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HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER XIV TREACHERY
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 The afternoon was nearly over and the frost intense when Andrew plodded1 up the frozen river with Carnally and Graham. The snow crunched2 with a squeaking3 sound beneath their moccasins, which Andrew had had specially4 made because ordinary boots are not adapted to the extreme cold of the North. On their western hand the pines stood out sharp and black against a coppery glare, and as they passed the wider openings the light struck dazzlingly into their aching eyes. Ahead the white riband of river led into a wilderness5 of rocks and stunted6 trees, but there was no sign of life in all the picture, and everything was very still.  
The men were not heavily loaded, for most of their supplies had been sent on to the mine, but Andrew had found his pack a bad enough handicap on the long march up-river and had noticed with some concern that Graham seemed to feel the weight more than he did. The old man had lagged behind, but he now came up breathless.
"You want to get a move on," Carnally advised. "It's 'most six miles yet to Rain Bluff7 and I'm feeling ready for my supper."
"So am I," said Graham; "but it was too cold to rest by the greenwood fire when we nooned, and I'm not so young as you are. Then it is remarkable8 how twenty years of domestic life soften9 one."
[Pg 144]"Sure!" grinned Carnally. "You don't find the man who gets his dinner every day leading in a long, hard march. That was Allinson's trouble when he first took the trail with me."
"There may be disadvantages in having regular meals, but I know from painful experience what an ache in the side you get when forced to go without," Andrew returned. "It's one of the things I've learned in Canada."
"You'll learn a few more of the same kind before you're through," Carnally drawled. "But how do you like your moccasins?"
"They're comfortable; the American shoe people have made them well; but I'm not sure they'll last the journey through. It's lucky we have some spare pairs among the provisions Mappin has sent up."
"It might have been better if we'd hired two or three boys at the Landing and packed the truck up along with us," Carnally remarked.
"Mappin engaged to forward the things. It's his business."
Carnally looked unconvinced.
"I never deal with a man who's not straight if I can help it. You can't tell when he may go back on you, unless you can fix it so that his interest is the same as yours; and you and Mappin don't agree."
"That's a fact," Andrew admitted. "However, we'll soon find out about the provisions."
He forced the pace, but it slackened again. He was tired; the red glare, which grew more lurid10, hurt his eyes, and he was thankful when it suddenly faded, leaving the wilderness wrapped in soft blue shadow. The pack-straps galled11 his shoulders, his fur-cap was thick with rime12, and its fringe of frosted hair stung his fore[Pg 145]head. They came to a narrow reach where the stream ran fast and the ice was thrown up in ragged13 hummocks14. It was difficult to pick their way in the dim light; they slipped and stumbled, breaking through the treacherous15 snow bridges between the blocks; and when they came out upon a better surface it was dark. Shadowy firs rose about them; here and there an ice-crusted rock showed above the gray level of the stream. Except for their soft footsteps there was a deathly silence. Graham was now some distance behind them, and after a while he made protest.
"Hold on!" he cried. "I'm not toughened up to your mark yet."
Andrew was glad to wait for him, though the frost bit keenly when he stopped and he was anxious to finish the long day's march. The ranks of stunted pines looked inexpressibly dreary16 looming17 out of the darkness, and, fatigued18 as he was, the savagery19 of the surrounding desolation oppressed him. They would reach warmth and shelter in another hour, but when they went on again Andrew thought with a heavy heart of the leagues of travel through the grim solitudes21 of the frozen North. Up there, their only resting-place would be a hollow behind a rock or a trench22 scooped23 out of the snow. Still, he was not daunted24. He had undertaken a big thing, and he meant to carry it out.
At last a twinkle of light showed among the trees, and when they approached one of the shacks26 at the mine the door opened and a dark figure appeared against the brightness of the interior.
"Is that you, Watson?" Andrew asked. "Has Mappin sent up some provisions for us?"
"Nothing has turned up lately except some tools," Watson answered. "But come right in."
[Pg 146]They entered the shack25, which for the first few minutes felt intolerably hot.
"Did those tools come in cases with a Toronto freight tag?" Carnally asked.
"They did," said Watson.
Carnally looked at Andrew.
"That's what misled me. I found out the cases had left the Landing and thought they held our truck. What I wasn't sure about was whether they'd reach here."
"The provisions haven't come, and a day or two's rest will do us good," Andrew replied. "I suppose the fellow will send some explanation."
"That's certain. He won't want you to go down and look him up; you'll get word from him before long. Whether you'll get your provisions or not is another matter."
"Let it drop," Andrew advised; and soon afterward27 they sat down to supper. In an hour or two they were all asleep; but the next day passed before they heard anything about the missing supplies. They were sitting round the stove in the evening when Watson came in with a letter.
"One of Mappin's boys has brought you this," he said.
Andrew opened it and looked up with a frown.
"No answer. Let him go back when he likes."
When Watson left them he turned to the others.
"Mappin regrets to say that our stores have been lost in transit28, and though he is trying to trace them, there may be some delay. He thinks I would like to know this at once—which looks like ironical29 wit. If needful, he will order a duplicate lot."
"Is it worth while to go down and see him?" Graham asked.
[Pg 147]"I'd enjoy it," said Andrew grimly. "However, now that we have come so far, we can't waste time in going back, and I've no doubt it would be a week or two before I could get the goods. We'll have to do without them, which is unfortunate."
His anger was justified30. Travel in the North, where food is scarce, is a question of transport. As the traveler must take all he needs with him, his supplies must be carefully regulated in accordance with the distance and his power of carrying them, while an error in his calculations may result in starvation. Knowing this, Carnally and Graham had considered how the weight could be cut down by the use of certain condensed foods, as well as clothing and camp equipment made to combine the greatest warmth with lightness. The goods were expensive, but their value could hardly be reckoned in money.
"Then we had better push on at once," Graham suggested. "We have the things Carnally sent up and we ought to get some provisions at the Hudson Bay factory, where I expect to hire the sledge31 dogs. It will add to our loads and shorten our stay, but we'll have to put up with that."
"You should have cut Mappin right out of this business," Carnally said to Andrew. "His first trick hasn't stopped us, but I feel uneasy about leaving him to handle the food we'll need when coming down."
Andrew looked grave.
"The man's treacherous; but he has gone as far as is safe already. Taking it for granted that he wishes to prevent our finding the lode32, one can understand his trying to hinder our outward journey. He would, however, gain nothing by delaying our return, and he's too[Pg 148] clever to risk getting himself into trouble without a good reason."
"That sounds right; I can find no fault with it," Carnally agreed. "We'll pull out to-morrow, but I'............
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