Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER XVI THE CACHE
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 The two prospectors1 forgot their weariness as they rushed to the dying fire. Carnally looked at the embers.  
"Can't have been gone long," he declared.
"Shout, Jake!" cried Andrew. "I'm out of breath."
Carnally called, and Andrew's heart throbbed2 when a faint cry rose in answer. His anxiety had not been groundless: a lonely man runs many risks in the frozen North. Following the sound, they hastened up the ravine, and as they rounded a projecting boulder3, a red glow flashed out a little distance ahead, died down, and rose more clearly.
"That's mighty4 good to see!" Carnally exclaimed.
Graham met them as they entered the firelight.
"Had any trouble?" Andrew asked anxiously.
"No; and the foot's feeling better. The rest has done it good. I've been pretty comfortable since you left, though the wolves got so friendly last night that I thought I'd better shift my camp a bit to-night. I didn't allow you could get back before to-morrow, and I knew I'd hear you shout if you did. I left the other fire burning as a beacon5."
Andrew breathed deeply.
"It's a wonderful relief!" he said.
Carnally looked hard at Graham's face.
"Guess you didn't sleep well, but we'll get a good rest to-night, now there are three of us. A timber wolf[Pg 168] is a cussed mean brute6. Government ought to supply the bush settlers with free arsenic7."
There was a brief silence, while Graham waited, intent and eager, until Carnally broke into a soft laugh.
"We struck it, partner! Guess your lode8's right there, but we couldn't do enough prospecting9 to tell you what it's worth."
Graham turned his head for a moment, and his eyes glittered when he looked around.
"That is my misfortune and Mappin's fault. But you must have your supper, and then we'll talk."
Carnally glanced at Andrew, who had thrown off his pack and sat down on it in an attitude of exhaustion10.
"Allinson allowed we'd be back to-night, and he hustled11 me along pretty lively for a tenderfoot."
They laughed at this and began the meal which Graham soon had ready. Then, sitting close beside the fire, they filled their pipes and Graham carefully examined the bits of stone Carnally produced. He poised12 them in his hands, because the weight is a rough test, before he looked up.
"What do you think of them, Jake?" he asked.
"My idea is that they're pretty good, though they are not carrying a remarkable13 quantity of metal. Of course, we may have struck only the edge of the lode. There wasn't time to find how it ran."
Graham sat silent a while, and then turned to Andrew with a strained expression.
"I agree with Carnally. So far as I can judge, these specimens14 are not very rich, though the ore might pay for reduction. That I feel disappointed after waiting twenty years for this chance doesn't need saying; but I've brought you here at a big expense and risk and I can't blame you if you let the matter drop."
[Pg 169]"Nothing is farther from my mind," declared Andrew, smiling. "It's unpleasant to feel beaten; and I'm partly responsible for our failure by confiding15 in Mappin. If you and Carnally still think I'm to be trusted as a partner, we'll come back again, though I'd prefer waiting until the ice breaks up in the spring."
Graham's relief carried him away.
"I'd trust you with my life, Allinson! It's hard to express what I feel, but I've got to talk. If we had failed to find the lode, I'd have gone home, content, I think, to forget it; but to have struck it and got no farther would have been maddening! The thing would have haunted me for the rest of my days; but I hardly expect any one would have put up the money for another search. I can see myself hanging round mining men's offices, laughed and sneered16 at, neglecting my work until the sawmill people turned me out—they'll tell you at the Landing that I'm a crank. But the silver's there, Allinson! You have only to look for it!"
"We'll have a good try," Andrew promised cheerfully. "But the first thing we have to do is to get home, and I'm afraid it won't be easy. I wish the Hudson Bay factory weren't so far off."
They discussed their return, Graham declaring that his foot was much better and that he ought to have no difficulty in keeping up with them, and soon afterward17 they went to sleep.
At daybreak they set off in a haze18 of driving snow, and Andrew long remembered the march with a shudder19. There was only one thing in their favor—the raging wind which drove the loose snow in clouds along the frozen creeks20 blew behind them. The cold was intense; even when no snow fell the light was dim; but they[Pg 170] stumbled on, making the best progress they could. On the second day out Graham sat down among the willows22 on an island trying to alter the fastenings of his snow-shoe. Carnally, turning back with Andrew through a cloud of drifting flakes23 glanced sharply at the sitting man.
"Ah!" he said, indicating a broad smear24 on his moccasin; "that's fresh and bigger than before."
"Broken out again," said Graham, curtly25. "There's no use in talking about it. I can't nurse it now."
"Can you walk?" Andrew asked.
"I'll have to," Graham answered, getting up.
The truth of this was obvious, for the alternative was to freeze to death. He managed to keep up with the others, though Carnally slackened the pace all the afternoon. When they camped at nightfall, Graham would not let him examine his foot.
"If the moccasin comes off, I'll never get it on again," he declared.
After this, the distance traversed daily was reduced and rations26 were cut down to match. One day when the wind raged behind them, they made fourteen miles along a frozen creek21; but more often they made eight or nine; and part of the time Graham carried his snowshoes and limped in his moccasins. His companions helped him as much as they could over the roughest ground; but the onl............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved