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The Young Woodsman by J. McDonald Oxley

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Life in the Forests of Canada


Author of "Diamond Rock; or, On the Right Track," &c. &c.


















"I'm afraid there'll be no more school for you now, Frank darling. Will
you mind having to go to work?"

"Mind it! Why, no, mother; not the least bit. I'm quite old enough, ain't

"I suppose you are, dear; though I would like to have you stay at your
lessons for one more year anyway. What kind of work would you like best?"

"That's not a hard question to answer, mother. I want to be what father

The mother's face grew pale at this reply, and for some few moments she
made no response.

* * * * *

The march of civilization on a great continent means loss as well as
gain. The opening up of the country for settlement, the increase and
spread of population, the making of the wilderness to blossom as the
rose, compel the gradual retreat and disappearance of interesting
features that can never be replaced. The buffalo, the beaver, and the elk
have gone; the bear, the Indian, and the forest in which they are both
most at home, are fast following.

Along the northern border of settlement in Canada there are flourishing
villages and thriving hamlets to-day where but a few years ago the
verdurous billows of the primeval forest rolled in unbroken grandeur. The
history of any one of these villages is the history of all. An open space
beside the bank of a stream or the margin of a lake presented itself to
the keen eye of the woodranger traversing the trackless waste of forest
as a fine site for a lumber camp. In course of time the lumber camp grew
into a depot from which other camps, set still farther back in the depths
of the "limits," are supplied. Then the depot develops into a settlement
surrounded by farms; the settlement gathers itself into a village with
shops, schools, churches, and hotels; and so the process of growth goes
on, the forest ever retreating as the dwellings of men multiply.

It was in a village with just such a history, and bearing the name of
Calumet, occupying a commanding situation on a vigorous tributary of the
Ottawa River--the Grand River, as the dwellers beside its banks are fond
of calling it--that Frank Kingston first made the discovery of his own
existence and of the world around him. He at once proceeded to make
himself master of the situation, and so long as he confined his efforts
to the limits of his own home he met with an encouraging degree of
success; for he was an only child, and, his father's occupation requiring
him to be away from home a large part of the year, his mother could
hardly be severely blamed if she permitted her boy to have a good deal of
his own way.

In the result, however, he was not spoiled. He came of sturdy, sensible
stock, and had inherited some of the best qualities from both sides of
the house. To his mother he owed his fair curly hair, his deep blue,
honest eyes, his impulsive and tender heart; to his father, his strong
symmetrical figure, his quick brain, and his eager ambition. He was a
good-looking, if not strikingly handsome, boy, and carried himself in an
alert, active way that made a good impression on one at the start. He had
a quick temper that would flash out hotly if he were provoked, and at
such times he would do and say things for which he was heartily sorry
afterwards. But from those hateful qualities that we call malice,
rancour, and sullenness he was absolutely free. To "have it out" and then
shake hands and forget all about it--that was his way of dealing with a
disagreement. Boys built on these lines are always popular among their
comrades, and Frank was no exception. In fact, if one of those amicable
contests as to the most popular personage, now so much in vogue at fairs
and bazaars, were to have been held in Calumet school, the probabilities
were all in favour of Frank coming out at the head of the poll.

But better, because more enduring than all these good qualities of body,
head, and heart that formed Frank's sole fortune in the world, was the
thorough religious training upon which they were based. His mother had
left a Christian household to help her husband to found a new home in the
great Canadian timberland; and this new home had ever been a sweet,
serene centre of light and love. While Calumet was little more than a
straggling collection of unlovely frame cottages, and too small to have a
church and pastor of its own, the hard-working Christian minister who
managed to make his way thither once a month or so, to hold service in
the little schoolroom, was always sure of the heartiest kind of a
welcome, and the daintiest dinner possible in that out-of-the-way place,
at Mrs. Kingston's cozy cottage. And thus Frank had been brought into
friendly relations with the "men in black" from the start, with the good
result of causing him to love and respect these zealous home
missionaries, instead of shrinking from them in vague repugnance, as did
many of his companions who had not his opportunities.

When he grew old enough to be trusted, it was his proud privilege to take
the minister's tired horse to water and to fill the rack with sweet hay
for his refreshment before they all went off to the service together; and
very frequently when the minister was leaving he would take Frank up
beside him for a drive as far as the cross-roads, not losing the chance
to say a kindly and encouraging word or two that might help the little
fellow heavenward.

In due time the settlement so prospered and expanded that a little church
was established there, and great was the delight of Mrs. Kingston when
Calumet had its minister, to whom she continued to be a most effective
helper. This love for the church and its workers, which was more manifest
in her than in her husband--for, although he thought and felt alike with
her, he was a reserved, undemonstrative man--Mrs. Kingston sought by
every wise means to instill into her only son; and she had much success.
Religion had no terrors for him. He had never thought of it as a gloomy,
joy-dispelling influence that would make him a long-faced "softy." Not a
bit of it. His father was religious; and who was stronger, braver, or
more manly than his father? His mother was a pious woman; and who could
laugh more cheerily or romp more merrily than his mother? The ministers
who came to the house were men of God; and yet they were full of life and
spirits, and dinner never seemed more delightful than when they sat at
the table. No, indeed! You would have had a hard job to persuade Frank
Kingston that you lost anything by being religious. He knew far better
than that; and while of course he was too thorough a boy, with all a
boy's hasty, hearty, impulsive ways, to do everything "decently and in
order," and would kick over the traces, so to speak, sometimes, and give
rather startling exhibitions of temper, still in the main and at heart he
was a sturdy little Christian, who, when the storm was over, felt more
sorry and remembered it longer than did anybody else.

Out of the way as Calumet might seem to city folk, yet the boys of the
place managed to have a very good time. There were nearly a hundred of
them, ranging in age from seven years to seventeen, attending the school
which stood in the centre of a big lot at the western end of the village,
and with swimming, boating, lacrosse, and baseball in summer, and
skating, snow-shoeing, and tobogganing in winter, they never lacked for
fun. Frank was expert in all these sports. Some of the boys might excel
him at one or another of them, but not one of his companions could beat
him in an all-round contest. This was due in part to the strength and
symmetry of his frame, and in part to that spirit of thoroughness which
characterized all he undertook. There was nothing half-way about him. He
put his whole soul into everything that interested him, and, so far as
play was concerned, at fifteen years of age he could swim, run, handle a
lacrosse, hit a base-ball, skim over the ice on skates, or over snow on
snow-shoes, with a dexterity that gave himself a vast amount of pleasure
and his parents a good deal of pride in him.

Nor was he behindhand as regarded the training of his mind. Mr. Warren,
the head teacher of the Calumet school, regarded him favourably as one of
his best and brightest pupils, and it was not often that the "roll of
honour" failed to contain the name of Frank Kingston. At the midsummer
closing of the school it was Mr. Warren's practice to award a number of
simple prizes to the pupils whose record throughout the half-year had
been highest in the different subjects, and year after year Frank had won
a goodly share of these trophies, which were always books, so that now
there was a shelf in his room upon which stood in attractive array
Livingstone's "Travels," Ballantyne's "Hudson Bay," Kingsley's "Westward
Ho!" side by side with "Robinson Crusoe," "Pilgrim's Progress," and "Tom
Brown at Rugby." Frank knew these books almost by heart, yet never
wearied of turning to them again and again. He drew inspiration from
them. They helped to mould his character, although of this he was hardly
conscious, and they filled his soul with a longing for adventure and
enterprise that no ordinary everyday career could satisfy. He looked
forward eagerly to the time when he would take a man's part in life and
attempt and achieve notable deeds. With Amyas Leigh he traversed the
tropical wilderness of Southern America, or with the "Young Fur Traders"
the hard-frozen wastes of the boundless North, and he burned to
emulate their brave doings. He little knew, as he indulged in these
boyish imaginations, that the time was not far off when the call would
come to him to begin life in dead earnest on his own account, and with as
many obstacles to be overcome in his way as had any of his favourite
heroes in theirs.

Mr. Kingston was at home only during the summer season. The long cold
winter months were spent by him at the "depot," many miles off in the
heart of the forest, or at the "shanties" that were connected with it. At
rare intervals during the winter he might manage to get home for a
Sunday, but that was all his wife and son saw of him until the spring
time. When the "drive" of the logs that represented the winter's work was
over, he returned to them, to remain until the falling of the leaves
recalled him to the forest. Frank loved and admired his father to the
utmost of his ability; and when in his coolest, calmest moods he realized
that there was small possibility of his ever sailing the Spanish main
like Amyas Leigh, or exploring the interior of Africa like Livingstone,
he felt quite settled in his own mind that, following in his father's
footsteps, he would adopt lumbering as his business. 'Tis true, his
father was only an agent or foreman, and might never be anything more;
but even that was not to be despised, and then, with a little extra good
fortune, he might in time become an owner of "limits" and mills himself.
Why not? Many another boy had thus risen into wealth and importance. He
had at least the right to try.

Fifteen in October, and in the highest class, this was to be Frank's last
winter at school; and before leaving for the woods his father had
enjoined upon him to make the best of it, as after the summer holidays
were over he would have to "cease learning, and begin earning." Frank was
rather glad to hear this. He was beginning to think he had grown too big
for school, and ought to be doing something more directly remunerative.
Poor boy! Could he have guessed that those were the last words he would
hear from his dear father's lips, how differently would they have
affected him! Calumet never saw Mr. Kingston again. In returning alone to
the depot from a distant shanty, he was caught in a fierce and sudden
snowstorm. The little-travelled road through the forest was soon
obliterated. Blinded and bewildered by the pitiless storm beating in
their faces, both man and beast lost their way, and, wandering about
until all strength was spent, lay down to die in the drifts that quickly
hid their bodies from sight. It was many days before they were found,
lying together, close wrapped in their winding-sheet of snow.

Mrs. Kingston bore the dreadful trial with the fortitude and submissive
grace that only a serene and unmurmuring faith can give. Frank was more
demonstrative in his grief, and disposed to rebel against so cruel a
calamity. But his mother calmed and inspired him, and when the first
numbing force of the blow had passed away, they took counsel together as
to the future. This was dark and uncertain enough. All that was left to
them was the little cottage in which they lived. Mr. Kingston's salary
had not been large, and only by careful management had the house been
secured. Of kind and sympathizing friends there was no lack, but they
were mostly people in moderate circumstances, like themselves, from whom
nothing more than sympathy could be expected.

There was no alternative but that Frank should begin at once to earn his
own living, and thus the conversation came about with which this chapter
began, and which brought forth the reply from Frank that evidently gave
his mother deep concern.



The fact was that Mrs. Kingston felt a strong repugnance to her son's
following in his father's footsteps, so far as his occupation was
concerned. She dreaded the danger that was inseparable from it, and
shrank from the idea of giving up the boy, whose company was now the
chief delight of her life, for all the long winter months that would be
so dreary without him.

Frank had some inkling of his mother's feelings, but, boy like, thought
of them as only the natural nervousness of womankind; and his heart being
set upon going to the woods, he was not very open to argument.

"Why don't you want me to go lumbering, mother?" he inquired in a tone
that had a touch of petulance in it. "I've got to do something for
myself, and I detest shopkeeping. It's not in my line at all. Fellows
like Tom Clemon and Jack Stoner may find it suits them, but I can't bear
the idea of being shut up in a shop or office all day. I want to be out
of doors. That's the kind of life for me."

Mrs. Kingston gave a sigh that was a presage of defeat as she regarded
her son standing before her, his handsome face flushed with eagerness and
his eyes flashing with determination.

"But, Frank dear," said she gently, "have you thought how dreadfully
lonely it will be for me living all alone here during the long
winter--your father gone from me, and you away off in the woods, where I
can never get to you or you to me?"

The flush on Frank's face deepened and extended until it covered forehead
and neck with its crimson glow. He had not taken this view of the case
into consideration before, and his tender heart reproached him for so
forgetting his mother while laying out his own plans. He sprang forward,
and kneeling down beside the lounge, threw his arms about his mother's
neck and clasped her fondly, finding it hard to keep the tears back as he

"You dear, darling mother! I have been selfish. I should have thought how
lonely it would be for you in the winter time."

Mrs. Kingston returned the embrace with no less fervour, and as usually
happens where the other side seems to be giving way, began to weaken
somewhat herself, and to feel a little doubtful as to whether, after all,
it would be right to oppose her son's wishes when his inclinations toward
the occupation he had chosen were evidently so very decided.

"Well, Frank dear," she said after a pause, while Frank looked at her
expectantly, "I don't want to be selfish either. If it were not for the
way we lost your father, perhaps I should not have such a dread of the
woods for you; and no doubt even then it is foolish for me to give way to
it. We won't decide the matter now. If you do go to the woods, it won't
be until the autumn, and perhaps during the summer something will turn up
that will please us better. We will leave the matter in God's hands. He
will bring it to pass in the way that will be best for us both, I am

So with that understanding the matter rested, although of course it was
continually being referred to as the weeks slipped by and the summer
waxed and waned. Although Frank felt quite convinced in his own mind that
he was not cut out for a position behind a desk or counter, he determined
to make the experiment, and accordingly applied to Squire Eagleson, who
kept the principal shop and was the "big man" of the village, for a place
in his establishment. Summer being the squire's busy season, and Frank
being well known to him, he was glad enough to add to his small staff of
clerks so promising a recruit, especially as, taking advantage of the
boy's ignorance of business affairs, he was able to engage him at wages
much below his actual worth to him. This the worthy squire regarded as
quite a fine stroke of business, and told it to his wife with great
gusto, rubbing his fat hands complacently together as he chuckled over
his shrewdness.

"Bright boy that Frank Kingston! Writes a good fist, and can run up a row
of figures like smoke. Mighty civil, too, and sharp. And all for seven
shillings a week! Ha, ha, ha! Wish I could make as good a bargain as that
every day." And the squire looked the picture of virtuous content as he
leaned back in his big chair to enjoy the situation.

Mrs. Eagleson did not often venture to intermeddle in her husband's
business affairs, although frequently she became aware of things which
she could not reconcile with her conscience. But this time she was moved
to speak by an impulse she could not control. She knew the Kingstons, and
had always thought well of them. Mrs. Kingston seemed to her in many
respects a model woman, who deserved well of everybody; and that her
husband, who was so well-to-do, should take any advantage of these worthy
people who had so little, touched her to the quick. There was a bright
spot on the centre of her pale cheeks and an unaccustomed ring in her
voice as she exclaimed, with a sharpness that made her husband give quite
a start of surprise,--

"Do you mean to tell me, Daniel, that you've been mean enough to take
advantage of that boy who has to support his widowed mother, and to hire
him for half the wages he's worth, just because he didn't know any
better? And then you come home here and boast of it! Have you no

The squire was so taken aback by this unexpected attack that at first he
hardly knew how to meet it. Should he lecture his wife for her
presumption in meddling in his affairs, which were quite beyond her
comprehension as a woman, or should he make light of the matter and laugh
it off? After a moment's reflection he decided on the latter course.

"Hoity, toity, Mrs. Eagleson! but what's set you so suddenly on fire?
Business is business, you know, and if Frank Kingston did not know enough
to ask for more wades, it wasn't my concern to enlighten him."

Mrs. Eagleson rose from her chair and came over and stood in front of her
husband, pointing her long, thin forefinger at him as, with a trembling
yet scornful voice, she addressed him thus,--

"Daniel, how you can kneel down and ask the blessing of God upon such
doings is beyond me, or how your head can lie easy on your pillow when
you know that you are taking the bread out of that poor lone widow's
mouth it is not for me to say. But this I will say, whether you like it
or not: if you are not ashamed of yourself, I am for you." And before the
now much-disturbed squire had time to say another word in his defence the
speaker had swept indignantly out of his presence and hastened to her own
room, there to throw herself down upon the bed and burst into a passion
of tears, for she was at best but a weak-nerved woman.

Left to himself, the squire shifted about uneasily in his chair, and then
rose and stumped angrily to the window.

"What does she know about business?" he muttered. "If she were to have
her own way at the store, she'd ruin me in a twelvemonth."

Yet Mrs. Eagleson's brave outburst was not in vain. Somehow or other
after it the squire never felt comfortable in his mind until, much to
Frank's surprise and delight, he one day called him to him, and, with an
air of great generosity and patronage, said,--

"See here, my lad. You seem to be doing your work real well, so I am
going to give you half-a-crown a week more just to encourage you, and
then if a little extra work comes along"--for autumn was approaching--"ye
won't mind tackling it with a goodwill; eh?"

Frank thanked his employer very heartily, and this unexpected increase of
earnings and his mother's joy over it for a time almost reconciled him to
the work at the shop, which he liked less and less the longer he was at

The fact of the matter was, a place behind the counter was uncongenial to
him in many ways. There was too much in-doors about it, to begin with.
From early morning until late evening he had to be at his post, with
brief intervals for meals; and the colour was leaving his cheeks, and his
muscles were growing slack and soft, owing to the constant confinement.

But this was the least of his troubles. A still more serious matter
was that his conscience did not suffer him to take kindly to the "tricks
of the trade," in which his employer was a "passed master" and his
fellow-clerks very promising pupils. He could not find it in his heart to
depreciate the quality of Widow Perkins's butter, or to cajole unwary Sam
Struthers, from the backlands, into taking a shop-worn remnant for the
new dress his wife had so carefully commissioned him to buy. His idea of
trade was that you should deal with others as fairly as you would have
them deal with you; and while, of course, according to the squire's
philosophy, you could never make a full purse that way, still you could
at least have a clear conscience, which surely was the more desirable
after all.

The squire had noticed Frank's "pernickety nonsense," as he was pleased
to call it, and at first gave him several broad hints as to the better
mode of doing business; but finding that the lad was firm, and would no
doubt give up his place rather than learn these "business ways," he had
the good sense to let him alone, finding in his quickness, fidelity, and
attention to his work sufficient compensation for this deficiency in
bargaining acumen.

"You'll be content to stay at the shop now, won't you, Frank?" said his
mother as they talked over the welcome and much-needed rise of salary.

"It does seem to make it easier to stay, mother," answered Frank.
"But--" And he gave a big sigh, and stopped.

"But what, dear?" asked Mrs. Kingston, tenderly.

Frank was slow in answering. He evidently felt reluctant to bring up the
matter again, and yet his mind was full of it.

"But what, Frank?" repeated his mother, taking his hands in hers and
looking earnestly into his face.

"Well, mother, it's no use pretending. I'm not cut out for keeping shop,
and I'll never be much good at it. I don't like being in-doors all day.
And then, if you want to get on, you've got to do all sorts of things
that are nothing else but downright mean; and I don't like that either."
And then Frank went on to tell of some of the tricks and stratagems the
squire or the other clerks would resort to in order to make a good

Mrs. Kingston listened with profound attention. More than once of late,
as she noticed her son's growing pallor and loss of spirits, she had
asked herself whether she were not doing wrong in seeking to turn him
aside from the life for which he longed; and now that he was finding
fresh and fatal objections to the occupation he had chosen in deference
to her wishes, she began to relent of her insistence, and to feel more
disposed to discuss the question again. But before doing so she wished to
ask the advice of a friend in whom she placed much confidence, and so for
the present she contented herself with applauding Frank for his
conscientiousness, and assuring him that she would a thousand times
rather have him always poor than grow rich after the same fashion as
Squire Eagleson.

The friend whose advice Mrs. Kingston wished to take was her husband's
successor as foreman at the depot for the lumber camps--a sensible,
steady, reliable young man, who had risen to his present position
by process of promotion from the bottom, and who was therefore well
qualified to give her just the counsel she desired. At the first
opportunity, therefore, she went over to Mr. Stewart's cottage, and,
finding him at home, opened her heart fully to him. Mr. Stewart, or Alec
Stewart, as he was generally called, listened with ready sympathy to what
Mrs. Kingston had to say, and showed much interest in the matter, for he
had held a high opinion of his former chief, and knew Frank well enough
to admire his spirit and character.

"Well, you see, Mrs. Kingston, it's just this way," said he, when his
visitor had stated the case upon which she wanted his opinion: "if
Frank's got his heart so set upon going into the woods, I don't know as
there's any use trying to cross him. He won't take kindly to anything
else while he's thinking of that; and he'd a big sight better be a good
lumberman than a poor clerk, don't you think?"

Mrs. Kingston felt the force of this reasoning, yet could hardly make up
her mind to yield to it at once.

"But, Mr. Stewart," she urged, "it may only be a boyish notion of
Frank's. He thinks, perhaps, he'd like it because that's what his father
was before him, and then he may find his mistake."

"Well, Mrs. Kingston," replied Mr. Stewart, "if you think there's any
chance of that being the case, we can settle the question right enough in
this way:--Let Frank come to the woods with me this winter. I will give
him a berth as chore-boy in one of the camps; and if that doesn't sicken
him of the business, then all I can say is you'd better let the lad have
his will."

Mrs. Kingston sighed.

"I suppose you're right. I don't quite like the idea of his being
chore-boy; but if he's really in earnest, there's no better way of
proving him."

Now Frank knew well enough how humble was the position of "chore-boy" in
a lumber camp. It meant that he would be the boy-of-all-work; that he
would have to be up long before dawn, and be one of the last in the camp
to get into his bunk; that he would have to help the cook, take messages
for the foreman, be obliging to the men, and altogether do his best to be
generally useful. Yet he did not shrink from the prospect. The idea of
release from the uncongenial routine of shopkeeping filled him with
happiness, and his mother was almost reconciled to letting him go from
her, so marked was the change in his spirits.



September, the finest of all the months in the Canadian calendar, was at
hand, as the sumac and the maple took evident delight in telling by their
lovely tints of red and gold, and the hot, enervating breath of summer
had yielded to the inspiring coolness of early autumn. The village of
Calumet fairly bubbled over with business and bustle. Preparations for
the winter's work were being made on all sides. During the course of the
next two weeks or so a large number of men would be leaving their homes
for the lumber camps, and the chief subject of conversation in all
circles was the fascinating and romantic occupation in which they were

No one was more busy than Mrs. Kingston. Even if her son was to be only a
chore-boy, his equipment should be as comfortable and complete as though
he were going to be a foreman. She knew very well that Jack Frost has no
compunctions about sending the thermometer away down thirty or forty
degrees below zero in those far-away forest depths; and whatever other
hardships Frank might be called upon to endure, it was very well settled
in her mind that he should not suffer for lack of warm clothing.
Accordingly, the knitting-needles and sewing-needles had been plied
industriously from the day his going into the woods was decided upon; and
now that the time for departure drew near, the result was to be seen in a
chest filled with such thick warm stockings, shirts, mittens, and
comforters, besides a good outfit of other clothing, that Frank, looking
them over with a keen appreciation of their merits and of the loving
skill they evidenced, turned to his mother, saying, with a grateful

"Why, mother, you've fitted me out as though I were going to the North

"You'll need them all, my dear, before the winter's over," said Mrs.
Kingston, the tears rising in her eyes, as involuntarily she thought of
how the cruel cold had taken from her the father of the bright, hopeful
boy before her. "Your father never thought I provided too many warm
things for him."

Frank was in great spirits. He had resigned his clerkship at Squire
Eagleson's, much to that worthy merchant's regret. The squire looked upon
him as a very foolish fellow to give up a position in his shop, where he
had such good opportunities of learning business ways, in order to go
"galivanting off to the woods," where his good writing and correct
figuring would be of no account.

Frank said nothing about his decided objections to the squire's ideas of
business ways and methods, but contented himself with stating
respectfully his strong preference for out-door life, and his intention
to make lumbering his occupation, as it had been his father's before him.

"Well, well, my lad," said the squire, when he saw there was no moving
him, "have your own way. I reckon you'll be glad enough to come back to
me in the spring. One winter in the camps will be all you'll want."

Frank left the squire, saying to himself as he went out from the shop:--

"If I do get sick of the camp and want a situation in the spring, this
is not the place I'll come to for it; you can depend upon that, Squire
Eagleson. Many thanks to you, all the same."

Mr. Stewart was going up to the depot the first week in September, to
get matters in readiness for the men who would follow him a week later,
and much to Frank's satisfaction he announced that he would take him
along if he could be ready in time. Thanks to Mrs. Kingston's being of
the fore-handed kind, nothing was lacking in her son's preparations, and
the day of departure was anticipated with great eagerness by him, and
with much sinking of heart by her.

The evening previous mother and son had a long talk together, in the
course of which she impressed upon him the absolute importance of his
making no disguise of his religious principles.

"You'll be the youngest in the camp, perhaps, Frank darling, and it will,
no doubt, be very hard for you to read your Bible and say your prayers,
as you've always done here at home. But the braver you are about it at
first, the easier it'll be in the end. Take your stand at the very start.
Let the shanty men see that you're not afraid to confess yourself a
Christian, and rough and wicked as they may be, never fear but they'll
respect you for it."

Mrs. Kingston spoke with an earnestness and emphasis that went straight
to Frank's heart. He had perfect faith in his mother. In his eyes she was
without fault or failing, and he knew very well that she was asking
nothing of him that she was not altogether ready to do herself, were she
to be put in his place. Not only so. His own shrewd sense confirmed the
wisdom of her words. There could be no half-way position for him at the
lumber camp; no half-hearted serving of God would be of any use there. He
must take Caleb for his pattern, and follow the Lord wholly. His voice
was low, but full of quiet determination, as he answered,--

"I know it, mother. It won't be easy, but I'm not afraid. I'll begin fair
and let the others know just where I stand, and they may say or do what
they like."

Mrs. Kingston needed no further assurance to make her mind quite easy
upon this point; and she took no small comfort from the thought that,
faithful and consistent as she felt so confident Frank would be, despite
the many trials and temptations inseparable from his new sphere of life,
he could hardly fail to exercise some good influence upon those about
him, and perhaps prove a very decided power for good among the rough men
of the lumber camp.

The day of departure dawned clear and bright. The air was cool and
bracing, the ground glistened with the heavy autumn dew that the sun had
not yet had time to drink up, and the village was not fairly astir for
the day when Mr. Stewart drove up to Mrs. Kingston's door for his young
passenger. He was not kept long waiting, for Frank had been ready fully
half-an-hour beforehand, and all that remained to be done was to bid his
mother "good-bye," until he should return with the spring floods.
Overflowing with joy as he was at the realization of his desire, yet he
was too fond a son not to feel keenly the parting with his mother, and
he bustled about very vigorously, stowing away his things in the back of
the waggon, as the best way of keeping himself under control.

He had a good deal of luggage for a boy. First, of all, there was his
chest packed tight with warm clothing; then another box heavy with cake,
preserves, pickles, and other home-made dainties, wherewith to vary the
monotony of shanty fare; then a big bundle containing a wool mattress, a
pillow, two pairs of heavy blankets, and a thick comforter to insure his
sleep being undisturbed by saucy Jack Frost; and finally, a narrow box
made by his own father to carry the light rifle that always accompanied
him, together with a plentiful supply of ammunition. In this box Frank
was particularly interested, for he had learned to handle this rifle
pretty well during the summer, and looked forward to accomplishing great
things with it when he got into the woods.

Mr. Stewart laughed when he saw all that Frank was taking with him.

"I guess you'll be the swell of the camp, and make all the other fellows
wish they had a mother to fit them out. It's a fortunate thing my
waggon's roomy, or we'd have to leave some of your stuff to come up by
one of the teams," said he.

Mrs. Kingston was about to make apologies for the size of Frank's outfit,
but Mr. Stewart stopped her.

"It's all right, Mrs. Kingston. The lad might just as well be comfortable
as not. He'll have plenty of roughing it, anyway. And now we've got it
all on board, we must be starting."

The moment Mrs. Kingston dreaded had now come. Throwing her arms around
Frank's neck, she clasped him passionately to her heart again and again,
and then, tearing herself away from him, rushed up the steps as if she
dared not trust herself any longer. Gulping down the big lump that rose
into his throat, Frank sprang up beside Mr. Stewart, and the next moment
they were off. But before they turned the corner Frank, looking back,
caught sight of his mother standing in the doorway, and taking off his
cap he gave her a farewell salute, calling out rather huskily his last
"good-bye" as the swiftly-moving waggon bore him away.

Mr. Stewart took much pride in his turn-out, and with good reason; for
there was not a finer pair of horses in Calumet than those that were now
trotting along before him, as if the well-filled waggon to which they
were attached was no impediment whatever. His work required him to be
much upon the road in all seasons, and he considered it well worth his
while to make the business of driving about as pleasant as possible. The
horses were iron-grays, beautifully matched in size, shape, and speed;
the harness sparkled with bright brass mountings; and the waggon, a kind
of express, with specially strong springs and comfortable seat, had
abundant room for passengers and luggage.

As they rattled along the village street there were many shouts of
"Good-bye, Frank," and "Good luck to you," from shop and sidewalk; for
everybody knew Frank's destination, and there were none that did not wish
him well, whatever might be their opinion of the wisdom of his action. In
responding to these expressions of good-will, Frank found timely relief
for the feelings stirred by the parting with his mother, and before the
impatient grays had breasted the hill which began where the village ended
he had quite regained his customary good spirits, and was ready to reply
brightly enough to Mr. Stewart's remarks.

"Well, Frank, you've put your hand to the plough now, as the Scripture
says, and you mustn't turn back on any account, or all the village will
be laughing at you," he said, scanning his companion closely.

"Not much fear of that, Mr. Stewart," answered Frank firmly. "Calumet
won't see me again until next spring. Whether I like the lumbering or
not, I'm going to stick out the winter, anyway; you see if I don't."

"I haven't much fear of you, my boy," returned Mr. Stewart, "even if you
do find shanty life a good deal rougher than you may have imagined.
You'll have to fight your own way, you know. I shan't be around much, and
the other men will all be strangers at first; but just you do what you
know and feel to be right without minding the others, and they won't
bother you long, but will respect you for having a conscience and the
pluck to obey it. As for your work, it'll seem pretty heavy and hard at
the start; but you've got lots of grit, and it won't take you long to get
used to it."

Frank listened attentively to Mr. Stewart's kindly, sensible advice, and
had many questions to ask him as the speedy horses bore them further and
further away from Calumet. The farms, which at first had followed one
another in close succession, grew more widely apart, and finally ended
altogether before many miles of the dusty road had been covered, and
thenceforward their way ran through unbroken woods, not the stately
"forest primeval" but the scrubby "second growth," from which those who
have never been into the heart of the leafy wilderness can form but a
poor conception of the grandeur to which trees can attain.

About mid-day they halted at a lonely log-house which served as a sort of
inn or resting-place, the proprietor finding compensation for the
dreariness of his situation in the large profit derived from an illegal
but thriving traffic in liquor. A more unkempt, unattractive
establishment could hardly be imagined, and if rumour was to be relied
upon, it had good reason to be haunted by more than one untimely ghost.

"A wretched den!" said Mr. Stewart, as he drew up before the door. "I
wouldn't think of stopping here for a moment but for the horses. But we
may as well go in and see if old Pierre can get us a decent bite to eat."

The horses having been attended to, the travellers entered the house,
where they found Pierre, the proprietor, dozing on his bar; a bloated,
blear-eyed creature, who evidently would have much preferred making them
drunk with his vile whisky to preparing them any pretence for a dinner.
But they firmly declined his liquor, so muttering unintelligibly to
himself he shambled off to obey their behests. After some delay they
succeeded in getting a miserable meal of some kind; and then, the horses
being sufficiently rested, they set off once more at a good pace, not
halting again until, just before sundown, they arrived at the depot,
where the first stage of their journey ended.

This depot was simply a large farm set in the midst of a wilderness of
trees, and forming a centre from which some half-dozen shanties, or
lumber camps, placed at different distances in the depths of the
forest that stretched away interminably north, south, east, and west,
were supplied with all that was necessary for their maintenance. Besides
the ordinary farm buildings, there was another which served as a sort of
a shop or warehouse, being filled with a stock of axes, saws, blankets,
boots, beef, pork, tea, sugar, molasses, flour, and so forth, for the use
of the lumbermen. This was Mr. Stewart's headquarters, and as the tired
horses drew up before the door he tossed the reins over their backs,

"Here we are, Frank. You'll stay here until your gang is made up.
To-morrow morning I'll introduce you to some of your mates."



Frank looked about him with quick curiosity, expecting to see some of the
men in whose society he was to spend the jointer. But there were only the
farm-hands lounging listlessly about, their days work being over, and
they had nothing to do except to smoke their pipes and wait for
nightfall, when they would lounge off to bed.

The shantymen had not yet arrived, Mr. Stewart always making a point of
being at the depot some days in advance of them, in order to have plenty
of time to prepare his plans for the winter campaign. Noting Frank's
inquiring look, he laughed, and said,--

"Oh, there are none of them here yet--we're the first on the field-but by
the end of the week there'll be more than a hundred men here."

A day or two later the first batch made their appearance, coming up by
the heavy teams that they would take with them into the woods; and each
day brought a fresh contingent, until by the time Mr. Stewart had
mentioned the farm fairly swarmed with them, and it became necessary for
this human hive to imitate the bees and send off its superfluous
inhabitants without delay.

They were a rough, noisy, strange-looking lot of men, and Frank, whose
acquaintance with the shantymen had been limited to seeing them in small
groups as they passed through Calumet in the autumn and spring, on their
way to and from the camps, meeting them now for the first time in such
large numbers, could not help some inward shrinking of soul as he noted
their uncouth ways and listened to their oath-besprinkled talk. They
were "all sorts and conditions of men"--habitants who could not speak a
word of English, and Irishmen who could not speak a word of French;
shrewd Scotchmen, chary of tongue and reserved of manner, and loquacious
half-breeds, ready for song, or story, or fight, according to the humour
of the moment. Here and there were dusky skins and prominent features
that betrayed a close connection with the aboriginal owners of this
continent. Almost all bad come from the big saw-mills away down the
river, or from some other equally arduous employment, and were glad of
the chance of a few days' respite from work while Mr. Stewart was
dividing them up and making the necessary arrangements for the winter's

Frank mingled freely with them, scraping acquaintance with those who
seemed disposed to be friendly, and whenever he came across one with an
honest, pleasant, prepossessing face, hoping very much that he would be a
member of his gang. He was much impressed by the fact that he was
evidently the youngest member of the gathering, and did not fail to
notice the sometimes curious, sometimes contemptuous, looks with which he
was regarded by the fresh arrivals.

In the course of a few days matters were pretty well straightened out at
the depot, and the gangs of men began to leave for the different camps.
Mr. Stewart had promised Frank that he would take care to put him under a
foreman who would treat him well; and when one evening he was called into
the office and introduced to a tall, powerful, grave-looking man, with
heavy brown beard and deep voice, Mr. Stewart said,--

"Here is Frank Kingston, Dan; Jack's only son, you know. He's set his
heart on lumbering, and I'm going to let him try it for a winter."

Frank scrutinized the man called Dan very closely as. Mr. Stewart

"I'm going to send him up to the Kippewa camp with you, Dan. There's
nobody'll look after him better than you will, for I know you thought a
big sight of his father, and for his sake as well as mine you'll see that
nothing happens to the lad."

Dan Johnston's face relaxed into a smile that showed there were rich
depths of good nature beneath his rather stern exterior, for he was
pleased at the compliment implied in the superintendent's words, and
stretching out a mighty hand to Frank, he laid it on his shoulder in a
kindly way, saying,--

"He seems a likely lad, Mr. Stewart, and a chip of the old block, if I'm
not mistaken. I'll be right glad to have him with me. But what kind of
work is he to go at? He seems rather light for chopping, doesn't he?"

Mr. Stewart gave a quizzical sort of glance at Frank as he replied,--

"Well, you see, Dan, I think myself he is too light for chopping, so I
told him he'd have to be chore-boy for this winter, anyway."

A look of surprise came over Johnston's face, and, more to himself than
the others, he muttered in a low tone,--

"Chore-boy, eh? Jack Kingston's son a chore-boy!" Then turning to Frank,
he said aloud, "All right, my boy. There's nothing like beginning at
the bottom if you want to learn the whole business. You must make up your
mind to put in a pretty hard time, but I'll see you have fair play,

As Frank looked at the rugged, honest, determined face, and the stalwart
frame, he felt thoroughly satisfied that in Dan Johnston he had a friend
in whom he could place perfect confidence, and that Mr. Stewart's promise
had been fully kept. The foreman then became quite sociable, and asked
him many questions about his mother, and his life in Calumet, and his
plans for the future, so that before they parted for the night Frank felt
as if they were quite old friends instead of recent acquaintances.

The following morning Johnston was bestirring himself bright and early
getting his men and stores together, and before noon a start was made for
the Kippewa River, on whose southern bank a site had already been
selected for the lumber camp which would be the centre of his operations
for the winter. Johnston's gang numbered fifty men all told, himself
included, and they were in high spirits as they set out for their
destination. The stores and tools were, of course, transported by waggon;
but the men had to go on foot, and with fifteen miles of a rough forest
road to cover before sundown, they struck a brisk pace as, in twos and
threes and quartettes, they marched noisily along the dusty road.

"You stay by me, Frank," said the foreman, "and if your young legs happen
to go back on you, you can have a lift on one of the teams until you're

Frank felt in such fine trim that although he fully appreciated his big
friend's thoughtfulness, he was rash enough to think he would not require
to avail himself of it; but the next five miles showed him his mistake,
and at the end of them he was very glad to jump upon one of the teams
that happened to be passing, and in this way hastened over a good part of
the remainder of the tramp.

As the odd-looking gang pushed forward steadily, if not in exactly
martial order, Frank had a good opportunity of inspecting its members,
and making in his own mind an estimate of their probable good of bad
qualities as companions. In this he was much assisted by the foreman,
who, in reply to his questions, gave him helpful bits of information
about the different ones that attracted his attention. Fully one-half
of the gang were French Canadians, dark-complexioned, black-haired,
bright-eyed men, full of life and talk, their tongues going unceasingly
as they plodded along in sociable groups. Of the remainder, some were
Scotch, others Irish, the rest English. Upon the whole, they were quite a
promising-looking lot of men; indeed, Johnston took very good care to
have as little "poor stuff" as possible in his gang; for he had long held
the reputation of turning out more logs at his camp than were cut at any
other on the same "limits;" and this well-deserved fame he cherished very

Darkness was coming on apace, when at last a glad shout from the foremost
group announced that the end of the journey was near; and in a few
minutes more the whole band of tired men were resting their wearied limbs
on the bank of the river near which the shanty was to be erected at once.
The teams had arrived some time before them, and two large tents had been
put up as temporary-shelter; while brightly-burning fires and the
appetizing fizzle of frying bacon joined with the wholesome aroma of hot
tea to make glad the hearts of the dusty, hungry pedestrians.

Frank enjoyed his open-air tea immensely. It was his first taste of real
lumberman's life, and was undoubtedly a pleasant introduction to it; for
the hard work would not begin until the morrow, and in the meantime
everybody was still a-holidaying. So refreshing was the evening meal
that, tired as all no doubt felt from their long tramp, they soon forgot
it sufficiently to spend an hour or more in song and chorus that made the
vast forest aisles re-echo with rough melody before they sank into the
silence of slumber for the night.

At daybreak next morning Dan Johnston's stentorian voice aroused the
sleepers, and Frank could hardly believe that he had taken more than
twice forty winks at the most before the stirring shout of "Turn out!
turn out! The work's waiting!" broke into his dreams and recalled him to
life's realities. The morning was gray and chilly, the men looked
sleepy and out of humour, and Johnston himself had it a stern distant
manner, or seemed to have, as after a wash at the river bank Frank
approached him and reported himself for duty.

"Will you please to tell me what is to be my work, Mr. Johnston?" said
he, in quite a timid tone; for somehow or other there seemed to be a
change in the atmosphere.

The foreman's face relaxed a little as he turned to answer him.

"You want to be set to work, eh? Well, that won't take long." And looking
around among the moving men until he found the one he wanted, he raised
his voice and called,--

"Hi, there, Baptiste! Come here a moment."

In response to the summons a short, stout, smooth-faced, and decidedly
good-natured looking Frenchman, who had been busy at one of the fires,
came over to the foreman.

"See here, Baptiste; this lad's to be your chore-boy this winter, and I
don't want you to be too hard on him--_savez?_ Let him have plenty of
work, but not more than his share."

Baptiste examined Frank's sturdy figure with much the same smile of
approval that he might bestow upon a fine capon that he was preparing for
the pot, and murmured out something like,--

"_Bien, m'sieur_. I sall be easy wid him if ee's a good boy."

The foreman then said to Frank,--

"There, Frank, go with Baptiste, and he'll give you work enough."

So Frank went dutifully off with the Frenchman.

He soon found out what his work was to be. Baptiste was cook, and he was
his assistant, not so much in the actual cooking, for Baptiste looked
after that himself, but in the scouring of the pots and pans, the keeping
up of the fires, the setting out of the food, and such other
supplementary duties. Not very dignified or inspiring employment,
certainly, especially for a boy "with a turn for books and figures." But
Frank had come to the camp prepared to undertake, without a murmur, any
work within his powers that might be given him, and he now went quietly
and steadily at what was required of him.

As soon as breakfast was despatched, Johnston called the men together to
give them directions about the building of the shanty, which was the
first thing of all to be done; and having divided them up into parties,
to each of which a different task was assigned, he set them at work
without delay.

Frank was very glad that attention to his duties would not prevent his
watching the others at theirs; for what could be more interesting than to
study every stage of the erection of the building that was to be their
shelter and home during the long winter months now rapidly approaching?
It was a first experience for him, and nothing escaped his vigilant eye.
This is the way he described the building of the shanty to his mother on
his return to Calumet:--

"You see, mother, everybody except Baptiste and myself took a hand, and
just worked like beavers. I wish you could have seen the men. And Mr.
Johnston--why, he was in two places at once most of the time, or at least
seemed to be! It was grand fun watching them. The first thing they did
was to cut down a lot of trees--splendid big fellows, that would make the
trees round here look pretty small, I can tell you. Then they chopped off
all the branches and cut up the trunks into the lengths that suited, and
laid them one on the top of the other until they made a wall about as
high as Mr. Johnston, or perhaps higher, in the shape of one big room
forty feet long by thirty feet wide, Mr. Johnston said. It looked very
funny then--just like a huge pig-pen, with no windows and only one
door--on the side that faced the river. Next day they laid long timbers
across the top of the wall, resting them in the middle on four great
posts they called 'scoop-bearers.' Funny name, isn't it? But they called
them that because they bear the 'scoops' that make the roof; and a grand
roof it is, I tell you. The scoops are small logs hollowed out on one
side and flat on the other; and they lay them on the cross timbers in
such a way that the edges of one fit into the hollows of two others, so
that the rain hasn't a chance to get in, no matter how bard it tries.
Next thing they made the floor; and that wasn't a hard job, for they just
made logs flat on two sides and laid them on the ground, so that it was a
pretty rough sort of a floor. All the cracks were stuffed tight with moss
and mud, and a big bank of earth thrown up around the bottom of the wall
to keep the draught out.

"But you should have seen the beds, or 'bunks,' as they called them, for
the men. I don't believe you could ever sleep on them. They were nothing
but board platforms all around three sides of the room, built on a slant
so that your head was higher than your feet; so you see I'd have had
nothing better than the soft side of a plank for a mattress if you hadn't
fitted me out with one. And when the other fellows saw how snug I was,
they vowed they'd have a soft bed too; so what do you think they did?
They gathered an immense quantity of hemlock branches--little soft ones,
you know--and spread them thick over the boards, and then they laid
blankets over that and made a really fine mattress for all. So that, you
see, I quite set the fashion. The last thing to be made was the
fireplace, which has the very queer name of 'caboose,' and is queerer
than its name. It is right in the middle of the room, not at one end, and
is as big as a small room by itself. First of all, a great bank of stones
and sand is laid on the floor, kept together by boards at the edges; then
a large square hole is cut in the roof above, and a wooden chimney built
on the top of it; and then at two of the corners cranes to hold the pots
are fixed, and the caboose is complete. And oh, mother, such roaring big
fires as were always going in it after the cold came--all night long, you
know; and sometimes I had to stay awake to keep the fire from going out,
which wasn't much fun, but, of course, I had to take my turn. So now,
mother, you ought to have a pretty good idea of what our shanty was like;
for, besides a table and our chests, there was nothing much else in it to

Such were Frank Kingston's surroundings as he entered upon the humble
and laborious duties of chore-boy in Camp Kippewa, not attempting to
conceal from himself that he would much rather be a chopper or teamster
or road-maker, but with his mind fully fixed upon doing his work, however
uncongenial it might be, cheerfully and faithfully for one winter at
least, feeling confident that if he did he would not be chore-boy for
long, but would in due time be promoted to some more dignified and
attractive position.



The shanty finished, a huge mass of wood cut into convenient lengths and
piled near the door, a smooth road made down to the river-bank, the
store-house filled with barrels of pork and flour and beans and chests of
tea, the stable for the score of horses, put up after much the same
architectural design as the shanty, and then the lumber camp was
complete, and the men were free to address themselves to the business
that had brought them so far.

As Frank looked around him at the magnificent forests into whose heart
they had penetrated, and tried with his eyes to measure the height of the
splendid trees that towered above his head on every side, he found
himself touched with a feeling of sympathy for them--as if it seemed a
shame to humble the pride of those silvan monarchs by bringing them
crashing to the earth. And then this feeling gave way to another; and as
he watched the expert choppers swinging their bright axes in steady
rhythm, and adding wound to wound in the gaping trunk so skilfully that
the defenceless monster fell just where they wished, his heart thrilled
with pride at man's easy victory over nature, and he longed to seize an
axe himself and attack the forest on his own account.

He had plenty of axe work as it was, but of a much more prosaic kind.
An important part of his duty consisted in keeping up the great fire
that roared and crackled unceasingly in the caboose. The appetite of this
fire seemed unappeasable, and many a time did his arms and legs grow
weary in ministering to its wants. Sometimes, when all his other work was
done, he would go out to the wood-pile, and selecting the thickest and
toughest-looking logs, arrange them upon the hearth so that they might
take as long as possible to burn; and then, congratulating himself that
he had secured some respite from toil, get out his rifle for a little
practice at a mark, or would open one of the few books he had brought
with him. But it seemed to him he would hardly have more than one shot at
the mark, or get through half-a-dozen pages, before Baptiste's thick
voice would be heard calling out,--

"Francois, Francois! Ver is yer? Some more wood, k'vick!" And with a
groan poor Frank would have to put away the rifle or book and return
to the wood-pile.

"I suppose I'm what the Bible calls a hewer of wood and a drawer of
water," he would say to himself; for hardly less onerous than the task
of keeping the fire in fuel was that of keeping well filled the two
water-barrels that stood on either side of the door--one for the thirsty
shantymen, the other for Baptiste's culinary needs.

The season's work once well started, it went forward with commendable
steadiness and vigour under Foreman Johnston's strict and energetic
management. He was admirably suited for his difficult position. His
grave, reserved manner rendered impossible that familiarity which is so
apt to breed contempt, while his thorough mastery of all the secrets of
woodcraft, his great physical strength, and his absolute fearlessness
in the face of any peril, combined to make him a fit master for the
strangely-assorted half-hundred of men now under his sole control. Frank
held him in profound respect, and would have endured almost anything
rather than seem unmanly or unheedful in his eyes. To win a word of
commendation from those firm-set lips that said so little was the desire
of his heart, and, feeling sure that it would come time enough, he stuck
to his work bravely, quite winning good-natured Baptiste's heart by his
prompt obedience to orders.

"You are a _bon garon,_ Francois," he would say, patting his shoulder
with his plump palm. "Too good to be chore-boy; but not for long--eh,
Francois? You be chopper _bientt_, and then"--with an expressive wave of
his hand to indicate the rapid flight of time--"you'll be foreman, like
M'sieur Johnston, while Baptiste"--and the broad shoulders would rise
in that meaning shrug which only Frenchmen can achieve--"poor Baptiste
will be cook still."

Beginning with Johnston and Baptiste, Frank was rapidly making friends
among his companions, and as he was soon to learn, much to his surprise
and sorrow, some enemies too--or, rather, to be more correct, he was
making the friends, but the enemies were making themselves; for he was to
blame in small part, if at all, for their rising against him. There were
all sorts and conditions of men, so far at least as character and
disposition went, among the gang, and the evil element was fitly
represented by a small group of inhabitants who recognized one Damase
Deschenaux as their leader. This Damase made rather a striking figure.
Although he scorned the suggestion as hotly as would a Southern planter
the charge that negro blood darkened his veins, there was no doubt that
some generations back the dusky wife of a _courier du bois_ had mingled
the Indian nature with the French. Unhappily for Damase, the result of
his ancestral error was manifest in him; for, while bearing but little
outward resemblance to his savage progenitor, he was at heart a veritable

Greedy, selfish, jealous, treacherous, quick to take offence and slow to
forgive or forget, his presence in the Johnston gang was explained by his
wonderful knowledge of the forest, his sure judgment in selecting good
bunches of timber to be cut, and his intimate acquaintance with the
course of the stream down which the logs would be floated in the spring.

Johnston had no liking for Damase, but found him too valuable to dispense
with. This year, by chance, or possibly by his own management, Damase had
among the gang a number of companions much after his own pattern, and it
was clearly his intention to take the lead in the shanty so far as he
dared venture. When first he saw Frank, and learned that he was to be
with Johnston also, he tried after his own fashion to make friends with
him. But as might be expected, neither the man himself nor his overtures
of friendship impressed Frank favourably. He wanted neither a pull from
his pocket flask nor a chew from his plug of "navy," nor to handle his
greasy cards; and although he declined the offer of all these uncongenial
things as politely as possible, the veritable suspicious, sensitive,
French-Indian nature took offence, which deepened day after day, as he
could not help seeing that Frank was careful to give himself and
companions as wide a berth as he could without being pointedly rude or

When one is seeking to gratify evil feelings toward another with whom he
has daily contact, the opportunity is apt to be not long in coming, and
Damase conceived that he had his chance of venting his spite on Frank by
seizing upon the habit of Bible reading and prayer which the lad had as
scrupulously observed in the shanty as if he had been at home. As might
be imagined, he was altogether alone in this good custom, and at first
the very novelty of it had secured him immunity from pointed notice or
comment. But when Damase, thinking he saw in his daily devotions an
opening for his malicious purposes, drew attention to them by jeering
remarks and taunting insinuations, the others, yielding to that natural
tendency to be incensed with any one who seems to assert superior
goodness, were inclined to side with him, or at all events to make no
attempt to interfere.

At first Damase confined himself to making as much noise as possible
while Frank was reading his Bible or saying his prayers, keeping up a
constant fire of remarks that were aimed directly at the much-tried boy,
and which were sometimes clever or impertinent enough to call forth a
hearty laugh from his comrades. But finding that Frank was not to be
overcome by this, he resorted to more active measures. Pretending to be
dancing carelessly about the room he would, as if by accident, bump up
against the object of his enmity, sending the precious book flying on the
floor, or, if Frank was kneeling by his bunk, tripping and tumbling
roughly over his outstretched feet. Another time he knocked the Bible out
of his hands with a well-aimed missile, and, again, covered him with a
heavy blanket as he knelt at prayer.

All this Frank bore in patient silence, hoping in that way to secure
peace in time. But Damase's persecutions showing no signs of ceasing, the
poor lad's self-control began to desert him, and at last the crisis came
one night when, while he was kneeling as usual at the foot of his bunk,
Damase crept up softly behind him, and springing upon his shoulders,
brought him sprawling to the floor. In an instant Frank was on his feet,
and when the others saw his flashing and indignant countenance and
noticed his tight-clinched fists, the roar of laughter that greeted his
downfall was checked half way, and a sudden silence fell upon them. They
all expected him to fly at his tormentor like a young tiger, and Damase
evidently expected it too, for he stepped back a little, and his grinning
face sobered as he assumed a defensive attitude.

But Frank had no thought of striking. That was not his way of defending
his religion, much as he was willing to endure rather than be unfaithful.
Drawing himself up to his full height, and looking a splendid type of
righteous indignation, he commanded the attention of all as in clear,
strong tones, holding his sturdy fists close to his sides as though he
dared not trust them elsewhere, and looking straight into Damase's eyes,
lie exclaimed,--

"Aren't you ashamed to do such an unmanly thing--you, who are twice my
size and age? I have done nothing to you. Why should you torment me? And
just when I want most to be quiet, too!"

Then, turning to the other men with a gesture of appeal that was
irresistible, he cried,--

"Do you think it's fair, fellows, for that man to plague me so when I've
done him no harm? Why don't you stop him? You can do it easy enough. He's
nothing but a big coward."

Frank's anger had risen as he spoke, and this last sentence slipped out
before he had time to stop it. No sooner was it uttered than he regretted
it; but the bolt had been shot, and it went straight to its mark. While
Frank had been speaking, Damase was too keen of sight and sense not to
notice that the manly speech and fine self-control of the boy were
causing a quick revulsion of feeling in his hearers, and that unless
diverted they would soon be altogether on his side, and the taunt he had
just flung out awoke a deep murmur of applause which was all that was
needed to inflame his passion to the highest pitch. The Frenchman looked
the very incarnation of fury as, springing towards Frank with uplifted
fist, he hissed, rather cried, through his gleaming teeth,--

"Coward! I teach you call me coward."

Stepping back a little, Frank threw up his arms in a posture of defence;
for he was not without knowledge of what is so oddly termed "the noble

But before the blow fell an unlooked-for intervention relieved him from
the danger that threatened.

The foreman, when the shanty was being built, had the farther right-hand
corner partitioned off so as to form a sort of cabin just big enough
to contain his bunk, his chest, and a small rude table on which lay
the books in which he kept his accounts and made memoranda, and some
half-dozen volumes that constituted his library. In this nook, shut off
from the observation and society of the others, yet able to overhear and,
if he chose to open the door, to oversee also all that went on in the
larger room, Johnston spent, his evenings poring over his books by the
light of a tallow candle, the only other light in the room being that
given forth by the ever-blazing fire.

Owing to this separation from the others, Johnston had been unaware of
the manner in which Frank had been tormented, as it was borne so
uncomplainingly. But this time Frank's indignant speech, followed so
fast by Damase's angry retort, told him plainly that there was need of
his interference. He emerged from his corner just at the moment when
Damase was ready to strike. One glance at the state of affairs was
enough. Damase's back was turned toward him. With a swift spring, that
startled the others as if he had fallen through the roof, he darted
forward, and ere the French-Canadian's fist could reach its mark a
resistless grasp was laid upon his collar, and, swung clear off his feet,
he was flung staggering across the room as though he had been a mere

"You Indian dog!" growled Johnston, in his fiercest tones, "what are you
about? Don't let me catch you tormenting that boy again!"



For a moment there was absolute silence in the shanty, the sudden and
effectual intervention of the big foreman in Frank Kingston's behalf
filling the onlookers with astonishment. But then, as they recovered
themselves, there came a burst of laughter that made the rafters ring, in
the midst of which Damase, gathering himself together, slunk scowling to
his berth with a face that was dark with hate.

Not deigning to take any further notice of him, Johnston turned to go
back to his corner, touching Frank on his shoulder as he did so, and
saying to him in a low tone,--

"Come with me, my lad; I want a word with you."

Still trembling from the excitement of the scene through which he had
just passed, Frank followed the foreman into his little sanctum, the
inside of which he had never seen before, for it was kept jealously
locked whenever its occupant was absent. Johnston threw himself clown on
his bunk, and motioned Frank to take a seat upon the chest. For a few
moments he regarded him in silence, and so intently that, although his
expression was full of kindness, and it seemed of admiration, too, the
boy felt his face flushing under his steady scrutiny. At last the foreman

"You're a plucky lad, Frank. Just like your father-God bless him' He was
a good friend to me when I needed a friend sorely. I heard all that went
on to-night, though I didn't see it, and had some hint of it before,
though I didn't let on, for I wanted to see what stuff you were made of.
But you played the man, my boy, and your father would have been proud to
see you. Now just you go right ahead, Frank; and if any of those French
rascals or anybody else tries to hinder you, out of this shanty he'll go,
neck and crop, and stay out, as sure as my name is Dan Johnston."

"You're very kind, Mr. Johnston," said Frank, his eyes glistening
somewhat suspiciously, for, to tell the truth, this warm praise coming
after the recent strain upon his nerves was a little too much for his
self-control. "I felt sometimes like telling you when the men tormented
me so; but I didn't want to be a tale-bearer, and I was hoping they'd get
tired of it and give up of their own accord."

"It's best as it is, lad," replied Johnston. "If the men found out you
told me, they'd be like to think hard of you. But there's no fear of that
now. And look here, Frank. After this, when you want to read your Bible
in peace, and say your prayers, just come in here. No one'll bother you
here, and you can sit down on the chest there and have a quiet time to

Frank's face fairly beamed with delight at this unexpected invitation,
and he stood up on his feet to thank his kind friend.

"Oh, Mr. Johnston, I'm so glad! I've never been able to read my Bible or
say my prayers right since I came to the shanty-there's always such a
noise going on. But I won't mind that in here. It's so good of you to let
me come in."

The foreman smiled in his deep, serious way, and then as he relapsed into
silence, and took up again the book he had laid down to spring to Frank's
assistance, Frank thought it time to withdraw; and with a respectful
"Good-night, sir," which Johnston acknowledged by a nod, returned to the
larger room.

The shantymen were evidently awaiting his reappearance with much
curiosity; but he went quietly back to his bunk, picked up his Bible,
finished the passage in the midst of which he had been interrupted, and,
having said his prayers, lay down to sleep without a word to any one; for
no one questioned him, and he felt no disposition to start a discussion
by questioning any of the others.

From this time forth he could see clearly that two very different
opinions concerning himself prevailed in the shanty. By all the English
members of the gang, and some of the. French, headed by honest Baptiste,
he was looked upon, with hearty liking and admiration, as a plucky chap
that knew how to take care of himself; by the remainder of the French
contingent, with Damase as the ruling spirit, he was regarded as a
stuck-up youngster that wanted taking down badly, and who was trying to
make himself a special favourite with the foreman just to advance his
own selfish ends. Gladly would Frank have been on friendly terms with
all; but this being now impossible, through no fault of his own, he made
up his mind to go on his way as quietly as possible, being constantly
careful to give no cause of offence to those who, as he well knew, were
only too eager to take it.

There were some slight flurries of snow, fragile and short-lived heralds
of winter's coming, during the latter part of November, and then December
was ushered in by a grand storm that lasted a whole day, and made glad
the hearts of the lumbermen by filling the forest aisles with a deep,
soft, spotless carpet, that asked only to be packed smooth and hard in
order to make perfect roads over which to transport the noble logs that
had been accumulating upon the "roll-ways" during the past weeks.

A shantyman is never so completely in his element as when the snow lies
two feet deep upon the earth's brown breast. An open winter is his bane,
Jack Frost his best friend; and there was a perceptible rise in the
spirits of the occupants of Camp Kippewa as the mercury sank lower and
lower in the tube of the foreman's thermometer. Plenty of snow meant not
only easy hauling all winter long, but a full river and "high water" in
the spring-time, and no difficulty in getting the drive of logs that
would represent their winter's work down the Kippewa to the Grand River
beyond. Frank did not entirely share their exultation. The colder it got
the more wood had to be chopped, the more food had to be cooked--for the
men's appetites showed a marked increase--and, furthermore, the task of
keeping the water-barrels filled became one of serious magnitude. But
bracing himself to meet his growing burdens, he toiled away cheerfully,
resisting every temptation to grumble, his clear tuneful whistling of the
sacred airs in vogue at Calumet making Baptiste, who had a quick ear for
music, so familiar with "Rock of Ages," "Abide with Me," "Nearer, my God,
to Thee," and other melodies, which have surely strayed down to us from
heaven, that unconsciously he took to whistling them himself, much to
Frank's amusement and approval.

The days were very much alike. At early dawn, before it was yet light
enough to see clearly, Johnston would emerge from his corner, and, in
stentorian tones whose meaning was not to be mistaken, shout to the
sleeping men scattered along the rows of sloping bunks.

"Up with ye, men! up with ye!" And with many a growl and grunt they
would, one by one, unroll from their blankets. As their only preparation
for bed had been to lay aside their coats and boots or moccasins, the
morning toilet did not consume much time. A dash of cold water as an
eye-opener, a tugging on of boots or lacing up of moccasins, a scrambling
into coats, and that was the sum of it. The only brush and comb in the
camp belonged to Frank, and he felt half ashamed to use them, because no
one else thought such articles necessary.

Breakfast hurriedly disposed of, all but Baptiste and Frank sallied forth
into the snow, to be seen no more until mid-day. There were just fifty
persons, all told, in the camp, each man having his definite work to do
the carpenter, whose business it was to keep the sleighs in repair; the
teamsters, who directed the hauling of the logs; the "sled-tenders," who
saw that the loads were well put on; the "head chopper" and his
assistants, whose was the laborious yet fascinating task of felling the
forest monarchs; the "sawyers," who cut their prostrate forms into
convenient lengths; the "scorers," who stripped off the branches and slab
sides from tree trunks set apart for square timber; and finally, the
"hewer," who with his huge, broad axe made square the "stick," as the
great piece of timber is called.

All these men had to be fed three times a day, and almost insatiable were
their appetites, as poor Frank had no chance to forget. Happily they did
not demand the same variety in their bill of fare as do the guests at a
metropolitan hotel. Pork and beans, bread and tea, these were the staple
items. Anything else was regarded as an "extra." A rather monotonous
diet, undoubtedly; but it would not be easy to prescribe a better one for
men working twelve hours a day, in the open air, through the still,
steady cold of a Canadian winter in the backwoods.

At noon the hungry toilers trooped back for dinner, which they devoured
in ravenous haste that there might be as much as possible left of the
hour for a lounge upon the bunk, with pipe in mouth, in luxurious
idleness. Then as the dusk gathered they appeared once more, this time
for the night, and disposed to eat their supper with much more decorous
slowness. Supper over, the snow-soaked mittens and stockings hung about
the fire to dry, and pipes put in full blast, they were ready for song,
story, or dance, until bed time.

Thus day followed day, until Frank, whose work kept him closely confined
to the camp, grew so weary of it that he was on the verge of heartily
repenting that he had ever consented to be a chore-boy, ever thought that
was the only condition upon which he could gratify his longing for a
lumberman's life, when another mischance became his good fortune, and he
was unexpectedly relieved of a large part of his tiresome duties. This
was how it came about.

One morning he was surprised by seeing one of the sleighs returning a
good while before the dinner hour, and was somewhat alarmed when he
noticed that it bore the form of a man, who had evidently been the victim
of an accident. Happily, however, it proved to be not a very serious
case. An immense pine in falling headlong had borne with it a number of
smaller trees that stood near by, and one of these had fallen upon an
unwary "scorer," hurling him to the ground, and badly bruising his right
leg, besides causing some internal injury. He was insensible when picked
up, but came to himself soon after reaching the shanty, where Frank made
him as comfortable as he could, even putting him upon his own mattress
that he might lie as easy as possible.

The injured man proved to be one of Damase Deschenaux's allies; but Frank
did not let that prevent his showing him every kindness while he was
recovering from his injuries, with the result of completely winning the
poor ignorant fellow's heart, much to Damase's disgust. Damase, indeed,
did his best to persuade Laberge that Frank's attentions were prompted
by some secret motive, and that it was not to be trusted. But deeds are
far stronger arguments than words, and the sufferer was not to be
convinced. By the end of a week he was able to limp about the shanty, but
it was very evident that he would not be fit to take up his work again
that season. This state of affairs caused the foreman some concern, for
he felt loath to send the unfortunate fellow home, and yet he could not
keep him in idleness. Then it appeared that what is one man's extremity
may be another's opportunity. Johnston knew very well that however
bravely he might go about it, Frank's work could not help being
distasteful to him, and a bright plan flashed into his mind. Calling
Frank into his corner one evening, he said,--

"How would you like, my lad, to have some of the out-door work for a

The mere expression of Frank's face was answer enough. It fairly shone
with gladness, as he replied,--

"I would like it above all things, sir, for I am a little tired of being
nothing but a chore-boy."

"Well, I think we might manage it, Frank," said the foreman. "You see,
Laberge can't do his work again this winter, and it goes against my heart
to send him home, for he's nobody but himself to depend upon. So I've hit
upon this plan: Laberge can't chop the wood or haul the water, but he can
help Baptiste in cooking and cleaning up. Suppose, then, you were to get
the wood ready and see about the water in the morning, and then come out
into the woods with us after dinner, leaving Laberge to do the rest of
the work. How would that suit you?"

"It would suit me just splendidly, sir," exclaimed Frank, delightedly. "I
can see about the wood and water all right before dinner, and I'll be so
glad to go to the woods with you. I'll just do the best I can to fill
Laberge's place."

"I'm right sure you will, Frank," replied Johnston. "So you may consider
it settled for the present, at any rate."

Frank felt like dancing a jig on the way back to his bunk, and not even
the scowling face of Damase, who had been listening to the conversation
in the foreman's room with keen Indian ears, and had caught enough of it
to learn of the arrangement made, could cast any damper upon his spirits.
In this case half a loaf was decidedly better than no bread at all.
Freedom from the restraints and irksome duties of chore-boy's lot for
even half the day was a precious boon, and the happy boy lay down to rest
that night feeling like quite a different person from what he had been
of late, when there seemed no way of escape from the monotonous,
wearisome task he had taken upon himself, except to give it all up and
return to Calumet, which was almost the last thing that he could imagine
himself doing; for Frank Kingston had plenty of pride as well as pluck,
and his love for lumbering had not suffered any eclipse because of his

But what is one man's meat is another man's poison, according to the
homely adage, and in this case what made Frank so happy made--Damase
miserable. The jealous, revengeful fellow saw in it only another proof
of the foreman's favouritism, and was also pleased to regard the
relegating of Laberge to the dish-washing and so forth as the degradation
of a compatriot, which it behoved him to resent, since Laberge seemed
lacking in the spirit to do it himself. Had he imagined that he would
meet with the support of the majority, he would have sought to organize a
rebellion in the camp. But he knew well enough that such a thing was
utterly out of the question, so he was forced to content himself with
fresh determinations to "get even" with the foreman and his favourite in
some way before the winter passed; and, as will be seen, he came
perilously near attaining his object.



Frank was very happy now that the way had been so opportunely opened for
him to take part in the whole round of lumbering operations. He awaited
with impatience the coming of noon and the rush of hungry men to their
hearty dinner, because it was the signal for his release from chore-boy
work and promotion to the more honourable position of assistant-teamster.
The long afternoons out in the cold, crisp air, amid the thud of
well-aimed axes, the crash of falling trees, the shouts of busy men, and
all the other noisy incidents of the war they were waging against the
innocent, defenceless forest, were precisely what his heart had craved so
long, and he felt clearer than ever in his mind that lumbering was the
life for him.

After he had been a week at his new employment, Con Murphy, the big
teamster to whom he had been assigned by the foreman, with the injunction
to "be easy on the lad, and give him plenty of time to get handy," was
heard to say in public,--

"Faith, an' he's a broth of a boy, I can tell you; and I wouldn't give
him for half-a-dozen of those _parlez-vous_ Frenchies like the chap whose
place he took--indade that I wouldn't."

Which, coming to Damase's ears, added further fuel to the fire of
jealousy and hate that was burning within this half-savage creature's
breast. So fierce indeed were Damase's feelings that he could not keep
them concealed, and more than one of the shantymen took occasion to drop
a word of warning into Frank's ear about him.

"You'd better keep a sharp eye on that chap Damase, Frank," they would
say. "He's an ugly customer, and he seems to have got it in for you."
Frank, on his part, was by no means disposed to laugh at or neglect these
kindly warnings. Indeed, he fully intended repeating them to Johnston at
the first opportunity. But the days slipped by without a favourable
chance presenting itself, and Damase's wild thirst for the revenge which
he thought was merited came perilously near a dreadful satisfaction.

February had come, and supplies at the shanty were running low, so that
Foreman Johnston deemed it necessary to pay a visit to the depot to see
about having a fresh stock sent out. The first that Frank knew of his
intention was the night before he started. He had gone into the foreman's
little room as usual to read his Bible and pray, and having finished, was
about to slip quietly out, Johnston having apparently been quite
unobservant of his presence, when he was asked,--

"How would you like to go over to the depot with me to-morrow?"

How would he like! Such a question to ask of a boy, when it meant a
twenty-five miles' drive and a whole day's holiday after months of steady
work at the camp!

"I should be delighted, sir," replied Frank, as promptly as he could get
the words out.

"Very well, then; you can come along with me. We'll start right after
breakfast. Baptiste will have to look after himself for one day," said
the foreman. And with a fervent "Thank you, sir," Frank went off, his
face wreathed with smiles and his heart throbbing with joy at the
prospect before him.

So eager was he that it did not need Johnston's shout of "Turn out, lads,
turn out!" to waken him next morning, for he was wide awake already, and
he tumbled into his clothes with quite unusual alacrity. So soon as
breakfast was over, the foreman had one of the best horses in the stable
harnessed to his "jumper," as the low, strong, comfortable wooden sleigh
that is alone able to cope with the rough forest roads is called;
abundance of thick warm buffalo-robes were provided; and then he and
Frank tucked themselves in tightly, and they set out on their long drive
to the depot.

The mercury stood at twenty degrees below zero when they started, but
they did not mind that. Not a breath of wind stirred the clear cold air.
The sun soon rose into the blue vault above them, and shone down upon
the vast expanse of snow about them with a vigour that made their eyes
blink. The horse was a fine animal, and, having been off duty for a few
days previous, was full of speed and spirit, and they glided over the
well-beaten portion of the road at a dashing pace. But when they came to
the part over which there had been little travel all winter long the
going was too heavy for much speed, and often the horse could not do more
than walk.

This seemed to Frank just the opportunity for which he had been waiting,
to tell the foreman about Damase and his threats of revenge. At first
Johnston was disposed to make light of the matter, but when Frank told
him what he had himself observed, as well as what had been reported to
him by the others, the foreman was sufficiently impressed to say,--

"The rascal wants some looking after, that's clear. He's a worthless
fellow, anyway, and I'm mighty sorry I ever let him into my gang. I think
the best thing will be to drop him as soon as I get back, or he may make
some trouble for us. I'm glad you told me this, Frank. I won't forget

At the depot they found Alec Stewart, just returned from a tour of
inspection of the different camps, and full of hearty welcome. He was
very glad to see Frank.

"Ah ha, my boy!" he cried, slapping him vigorously on the back, "I
needn't ask you how you are. Your looks answer for you. Why, you must
weigh ten pounds more than when I last saw you. Well, what do you think
of lumbering now, and how does Mr. Johnston treat you? They tell me,"
looking at the foreman with a sly smile, "that he's a mighty stiff boss.
Is that the way you find him?"

Frank was ready enough to answer all his friend's questions, and to
assure him that the foreman treated him like a kind father, and that he
himself was fonder of lumbering than ever. Both he and Johnston had
famous appetites for the bountiful dinner that was soon spread before
them, and the resources of the depot permitting of a much more extensive
bill of fare than was possible at the shanty, he felt in duty bound to
apologize for the avidity with which he attacked the juicy roast of beef,
the pearly potatoes, the toothsome pudding, and the other dainties that,
after months of pork and beans, tasted like ambrosia.

The superintendent and the foreman had much to say to one another which
did not concern Frank, and so while they talked business he roamed about
the place, enjoying the freedom from work, and chatting with the men at
the depot, telling them some of his experiences and being told some of
theirs in return. Happening to mention Damase Deschenaux, one of the
men at once exclaimed,--

"That's a first-class scoundrel! It beats me to understand why Johnston
has him in his gang. He's sure to raise trouble wherever he goes."

Frank felt tempted to tell how Damase had "raised trouble" with him, but
thought he would better not, and the talk soon turned in another

The afternoon was waning before Johnston prepared to start on the return
journey, and Mr. Stewart tried hard to persuade him to stay for the
night--an invitation that Frank devoutly hoped would be accepted. But the
big foreman would not hear of it.

"No, no," said be in his decided way, "I must get back to the shanty.
There's been only half a day's work done to-day, I'll warrant you,
because I wasn't on hand to keep the beggars at it. Why, they'll lie
abed till mid-day to-morrow if I'm not there to rouse them out of their

Whatever Johnston said he stuck to, so there was no use in argument, and
shortly after four o'clock he and Frank tucked themselves snugly into the
jumper again and drove away from the depot, Stewart shouting after

"If you change your mind after you've gone a couple of miles, don't feel
delicate about coming back. I won't laugh at you."

Johnston's only answer was a grim smile and a crack of the whip over the
horse's hind-quarters that sent him off at full gallop, the snow flying
in clouds from his plunging feet into the faces of his passengers.

The hours crept by as the sleigh made its slow way over the heavy ground,
and Frank, as might be expected after the big dinner he had eaten, began
to feel very sleepy. There was no reason why he should not yield to the
seductive influence of the drowsy god, so, sinking down low into the seat
and drawing the buffalo-robe up over his head, he soon was lost to sight
and sense. While he slept the night fell, and they were still many miles
from home. The cold was great, but not a breath of wind stirred the
intense stillness. The stars shone out like flashing diamonds set in
lapis-lazuli. Silence reigned supreme, save as it was intruded upon by
the heavy breathing of the frost-flaked horse and the crunching of the
runners through the crisp snow.

Johnston felt glad when they breasted the hill on the other side of which
was Deep Gully, crossed by a rude corduroy bridge; for that bridge was
just five miles from the camp, and another hour, at the farthest, would
bring them to the end of their journey.

When the top of the hill was reached, the foreman gathered up the reins,
called upon the horse to quicken his pace, and away they went down the
slope at a tearing gallop.

Deep Gully well deserved the name that had been given it when the road
was made. A turbulent torrent among the hills had in the course of time
eaten a way for itself, which, although very narrow, made up for its lack
of breadth by a great degree of depth. It was a rather picturesque place
in summer time, when abundant foliage softened its steep sides; but in
winter, when it seemed more like a crevasse in a glacier than anything
else, there was no charm about it. The bridge that crossed it was a very
simple affair, consisting merely of two long stringers laid six feet
apart, and covered with flattened timbers.

Upon this slight structure the jumper descended with a bump that woke
Frank from his pleasant nap, and, putting aside the buffalo-robe, he sat
up in the sleigh to gather his wits. It was well he did, for if ever he
needed them it was at that moment. Almost simultaneous with the thud of
the horse's feet upon the bridge there came a crash, a sound of rending
timbers, the bridge quivered like a ship struck by a mighty billow, and
the next instant dropped into the chasm below, bearing with it a man, and
boy, and horse, and sleigh!

Full thirty feet they fell; the bridge, which had given way at one end
only, hurling them from it so that they landed at the bottom of Deep
Gully in a confused heap, yet happily free from entanglement with its
timbers. So soon as he felt himself falling Frank threw aside the robes
and made ready to spring; but Johnston instinctively held on to the
reins, with the result that, being suddenly dragged forward by the
frantic plunging of the terrified animal, he received a kick in the
forehead that rendered him insensible, and would have dashed his brains
out but for the thick fur cap he wore, while the jumper, turning over
upon him, wrenched his leg so as to render him completely helpless.

Frank was more fortunate. His timely spring, aided by the impetus of
their descent, carried him clear of the horse and sleigh, and sent him
headlong into a deep drift that filled a hollow at the gully's bottom.
The snow-bank opened its arms to receive him, and buried him to the hips.
The first shock completely deprived him of breath, and almost of his
senses too. But beyond that he received no injury, and was soon
struggling with all his might to free himself from the snow that held him
captive. This proved to be no easy task. He was pretty firmly embedded,
and at first it seemed as though his efforts at release only made his
position worse.

"This is a fine fix to be in!" said he to himself. "Buried in a
snow-drift; and dear knows what's happened to Mr. Johnston."

He had been hoping that the foreman would come to his assistance, but
getting no reply to his shouts, he began to fear lest his companion might
be unable to render any help. Perhaps, indeed, he might be dead! The
thought roused him to still greater exertions, and at last by a heroic
effort he succeeded in turning a kind of somersault in his cold prison,
which had the happy result of putting his head where his heels had been.
To scramble out altogether was then an easy job, and in another instant
he was beside the sleigh.

His first thought was that his worst fears were realized. Certainly the
sight was one that might have filled a stouter heart with chill alarm.
The horse had fallen into a deep drift, which covered him to the
shoulders, and rendered him utterly helpless, entangled as he was with
the harness and the over-turned jumper. He had evidently, like Frank,
been struggling violently to free himself, but finding it useless, had
for a time ceased his efforts, and stood wild-eyed and panting, the
picture of animal terror. On seeing Frank he made another frantic plunge
or two, looking at the boy with an expression of agonized appeal, as
though he would say,--

"Oh, help me out of this dreadful place!"

And glad would Frank have been to respond to the best of his ability. But
the poor horse could not be considered first. Half under the sleigh, half
buried in the snow, lay the big foreman, to all appearance dead, the
blood flowing freely from an ugly gash in his forehead, where the fur cap
had failed to protect him entirely from the horse's hoof.

Frank sprang to his side, and with a tremendous effort turned him over
upon his back, and getting out his handkerchief, wiped the blood away
from his face. As he did so, the first awful thought of death gave way to
a feeling of hope. White and still as Johnston lay, his face was warm,
and he was surely breathing a little. Seizing a handful of snow, Frank
pressed it to the foreman's forehead, and cried to him as though he were

"Mr. Johnston, Mr. Johnston! What's the matter with you? Tell me, won't

For some minutes there was no sign of response. Then the injured man
stirred, gave a deep sigh followed by a groan, opened his eyes with a
look of dazed bewilderment, and put his hand up to his head, which was
evidently giving him intense pain.

"Oh, Mr. Johnston, I'm so glad! I was afraid you were dead!" exclaimed
Frank. "Can't I help you to get up?"

Turning upon his shoulder, the foreman made an effort to raise himself,
but at once sank back with a groan.

"I'm sore hurt, my lad," he said; "I can't stir. You'll have to get

And so great was his suffering that he well nigh lost consciousness

Frank tried his best to lift him away from the sleigh, but found the task
altogether beyond his young strength in that deep snow, and had to give
it up as hopeless. Certainly he was in a most trying situation for a mere
boy--fully five miles from the shanty, with an almost untravelled road
between that must be traversed by him alone, while the injured man would
have to lie helpless in the snow until his return. Little wonder if he
felt in sore perplexity as to what should be done, and how he should act
under the circumstances.



If Frank was undecided, Mr. Johnston's mind was fully made up.

"Our only chance is for you to get to the shanty at once, Frank. It'll be
a hard job, my boy, but you'll have to try it," said he.

"But what'll become of you, sir, staying here all alone? The wolves might
find you out, and how could you defend yourself then?" asked Frank, in
sore bewilderment as to the solution of the dilemma.

"I'll have to take my chances of that, Frank; for if I stay here all
night, I'll freeze to death, anyway. So just throw the buffaloes over me,
and put for the shanty as fast as you can," replied the foreman.

Unable to suggest any better plan, Frank covered Johnston carefully with
the robes, making him as comfortable as he could; then buttoning up his
coat and pulling his cap on tightly, he was about to scramble up the
steep side of the gully to regain the road, when the foreman said, in a
low tone, almost a whisper,--

"This is about the time you generally say your prayers, Frank. Couldn't
you say them here before you start?"

With quick intuition Frank divined the big bashful man's meaning. It was
his roundabout way of asking the boy to commit him to the care of God
before leaving him alone in his helplessness.

Feeling half condemned at not having thought of it himself, Frank came
back, and kneeling close beside his friend, lifted up his voice in prayer
with a fervour and simplicity that showed how strong and sure was his
faith in the love and power of his Father in heaven. When he had finished
his petition, the foreman added to it an "Amen" that seemed to come from
the very depths of his heart; and then, yielding to an impulse that was
irresistible, Frank bent down and implanted a sudden kiss upon the pale
face looking at him with such earnest, anxious eyes. This unexpected
proof of warm affection completely overcame the foreman, whose feelings
had been already deeply stirred by the prayer. Strong, reserved man as he
was, be could not keep back the tears.

"God bless you, my boy!" he murmured huskily. "If I get safely out of
this, I shall be a different man. You have taught me a lesson I won't

"God bless you and take care of you, sir!" answered Frank. "I hope
nothing will happen to you while I'm away, and I'll be back as soon as I

The next moment he was making his way up the gully's side, and soon a
triumphant shout announced that he had reached the road and was off for
the lumber camp at his best speed.

The task before him was one from which many a grown man might have shrunk
in dismay. For five long, lonely miles the road ran through the forest
that darkened it with heavy shadows, and not a living soul could he hope
to meet until he reached the shanty.

It was now past eight o'clock, and to do his best it would take him a
whole hour to reach his goal. The snow lay deep upon the road, and was
but little beaten down by the few sleighs that had passed over it. The
air was keen and crisp with frost, the temperature being many degrees
below zero. And finally, the most fear-inspiring of all, there was the
possibility of wolves, for the dreaded timber wolf had been both heard
and seen in close proximity to the camp of late, an unusual scarcity of
small game having made him daring in his search for food.

But Frank possessed a double source of strength. He was valiant by
nature, and he had implicit faith in God's overruling providence. He felt
specially under the divine care now, and resolutely putting away all
thoughts of personal danger, addressed himself, mind and body, to the one
thing--the relief of Johnston from his perilous position.

With arms braced at his sides and head bent forward, he set out at a
jog-trot, which was better suited for getting through the deep snow than
an ordinary walk. Fortunately he was in the very pink of condition. The
steady, hard work of the preceding months, combined with the coarse but
abundant food and early hours, had developed and strengthened every
muscle in his body and hardened his constitution until few boys of his
age could have been found better fitted to endure a long tramp through
heavy snow than he. Moreover, running had always been his favourite form
of athletic exercise, and the muscles it required were well trained for
their work.

"I'll do it all right inside the hour," he said to himself. And then, as
a sudden thought struck him, he gave a nervous little laugh, and added,
"And perhaps make a good deal better time if I hear anything of the

Try as he might, he could not get the wolves out of his head. He had not
himself seen any signs of them, but several times the choppers working
farthest from the camp had mentioned finding their tracks in the snow,
and once they had been heard howling in the distance after the men had
all come into the shanty for the night.

On he went through the snow and night, now making good progress at his
brisk jog-trot, now going more slowly as he dropped into a walk to rest
himself and recover breath. Although the moon rode high in the heavens,
the trees which stood close to the road allowed few of her beams to light
his path.

"If it was only broad daylight I wouldn't mind it a bit," Frank
soliloquized; "but this going alone at this time of night is not the sort
of a job I care for."

And then the thought of poor Johnston lying helpless but uncomplaining in
the snow made him feel ashamed of his words, and to ease his conscience
he broke into a trot again. Just as he did so a sound reached his ear
that sent a thrill of terror to his heart. Hoping he might be mistaken,
he stopped and listened with straining senses. For a moment there was
absolute silence. Then the sound came again--distant, but clear and
unmistakable. He had heard it only once before, yet he felt as sure of it
now as if it had been his mother's voice. It was the howl of the timber
wolf sounding through the still night air from somewhere to the north;
how far away he could not determine.

At the sound all his strength seemed to leave him. How helpless he was
alone in that mighty forest without even so much as a knife wherewith to
defend himself! But it would not do to stand irresolute. His own life as
well as the foreman's depended upon his reaching the shanty. Were he to
climb one of the big trees that stood around, the wolves, of course,
could not get at him; but Johnston would be dead before daylight came to
release him from his tree citadel, and perhaps he would himself fall a
victim to the cold in that exposed situation. There was no other
alternative than to run for his life, so, breathing out a fervent prayer
for divine help and protection, he summoned all his energies to the
struggle. He was more than a mile from the shanty, and his exertion had
told severely upon his strength; but the great peril of his situation
made him forget his weariness, and he started off as if he were perfectly

But the howling of the wolves grew more and more distinct as they drew
swiftly nearer, and with agony of heart the poor boy felt his breath
coming short and his limbs beginning to fail beneath him. Nearer and
nearer came his dreaded pursuers, and every moment he expected to see
them burst into the road behind him.

Fortunately, be had reached a part of the road which, being near the
camp, was much used by the teams drawing logs to the river-bank, and was
consequently beaten hard and smooth. This welcome change enabled him to
quicken his steps, which had dropped into a walk; and although he felt
almost blind from exhaustion, he pushed desperately forward, hoping at
every turn of the road to catch a glimpse of the shanty showing dark
through the trees. The cry of the disciples caught in the sudden storm on
Galilee, "Lord, save us; we perish!" kept coming to his lips as he
staggered onward. Surely there could not be much further to go! He turned
for a moment to look behind him. The wolves were in sight, their dark
forms showing distinctly against the snow as in silence now they gained
upon their prey. Run as hard as he might, they must be upon him ere
another fifty yards were passed. He felt as if it were all over with him,
and so utter was his exhaustion that it seemed to benumb his faculties
and make him half willing for the end to come.

But the end was not to be as the wolves desired. Just at the critical
moment, when further exertion seemed impossible, he caught sight of some
one approaching him rapidly from the direction of the shanty, and
shouting aloud while he rushed forward to meet him. With one last supreme
effort he plunged toward this timely apparition, and a moment later
fell insensible at his feet.

It was Baptiste--good-hearted, affectionate Baptiste--who, having awaited
the travellers' return and grown concerned at their long delay, had gone
out to look along the road to see if they were anywhere in view. Catching
sight of Frank's lonely figure, he had made all haste to meet him, and
reached him just in time to ward off the wolves that in a minute more
would have been upon him.

When the wolves saw Baptiste, who swung a gleaming axe about his head, as
he shouted, "_Chiens donc!_ I'll split your heads eef I get at you!" they
stopped short, and even retreated a little, drawing themselves together
in a sort of group in the middle of the road, snapping their teeth and
snarling in a half-frightened, half-furious manner. But Baptiste was not

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