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Blazed Trail, The

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<SPAN name="link2H_PART1" id="link2H_PART1"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> PART I: THE FOREST </h2> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0001" id="link2HCH0001"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter I </h2> <p> When history has granted him the justice of perspective, we shall know the American Pioneer as one of the most picturesque of her many figures. Resourceful, self-reliant, bold; adapting himself with fluidity to diverse circumstances and conditions; meeting with equal cheerfulness of confidence and completeness of capability both unknown dangers and the perils by which he has been educated; seizing the useful in the lives of the beasts and men nearest him, and assimilating it with marvellous rapidity; he presents to the world a picture of complete adequacy which it would be difficult to match in any other walk of life. He is a strong man, with a strong man's virtues and a strong man's vices. In him the passions are elemental, the dramas epic, for he lives in the age when men are close to nature, and draw from her their forces. He satisfies his needs direct from the earth. Stripped of all the towns can give him, he merely resorts to a facile substitution. It becomes an affair of rawhide for leather, buckskin for cloth, venison for canned tomatoes. We feel that his steps are planted on solid earth, for civilizations may crumble without disturbing his magnificent self-poise. In him we perceive dimly his environment. He has something about him which other men do not possess&mdash;a frank clearness of the eye, a swing of the shoulder, a carriage of the hips, a tilt of the hat, an air of muscular well-being which marks him as belonging to the advance guard, whether he wears buckskin, mackinaw, sombrero, or broadcloth. The woods are there, the plains, the rivers. Snow is there, and the line of the prairie. Mountain peaks and still pine forests have impressed themselves subtly; so that when we turn to admire his unconsciously graceful swing, we seem to hear the ax biting the pine, or the prospector's pick tapping the rock. And in his eye is the capability of quiet humor, which is just the quality that the surmounting of many difficulties will give a man. </p> <p> Like the nature he has fought until he understands, his disposition is at once kindly and terrible. Outside the subtleties of his calling, he sees only red. Relieved of the strenuousness of his occupation, he turns all the force of the wonderful energies that have carried him far where other men would have halted, to channels in which a gentle current makes flood enough. It is the mountain torrent and the canal. Instead of pleasure, he seeks orgies. He runs to wild excesses of drinking, fighting, and carousing&mdash;which would frighten most men to sobriety&mdash;with a happy, reckless spirit that carries him beyond the limits of even his extraordinary forces. </p> <p> This is not the moment to judge him. And yet one cannot help admiring the magnificently picturesque spectacle of such energies running riot. The power is still in evidence, though beyond its proper application. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0002" id="link2HCH0002"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter II </h2> <p> In the network of streams draining the eastern portion of Michigan and known as the Saginaw waters, the great firm of Morrison &amp; Daly had for many years carried on extensive logging operations in the wilderness. The number of their camps was legion, of their employees a multitude. Each spring they had gathered in their capacious booms from thirty to fifty million feet of pine logs. </p> <p> Now at last, in the early eighties, they reached the end of their holdings. Another winter would finish the cut. Two summers would see the great mills at Beeson Lake dismantled or sold, while Mr. Daly, the "woods partner" of the combination, would flit away to the scenes of new and perhaps more extensive operations. At this juncture Mr. Daly called to him John Radway, a man whom he knew to possess extensive experience, a little capital, and a desire for more of both. </p> <p> "Radway," said he, when the two found themselves alone in the mill office, "we expect to cut this year some fifty millions, which will finish our pine holdings in the Saginaw waters. Most of this timber lies over in the Crooked Lake district, and that we expect to put in ourselves. We own, however, five million on the Cass Branch which we would like to log on contract. Would you care to take the job?" </p> <p> "How much a thousand do you give?" asked Radway. </p> <p> "Four dollars," replied the lumberman. </p> <p> "I'll look at it," replied the jobber. </p> <p> So Radway got the "descriptions" and a little map divided into townships, sections, and quarter sections; and went out to look at it. He searched until he found a "blaze" on a tree, the marking on which indicated it as the corner of a section. From this corner the boundary lines were blazed at right angles in either direction. Radway followed the blazed lines. Thus he was able accurately to locate isolated "forties" (forty acres), "eighties," quarter sections, and sections in a primeval wilderness. The feat, however, required considerable woodcraft, an exact sense of direction, and a pocket compass. </p> <p> These resources were still further drawn upon for the next task. Radway tramped the woods, hills, and valleys to determine the most practical route over which to build a logging road from the standing timber to the shores of Cass Branch. He found it to be an affair of some puzzlement. The pines stood on a country rolling with hills, deep with pot-holes. It became necessary to dodge in and out, here and there, between the knolls, around or through the swamps, still keeping, however, the same general direction, and preserving always the requisite level or down grade. Radway had no vantage point from which to survey the country. A city man would promptly have lost himself in the tangle; but the woodsman emerged at last on the banks of the stream, leaving behind him a meandering trail of clipped trees that wound, twisted, doubled, and turned, but kept ever to a country without steep hills. From the main road he purposed arteries to tap the most distant parts. </p> <p> "I'll take it," said he to Daly. </p> <p> Now Radway happened to be in his way a peculiar character. He was acutely sensitive to the human side of those with whom he had dealings. In fact, he was more inclined to take their point of view than to hold his own. For that reason, the subtler disputes were likely to go against him. His desire to avoid coming into direct collision of opinion with the other man, veiled whatever of justice might reside in his own contention. Consequently it was difficult for him to combat sophistry or a plausible appearance of right. Daly was perfectly aware of Radway's peculiarities, and so proceeded to drive a sharp bargain with him. </p> <p> Customarily a jobber is paid a certain proportion of the agreed price as each stage of the work is completed&mdash;so much when the timber is cut; so much when it is skidded, or piled; so much when it is stacked at the river, or banked; so much when the "drive" down the waters of the river is finished. Daly objected to this method of procedure. </p> <p> "You see, Radway," he explained, "it is our last season in the country. When this lot is in, we want to pull up stakes, so we can't take any chances on not getting that timber in. If you don't finish your Job, it keeps us here another season. There can be no doubt, therefore, that you finish your job. In other words, we can't take any chances. If you start the thing, you've got to carry it 'way through." </p> <p> "I think I can, Mr. Daly," the jobber assured him. </p> <p> "For that reason," went on Daly, "we object to paying you as the work progresses. We've got to have a guarantee that you don't quit on us, and that those logs will be driven down the branch as far as the river in time to catch our drive. Therefore I'm going to make you a good price per thousand, but payable only when the logs are delivered to our rivermen." </p> <p> Radway, with his usual mental attitude of one anxious to justify the other man, ended by seeing only his employer's argument. He did not perceive that the latter's proposition introduced into the transaction a gambling element. It became possible for Morrison &amp; Daly to get a certain amount of work, short of absolute completion, done for nothing. </p> <p> "How much does the timber estimate?" he inquired finally. </p> <p> "About five millions." </p> <p> "I'd need a camp of forty or fifty men then. I don't see how I can run such a camp without borrowing." </p> <p> "You have some money, haven't you?" </p> <p> "Yes; a little. But I have a family, too." </p> <p> "That's all right. Now look here." Daly drew towards him a sheet of paper and began to set down figures showing how the financing could be done. Finally it was agreed. Radway was permitted to draw on the Company's warehouse for what provisions he would need. Daly let him feel it as a concession. </p> <p> All this was in August. Radway, who was a good practical woodsman, set about the job immediately. He gathered a crew, established his camp, and began at once to cut roads through the country he had already blazed on his former trip. </p> <p> Those of us who have ever paused to watch a group of farmers working out their road taxes, must have gathered a formidable impression of road-clearing. And the few of us who, besides, have experienced the adventure of a drive over the same highway after the tax has been pronounced liquidated, must have indulged in varied reflections as to the inadequacy of the result. </p> <p> Radway's task was not merely to level out and ballast the six feet of a road-bed already constructed, but to cut a way for five miles through the unbroken wilderness. The way had moreover to be not less than twenty-five feet wide, needed to be absolutely level and free from any kind of obstructions, and required in the swamps liberal ballasting with poles, called corduroys. To one who will take the trouble to recall the variety of woods, thickets, and jungles that go to make up a wooded country&mdash;especially in the creek bottoms where a logging road finds often its levelest way&mdash;and the piles of windfalls, vines, bushes, and scrubs that choke the thickets with a discouraging and inextricable tangle, the clearing of five miles to street width will look like an almost hopeless undertaking. Not only must the growth be removed, but the roots must be cut out, and the inequalities of the ground levelled or filled up. Reflect further that Radway had but a brief time at his disposal,&mdash;but a few months at most,&mdash;and you will then be in a position to gauge the first difficulties of those the American pioneer expects to encounter as a matter of course. The cutting of the road was a mere incident in the battle with the wilderness. </p> <p> The jobber, of course, pushed his roads as rapidly as possible, but was greatly handicapped by lack of men. Winter set in early and surprised him with several of the smaller branches yet to finish. The main line, however, was done. </p> <p> At intervals squares were cut out alongside. In them two long timbers, or skids, were laid andiron-wise for the reception of the piles of logs which would be dragged from the fallen trees. They were called skidways. Then finally the season's cut began. </p> <p> The men who were to fell the trees, Radway distributed along one boundary of a "forty." They were instructed to move forward across the forty in a straight line, felling every pine tree over eight inches in diameter. While the "saw-gangs," three in number, prepared to fell the first trees, other men, called "swampers," were busy cutting and clearing of roots narrow little trails down through the forest from the pine to the skidway at the edge of the logging road. The trails were perhaps three feet wide, and marvels of smoothness, although no attempt was made to level mere inequalities of the ground. They were called travoy roads (French "travois"). Down them the logs would be dragged and hauled, either by means of heavy steel tongs or a short sledge on which one end of the timber would be chained. </p> <p> Meantime the sawyers were busy. Each pair of men selected a tree, the first they encountered over the blazed line of their "forty." After determining in which direction it was to fall, they set to work to chop a deep gash in that side of the trunk. </p> <p> Tom Broadhead and Henry Paul picked out a tremendous pine which they determined to throw across a little open space in proximity to the travoy road. One stood to right, the other to left, and alternately their axes bit deep. It was a beautiful sight this, of experts wielding their tools. The craft of the woodsman means incidentally such a free swing of the shoulders and hips, such a directness of stroke as the blade of one sinks accurately in the gash made by the other, that one never tires of watching the grace of it. Tom glanced up as a sailor looks aloft. </p> <p> "She'll do, Hank," he said. </p> <p> The two then with a dozen half clips of the ax, removed the inequalities of the bark from the saw's path. The long, flexible ribbon of steel began to sing, bending so adaptably to the hands and motions of the men manipulating, that it did not seem possible so mobile an instrument could cut the rough pine. In a moment the song changed timbre. Without a word the men straightened their backs. Tom flirted along the blade a thin stream of kerosene oil from a bottle in his hip pocket, and the sawyers again bent to their work, swaying back and forth rhythmically, their muscles rippling under the texture of their woolens like those of a panther under its skin. The outer edge of the saw-blade disappeared. </p> <p> "Better wedge her, Tom," advised Hank. </p> <p> They paused while, with a heavy sledge, Tom drove a triangle of steel into the crack made by the sawing. This prevented the weight of the tree from pinching the saw, which is a ruin at once to the instrument and the temper of the filer. Then the rhythmical z-z-z! z-z-z! again took up its song. </p> <p> When the trunk was nearly severed, Tom drove another and thicker wedge. </p> <p> "Timber!" hallooed Hank in a long-drawn melodious call that melted through the woods into the distance. The swampers ceased work and withdrew to safety. </p> <p> But the tree stood obstinately upright. So the saw leaped back and forth a few strokes more. </p> <p> "Crack!" called the tree. </p> <p> Hank coolly unhooked his saw handle, and Tom drew the blade through and out the other side. </p> <p> The tree shivered, then leaded ever so slightly from the perpendicular, then fell, at first gently, afterwards with a crescendo rush, tearing through the branches of other trees, bending the small timber, breaking the smallest, and at last hitting with a tremendous crash and bang which filled the air with a fog of small twigs, needles, and the powder of snow, that settled but slowly. There is nothing more impressive than this rush of a pine top, excepting it be a charge of cavalry or the fall of Niagara. Old woodsmen sometimes shout aloud with the mere excitement into which it lifts them. </p> <p> Then the swampers, who had by now finished the travoy road, trimmed the prostrate trunk clear of all protuberances. It required fairly skillful ax work. The branches had to be shaved close and clear, and at the same time the trunk must not be gashed. And often a man was forced to wield his instrument from a constrained position. </p> <p> The chopped branches and limbs had now to be dragged clear and piled. While this was being finished, Tom and Hank marked off and sawed the log lengths, paying due attention to the necessity of avoiding knots, forks, and rotten places. Thus some of the logs were eighteen, some sixteen, or fourteen, and some only twelve feet in length. </p> <p> Next appeared the teamsters with their little wooden sledges, their steel chains, and their tongs. They had been helping the skidders to place the parallel and level beams, or skids, on which the logs were to be piled by the side of the road. The tree which Tom and Hank had just felled lay up a gentle slope from the new travoy road, so little Fabian Laveque, the teamster, clamped the bite of his tongs to the end of the largest, or butt, log. </p> <p> "Allez, Molly!" he cried. </p> <p> The horse, huge, elephantine, her head down, nose close to her chest, intelligently spying her steps, moved. The log half rolled over, slid three feet, and menaced a stump. </p> <p> "Gee!" cried Laveque. </p> <p> Molly stepped twice directly sideways, planted her fore foot on a root she had seen, and pulled sharply. The end of the log slid around the stump. </p> <p> "Allez!" commanded Laveque. </p> <p> And Molly started gingerly down the hill. She pulled the timber, heavy as an iron safe, here and there through the brush, missing no steps, making no false moves, backing, and finally getting out of the way of an unexpected roll with the ease and intelligence of Laveque himself. In five minutes the burden lay by the travoy road. In two minutes more one end of it had been rolled on the little flat wooden sledge and, the other end dragging, it was winding majestically down through the ancient forest. The little Frenchman stood high on the forward end. Molly stepped ahead carefully, with the strange intelligence of the logger's horse. Through the tall, straight, decorative trunks of trees the little convoy moved with the massive pomp of a dead warrior's cortege. And little Fabian Laveque, singing, a midget in the vastness, typified the indomitable spirit of these conquerors of a wilderness. </p> <p> When Molly and Fabian had travoyed the log to the skidway, they drew it with a bump across the two parallel skids, and left it there to be rolled to the top of the pile. </p> <p> Then Mike McGovern and Bob Stratton and Jim Gladys took charge of it. Mike and Bob were running the cant-hooks, while Jim stood on top of the great pile of logs already decked. A slender, pliable steel chain, like a gray snake, ran over the top of the pile and disappeared through a pulley to an invisible horse,&mdash;Jenny, the mate of Molly. Jim threw the end of this chain down. Bob passed it over and under the log and returned it to Jim, who reached down after it with the hook of his implement. Thus the stick of timber rested in a long loop, one end of which led to the invisible horse, and the other Jim made fast to the top of the pile. He did so by jamming into another log the steel swamp-hook with which the chain was armed. When all was made fast, the horse started. </p> <p> "She's a bumper!" said Bob. "Look out, Mike!" </p> <p> The log slid to the foot of the two parallel poles laid slanting up the face of the pile. Then it trembled on the ascent. But one end stuck for an instant, and at once the log took on a dangerous slant. Quick as light Bob and Mike sprang forward, gripped the hooks of the cant-hooks, like great thumbs and forefingers, and, while one held with all his power, the other gave a sharp twist upward. The log straightened. It was a master feat of power, and the knack of applying strength justly. </p> <p> At the top of the little incline, the timber hovered for a second. </p> <p> "One more!" sang out Jim to the driver. He poised, stepped lightly up and over, and avoided by the safe hair's breadth being crushed when the log rolled. But it did not lie quite straight and even. So Mike cut a short thick block, and all three stirred the heavy timber sufficiently to admit of the billet's insertion. </p> <p> Then the chain was thrown down for another. </p> <p> Jenny, harnessed only to a straight short bar with a hook in it, leaned to her collar and dug in her hoofs at the word of command. The driver, close to her tail, held fast the slender steel chain by an ingenious hitch about the ever-useful swamp-hook. When Jim shouted "whoa!" from the top of the skidway, the driver did not trouble to stop the horse,&mdash;he merely let go the hook. So the power was shut off suddenly, as is meet and proper in such ticklish business. He turned and walked back, and Jenny, like a dog, without the necessity of command, followed him in slow patience. </p> <p> Now came Dyer, the scaler, rapidly down the logging road, a small slender man with a little, turned-up mustache. The men disliked him because of his affectation of a city smartness, and because he never ate with them, even when there was plenty of room. Radway had confidence in him because he lived in the same shanty with him. This one fact a good deal explains Radway's character. The scaler's duty at present was to measure the diameter of the logs in each skidway, and so compute the number of board feet. At the office he tended van, kept the books, and looked after supplies. </p> <p> He approached the skidway swiftly, laid his flexible rule across the face of each log, made a mark on his pine tablets in the column to which the log belonged, thrust the tablet in the pocket of his coat, seized a blue crayon, in a long holder, with which he made an 8 as indication that the log had been scaled, and finally tapped several times strongly with a sledge hammer. On the face of the hammer in relief was an M inside of a delta. This was the Company's brand, and so the log was branded as belonging to them. He swarmed all over the skidway, rapid and absorbed, in strange contrast of activity to the slower power of the actual skidding. In a moment he moved on to the next scene of operations without having said a word to any of the men. </p> <p> "A fine t'ing!" said Mike, spitting. </p> <p> So day after day the work went on. Radway spent his time tramping through the woods, figuring on new work, showing the men how to do things better or differently, discussing minute expedients with the blacksmith, the carpenter, the cook. </p> <p> He was not without his troubles. First he had not enough men; the snow lacked, and then came too abundantly; horses fell sick of colic or caulked themselves; supplies ran low unexpectedly; trees turned out "punk"; a certain bit of ground proved soft for travoying, and so on. At election-time, of course, a number of the men went out. </p> <p> And one evening, two days after election-time, another and important character entered the North woods and our story. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0003" id="link2HCH0003"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter III </h2> <p> On the evening in question, some thirty or forty miles southeast of Radway's camp, a train was crawling over a badly laid track which led towards the Saginaw Valley. The whole affair was very crude. To the edge of the right-of-way pushed the dense swamp, like a black curtain shutting the virgin country from the view of civilization. Even by daylight the sight could have penetrated but a few feet. The right-of-way itself was rough with upturned stumps, blackened by fire, and gouged by many and varied furrows. Across the snow were tracks of animals. </p> <p> The train consisted of a string of freight cars, one coach divided half and half between baggage and smoker, and a day car occupied by two silent, awkward women and a child. In the smoker lounged a dozen men. They were of various sizes and descriptions, but they all wore heavy blanket mackinaw coats, rubber shoes, and thick German socks tied at the knee. This constituted, as it were, a sort of uniform. The air was so thick with smoke that the men had difficulty in distinguishing objects across the length of the car. </p> <p> The passengers sprawled in various attitudes. Some hung their legs over the arms of the seats; others perched their feet on the backs of the seats in front; still others slouched in corners, half reclining. Their occupations were as diverse. Three nearest the baggage-room door attempted to sing, but without much success. A man in the corner breathed softly through a mouth organ, to the music of which his seat mate, leaning his head sideways, gave close attention. One big fellow with a square beard swaggered back and forth down the aisle offering to everyone refreshment from a quart bottle. It was rarely refused. Of the dozen, probably three quarters were more or less drunk. </p> <p> After a time the smoke became too dense. A short, thick-set fellow with an evil dark face coolly thrust his heel through a window. The conductor, who, with the brakeman and baggage master, was seated in the baggage van, heard the jingle of glass. He arose. </p> <p> "Guess I'll take up tickets," he remarked. "Perhaps it will quiet the boys down a little." </p> <p> The conductor was a big man, raw-boned and broad, with a hawk face. His every motion showed lean, quick, panther-like power. </p> <p> "Let her went," replied the brakeman, rising as a matter of course to follow his chief. </p> <p> The brakeman was stocky, short, and long armed. In the old fighting days Michigan railroads chose their train officials with an eye to their superior deltoids. A conductor who could not throw an undesirable fare through a car window lived a short official life. The two men loomed on the noisy smoking compartment. </p> <p> "Tickets, please!" clicked the conductor sharply. </p> <p> Most of the men began to fumble about in their pockets, but the three singers and the one who had been offering the quart bottle did not stir. </p> <p> "Ticket, Jack!" repeated the conductor, "come on, now." </p> <p> The big bearded man leaned uncertainly against the seat. </p> <p> "Now look here, Bud," he urged in wheedling tones, "I ain't got no ticket. You know how it is, Bud. I blows my stake." He fished uncertainly in his pocket and produced the quart bottle, nearly empty, "Have a drink?" </p> <p> "No," said the conductor sharply. </p> <p> "A' right," replied Jack, amiably, "take one myself." He tipped the bottle, emptied it, and hurled it through a window. The conductor paid no apparent attention to the breaking of the glass. </p> <p> "If you haven't any ticket, you'll have to get off," said he. </p> <p> The big man straightened up. </p> <p> "You go to hell!" he snorted, and with the sole of his spiked boot delivered a mighty kick at the conductor's thigh. </p> <p> The official, agile as a wild cat, leaped back, then forward, and knocked the man half the length of the car. You see, he was used to it. Before Jack could regain his feet the official stood over him. </p> <p> The three men in the corner had also risen, and were staggering down the aisle intent on battle. The conductor took in the chances with professional rapidity. </p> <p> "Get at 'em, Jimmy," said he. </p> <p> And as the big man finally swayed to his feet, he was seized by the collar and trousers in the grip known to "bouncers" everywhere, hustled to the door, which someone obligingly opened, and hurled from the moving train into the snow. The conductor did not care a straw whether the obstreperous Jack lit on his head or his feet, hit a snowbank or a pile of ties. Those were rough days, and the preservation of authority demanded harsh measures. </p> <p> Jimmy had got at 'em in a method of his own. He gathered himself into a ball of potential trouble, and hurled himself bodily at the legs of his opponents which he gathered in a mighty bear hug. It would have been poor fighting had Jimmy to carry the affair to a finish by himself, but considered as an expedient to gain time for the ejectment proceedings, it was admirable. The conductor returned to find a kicking, rolling, gouging mass of kinetic energy knocking the varnish off all one end of the car. A head appearing, he coolly batted it three times against a corner of the seat arm, after which he pulled the contestant out by the hair and threw him into a seat where he lay limp. Then it could be seen that Jimmy had clasped tight in his embrace a leg each of the other two. He hugged them close to his breast, and jammed his face down against them to protect his features. They could pound the top of his head and welcome. The only thing he really feared was a kick in the side, and for that there was hardly room. </p> <p> The conductor stood over the heap, at a manifest advantage. </p> <p> "You lumber-jacks had enough, or do you want to catch it plenty?" </p> <p> The men, drunk though they were, realized their helplessness. They signified they had had enough. Jimmy thereupon released them and stood up, brushing down his tousled hair with his stubby fingers. </p> <p> "Now is it ticket or bounce?" inquired the conductor. </p> <p> After some difficulty and grumbling, the two paid their fare and that of the third, who was still dazed. In return the conductor gave them slips. Then he picked his lantern from the overhead rack whither he had tossed it, slung it on his left arm, and sauntered on down the aisle punching tickets. Behind him followed Jimmy. When he came to the door he swung across the platform with the easy lurch of the trainman, and entered the other car, where he took the tickets of the two women and the boy. One sitting in the second car would have been unable to guess from the bearing or manner of the two officials that anything had gone wrong. </p> <p> The interested spectators of the little drama included two men near the water-cooler who were perfectly sober. One of them was perhaps a little past the best of life, but still straight and vigorous. His lean face was leather-brown in contrast to a long mustache and heavy eyebrows bleached nearly white, his eyes were a clear steady blue, and his frame was slender but wiry. He wore the regulation mackinaw blanket coat, a peaked cap with an extraordinarily high crown, and buckskin moccasins over long stockings. </p> <p> The other was younger, not more than twenty-six perhaps, with the clean-cut, regular features we have come to consider typically American. Eyebrows that curved far down along the temples, and eyelashes of a darkness in contrast to the prevailing note of his complexion combined to lend him a rather brooding, soft, and melancholy air which a very cursory second examination showed to be fictitious. His eyes, like the woodsman's, were steady, but inquiring. His jaw was square and settled, his mouth straight. One would be likely to sum him up as a man whose actions would be little influenced by glamour or even by the sentiments. And yet, equally, it was difficult to rid the mind of the impression produced by his eyes. Unlike the other inmates of the car, he wore an ordinary business suit, somewhat worn, but of good cut, and a style that showed even over the soft flannel shirt. The trousers were, however, bound inside the usual socks and rubbers. </p> <p> The two seat mates had occupied their time each in his own fashion. To the elder the journey was an evil to be endured with the patience learned in watching deer runways, so he stared straight before him, and spat with a certain periodicity into the centre of the aisle. The younger stretched back lazily in an attitude of ease which spoke of the habit of travelling. Sometimes he smoked a pipe. Thrice he read over a letter. It was from his sister, and announced her arrival at the little rural village in which he had made arrangements for her to stay. "It is interesting,&mdash;now," she wrote, "though the resources do not look as though they would wear well. I am learning under Mrs. Renwick to sweep and dust and bake and stew and do a multitude of other things which I always vaguely supposed came ready-made. I like it; but after I have learned it all, I do not believe the practise will appeal to me much. However, I can stand it well enough for a year or two or three, for I am young; and then you will have made your everlasting fortune, of course." </p> <p> Harry Thorpe experienced a glow of pride each time he read this part of the letter. He liked the frankness of the lack of pretence; he admired the penetration and self-analysis which had taught her the truth that, although learning a new thing is always interesting, the practising of an old one is monotonous. And her pluck appealed to him. It is not easy for a girl to step from the position of mistress of servants to that of helping about the housework of a small family in a small town for the sake of the home to be found in it. </p> <p> "She's a trump!" said Thorpe to himself, "and she shall have her everlasting fortune, if there's such a thing in the country." </p> <p> He jingled the three dollars and sixty cents in his pocket, and smiled. That was the extent of his everlasting fortune at present. </p> <p> The letter had been answered from Detroit. </p> <p> "I am glad you are settled," he wrote. "At least I know you have enough to eat and a roof over you. I hope sincerely that you will do your best to fit yourself to your new conditions. I know it is hard, but with my lack of experience and my ignorance as to where to take hold, it may be a good many years before we can do any better." </p> <p> When Helen Thorpe read this, she cried. Things had gone wrong that morning, and an encouraging word would have helped her. The somber tone of her brother's communication threw her into a fit of the blues from which, for the first time, she saw her surroundings in a depressing and distasteful light. And yet he had written as he did with the kindest possible motives. </p> <p> Thorpe had the misfortune to be one of those individuals who, though careless of what people in general may think of them, are in a corresponding degree sensitive to the opinion of the few they love. This feeling was further exaggerated by a constitutional shrinking from any outward manifestation of the emotions. As a natural result, he was often thought indifferent or discouraging when in reality his natural affections were at their liveliest. A failure to procure for a friend certain favors or pleasures dejected him, not only because of that friend's disappointment, but because, also, he imagined the failure earned him a certain blame. Blame from his heart's intimates he shrank from. His life outside the inner circles of his affections was apt to be so militant and so divorced from considerations of amity, that as a matter of natural reaction he became inclined to exaggerate the importance of small objections, little reproaches, slight criticisms from his real friends. Such criticisms seemed to bring into a sphere he would have liked to keep solely for the mutual reliance of loving kindness, something of the hard utilitarianism of the world at large. In consequence he gradually came to choose the line of least resistance, to avoid instinctively even the slightly disagreeable. Perhaps for this reason he was never entirely sincere with those he loved. He showed enthusiasm over any plan suggested by them, for the reason that he never dared offer a merely problematical anticipation. The affair had to be absolutely certain in his own mind before he ventured to admit anyone to the pleasure of looking forward to it,&mdash;and simply because he so feared the disappointment in case anything should go wrong. He did not realize that not only is the pleasure of anticipation often the best, but that even disappointment, provided it happen through excusable causes, strengthens the bonds of affection through sympathy. We do not want merely results from a friend&mdash;merely finished products. We like to be in at the making, even though the product spoil. </p> <p> This unfortunate tendency, together with his reserve, lent him the false attitude of a rather cold, self-centered man, discouraging suggestions at first only to adopt them later in the most inexplicable fashion, and conferring favors in a ready-made impersonal manner which destroyed utterly their quality as favors. In reality his heart hungered for the affection which this false attitude generally repelled. He threw the wet blanket of doubt over warm young enthusiasms because his mind worked with a certain deliberateness which did not at once permit him to see the practicability of the scheme. Later he would approve. But by that time, probably, the wet blanket had effectually extinguished the glow. You cannot always savor your pleasures cold. </p> <p> So after the disgrace of his father, Harry Thorpe did a great deal of thinking and planning which he kept carefully to himself. He considered in turn the different occupations to which he could turn his hand, and negatived them one by one. Few business firms would care to employ the son of as shrewd an embezzler as Henry Thorpe. Finally he came to a decision. He communicated this decision to his sister. It would have commended itself more logically to her had she been able to follow step by step the considerations that had led her brother to it. As the event turned, she was forced to accept it blindly. She knew that her brother intended going West, but as to his hopes and plans she was in ignorance. A little sympathy, a little mutual understanding would have meant a great deal to her, for a girl whose mother she but dimly remembers, turns naturally to her next of kin. Helen Thorpe had always admired her brother, but had never before needed him. She had looked upon him as strong, self-contained, a little moody. Now the tone of his letter caused her to wonder whether he were not also a trifle hard and cold. So she wept on receiving it, and the tears watered the ground for discontent. </p> <p> At the beginning of the row in the smoking car, Thorpe laid aside his letter and watched with keen appreciation the direct practicality of the trainmen's method. When the bearded man fell before the conductor's blow, he turned to the individual at his side. </p> <p> "He knows how to hit, doesn't he!" he observed. "That fellow was knocked well off his feet." </p> <p> "He does," agreed the other dryly. </p> <p> They fell into a desultory conversation of fits and starts. Woodsmen of the genuine sort are never talkative; and Thorpe, as has been explained, was constitutionally reticent. In the course of their disjointed remarks Thorpe explained that he was looking for work in the woods, and intended, first of all, to try the Morrison &amp; Daly camps at Beeson Lake. </p> <p> "Know anything about logging?" inquired the stranger. </p> <p> "Nothing," Thorpe confessed. </p> <p> "Ain't much show for anything but lumber-jacks. What did you think of doing?" </p> <p> "I don't know," said Thorpe, doubtfully. "I have driven horses a good deal; I thought I might drive team." </p> <p> The woodsman turned slowly and looked Thorpe over with a quizzical eye. Then he faced to the front again and spat. </p> <p> "Quite like," he replied still more dryly. </p> <p> The boy's remark had amused him, and he had showed it, as much as he ever showed anything. Excepting always the riverman, the driver of a team commands the highest wages among out-of-door workers. He has to be able to guide his horses by little steps over, through, and around slippery and bristling difficulties. He must acquire the knack of facing them square about in their tracks. He must hold them under a control that will throw into their collars, at command, from five pounds to their full power of pull, lasting from five seconds to five minutes. And above all, he must be able to keep them out of the way of tremendous loads of logs on a road which constant sprinkling has rendered smooth and glassy, at the same time preventing the long tongue from sweeping them bodily against leg-breaking debris when a curve in the road is reached. It is easier to drive a fire engine than a logging team. </p> <p> But in spite of the naivete of the remark, the woodsman had seen something in Thorpe he liked. Such men become rather expert in the reading of character, and often in a log shanty you will hear opinions of a shrewdness to surprise you. He revised his first intention to let the conversation drop. </p> <p> "I think M. &amp; D. is rather full up just now," he remarked. "I'm walkin'-boss there. The roads is about all made, and road-making is what a greenhorn tackles first. They's more chance earlier in the year. But if the OLD Fellow" (he strongly accented the first word) "h'aint nothin' for you, just ask for Tim Shearer, an' I'll try to put you on the trail for some jobber's camp." </p> <p> The whistle of the locomotive blew, and the conductor appeared in the doorway. </p> <p> "Where's that fellow's turkey?" he inquired. </p> <p> Several men looked toward Thorpe, who, not understanding this argot of the camps, was a little bewildered. Shearer reached over his head and took from the rack a heavy canvas bag, which he handed to the conductor. </p> <p> "That's the 'turkey'&mdash;" he explained, "his war bag. Bud'll throw it off at Scott's, and Jack'll get it there." </p> <p> "How far back is he?" asked Thorpe. </p> <p> "About ten mile. He'll hoof it in all right." </p> <p> A number of men descended at Scott's. The three who had come into collision with Jimmy and Bud were getting noisier. They had produced a stone jug, and had collected the remainder of the passengers,&mdash;with the exception of Shearer and Thorpe,&mdash;and now were passing the jug rapidly from hand to hand. Soon they became musical, striking up one of the weird long-drawn-out chants so popular with the shanty boy. Thorpe shrewdly guessed his companion to be a man of weight, and did not hesitate to ascribe his immunity from annoyance to the other's presence. </p> <p> "It's a bad thing," said the walking-boss, "I used to be at it myself, and I know. When I wanted whisky, I needed it worse than a scalded pup does a snow bank. The first year I had a hundred and fifty dollars, and I blew her all in six days. Next year I had a little more, but she lasted me three weeks. That was better. Next year, I says to myself, I'll just save fifty of that stake, and blow the rest. So I did. After that I got to be scaler, and sort've quit. I just made a deal with the Old Fellow to leave my stake with headquarters no matter whether I call for it or not. I got quite a lot coming, now." </p> <p> "Bees'n Lake!" cried Jimmy fiercely through an aperture of the door. </p> <p> "You'll find th' boardin'-house just across over the track," said the woodsman, holding out his hand, "so long. See you again if you don't find a job with the Old Fellow. My name's Shearer." </p> <p> "Mine is Thorpe," replied the other. "Thank you." </p> <p> The woodsman stepped forward past the carousers to the baggage compartment, where he disappeared. The revellers stumbled out the other door. </p> <p> Thorpe followed and found himself on the frozen platform of a little dark railway station. As he walked, the boards shrieked under his feet and the sharp air nipped at his face and caught his lungs. Beyond the fence-rail protection to the side of the platform he thought he saw the suggestion of a broad reach of snow, a distant lurking forest, a few shadowy buildings looming mysterious in the night. The air was twinkling with frost and the brilliant stars of the north country. </p> <p> Directly across the track from the railway station, a single building was picked from the dark by a solitary lamp in a lower-story room. The four who had descended before Thorpe made over toward this light, stumbling and laughing uncertainly, so he knew it was probably in the boarding-house, and prepared to follow them. Shearer and the station agent,&mdash;an individual much muffled,&mdash;turned to the disposition of some light freight that had been dropped from the baggage car. </p> <p> The five were met at the steps by the proprietor of the boarding-house. This man was short and stout, with a harelip and cleft palate, which at once gave him the well-known slurring speech of persons so afflicted, and imparted also to the timbre of his voice a peculiarly hollow, resonant, trumpet-like note. He stumped about energetically on a wooden leg of home manufacture. It was a cumbersome instrument, heavy, with deep pine socket for the stump, and a projecting brace which passed under a leather belt around the man's waist. This instrument he used with the dexterity of a third hand. As Thorpe watched him, he drove in a projecting nail, kicked two "turkeys" dexterously inside the open door, and stuck the armed end of his peg-leg through the top and bottom of the whisky jug that one of the new arrivals had set down near the door. The whisky promptly ran out. At this the cripple flirted the impaled jug from the wooden leg far out over the rail of the verandah into the snow. </p> <p> A growl went up. </p> <p> "What'n hell's that for I!" snarled one of the owners of the whisky threateningly. </p> <p> "Don't allow no whisky here," snuffed the harelip. </p> <p> The men were very angry. They advanced toward the cripple, who retreated with astonishing agility to the lighted room. There he bent the wooden leg behind him, slipped the end of the brace from beneath the leather belt, seized the other, peg end in his right hand, and so became possessed of a murderous bludgeon. This he brandished, hopping at the same time back and forth in such perfect poise and yet with so ludicrous an effect of popping corn, that the men were surprised into laughing. </p> <p> "Bully for you, peg-leg!" they cried. </p> <p> "Rules 'n regerlations, boys," replied the latter, without, however, a shade of compromising in his tones. "Had supper?" </p> <p> On receiving a reply in the affirmative, he caught up the lamp, and, having resumed his artificial leg in one deft motion, led the way to narrow little rooms. </p> <p>
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