"This out of all will remain-- 8 страница

"This out of all will remain-- 8 страница

"There'll be a check at the post-office, I know, and we'll transmute it

into beautiful buckwheat flour, a gallon of maple syrup, and a new pair

of overshoes for you."

"And into beautiful milk from Mrs. Johnson's beautiful cow," Madge added.

"To-morrow's the first of the month, you know."

Walt scowled unconsciously; then his face brightened, and he clapped his

hand to his breast pocket.

"Never mind. I have here a nice beautiful new cow, the best milker in

California."

"When did you write it?" she demanded eagerly. Then, reproachfully, "And

you never showed it to me."

"I saved it "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница to read to you on the way to the post-office, in a spot

remarkably like this one," he answered, indicating, with a wave of his

hand, a dry log on which to sit.

A tiny stream flowed out of a dense fern-brake, slipped down a

mossy-lipped stone, and ran across the path at their feet. From the

valley arose the mellow song of meadow-larks, while about them, in and

out, through sunshine and shadow, fluttered great yellow butterflies.

Up from below came another sound that broke in upon Walt reading softly

from his manuscript. It was a crunching of heavy feet, punctuated "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница now

and again by the clattering of a displaced stone. As Walt finished and

looked to his wife for approval, a man came into view around the turn of

the trail. He was bare-headed and sweaty. With a handkerchief in one

hand he mopped his face, while in the other hand he carried a new hat and

a wilted starched collar which he had removed from his neck. He was a

well-built man, and his muscles seemed on the point of bursting out of

the painfully new and ready-made black clothes he wore.

"Warm day," Walt greeted him. Walt believed in "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница country democracy, and

never missed an opportunity to practise it.

The man paused and nodded.

"I guess I ain't used much to the warm," he vouchsafed half

apologetically. "I'm more accustomed to zero weather."

"You don't find any of that in this country," Walt laughed.

"Should say not," the man answered. "An' I ain't here a-lookin' for it

neither. I'm tryin' to find my sister. Mebbe you know where she lives.

Her name's Johnson, Mrs. William Johnson."

"You're not her Klondike brother!" Madge cried, her eyes bright with

interest, "about whom we've heard "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница so much?"

"Yes'm, that's me," he answered modestly. "My name's Miller, Skiff

Miller. I just thought I'd s'prise her."

"You are on the right track then. Only you've come by the foot-path."

Madge stood up to direct him, pointing up the canyon a quarter of a mile.

"You see that blasted redwood? Take the little trail turning off to the

right. It's the short cut to her house. You can't miss it."

"Yes'm, thank you, ma'am," he said. He made tentative efforts to go, but

seemed awkwardly rooted to the spot "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница. He was gazing at her with an open

admiration of which he was quite unconscious, and which was drowning,

along with him, in the rising sea of embarrassment in which he

floundered.

"We'd like to hear you tell about the Klondike," Madge said. "Mayn't we

come over some day while you are at your sister's? Or, better yet, won't

you come over and have dinner with us?"

"Yes'm, thank you, ma'am," he mumbled mechanically. Then he caught

himself up and added: "I ain't stoppin' long. I got to be pullin' north

again. I go out on to-night "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница's train. You see, I've got a mail contract

with the government."

When Madge had said that it was too bad, he made another futile effort to

go. But he could not take his eyes from her face. He forgot his

embarrassment in his admiration, and it was her turn to flush and feel

uncomfortable.

It was at this juncture, when Walt had just decided it was time for him

to be saying something to relieve the strain, that Wolf, who had been

away nosing through the brush, trotted wolf-like into view.



Skiff Miller's abstraction disappeared. The pretty woman before him

passed out "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница of his field of vision. He had eyes only for the dog, and a

great wonder came into his face.

"Well, I'll be damned!" he enunciated slowly and solemnly.

He sat down ponderingly on the log, leaving Madge standing. At the sound

of his voice, Wolf's ears had flattened down, then his mouth had opened

in a laugh. He trotted slowly up to the stranger and first smelled his

hands, then licked them with his tongue.

Skiff Miller patted the dog's head, and slowly and solemnly repeated,

"Well, I'll be damned!"

"Excuse me, ma'am," he said the next moment "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница "I was just s'prised some,

that was all."

"We're surprised, too," she answered lightly. "We never saw Wolf make up

to a stranger before."

"Is that what you call him--Wolf?" the man asked.

Madge nodded. "But I can't understand his friendliness toward you--unless

it's because you're from the Klondike. He's a Klondike dog, you know."

"Yes'm," Miller said absently. He lifted one of Wolf's fore legs and

examined the foot-pads, pressing them and denting them with his thumb.

"Kind of soft," he remarked. "He ain't been on trail for a long time "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница."

"I say," Walt broke in, "it is remarkable the way he lets you handle

him."

Skiff Miller arose, no longer awkward with admiration of Madge, and in a

sharp, businesslike manner asked, "How long have you had him?"

But just then the dog, squirming and rubbing against the newcomer's legs,

opened his mouth and barked. It was an explosive bark, brief and joyous,

but a bark.

"That's a new one on me," Skiff Miller remarked.

Walt and Madge stared at each other. The miracle had happened. Wolf had

barked.

"It's the first time he ever barked," Madge said.

"First "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница time I ever heard him, too," Miller volunteered.

Madge smiled at him. The man was evidently a humorist.

"Of course," she said, "since you have only seen him for five minutes."

Skiff Miller looked at her sharply, seeking in her face the guile her

words had led him to suspect.

"I thought you understood," he said slowly. "I thought you'd tumbled to

it from his makin' up to me. He's my dog. His name ain't Wolf. It's

Brown."

"Oh, Walt!" was Madge's instinctive cry to her husband.

Walt was on the defensive at once.

"How "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница do you know he's your dog?" he demanded.

"Because he is," was the reply.

"Mere assertion," Walt said sharply.

In his slow and pondering way, Skiff Miller looked at him, then asked,

with a nod of his head toward Madge:

"How d'you know she's your wife? You just say, 'Because she is,' and

I'll say it's mere assertion. The dog's mine. I bred 'm an' raised 'm,

an' I guess I ought to know. Look here. I'll prove it to you."

Skiff Miller turned to the dog. "Brown!" His voice rang out sharply,

and at "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница the sound the dog's ears flattened down as to a caress. "Gee!"

The dog made a swinging turn to the right. "Now mush-on!" And the dog

ceased his swing abruptly and started straight ahead, halting obediently

at command.

"I can do it with whistles," Skiff Miller said proudly. "He was my lead

dog."

"But you are not going to take him away with you?" Madge asked

tremulously.

The man nodded.

"Back into that awful Klondike world of suffering?"

He nodded and added: "Oh, it ain't so bad as all that. Look at me.

Pretty healthy specimen, ain't I "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница?"

"But the dogs! The terrible hardship, the heart-breaking toil, the

starvation, the frost! Oh, I've read about it and I know."

"I nearly ate him once, over on Little Fish River," Miller volunteered

grimly. "If I hadn't got a moose that day was all that saved 'm."

"I'd have died first!" Madge cried.

"Things is different down here," Miller explained. "You don't have to

eat dogs. You think different just about the time you're all in. You've

never ben all in, so you don't know anything about it."

"That's the very point," she argued "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница warmly. "Dogs are not eaten in

California. Why not leave him here? He is happy. He'll never want for

food--you know that. He'll never suffer from cold and hardship. Here

all is softness and gentleness. Neither the human nor nature is savage.

He will never know a whip-lash again. And as for the weather--why, it

never snows here."

"But it's all-fired hot in summer, beggin' your pardon," Skiff Miller

laughed.

"But you do not answer," Madge continued passionately. "What have you to

offer him in that northland life?"

"Grub, when I've got it, and that "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница's most of the time," came the answer.

"And the rest of the time?"

"No grub."

"And the work?"

"Yes, plenty of work," Miller blurted out impatiently. "Work without

end, an' famine, an' frost, an all the rest of the miseries--that's what

he'll get when he comes with me. But he likes it. He is used to it. He

knows that life. He was born to it an' brought up to it. An' you don't

know anything about it. You don't know what you're talking about. That's

where the dog belongs, and that's where he'll be happiest."

"The "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница dog doesn't go," Walt announced in a determined voice. "So there is

no need of further discussion."

"What's that?" Skiff Miller demanded, his brows lowering and an obstinate

flush of blood reddening his forehead.

"I said the dog doesn't go, and that settles it. I don't believe he's

your dog. You may have seen him sometime. You may even sometime have

driven him for his owner. But his obeying the ordinary driving commands

of the Alaskan trail is no demonstration that he is yours. Any dog in

Alaska would obey you as he obeyed. Besides, he is undoubtedly a

valuable "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница dog, as dogs go in Alaska, and that is sufficient explanation of

your desire to get possession of him. Anyway, you've got to prove

property."

Skiff Miller, cool and collected, the obstinate flush a trifle deeper on

his forehead, his huge muscles bulging under the black cloth of his coat,

carefully looked the poet up and down as though measuring the strength of

his slenderness.

The Klondiker's face took on a contemptuous expression as he said

finally, "I reckon there's nothin' in sight to prevent me takin' the dog

right here an' now."

Walt's face reddened, and the striking-muscles of "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница his arms and shoulders

seemed to stiffen and grow tense. His wife fluttered apprehensively into

the breach.

"Maybe Mr. Miller is right," she said. "I am afraid that he is. Wolf

does seem to know him, and certainly he answers to the name of 'Brown.'

He made friends with him instantly, and you know that's something he

never did with anybody before. Besides, look at the way he barked. He

was just bursting with joy. Joy over what? Without doubt at finding Mr.

Miller."

Walt's striking-muscles relaxed, and his shoulders seemed to droop with

hopelessness.

"I guess you're right, Madge "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница," he said. "Wolf isn't Wolf, but Brown, and

he must belong to Mr. Miller."

"Perhaps Mr. Miller will sell him," she suggested. "We can buy him."

Skiff Miller shook his head, no longer belligerent, but kindly, quick to

be generous in response to generousness.

"I had five dogs," he said, casting about for the easiest way to temper

his refusal. "He was the leader. They was the crack team of Alaska.

Nothin' could touch 'em. In 1898 I refused five thousand dollars for the

bunch. Dogs was high, then, anyway; but that wasn't what made the fancy

price. It was the team itself. Brown was "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница the best in the team. That

winter I refused twelve hundred for 'm. I didn't sell 'm then, an' I

ain't a-sellin' 'm now. Besides, I think a mighty lot of that dog. I've

ben lookin' for 'm for three years. It made me fair sick when I found

he'd ben stole--not the value of him, but the--well, I liked 'm like

hell, that's all, beggin' your pardon. I couldn't believe my eyes when I

seen 'm just now. I thought I was dreamin'. It was too good to be true.

Why, I was his wet "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница-nurse. I put 'm to bed, snug every night. His mother

died, and I brought 'm up on condensed milk at two dollars a can when I

couldn't afford it in my own coffee. He never knew any mother but me. He

used to suck my finger regular, the darn little cuss--that finger right

there!"

And Skiff Miller, too overwrought for speech, held up a fore finger for

them to see.

"That very finger," he managed to articulate, as though it somehow

clinched the proof of ownership and the bond of affection.

He was still gazing at his extended finger "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница when Madge began to speak.

"But the dog," she said. "You haven't considered the dog."

Skiff Miller looked puzzled.

"Have you thought about him?" she asked.

"Don't know what you're drivin' at," was the response.

"Maybe the dog has some choice in the matter," Madge went on. "Maybe he

has his likes and desires. You have not considered him. You give him no

choice. It has never entered your mind that possibly he might prefer

California to Alaska. You consider only what you like. You do with him

as you would with a sack of potatoes or a bale of hay."

This was "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница a new way of looking at it, and Miller was visibly impressed as

he debated it in his mind. Madge took advantage of his indecision.

"If you really love him, what would be happiness to him would be your

happiness also," she urged.

Skiff Miller continued to debate with himself, and Madge stole a glance

of exultation to her husband, who looked back warm approval.

"What do you think?" the Klondiker suddenly demanded.

It was her turn to be puzzled. "What do you mean?" she asked.

"D'ye think he'd sooner stay in California?"

She nodded her head "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница with positiveness. "I am sure of it."

Skiff Miller again debated with himself, though this time aloud, at the

same time running his gaze in a judicial way over the mooted animal.

"He was a good worker. He's done a heap of work for me. He never loafed

on me, an' he was a joe-dandy at hammerin' a raw team into shape. He's

got a head on him. He can do everything but talk. He knows what you say

to him. Look at 'm now. He knows we're talkin' about him."

The dog was lying at Skiff Miller's "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница feet, head close down on paws, ears

erect and listening, and eyes that were quick and eager to follow the

sound of speech as it fell from the lips of first one and then the other.

"An' there's a lot of work in 'm yet. He's good for years to come. An'

I do like him. I like him like hell."

Once or twice after that Skiff Miller opened his mouth and closed it

again without speaking. Finally he said:

"I'll tell you what I'll do. Your remarks, ma'am, has some weight in

them. The dog's worked "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница hard, and maybe he's earned a soft berth an' has

got a right to choose. Anyway, we'll leave it up to him. Whatever he

says, goes. You people stay right here settin' down. I'll say good-by

and walk off casual-like. If he wants to stay, he can stay. If he wants

to come with me, let 'm come. I won't call 'm to come an' don't you call

'm to come back."

He looked with sudden suspicion at Madge, and added, "Only you must play

fair. No persuadin' after my back is turned."

"We'll play fair," Madge began "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница, but Skiff Miller broke in on her

assurances.

"I know the ways of women," he announced. "Their hearts is soft. When

their hearts is touched they're likely to stack the cards, look at the

bottom of the deck, an' lie like the devil--beggin' your pardon, ma'am.

I'm only discoursin' about women in general."

"I don't know how to thank you," Madge quavered.

"I don't see as you've got any call to thank me," he replied. "Brown

ain't decided yet. Now you won't mind if I go away slow? It's no more'n

fair, seein' I'll "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница be out of sight inside a hundred yards."--Madge agreed,

and added, "And I promise you faithfully that we won't do anything to

influence him."

"Well, then, I might as well be gettin' along," Skiff Miller said in the

ordinary tones of one departing.

At this change in his voice, Wolf lifted his head quickly, and still more

quickly got to his feet when the man and woman shook hands. He sprang up

on his hind legs, resting his fore paws on her hip and at the same time

licking Skiff Miller's hand. When the latter shook hands with Walt, Wolf

repeated his "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница act, resting his weight on Walt and licking both men's

hands.

"It ain't no picnic, I can tell you that," were the Klondiker's last

words, as he turned and went slowly up the trail.

For the distance of twenty feet Wolf watched him go, himself all

eagerness and expectancy, as though waiting for the man to turn and

retrace his steps. Then, with a quick low whine, Wolf sprang after him,

overtook him, caught his hand between his teeth with reluctant

tenderness, and strove gently to make him pause.

Failing in this, Wolf raced back to where Walt Irvine sat "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница, catching his

coat-sleeve in his teeth and trying vainly to drag him after the

retreating man.

Wolf's perturbation began to wax. He desired ubiquity. He wanted to be

in two places at the same time, with the old master and the new, and

steadily the distance between them was increasing. He sprang about

excitedly, making short nervous leaps and twists, now toward one, now

toward the other, in painful indecision, not knowing his own mind,

desiring both and unable to choose, uttering quick sharp whines and

beginning to pant.

He sat down abruptly on his haunches, thrusting his nose upward, the

mouth opening and closing with "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница jerking movements, each time opening

wider. These jerking movements were in unison with the recurrent spasms

that attacked the throat, each spasm severer and more intense than the

preceding one. And in accord with jerks and spasms the larynx began to

vibrate, at first silently, accompanied by the rush of air expelled from

the lungs, then sounding a low, deep note, the lowest in the register of

the human ear. All this was the nervous and muscular preliminary to

howling.

But just as the howl was on the verge of bursting from the full throat,

the wide-opened mouth was closed, the paroxysms ceased, and "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница he looked

long and steadily at the retreating man. Suddenly Wolf turned his head,

and over his shoulder just as steadily regarded Walt. The appeal was

unanswered. Not a word nor a sign did the dog receive, no suggestion and

no clew as to what his conduct should be.

A glance ahead to where the old master was nearing the curve of the trail

excited him again. He sprang to his feet with a whine, and then, struck

by a new idea, turned his attention to Madge. Hitherto he had ignored

her, but now, both masters failing him, she alone was left. He went over

to "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница her and snuggled his head in her lap, nudging her arm with his nose--an

old trick of his when begging for favors. He backed away from her and

began writhing and twisting playfully, curvetting and prancing, half

rearing and striking his fore paws to the earth, struggling with all his

body, from the wheedling eyes and flattening ears to the wagging tail, to

express the thought that was in him and that was denied him utterance.

This, too, he soon abandoned. He was depressed by the coldness of these

humans who had never been cold before. No response could he draw from

them, no help "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница could he get. They did not consider him. They were as

dead.

He turned and silently gazed after the old master. Skiff Miller was

rounding the curve. In a moment he would be gone from view. Yet he

never turned his head, plodding straight onward, slowly and methodically,

as though possessed of no interest in what was occurring behind his back.

And in this fashion he went out of view. Wolf waited for him to

reappear. He waited a long minute, silently, quietly, without movement,

as though turned to stone--withal stone quick with eagerness and desire.

He barked once, and waited. Then "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница he turned and trotted back to Walt

Irvine. He sniffed his hand and dropped down heavily at his feet,

watching the trail where it curved emptily from view.

The tiny stream slipping down the mossy-lipped stone seemed suddenly to

increase the volume of its gurgling noise. Save for the meadow-larks,

there was no other sound. The great yellow butterflies drifted silently

through the sunshine and lost themselves in the drowsy shadows. Madge

gazed triumphantly at her husband.

A few minutes later Wolf got upon his feet. Decision and deliberation

marked his movements. He did not glance at the man and woman. His "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница eyes

were fixed up the trail. He had made up his mind. They knew it. And

they knew, so far as they were concerned, that the ordeal had just begun.

He broke into a trot, and Madge's lips pursed, forming an avenue for the

caressing sound that it was the will of her to send forth. But the

caressing sound was not made. She was impelled to look at her husband,

and she saw the sternness with which he watched her. The pursed lips

relaxed, and she sighed inaudibly.

Wolf's trot broke into a run. Wider and wider were the "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница leaps he made.

Not once did he turn his head, his wolf's brush standing out straight

behind him. He cut sharply across the curve of the trail and was gone.

THE SUN-DOG TRAIL

Sitka Charley smoked his pipe and gazed thoughtfully at the _Police

Gazette_ illustration on the wall. For half an hour he had been steadily

regarding it, and for half an hour I had been slyly watching him.

Something was going on in that mind of his, and, whatever it was, I knew

it was well worth knowing. He had lived life, and seen things, and

performed that prodigy of prodigies, namely, the "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница turning of his back upon

his own people, and, in so far as it was possible for an Indian, becoming

a white man even in his mental processes. As he phrased it himself, he

had come into the warm, sat among us, by our fires, and become one of us.

He had never learned to read nor write, but his vocabulary was

remarkable, and more remarkable still was the completeness with which he

had assumed the white man's point of view, the white man's attitude

toward things.

We had struck this deserted cabin after a hard day on trail. The dogs

had been "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница fed, the supper dishes washed, the beds made, and we were now

enjoying that most delicious hour that comes each day, and but once each

day, on the Alaskan trail, the hour when nothing intervenes between the

tired body and bed save the smoking of the evening pipe. Some former

denizen of the cabin had decorated its walls with illustrations torn from

magazines and newspapers, and it was these illustrations that had held

Sitka Charley's attention from the moment of our arrival two hours

before. He had studied them intently, ranging from one to another and

back again, and I could see that there was "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница uncertainty in his mind, and

bepuzzlement.

"Well?" I finally broke the silence.

He took the pipe from his mouth and said simply, "I do not understand."

He smoked on again, and again removed the pipe, using it to point at the

_Police Gazette_ illustration.

"That picture--what does it mean? I do not understand."

I looked at the picture. A man, with a preposterously wicked face, his

right hand pressed dramatically to his heart, was falling backward to the

floor. Confronting him, with a face that was a composite of destroying

angel and Adonis, was a man holding a smoking revolver.

"One man is killing "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница the other man," I said, aware of a distinct

bepuzzlement of my own and of failure to explain.

"Why?" asked Sitka Charley.

"I do not know," I confessed.

"That picture is all end," he said. "It has no beginning."

"It is life," I said.

"Life has beginning," he objected.

I was silenced for the moment, while his eyes wandered on to an adjoining

decoration, a photographic reproduction of somebody's "Leda and the

Swan."

"That picture," he said, "has no beginning. It has no end. I do not

understand pictures."

"Look at that picture," I commanded, pointing to a third decoration. "It

means "This out of all will remain-- 8 страница something. Tell me what it means to you."

He studied it for several minutes.

"The little girl is sick," he said finally. "That is the doctor looking

at her. They have been up all night--see, the oil is low in the lamp,

the first morning light is coming in at the window. It is a great

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