And the Boy obeyed without a word.
Two days after, three men with a child stood in front of the larger cabin, saying good-bye to their two comrades who were starting out on snow-shoes to do a little matter of 625 miles of Arctic travelling, with two weeks’ scant provisioning, some tea and things for trading, bedding, two rifles, and a kettle, all packed on one little hand-sled.
There had been some unexpected feeling, and even some real generosity shown at the last, on the part of the three who were to profit by the exodus—falling heir thereby to a bigger, warmer cabin and more food.
O’Flynn was moved to make several touching remonstrances. It was a sign of unwonted emotion on Mac’s part that he gave up arguing (sacrificing all the delight of a set debate), and simply begged and prayed them not to be fools, not to fly in the face of Providence.
But Potts was made of sterner stuff. Besides, the thing was too good to be true. O’Flynn, when he found they were not to be dissuaded, solemnly presented each with a little bottle of whisky. Nobody would have believed O’Flynn would go so far as that. Nor could anyone have anticipated that close-fisted Mac would give the Boy his valuable aneroid barometer and compass, or that Potts would be so generous with his best Virginia straight-cut, filling the Colonel’s big pouch without so much as a word.
“It’s a crazy scheme,” says he, shaking the giant Kentuckian by the hand, “and you won’t get thirty miles before you find it out.”
“Call it an expedition to Anvik,” urged Mac. “Load up there with reindeer meat, and come back. If we don’t get some fresh meat soon, we’ll be having scurvy.”
“What you’re furr doin’,” says O’Flynn for the twentieth time, “has niver been done, not ayven be Indians. The prastes ahl say so.”
“So do the Sour-doughs,” said Mac. “It isn’t as if you had dogs.”
“Good-bye,” said the Colonel, and the men grasped hands.
Potts shook hands with the Boy as heartily as though that same hand had never half throttled him in the cause of a missing hatchet.
“Good-bye, Kiddie. I bequeath you my share o’ syrup.”
“Good-bye; meet you in the Klondyke!”
“Good-bye. Hooray for the Klondyke in June!”
“Klondyke in June! Hoop-la!”
The two travellers looked back, laughing and nodding, as jolly as you please. The Boy stooped, made a snow-ball, and fired it at Kaviak. The child ducked, chuckling, and returned as good as he got. His loosely packed ball broke in a splash on the back of the Boy’s parki, and Kaviak was loudly cheered.