They tried the lands where everlasting
Caressed lush fruits and kissed the waves at play;
But no place gripped them like this western outpost
Where men with large ambitions hewed their way.
It was the challenge to the daring spirit
Of vast resources in their native state.
It was the lure of gold, romance of action,
The chances of success where stakes were great.
[*]Ocstall River—a tributary of the Skeena near its mouth.
’Twas out upon a gold stampede,
And Jan had always planned to lead.
The man who has the greatest might,
He surely must be in the right,
Was part of Jansen’s creed;
For very skookum was this man,
Built on a most ambitious plan;
But with a domineering trait,
Would have his own, no other way;
And often had been heard to say:
“I’ll be no ‘also ran.’”
The river trip he hoped to make
With an old-timer nicknamed Jake,
Who’d hired a canoe;
And with a bunch of sourdoughs
Intended, e’re the river rose
In flood, to push on through.
This man soon got himself disliked
As up the rapid stream they piked
And oft by rapids lined.
His overbearing ways were met
With keen expressions of regret
He’d not been left behind.
At length the crew a village saw
Of Indians who had a store
In goods where Jan did trade.
The others knew their chance at last
They could not get away too fast
When off ashore he’d strayed.
They threw his pack out on the bank,
Their late companion’s health they drank
With hopes they’d never meet;
But Jan, their move when he realized,
Came hurrying greatly surprised,
And flushed with angry heat.
Some most profane remarks he made
And said that he was not afraid
To thrash the blooming crew,
Their ancestors were not forgot,
He hoped old Nick would make it hot
For any that he knew.
One parting curse did Jan call down,
He hoped they all would surely drown
Before they reached their goal;
The waters be their winding sheet,
That Hell would raise a double heat
To welcome every soul.
Then taking up his pack he set
His face towards the trail that yet
Along the river ran.
But soon the blazes were no more,
His path was barred by creeks, a score,
Which now no bridges span.
He felled the towering cottonwood,
That graceful by the river stood,
To bridge each torrent wide.
But longest spans were swept away,
By the wild waters in their play
At the last creek he tried.
So plunging in the torrent wild
Which swept him helpless as a child,
He braved its swollen tide.
While raced along a branch he caught,
That, waving from the shore long sought,