl, gripping the old man’s arm.

“Trust God,” the man murmured. “I only fear for Timmie.”

Then, of a sudden, things happened. They had been coming nearer and
nearer to the clumsy raft when, as they turned a sharp bend in the river,
they saw that the aged recluse faced disaster. Stretching all the way
across the river was ice piled forty feet high. Jambing, screeching,
rolling and tumbling, it threatened all life that came near. And there
was the white haired recluse headed straight for it.

“He has only a pole. He can’t guide the thing. He’s lost!” groaned Gordon
Duncan.

He did not know the skill of the man. Poking at a cake of ice here,
fanning the water with his pole there, jabbing, poling, fighting his
best, the raftsman drove his clumsy craft toward the western bank. It
seemed that he would make the bank before the gurgling waters drew him
into that maelstrom. Faye held her breath and hoped.

Now he was thirty feet from the bank, now twenty, now—now he rose to his
feet as if for a try at a leap. His four dogs howled dismally. He looked
at them in dismay. That look was his undoing. An eddy caught his raft and
carried it toward midstream. The next instant a redoubled pull of current
shot him forward.

Only one hope remained. By the left shore, crowding thirty feet out over
the water, was a glacier-like snowbank. Solidly joined to the shore as it
was, this bank did not heave and roll as did the free ice. Only beneath
it the black waters raced. Between the hard packed snow and the river’s
surface was a broad dark line. This was an air space where the snow had
been worn away by higher water.

“He can’t go under,” Gordon Duncan breathed. “He’d be killed. He must
jump for the solid snow. It’s his only hope.”

The Indians in the skin canoe were battling the current to bring their
canoe ashore. As for Gordon Duncan and Faye, they had eyes only for the
drama that was being enacted there before them.

“Bravo!” murmured Gordon Duncan as a great dog, leaping far and wide,
made the snow bar in safety. One, two, three, four, the dogs were away.

And now, now! Faye breathed in little gasps. The recluse, standing erect,
motionless, prepared to leap. Now he bent low, now he sprang straight up
and away.

“He—he’s safe!” breathed Gordon Duncan.

But now. What happened? Did the current give the raft a sudden turn? Did
the old man’s strength suddenly fail? His leap fell short. He struck the
snow, tottered there for a second; then, as the raft with its load of
precious green gold shot into the darkness beneath the overhanging
snowbar, he tottered and fell full into the raging flood.

“He’s gone!” exclaimed Gordon Duncan. “Lost! Lost forever!”

The next instant their boat, guided by the trusty natives, bumped on a
shelving bank and they were quickly drawn up to safety.

In the meantime, as if to veil the catastrophe, a fog drifting down over
all, hid all, ice, snow and rushing river, from their view. Ten minutes
later a resounding roar told them that something terrific was happening
on the river.

“The ice jamb is broken,” Gordon Duncan said quietly. “The current is now
free. It came too late. We have lost!”

                            * * * * * * * *

Urged on by the impatient hunchback, Johnny fought his way forward
through tangled willows, over rock piles and down treacherous slopes of
melting snow until of a sudden, with an involuntary shout of joy, he came
plump against a large dugout turned upside down upon the ground.

To launch this craft, clumsy as it was, required but a moment’s time.
Such was the magnificent strength of the hunchback.

And now they had entered the race. With a paddle twice the size and
strength of the white man’s canoe paddle, the hunchback drove the dugout
forward in the rushing waters at a terrific pace.

It was Johnny who first heard the roar of the bursting ice jamb. They
were nearly two miles away, but it filled his breast with a wild terror.
That his friends rode the torrent before him he knew. What had happened
to them? What was about to befall him?

The current was swift. It bore them on rapidly. When the fog dropped down
upon them he realized that safety lay in seeking out shelter in some
quiet eddy close to the bank.

That this thought was in the hunchback’s mind soon became evident. He
began hugging the shore.

So intent were they upon reaching a place of safety that they failed to
note a picture framed in fog that for ten seconds flashed into view, then
was lost forever.

Without knowing why they did so, both Faye Duncan and her grandfather
stood upon the bank as they passed. It was Faye’s keen eyes that caught
sight of the racing dugout.

“Look!” she cried, quite beside herself. “Johnny, Johnny Longbow and the
great banshee!” She was quite beside herself with excitement.

“Calm yourself,” said Gordon Duncan. “You must be dreaming. A bad dream.
I see nothing.”

“I did see them!” she insisted vehemently. “They passed, they passed in
the fog!”

“Then,” said Gordon Duncan, “we shall doubtless see them later.”

“But will we? They are riding the flood. The ice jamb is gone. But there
may be others. And, he is with that terrible creature.”

“Humanity,” said Gordon Duncan quietly, “is everywhere very much alike.
He is in God’s hands. Beyond doubt the All Seeing One has provided him a
friend in this vast wilderness.”

“And to think,” said the girl more calmly, a great joy expressed in her
tones, “he is alive! He is not dead. Johnny Longbow is not dead!”

She did such a wild dance in the snow that Gordon Duncan could well have
believed they were home again and all their troubles over.

                            * * * * * * * *

In the meantime Johnny and his strange pilot had passed on into the fog.
They traveled a good three miles before they came to the haven of refuge
they sought, a quiet eddy by the bank of the stream.

With a sigh of relief Johnny unbent his cramped limbs and went ashore.

To his surprise he found the earth soggy with seeping water.

“Been a flood,” he thought.

This was true. The breaking of the ice jamb had momentarily clogged the
stream. Water had risen rapidly. The bayou had been flooded. Sudden as it
had come, so sudden it receded. Not, however, until something had
happened. What this was, Johnny was soon to know.

As he climbed the slope in search of a dry spot, to his vast
astonishment, stranded high and dry, he came upon a crude raft laden with
strange packages bound up in skins. And clinging to the raft, as if it
were still in motion, was a white haired old man.

Johnny wondered at the packages and the man, but he did not wonder long.

“This,” he told himself, “is Timmie, the recluse. And the packages on the
raft!” His heart beat wildly.

“But first this old man’s needs must be attended to.”

After disengaging his hands from the raft, Johnny helped the hunchback
carry the old man up the hill to a dry spot. There they soon had him
stripped of his sodden garments and wrapped in their own deerskins before
a roaring fire.

There, for the first time, he opened his eyes and murmured something
about “Green gold.”

It was four hours later that the boy was wakened from a short doze by the
fire by the ring of a rifle shot close at hand.

“Someone near,” he told himself. “Wonder who?”

“Hello! Hello there!” he shouted.

“Hello yourself,” came back from the hills above.

Three minutes later the boy stood staring in astonishment at four persons
who had just emerged from the brush, two Indians, a white man and a girl.
There were tears of real joy in his eyes, for the man and girl were his
long lost friends Gordon Duncan and Faye.


Their story was quickly told. No longer daring to trust themselves to the
treacherous waters, the party had pushed forward on foot in the hope, as
had been their good fortune, though in a manner quite unexpected, of
finding some trace of the aged recluse and his craft.

As they followed an animal trail a young caribou had appeared before
them. One of the Indians had shot it. This shot had told Johnny of their
presence.

So now, here they were all together again. And Timmie was with them. What
a joyous reunion it was! Even Timmie, who recognized his pal of other
days, seemed happy.



                             CHAPTER XXVII
                           GREEN GOLD AT LAST


The story of the aged recluse, Timmie, was soon told. After his companion
Gordon Duncan had left him, more than twenty years before, the caribou
had come and a fresh supply of provisions was at hand. That spring too,
other prospectors had come up the river. In return for his services as a
guide, they had supplied him with white man’s food.

As the years passed, he had given up hope that Gordon Duncan would
return; but even so, he guarded their secret well.

Ever a lover of nature and her solitary haunts, he was content to dwell
alone at the foot of the smoking mountains. Every year, as the winter’s
snow melted away, as the honking geese passed above the rivers and a
million flowers bloomed, he had shouldered pick and pan to begin one more
search for the mine of green gold.

“I never found it,” he whispered as, buried deep in warm deer skins, he
told his story. “But yonder on the raft, just as I was carrying it, you
will find the green gold, every piece. Every piece. Just as we found it
so many years ago.

“Take it, Gordon Duncan.” His whisper came from deep in his throat. “For
many years I have prized and guarded it. Now it must be entrusted to your
hands. I am soon to pass to that happy land where there are no spring
torrents, no snow, no cold, no smoking mountains and no night.”

“No! No!” said Faye Duncan, pressing his hand. “You are going to find
health in the spring sunshine. We will carry you from this dreary land to
the place where yellow roses bloom and the air is heavy with the
fragrance of daffodils.”

Timmie read the distress in her tone. He smiled and said no more. Yet he
knew what he knew, and was content.

“But why did you run from us?” Gordon Duncan asked.

A pained, puzzled look came over the face of the aged recluse. “I do not
know. I am growing old. When one is old he becomes afraid of many
things.”

The hoard of green gold on Timmie’s raft was indeed a great treasure.
Johnny, who had traveled much and knew the value of such things coming
from a very remote past, reckoned their value in many thousands of
dollars.

One day, two weeks later, having buried Timmie among the hills he had
loved so long, bidding an affectionate farewell to their Indian guides
and the strange hunchback, the party of three, Gordon Duncan, Faye and
Johnny, put off from shore in a new dugout which their friends had made
for them.

Three days later, as they drifted down the silent river which was now
quite free from ice, to their great surprise they caught the distant drum
of an airplane.

Straining their eyes, they saw it at last just clearing the mountains to
the north. Imagine their surprise when it went out of sight behind the
timber not five miles from where they were.

When, two hours later, on rounding a bend in the river, they sighted the
camp of more than a hundred white men, their joy knew no bounds.

Soon enough they were told of a fresh gold strike on these upper reaches
of the river. The passenger airplane which was bringing men into the
country was to start on the return journey in two hours. It was nearing
the lunch hour now. They might have dinner at the outskirts of the white
man’s land if they liked.

Their decision was quickly reached. After a royal feast of white man’s
food, they bundled their precious relics of green gold aboard the plane
and, climbing in, sailed away.

A week later Johnny stood in the doorway of a cabin. Before the cabin
yellow roses bloomed and the air was laden with the scent of spring
blossoms.

Beside him stood Faye Duncan. No longer garbed in the dull brown and gray
of the trail, but in a gay red dress, she was the picture of health and
beauty.

Much had been done in these days. A mystery had been cleared up and a
fortune assured.

From Faye’s own lips Johnny had learned the secret of their hiding away
in the north woods so many weeks before. Her grandfather was to have been
a witness in a murder trial. He believed the man being tried was
innocent, yet he realized that his own testimony would go far toward
convicting him. In order to avoid being called as a witness and in order
to give time for hot anger to cool and the real culprit to be found, he
had hidden away in the forest.

“But now it is all more than right,” Faye had said with tears of joy in
her eyes. “The real murderer has confessed; the other man is free.”

Gordon Duncan had sold half the green gold for a sum large enough to make
him comfortable for life. Timmie’s half he had given to a museum, there
to remain as a monument to his lost comrade.

Faye and Johnny stood in the doorway watching the sunset fade. Never
before had Johnny been so tempted to give up the life of a wanderer and
settle down. And yet—

“Letter for you,” said Gordon Duncan. Coming up the path, he handed it to
Johnny.

The boy read the letter with interest. It was from Curlie Carson. Perhaps
you have read about him. Johnny had heard of him. In this letter Curlie
proposed that the two of them join in a daring enterprise. Would Johnny
go?

Would he? When one frank, daring, straight shooting adventurer says to
another of his kind, “Come, let’s go,” the answer is sure to be, “Lead
on.”

“But I’ll be back,” Johnny said to the ruddy-cheeked Scotch girl as he
bade her goodbye next morning. And who can say he will not?

If you wish to read of the adventures entered into by Johnny Thompson and
Curlie Carson, you’ll find them all written down in a book called, “The
Rope of Gold.”



                         The Roy J. Snell Books


Mr. Snell is a versatile writer who knows how to write stories that will
please boys and girls. He has traveled widely, visited many
out-of-the-way corners of the earth, and being a keen observer has found
material for many thrilling stories. His stories are full of adventure
and mystery, yet in the weaving of the story there are little threads
upon which are hung lessons in loyalty, honesty, patriotism and right
living.

Mr. Snell has created a wide audience among the younger readers of
America. Boy or girl, you are sure to find a Snell book to your liking.
His works cover a wide and interesting scope.

Here are the titles of the Snell Books:


                       _Mystery Stories for Boys_

  1. Triple Spies
  2. Lost in the Air
  3. Panther Eye
  4. The Crimson Flash
  5. White Fire
  6. The Black Schooner
  7. The Hidden Trail
  8. The Firebug
  9. The Red Lure
  10. Forbidden Cargoes
  11. Johnny Longbow
  12. The Rope of Gold
  13. The Arrow of Fire
  14. The Gray Shadow
  15. Riddle of the Storm
  16. The Galloping Ghost
  17. Whispers at Dawn; or, The Eye
  18. Mystery Wings
  19. Red Dynamite
  20. The Seal of Secrecy
  21. The Shadow Passes
  22. Sign of the Green Arrow


                     _The Radio-Phone Boys’ Series_

  1. Curlie Carson Listens In
  2. On the Yukon Trail
  3. The Desert Patrol
  4. The Seagoing Tank
  5. The Flying Sub
  6. Dark Treasure
  7. Whispering Isles
  8. Invisible Wall


                     _Adventure Stories for Girls_

  1. The Blue Envelope
  2. The Cruise of the O’Moo
  3. The Secret Mark
  4. The Purple Flame
  5. The Crimson Thread
  6. The Silent Alarm
  7. The Thirteenth Ring
  8. Witches Cove
  9. The Gypsy Shawl
  10. Green Eyes
  11. The Golden Circle
  12. The Magic Curtain
  13. Hour of Enchantment
  14. The Phantom Violin
  15. Gypsy Flight
  16. The Crystal Ball
  17. A Ticket to Adventure
  18. The Third Warning



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original printed text—this e-text
  is public domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--Relocated promotional material to the end of the book, and completed
  the list of books in the three series (using other sources).





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Johnny Longbow" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home