“So you’re all goin’ on but me!” said the Colonel very sadly.
The Colonel’s pardner stopped short, and looked at the pile of baggage.
“Got your stuff all ready!” he said.
“Yes.” The answer was not free from bitterness. “I’ll have the pleasure of packin’ it back to the shack after you’re gone.”
“So you were all ready to go off and leave me,” said the Boy.
The Colonel could not stoop to the obvious retort. His pardner came round the pile and his eyes fell on their common sleeping-bag, the two Nulato rifles, and other “traps,” that meant more to him than any objects inanimate in all the world.
“What? you were goin’ to carry off my things too?” exclaimed the Boy.
“That’s all you get,” Maudie burst out indignantly—“all you get for packin’ his stuff down to the landin’, to have it all ready for him, and worryin’ yourself into shoe-strings for fear he’d miss the boat.”
Mac, O’Flynn, and Potts condoled with the Colonel, while the fire of the old feud flamed and died.
“Yes,” the Colonel admitted, “I’d give five hundred dollars for a ticket on that steamer.”
He looked in each of the three faces, and knew the vague hope behind his words was vain. But the Boy had only laughed, and caught up the baggage as the last whistle set the Rampart echoes flying, piping, like a lot of frightened birds.
“Come along, then.”
“Look here!” the Colonel burst out. “That’s my stuff.”
“It’s all the same. You bring mine. I’ve got the tickets. You and me and Nig’s goin’ to the Klondyke.”
“Poverty is an odious calling.”—Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy.
On Monday morning, the 6th of June, they crossed the British line; but it was not till Wednesday, the 8th, at four in the afternoon, just ten months after leaving San Francisco, that the Oklahoma’s passengers saw between the volcanic hills on the right bank of the Yukon a stretch of boggy tundra, whereon hundreds of tents gleamed, pink and saffron. Just beyond the bold wooded height, wearing the deep scar of a landslide on its breast, just round that bend, the Klondyke river joins the Yukon—for this is Dawson, headquarters of the richest Placer Diggings the world has seen, yet wearing more the air of a great army encampment.
For two miles the river-bank shines with sunlit canvas—tents, tents everywhere, as far as eye can see, a mushroom growth masking the older cabins. The water-front swarms with craft, scows and canoes, birch, canvas, peterboro; the great bateaux of the northern lumberman, neat little skiffs, clumsy rafts; heavy “double-enders,” whip-sawed from green timber, with capacity of two to five tons; lighters and barges carrying as much as forty tons—all having come through the perils of the upper lakes and shot the canon rapids.