“Double it,” sneered Mart.
“Done,” and those surrounding them witnessed the wager with much applause; while the boy, clinging to the rough hand of his companion, whispered tremulously, “Oh, Moose, I won’t want any extras when I go to college. It’s enough to just go. But I do want Baldy t’ win, though.”
“Ten seconds; five seconds.” The dogs were mad to be off, but Allan’s warning command, “Steady, boys, steady,” kept them quiet, though they were quivering with eagerness; all except Baldy, who again seemed plainly panic-stricken, and wildly glanced from side to side as if searching for some loophole of escape.
Five minutes past ten. Once more the flag dipped, the signal for them to start was given, and “Scotty’s”
“All right, boys, go,” was music to their listening ears; as leaping forward with one accord, amidst renewed cries of encouragement and admiration, the defenders of the White and Gold sped far out over the frozen sea, where they, too, were headed for the Arctic.
For the Supremacy of the Trail
FOR THE SUPREMACY OF THE TRAIL
Slowly the people returned to town after every team had received an ovation; for none was too partisan to give a hearty “God Speed” to all of the men and all of the dogs in the race—and favorites were, for the moment, forgotten.
Each day had brought word from the Outside that the Great Race was not forgotten by the Alaskans in sunnier lands; and because of this the excitement, as well as the purse, had grown apace.
No one, of course, settled down to anything serious, for business is practically suspended during the entire progress of the event, and a spirit of revelry is abroad. Formal and informal gatherings serve to pass the hours, while telephone reports from each village and road house are announced in all public places, and bulletins are posted at convenient points for men, women and children, who await the news with keen expectation. The messages come continuously, keeping up the intense excitement from start to finish.
Soon on the Official Bulletin Board at the corner of Lane’s way appeared the first, telling that all of the teams had arrived in Solomon, practically together, and had left shortly in the bitter wind that blows in fierce gusts across the icy lagoons and sleet-swept beach.
Then in the low foot-hills had come milder weather; and the route was fairly good, though it lay buried under freshly fallen snow through which Baldy led, picking his way with unerring precision across the trackless tundra. Now that he was in the open, away from noise and people, he had settled down to a steady gait that promised much for his endurance.
Sometimes in the glory of the April sunshine they passed other teams, or other teams passed them; and sometimes there were hours when two teams and possibly more met at the same relay camp.