Come and Find Me by Elizabeth Robins (Chapter 2)
Come and Find Me by Elizabeth Robins
Hypertext formatting by Joanne E. Gates
The man and the little man sat and looked at the patch on the carpet, till for one of them the ragged place disappeared.
A big tear splashed on the grimy little hand.
But out of the mist, a voice: "Can't you think of any safer sort of games?"
The balked navigator sniffed audibly, and with the back of his hand he made a dirty smear across his wet face. "We don't any of us seem to care much about vem, if vey are too safe."
"H'm," and with a faint smile Mar resumed his writing.
Jack Galbraith sat quite still, for him, with the disgraced foot tucked under him. But Mar, without raising his eyes, was counscious as a woman might have been, of the frequent journey of the small hand across the eyes, and now and then the more efficacious aid of a sleeve employed to clear the watery vision.
Presently, "After I 'most dwownded ve childwen, I expect she would 'n't let me wead my twavel book. What do you fink, Mr. Mar?"
The gentleman addressed laid down his pen, but still looking at it, "Well, I don't know," he said cautiously.
Whereupon Jack Galbraith gave way openly to tears.
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"You 're not going to forget," said the man, with no great show of sympathy, "you 're not going to forget that however much a boy's father leaves him, America has n't got any use for an idle man."
"It 's Mrs. Mar makes me sit here doin' nuffin'," the child indignantly defended himself.
"Oh, for the moment, yes. But when the time comes to choose what you 're going to do, Jack--if I 'm not at hand to talk it over, think about civil engineering. It takes a man about, and on more intelligent terms than my profession--"
"Yes," Jack threw in upon the ground swell of a heavy sob. "I should n't like sittin' countin' money in a bank," and while he caught his breath he looked about drearily, as if already he saw himself an imprisoned cashier.
"Sitting in a bank is n't the profession I chose, either. I am--I was a surveyor," said Nathaniel Mar.
"Oh--h?" inquired the child, in his surprise forgetting to continue the celebration of his private misfortunes. "Did you use to go all over everywhere wiv a spy-glass and a chain?"
"Yes, the members of the Scientific Corps are expected to go 'all over everywhere.'"
"Clear wound ve world?"
"Well, we did n't go round--we went the other way, the way that takes you to the top."
"Did you get clear to ve vewwy top of ve world?"
"Nobody 's ever been clear to the top."
"Why has n't anybody?"
Was it tough job to go where you went?"
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"It was n't easy. Some of our work lay quite near enough to the arctic circle."
"But I expect you liked it a lot better van--" He paused, looked about, and felt gloom return upon him. If Mar was thinking so was Jack Galbraith. Again he dragged his rough sleeve across his hot, little face. "Ain't it perfectly awful sittin' still?" he observed.
"Yes, it 's perfectly awful," agreed Mr. Mar, glancing out of the window.
"Was it up vere you found ve parlor bearskin and Mrs. Mar's white fox?"
"Yes, it was up there."
"You 're sure if I 'm a engineer or a surveyor I 'll be able to go up vere where you found--"
"Certain to be able to go somewhere."
"Why can't I go where you did?" he asked, querulously. As Mr. Mar did not answer at once, "Is n't vere any little fing left to be done up vere?"
"Oh, lots! But you see I went there in '65--going on ten years ago, when people thought they 'd like to have a telegraph line between Asia and America. So some of us went to survey the Alaskan part of the route (only it was n't called Alaska then) and decide the best course for the line that was to meet the one coming across from Siberia." Again Nathaniel Mar studied the end of his pen.
"Yes," said Jack, blowing his nose with an air of faintly reviving faith in life's posssibilities. "Yes, and vere you met ve bear, and Mrs. Mar's white--"
"We got some furs and truck, but we did n't get the telegraph line."
"Why did n't you?"
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"Well, you see, only a few years ago people laughed at the idea of an Atlantic cable. But while we were hard at work up yonder surveying and clearing and setting up telegraph poles, did n't some other fellows prove the possibility of an Atlantic cable by just going and laying it! So we were recalled."
"But you had got pwetty far, anyhow."
"Yes, we got pretty far."
"You got to where ve foxes turn white and ve bears--"
"Yes," said Mar, reflectively, and then there was a pause.
Jack looked at him. "Could n't you tell me about when you got vat bear, or"--in the tone of one grateful for small favors--"or how you found Mrs. Mar's white--"
"I don't seem to remember anything specially interesting about the bears or the foxes." His far-off looke gave the little boy a sudden feeling of being abandoned by his one friend. He stood it for a moment, and then suddenly twisted his lithe body round and buried his face in the crook of the arm that clutched the chair back. Mar raised his eyes and seemed to come home from some vast journey.
"Something curious did happen to a man I knew up there," he said, in that friendly tone Jack knew so well. "A fellow who was knocking round the Russian Redoubt at St. Michaels, with the rest of the Scientific Corps, waiting for the revenue cutter that was to take us back to San Francisco. We got pretty tired waiting--"
"Pwickers in your feet?" Jack interrupted, suddenly. Mar stopped short, for although Jack had uncovered his
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face to listen he was engaged in making the most surprising grimaces. "I 've got awful pwickers myself," he said.
"Yes. Oh, oh, my foot 's full of champagne." Gingerly, and with further contortions of countenance, he stretched the cramped foot out.
"Champagne?" Mar had echoed. "What do you know about champagne?"
"Once--papa's birfday. Oh, oh, my foot 's full of it!"
"If it 's gone to sleep you 'd better stamp," recommended his friend gravely, and Jack applied the rememdy with apparent relief after the first awful shock. He stood cautiously twisting about to restore circulation while Mar went on: "Yes, we got pretty tired hanging round St. Michaels, and one day two of the party took a boat and went off to an island to get birds' eggs. While they were out a storm came up. An awful storm," he assured his inattentive listener, but Jack was still gloomily twirling about, trying his numb foot, and not taking any stock apparently in a story that did n't boast a bear in it, or even a white--
"I never in my life saw anything like it," Mar went on. "The gale churned up the sediment of Norton Sound into a boiling, yellow froth. The sleet gave up trying to come down, and took to shooting horizontally, as straigth as a charge of musketry, and wherever it hit bare flesh--" He shook his shaggy head at the memory.
I would n't mind a little fing like vat!" said Jack, loftily.
"Well,"-- Mar accepted the implied criticism with meekness,--"what they minded most was that they
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could n't steer a course. It was going to be great luck if the boat lived at all in such a sea. She was driven north first. Neither one of the men knew just where it was they 'd got to, but any kind of land was a pretty good sight. They were almost as glad to get near it as they were to get away from it."
"Why did n't vey like it?" Jack did n't so much as pause in his twirling to inquire.
"Well, it was n't a very pretty place for landing purposes."
"Ho!" said the young gentleman with careless superiority, "I don't mind where I land! One time I landed wight on top of a earfquake!"
"Ah!" said Mar, gravely, "that was pretty daring; but you may depend it was n't in as bad a place as the one I 'm talking about. Horrible steep cliffs sheer down to the shore. Boulders piled helter-skelter. Could n't see much through the dimness of the sleet and the dazzle of the spray, still, they saw enough to know it was n't the harbor they were hoping for. But to get the boat out of that boiling surf alive--no, it was n't easy."
Mar caught the first look of keeness that crossed the tear-stained face--the sudden taught aspect of the slim little body, and he knew perfectly well that the modest young navigator before him was saying in his heart, "Ah, now, if I 'd been there." Thus encouraged, Mar went on: "Things had been bad enough out in the open sea, but here you were being driven straight on the rocks, and the wind--you don't know anything yet about what the wind can do when it tries."
"What kind of fing?"
It cut the top off those great waves as clean as you
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can slice the peak off a hillock of ice-cream; and the wather was hurled at you, not in spray, but in masses, you know--masses that never broke till they struck the men or the boat--except when the wind veered, and then the water masses were flung clean up on the cliffs, as neatly as you could throw a bottle of soda on our roof here and never see a drop spilled till the glass burst on the slates."
Jack nodded and seemed to forget his twirling, though he stood with his body slightly askew, ready to begin again.
"They 'd never have got out of that boiling caldron alive if the wind had n't changed." Mar wagged his head in a final sort of way, and turned in his revolving chair to pick up a fallen paper.
"Is vat all? And vey did get home--"
"No, that 's not all, and they did n't get home. Only one of them got anywhere." Mar bent his big body slightly forward and clasped his hands round the good knee. The other leg was stretched straight out in front of him, stiff and lifeless looking.
"They kept afloat for several hours," he went on, "only to be wrecked after all, a mile or two beyond an ugly looking cape called Nome."
"Wecked! Were vey weally wecked?"
Mar nodded. In an emergency so great Jack did not scruple to turn his back on the stool of penitence. He came and planted himself on wide apart legs, directly in front of Mr. Mar, and stood there waiting. But Mr. Mar seemed to be thinking less about Jack now, and he stared steadily at the hole in the carpet.
"What happened to ve little boat?"
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"The little boat was rapidly converted into little flinders."
"Ven how could ve men get away again?"
"That 's what one of the men would have like somebody to tell him."
"Were n't vere any people vere on vat land?"
"Not a soul."
"Where was ve ovver man?"
"He had been washed out of the boat--he--it was hard to say where the other man was."
"Did n't his fwiend look for him?"
"Not just then. The first thing the friend did was to tear up his shirt."
"Gwacious! Was he as mad as vat?"
"No, he was n't mad, but he wanted some strips to tie round a wound he 'd got."
"Oh! And when he 'd done vat?"
"Then he went up on the tundra."
"What 's ve--"
"The tundra is the great, rolling plain. They call it 'the steppes' in Siberia. A few inches below the arctic moss that covers it, it 's frozen, even in summer, as hard as iron. And it never melts. It 's been frozen like that for millions of years."
"Why did ve man want to go up on ve--ve--?"
"Well, he seemed to think he 'd like to go to sleep. So that 's what he did. He slept a long time. When he woke up he went down to the beach, and the first thing he saw was his friend. It looked as if the friend had been sleepy, too. He was taking his ease down there on the sand, in a tangle of seaweed. His face was hidden. The other one went down to him, as fast as his wound would
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let him, and he called several times. Then he took hold of his friend's shoulder and shook him. But the friend never stirred--he was dead. Up there, above the line of seaweed and driftwood, either he or the surf had flung his rifle--the butt rather battered, but nothing a handy man could n't put right; only a rifle is n't much good without cartridges. By and by, the live man dug a grave for the dead one up above tide line in the sand; and when he had buried the body, he sat down and wondered how long it would be before the end would come for himself. While he sat there tinkering at the rifle, a couple of natives came down the coast."
"Cannibals?" In his excitement Jack dropped on the floor like a small Turk, with his legs curled under him. But he had steadied his precipitate fall into that position with a hand on his friend's leg--and, as ill-luck would have it, not the good leg, but the stiff, forbidding member that poor Mar dragged about the world with the help of his stout walking-stick. Now, to touch that leg would have been like touching the leg of a table, if somehow it had n't been more like touching a corpse. Jack's friend did n't seem to mind. But the boy felt the contact the more keenly for the fact that Mar felt it hardly at all. That was the horror of a wooden leg--that it could n't feel. Jack snatched away his hand as if it had been burned. But Mar was saying calmly, "Cannibals? Oh, no. Esquimaux, quite good fellows. They must have seen white men and firearms before, for they took a deep interest in the rifle. The castaway made them understand he was hungry. They nodded and pointed back the way they had come. The white man got up and hobbled away with them."
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"What made him hobble?"
"Oh--a--it 's quite common after a wreck--you 'll notice people often hobble for a while. Well, they went along the beach, till they came to a place so rocky it drove them up on the edge of the tundra; and up there the white man saw across the plain to the nor'ard, a low line of hills streaked with snow. And there was one bare peak in particular that stood out very plain. It looked only about eight or nine miles away, and you could see quite well there was something curious about it. Yes, it was queer."
"What was ve matter wiv it?"
"It had a curious-shaped top. Even from the coast it did n't look natural. You 'd swear it was a monument of some kind. The natives did n't seem to know anything about it. There was a river flowing down from the hills through the tundra to the sea, and all the mouth of it was choked with driftwood, though there was n't a tree in sight and had n't been all along. Beyond the driftwood, a long sand-spit ran out into the sea, and spread itself right and left, parallel to the coast, and on this sand-spit were a lot of little driftwood huts, skin boats drawn up, and people in fur standing round a fire. The two Esquimaux took the white man across in a boat, and told the other Esquimaux about him. And they gave him some food, fish. Everybody took so much interest in his rifle that he had to sit on it. They talked a good deal, but the white man did n't know what it was all about. So he ate and slept, and ate and slept, always with his rifle under his arm. When he got tired of eating and sleeping, the castaway sat and looked at the sea. Never a sail. And sometimes he would turn and look at that queer
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peak over beyond the tundra. He gathered that these people did n't live here on this sand-spit--they were only camping. Kind of Esquimaux summer resort. No, they could n't take him to a white settlement. They knew nothing about any white settlement. Then he would show them, he said. Let them bring down their best boat, and he would give his gun to them if they 'd take him off there to the southeast, to St. Michaels. They shook their heads and bustled away. The white man saw with horror signs of a beginning to break camp. Where were they all going? Over the hills? No, on up the coast by sea. When?" Mar pantomimed their answer--placed his two hands palm to palm, laid his head down on them sideways and shut his eyes, opened them briskly, and took hold of his stick as if about to start on a journey.
Jack was grinning with delight. "Was vat ve way vey said 'to-morrow morning?'"
"Just like that. They were going off the very next day!"
"Not goin' to leave vat poor man all alone vere, were vey?"
"No, they seemed quite ready to take the castaway and his rifle along. But"--Mr. Mar looked so grave that Jack came closer still--"to go up yonder with them to their underground winter home seemed to the castaway almost as horrible as to be left behind. Well, he had a day anyhow to think it over. His wound was still pretty painful, but he felt whatever happened, he ought to go over the tundra to that queer hill and take a look at the situation from the top. He must have been feverish, or he 'd have realized that he was n't fit yet for hard exercise, and that there was n't a ghost of a likelihood of a
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settlement on the far side, since these natives knew nothing about it. Then you see, there was the awful danger that on this last day a rescue party should sail hopelessly by while he was away, or a whaling schooner pass, that he might have hailed. But no. He had got it into his head that if he could only reach the top of that glacier-carved height, all his troubles would be at an end. But he did have the sense to guard against the natives making off in his absence. He got one of the boys to come along with him.
"How old was vat boy?"
"Oh--a--about your size, but four or five years older, and very clever at throwing the bird-dart. No, I 'll tell you about that another time. They set off across the tundra. It was n't easy walking. It was n't walking at all. It was jumping from one moss knoll to another, or wading to the knees in the spongy hollows. But he 'd looke up at the peak and say: 'Once I 'm there--' All the same, he had to call a halt several times. He 'd find a dryish place, and he 'd sit down and stare about him. They had long lost sight of the sand-spit. Even the sea had disappeared. To right and left, as far as you could see, tundra, tundra, nothing but tundra, a few pools shining in the hollows, and acres of sedge and moss, and low-growing 'scrub-willow.' Nothing else. Just this featureless plain till the land met the ocean and the ocean met the arctic ice. Suddenly, 'What 's that?' says the white man, and he pointed sou'west. The native stared. The light plays you queer tricks on the tundra. You often see lakes and ships and cities that are n't there. But this did n't look like a mirage, it was too simple, too distinct. Just two sticks stuck in the tundra. They might be one
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mile away, they might be ten. But there those sticks stood as clear against the blue sky as a couple of bean poles on a prairie farm."
"Vey were n't bean poles!" said the prescient listener.
"No," agreed Mar. "The white man decided it must be some driftwood contrivance of the natives. Only the remarkable thing about it was, that he had n't noticed it before. For a thing like that is apt to strike you in a country where there was n't a tree for a hundred and fifty miles to the south'ard, and not one between you and the Pole. Well, he felt he 'd know more about those sticks, and he 'd know more about a lot besides, when he 'd got to the top of the hill. So they went on; but the hill was a good way off. The 'little white patches' turned out to be vast fields of rotten snow. You went in up to your waist. The native jabbered, and seemed to be pointing out that it was better to go the long way round. There was less snow, and there did n't seem to be such a chaos of talus--broken rock, you know--tumbled down from the peak. And the peak wasn't a peak. It was more like a queer-shaped, flat stone set on a rock pedestal. 'It 's all right,' the man kept saying to himself, as they pushed on, 'I shall feel it was worth it, once I 'm on the top.' And they went on and on. All of a sudden the man looked up, and realized that the feeling that had been haunting him was justified. The rock up there was like a giant anvil. So like, it was almost uncanny to think nature could have carved a stone with such whimsical exactiness. 'Just wait till I get up there,' he said again, half-laughing to himself; 'see if I don't hammer out something!' and he forgot his wound and how it hurt him to walk, and he jumped across a water hole to a
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higher knoll and saw that the ground on the other side fell gently down to a shallowly valley. And the valley held a little stream in its lap. The white man realized when he saw that, how thirsty he was. He had n't dared to drink out of the standing pools on the tundra, and he went as fast as he could away from the anvil, and down the slope to the running water. He saw a dash of something white on the edge of the bank, as he hurried down to the creek, and he knew in the back of his head that it was a little heap of weather-bleached bones that shone so, off there in the grass. But he never stopped till he stood by the bed of the stream. He took up the water in his double hands and drank. It was good water, and he'd never been so thirsty before in his life. But the water spilled away through his fingers, and he felt he should never get enough. So he balanced himself over some stones, and he lay on his stomach, and reached his lips to the clear water. He drank and drank, with his half-shut eyes fixed on a spark of mica, that caught the light and was shining like a diamond under the water. No, it was n't mica. He saw plainer now. He leaned over a little further, and picked the bit of pyrites out of the wet gravel. The Esquimau boy saw the white man stand up as suddenly as if he 'd been stung. But he held on to the thing he had taken into his palm, and he lifted his hand, like this, several times, and he turned the thing over and over, weighing it. One place in the stained, brassy-looking thing had been scratched, and every time the light caught that new abrasion, it glinted. The white man took out his knife and cut the substance. It was gold!"
"Weal gold?" said Jack Galbraith, gathering up his sprawled-out body with a squirrel-like quickness.
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"Real gold," answered Mar. "Any more stuff like this about?' the white man asked. The native looked at the nugget, and shrugged indifferently. The white man dug about in the gravel with his hands and a sharp stone, and then he sat down and thought, with his eyes on the place where the nugget had been. The Esquimau boy got out his bird-dart, and went off a little way after a jack-snipe. The white man knew he ought to make a miner's assay."
"What 's vat?"
"That 's 'panning.' If he 'd had a round pan like Sigma's bread pan, he 'd have put some sand and gravel in it, and he would fill it to the brim with water, and he 'd wash the sand and gravel round and round, picking out all the stones and letting off the water little by little with a circular motion--so. And all the lighter sand and stuff would get washed out; and by and by, if the miner knows his business, any gold that may have been in that sand, every particle, is left behind in the bottom of the pan."
"Gwacious! Vat would be luck!" said Jack, with enthusiasm.
"No, it is n't luck. It 's skill and specific gravity."
"Why did n't ve man twy it?"
"He had n't any pan. He had n't even a shovel. I 've seen it done very cleverly with a shovel. I 've seen it done with a saucer. He had nothing. How was he going to find out if there was any more of that stuff there? Had this one nugget by any chance been dropped? No, that was absurd. Who could have dropped it? But he looked up the bank where the bones shone, and out of the coarse grass a skull grinned at him. Not a wolf's skull, or a
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deer's, as he 'd thought. A human being's--a white man's, perhaps. Had the nugget belonged to him? Had he brought it from some valley far away, and lost his bit of gold as well as his life here under the shadow of the great stone anvil? The graver the man got down there by the water, the broader the one on the bank seemed to grin. Suddenly the living man got up, and ran toward that heap of bones as if he could n't rest till he 'd found out what the joke was the dead man was laughing at. He picked up the skull, and he saw it was a white man's."
"How could he see vat?"
"He looked at the teeth. They were splendid. Good as any savage's--all but one--one was filled. When he saw that, the castaway knew that probably this white man, who had been here before him, had dropped that nugget in the creek--or it had been washed down there after the wolves had torn the dead man's clothes. But who could tell! 'Look here,' the live man asked, 'what did happen?' But the other would n't say a word, just went on gronning in that irritating way of his. So the live man picked up two stones, and got out his big clasp-kinfe, and he went at that skull with might and main, sawing it with the knife (which was no good at all), and hammering with first one stone and then another, working away like one possessed."
"Did he weally fink he could make ve skull tell him somefing?" and Jack Galbraith laughed aloud at so foolish an adventurer.
"Seemed as if he thought he 'd get some satisfaction out of it, from the way he kept on. By the time the Esquimau boy got back with the jack-snipe, the white man had hammered away everything from that skull except
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the round basin of the cranium--this part, you know. The Esquimau boy was horrified, and made signs of disapproval.
"'Just you wait,' said the white man. He took the bone bowl down to the bank. He filled it full, and three times he 'panned' the gravel of that creek. And every time he got gold!"
"Gwacious!" said Jack, in an excited whisper.
"Yes," agreed Mr. Mar, "when he saw colors the third time he just poured the stuff wet into his handkerchief, and told the Esquimau boy he was ready to go now. As he went up the bank, he passed the bones again. 'I wonder if he knew!' the castaway thought, and as he went on he thought more and more, and he got solemner and solemner. He said to himself: 'A gold mine will do me just about as much good as it did Old Bones, if I have to stay up here with the Esquimaux. We 'll go back the other way,' he called to the boy, and the boy did n't think much of the plan. But the white man kept looking all round in every direction, to see if there was the least little trail leading anywhere, or the smallest human sign. Only those bones shining so white down there on the bank! The castaway went on, feeling pretty sick and anxious, till he looked straight up and saw off there against the blue, that great anvil, plainer than ever. The nose quite sharp and finely cut, the top as flat as our dining-table, and the waist gouged in exactly as a real anvil is. 'Well, I won't give up going to the top,' he said out loud, 'and if there are any settlements--' It was a crazy thing to do, but he did it; and when he got to the top he saw something he would n't have seen in time, if he had n't climbed Anvil Rock."
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"What did he see?" Jack gathered together his sprawled-out body and sat up.
Mar's eyes looked over the little boy's head into space. "No settlements. Beyond the creek, barren hills to the north. No hope that way. East and west the tundra stretched to the horizon line level at the ocean. No hope right or left. He turned round and saw off there to the south coast where he 'd been wrecked, and the sand-spit the Esquimaux were making ready to leave, and beyond that, against the horizon--what was that! He nearly fell off the rock. For a two-masted schooner was lying a couple of miles off the shore. Two masts! It flashed over him those were the two poles he 'd seen sticking up above the tundra, several hours before. Well, he got down off that rock double quick, and he nearly killed himself tearing back to the coast, and signaling the ship. He was only just in time--they were weighing anchor."
"Well," said Jack, with a long breath of relief, "it was a good fing he climbed vat funny hill!"
"Y--yes," said Nathaniel Mar. His tone was hardly satisfactory.
"Did n't he get back to his fwiends all wight?"
"Oh, yes, he got back all right."
"What did vey say when he told vem about ve gold?"
"He did n't tell anybody about that just then."
"If he had, somebody might have rushed there and cleaned the whole creek out, before he had a chance."
"Oh! How soon did he go back?"
"He--he did n't go."
Jack sat there wide-eyed. "W--why did n't he?"
"Mar's eyes looked over the little boy's head into space"
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"Well, you see, he had a pretty bad time with that leg of his."
"Oh, it was his leg, was it?"
"A--yes--his leg. He kept waiting for the doctors to cure it. Instead of curing it they kept cutting off little bits of it."
"Ow! Well--and after vat, when it did get well."
"It did n't."
"And was he lame always, like you?"
"Something like me."
"Why did n't he get a store leg, too?"
"He did, I believe--ultimately."
"And was n't it any good?"
"It was n't quite the same as the one he 'd lost."
"Oh, no." Jack realized that, with a creep down his back. He could still feel the dreadful touch of it on his fingers. "But I suppose he sent somebody else up after vat gold?"
"Well, what did he do?"
"He--he got married."
"Oh--h. And after vat?"
"Then he got a post of some sort--not easy to get, still harder to leave."
"And then he got some children. Oh, he was always getting things, that fellow! Once it was intermittent fever. Anyhow he had to stay where he was."
"Ven who got ve gold?"
Nobody. Not yet."
"Ve gold is waitin' vere now?" Jack jumped to his feet with dancing eyes.
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"So--a--so he says."
"Oh-- oh!" Then with an air of fiery impatience: "What you say vat man 's doin' now?"
"He--well--I understand he 's hanging on to that post."
"Hangin' on a post!" Jack colored as Mar laughed, and added hurriedly, "Just waitin' to see if vat leg won't get better, I s'pose."
"Waiting for--several things."
Jack came closer. "Oh, does n't he mean to never mind his leg, and go back some day?"
"I would n't be surprised if he had times of thinking he would go back somehow. After he 's educated his children, and got them off his hands, and can afford to take risks. Or, if the worst comes to the worst, his sons will go one day."
"Or I might go," said Jack, quickly.
Mar smiled and fell silent. Jack walked away with his hands in his breeches pockets, and his eyes big with dreams. The opening of the door made them both start.
"Did n't I tell you not to get out of that chair till supper?" Mrs. Mar demanded. She stood there with the butter dish in one hand and the milk pitcher in the other, snapping her bright eyes at the culprit.
He for his part had turned about sharply, and he fell from the infinite skies with a bump.
"I--I--" he stammered, backing against the bookcase.
"It 's on the lower shelf," said Mar, calmly. "the heavy brown book." Jack turned again, utterly bewildered, but following the direction indicated by Mr. Mar's walking-stick.
Come and Find Me, Chapter 2 page 39
"That 's 'Franklin's Second Voyage,' next the dictionary. Yes, that 's what I want. I think," he went on to his wife, as Jack stooped to obey him, "I think I must always keep a small prisoner in here, to hand me things out of my reach."
She answered nothing as she set down the butter and the milk, but she kept her eyes on Jack.
"Oh, yes," he was saying hurriedly, "vis is Fwanklin." He carried the book to his friend.
"Fwanklin!" repeated that gentleman with affectation of scorn, as he opened the book. "Now, sir, go back to your seat and practice your R's. It 's ridiculous for a boy of your age to be talking baby talk."
"Yes, sir," said Jack, getting very red as he returned to his place. Mrs. Mar stood at the sideboard making a dressing for the salad. Every now and then she looked over her shoulder. But Jack sat impeccable in the penitential chair, saying softly, but with careful emphasis:
"Awound ve,"--but his eyes were too shining to show a mind properly bent upon the course pursued by that particular wascal.
After supper, while Mrs. Mar was putting Trennor and Harry to bed, Jack Galbraith looked everywhere he could think of for his book. No, Mr. Mar had n't seen it. "Here, I 'll lend you mine. You 'll understand some of the chapter about,"--and he turned the pages till he found the place, and he put in a slip of paper. "There! Franklin did n't find what he was looking for, but he 's written the best travel book I know."
"Oh, fank you, sir." Jack took the big volume in both arms and was making offf with it.
Come and Find Me, Chapter 2 page 40
"And look here, Jack, about that other fellow--the man who did find something up there, you and I won't tell anybody about that."
"Oh!" He stopped and nodded at Mar over the great book. "All wight. But I may speak to you about it sometimes--"
"When we 're alone."
"All wight. Has n't he," Jack lowered his tone to conspirator's pitch, "has n't he ever told anybody but you?"
"Oh, he 's told one or two. But in confidence, you know. People he can trust."
Jack pulled himself up proudly. "I can keep secrets like anyfing." But again he lowered his voice, and simling delightedly, "What do vey say," he demanded with lively anticipation, "vose ovvers, when vey hear about it?"
Mr. Mar did not answer instantly.
Jack drew nearer, still clasping the great book. "Oh, do tell me what vey say."
"They--they think he dreamed it."
"B--b--but," Jack stuttered with indignation, "does n't he show vem ve nugget, and ve handkerchief wiv ve--"
"No," said Mar, sadly. "He lost that handkerchief somewhere on the tundra."
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