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HOME > Classical Novels > For the Allinson Honor > CHAPTER XXVII ANDREW STAKES HIS CLAIM
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 Soon after daybreak they launched the canoe, and though she was now rather deeply loaded they made good progress down the outflowing creek1. When it was necessary for one to wade2 and check her with the tracking line, their new companion was allotted3 the task, and at the portages Carnally took care to give him the heaviest load. Though it was obvious that he had not recovered from his long, forced march, he seemed a good-humored rascal4 and resigned himself to the situation philosophically5.  
In the afternoon they came to a rapid and spent some time hauling the canoe round it, and then they went back for the stores. Turner, as the newcomer was called, was first despatched with a load which contained nothing eatable, and Andrew was the last to set off. Dark spruces on the high bank cut off the wind, the sun was very hot, and the perspiration6 dripped from Andrew as he floundered across the stones. They were large and uneven7, and he had to proceed cautiously to save himself from falling into the hollows between. Graham and Carnally were some distance ahead, but after a while he overtook Turner, who was moving slowly. Shortly before Andrew came up the man dropped the things he carried and turned with signs of distress8 in his hot face.
"I'm not trying to kick," he said. "Guess you've[Pg 283] got a pull on me and I have to work, but I'm a bit played out yet, and your partner piled more weight on me than I can stand."
"Stop and take a smoke," said Andrew, handing him his tobacco pouch9. "I don't feel very fresh, but I could carry those blankets. Let me have them."
"I'll have to do that or leave them. It was a tough march I made with nothing to eat." He filled his pipe before he resumed: "There's no meanness in you."
"Never mind that. What was Mappin to give you for this job?"
"Three dollars a day while I was out on it. Four hundred dollars when I'd staked the claim, if the specimens10 assayed right."
"But how could he tell whether you would do the square thing by him?"
Turner grinned.
"It wouldn't be safe to do anything else. Supposing I'd gone round, looking for another buyer, he'd have had me doped or sandbagged before I'd made the sale. You can't fool Mappin. You have to put your job through when you deal with him."
"It seems to me that you haven't made a success of this particular business," Andrew remarked.
"I certainly haven't," the other admitted with a rueful air. "Your partner has me fixed11—he's a smart man. There'll be no three dollars a day for mine when I go home."
"You have struck bad luck," said Andrew with a smile. "I'm not sure you don't deserve it, but that's another matter. And now give me the blankets: we'll take the things along."
They went on, and when they reached the next wild stream where tracking was necessary Andrew[Pg 284] got into the water. Turner gave him a grateful glance, but he afterward12 did his share of the heaviest work, and when they made camp in the evening he soon went to sleep. When the firelight, leaping up, fell on his shadowy form, Carnally chuckled13.
"A handy man; he's going to save us a lot of trouble, and we got him cheap."
"He's a bit of a rogue14, and claim-jumping isn't a creditable profession," Andrew replied. "Still, I don't think we ought to take too much advantage of the fellow's necessity. After all, he's only a tool. It's his employer who's really responsible."
"Just so," Graham agreed. "The pity is that he should find men willing to do his dirty work on very moderate pay; but there's no lack of them. There are men you can only dynamite15 out of the mire16, because if you pull them out by gentler means they crawl straight back again. It's unfortunate, because you meet some with a few likable qualities; I think our new packer is one of these."
"Their trouble generally begins when they get into the clutches of such a hog17 as we're up against," Carnally said. "He knows how to handle them and it needs some grit18 to break away from him. We'll get Turner to tell us some of his claim-jumping experiences to-morrow night. You'll find them interesting."
Supper was finished and they were sitting in camp after a hard day's toil19 when Carnally cleverly drew the packer out. He was not unwilling20 and, warming to his subject, recounted incidents that filled Andrew with surprise and disgust. Sitting in the shadow with his eyes fixed on the ragged21 adventurer, he heard how small sawmill owners had been jockeyed out of the timber leases they were not rich enough to defend;[Pg 285] how dams and flumes had been tampered22 with until their harassed23 proprietor24 sold out his water rights; and the means by which impecunious25 owners of minerals had been robbed of their claims. Turner occasionally chuckled over the memory of some roguish trick, but, for the most part, his manner was impressively matter-of-fact. Andrew did not think he was drawing much upon his imagination; but it seemed incredible that such things should be done without the men who plotted them and reaped the benefit incurring26 general odium. After Turner had strolled away, he said something of the kind to Graham.
"The point is," Graham explained, "the low-down rascals27 who are used as tools daren't talk where they'll be heard, and nobody attaches much importance to what is said in third-rate saloons. Respectable people don't ask too many questions when they see a prospect28 of dividends29; there may be something not quite straight, but so long as it's well hidden, they don't want to know. Still, I'll say this: if you put the ugly facts square before them, they'll quite often act, even if they have to make some sacrifice to set matters right."
"Yes," assented30 Andrew; "I believe that's true. There's a reason why I find it encouraging."
"Now we'll talk of something else," Carnally interposed. "It's my opinion that we ought to leave the water soon, perhaps to-morrow, and push straight across the last height of land for the lode31. We want to keep well ahead of the Mappin boys."
They discussed it until they went to sleep, and the next day they carried the canoe some distance back from the river and carefully hid her in the brush. Farther on they cached part of their stores, and then plunged32 into a desolate33, stony34 waste. Their journey[Pg 286] across it proved uneventful, and at length they came down into the hollow where the lode lay. As it was noon, they ate a meal before anything was said; and then Carnally gave Turner a fishing-line with a trolling bait on it.
"You go back to the last creek we crossed and catch some trout35," he ordered. "Stay there until supper, whether you get any or not."
Turner winked36.
"If I catch one with this outfit37, it will be a mighty38 silly trout; the thing's made for spinning behind a canoe on a lake. Don't you want help with your prospecting39? I know something about minerals."
"So do we," Carnally replied. "I'd rather hear that you were fond of fishing, because you're going to get a good deal of it. Every day we're here you'll light out after breakfast and not come back till dark. If we see you from the camp, we'll fire you on the spot."
"I understand," said Turner. "Guess I'll stay out. I've no use for taking the trail without any grub."
He left them and Carnally turned to Graham.
"We must get our prospecting done before the Mappin gang arrives, and the sooner we start the better. We'll begin where we fired the shot last time, and follow up the vein40."
It proved to be fairly well defined when they set to work with the light tools they had brought, and their task was rendered easier because the small but rapid creek had exposed the <............
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