He pulled himself hand over hand
Until his feet could feel the sand
By eddying currents fetched.
His pack was soaked with water through,
There was no trail ahead he knew,
But still kept on his way;
And with determination strong
Struggled the beach and cliffs along
While held the light each day.
At length he reached the little creek,
The which he had set out to seek,
And found some partners there.
They had begun to pan the sand
Which proved to be a golden strand
At last to them laid bare.
One day in camp the word went round
That Jake and all his crew had drowned
Between the canyon walls.
Their staunch canoe was seen upturned
Where white the boiling rapids churned
Below the waterfalls.
* * * *
Small wonder if Jan’s conscience
And if that moral guardian spoke
In accusation strong
Against the words he had let fall,
Beyond the power of recall,
To get revenge for wrong.
Skookum—a Chinook word, meaning strong.
Sourdough—a seasoned prospector.
Deep in the Sunset Valley
Ill fortune had detained;
Bacon and beans were finished;
Of flour, none remained.
But now with tents and blankets,
Facing the backward track,
All hands were feeling cheerful
Save the cook—his looks were black.
They’d packed across the mountains
Where trails were never known,
Through leagues of heavy timber
And rock slides overgrown;
Had bridged the swollen torrents
By felling trees across;
And scrambled through the canyons
That walled the river’s course.
The horses of the pack train
Had died in dark despair
When brought to face the prospect
Of using goat trails there;
So man a beast of burden
Himself was forced to be;
The crew packed grub and blankets
And the cook the cutlery,
The dishpans and the kettles,
The basins and a pot,
A battered old reflector,
Cups, bowls and plates, Great Scott!
Cymbals and drums weren’t in it
When cook did have a spill;
The crash of warlike music
Echoed from hill to hill
As down his pack came bounding,
Spurning the canyon walls,
Scattering pots and dishes,
Leaping the waterfalls.
The packers looked in terror
To see the cook come too
As past their dizzy erie
The clanging luggage flew;
When anxiously they hailed him,
The cook, he only swore:
“If I survive this picnic
So help me—nevermore.”
A Raid on the Seal Rookeries
The tale was told by a hunter bold
Of a sealing schooner’s crew,
Of a midnight raid where the breakers played
On reefs that the offing strew.