Mrs. Strong objected to the hardening process if it consisted in turning her boy loose to learn the ways of the city streets, but had consented to his going with his father, urged thereto by fears for his health, which was not of the best, and the knowledge that he had reached the “bear and Indian” age, and it was certainly a good thing for him to have his experiences first-hand.
To Ted the whole thing was perfectly delightful. When he lay down at night, he would often like to see “Mother and Ju,” but he was generally so tired that he was asleep before he had time to think enough to be really homesick. During the day there was too much doing to have any thinking time, and, since he had met this boy friend, he thought of little else but him and what they were to do next. The Tyee had assured Mr. Strong that it was perfectly safe for the boys to go about together.
“Kalitan knows all the trails,” he said. “He take care of white brother. Anything come, call Chetwoof.”
As Mr. Strong was very anxious to penetrate the glacier under Klake’s guidance, and wanted Ted to enjoy himself to the full, he left the boys to themselves, the only stipulation being that they should not go on the water without Chetwoof.
There seemed to be always something new to do. As the days grew warmer, the ice broke in the river, and the boys tramped all over the country. Ted learned to use the bow and arrow, and brought down many a bird for supper, and proud he was when he served up for his father a wild duck, shot, plucked, and cooked all by himself.
They fished in the stream by day and set lines by night. They trapped rabbits and hares in the woods, and one day even got a silver fox, a skin greatly prized by the fur traders on account of its rarity. Kalitan insisted that Ted should have it, though he could have gotten forty dollars for it from a white trader, and Ted was rejoiced at the idea of taking it home to make a set of furs for Judith.
One day Ted had a strange experience, and not a very pleasant one, which might have been very serious had it not been for Kalitan. He had noticed a queer-looking plant on the riverbank the day before, and had stopped to pick it up, when he received such a sudden and unexpected pricking as to cause him to jump back and shout for Kalitan. His hand felt as if it had been pierced by a thousand needles, and he flew to a snow-bank to rub it with snow.
“I must have gotten hold of some kind of a cactus,” he said to Kalitan, who only replied:
“Huh! picked hedgehog,” as he pointed to where Ted’s cactus was ambling indignantly away with every quill rattling and set straight out in anger at having his morning nap disturbed. Kalitan wrapped Ted’s hand in soft mud, which took the pain out, but he couldn’t use it much for the next few days, and did not feel eager to hunt when his father and the Tyee started out in the morning. Kalitan remained with him, although his eyes looked wistful, for he had heard the chief talk about bear tracks having been seen the day before. Bears were quite a rarity, but sometimes an old cinnamon or even a big black bruin would venture down in search of fresh fish, which he would catch cleverly with his great paws.