“Hello!” he called. No sound. Again: “Hello!”
The two outside turned and looked into each other’s faces—but if you want to know all the moment meant, you must travel the Winter Trail.
“And I swear to you Athenians—by the dog I swear!—for I must tell you the truth——.”—SOCRATES.
The voice that had asked the question belonged to one of two stranded Klondykers, as it turned out, who had burrowed a hole in the snow and faced it with drift-wood. They had plenty of provisions, enough to spare, and meant to stay here till the steamers ran, for the younger of the pair had frosted his feet and was crippled.
The last of their dogs had been frozen to death a few miles back on the trail, and they had no idea, apparently, how near they were to that “first Indian settlement this side of Kaltag” reached by the Colonel and the Boy after two days of rest and one day of travel.
No one ever sailed more joyfully into the Bay of Naples, or saw with keener rapture Constantinople’s mosques and minarets arise, than did these ice-armoured travellers, rounding the sharp bend in the river, sight the huts and hear the dogs howl on the farther shore.
“First thing I do, sah, is to speculate in a dog-team,” said the Colonel.
Most of the bucks were gone off hunting, and most of the dogs were with them. Only three left in the village—but they were wonderful fellows those three! Where were they? Well, the old man you see before you, “me—got two.”
He led the way behind a little shack, a troop of children following, and there were two wolf-dogs, not in the best condition, one reddish, with a white face and white forelegs, the other grey with a black splotch on his chest and a white one on his back.
“And this one?”
“Fiftee dolla.” As the Colonel hesitated, the old fellow added: “Bohf eightee dolla.”
“Oh, eightee for the two?”
“Well, where’s the other?”
“The other—the third dog. Two are no good.”
“Yes. Yes,” he said angrily, “heap good dog.”
“Well, I’ll give you eighty dollars for these” (the Ingalik, taking a pipe out of his parki, held out one empty hand); “but who’s got the other?”
For answer, a head-shake, the outstretched hand, and the words, “Eightee dolla—tabak—tea.”
“Wait,” interrupted the Boy, turning to the group of children; “where’s the other dog?”
Nobody answered. The Boy pantomimed. “We want three dogs.” He held up as many fingers. “We got two—see?—must have one more.” A lad of about thirteen turned and began pointing with animation towards a slowly approaching figure.