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The Tomahawk. [volume] (White Earth, Becker County, Minn.) 1903-192?, April 04, 1918, Image 3

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89064695/1918-04-04/ed-1/seq-3/

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CHAPTER X'.XContinued.
11
So far the mind of the Scotsman fol
lowed the probabilities logically, but
at this point it made a jump. There
were at least two robbers. He was
morally sure of that, for this was not
a one-man job. Now, if Holt had with
him a companion, who of all those In
Kusiak was the most likely man? He
was a friendless, crabbed old fellow.
Since coming to Kusiak old Gideon had
been seen constantly with one man.
They had been with each other at din
ner and had later left the hotel to
gether. The name of the man who had
been so friendly with old Holt was
Gordon Elliotand Elliot no't only was
another enemy of Macdonald, but had
very good reasons for getting out of
the country just now.
The strong jaw of the mine-owner
stood out saliently as he gave short,
sharp orders to men in the crowd. One
was to get the coroner, a second Wally
Selfridge, another the United States
district attorney. He divided the rest
Into squads to guard the roads leading
out of town and to see that nobody
passed for the present.
The coroner took charge of the body
and Wally of the bank. The mine
owner and the district attorney walked
op to the hotel together. As soon as
they had explained what they wanted,
the landlord got a passkey and took
them to the room Holt had used.
Apparently the bed had been slept
In. In the waste-paper basket the dis
trict attorney found something which
he held up in a significant silence.
Macdonald stepped forward and took
from him a small cloth sack.
"One of those we keep our gold in
at the bank," said the Scotsman after
a close examination. "This definitely
ties up Holt with the robbery. Now
for Elliot."
"He left the hotel with Holt about
five this morning, the porter says."
This was the contribution of the land
lord.
The room of Gordon Elliot was in
great disorder. Garments had been
tossed on the bod and on every chair
and had been left to lie wherever they
had chanced to fall. Plainly their
owner had been in great haste.
Macdonald looked through the closet
where clothes hung. "His new fur
coat is not herenor his trail boots.
Looks to mfr as though Mr. Gordon had
hit the trail with his friend Holt."
All doubt of this was removed when
a prospector reached town with the
news that he had met Holt and Elliot
traveling toward the divide as fast as
they could drive the dogs.
The big Scotsman ordered his tenm
of Siberian wolf-hounds made ready
for the trail. As he" donned his heavy
furs, Colby Macdonald smiled with
deep satisfaction. He had Elliot on
the run at last.
Just as he closed of hi
room,s*Macdonald
hearthethdoor telephons
bell ring. He hesitated, then shrugged
his shoulders and strode out into the
storm. If he had answered the call
he would have learned from Diane,
who was at the other end of the line,
that the stage upon which Sheba had
started for Katma had not reached the
roadhouse at Smith's Crossing.
Five minutes later the winners of
the great Alaska sweepstakes were
The Winners of the Great Alaska
Sweepstakes Were Flying Down the
Street.
flying down the street in the teeth of
the storm. Armed with a rifle and a
revolver, their owner was mushing into
the hills to bring back the men who
had robbed his bank and killed the
ccsbier. He traveled alone because he
could go factor without a companion.
It never occurrod to him that he was
not a ir.atcli for any two men he might
face.
CHAPTER XX.
In the Blizzard.
"Swifiwatcr" Pete, the driver of the
stn^o bcl-oen Kusiak and Katma, did
n**t like tli? look of the sky as his
jMinics bror.-^ed the long uphill dimb
that ended at the pass. "Gittin* her
back up for a blizzard, looks like.
Doggone it, if that wouldn't jest be my
luck," he murmured fretfully.
Sheba hoped there would be one, not,
of course, a really, truly blizzard such
as Macdonald had told her about, but
the tail of a make-believe one, enough
10 send her glowing with exhilaration
into the roadhouse with the happy
sense of an adventure achieved. The
girl was Buoyed up by a sense of free
dom. For a time, at least, she was es
caping Macdonald's driving energy, the
appeal of Gordon Elliot's warm friend
liness, and the unvoiced urging of
Diane. Good old Peter and the kid
dies were the only ones that let her
alone.
She looked back at the horses labor
ing up the hill. Swlftwater had got
down and was urging them forward,
his long whip crackling about the
ears of the leaders. He was worried.
He would have liked to turn and run
for it. But the last roadhouse was
twenty-seven miles back. If the bliz
zard'came howling down the slope
they would have a sweet time of It
reaching safety. Smith's Crossing was
on the other side of the divide, only
nine miles away. They would have to
worry through somehow.
Miss O'Neill knew that Swlftwater
Pete was anxious, and though she was
not yet afraid, the girl understood the
reason for it. The road ran through
the heart of a vast snow-field, the sur
face at which was being swept by a
screaming wind. The air was full of
sifted white dust, and the road furrow
Was rapidly filling. Soon it would be
obliterated. Sheba tramped behind the
stage-driver and in her tracks walked
Mrs. Olson, the other passenger.
Through the muffled scream of the
storm Swlftwater shouted back to
Sheba. "You wanta keep close to me."
She nodded her head. His order
needed no explanation. The world
was narrowing to a lane whose walls
she could almost touch with her fin
gers. A pall of white wrapped them.
Upon them beat a wind of stinging
sleet. Nothing could be seen but the
blurred outlines of the stage and the
driver's figure.
The bitter cold searched through
Sheba's furs to her soft flesh and the
blast of powdered ice beat upon her
face. The snow was getting deeper
as the road filled. Once or twice she
stumbled and fell. Her strength ebbed,
and the hinges of her knees gave un
expectedly beneath her. How long
was it, she asked herself, that Macdon
ald had said men could live in a bliz
zard?
Staggering blindly forward, Sheba
bumped into the driver. He had drawn
up to give the horses a moment's rest
before sending them plunging at the
snow again.
"No chance," he called into the
young woman's ear. "Never make
Smith's in the world. Goin* try for
miner's cabin up gulch little way."
The team stuck In the drifts, fought
through, and was blocked again ten
yards beyond. A dozen times the
horses gave up, answered the sting of
the whip by diving head first at the
white banks, and were stopped by
fresh snow-combs.
Pete gave up the fight. He began
unhitching the horses, while Sheba and
Mrs. Olson, clinging to each other's
hands, stumbled forward to join him.
The words he shouted across the back
of a horse were almost lost in the
roar of the shrieking wind.
M. heluvatime ride
gulch," Sheba made out
He flung Mrs. Olson astride one of
the wheelers and helped Sheba to the
back of the right leader. Swlftwater
clambered upon its mate himself.
The girl paid no attention to where
they were going. The urge of life
was so faint within her that she did
not greatly care whether she lived or
died. Her face was blue from the cold,
her vitality was sapped. She seemed
to herself to hove turned to ice be
low the hips. Numb though her fin
gers were, she must keep them fas
tened tightly in the frozen mane of the
animal. She recited her lesson to her
self like a child. She must stick on
she mustshe must.
Whether she lost consciousness or
not Sheba never knew. The next she
realized was that Swlftwater Pete was
pulling her from the horse. He dragged
her into a cabin where Mrs. Olson lay
crouched on the floor.
Got to stable the horses," he ex
plained, and left them.
After a time he came back and lit a
fire in the sheet-iron stove. As the cir
culation that meant life flooded back
into her chilled veins Sheba endured a
half-hour of excruciating pain. She
had to clench her teeth to keep back
the groans.
The cabin was empty of furniture
except for a home-made table, rough
stools, and the frame of a bed. The
last occupant had left a little firewood
beside the stove, enough to last per
haps for twenty-four hours. Sheba
did not need to be told that if the bliz
zard lasted long enough, they would
starve to death. In the handbag left
in the stage were a box of candy and
an Irish plum pudding. She had
brought the latter from the old coun
try with her and was taking it and the
chocolate'' to tfcr Husted children. But
just now the stage was as far from
them as^Drogheda.
Like many rough frontiersmen,
Swlftwater Pete was a diamond in the
raw. So far as could be he made a
hopeless and impossible situation com
fortable. His judgment told him that
they were caught in a trap from which
there was no escape, but for the sake
of the women he put a cheerful face on
things.
"Lucky we found this cabin," he
growled amiably. "By this time we'd
'a' been up Salt creek if we hadn't
Seeing as our luck has stood up so far,
I reckon we'll be all right Mighty
kind of Mr. Last Tenant to leave us
this firewood. We ain't so worse off."
"If we only had some food," Mrs.
Olson suggested.
"Food!" Pete looked at her In as
sumed surprise. "Huh! What about
all that live stock I got In the stable?
I've heard tell, ma'am, that broncho
tenderloin is a favorite dish with them
there French chiefs that do the cook
ing. They kinder trim it up so's it's
'most as good as frawgs* legs."
Sheba had never before slept on
bare boards with a sealskin coat for a
sleeping bag. But she was very tired
and dropped off almost Instantly.
Twlco she woke during the night, dis
turbed by the stiffness and the pain
of her body. When she awakened for
the third time it was morning.
It seemed to her that the hard, whip
sawed planks were pushing through
the soft flesh to the bones. She was
cold, too, and crept closer to the stout
Swedish woman lying beside her. Pres
ently she fell asleep again to the
sound of the blizzard howling outside.
When she wakened for the third time
it was morning.
In the afternoon the blizzard died
away. As far as the eye could see,
Sheba looked out upon a waste of
snow. Her,eyes turned from the deso
lation without to the bare and cheer
less room in which they Had found
shelter. In spite of herself a little
shiver ran down the spine of the girl.
Had she come into this Arctic soli
tude to find her tomb?
As soon as the storm had moderated
enough to,let him go out with safety,
Swlftwater Pete had taken ope of the
horses for an attempt at trail break
ing.
"Me, I'm after that plum pudding.
I gotta get a feed of oats from the
stage for my bronchs too. The scenery
here is sure fine, but It ain't what
you would call nourishing. Huh!
Watch our smoke when me and old
Boldface git to bucking them drifts."
He had been gone two hours and the
dusk was already descending over the
white waste when Sheba ventured out
to see what had become of the stage
driver. But the cold was so bitter
that she soon gave up the attempt to
.fight her way through the drifts and
turned back to the cabin.
Some time later Swlftwater Pete
came stumbling into their temporary
home. He was fagged to exhaustion
but triumphant. Upon the table he
dropped from the crook of his numbed
arm two packages.
"The makings for a Christmas din-
ner," he said with a grin.
Mrs. Olson thawed out the pudding
and the chocolates in the oven and
made a kind of mush out of some
oats Pete had saved from the horse
feed. They ate their one-sided meal
in high spirits. The freeze had saved
their lives. If It held clear till to
morrow they could reach Smith's
crossing on the crust of the snow.
Swiftwater broke up the chairs for
fuel and demolished the legs of the
table, after which he lay down before
the stove and fell at once into a sod
den sleep.
Presently Mrs. Olson lay down on
the bed and began to snore regularly.
Sheba could not sleep. The boards
tired her bones and she was cold.
Sometimes she slipped into cat naps
that were full of bad dreams. When
she wakened with a start it was to find
that the fire had died down. She was
shivering from lack of cover. Qui
etly the girl replenished the fire and
lay down again.
When she wakened with a start it
was morning. A faint light sifted
through the single window of the
shack. Sheba whispered to the older
woman that she was going out for a
little walk.
As she worked her way down the
gulch Sheba wondered whether the
news of their loss had reached Ku
siak. Were search parties out already
to rescue them? Colby Macdonald
had gone into the blizzard years ago to
save her father. Perhaps he might
have been out all night trying to save
her father's daughter. Peter would go,
of courseand Gordon Elliot. The
work in the mines would stop and
men would volunteer by scores. That
was one fine thing about the North.
It responded to the unwritten law
that a man must risk his own life to
save others.
From a little knoll Sheba looked
down upon the top of the stage three
hundred yards below her, and while
she stood there the promise of the
new day was blazoned on the sky. It
came with amazing beauty of green
and primrose and amethyst, while the
stars flickered oat and the heavens
took on the blue of sunrise. She drew
a deem slow breath of adoration and
THE TOMAHAWK. WHITE EARTH, MINN.
turned away. As she did so her eyes
dilated and her body grew rigid.
Across the snow waste a man was
coming. He was moving toward the
cabin and must cross the trench close
to her. The heart of the girl stopped,
then beat wildly to make up the lost
stroke. He had come through the bliz
zard to save her.
At that very instant, as if the stage
had been set for it, the wonderful
Alaska sun pushed up into the crotch
of the peaks and poured its radiance
over the Arctic waste. The pink glow
swept in a tide of delicate color over
the snow and transmuted it to mil
lions of sparkling diamonds. The
Great Magician's wand had recreated
the world instantaneously.
CHAPTER XXI.
Two on the Trail.
Elliot and Holt left Kusiak in a
spume of whirling, blinding snow.
They traveled light, not more than
Across the Snow Waste a Man Was
Coming.
forty pounds to the dog, for they want
ed to make speed. It was not cold for
Alaska. They packed their fur coats
on the sled and wore mittens of
moosehide with duffel lining, on their
feet mukluks above "German" socks,
nolt had been a sour-dough miner too
long to let his partner perspire from
overmuch clothing. He knew the dan
ger of pneumonia from a sudden cool
ing of the'heat of the body.
Old Gideon took seven of his dogs,
driving them two abreast Six were
huskies, rangy, muscular animals with
thick, dense coats. They were in the
best of spirits and carried their tails
erect like their Malemute leader.
Butch, though a Malemute, had a
strong strain of collie in him. It gave
him a sense of responsibility. His bus
iness was to see that the team kept
strung out on the trail, and Butch was
a past-master In the matter of disci
pline. His weight was 93 -fighting
pounds, and he could thrash in short
order any dog in the team.
The snow was wet and soft. It clung
to everything it touched. The dogs
carried pounds of It in the tufts of
hair that rose from their backs. An
icy pyramid had to be knocked from
the sled every half-hour. The snow
shoes were heavy with white slush.
Densely ladea spruce boughs brushed
the faces of the men and showered
them with unexpected little* ava
lanches.
They took turns in going ahead of
the team and breaking trail. It was
heavy, muscle-grinding work. Before
noon they were both utterly fatigued.
They dragged forward through the
slush, lifting their laden feet sluggish
ly. They must keep going, and they
did, but it seemed to them that every
step must be the last.
Shortly after noon the storm wore
itself out. The temperature had been
steadily falling and now it took a rapid
drop. They were passing through tim
ber, and on a little slope they bulll
with a good deal of difficulty a fire.
By careful nursing they soon had a
great bonfire going, in front of which
they put their wet socks, mukluks.
scarfs and parkas to dry. The toes of
the dogs had become packed with little
ice balls. Gordon and Holt had to go
carefully over the feet of each animal
to dig these out.
The old-timer thawed out a slab of
dried salmon till the fat began to
frizzle and fed each husky a pound of
the fish and a lump of tallow. He and
Gordon made a pot of tea and ate some
meat sandwiches they had brought
with them, to save cooking until night.
When they took the trail again it
was in moccasins instead of mukluks.
The weather was growing steadily
colder, and with each degree of fall in
the thermometer the trail was easier.
"Mushing at fifty below zero is all
right when It is all right," explained
Holt in the words of the old prospec
tor. "But when it isn't all right it's
h1."
"It is not fifty below yet, is it?"
"Nope. But she's on the way. When
your breath makes a kinder crackling
noise she's fifty."
There soon was a crust on the snow
that held up the dogs and the sled so
that trail breaking was not necessary.
The little party pounded steadily over
the barren hills. There was no sign
of life except what they brought with
them into the greater silence beyond.
Each of the men wrapped a long
scarf around his mouth and nose for
protection, and as the part in front of
his face became a sheet of ice shifted
the muffler to another place.
Night fell in the middle of the aft
ernoon, but they kept traveling. Not
till they were well up toward the sum
mit of the divide did they decide to
camp. They drove into a little draw
and unharnessed the weary dogs. It
was bitterly cold, but they were forced
to set up the tent and stove to keep
from freezing. -Their numbed lingers
made a slow job of the camp prepara
tions. At last the stove was going,
the dogs fed, and they themselves
thawed out. They fell asleep shortly
to the sound of the mournful howling
of the dogs outside.
Long before daybreak they were
afoot again. Holt went out to chop
some wood for the stove while Gordon
made breakfast preparations. The
little miner brought In an armful of
wood and went out to get a second
supply. A few moments later Elliot
hoard a cry.
He stepped out of the tent and ran
to the spot where Holt was lying under
a mass of ice and snow. The young
man threw aside the broken blocks
that had plunged down from a ledge
above.
"Badly hurt, Old?" he asked.
"I done bust my lalg, son," the old
man answered with a twisted grin.
"You mean that it Is broken?"
"Tell you that in a minute."
He felt his leg carefully and with
Elliot's help tried to get up. Groan
ing, he slid back to the snow.
"Yep. She's busted," he announced.
Gordon carried him to the tent and
laid him down carefully. The old
miner swore softly.
"Ain't this a devil of a note, Bny?
Fou'll have to get me to Smith's Cross
ing and leave me there."
It was the only thing to bo done.
Elliot broke camp and packed the sled.
Upon the load he put his companion,
well wrapped up in furs.
Two miles up the road Gordon stopped
his team sharply. He had turned
bend in the trail and had come upon
an empty stage burled in the snow.
The fear that had been uppermost
in Elliot's mind for twenty-four hours
clutched at his throat. Was it trag
edy upon which he had come after
his long journey?
Holt guessed the truth. "They got
stalled and cut loose the horses. Must
have tried to ride the cnyuscs to
shelter."
"To Smith's Crossing?" asked Gor
don.
"Expect so." Then, with a whoop,
the man on the sled contradicted him
self. "No, by Moses, to Dick Fiddler's
old cabin up the draw. That's where
Swlftwater would aim for till the bliz
zard was over."
"Where is It?" demanded his friend.
"Swing over to the right and follow
the little gulch. I'll wait till you come
back."
Gordon dropped the gee-pole and
started on the Instant. Eagerness,
anxiety, dread, fought in his heart He
knew that any moment now he might
stumble upon the evidence of the sad
story which is repeated in Alaska
many times every winter. It rang In
him like a bcli that where tough,
hardy miners succumbed a frail girl
would have small chance.
He cut across over the hill toward
the draw, and at what he saw his pulse
quickened. Smoke was pouring out of
the chimney of a cabin and falling
groundward, as it does in the Arctic
during very cold weather. Had Sheba
found safety there?
As he pushed forward the rising sun
flooded the earth with pink and struck
a million sparkles 'of color from the
snow. The wonder of it drew the eyes
of the young man for a moment toward
the hills.
A tumult of joy flooded his veins.
The girl who held in her soft hands
the happiness of his life stood looking
at him. It seemed to him that she
was the core of all that lovely tide of
radiance. He moved toward her and
looked down into the trench where she
waited. Swiftly he kicked off his
snowshoes and leaped down beside her.
The gleam of tears was in her eyes
as she held out both hands to him.
During the long look they gave each
other something wonderful to both of
them was born into the world.
When he tried to speak his hoarse
voice broke. "Shebalittle Sheba 1
Safe, after nil. Thank God, you
you" He swallowed the lump in his
throat and tried again. "If you knew
God, how I have suffered! I was
afraid'' dared noi let myself think."
A live pt.ls? beat in her white throat
The tears brimmed over. Then, some
i how, she waa'r his arms weeping. Her
eyes slowly turned to his, and ne uioc
the touch of her surrendered lips.
Nature, had brought them together by
one of her resistless and unpremedi
tated impulses.
A-stress of emotion had swept her
into his arms. Now she drew away
from him shyly. The conventions in
which she had been brought up assert
ed themselves. An absurd little fear
obtruded itself into her happiness. Had
she rushed into his arms like a love
sick girl, taking it for granted that be
cared for her?
"Youcame to look for us?" she
asked, with the little shy stiffness of
embarrassment.
"For youyes."
He could not take his eyes from her.
It seemed to him that a bird was sing
ing in his heart the gladness he could
not express. He had for many hours
pushed from his mind pictures of her
lying white and rigid on tho snow. In
stead she stood beside him, her deli
cate beauty vivid as the flush of a
flame.
"Did they telephone that we were
lost?"
"Yes. I was troubled when the
storm grew. I could not sleep. So I
called up the roadhouse by long dis
tance. They had not henrd from the
stage. Later I called agnln. When I
could stand it no longer, I started."
"Not on foot?"
"No, with Holt's dog team. He la
back there. His leg is broken. A
snow-slide crushed him this morning
where we camped."
"Bring him to the cabin. I will tell
the others you are coming."
"Have you had any food?" he asked.
A tired smile lit up the shadows of
weariness under her soft diirk eyes.
"Boiled oats, plum pudding and choco
lates," she told him.
"We have plenty of food on the sled.
I'll bring it at once."
She nodded, and turned to go to the
cabin. He watched for a moment the
lilt In her walk. An expression from
his reading jumped to hte mind. Me
lodious feet! Some poet had said that,
hadn't he? Surely it must have been
Sheba of whom he was thinking, this
girl so virginal of body and of mind,
free and light-footed as a caribou on
the hills.
Gordon returned to the sled and
drove the tenm up the draw to the
cabin. The three who had been ma
rooned came to meet their rescuer.
"You must 'a' come right through
the storm lickitty split," Swiftwater
said.
"You're right we did. This side part
ner of mine was bent on wrestling with
a blizzard," Holt answered dryly.
"Sorry you broke your kilg, Gid."
"Then there's two of us sorry, Swift
water. It's one of the best luiga I'vo
got."
Sheba turned to the old miner Im
pulsively. "If you could he knowing
what I am thlnklng-of you, Mr. Holt
how full our hearts arc of the grati
tude" She stopped, tears In her
voice.
"Sho! No need of that. miss. He
dragged me along." His thumb jerked
toward the mah who was driving. "I've
seen better dog punchers than Elliot
but he's got the world bent at routln*
old-timers out of bed and persuadln*
them to kick In with him nnd buck a
blizzard. Me, o' course, I'm an old fool
for comln'"
The dark eyes of the girl were like
stars in frosty night. "Then you're
He Met the Touch of Her Surrendered
Lips.
the kind of a fool I love, Mr. Holt. I
think it was just fine of you, and I'll
never forget It as long as I live."
Mrs. Olson had cooked too long in
lumber and mining camps not to know
something about bone setting. Under
her direction Gordon made splints and
helped her bandage the broken leg:
Sheba cooked an appetizing breakfast.
The aroma of coffee and the smell of
frying bacon stimulated appetites that
needed no tempting.
Holt, propped up by blankets, ate)
with the others. For a good many
years he had taken his luck as it case*
with philosophic enduranee. Now ho
wasted no time in mourning what
could not be helped. He was lucky
the ice slide had not hit him in t3
head. A broken leg would mend
(TO E CONTIKUED.*
Change Bad Waya.
Instead of trying to mend tfcaftl
wayj some people wosdd aavo ft few
of Ue by getting

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