Ted and his father were on their way from Sitka to the Copper River. Mr. Strong was on the United States Geological Survey, which Ted knew meant that he had to go all around the country and poke about all day among rocks and mountains and glaciers. He had come with his father to this far Alaskan clime in the happiest expectation of adventures with bears and Indians, always dear to the heart of a boy.
He was pretty tired of the sledge, having been in it since early morning, and he was cold and hungry besides; so he was delighted when the dogs stopped and his father said:
“Hop out, son, and stretch your legs. We’ll try to find out where we are before we go any farther.”
Chetwoof meanwhile was interviewing the boy, who came quickly toward them, “Who are you?” demanded Chetwoof.
“Kalitan Tenas,” was the brief reply.
“Where are we?” was the next question.
“Near to Pilchickamin River.”
“Where is a camp?”
“There,” said the boy, pointing toward a clump of pine-trees. “Ours.”
Ted by this time was tired of his own unwonted silence, and he came up to Kalitan, holding out his hand.
“My name is Ted Strong,” he said, genially, grinning cheerfully at the young Alaskan, “I say this is a jolly place. I wish you would teach me to fish in a snow-hole. It must be great fun. I like you; let’s be friends!” Kalitan took the boy’s hand in his own rough one.
“Mahsie” (thank you), he said, a sudden quick smile sweeping his dark face like a fleeting sunbeam, but disappearing as quickly, leaving it grave again. “Olo?” (hungry).
“Yes,” said Mr. Strong, “hungry and cold.”
“Camp,” said Kalitan, preparing to lead the way, with the hospitality of his tribe, for the Thlinkits are always ready to share food and fire with any stranger. The two boys strode off together, and Mr. Strong could scarcely help smiling at the contrast between them.
Ted was the taller, but slim even in the furs which almost smothered him, leaving only his bright face exposed to the wind and weather. His hair was a tangle of yellow curls which no parting could ever affect, for it stood straight up from his forehead like a golden fleece; his mother called it his aureole. His skin was fair as a girl’s, and his eyes as big and blue as a young Viking’s; but the Indian boy’s locks were black as ink, his skin was swarthy, his eyes small and dark, and his features that strange mixture of the Indian, the Esquimo, and the Japanese which we often see in the best of our Alaskan cousins.
Boys, however, are boys all the world over, and friendly animals, and Ted was soon chattering away to his newly found friend as if he had known him all his life.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Kalitan,” was the answer. “They call me Kalitan Tenas; my father was Tyee.”
[Footnote 1: Little Arrow.]
“Where is he?” asked Ted. He wanted to see an Indian chief.