Title:TheYukonTrail ATaleoftheNorth Author:WilliamMacLeodRaine ReleaseDate:October11,2006[eBook#19527] Language:English Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1 ***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE YUKON TRAIL***
CHAPTERI GOING"IN" The midnight sun had set, but in a crotch between two snow-peaks it had kindled a vast caldron from which rose a mist of jewels, garnet and turquoise, topazandamethystandopal,allswimminginaseaofmoltengold.Theglowof itstillclungtothefaceofthebroadYukon,asaflushdoestothesoft,wrinkled cheekofagirljustrousedfromdeepsleep. Exceptforafaintmurkinessintheairitwasstillday.Therewaslightenough forthefourmenplayingpinochleontheupperdeck,thoughthewomenoftheir party, gossiping in chairs grouped near at hand, had at last put aside their embroidery.Thegirlwhosatbyherselfatalittledistanceheldamagazinestill open on her lap. If she were not reading, her attitude suggested it was less because of the dusk than that she had surrendered herself to the spell of the mysterious beauty which for this hour at least had transfigured the North to a landalllightandatmosphereandcolor. GordonElliothadtakentheboatatPierre'sPortage,fiftymilesfartherdown theriver.Hehadcomedirectfromthecreeks,andhisimpressionsofthemotley pioneer life at the gold-diggings were so vivid that he had found an isolated cornerofthedeckwherehecouldscribbletheminanotebookwhilestillfresh. But he had not been too busy to see that the girl in the wicker chair was as muchofanoutsiderashewas.Plainlythiswasherfirsttripin.Gordonwasa stranger in the Yukon country, one not likely to be over-welcome when it becameknownwhathismissionwas.Itmayhavebeenbecausehewasoutof the picture himself that he resented a little the exclusion of the young woman with the magazine. Certainly she herself gave no evidence of feeling about it. Her long-lashed eyes looked dreamily across the river to the glowing hills beyond. Not once did they turn with any show of interest to the lively party undertheawning. FromwherehewasleaningagainstthedeckhouseElliotcouldseeonlyafine, chiseledprofileshadingintoamassofcrisp,blackhair,butsomequalityinthe detachment of her personality stimulated gently his imagination. He wondered
whoshecouldbe.Hisworkhadtakenhimtofrontiercampsbefore,buthecould notplaceherasatype.Thebesthecoulddowastoguessthatshemightbethe daughterofsometerritorialofficialonherwayintojoinhim. A short, thick-set man who had ridden down on the stage with Elliot to Pierre'sPortagedriftedalongthedecktowardhim.Heworethecarelessgarbof aminingmaninacountrywhichlooksfirsttocomfort. "BoundforKusiak?"heasked,bywayofopeningconversation. "Yes,"answeredGordon. The miner nodded toward the group under the awning. "That bunch lives at Kusiak. They've got on at different places the last two or three days—except Selfridgeandhiswife,they'vebeenout.Guessyoucantellthatfromhearingher talk—thelittlewomaninredwiththesnappyblackeyes.She'sspillin'overwith talkaboutthestylesinNewYorkandthecabaretsandthenewshows.Thatpotbellied little fellow in the checked suit is Selfridge. He is Colby Macdonald's manFriday." ElliottookinwithaquickenedinterestthegroupboundforKusiak.Hehad noticedthattheymonopolizedasamatterofcoursethebestplacesonthedeck and in the dining-room. They were civil enough to outsiders, but their manner hadtheunconsciousselfishnessthatoftenregulatessocialactivities.Itexcluded fromtheirgayetyeverybodythatdidnotbelongtotheproperset. "That sort of thing gets my goat," the miner went on sourly. "Those women overtherehaveelectedthemselvesSocietywithacapitalS.Theyputonallthe airstheFourHundreddoinNewYork.Andwhothehellaretheyanyhow?— wivestoabunchofgraftingpoliticiansmostly." From the casual talk that had floated to him, with its many little allusions punctuating the jolly give-and-take of their repartee, Elliot guessed that their lives had the same background of tennis, dinners, hops, official gossip, and business.Theyevidentlyknewoneanotherwiththeintimacythatcomesonlyto the segment of a small community shut off largely from the world and forced into close social relations. No doubt they had loaned each other money occasionally, stood by in trouble, and gossiped back and forth about their shortcomingsandfamilyskeletonsevenassocietyontheoutsidedoes. "That's the way of the world, isn't it? Our civilization is built on the group
system,"suggestedElliot. "Maybeso,"grumbledtheminer."ButIhatetoseeAlaskacometoit.Me,I sawthiscountryfirstin'97—packedanoutfitinoverthePass.Everymanstood on his own hind legs then. He got there if he was strong—mebbe; he bogged down on the trail good and plenty if he was weak. We didn't have any of the artificialstuffthen.Amanhadtohavethegutstostandthegaff." "Isupposeitwasawildcountry,Mr.Strong." The little miner's eyes gleamed. "Best country in the world. We didn't stand foranythingthatwasn'tonthelevel.Itwasapoorman'scountry—wagesfifteen dollarsadayandplentyofwork.Everybodyhadachance.Anybodycouldstake aclaimandgambleonhisluck.Nowthebigcorporationshaveslippedinand grabbed the best. It ain't a prospector's proposition any more. Instead of faro banks we've got savings banks. The wide-open dance hall has quit business in favorofmovingpictures.And,asIsaidbefore,we'vegotSociety." "Allfrontiercountrieshavetocometoit." "Hmp!InthedaysI'mtellingyouaboutthatcrowdtherecouldn't'a'hustled meattofilltheirbelliesthreemeals.Parasites,that'swhattheyare.They'reliving offthatbunchofroughnecksdownthereandfolkslike'em." WithawaveofhishandStrongpointedtoagroupofminerswhohadboarded theboatwiththematPierre'sPortage.Therewereaboutadozenofthemen,for themostparthusky,heavy-setforeigners.Theyhadbeendrinking,andwereina sullenhumor.Elliotgatheredfromtheirtalkthattheyhadlosttheirjobsbecause theyhadtriedtoorganizeanincipientstrikeintheFrozenGulchdistrict. "Roughnecksandbooze-fighters—that'salltheyare.Buttheyearntheirway. NotthatIblameMacdonaldforfiringthem,mindyou,"continuedtheminer. "WeretheyworkingforMacdonald?" "Yep. His superintendent up there was too soft. These here Swedes got gay. Mac hit the trail for Frozen Gulch. He hammered his big fist into the breadbasketoftheringleaderandsaid,'Git!'Thatfellow'srunningyet,I'llbet.Then Maccalledthementogetherandreadtheriotacttothem.Hefiredthisbunchon theboatandwasoutofthecampbeforeyoucouldbataneye.Itwasthecleanest hurry-upjobIeverdidsee."
"FromwhatI'veheardabouthimhemustbearemarkableman." "He'sthebiggestmaninAlaska,barnone." ThiswasasubjectthatinterestedGordonElliotverymuch.ColbyMacdonald andhisactivitieshadbroughthimtothecountry. "Doyoumeanpersonally—orbecauseherepresentsthebigcorporations?" "Both. His word comes pretty near being law up here, not only because he standsfortheConsolidated,butbecausehe'sonemanfromthegroundup.Iain't anytoostrongforthatNewYorkbunchofcapitalistsbackofMac,butI'vegot togiveittohimthathe'salltherewithoutleaningonanybody." "I'veheardthathe'sadomineeringman—ridesroughshodoverothers.Isthat right,Mr.Strong?" "He'sabearforgettinghisownway,"grinnedthelittleminer."Ifyouwon't getoutofhisroadhepeelsyourhideoffandhangsituptodry.ButIcan'thelp likinghim.He'sbigeverywayyoutakehim.He'llstandtheacid,Macwill." "Doyoumeanthathe'ssquare—honest?" "You'vesaidtwothings,myfriend,"answeredStrongdryly."He'ssquare.If hetellsyouanything,don'tworrybecauseheain'tputdownhisJohnHancock beforeanotary.He'llseeitthroughtoafinish—toafightingfinishifhehasto. Don'twasteanytimelookingforfatoryellowstreaksinMac.Theyain'tthere. Nobodyeverheardhimsquealyetandwhat'smorenobodyeverwill." "Nowondermenlikehim." "Butwhenyousayhonest—Hell,no!Notthewayyoudefinehonestydown intheStates.He'sagrabber,Macis.Betternotleaveanythingvaluablearound unlessyou'vegotitspikedtothefloor.Hetakeswhathewants." "Whatdoeshelooklike?"askedGordon. "Oh,Idon'tknow."Stronghesitated,whilehesearchedforwordstoshowthe pictureinhismind."Bigasahouse—stepsoutlikeabuckinthespring—bluegrayeyesthatborerightthroughyou." "Howold?" "Search me. You never think of age when you're looking at him. Forty-five,
mebbe—orfifty—Idon'tknow." "Married?" "No-o." Hanford Strong nodded in the direction of the Kusiak circle. "They sayhe'sgoingtomarryMrs.Mallory.She'stheonewiththeredhair." It struck young Elliot that the miner was dismissing Mrs. Mallory in too cavalierafashion.Shewasthesortofwomanatwhommenlooktwice,andthen continuetolookwhilesheappearsmagnificentlyunawareofit.Herhairwasnot red,butofalustrousbronze,amazinglyabundant,anddressedinwaveswiththe carefulskillofacoiffeur.Half-shut,smoulderingeyeshadmethisforaninstant atdinneracrossthetableandhadtoldhimshewasawomansubtleandcomplex. Slightest shades of meaning she could convey with a lift of the eyebrow or an intonationofthemusicalvoice.Ifshewasalreadyfencingwiththeencroaching years there was little evidence of it in her opulent good looks. She had manifestlyspecializedingracefulidlenessandwaspreparedtomeetwithsuperb confidencethecompetitionofdébutantes.Theelusiveshadowoflostillusions, ofknowledgebornofexperience,wastheonlybetrayalofvanishedyouthinher equipment.
CHAPTERII ENTERAMAN ThewhistleoftheHannahblewfortheTatlahCachelandingwhileStrongand Elliotweretalking.WallySelfridgehadjustbidthreehundredseventyandfound nohelpinthewidow.Hepushedtowardeachoftheotherplayersoneredchip andtwowhiteones. "Can'tmakeit,"heannounced."Ineededajackofclubs." Themencountedtheirchipsandsettledupintimetoreachthedeckrailjust as the gangplank was thrown out to the wharf. The crew transferred to the landingapouchofmail,halfatonofsackedpotatoes,someminingmachinery, andseveralboxescontainingprovisionsanddrygoods. Amancametotheendofthewharfcarryingasuitcase.Hewaswell-set,thick inthechest,andbroad-shouldered.Hecameupthegangplankwiththestrong, firm tread of a man in his prime. Looking down from above, Gordon Elliot guessedhimtobeintheearlythirties. Mrs. Mallory was the first to recognize him, which she did with a drawling littleshoutofwelcome."Ohyou,Mr.Man.Iknewyoufirst.Ispeakforyou," shecried. Themanonthegangplanklookedup,smiled,andliftedtoherhisbroadgray Stetsoninawaveofgreeting. "Howdoyoudo,Mrs.Mallory?Gladtoseeyou." TheminersfromFrozenGulchweregroupedtogetheronthelowerdeck.At sightofthemanwiththesuitcaseasullenmurmurroseamongthem.Thosein the rear pushed forward and closed the lane leading to the cabins. One of the miners was flung roughly against the new passenger. With a wide, powerful sweep of his arm the man who had just come aboard hurled the miner back amonghiscompanions. "Gangway!"hesaidbrusquely,andashestrodeforwarddidnotevenglance inthedirectionoftheangrymenpressingtowardhim.
"Here.Keepbackthere,youfellows.Noneofthatroughstuffgoes,"ordered thematesharply. The big Cornishman who had been tossed aside crouched for a spring. He launched himself forward with the awkward force of a bear. The suitcase describedawhirlingarcofacirclewiththearmofitsownerastheradius.The bagandtheheadoftheminercameintoswiftimpact.Likeabullockwhichhas beenpole-axedthemanwenttothefloor.Heturnedoverwithagroanandlay still. The new passenger looked across the huge, sprawling body at the group of minersfacinghim.Theyglaredinsavagehate.Alltheyneededwasaleaderto sendthemdrivingathimwiththeforceofanavalanche.Themanatwhomthey rageddidnotgiveaninch.Heleanedforwardslightly,hisweightrestingonthe balls of his feet, alert to the finger tips. But in his eyes a grim little smile of derisiveamusementrested. "Next,"hetaunted. Then the mate got busy. He hustled his stevedores forward in front of the miners and shook his fist in their faces as he stormed up and down. If they wantedtrouble,byGod!itwaswaitingfor'em,hesworeinapoplecticfury.The Hannahwasariverboatandnotadiveforwharfrats.Nobunchofroughnecks couldcomeaboardaboatwherehewasmateandstartanything.Theycouldnot assaultanypassengersofhisandmakeitstick. Themanwiththesuitcasedidnotwaittohearouthistirade.Hefollowedthe purser to his stateroom, dropped his baggage beside the berth, and joined the Kusiakgroupontheupperdeck. Theygreetedhimeagerly,alittleeffusively,asiftheywereanxioustoprove themselves on good terms with him. The deference they paid and his assured acceptance of it showed him to be a man of importance. But apart from other considerations,hedominatedbymentalandphysicalvirilitythecircleofwhich heinstantlybecamethecenter.OnlyMrs.Malloryheldherown,andevenshe showed a quickened interest. Her indolent, half-disdainful manner sheathed a softsensuousnessthatheldtheprovocationofsexappeal. "Whatwasthematter?"askedSelfridge."Howdidthetroublestart?" Thebigmanshruggedhisshoulders."Itdidn'tstart.Someoftheoutfitthought
theywerelookingforarow,buttheybalkedonthejobwhenTrelawneygothis." TurningtoMrs.Mallory,hechangedthesubjectabruptly."Didyouhaveagood timedowntheriver?" Gordon, as he watched from a little distance, corrected earlier impressions. This man had passed the thirties. Salt and pepper sprinkled the temples of his strong, lean head. He had the thick neck and solid trunk of middle life, but he carriedhimselfsosuperblythathiswholebearingdeniedthatyearscouldtouch hissplendidphysique.Thesuithe worewasawrinkledcorduroy,withtrouser legsthrustintohigh-lacedboots.Anoutdoortanhadbeenpainteduponhisface andneck,fromthepointwherethesoftflannelshirtfellawaytoshowthefine slopeofthethroatlinetotheshoulders. Stronghadsteppedtothewharftotalkwithanoldacquaintance,butwhenthe boatthrewoutawarningsignalhemadeahurriedgood-byeandcameonboard. HerejoinedElliot. "Well,whatd'youthinkofhim?WasIright?" Theyoungmanhadalreadyguessedwhothisimperiousstrangerwas."Inever sawanybodygetawaywithahardjobaseasilyashedidthatone.Youcouldsee withhalfaneyethatthosefellowsmeantfight.Theywereallprimedforit—and hebluffedthemout." "Bluffedthem—huh!Ifthat'swhatyoucallbluffing.IwaswhereIcouldsee just what happened. Colby Macdonald wasn't even looking at Trelawney, but youbethesawhimstart.Thatsuitcasetraveledlikeastreakoflight.You'd'a' thoughtitweighedabouttwopounds.Thatain'talleither.Macusedhisbrains. Guesswhatwasinthatgrip." "Theusualthing,Isuppose." "You've got another guess—packed in among his socks and underwear was abouttwentypoundsoforesamples.Thepursertoldme.Itwasthatquartzput Trelawneytosleepsothoroughthathe'djustbeguntowakeupwhenIpasseda minuteago." TheyoungmanturnedhiseyesagainuponthebigCanadianScotchman.He wastalkingwithMrs.Mallory,whowasleaningbackluxuriouslyinasteamer chair she had brought aboard at St. Michael's. It would have been hard to conceive a contrast greater than the one between this pampered heiress of the
agesandthemodernbusinessberserkwholookeddownintohermockingeyes. Hewastheembodimentofthedominantmale,—efficienttothelastinchofhis straightsixfeet.Whathewantedhehadalwaystaken,bythesheerstrengththat wasinhim.Backofhersmilinginsolencelayasilkenforcetomatchhisown. Shetoohadtakenwhatshewantedfromlife,butshehadwonitbyindirection. Manifestly she was of those women who conceive that charm and beauty are toolstobendmentotheirwills.Wasittheverywidthofthegulfbetweenthem thatmadetheappealoftheclashinthesexdueluponwhichtheyhadengaged? The dusky young woman with the magazine was the first of those on the upper deck to retire for the night. She flitted so quietly that Gordon did not noticeuntilshehadgone.Mrs.Selfridgeandherfriendsdisappearedwiththeir menfolks,callinggaygood-nightstooneanotherastheyleft. MacdonaldandMrs.Mallorystilltalked.Afteratimeshetoovanished. The big promoter leaned against the deck rail, where he was joined by Selfridge.Foralongtimetheytalkedinlowvoices.Thelittlemanhadmostto say. His chief listened, but occasionally interrupted to ask a sharp, incisive question. Elliot,sittingfartherforwardwithStrong,judgedthatSelfridgewasmakinga reportofhistrip.Oncehecaughtafragmentoftheirtalk,enoughtoconfirmthis impression. "DidWintontellyouthathimself?"demandedtheScotchman. The answer of his employee came in a murmur so low that the words were lost. But the name used told Gordon a good deal. The Commissioner of the GeneralLandOfficeatWashingtonsignedhislettersHaroldB.Winton. Strong tossed the stub of his cigarette overboard and nodded good-night. A glance at his watch told Elliot that it was past two o'clock. He rose, stretched, andsaunteredbacktohisstateroom. Theyoungmanhadjusttakenoffhiscoatwhentherecamethehurriedrushof tramplingfeetuponthehurricanedeckabove.Almostinstantlyheheardacryof alarm. Low voices, quick with suppressed excitement, drifted back to him. He couldheartheshufflingoffootstepsandthesoundofheavybodiesmoving. Some one lifted a frightened shout. "Help! Help!" The call had come, he thought,fromSelfridge.
Gordonflungopenthedoorofhisroom,racedalongthedeck,andtookthe stairs three at a time. A huddle of men swayed and shifted heavily in front of him. So close was the pack that the motion resembled the writhing of some prehistoric monster rather than the movements of individual human beings. In thathalf-lighttossingarmsandlegslookedliketentaclesflungoutinagonyby themammothreptile.Itsprogresswasjerkyandconvulsive,sometimestortuous, but it traveled slowly toward the rail as if by the impulsion of an irresistible pressure. Even as he ran toward the mass, Elliot noticed that the only sounds were grunts,stertorousbreathings,andthescrapingoffeet.Theattackerswantedno publicity. The attacked was too busy to waste breath in futile cries. He was fightingforhislifewithallthestarkenergynatureandhisancestorshadgiven him. Twomen,separatedfromthecrowd,layonthedeckfartheraft.Onewason top of the other, his fingers clutching the gullet of his helpless opponent. The agonyofthemanunderneathfoundexpressiononlyinthedrummingheelsthat beat a tattoo on the floor. The spasmodic feet were shod in Oxford tans of an ultra-fashionablecut.Nodoubttheownerofthesmartfootwearhadbeenpulled downashewasescapingtoshoutthealarm. Therunnerhurdledthetwoinhisstrideandplungedstraightatthestruggling tangle.Hecaughtonemanbytheshouldersfrombehindandflunghimback.He struck hard, smashing blows as he fought his way to the heart of the mêlée. Heavy-fisted miners with corded muscles landed upon his face and head and neck.Thestrangeexcitementofthebattlelustsurgedthroughhisveins.Hedid notcareastrawfortheodds. ThesuddenattackofElliothadopenedthepack.Themanbattlingagainsta dozenwasColbyMacdonald.Theverynumberofhisfoeshadsavedhimsofar frombeingrushedoverboardortrampleddown.Intheirdesiretogetathimthey hinderedeachother,struckblowsthatfoundthewrongmark.Hiscoatandshirt wereinrags.Hewasbruisedandbatteredandbleedingfromthechestup.Buthe wasstillslogginghard. They had him pressed to the rail. A huge miner, head down, had his arms around the waist of the Scotchman and was trying to throw him overboard. Macdonaldlashedoutandlandedflushuponthecheekofamanattemptingto brainhimwithabilletofwood.Hehammeredhomeashort-armjoltagainstthe
earofthegiantwhowasgivinghimthebeargrip. The big miner grunted, but hung on like a football tackler. With a jerk he raised Macdonald from the floor just as three or four others rushed him again. Therailgaveway,splinteredlikekindlingwood.TheScotchmanandthemanat gripswithhimwentoverthesidetogether. ClearandloudrangthevoiceofElliot."Manoverboard!" Thewheelsmanhadknownforsomeminutesthattherewastroubleafoot.He signaledtotheengineroomtoreverseandblewshort,sharpshrieksofwarning. Alreadydeckhandsandofficers,scantilyclad,wereappearingfromforeandaft. "Men overboard—two of 'em!" explained Elliot in a shout from the boat whichhewastryingtolower. The first mate and another man ran to help him. The three of them lowered andmannedtheboat.Gordonsatinthebowandgavedirectionswhiletheother twoputtheirbacksintothestroke.QuitecasuallyElliotnoticedthatthemanin thewaisthadapurplebruiseonhisleftcheekbone.Theyoungmanhimselfhad putittherenotthreeminutessince. Acrossthewatercameacallforhelp."I'msinking—hurry!" Theothermanintheriverwasadozenyardsfromtheoneindistress.With strong,swift,overhandstrokesheshotthroughthewater. "Allright,"hecalledpresently."I'vegothim." Theoarsmendrewalongsidetheswimmer.WithonehandMacdonaldcaught holdoftheedgeoftheboat.Theotherclutchedtherescuedmanbythehairof hishead. "Lookout.You'redrowninghim,"thematewarned. "AmI?"Macdonaldglancedwithmildinterestattheheadthathadbeenuntil thatmomentsubmerged."Showshowabsent-mindedamangets.Iwasthinking abouthowhetriedtodrownme,Iexpect." Theydraggedthemineraboard. "Goahead.I'llswimdown,"Macdonaldordered. "Bettercomeaboard,"advisedthemate.
"No.I'mallright." The Scotchman pushed himself back from the boat and fell into an easy stroke.Nevertheless,therewaspowerinit,forhereachedtheHannahbeforethe rescuedminerhadbeenhelpedtothedeck. A dozen passengers, crowded on the lower deck, pushed forward eagerly to see.AmongthemwasSelfridge,hisshirtandcollartornlooseattheneckand hisimmaculatecheckedsuitdustyanddisheveled.Hewaswearingapairofupto-dateOxfordtans. The Scotch-Canadian shook himself like a Newfoundland dog. He looked aroundwithsardonicamusement,agrinonhisswollenanddisfiguredface. "Quiteapleasantwelcomehome,"hesaidironically,hiscoldeyesfixedona face that looked as if it might have been kicked by a healthy mule. "Eh, Trelawney?" TheCornishmanglaredathim,andturnedawaywithalow,savageoath. "Areyouhurt,Mr.Macdonald?"askedthecaptain. "Hurt!Notatall,Captain.IcutmyselfwhileIwasshavingthismorning—just ascratch,"wastheironicanswer. "There'sbeensomedirtyworkgoingon.I'llseethemenarepunished,sir." "Forgetit,Captain.I'llattendtothatlittlematter."Hisjaunty,almostinsolent glance made the half-circle again. "Sorry you were too late for the party, gentlemen,—most of you. I see three or four of you who were 'among those present.' It was a strictly exclusive affair. And now, if you don't mind, I'll say good-night." He turned on his heel, went up the stairway to the deck above, and disappearedintohisstateroom. Therescuedminer,proppedagainstthecabinwallwherehehadbeenplaced, brokeintosuddenexcitedprotest."Ach!Hetriedtodrownme.Meinhead—he holditunderthewater." "Ain'tthatjustlikeaSwede?"retortedthemateindisgust."Macsaveshislife. ThentheroughneckkicksbecausehegotabellyfullofYukon.SureMacsoused
CHAPTERIII THEGIRLFROMDROGHEDA Gordon Elliot was too much of a night owl to be an early riser, but next morning he was awakened by the tramp of hurried feet along the deck to the accompaniment of brusque orders, together with frequent angry puffing and snorting of the boat. From the quiver of the walls he guessed that the Hannah was stuck on a sandbar. The mate's language gave backing to this surmise. Dividedinmindbetweenhisobligationtothesleepingpassengersandhisduty togettheboatonherway,thatofficerspilledagooddealofsubduedsulphurous languageuponthesituation. "Alltogethernow.Getyourbackintoit.Whyareyourunningaroundlikea chickenwithoutahead,Reeves?"hesnapped. EvidentlythedeckhandswereworkingtogettheHannahoffbypoling. Elliot tried to settle back to sleep, but after two or three ineffectual efforts gaveitup.Heroseanddidoneortwosetting-upexercisestolimberhisjoints. Thefirstoftheseflashedthesignaltohisbrainthathewasstiffandsore.This brought to mind the fight on the hurricane deck, and he smiled. His face was about asmobileas ifitwereinaplastercast.Ithurteverytimehetwitcheda muscle. Theyoungmansteppedtothelooking-glass.Botheyeswereblacked,hislip hadbeencut,andtherewasapurplewealwelluponhisleftcheek.Hestopped himselffromgrinningonlyjustintimetosaveanothertwingeofpain. "Some party while it lasted. I never saw more willing mixers. Everybody seemed anxious to sit in except Mr. Wally Selfridge," he explained to his reflection."ButMacdonaldistheclass.He'stherewithbothrightandleft.That uppercut of his is vicious. Don't ever get in the way of it, Gordon Elliot." He examined his injuries more closely in the glass. "Some one landed a peach on myrightlampandtheotherisinmourningoutofsympathy.Oh,well,Iain'tthe only prize beauty on board this morning." The young man forgot and smiled. "Ouch!Don'tdothat,Gordon.Yes,son.'There'smanyablack,blackeye,they say,butnonesobrightasmine.'Nowisn'tthatthetruth?"
Hebathed,dressed,andwentoutonthedeck. Early though he was, one passenger at least was up before him. The young woman he had noticed last evening with the magazine was doing a constitutional.Aslightbreezewasstirring,andasshemovedagainstitthewhite skirtclungfirsttoonekneeandthentheother,mouldingitselftothelonglines ofherlimbswithexquisitegraceofmotion.Itwasasthoughherwalkwerethe expressionofagallantandbuoyantpersonality. Irish he guessed her when the deep-blue eyes rested on his for an instant as shepassed,andfortifiedhisconjecturebythecoloringoftheclear-skinnedface andthemarksoftheCelticracedelicatelystampeduponit. ThepursercameoutofhisroomandjoinedElliot.Hesmiledatsightofthe youngman'sface. "Yourmap'salittleoutofplumbthismorning,sir,"heventured. "Butyououghttoseetheotherfellow,"camebackGordonboyishly. "I've seen him—several of him. We've got the best collection of bruises on boardIeverclappedeyeson.I'vegottogiveittoyouandMr.Macdonald.You knowhowtohit." "Oh,I'mnotinhisclass." GordonElliotmeantwhathesaid.Hewashimselfanathlete,hadplayedfor threeyearslefttackleonhiscollegeeleven.Morethanonecritichadpickedhim fortheAll-Americateam.Hecoulddohishundredinjustalittleworsethanten seconds. But after all he was a product of training and of the gymnasiums. MacdonaldwaswhatnatureandalonglineoffightingHighlandancestorshad made him. His sinewy, knotted strength, his massive build, the breadth of shoulderanddepthofchest—mushingonlongsnowtrailswasthegymnasium thathadcontributedtothese. The purser chuckled. "He's a good un, Mac is. They say he liked to have drownedNorthrupafterhehadsavedhim." Elliot was again following with his eyes the lilt of the girl's movements. Apparentlyhehadnotheardwhattheofficersaid.Atleasthegavenoanswer. With a grin the purser opened another attack. "Don't blame you a bit, Mr.
Elliot.She'stheprettiestcolleenthateversailedfromDublinBay." Theyoungmanbroughthiseyeshome.Theyansweredengaginglythesmile ofthepurser. "Whoisshe?" "ThenameonthebooksisShebaO'Neill." "FromDublin,yousay." "Oh,ifyouwanttobeliteral,herbaggagesaysDrogheda.IrelandisIrelandto me." "Whereissheboundfor?" "Kusiak." The young woman passed them with a little nod of morning greeting to the purser. Fine and dainty though she was, Miss O'Neill gave an impression of radiantstrength. "Beenwithyouallthewayuptheriver?"askedElliotaftershehadpassed. "Yep.ShecameupontheSkagitfromSeattle." "WhatisshegoingtodoatKusiak?" Againthepursergrinned."Whatdotheyalldo—thegood-lookingones?" "Getmarried,youmean?" "Surest thing you know. Girls coming up ask me what to bring by way of outfit.Iusedtomakeoutalonglist.NowItellthemtobringclothesenoughfor sixweeksandtheirfavoriteweddingmarch." "Isthisgirlengaged?" "Can't prove it by me," said the officer lightly. "But she'll never get out of Alaska a spinster—not that girl. She may be going in to teach, or to run a millinerystore,ortokeepbooksforatradingcompany.She'llstaytobringup kiddiesofherown.Theyalldo." Threechildrencameupthestairway,caughtsightofMissO'Neill,andraced pell-mellacrossthedecktoher.