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The Last of the Plainsmen by Zane Grey

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wild, clamoring pursuit. Jones let out the stentorian blast, now
becoming familiar, and spurred after them. He reached over,
pulled the shotgun out of the holster and fired both barrels at
the jumping dogs.

I expressed my amazement in strong language, and Wallace

Don came sneaking back with his tail between his legs, and Moze,
who had cowered as if stung, circled round ahead of us. Jones
finally succeeded in gettin him back.

"Come in hyah! You measly rabbit dogs! What do you mean chasing
off that way? We're after lions. Lions! understand?"

Don looked thoroughly convinced of his error, but Moze, being
more thick-headed, appeared mystified rather than hurt or

"What size shot do you use?" I asked.

"Number ten. They don't hurt much at seventy five yards," replied
our leader. "I use them as sort of a long arm. You see, the dogs
must be made to know what we're after. Ordinary means would never
do in a case like this. My idea is to break them of coyotes,
wolves and deer, and when we cross a lion trail, let them go.
I'll teach them sooner than you'd think. Only we must get where
we can see what they're trailing. Then I can tell whether to call
then back or not."

The sun was gilding the rim of the desert rampart when we began
the ascent of the foothills of Buckskin. A steep trail wound
zigzag up the mountain We led our horses, as it was a long, hard
climb. From time to time, as I stopped to catch my breath I gazed
away across the growing void to the gorgeous Pink Cliffs, far
above and beyond the red wall which had seemed so high, and then
out toward the desert. The irregular ragged crack in the plain,
apparently only a thread of broken ground, was the Grand Canyon.
How unutterably remote, wild, grand was that world of red and
brown, of purple pall, of vague outline!

Two thousand feet, probably, we mounted to what Frank called
Little Buckskin. In the west a copper glow, ridged with
lead-colored clouds, marked where the sun had set. The air was
very thin and icy cold. At the first clump of pinyon pines, we
made dry camp. When I sat down it was as if I had been anchored.
Frank solicitously remarked that I looked "sort of beat." Jim
built a roaring fire and began getting supper. A snow squall came
on the rushing wind. The air grew colder, and though I hugged the
fire, I could not get warm. When I had satisfied my hunger, I
rolled out my sleeping-bag and crept into it. I stretched my
aching limbs and did not move again. Once I awoke, drowsily
feeling the warmth of the fire, and I heard Frank say: "He's
asleep, dead to the world!"

"He's all in," said Jones. "Riding's what did it You know how a
horse tears a man to pieces."

"Will he be able to stand it?" asked Frank, with as much
solicitude as if he were my brother. "When you get out after
anythin'--well, you're hell. An' think of the country we're goin'
into. I know you've never seen the breaks of the Siwash, but I
have, an' it's the worst an' roughest country I ever saw. Breaks
after breaks, like the ridges on a washboard, headin' on the
south slope of Buckskin, an' runnin' down, side by side, miles
an' miles, deeper an' deeper, till they run into that awful hole.
It will be a killin' trip on men, horses an' dogs. Now, Mr.
Wallace, he's been campin' an' roughin' with the Navajos for
months; he's in some kind of shape, but--"

Frank concluded his remark with a doubtful pause.

"I'm some worried, too," replied Jones. "But he would come. He
stood the desert well enough; even the Mormons said that."

In the ensuing silence the fire sputtered, the glare fitfully
merged into dark shadows under the weird pinyons, and the wind
moaned through the short branches.

"Wal," drawled a slow, soft voice, "shore I reckon you're
hollerin' too soon. Frank's measly trick puttin' him on Spot
showed me. He rode out on Spot, an' he rode in on Spot. Shore
he'll stay."

It was not all the warmth of the blankets that glowed over me
then. The voices died away dreamily, and my eyelids dropped
sleepily tight. Late in the night I sat up suddenly, roused by
some unusual disturbance. The fire was dead; the wind swept with
a rush through the pinyons. From the black darkness came the
staccato chorus of coyotes. Don barked his displeasure; Sounder
made the welkin ring, and old Moze growled low and deep,
grumbling like muttered thunder. Then all was quiet, and I slept.

Dawn, rosy red, confronted me when I opened my eyes. Breakfast
was ready; Frank was packing Old Baldy; Jones talked to his horse
as he saddled him; Wallace came stooping his giant figure under
the pinyons; the dogs, eager and soft-eyed, sat around Jim and
begged. The sun peeped over the Pink Cliffs; the desert still lay
asleep, tranced in a purple and golden-streaked mist.

"Come, come!" said Jones, in his big voice. "We're slow; here's
the sun."

"Easy, easy," replied Frank, "we've all the time there is."

When Frank threw the saddle over Satan I interrupted him and said
I would care for my horse henceforward. Soon we were under way,
the horses fresh, the dogs scenting the keen, cold air.

The trail rolled over the ridges of pinyon and scrubby pine.
Occasionally we could see the black, ragged crest of Buckskin
above us. From one of these ridges I took my last long look back
at the desert, and engraved on my mind a picture of the red wall,
and the many-hued ocean of sand. The trail, narrow and
indistinct, mounted the last slow-rising slope; the pinyons
failed, and the scrubby pines became abundant. At length we
reached the top, and entered the great arched aisles of Buckskin
Forest. The ground was flat as a table. Magnificent pine trees,
far apart, with branches high and spreading, gave the eye glad
welcome. Some of these monarchs were eight feet thick at the base
and two hundred feet high. Here and there one lay, gaunt and
prostrate, a victim of the wind. The smell of pitch pine was
sweetly overpowering.

"When I went through here two weeks ago, the snow was a foot
deep, an' I bogged in places," said Frank. "The sun has been
oozin' round here some. I'm afraid Jones won't find any snow on
this end of Buckskin."

Thirty miles of winding trail, brown and springy from its thick
mat of pine needles, shaded always by the massive, seamy-barked
trees, took us over the extremity of Buckskin. Then we faced down
into the head of a ravine that ever grew deeper, stonier and
rougher. I shifted from side to side, from leg to leg in my
saddle, dismounted and hobbled before Satan, mounted again, and
rode on. Jones called the dogs and complained to them of the lack
of snow. Wallace sat his horse comfortably, taking long pulls at
his pipe and long gazes at the shaggy sides of the ravine. Frank,
energetic and tireless, kept the pack-horses in the trail. Jim
jogged on silently. And so we rode down to Oak Spring.

The spring was pleasantly situated in a grove of oaks and
Pinyons, under the shadow of three cliffs. Three ravines opened
here into an oval valley. A rude cabin of rough-hewn logs stood
near the spring.

"Get down, get down," sang out Frank. "We'll hang up here. Beyond
Oak is No-Man's-Land. We take our chances on water after we leave

When we had unsaddled, unpacked, and got a fire roaring on the
wide stone hearth of the cabin, it was once again night.

"Boys," said Jones after supper, "we're now on the edge of the
lion country. Frank saw lion sign in here only two weeks ago; and
though the snow is gone, we stand a show of finding tracks in the
sand and dust. To-morrow morning, before the sun gets a chance at
the bottom of these ravines, we'll be up and doing. We'll each
take a dog and search in different directions. Keep the dog in
leash, and when he opens up, examine the ground carefully for
tracks. If a dog opens on any track that you are sure isn't
lion's, punish him. And when a lion-track is found, hold the dog
in, wait and signal. We'll use a signal I have tried and found
far-reaching and easy to yell. Waa-hoo! That's it. Once yelled it
means come. Twice means comes quickly. Three times means

In one corner of the cabin was a platform of poles, covered with
straw. I threw the sleeping-bag on this, and was soon stretched
out. Misgivings as to my strength worried me before I closed my
eyes. Once on my back, I felt I could not rise; my chest was
sore; my cough deep and rasping. It seemed I had scarcely closed
my eyes when Jones's impatient voice recalled me from sweet

"Frank, Frank, it's daylight. Jim--boys!" he called.

I tumbled out in a gray, wan twilight. It was cold enough to make
the fire acceptable, but nothing like the morning before on

"Come to the festal board," drawled Jim, almost before I had my
boots laced.

"Jones," said Frank, "Jim an' I'll ooze round here to-day.
There's lots to do, an' we want to have things hitched right
before we strike for the Siwash. We've got to shoe Old Baldy, an'
if we can't get him locoed, it'll take all of us to do it."

The light was still gray when Jones led off with Don, Wallace
with Sounder and I with Moze. Jones directed us to separate,
follow the dry stream beds in the ravines, and remember his
instructions given the night before.

The ravine to the right, which I entered, was choked with huge
stones fallen from the cliff above, and pinyons growing thick;
and I wondered apprehensively how a man could evade a wild animal
in such a place, much less chase it. Old Moze pulled on his chain
and sniffed at coyote and deer tracks. And every time he evinced
interest in such, I cut him with a switch, which, to tell the
truth, he did not notice. I thought I heard a shout, and holding
Moze tight, I waited and listened.

"Waa-hoo--waa-hoo!" floated on the air, rather deadened as if it
had come from round the triangular cliff that faced into the
valley. Urging and dragging Moze, I ran down the ravine as fast
as I could, and soon encountered Wallace coming from the middle
ravine. "Jones," he said excitedly, "this way--there's the
signal again." We dashed in haste for the mouth of the third
ravine, and came suddenly upon Jones, kneeling under a pinyon
tree. "Boys, look!" he exclaimed, as he pointed to the ground.
There, clearly defined in the dust, was a cat track as big as my
spread hand, and the mere sight of it sent a chill up my spine.
"There's a lion track for you; made by a female, a two-year-old;
but can't say if she passed here last night. Don won't take the
trail. Try Moze."

I led Moze to the big, round imprint, and put his nose down into
it. The old hound sniffed and sniffed, then lost interest.

"Cold!" ejaculated Jones. "No go. Try Sounder. Come, old boy,
you've the nose for it."

He urged the relucant hound forward. Sounder needed not to be
shown the trail; he stuck his nose in it, and stood very quiet
for a long moment; then he quivered slightly, raised his nose and
sought the next track. Step by step he went slowly, doubtfully.
All at once his tail wagged stiffly.

"Look at that!" cried Jones in delight. "He's caught a scent when
the others couldn't. Hyah, Moze, get back. Keep Moze and Don
back; give him room."

Slowly Sounder paced up the ravine, as carefully as if he were
traveling on thin ice. He passed the dusty, open trail to a scaly
ground with little bits of grass, and he kept on.

We were electrified to hear him give vent to a deep bugle-blast
note of eagerness.

"By George, he's got it, boys!" exclaimed Jones, as he lifted the
stubborn, struggling hound off the trail. "I know that bay. It
means a lion passed here this morning. And we'll get him up as
sure as you're alive. Come, Sounder. Now for the horses."

As we ran pell-mell into the little glade, where Jim sat mending
some saddle trapping, Frank rode up the trail with the horses.

"Well, I heard Sounder," he said with his genial smile.
"Somethin's comin' off, eh? You'll have to ooze round some to
keep up with that hound."

I saddled Satan with fingers that trembled in excitement, and
pushed my little Remington automatic into the rifle holster.

"Boys, listen," said our leader. "We're off now in the beginning
of a hunt new to you. Remember no shooting, no blood-letting,
except in self-defense. Keep as close to me as you can. Listen
for the dogs, and when you fall behind or separate, yell out the
signal cry. Don't forget this. We're bound to lose each other.
Look out for the spikes and branches on the trees. If the dogs
split, whoever follows the one that trees the lion must wait
there till the rest come up. Off now! Come, Sounder; Moze, you
rascal, hyah! Come, Don, come, Puppy, and take your medicine."

Except Moze, the hounds were all trembling and running eagerly to
and fro. When Sounder was loosed, he led them in a bee-line to
the trail, with us cantering after. Sounder worked exactly as
before, only he followed the lion tracks a little farther up the
ravine before he bayed. He kept going faster and faster,
occasionally letting out one deep, short yelp. The other hounds
did not give tongue, but eager, excited, baffled, kept at his
heels. The ravine was long, and the wash at the bottom, up which
the lion had proceeded, turned and twisted round boulders large
as houses, and led through dense growths of some short, rough
shrub. Now and then the lion tracks showed plainly in the sand.
For five miles or more Sounder led us up the ravine, which began
to contract and grow steep. The dry stream bed got to be full of
thickets of branchless saplings, about the poplar--tall,
straight, size of a man's arm, and growing so close we had to
press them aside to let our horses through.

Presently Sounder slowed up and appeared at fault. We found him
puzzling over an open, grassy patch, and after nosing it for a
little while, he began skirting the edge.

"Cute dog!" declared Jones. "That Sounder will make a lion
chaser. Our game has gone up here somewhere."

Sure enough, Sounder directly gave tongue from the side of the
ravine. It was climb for us now. Broken shale, rocks of all
dimensions, pinyons down and pinyons up made ascending no easy
problem. We had to dismount and lead the horses, thus losing
ground. Jones forged ahead and reached the top of the ravine
first. When Wallace and I got up, breathing heavily, Jones and
the hounds were out of sight. But Sounder kept voicing his clear
call, giving us our direction. Off we flew, over ground that was
still rough, but enjoyable going compared to the ravine slopes.
The ridge was sparsely covered with cedar and pinyon, through
which, far ahead, we pretty soon spied Jones. Wallace signaled,
and our leader answered twice. We caught up with him on the brink
of another ravine deeper and craggier than the first, full of
dead, gnarled pinyon and splintered rocks.

"This gulch is the largest of the three that head in at Oak
Spring," said Jones. "Boys, don't forget your direction. Always
keep a feeling where camp is, always sense it every time you
turn. The dogs have gone down. That lion is in here somewhere.
Maybe he lives down in the high cliffs near the spring and came
up here last night for a kill he's buried somewhere. Lions never
travel far. Hark! Hark! There's Sounder and the rest of them!
They've got the scent; they've all got it! Down, boys, down, and

With that he crashed into the cedar in a way that showed me how
impervious he was to slashing branches, sharp as thorns, and
steep descent and peril.

Wallace's big sorrel plunged after him and the rolling stones
cracked. Suffering as I was by this time, with cramp in my legs,
and torturing pain, I had to choose between holding my horse in
or falling off; so I chose the former and accordingly got behind.

Dead cedar and pinyon trees lay everywhere, with their contorted
limbs reaching out like the arms of a devil-fish. Stones blocked
every opening. Making the bottom of the ravine after what seemed
an interminable time, I found the tracks of Jones and Wallace. A
long "Waa-hoo!" drew me on; then the mellow bay of a hound
floated up the ravine. Satan made up time in the sandy stream
bed, but kept me busily dodging overhanging branches. I became
aware, after a succession of efforts to keep from being strung on
pinyons, that the sand before me was clean and trackless. Hauling
Satan up sharply, I waited irresolutely and listened. Then from
high up the ravine side wafted down a medley of yelps and barks.

"Waa-hoo, waa-hoo!" ringing down the slope, pealed against the
cliff behind me, and sent the wild echoes flying. Satan, of his
own accord, headed up the incline. Surprised at this, I gave him
free rein. How he did climb! Not long did it take me to discover
that he picked out easier going than I had. Once I saw Jones
crossing a ledge far above me, and I yelled our signal cry. The
answer returned clear and sharp; then its echo cracked under the
hollow cliff, and crossing and recrossing the ravine, it died at
last far away, like the muffled peal of a bell-buoy. Again I
heard the blended yelping of the hounds, and closer at hand. I
saw a long, low cliff above, and decided that the hounds were
running at the base of it. Another chorus of yelps, quicker,
wilder than the others, drew a yell from me. Instinctively I knew
the dogs had jumped game of some kind. Satan knew it as well as
I, for he quickened his pace and sent the stones clattering
behind him.

I gained the base of the yellow cliff, but found no tracks in the
dust of ages that had crumbled in its shadow, nor did I hear the
dogs. Considering how close they had seemed, this was strange. I
halted and listened. Silence reigned supreme. The ragged cracks
in the cliff walls could have harbored many a watching lion, and
I cast an apprehensive glance into their dark confines. Then I
turned my horse to get round the cliff and over the ridge. When I
again stopped, all I could hear was the thumping of my heart and
the labored panting of Satan. I came to a break in the cliff, a
steep place of weathered rock, and I put Satan to it. He went up
with a will. From the narrow saddle of the ridge-crest I tried to
take my bearings. Below me slanted the green of pinyon, with the
bleached treetops standing like spears, and uprising yellow
stones. Fancying I heard a gunshot, I leaned a straining ear
against the soft breeze. The proof came presently in the
unmistakable report of Jones's blunderbuss. It was repeated
almost instantly, giving reality to the direction, which was down
the slope of what I concluded must be the third ravine. Wondering
what was the meaning of the shots, and chagrined because I was
out of the race, but calmer in mind, I let Satan stand.

Hardly a moment elapsed before a sharp bark tingled in my ears.
It belonged to old Moze. Soon I distinguished a rattling of
stones and the sharp, metallic clicks of hoofs striking rocks.
Then into a space below me loped a beautiful deer, so large that
at first I took it for an elk. Another sharp bark, nearer this
time, told the tale of Moze's dereliction. In a few moments he
came in sight, running with his tongue out and his head high.

"Hyah, you old gladiator! hyah! hyah!" I yelled and yelled again.
Moze passed over the saddle on the trail of the deer, and his
short bark floated back to remind me how far he was from a lion

Then I divined the meaning of the shotgun reports. The hounds had
crossed a fresher trail than that of the lion, and our leader had
discovered it. Despite a keen appreciation of Jones's task, I
gave way to amusement, and repeated Wallace's paradoxical
formula: "Pet the lions and shoot the hounds."

So I headed down the ravine, looking for a blunt, bold crag,
which I had descried from camp. I found it before long, and
profiting by past failures to judge of distance, gave my first
impression a great stretch, and then decided that I was more than
two miles from Oak.

Long after two miles had been covered, and I had begun to
associate Jim's biscuits with a certain soft seat near a ruddy
fire, I was apparently still the same distance from my landmark
crag. Suddenly a slight noise brought me to a halt. I listened
intently. Only an indistinct rattling of small rocks disturbed
the impressive stillness. It might have been the weathering that
goes on constantly, and it might have been an animal. I inclined
to the former idea till I saw Satan's ears go up. Jones had told
me to watch the ears of my horse, and short as had been my
acquaintance with Satan, I had learned that he always discovered
things more quickly than I. So I waited patiently.

From time to time a rattling roll of pebbles, almost musical,
caught my ear. It came from the base of the wall of yellow cliff
that barred the summit of all those ridges. Satan threw up his
head and nosed the breeze. The delicate, almost stealthy sounds,
the action of my horse, the waiting drove my heart to extra work.
The breeze quickened and fanned my cheek, and borne upon it came
the faint and far-away bay of a hound. It came again and again,
each time nearer. Then on a stronger puff of wind rang the clear,
deep, mellow call that had given Sounder his beautiful name.
Never it seemed had I heard music so blood-stirring. Sounder was
on the trail of something, and he had it headed my way. Satan
heard, shot up his long ears, and tried to go ahead; but I
restrained and soothed him into quiet.

Long moments I sat there, with the poignant consciousness of the
wildness of the scene, of the significant rattling of the stones
and of the bell-tongued hound baying incessantly, sending warm
joy through my veins, the absorption in sensations new, yielding
only to the hunting instinct when Satan snorted and quivered.
Again the deep-toned bay rang into the silence with its stirring
thrill of life. And a sharp , rattling of stones just above
brought another snort from Satan.

Across an open space in the pinyons a gray form flashed. I leaped
off Satan and knelt to get a better view under the trees. I soon
made out another deer passing along the base of the cliff.
Mounting again, I rode up to the cliff to wait for Sounder.

A long time I had to wait for the hound. It proved that the
atmosphere was as deceiving in regard to sound as to sight.
Finally Sounder came running along the wall. I got off to
intercept him. The crazy fellow--he had never responded to my
overtures of friendship--uttered short, sharp yelps of delight,
and actually leaped into my arms. But I could not hold him. He
darted upon the trail again and paid no heed to my angry shouts.
With a resolve to overhaul him, I jumped on Satan and whirled
after the hound.

The black stretched out with such a stride that I was at pains to
keep my seat. I dodged the jutting rocks and projecting snags;
felt stinging branches in my face and the rush of sweet, dry
wind. Under the crumbling walls, over slopes of weathered stone
and droppings of shelving rock, round protruding noses of cliff,
over and under pinyons Satan thundered. He came out on the top of
the ridge, at the narrow back I had called a saddle. Here I
caught a glimpse of Sounder far below, going down into the ravine
from which I had ascended some time before. I called to him, but
I might as well have called to the wind.

Weary to the point of exhaustion, I once more turned Satan toward
camp. I lay forward on his neck and let him have his will. Far
down the ravine I awoke to strange sounds, and soon recognized
the cracking of iron-shod hoofs against stone; then voices.
Turning an abrupt bend in the sandy wash, I ran into Jones and

"Fall in! Line up in the sad procession!" said Jones. "Tige and
the pup are faithful. The rest of the dogs are somewhere between
the Grand Canyon and the Utah desert."

I related my adventures, and tried to spare Moze and Sounder as
much as conscience would permit.

"Hard luck!" commented Jones. "Just as the hounds jumped the
cougar--Oh! they bounced him out of the rocks all right--don't
you remember, just under that cliff wall where you and Wallace
came up to me? Well, just as they jumped him, they ran right into
fresh deer tracks. I saw one of the deer. Now that's too much for
any hounds, except those trained for lions. I shot at Moze twice,
but couldn't turn him. He has to be hurt, they've all got to be
hurt to make them understand."

Wallace told of a wild ride somewhere in Jones's wake, and of
sundry knocks and bruises he had sustained, of pieces of corduroy
he had left decorating the cedars and of a most humiliating
event, where a gaunt and bare pinyon snag had penetrated under
his belt and lifted him, mad and kicking, off his horse.

"These Western nags will hang you on a line every chance they
get," declared Jones, "and don't you overlook that. Well, there's
the cabin. We'd better stay here a few days or a week and break
in the dogs and horses, for this day's work was apple pie to what
we'll get in the Siwash."

I groaned inwardly, and was remorselessly glad to see Wallace
fall off his horse and walk on one leg to the cabin. When I got
my saddle off Satan, had given him a drink and hobbled him, I
crept into the cabin and dropped like a log. I felt as if every
bone in my body was broken and my flesh was raw. I got gleeful
gratification from Wallace's complaints, and Jones's remark that
he had a stitch in his back. So ended the first chase after


Moze and Don and Sounder straggled into camp next morning,
hungry, footsore and scarred; and as they limped in, Jones met
them with characteristic speech: "Well, you decided to come in
when you got hungry and tired? Never thought of how you fooled
me, did you? Now, the first thing you get is a good licking."

He tied them in a little log pen near the cabin and whipped them
soundly. And the next few days, while Wallace and I rested, he
took them out separately and deliberately ran them over coyote
and deer trails. Sometimes we heard his stentorian yell as a
forerunner to the blast from his old shotgun. Then again we heard
the shots unheralded by the yell. Wallace and I waxed warm under
the collar over this peculiar method of training dogs, and each
of us made dire threats. But in justice to their implacable
trainer, the dogs never appeared to be hurt; never a spot of
blood flecked their glossy coats, nor did they ever come home
limping. Sounder grew wise, and Don gave up, but Moze appeared
not to change.

"All hands ready to rustle," sang out Frank one morning. "Old
Baldy's got to be shod."

This brought us all, except Jones, out of the cabin, to see the
object of Frank's anxiety tied to a nearby oak. At first I failed
to recognize Old Baldy. Vanished was the slow, sleepy, apathetic
manner that had characterized him; his ears lay back on his head;
fire flashed from his eyes. When Frank threw down a kit-bag,
which emitted a metallic clanking, Old Baldy sat back on his
haunches, planted his forefeet deep in the ground and plainly as
a horse could speak, said "No!"

"Sometimes he's bad, and sometimes worse," growled Frank.

"Shore he's plumb bad this mornin'," replied Jim.

Frank got the three of us to hold Baldy's head and pull him up,
then he ventured to lift a hind foot over his line. Old Baldy
straightened out his leg and sent Frank sprawling into the dirt.
Twice again Frank patiently tried to hold a hind leg, with the
same result; and then he lifted a forefoot. Baldy uttered a very
intelligible snort, bit through Wallace's. glove, yanked Jim off
his feet, and scared me so that I let go his forelock. Then he
broke the rope which held him to the tree. There was a plunge, a
scattering of men, though Jim still valiantly held on to Baldy's
head, and a thrashing of scrub pinyon, where Baldy reached out
vigorously with his hind feet. But for Jim, he would have

"What's all the row?" called Jones from the cabin. Then from the
door, taking in the situation, he yelled: "Hold on, Jim! Pull
down on the ornery old cayuse!"

He leaped into action with a lasso in each hand, one whirling
round his head. The slender rope straightened with a whiz and
whipped round Baldy's legs as he kicked viciously. Jones pulled
it tight, then fastened it with nimble fingers to the tree.

"Let go! let go! Jim!" he yelled, whirling the other lasso. The
loop flashed and fell over Baldy's head and tightened round his
neck. Jones threw all the weight of his burly form on the lariat,
and Baldy crashed to the ground, rolled, tussled, screamed, and
then lay on his back, kicking the air with three free legs. "Hold
this," ordered Jones, giving the tight rope to Frank. Whereupon
he grabbed my lasso from the saddle, roped Baldy's two forefeet,
and pulled him down on his side. This lasso he fastened to a
scrub cedar.

"He's chokin'!" said Frank.

"Likely he is," replied Jones shortly. "It'll do him good." But
with his big hands he drew the coil loose and slipped it down
over Baldy's nose, where he tightened it again.

"Now, go ahead," he said, taking the rope from Frank.

It had all been done in a twinkling. Baldy lay there groaning and
helpless, and when Frank once again took hold of the wicked leg,
he was almost passive. When the shoeing operation had been neatly
and quickly attended to and Baldy released from his uncomfortable
position he struggled to his feet with heavy breaths, shook
himself, and looked at his master.

"How'd you like being hog-tied?" queried his conqueror, rubbing
Baldy's nose. "Now, after this you'll have some manners."

Old Baldy seemed to understand, for he looked sheepish, and
lapsed once more into his listless, lazy unconcern.

"Where's Jim's old cayuse, the pack-horse?" asked our leader.

"Lost. Couldn't find him this morning, an' had a deuce of a time
findin' the rest of the bunch. Old Baldy was cute. He hid in a
bunch of pinyons an' stood quiet so his bell wouldn't ring. I had
to trail him."

"Do the horses stray far when they are hobbled?" inquired

"If they keep jumpin' all night they can cover some territory.
We're now on the edge of the wild horse country, and our nags
know this as well as we. They smell the mustangs, an' would break
their necks to get away. Satan and the sorrel were ten miles from
camp when I found them this mornin'. An' Jim's cayuse went
farther, an' we never will get him. He'll wear his hobbles out,
then away with the wild horses. Once with them, he'll never be
caught again."

On the sixth day of our stay at Oak we had visitors, whom Frank
introduced as the Stewart brothers and Lawson, wild-horse
wranglers. They were still, dark men, whose facial expression
seldom varied; tall and lithe and wiry as the mustangs they rode.
The Stewarts were on their way to Kanab, Utah, to arrange for the
sale of a drove of horses they had captured and corraled in a
narrow canyon back in the Siwash. Lawson said he was at our
service, and was promptly hired to look after our horses.

"Any cougar signs back in the breaks?" asked Jones.

"Wal, there's a cougar on every deer trail," replied the elder
Stewart, "An' two for every pinto in the breaks. Old Tom himself
downed fifteen colts fer us this spring."

"Fifteen colts! That's wholesale murder. Why don't you kill the

"We've tried more'n onct. It's a turrible busted up country, them
brakes. No man knows it, an' the cougars do. Old Tom ranges all
the ridges and brakes, even up on the slopes of Buckskin; but he
lives down there in them holes, an' Lord knows, no dog I ever
seen could follow him. We tracked him in the snow, an' had dogs
after him, but none could stay with him, except two as never cum
back. But we've nothin' agin Old Tom like Jeff Clarke, a hoss
rustler, who has a string of pintos corraled north of us. Clarke
swears he ain't raised a colt in two years."

"We'll put that old cougar up a tree," exclaimed Jones.

"If you kill him we'll make you all a present of a mustang, an'
Clarke, he'll give you two each," replied Stewart. "We'd be
gettin' rid of him cheap."

"How many wild horses on the mountain now?"

"Hard to tell. Two or three thousand, mebbe. There's almost no
ketchin' them, an' they regrowin' all the time We ain't had no
luck this spring. The bunch in corral we got last year."

"Seen anythin' of the White Mustang?" inquired Frank. "Ever get a
rope near him?"

"No nearer'n we hev fer six years back. He can't be ketched. We
seen him an' his band of blacks a few days ago, headin' fer a
water-hole down where Nail Canyon runs into Kanab Canyon. He's so
cunnn' he'll never water at any of our trap corrals. An' we
believe he can go without water fer two weeks, unless mebbe he
hes a secret hole we've never trailed him to."

"Would we have any chance to see this White Mustang and his
band?" questioned Jones.

"See him? Why, thet'd be easy. Go down Snake Gulch, camp at
Singin' Cliffs, go over into Nail Canyon, an' wait. Then send
some one slippin' down to the water-hole at Kanab Canyon, an'
when the band cums in to drink--which I reckon will be in a few
days now--hev them drive the mustangs up. Only be sure to hev
them get ahead of the White Mustang, so he'll hev only one way to
cum, fer he sure is knowin'. He never makes a mistake. Mebbe
you'll get to see him cum by like a white streak. Why, I've heerd
thet mustang's hoofs ring like bells on the rocks a mile away.
His hoofs are harder'n any iron shoe as was ever made. But even
if you don't get to see him, Snake Gulch is worth seein'."

I learned later from Stewart that the White Mustang was a
beautiful stallion of the wildest strain of mustang blue blood.
He had roamed the long reaches between the Grand Canyon and
Buckskin toward its southern slope for years; he had been the
most sought-for horse by all the wranglers, and had become so shy
and experienced that nothing but a glimpse was ever obtained of
him. A singular fact was that he never attached any of his own
species to his band, unless they were coal black. He had been
known to fight and kill other stallions, but he kept out of the
well-wooded and watered country frequented by other bands, and
ranged the brakes of the Siwash as far as he could range. The
usual method, indeed the only successful way to capture wild
horses, was to build corrals round the waterholes. The wranglers
lay out night after night watching. When the mustangs came to
drink--which was always after dark--the gates would be closed on
them. But the trick had never even been tried on the White
Mustang, for the simple reason that he never approached one of
these traps.

"Boys," said Jones, "seeing we need breaking in, we'll give the
White Mustang a little run."

This was most pleasurable news, for the wild horses fascinated
me. Besides, I saw from the expression on our leader's face that
an uncapturable mustang was an object of interest for him

Wallace and I had employed the last few warm sunny afternoons in
riding up and down the valley, below Oak, where there was a fine,
level stretch. Here I wore out my soreness of muscle, and
gradually overcame my awkwardness in the saddle. Frank's remedy
of maple sugar and red pepper had rid me of my cold, and with the
return of strength, and the coming of confidence, full, joyous
appreciation of wild environment and life made me unspeakably
happy. And I noticed that my companions were in like condition of
mind, though self-contained where I was exuberant. Wallace
galloped his sorrel and watched the crags; Jones talked more
kindly to the dogs; Jim baked biscuits indefatigably, and smoked
in contented silence; Frank said always: "We'll ooze along easy
like, for we've all the time there is." Which sentiment, whether
from reiterated suggestion, or increasing confidence in the
practical cowboy, or charm of its free import, gradually won us

"Boys," said Jones, as we sat round the campfire, "I see you're
getting in shape. Well, I've worn off the wire edge myself. And I
have the hounds coming fine. They mind me now, but they're
mystified. For the life of them they can't understand what I
mean. I don't blame them. Wait till, by good luck, we get a
cougar in a tree. When Sounder and Don see that, we've lion dogs,
boys! we've lion dogs! But Moze is a stubborn brute. In all my
years of animal experience, I've never discovered any other way
to make animals obey than by instilling fear and respect into
their hearts. I've been fond of buffalo, horses and dogs, but
sentiment never ruled me. When animals must obey, they
must--that's all, and no mawkishness! But I never trusted a
buffalo in my life. If I had I wouldn't be here to-night. You all
know how many keepers of tame wild animals get killed. I could
tell you dozens of tragedies. And I've often thought, since I got
back from New York, of that woman I saw with her troop of African
lions. I dream about those lions, and see them leaping over her
head. What a grand sight that was! But the public is fooled. I
read somewhere that she trained those lions by love. I don't
believe it. I saw her use a whip and a steel spear. Moreover, I
saw many things that escaped most observers--how she entered the
cage, how she maneuvered among them, how she kept a compelling
gaze on them! It was an admirable, a great piece of work. Maybe
she loves those huge yellow brutes, but her life was in danger
every moment while she was in that cage, and she knew it. Some
day, one of her pets likely the King of Beasts she pets the most
will rise up and kill her. That is as certain as death."


For thirty miles down Nail Canyon we marked, in every dusty trail
and sandy wash, the small, oval, sharply defined tracks of the
White Mustang and his band.

The canyon had been well named. It was long, straight and square
sided; its bare walls glared steel-gray in the sun, smooth,
glistening surfaces that had been polished by wind and water. No
weathered heaps of shale, no crumbled piles of stone obstructed
its level floor. And, softly toning its drab austerity, here grew
the white sage, waving in the breeze, the Indian Paint Brush,
with vivid vermilion flower, and patches of fresh, green grass.

"The White King, as we Arizona wild-hoss wranglers calls this
mustang, is mighty pertickler about his feed, an' he ranged along
here last night, easy like, browsin' on this white sage," said
Stewart. Inflected by our intense interest in the famous mustang,
and ruffled slightly by Jones's manifest surprise and contempt
that no one had captured him, Stewart had volunteered to guide
us. "Never knowed him to run in this way fer water; fact is,
never knowed Nail Canyon had a fork. It splits down here, but
you'd think it was only a crack in the wall. An' thet cunnin'
mustang hes been foolin' us fer years about this water-hole."

The fork of Nail Canyon, which Stewart had decided we were in,
had been accidentally discovered by Frank, who, in search of our
horses one morning had crossed a ridge, to come suddenly upon the
blind, box-like head of the canyon. Stewart knew the lay of the
ridges and run of the canyons as well as any man could know a
country where, seemingly, every rod was ridged and bisected, and
he was of the opinion that we had stumbled upon one of the White
Mustang's secret passages, by which he had so often eluded his

Hard riding had been the order of the day, but still we covered
ten more miles by sundown. The canyon apparently closed in on us,
so camp was made for the night. The horses were staked out, and
supper made ready while the shadows were dropping; and when
darkness settled thick over us, we lay under our blankets.

Morning disclosed the White Mustang's secret passage. It was a
narrow cleft, splitting the canyon wall, rough, uneven, tortuous
and choked with fallen rocks--no more than a wonderful crack in
solid stone, opening into another canyon. Above us the sky seemed
a winding, flowing stream of blue. The walls were so close in
places that a horse with pack would have been blocked, and a
rider had to pull his legs up over the saddle. On the far side,
the passage fell very suddenly for several hundred feet to the
floor of the other canyon. No hunter could have seen it, or
suspected it from that side.

"This is Grand Canyon country, an' nobody knows what he's goin'
to find," was Frank's comment.

"Now we're in Nail Canyon proper," said Stewart; "An' I know my
bearin's. I can climb out a mile below an' cut across to Kanab
Canyon, an' slip up into Nail Canyon agin, ahead of the mustangs,
an' drive 'em up. I can't miss 'em, fer Kanab Canyon is
impassable down a little ways. The mustangs will hev to run this
way. So all you need do is go below the break, where I climb out,
an' wait. You're sure goin' to get a look at the White Mustang.
But wait. Don't expect him before noon, an' after thet, any time
till he comes. Mebbe it'll be a couple of days, so keep a good

Then taking our man Lawson, with blankets and a knapsack of food,
Stewart rode off down the canyon.

We were early on the march. As we proceeded the canyon lost its
regularity and smoothness; it became crooked as a rail fence,
narrower, higher, rugged and broken. Pinnacled cliffs, cracked
and leaning, menaced us from above. Mountains of ruined wall had
tumbled into fragments.

It seemed that Jones, after much survey of different corners,
angles and points in the canyon floor, chose his position with
much greater care than appeared necessary for the ultimate
success of our venture--which was simply to see the White
Mustang, and if good fortune attended us, to snap some
photographs of this wild king of horses. It flashed over me that,
with his ruling passion strong within him, our leader was laying
some kind of trap for that mustang, was indeed bent on his

Wallace, Frank and Jim were stationed at a point below the break
where Stewart had evidently gone up and out. How a horse could
have climbed that streaky white slide was a mystery. Jones's
instructions to the men were to wait until the mustangs were
close upon them, and then yell and shout and show themselves.

He took me to a jutting corner of cliff, which hid us from the
others, and here he exercised still more care in scrutinizing the
lay of the ground. A wash from ten to fifteen feet wide, and as
deep, ran through the canyon in a somewhat meandering course. At
the corner which consumed so much of his attention, the dry ditch
ran along the cliff wall about fifty feet out; between it and the
wall was good level ground, on the other side huge rocks and
shale made it hummocky, practically impassable for a horse. It
was plain the mustangs, on their way up, would choose the inside
of the wash; and here in the middle of the passage, just round
the jutting corner, Jones tied our horses to good, strong bushes.
His next act was significant. He threw out his lasso and,
dragging every crook out of it, carefully recoiled it, and hung
it loose over the pommel of his saddle.

"The White Mustang may be yours before dark," he said with the
smile that came so seldom. "Now I placed our horses there for two
reasons. The mustangs won't see them till they're right on them.
Then you'll see a sight and have a chance for a great picture.
They will halt; the stallion will prance, whistle and snort for a
fight, and then they'll see the saddles and be off. We'll hide
across the wash, down a little way, and at the right time we'll
shout and yell to drive them up."

By piling sagebrush round a stone, we made a hiding-place. Jones
was extremely cautious to arrange the bunches in natural
positions. "A Rocky Mountain Big Horn is the only four-footed
beast," he said, "that has a better eye than a wild horse. A
cougar has an eye, too; he's used to lying high up on the cliffs
and looking down for his quarry so as to stalk it at night; but
even a cougar has to take second to a mustang when it comes to

The hours passed slowly. The sun baked us; the stones were too
hot to touch; flies buzzed behind our ears; tarantulas peeped at
us from holes. The afternoon slowly waned.

At dark we returned to where we had left Wallace and the cowboys.
Frank had solved the problem of water supply, for he had found a
little spring trickling from a cliff, which, by skillful
management, produced enough drink for the horses. We had packed
our water for camp use.

"You take the first watch to-night," said Jones to me after
supper. "The mustangs might try to slip by our fire in the night
and we must keep a watch or them. Call Wallace when your time's
up. Now, fellows, roll in."

When the pink of dawn was shading white, we were at our posts. A
long, hot day--interminably long, deadening to the keenest
interest--passed, and still no mustangs came. We slept and
watched again, in the grateful cool of night, till the third day

The hours passed; the cool breeze changed to hot; the sun blazed
over the canyon wall; the stones scorched; the flies buzzed. I
fell asleep in the scant shade of the sage bushes and awoke,
stifled and moist. The old plainsman, never weary, leaned with
his back against a stone and watched, with narrow gaze, the
canyon below. The steely walls hurt my eyes; the sky was like hot
copper. Though nearly wild with heat and aching bones and muscles
and the long hours of wait--wait--wait, I was ashamed to
complain, for there sat the old man, still and silent. I routed
out a hairy tarantula from under a stone and teased him into a
frenzy with my stick, and tried to get up a fight between him and
a scallop-backed horned-toad that blinked wonderingly at me. Then
I espied a green lizard on a stone. The beautiful reptile was
about a foot in length, bright green, dotted with red, and he had
diamonds for eyes. Nearby a purple flower blossomed, delicate and
pale, with a bee sucking at its golden heart. I observed then
that the lizard had his jewel eyes upon the bee; he slipped to
the edge of the stone, flicked out a long, red tongue, and tore
the insect from its honeyed perch. Here were beauty, life and
death; and I had been weary for something to look at, to think
about, to distract me from the wearisome wait!

"Listen!" broke in Jones's sharp voice. His neck was stretched,
his eyes were closed, his ear was turned to the wind.

With thrilling, reawakened eagerness, I strained my hearing. I
caught a faint sound, then lost it.

"Put your ear to the ground," said Jones. I followed his advice,
and detected the rhythmic beat of galloping horses.

"The mustangs are coming, sure as you're born!" exclaimed Jones.

"There I see the cloud of dust!" cried he a minute later.

In the first bend of the canyon below, a splintered ruin of rock
now lay under a rolling cloud of dust. A white flash appeared, a
line of bobbing black objects, and more dust; then with a sharp
pounding of hoofs, into clear vision shot a dense black band of
mustangs, and well in front swung the White King.

"Look! Look! I never saw the beat of that--never in my born
days!" cried Jones. "How they move! yet that white fellow isn't
half-stretched out. Get your picture before they pass. You'll
never see the beat of that."

With long manes and tails flying, the mustangs came on apace and
passed us in a trampling roar, the white stallion in the front.
Suddenly a shrill, whistling blast, unlike any sound I had ever
heard, made the canyon fairly ring. The white stallion plunged
back, and his band closed in behind him. He had seen our saddle
horses. Then trembling, whinnying, and with arched neck and high-
poised head, bespeaking his mettle, he advanced a few paces, and
again whistled his shrill note of defiance. Pure creamy white he
was, and built like a racer. He pranced, struck his hoofs hard
and cavorted; then, taking sudden fright, he wheeled.

It was then, when the mustangs were pivoting, with the white in
the lead, that Jones jumped upon the stone, fired his pistol and
roared with all his strength. Taking his cue, I did likewise. The
band huddled back again, uncertain and frightened, then broke up
the canyon.

Jones jumped the ditch with surprising agility, and I followed
close at his heels. When we reached our plunging horses, he
shouted: "Mount, and hold this passage. Keep close in by that big
stone at the turn so they can't run you down, or stampede you. If
they head your way, scare them back."

Satan quivered, and when I mounted, reared and plunged. I had to
hold him in hard, for he was eager to run. At the cliff wall I
was at some pains to check him. He kept champing his bit and
stamping his feet.

From my post I could see the mustangs flying before a cloud of
dust. Jones was turning in his horse behind a large rock in the
middle of the canyon, where he evidently intended to hide.
Presently successive yells and shots from our comrades blended in
a roar which the narrow box-canyon augmented and echoed from wall
to wall. High the White Mustang reared, and above the roar
whistled his snort of furious terror. His band wheeled with him
and charged back, their hoofs ringing like hammers on iron.

The crafty old buffalo-hunter had hemmed the mustangs in a circle
and had left himself free in the center. It was a wily trick,
born of his quick mind and experienced eye.

The stallion, closely crowded by his followers, moved swiftly I
saw that he must pass near the stone. Thundering, crashing, the
horses came on. Away beyond them I saw Frank and Wallace. Then
Jones yelled to me: "Open up! open up!"

I turned Satan into the middle of the narrow passage, screaming
at the top of my voice and discharging my revolver rapidly.

But the wild horses thundered on. Jones saw that they would not
now be balked, and he spurred his bay directly in their path. The
big horse, courageous as his intrepid master, dove forward.

Then followed confusion for me. The pound of hoofs, the snorts, a
screaming neigh that was frightful, the mad stampede of the
mustangs with a whirling cloud of dust, bewildered and frightened
me so that I lost sight of Jones. Danger threatened and passed me
almost before I was aware of it. Out of the dust a mass of
tossing manes, foam-flecked black horses, wild eyes and lifting
hoofs rushed at me. Satan, with a presence of mind that shamed
mine, leaped back and hugged the wall. My eyes were blinded by
dust; the smell of dust choked me. I felt a strong rush of wind
and a mustang grazed my stirrup. Then they had passed, on the
wings of the dust-laden breeze.

But not all, for I saw that Jones had, in some inexplicable
manner, cut the White Mustang and two of his blacks out of the
band. He had turned them back again and was pursuing them. The
bay he rode had never before appeared to much advantage, and now,
with his long, lean, powerful body in splendid action, imbued
with the relentless will of his rider, what a picture he
presented! How he did run! With all that, the White Mustang made
him look dingy and slow. Nevertheless, it was a critical time in
the wild career of that king of horses. He had been penned in a
space two hundred by five hundred yards, half of which was
separated from him by a wide ditch, a yawning chasm that he had
refused, and behind him, always keeping on the inside, wheeled
the yelling hunter, who savagely spurred his bay and whirled a
deadly lasso. He had been cut off and surrounded; the very nature
of the rocks and trails of the canyon threatened to end his
freedom or his life. Certain it was he preferred to end the
latter, for he risked death from the rocks as he went over them
in long leaps.

Jones could have roped either of the two blacks, but he hardly
noticed them. Covered with dust and splotches of foam, they took
their advantage, turned on the circle toward the passage way and
galloped by me out of sight. Again Wallace, Frank and Jim let out
strings of yells and volleys. The chase was narrowing down.
Trapped, the White Mustang King had no chance. What a grand
spirit he showed! Frenzied as I was with excitement, the thought
occurred to me that this was an unfair battle, that I ought to
stand aside and let him pass. But the blood and lust of primitive
instinct held me fast. Jones, keeping back, met his every turn.
Yet always with lithe and beautiful stride the stallion kept out
of reach of the whirling lariat.

"Close in!" yelled Jones, and his voice, powerful with a note of
triumph, bespoke the knell of the king's freedom.

The trap closed in. Back and forth at the upper end the White
Mustang worked; then rendered desperate by the closing in, he
circled round nearer to me. Fire shone in his wild eyes. The wily
Jones was not to be outwitted; he kept in the middle, always on
the move, and he yelled to me to open up.

I lost my voice again, and fired my last shot. Then the White
Mustang burst into a dash of daring, despairing speed. It was his
last magnificent effort. Straight for the wash at the upper end
he pointed his racy, spirited head, and his white legs stretched
far apart, twinkled and stretched again. Jones galloped to cut
him off, and the yells he emitted were demoniacal. It was a long,
straight race for the mustang, a short curve for the bay.

That the white stallion gained was as sure as his resolve to
elude capture, and he never swerved a foot from his course. Jones
might have headed him, but manifestly he wanted to ride with him,
as well as to meet him, so in case the lasso went true, a
terrible shock might be averted.

Up went Jones's arm as the space shortened, and the lasso ringed
his head. Out it shot, lengthened like a yellow, striking snake,
and fell just short of the flying white tail.

The White Mustang, fulfilling his purpose in a last heroic
display of power, sailed into the air, up and up, and over the
wide wash like a white streak. Free! the dust rolled in a cloud
from under his hoofs, and he vanished.

Jones's superb horse, crashing down on his haunches, just escaped
sliding into the hole.

I awoke to the realization that Satan had carried me, in pursuit
of the thrilling chase, all the way across the circle without my
knowing it.

Jones calmly wiped the sweat from his face, calmly coiled his
lasso, and calmly remarked:

"In trying to capture wild animals a man must never be too sure.
Now what I thought my strong point was my weak point--the wash. I
made sure no horse could ever jump that hole."


Not far from the scene of our adventure with the White Streak as
we facetious and appreciatively named the mustang, deep, flat
cave indented the canyon wall. By reason of its sandy floor and
close proximity to Frank's trickling spring, we decided to camp
in it. About dawn Lawson and Stewart straggled in on spent horse
and found awaiting them a bright fire, a hot supper and cheery

"Did yu fellars git to see him?" was the ranger's first question.

"Did we get to see him?" echoed five lusty voice as one. "We

It was after Frank, in his plain, blunt speech had told of our
experience, that the long Arizonian gazed fixedly at Jones.

"Did yu acktully tech the hair of thet mustang with a rope?"

In all his days Jones never had a greater complement. By way of
reply, he moved his big hand to button of his coat, and, fumbling
over it, unwound a string of long, white hairs, then said: "I
pulled these out of his tail with my lasso; it missed his left
hind hoof about six inches."

There were six of the hairs, pure, glistening white, and over
three feet long. Stewart examined then in expressive silence,
then passed them along; and when they reached me, they stayed.

The cave, lighted up by a blazing fire, appeared to me a
forbidding, uncanny place. Small, peculiar round holes, and dark
cracks, suggestive of hidden vermin, gave me a creepy feeling;
and although not over-sensitive on the subject of crawling,
creeping things, I voiced my disgust.

"Say, I don't like the idea of sleeping in this hole. I'll bet
it's full of spiders, snakes and centipedes and other poisonous

Whatever there was in my inoffensive declaration to rouse the
usually slumbering humor of the Arizonians, and the thinly veiled
ridicule of Colonel Jones, and a mixture of both in my once loyal
California friend, I am not prepared to state. Maybe it was the
dry, sweet, cool air of Nail Canyon; maybe my suggestion awoke
ticklish associations that worked themselves off thus; maybe it
was the first instance of my committing myself to a breach of
camp etiquette. Be that as it may, my innocently expressed
sentiment gave rise to bewildering dissertations on entomology,
and most remarkable and startling tales from first-hand

"Like as not," began Frank in matter-of-fact tone. "Them's
tarantuler holes all right. An' scorpions, centipedes an'
rattlers always rustle with tarantulers. But we never mind
them--not us fellers! We're used to sleepin' with them. Why, I
often wake up in the night to see a big tarantuler on my chest,
an' see him wink. Ain't thet so, Jim?"

"Shore as hell," drawled faithful, slow Jim.

"Reminds me how fatal the bite of a centipede is," took up
Colonel Jones, complacently. "Once I was sitting in camp with a
hunter, who suddenly hissed out: 'Jones, for God's sake don't
budge! There's a centipede on your arm!' He pulled his Colt, and
shot the blamed centipede off as clean as a whistle. But the
bullet hit a steer in the leg; and would you believe it, the
bullet carried so much poison that in less than two hours the
steer died of blood poisoning. Centipedes are so poisonous they
leave a blue trail on flesh just by crawling over it. Look

He bared his arm, and there on the brown-corded flesh was a blue
trail of something, that was certain. It might have been made by
a centipede.

"This is a likely place for them," put in Wallace, emitting a
volume of smoke and gazing round the cave walls with the eye of a
connoisseur. "My archaeological pursuits have given me great
experience with centipedes, as you may imagine, considering how
many old tombs, caves and cliff-dwellings I have explored. This
Algonkian rock is about the right stratum for centipedes to dig
in. They dig somewhat after the manner of the fluviatile long-
tailed decapod crustaceans, of the genera Thoracostraca, the
common crawfish, you know. From that, of course, you can imagine,
if a centipede can bite rock, what a biter he is."

I began to grow weak, and did not wonder to see Jim's long pipe
fall from his lips. Frank looked queer around the gills, so to
speak, but the gaunt Stewart never batted an eye.

"I camped here two years ago," he said, "An' the cave was alive
with rock-rats, mice, snakes, horned-toads, lizards an' a big
Gila monster, besides bugs, scorpions' rattlers, an' as fer
tarantulers an' centipedes--say! I couldn't sleep fer the noise
they made fightin'."

"I seen the same," concluded Lawson, as nonchalant as a
wild-horse wrangler well could be. "An' as fer me, now I allus
lays perfickly still when the centipedes an' tarantulers begin to
drop from their holes in the roof, same as them holes up there.
An' when they light on me, I never move, nor even breathe fer
about five minutes. Then they take a notion I'm dead an' crawl
off. But sure, if I'd breathed I'd been a goner!"

All of this was playfully intended for the extinction of an
unoffending and impressionable tenderfoot.

With an admiring glance at my tormentors, I rolled out my
sleeping-bag and crawled into it, vowing I would remain there
even if devil-fish, armed with pikes, invaded our cave.

Late in the night I awoke. The bottom of the canyon and the outer
floor of our cave lay bathed in white, clear moonlight. A dense,
gloomy black shadow veiled the opposite canyon wall. High up the
pinnacles and turrets pointed toward a resplendent moon. It was a
weird, wonderful scene of beauty entrancing, of breathless,
dreaming silence that seemed not of life. Then a hoot-owl
lamented dismally, his call fitting the scene and the dead
stillness; the echoes resounded from cliff to cliff, strangely
mocking and hollow, at last reverberating low and mournful in the

How long I lay there enraptured with the beauty of light and
mystery of shade, thrilling at the lonesome lament of the owl, I
have no means to tell; but I was awakened from my trance by the
touch of something crawling over me. Promptly I raised my head.
The cave was as light as day. There, sitting sociably on my
sleeping-bag was a great black tarantula, as large as my hand.

For one still moment, notwithstanding my contempt for Lawson's
advice, I certainly acted upon it to the letter. If ever I was
quiet, and if ever I was cold, the time was then. My companions
snored in blissful ignorance of my plight. Slight rustling sounds
attracted my wary gaze from the old black sentinel on my knee. I
saw other black spiders running to and fro on the silver, sandy
floor. A giant, as large as a soft-shell crab, seemed to be
meditating an assault upon Jones's ear. Another, grizzled and
shiny with age or moonbeams I could not tell which--pushed long,
tentative feelers into Wallace's cap. I saw black spots darting
over the roof. It was not a dream; the cave was alive with

Not improbably my strong impression that the spider on my knee
deliberately winked at me was the result of memory, enlivening
imagination. But it sufficed to bring to mind, in one rapid,
consoling flash, the irrevocable law of destiny--that the deeds
of the wicked return unto them again.

I slipped back into my sleeping-bag, with a keen consciousness of
its nature, and carefully pulled the flap in place, which almost
hermetically sealed me up

"Hey! Jones! Wallace! Frank! Jim!" I yelled, from the depths of
my safe refuge.

Wondering cries gave me glad assurance that they had awakened
from their dreams.

"The cave's alive with tarantulas!" I cried, trying to hide my
unholy glee.

"I'll be durned if it ain't!" ejaculated Frank.

"Shore it beats hell!" added Jim, with a shake of his blanket.

"Look out, Jones, there's one on your pillow!" shouted Wallace.

Whack! A sharp blow proclaimed the opening of hostilities.

Memory stamped indelibly every word of that incident; but innate
delicatly prevents the repetition of all save the old warrior's
concluding remarks: "! ! ! place I was ever in! Tarantulas by the
million--centipedes, scorpions, bats! Rattlesnakes, too, I'll
swear. Look out, Wallace! there, under your blanket!"

From the shuffling sounds which wafted sweetly into my bed, I
gathered that my long friend from California must have gone
through motions creditable to a contortionist. An ensuing
explosion from Jones proclaimed to the listening world that
Wallace had thrown a tarantula upon him. Further fearful language
suggested the thought that Colonel Jones had passed on the
inquisitive spider to Frank. The reception accorded the
unfortunate tarantula, no doubt scared out of its wits, began
with a wild yell from Frank and ended in pandemonium.

While the confusion kept up, with whacks and blows and threshing
about, with language such as never before had disgraced a group
of old campers, I choked with rapture, and reveled in the
sweetness of revenge.

When quiet reigned once more in the black and white canyon, only
one sleeper lay on the moon-silvered sand of the cave.

At dawn, when I opened sleepy eyes, Frank, Slim, Stewart and
Lawson had departed, as pre-arranged, with the outfit, leaving
the horses belonging to us and rations for the day. Wallace and I
wanted to climb the divide at the break, and go home by way of
Snake Gulch, and the Colonel acquiesced with the remark that his
sixty-three years had taught him there was much to see in the
world. Coming to undertake it, we found the climb--except for a
slide of weathered rock--no great task, and we accomplished it in
half an hour, with breath to spare and no mishap to horses.

But descending into Snake Gulch, which was only a mile across the
sparsely cedared ridge, proved to be tedious labor. By virtue of
Satan's patience and skill, I forged ahead; which advantage,
however, meant more risk for me because of the stones set in
motion above. They rolled and bumped and cut into me, and I
sustained many a bruise trying to protect the sinewy slender legs
of my horse. The descent ended without serious mishap.

Snake Gulch had a character and sublimity which cast Nail Canyon
into the obscurity of forgetfulness. The great contrast lay in
the diversity of structure. The rock was bright red, with parapet
of yellow, that leaned, heaved, bulged outward. These emblazoned
cliff walls, two thousand feet high, were cracked from turret to
base; they bowled out at such an angle that we were afraid to
ride under them. Mountains of yellow rock hung balanced, ready to
tumble down at the first angry breath of the gods. We rode among
carved stones, pillars, obelisks and sculptured ruined walls of a
fallen Babylon. Slides reaching all the way across and far up the
canyon wall obstructed our passage. On every stone silent green
lizards sunned themselves, gliding swiftly as we came near to
their marble homes.

We came into a region of wind-worn caves, of all sizes and
shapes, high and low on the cliffs; but strange to say, only on
the north side of the canyon they appeared with dark mouths open
and uninviting. One, vast and deep, though far off, menaced us as
might the cave of a tawny-maned king of beasts; yet it impelled,
fascinated and drew us on.

"It's a long, hard climb," said Wallace to the Colonel, as we

"Boys, I'm with you," came the reply. And he was with us all the
way, as we clambered over the immense blocks and threaded a
passage between them and pulled weary legs up, one after the
other. So steep lay the jumble of cliff fragments that we lost
sight of the cave long before we got near it. Suddenly we rounded
a stone, to halt and gasp at the thing looming before us.

The dark portal of death or hell might have yawned there. A
gloomy hole, large enough to admit a church, had been hollowed in
the cliff by ages of nature's chiseling.

"Vast sepulcher of Time's past, give up thy dead!" cried Wallace,

"Oh! dark Stygian cave forlorn!" quoted I, as feelingly as my

Jones hauled us down from the clouds.

"Now, I wonder what kind of a prehistoric animal holed in here?"
said he.

Forever the one absorbing interest! If he realized the sublimity
of this place, he did not show it.

The floor of the cave ascended from the very threshold. Stony
ridges circled from wall to wall. We climbed till we were two
hundred feet from the opening, yet we were not half-way to the

Our horses, browsing in the sage far below, looked like ants. So
steep did the ascent become that we desisted; for if one of us
had slipped on the smooth incline, the result would have been
terrible. Our voices rang clear and hollow from the walls. We
were so high that the sky was blotted out by the overhanging
square, cornice-like top of the door; and the light was weird,
dim, shadowy, opaque. It was a gray tomb.

"Waa-hoo!" yelled Jones with all the power of his wide, leather

Thousands of devilish voices rushed at us, seemingly on puffs of
wind. Mocking, deep echoes bellowed from the ebon shades at the
back of the cave, and the walls, taking them up, hurled them on
again in fiendish concatenation.

We did not again break the silence of that tomb, where the
spirits of ages lay in dusty shrouds; and we crawled down as if
we had invaded a sanctuary and invoked the wrath of the gods.

We all proposed names: Montezuma's Amphitheater being the only
rival of Jones's selection, Echo cave, which we finally chose.

Mounting our horses again, we made twenty miles of Snake Gulch by
noon, when we rested for lunch. All the way up we had played the
boy's game of spying for sights, with the honors about even. It
was a question if Snake Gulch ever before had such a raking over.
Despite its name, however, we discovered no snakes.

From the sandy niche of a cliff where we lunched Wallace espied a
tomb, and heralded his discovery with a victorious whoop. Digging
in old ruins roused in him much the same spirit that digging in
old books roused in me. Before we reached him, he had a big
bowie-knife buried deep in the red, sandy floor of the tomb.

This one-time sealed house of the dead had been constructed of
small stones, held together by a cement, the nature of which,
Wallace explained, had never become clear to civilization. It was
red in color and hard as flint, harder than the rocks it glued
together. The tomb was half-round in shape, and its floor was a
projecting shelf of cliff rock. Wallace unearthed bits of
pottery, bone and finely braided rope, all of which, to our great
disappointment, crumbled to dust in our fingers. In the case of
the rope, Wallace assured us, this was a sign of remarkable

In the next mile we traversed, we found dozens of these old
cells, all demolished except a few feet of the walls, all
despoiled of their one-time possessions. Wallace thought these
depredations were due to Indians of our own time. Suddenly we
came upon Jones, standing under a cliff, with his neck craned to
a desperate angle.

"Now, what's that?" demanded he, pointing upward.

High on the cliff wall appeared a small, round protuberance. It
was of the unmistakably red color of the other tombs; and
Wallace, more excited than he had been in the cougar chase, said
it was a sepulcher, and he believed it had never been opened.

From an elevated point of rock, as high up as I could well climb,
I decided both questions with my glass. The tomb resembled
nothing so much as a mud-wasp's nest, high on a barn wall. The
fact that it had never been broken open quite carried Wallace
away with enthusiasm.

"This is no mean discovery, let me tell you that," he declared.
"I am familiar with the Aztec, Toltec and Pueblo ruins, and here
I find no similarity. Besides, we are out of their latitude. An
ancient race of people--very ancient indeed lived in this canyon.
How long ago, it is impossible to tell."

"They must have been birds," said the practical Jones. "Now,
how'd that tomb ever get there? Look at it, will you?"

As near as we could ascertain, it was three hundred feet from the
ground below, five hundred from the rim wall above, and could not
possibly have been approached from the top. Moreover, the cliff
wall was as smooth as a wall of human make.

"There's another one," called out Jones.

"Yes, and I see another; no doubt there are many of them,"
replied Wallace. "In my mind, only one thing possible accounts
for their position. You observe they appear to be about level
with each other. Well, once the Canyon floor ran along that line,
and in the ages gone by it has lowered, washed away by the

This conception staggered us, but it was the only one
conceivable. No doubt we all thought at the same time of the
little rainfall in that arid section of Arizona.

"How many years?" queried Jones.

"Years! What are years?" said Wallace. "Thousands of years, ages
have passed since the race who built these tombs lived."

Some persuasion was necessary to drag our scientific friend from
the spot, where obviously helpless to do anything else, he stood
and gazed longingly at the isolated tombs. The canyon widened as
we proceeded; and hundreds of points that invited inspection,
such as overhanging shelves of rock, dark fissures, caverns and
ruins had to be passed by, for lack of time.

Still, a more interesting and important discovery was to come,
and the pleasure and honor of it fell to me. My eyes were sharp
and peculiarly farsighted--the Indian sight, Jones assured me;
and I kept them searching the walls in such places as my
companions overlooked. Presently, under a large, bulging bluff, I
saw a dark spot, which took the shape of a figure. This figure, I
recollected, had been presented to my sight more than once, and
now it stopped me. The hard climb up the slippery stones was
fatiguing, but I did not hesitate, for I was determined to know.
Once upon the ledge, I let out a yell that quickly set my
companions in my direction. The figure I had seen was a dark, red
devil, a painted image, rude, unspeakably wild, crudely executed,
but painted by the hand of man. The whole surface of the cliff
wall bore figures of all shapes--men, mammals, birds and strange
devices, some in red paint, mostly in yellow. Some showed the
wear of time; others were clear and sharp.

Wallace puffed up to me, but he had wind enough left for another
whoop. Jones puffed up also, and seeing the first thing a rude
sketch of what might have been a deer or a buffalo, he commented
thus: "Darn me if I ever saw an animal like that? Boys, this is a
find, sure as you're born. Because not even the Piutes ever spoke
of these figures. I doubt if they know they're here. And the
cowboys and wranglers, what few ever get by here in a hundred
years, never saw these things. Beats anything I ever saw on the
Mackenzie, or anywhere else."

The meaning of some devices was as mystical as that of others was
clear. Two blood-red figures of men, the larger dragging the
smaller by the hair, while he waved aloft a blood-red hatchet or
club, left little to conjecture. Here was the old battle of men,
as old as life. Another group, two figures of which resembled the
foregoing in form and action, battling over a prostrate form
rudely feminine in outline, attested to an age when men were as
susceptible as they are in modern times, but more forceful and
original. An odd yellow Indian waved aloft a red hand, which
striking picture suggested the idea that he was an ancient
Macbeth, listening to the knocking at the gate. There was a
character representing a great chief, before whom many figures
lay prostrate, evidently slain or subjugated. Large red
paintings, in the shape of bats, occupied prominent positions,
and must have represented gods or devils. Armies of marching men
told of that blight of nations old or young--war. These, and
birds unnamable, and beasts unclassable, with dots and marks and
hieroglyphics, recorded the history of a bygone people. Symbols
they were of an era that had gone into the dim past, leaving only
these marks, {Symbols recording the history of a bygone people.}
forever unintelligible; yet while they stood, century after
century, ineffaceable, reminders of the glory, the mystery, the
sadness of life.

"How could paint of any kind last so long? asked Jones, shaking
his head doubtfully.

"That is the unsolvable mystery," returned Wallace. "But the
records are there. I am absolutely sure the paintings are at
least a thousand years old. I have never seen any tombs or
paintings similar to them. Snake Gulch is a find, and I shall
some day study its wonders."

Sundown caught us within sight of Oak Spring, and we soon trotted
into camp to the welcoming chorus of the hounds. Frank and the
others had reached the cabin some hours before. Supper was
steaming on the hot coals with a delicious fragrance.

Then came the pleasantest time of the day, after a long chase or
jaunt--the silent moments, watching the glowing embers of the
fire; the speaking moments when a red-blooded story rang clear
and true; the twilight moments, when the wood-smoke smelled

Jones seemed unusually thoughtful. I had learned that this
preoccupation in him meant the stirring of old associations, and
I waited silently. By and by Lawson snored mildly in a corner;
Jim and Frank crawled into their blankets, and all was still.
Walllace smoked his Indian pipe and hunted in firelit dreams.

"Boys," said our leader finally, "somehow the echoes dying away
in that cave reminded me of the mourn of the big white wolves in
the Barren Lands.

Wallace puffed huge clouds of white smoke, and I waited, knowing
that I was to hear at last the story of the Colonel's great
adventure in the Northland.


It was a waiting day at Fort Chippewayan. The lonesome,
far-northern Hudson's Bay Trading Post seldom saw such life.
Tepees dotted the banks of the Slave River and lines of blanketed
Indians paraded its shores. Near the boat landing a group of
chiefs, grotesque in semi-barbaric, semicivilized splendor, but
black-browed, austere-eyed, stood in savage dignity with folded
arms and high-held heads. Lounging on the grassy bank were white
men, traders, trappers and officials of the post.

All eyes were on the distant curve of the river where, as it lost
itself in a fine-fringed bend of dark green, white-glinting waves
danced and fluttered. A June sky lay blue in the majestic stream;
ragged, spear-topped, dense green trees massed down to the water;
beyond rose bold, bald-knobbed hills, in remote purple relief.

A long Indian arm stretched south. The waiting eyes discerned a
black speck on the green, and watched it grow. A flatboat, with a
man standing to the oars, bore down swiftly.

Not a red hand, nor a white one, offered to help the voyager in
the difficult landing. The oblong, clumsy, heavily laden boat
surged with the current and passed the dock despite the boatman's
efforts. He swung his craft in below upon a bar and roped it fast
to a tree. The Indians crowded above him on the bank. The boatman
raised his powerful form erect, lifted a bronzed face which
seemed set in craggy hardness, and cast from narrow eyes a keen,
cool glance on those above. The silvery gleam in his fair hair
told of years.

Silence, impressive as it was ominous, broke only to the rattle
of camping paraphernalia, which the voyager threw to a level,
grassy bench on the bank. Evidently this unwelcome visitor had
journeyed from afar, and his boat, sunk deep into the water with
its load of barrels, boxes and bags, indicated that the journey
had only begun. Significant, too, were a couple of long
Winchester rifles shining on a tarpaulin.

The cold-faced crowd stirred and parted to permit the passage of
a tall, thin, gray personage of official bearing, in a faded
military coat.

"Are you the musk-ox hunter?" he asked, in tones that contained
no welcome.

The boatman greeted this peremptory interlocutor with a cool
laugh--a strange laugh, in which the muscles of his face appeared
not to play.

"Yes, I am the man," he said.

"The chiefs of the Chippewayan and Great Slave tribes have been
apprised of your coming. They have held council and are here to
speak with you."

At a motion from the commandant, the line of chieftains piled
down to the level bench and formed a half-circle before the
voyager. To a man who had stood before grim Sitting Bull and
noble Black Thunder of the Sioux, and faced the falcon-eyed
Geronimo, and glanced over the sights of a rifle at
gorgeous-feathered, wild, free Comanches, this semi-circle of
savages--lords of the north--was a sorry comparison. Bedaubed and
betrinketed, slouchy and slovenly, these low-statured chiefs
belied in appearance their scorn-bright eyes and lofty mien. They
made a sad group.

One who spoke in unintelligible language, rolled out a haughty,
sonorous voice over the listening multitude. When he had
finished, a half-breed interpreter, in the dress of a white man,
spoke at a signal from the commandant.

"He says listen to the great orator of the Chippewayan. He has
summoned all the chiefs of the tribes south of Great Slave Lake.
He has held council. The cunning of the pale-face, who comes to
take the musk-oxen, is well known. Let the pale-face hunter
return to his own hunting-grounds; let him turn his face from the
north. Never will the chiefs permit the white man to take
musk-oxen alive from their country. The Ageter, the Musk-ox, is
their god. He gives them food and fur. He will never come back if
he is taken away, and the reindeer will follow him. The chiefs
and their people would starve. They command the pale-face hunter
to go back. They cry Naza! Naza! Naza!"

"Say, for a thousand miles I've heard that word Naza!" returned
the hunter, with mingled curiosity and disgust. "At Edmonton
Indian runners started ahead of me, and every village I struck
the redskins would crowd round me and an old chief would harangue
at me, and motion me back, and point north with Naza! Naza! Naza!
What does it mean?"

"No white man knows; no Indian will tell," answered the
interpreter. "The traders think it means the Great Slave, the
North Star, the North Spirit, the North Wind, the North Lights
and the musk-ox god."

"Well, say to the chiefs to tell Ageter I have been four moons on
the way after some of his little Ageters, and I'm going to keep
on after them."

"Hunter, you are most unwise," broke in the commandant, in his
officious voice. "The Indians will never permit you to take a
musk-ox alive from the north. They worship him, pray to him. It
is a wonder you have not been stopped."

"Who'll stop me?"

"The Indians. They will kill you if you do not turn back."

"Faugh! to tell an American plainsman that!" The hunter paused a
steady moment, with his eyelids narrowing over slits of blue
fire. "There is no law to keep me out, nothing but Indian
superstition and Naza! And the greed of the Hudson's Bay people.
I am an old fox, not to be fooled by pretty baits. For years the
officers of this fur-trading company have tried to keep out
explorers. Even Sir John Franklin, an Englishman, could not buy
food of them. The policy of the company is to side with the
Indians, to keep out traders and trappers. Why? So they can keep
on cheating the poor savages out of clothing and food by trading
a few trinkets and blankets, a little tobacco and rum for
millions of dollars worth of furs. Have I failed to hire man
after man, Indian after Indian, not to know why I cannot get a
helper? Have I, a plainsman, come a thousand miles alone to be
scared by you, or a lot of craven Indians? Have I been dreaming
of musk-oxen for forty years, to slink south now, when I begin to
feel the north? Not I."

Deliberately every chief, with the sound of a hissing snake, spat
in the hunter's face. He stood immovable while they perpetrated
the outrage, then calmly wiped his cheeks, and in his strange,
cool voice, addressed the interpreter.

"Tell them thus they show their true qualities, to insult in
council. Tell them they are not chiefs, but dogs. Tell them they
are not even squaws, only poor, miserable starved dogs. Tell them
I turn my back on them. Tell them the paleface has fought real
chiefs, fierce, bold, like eagles, and he turns his back on dogs.
Tell them he is the one who could teach them to raise the
musk-oxen and the reindeer, and to keep out the cold and the
wolf. But they are blinded. Tell them the hunter goes north."

Through the council of chiefs ran a low mutter, as of gathering

True to his word, the hunter turned his back on them. As he
brushed by, his eye caught a gaunt savage slipping from the boat.
At the hunter's stern call, the Indian leaped ashore, and started
to run. He had stolen a parcel, and would have succeeded in
eluding its owner but for an unforeseen obstacle, as striking as
it was unexpected.

A white man of colossal stature had stepped in the thief's
passage, and laid two great hands on him. Instantly the parcel
flew from the Indian, and he spun in the air to fall into the
river with a sounding splash. Yells signaled the surprise and
alarm caused by this unexpected incident. The Indian frantically
swam to the shore. Whereupon the champion of the stranger in a
strange land lifted a bag, which gave forth a musical clink of
steel, and throwing it with the camp articles on the grassy
bench, he extended a huge, friendly hand.

"My name is Rea," he said, in deep, cavernous tones.

"Mine is Jones," replied the hunter, and right quickly did he
grip the proffered hand. He saw in Rea a giant, of whom he was
but a stunted shadow. Six and one-half feet Rea stood, with
yard-wide shoulders, a hulk of bone and brawn. His ponderous,
shaggy head rested on a bull neck. His broad face, with its low
forehead, its close-shut mastiff under jaw, its big, opaque eyes,
pale and cruel as those of a jaguar, marked him a man of terrible
brute force.

"Free-trader!" called the commandant "Better think twice before
you join fortunes with the musk-ox hunter."

"To hell with you an' your rantin', dog-eared redskins!" cried
Rea. "I've run agin a man of my own kind, a man of my own
country, an' I'm goin' with him."

With this he thrust aside some encroaching, gaping Indians so
unconcernedly and ungently that they sprawled upon the grass.

Slowly the crowd mounted and once more lined the bank.

Jones realized that by some late-turning stroke of fortune, he
had fallen in with one of the few free-traders of the province.
These free-traders, from the very nature of their calling, which
was to defy the fur company, and to trap and trade on their own
account--were a hardy and intrepid class of men. Rea's worth to
Jones exceeded that of a dozen ordinary men. He knew the ways of
the north, the language of the tribes, the habits of animals, the
handling of dogs, the uses of food and fuel. Moreover, it soon
appeared that he was a carpenter and blacksmith.

"There's my kit," he said, dumping the contents of his bag. It
consisted of a bunch of steel traps, some tools, a broken ax, a
box of miscellaneous things such as trappers used, and a few
articles of flannel. "Thievin' redskins," he added, in
explanation of his poverty. "Not much of an outfit. But I'm the
man for you. Besides, I had a pal onct who knew you on the
plains, called you 'Buff' Jones. Old Jim Bent he was."

"I recollect Jim," said Jones. "He went down in Custer's last
charge. So you were Jim's pal. That'd be a recommendation if you
needed one. But the way you chucked the Indian overboard got me."

Rea soon manifested himself as a man of few words and much
action. With the planks Jones had on board he heightened the
stern and bow of the boat to keep out the beating waves in the
rapids; he fashioned a steering-gear and a less awkward set of
oars, and shifted the cargo so as to make more room in the craft.

"Buff, we're in for a storm. Set up a tarpaulin an' make a fire.
We'll pretend to camp to-night. These Indians won't dream we'd
try to run the river after dark, and we'll slip by under cover."

The sun glazed over; clouds moved up from the north; a cold wind
swept the tips of the spruces, and rain commenced to drive in
gusts. By the time it was dark not an Indian showed himself. They
were housed from the storm. Lights twinkled in the teepees and
the big log cabins of the trading company. Jones scouted round
till pitchy black night, when a freezing, pouring blast sent him
back to the protection of the tarpaulin. When he got there he
found that Rea had taken it down and awaited him. "Off!" said the
free-trader; and with no more noise than a drifting feather the
boat swung into the current and glided down till the twinkling
fires no longer accentuated the darkness.

By night the river, in common with all swift rivers, had a sullen
voice, and murmured its hurry, its restraint, its menace, its
meaning. The two boat-men, one at the steering gear, one at the
oars, faced the pelting rain and watched the dim, dark line of
trees. The craft slid noiselessly onward into the gloom.

And into Jones's ears, above the storm, poured another sound, a
steady, muffled rumble, like the roll of giant chariot wheels. It
had come to be a familiar roar to him, and the only thing which,
in his long life of hazard, had ever sent the cold, prickling,
tight shudder over his warm skin. Many times on the Athabasca
that rumble had presaged the dangerous and dreaded rapids.

"Hell Bend Rapids!" shouted Rea. "Bad water, but no rocks."

The rumble expanded to a roar, the roar to a boom that charged
the air with heaviness, with a dreamy burr. The whole indistinct
world appeared to be moving to the lash of wind, to the sound of
rain, to the roar of the river. The boat shot down and sailed
aloft, met shock on shock, breasted leaping dim white waves, and
in a hollow, unearthly blend of watery sounds, rode on and on,
buffeted, tossed, pitched into a black chaos that yet gleamed
with obscure shrouds of light. Then the convulsive stream
shrieked out a last defiance, changed its course abruptly to slow
down and drown the sound of rapids in muffling distance. Once
more the craft swept on smoothly, to the drive of the wind and
the rush of the rain.

By midnight the storm cleared. Murky cloud split to show shining,
blue-white stars and a fitful moon, that silvered the crests of
the spruces and sometimes hid like a gleaming, black-threaded
peak behind the dark branches.

Jones, a plainsman all his days, wonderingly watched the
moon-blanched water. He saw it shade and darken under shadowy
walls of granite, where it swelled with hollow song and gurgle.
He heard again the far-off rumble, faint on the night. High cliff
banks appeared, walled out the mellow, light, and the river
suddenly narrowed. Yawning holes, whirlpools of a second, opened
with a gurgling suck and raced with the boat.

On the craft flew. Far ahead, a long, declining plane of jumping
frosted waves played dark and white with the moonbeams. The Slave
plunged to his freedom, down his riven, stone-spiked bed, knowing
no patient eddy, and white-wreathed his dark shiny rocks in spume
and spray.


A far cry it was from bright June at Port Chippewayan to dim
October on Great Slave Lake.

Two long, laborious months Rea and Jones threaded the crooked
shores of the great inland sea, to halt at the extreme northern
end, where a plunging rivulet formed the source of a river. Here
they found a stone chimney and fireplace standing among the
darkened, decayed ruins of a cabin.

"We mustn't lose no time," said Rea. "I feel the winter in the
wind. An' see how dark the days are gettin' on us."

"I'm for hunting musk-oxen," replied Jones.

"Man, we're facin' the northern night; we're in the land of the
midnight sun. Soon we'll be shut in for seven months. A cabin we
want, an' wood, an' meat."

A forest of stunted spruce trees edged on the lake, and soon its
dreary solitudes rang to the strokes of axes. The trees were
small and uniform in size. Black stumps protruded, here and
there, from the ground, showing work of the steel in time gone
by. Jones observed that the living trees were no larger in
diameter than the stumps, and questioned Rea in regard to the
difference in age.

"Cut twenty-five, mebbe fifty years ago," said the trapper.

"But the living trees are no bigger."

"Trees an' things don't grow fast in the north land."

They erected a fifteen-foot cabin round the stone chimney, roofed
it with poles and branches of spruce and a layer of sand. In
digging near the fireplace Jones unearthed a rusty file and the
head of a whisky keg, upon which was a sunken word in
unintelligible letters.

"We've found the place," said Rea. "Frank built a cabin here in
1819. An' in 1833 Captain Back wintered here when he was in
search of Captain Ross of the vessel Fury. It was those explorin'
parties thet cut the trees. I seen Indian sign out there, made
last winter, I reckon; but Indians never cut down no trees."

The hunters completed the cabin, piled cords of firewood outside,
stowed away the kegs of dried fish and fruits, the sacks of
flour, boxes of crackers, canned meats and vegetables, sugar,
salt, coffee, tobacco--all of the cargo; then took the boat apart
and carried it up the bank, which labor took them less than a

Jones found sleeping in the cabin, despite the fire,
uncomfortably cold, because of the wide chinks between the logs.
It was hardly better than sleeping under the swaying spruces.
When he essayed to stop up the crack, a task by no means easy,
considering the lack of material--Rea laughed his short "Ho! Ho!"
and stopped him with the word, "Wait." Every morning the green
ice extended farther out into the lake; the sun paled dim and
dimmer; the nights grew colder. On October 8th the thermometer
registered several degrees below zero; it fell a little more next
night and continued to fall.

"Ho! Ho!" cried Rea. "She's struck the toboggan, an' presently
she'll commence to slide. Come on, Buff, we've work to do."

He caught up a bucket, made for their hole in the ice, rebroke a
six-inch layer, the freeze of a few hours, and filling his
bucket, returned to the cabin. Jones had no inkling of the
trapper's intention, and wonderingly he soused his bucket full of
water and followed.

By the time he had reached the cabin, a matter of some thirty or
forty good paces, the water no longer splashed from his pail, for
a thin film of ice prevented. Rea stood fifteen feet from the
cabin, his back to the wind, and threw the water. Some of it
froze in the air, most of it froze on the logs. The simple plan
of the trapper to incase the cabin with ice was easily divined.
All day the men worked, easing only when the cabin resembled a
glistening mound. It had not a sharp corner nor a crevice. Inside
it was warm and snug, and as light as when the chinks were open.

A slight moderation of the weather brought the snow. Such snow! A
blinding white flutter of grey flakes, as large as feathers! All
day they rustle softly; all night they swirled, sweeping, seeping
brushing against the cabin. "Ho! Ho!" roared Rea. "'Tis good; let
her snow, an' the reindeer will migrate. We'll have fresh meat."
The sun shone again, but not brightly. A nipping wind came down
out of the frigid north and crusted the snows. The third night
following the storm, when the hunters lay snug under their
blankets, a commotion outside aroused them.

"Indians," said Rea, "come north for reindeer."

Half the night, shouting and yelling, barking dogs, hauling of
sleds and cracking of dried-skin tepees murdered sleep for those
in the cabin. In the morning the level plain and edge of the
forest held an Indian village. Caribou hides, strung on forked
poles, constituted tent-like habitations with no distinguishable
doors. Fires smoked in the holes in the snow. Not till late in
the day did any life manifest itself round the tepees, and then a
group of children, poorly clad in ragged pieces of blankets and
skins, gaped at Jones. He saw their pinched, brown faces,
staring, hungry eyes, naked legs and throats, and noted
particularly their dwarfish size. When he spoke they fled
precipitously a little way, then turned. He called again, and all
ran except one small lad. Jones went into the cabin and came out
with a handful of sugar in square lumps.

"Yellow Knife Indians," said Rea. "A starved tribe! We're in for

Jones made motions to the lad, but he remained still, as if
transfixed, and his black eyes stared wonderingly.

"Molar nasu (white man good)," said Rea.

The lad came out of his trance and looked back at his companions,
who edged nearer. Jones ate a lump of sugar, then handed one to
the little Indian. He took it gingerly, put it into his mouth and
immediately jumped up and down.

"Hoppiesharnpoolie! Hoppiesharnpoolie!" he shouted to his
brothers and sisters. They came on the run.

"Think he means sweet salt," interpreted Rea. "Of course these
beggars never tasted sugar."

The band of youngsters trooped round Jones, and after tasting the
white lumps, shrieked in such delight that the braves and squaws
shuffled out of the tepees.

In all his days Jones had never seen such miserable Indians.
Dirty blankets hid all their person, except straggling black
hair, hungry, wolfish eyes and moccasined feet. They crowded into
the path before the cabin door and mumbled and stared and waited.
No dignity, no brightness, no suggestion of friendliness marked
this peculiar attitude.

"Starved!" exclaimed Rea. "They've come to the lake to invoke the
Great Spirit to send the reindeer. Buff, whatever you do, don't
feed them. If you do, we'll have them on our hands all winter.
It's cruel, but, man, we're in the north!"

Notwithstanding the practical trapper's admonition Jones could
not resist the pleading of the children. He could not stand by
and see them starve. After ascertaining there was absolutely
nothing to eat in the tepees, he invited the little ones into the
cabin, and made a great pot of soup, into which he dropped
compressed biscuits. The savage children were like wildcats.
Jones had to call in Rea to assist him in keeping the famished
little aborigines from tearing each other to pieces. When finally
they were all fed, they had to be driven out of the cabin.

"That's new to me," said Jones. "Poor little beggars!"

Rea doubtfully shook his shaggy head.

Next day Jones traded with the Yellow Knives. He had a goodly
supply of baubles, besides blankets, gloves and boxes of canned
goods, which he had brought for such trading. He secured a dozen
of the large-boned, white and black Indian dogs, huskies, Rea
called them--two long sleds with harness and several pairs of
snowshoes. This trade made Jones rub his hands in satisfaction,
for during all the long journey north he had failed to barter for
such cardinal necessities to the success of his venture.

"Better have doled out the grub to them in rations," grumbled

Twenty-four hours sufficed to show Jones the wisdom of the
trapper's words, for in just that time the crazed, ignorant
savages had glutted the generous store of food, which should have
lasted them for weeks. The next day they were begging at the
cabin door. Rea cursed and threatened them with his fists, but
they returned again and again.

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