At this moment their quiet conversation was interrupted by a wild shout from the shore, and, springing to their feet, they saw Chetwoof gesticulating wildly and shouting to the Tyee, who had been mending his canoe by the riverbank. Kalitan dropped everything and ran without a word, scudding like the arrow from which he took his name. Before Ted could follow or ask what was the matter, from the ocean a huge body rose ten feet out of the water spouting jets of spray twenty feet into the air, the sun striking his sides and turning them to glistening silver. Then it fell back, the waters churning into frothy foam for a mile around.
“It’s a whale, Ted, sure as you live. Luck certainly is coming your way,” said his father; but, at the word “whale,” Ted had started after Kalitan, losing no time in getting to the scene of action as fast as possible.
“Watch the Tyee!” called Kalitan over his shoulder, as both boys ran down to the water’s edge.
The old chief was launching his kiak into the seething waters, and to Ted it seemed incredible that he meant to go in that frail bark in pursuit of the mighty monster. The old man’s face, however, was as calm as though starting on a pleasure-trip in peaceful waters, and Ted watched in breathless admiration to see what would happen next. Klake paddled swiftly out to sea, drawing as near as he dared to where the huge monster splashed idly up and down like a great puppy at play. He stopped the kiak and watched; then poised his spear and threw it, and so swift and graceful was his gesture that Ted exclaimed in amazement.
“Tyee Klake best harpoon-thrower of all the Thlinkits;” said Kalitan, proudly. “Watch!”
Ted needed no such instructions. His keen eyes passed from fish to man and back again, and no movement of the Tyee escaped him.
The instant the harpoon was thrown, the Tyee paddled furiously away, for when a harpoon strikes a whale, he is likely to lash violently with his tail, and may destroy his enemy, and this is a moment of terrible danger to the harpooner. But the whale was too much astonished to fight, and, with a terrific splash, he dived deep, deep into the water, to get rid of that stinging thing in his side, in the cold green waters below.
[Illustration: “AWAY WENT ANOTHER STINGING LANCE.”]
The Tyee waited, his grim face tense and earnest. It might have been fifteen minutes, for whales often stay under water for twenty minutes before coming to the surface to breathe, but to Kalitan and Ted it seemed an hour.
Then the spray dashed high into the air again, and the instant the huge body appeared, Klake drew near, and away went another stinging lance again, swift and, oh! so sure of aim. This time the whale struck out wildly, and Kalitan held his breath, while Ted gasped at the Tyee’s danger, for his kiak rocked like a shell and then was quite hidden from their sight by the spray which was dashed heavenward like clouds of white smoke.