Copper Country Adventure
The Ralph Secord Press
Copper Country Adventure
1. Arrival at St Marys
2. Steve Hears Bad News
3. A Strange Companion
4. The Abandoned Mine
5. A Night in a Cedar Swamp
7. The Kindly Prospector
8. The Bay of the Gray Beast
9. A Visit to the Flemings
Copyright, 1949, by the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. All rights in this book are reserved. It may not be used for dramatic, motion-, or talking-picture purposes without written authorization from the holder of these rights. Nor may the book or parts thereof be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission in writing, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, address Whittlesey House, 330 West 42d Street, New York 18, New York.
PUBLISHED BY WHITTLESEY HOUSE
A division of the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10. At the Keweenaw-Superior Mine
11. Uncle Mark's Partner
12. An Exploring Trip
13. Isle Royale
14. Angelique Mott's Isle
15. McNerny's Cave
16. A Second Search
17. The Moose in the Trail
18. The West Inlet
19. The Indian Mine
21. Steve's Plan
22. The Forest Fire
23. Was the Fire Set?
24. The Hidden Boat
25. The Jeanne Sails Again
27. "Hunger Camp"
28. Baptiste to the Rescue
29. Good-by to Keweenaw
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1. Arrival at
LOOK! LOOK UP THERE AHEAD! IS THAT SAINT MARYS?"
Even while he pointed, the sturdy, red-haired boy tenaciously held his place in the bow of the steamboat General Scott against the press of passengers at his back.
A fort with a stockade of sharpened pickets and a stout log blockhouse had come into view, and beyond it appeared warehouses and crowded wharves.
"Yes, it's Saint Marys," agreed the tall, lanky man who had been friendly with sixteen-year-old Stephen Harlow all the way from Mackinac. His stovepipe hat made him seem at least seven feet tall. As he dramatically stretched out a long, black-clad arm toward the foaming white water of the rapids, he looked like a well-dressed scarecrow. "There's the sault, as the French folks call 'em. We'll be docking in no time now."
Steve felt the Scott slow down. He began to distinguish as individuals the people waiting on the wharf. Every man, woman, and child in the village, he thought with
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a thrill of excitement, must be on hand to see the steamboat come in. Men, bearded, booted, and roughly clad, made up the greater part of the crowd. Scattered among them were impassive, dark-skinned Indians. Here and there among the
slouched felt hats, woolen caps, and bare black heads, rose the tall hats of the better dressed, looking as out of place in these surroundings as the head gear of the man at Steve's side.
"I take it your friends will be waiting for you." The inquisitive voice broke into his speculations, and the question brought back the sharp loneliness that had been Steve's companion ever since his uncle's death. In all the vast Lake Superior country, to which Saint Marys River was the gateway, the boy had but three friends, the Fleming family. And they, he feared, would already be far ahead of him on their way to the copper country.
"I'd like to think they are, Mr. Westman," Steve replied, "but I doubt it. Mr. Fleming planned to go on to Keweenaw as soon as he could."
The boy had told his shipboard acquaintance all this before. In fact, as the only person aboard who had shown the faintest interest in the lonely lad, Mr. Westman had heard pretty much everything about him—about his uncle's death on Mackinac Island, and how he was traveling alone to deliver a packet of papers to a Mr. Chatburn who had been his uncle's partner in a copper-mining
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adventure. The only fact he had kept back, Steve realized grimly, was the close figuring he had to do to stretch the little money he possessed until he could find Mr.
Chatburn. His hand went instinctively to his pocket. There was enough to get him to Copper Harbor, but very little more. He did not know just what he would do if his uncle's partner was not there when he arrived.
The clanging of the ship's bell interrupted his gloom, and Steve listened to the grinding of machinery as the Scott's engines were reversed. The big paddle wheels churned the water, and the steamboat moved in to the wharf amidst shouting and confusion. Even before the gangplank had been run out, passengers, carrying every variety of hand luggage or with pack sacks and blanket rolls on their backs, began leaping the lane of water. Mr. Westman did not wait for his youthful companion. Steve watched him, his high hat jammed down over his ears, his coattails flying like a giant crow, as he made a long-legged leap to the dock and elbowed his way through the crowd.
There was no real reason for Steve to hurry. Even if the Flemings were there, he now felt a little shy of meeting them. After all, they, too, were only shipboard acquaintances. He and his uncle had first met them on the steamboat between Buffalo and Detroit, but they had both felt an instant and strong liking for the kindly Mr. Flem-
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ing and his attractive children, fifteen-year-old Jessie and Ronald, an exuberant lad of ten. They had stayed at the same hotel in Detroit and had taken the same boat for Mackinac Island. From Mackinac the Flemings had gone on at once, but Mark Burnet and his nephew had been forced to stay behind, for Mr. Burnet had been stricken with pneumonia.
Steve picked up his carpetbag and joined the pushing mob, glad of any action to distract him from his loneliness. It was better to be shoved and jostled by hurrying passengers than harried by his own thoughts. He even felt a moment's satisfaction when he managed to dart ahead of two of the clumsier and more pushing men and reached the gangplank ahead of them. This small gratification turned to delight when a girl's clear voice reached him.
"Steve! Stephen Harlow!"
He stared down at the crowd. There at the edge of it stood Jessie Fleming waving her handkerchief wildly while her small brother jumped up and down beside her. Steve rushed down the gangplank and pushed his way through to them.
"Jessie! Ronnie! I thought you would be in the wilds of Keweenaw by now."
"We would be, too," Ronnie put in eagerly, "if we
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hadn't missed the company boat and had to wait for it to come again. I'm glad now that we missed it. We just hoped you'd be on the Scott."
"I'm glad, too," Jessie said. "'We may not be here more than another day or two. Father said the schooner White Gull may come any time now."
Mr. Fleming, a wiry man of middle height, seized Steve by the hand. "It's a pleasure to see you again, my boy."
"The pleasure is mine, sir," returned Steve emphatically. "I thought sure you'd be far ahead of me."
"We had expected to be. Where is your uncle?"
The clouding of the boy's face told Mr. Fleming the truth even before Steve replied, "Uncle Mark isn't ...He didn't get well. . . ." Steve's voice was close to breaking. Jessie put a quick hand on his arm.
"Oh, Steve!" The real sympathy in her voice warmed him.
"That is sad news, indeed." Mr. Fleming's voice was sympathetic, too. "I had the greatest liking and respect for your uncle. I was looking forward to seeing him again. But come. This is no place to talk. We will go over to the hotel where you can tell us all about it."
Mr. Fleming led the way along the muddy main street which ran parallel with the river, with most of the build-
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ings facing across the roadway toward the water. Many of them were mere cabins of squared logs, whitewashed and roofed
with cedar bark.
"The little hotel is crammed to the doors," he said. "We have only one room for the three of us, but we'll see if we can get you a cot somewhere."
Steve was unpleasantly surprised. If he had to stay several days at Saint Marys, he might not have money enough left for the fare to his destination.
"Isn't there any boat leaving for Copper Harbor today?" he asked. "There was a man on the Scott who said he was going right on there."
"The Independence sails tomorrow," Mr. Fleming replied, "but every foot of her passenger space has been taken. You had better come with us on the White Gull. The Gull is owned by the company I am working for, the Keweenaw-Superior, but the captain is permitted to take a passenger or two not connected with the company, if there is room enough. I have no doubt I can get passage for you, though perhaps not a berth. You may have to sleep on deck or in the hold."
The prospect of not getting a berth did not worry Steve. All he wanted was to reach Copper Harbor before his money gave out. His gratitude to Mr. Fleming for this kindly offer was heartfelt.
The small frame hotel was indeed crowded. Steve sat
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on Mr. Fleming's cot and Jessie and Ronald on the lumpy bed, leaving the one chair to their father.
Steve told his friends about his uncle's death, and the Flemings had the consideration not to press him for details.
"The doctor got a lawyer and Uncle Mark made his will," Steve said, "—then he sent for me and gave me some papers to take to his partner in Keweenaw. He said he was sure that Mr. Chatburn would give me work for the rest of the summer. I wanted to ask some questions, but the doctor wouldn't let him talk much. That night he was out of his head and . . . I never did ask them."
Jessie leaned over and laid a sympathetic hand on Steve's arm again.
"Uncle left everything he had to Mother and me," the boy went on. "Mr. Gillette, the lawyer, did all he could for me, even wrote to Grandfather and Mother. I wrote her, too, of course. He took charge of Uncle's money and watch and the things that would go to Mother. The bills that had to be paid at once, he paid, and then he advanced me some money to come on and gave me a letter to Mr. Chatburn, explaining things and, well . . . here I am."
"This Mr. Chatburn, your uncle's partner, is at Copper Harbor?" Mr. Fleming asked.
"Either there or at the mine. I don't think the mine is
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far from Copper Harbor. Most of the mines are near there, aren't they?"
"Well, Copper Harbor seems to be the principal landing place for the whole peninsula, but the mining locations are scattered all over the northern end of Keweenaw. The Keweenaw-Superior Mine we're bound for is near the Eagle River, twenty miles or so from Copper Harbor."
"You won't be staying at Copper Harbor then?" Steve asked in disappointment.
"For a day or two only. There is to be a house for us at the mine, so we won't be living at either Copper Harbor or Eagle River."
"But we'll expect you to visit us whenever you can, Steve," Jessie insisted.
"Of course, you will," Ronnie added emphatically.
"I sure will if I can get the chance" was Steve's eager promise.
Within an hour Jessie and Ronald were acting as Steve's guides on a sight-seeing trip around the bustling village. In 1846, Sainte Marie, as it was usually called, was almost entirely a French Canadian settlement. Its foreign and frontier aspect, its fort, its Indian village, and its fur-trading post fascinated the farm-bred boy from York State. But, interesting though all this was, he was
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tired enough to be glad to get back to the hotel by supper time. He was almost too tired even to
worry about his dwindling supply of cash when he learned of the high rate charged for meals and a cot in an already over-crowded room. He could only hope that the White Gull would arrive very soon.
The next morning, Steve was ready and eager to join Mr. Fleming in a tramp over the rough trail to the wharves above the rapids, to see the steamer Independence sail.
"How did they get a steamboat up above the rapids?" the boy wanted to know. "Or did they build her up there?"
"No, she was not built on Superior. She was sailed up the lakes and the river. Then all her machinery and every thing that could be removed was taken out of her, and she was hauled over the portage road. It's a wider and better trail than this path we're following, but a rough and difficult one nevertheless. The Independence isn't the first steamer to navigate Superior. Two side-wheelers were portaged before she was, launched again, and made ready for sailing."
"Why don't they dig a canal like the Erie back home?"
"That's easier said than done," Mr. Fleming replied. "The State of Michigan has made one attempt, but got
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into financial and other difficulties and gave up the project. But some day there will be, there must be a ship canal."
The two reached the wharf as the bell of the steamer clanged amidst shouts of "All aboard!" Steve studied her with keen interest. Like most steamers of the period, she was rigged for sail, but the canvas was down, and smoke belched from her tall stacks. To Steve, who had seen only side-wheel steamboats, the Independence was a strange-looking craft. What amazed him was her lack of any kind of paddle wheels, either side or stern.
"She's a rather new kind of boat and has a propeller," Mr. Fleming explained, "and the first propeller to reach Lake Superior."
A voice shouting from the crowded deck to someone on shore caught Steve's attention, and his eyes sought for the man. "Now how did he get passage, I wonder," he said as he pointed to a lean figure with a long head topped by a tall hat.
"'Who is he?" Mr. Fleming asked.
"His name is Westman—that's all I know about him. He was friendly to me aboard the General Scott, but I guess I was too busy answering his questions about myself to notice if he said anything about his own affairs. He's the man who said he was going right on to Copper Harbor."
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By this time other passengers had crowded in front of
Westman, but his tall hat, standing up above the rest, showed where he stood.
Ropes were cast off with shouted instructions from boat to shore, and the Independence moved slowly out into the stream. Not until she was well under way did Mr. Fleming and Steve turn back to retrace the trail to the village. Steve was rather silent on the return trip, his mind occupied with the problem of how he was to pay for both his keep at the hotel and his fare to Copper Harbor, if he had to wait at the Sault even two more days.
That problem, however, did not have to be solved, for, to Steve's relief, the White Gull arrived at the upper wharf late that afternoon. When she sailed next morning, he and the Fleming family were on board.
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2. Steve Hears Bad News
SAILING IN A SCHOONER OF LESS THAN THIRTY
tons burden was quite different, Steve discovered, from traveling by steamboat. Contrary winds, fog, and storms made the voyage along Lake Superior's south shore all the more unpleasant. Though Steve, Jessie, and Ronald had grown somewhat used to Great Lakes weather on the way to the Sault, each had a sharp bout with seasickness.
Every spare inch of the White Gull was loaded with supplies for the mine and crowded almost to suffocation with miners, woodsmen, and workmen going to erect a stamp mill for the Keweenaw-Superior Company. The miners had been brought from the copper mines of Corn wall, England, to work in those of Michigan, and Steve considered them English until it was explained to him with considerable heat that Cornishmen were Cornishmen first, and Englishmen long after. His informant was Tom Tressic, a fourteen-year-old who had crossed the Atlantic with his elder brother. Tom shared with Steve
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the boards laid across barrels in the main hold that served them as a bed. Listening to that broad accent—and missing part of the harangue altogether because he could not understand it—Steve agreed amiably to consider Cornishmen a race apart and superior.
Only one other passenger besides Steve had no connection with the mining company. He was Lewis Abbott, a student at the five-year-old University of Michigan and the son of a friend of the White Gull's captain. At first Steve stood in awe of the older boy, but Lewis's quick friendliness was hard to resist after he found Steve a good listener to his tales of college experiences.
Twice, storm winds forced the schooner to lie over, the second time in a poorly protected bay on the east side of Keweenaw Peninsula.
"What's the name of this place?" Steve asked the White Gull's mate.
"Beet Grease Bay," the man grunted.
"How in the world did it get such a name?" Steve wanted to know. But the mate merely growled that it wasn't his business to answer passengers' questions.
The White Gull had rounded the high, ridged end of Keweenaw which projects at almost a right angle to the rest of the peninsula, curving out into the lake like a mittened hand, and was skirting its north shore when Steve made out a thin line on the horizon.
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"Can that be the north shore of the lake?" he asked the captain, who was at the wheel.
"No, that's Isle Royale, and it's not often that you can see it from here, even with as good eyes as yours. There's a slight mirage on the water just now that makes the is land loom up a bit."
On the seventh day out from Sainte Marie, Steve and Lewis Abbott, with Jessie and Ronnie between them, managed to hold a place in the bow of the schooner to get their first view of Copper Harbor.
After passing between a forested point and a submerged reef, the Gull swung to the right and headed for a dock where men were gathering to welcome her. There were half a dozen rowboats and a canoe or two moving over the woods-encircled bay.
"But where is the town?" Jessie asked in surprise.
"All I see is a couple of log houses and some tents," Steve replied.
"Maybe that's all the town there is," Lewis added.
At the dock, Mr. Fleming asked for the hotel.
"Brockway's?" came the answer. "Foller that trail and you can't miss it."
The little party went single file over the rough path to a partial clearing where a dozen or more log cabins and a few tents had been put up among stumps and standing spruce and birch trees. Some way back from the cabin
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village, a larger building with a fresh coat of whitewash gleamed against the wooded ridge.
Luckily, most of the Gull's passengers were bound for Eagle River, so the Brockway House was not crowded. Mr. Fleming had business that would keep him over a day or two in Copper Harbor. Steve left his bag in the Flemings' room and set out to find his uncle's partner. All he knew of the man was that his name was Chatburn, and he found no one who could tell him where anyone of that name was to be found.
"I hardly know where to look now," the boy finally confessed to Mr. Fleming.
"I should think your next move would be to visit the Government Mineral Land Agency. It's over on that long island lying across the mouth of the harbor. I'll go with you, if you like."
On the shore they found a man to row them across to the agency. There the clerk looked up the record of the lease of mineral land to the firm of Burnet and Chatburn.
On a large manuscript map hanging on the wall, he pointed out a numbered square. "This is the place you're looking for."
Mr. Fleming studied the map. "It looks to be much closer to Eagle Harbor than to Copper Harbor," he told Steve. "Eagle Harbor is between here and Eagle River, and there is some sort of settlement there, I understand.
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You had better go on to Eagle Harbor and get someone to guide you to the mine."
"Can I go in the White Gull if she hasn't sailed yet?"
"Of course, but I shall be sorry to lose your company so soon—and so will Jessie and Ronald. You will have to hurry."
Their oarsman made speed to the mainland, and the moment the boat touched shore Steve jumped out. He ran to the hotel to get his carpetbag and say a hasty good-by to Jessie and Ronnie. Still on the run, with the bag on his shoulder, he took the trail to the dock, and reached it just as the Gull was about to cast off.
The sun had been down for some time, but the flame-red afterglow still tinged the schooner's sails when she entered a bay backed by rising ground that was covered with tall dark pines intermingled with other forest growth. Beyond the bordering woods towered the main ridge of the peninsula, dark and, shadowy in the twilight. Somewhere over there, Steve thought with mounting excitement, was the mine he was seeking. But how was he to get there? He would have to walk, of course, but how was he to pay a guide? He had barely enough money left for a night's lodging and a meal or two.
The Gull had no freight for Eagle Harbor, so Steve and his bag were dumped rather unceremoniously into a flat-bottomed skiff, almost into the arms of a grinning
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boatman. There were a few casual loungers on the dock, and to Steve's surprise one of them shouted a greeting. "Hello, young feller! Thought you were bound for Copper Harbor."
For an instant Steve did not recognize Mr. Westman, his appearance was so different. He had changed his long coat and tall hat for a Mackinaw jacket and a slouched hat with a broad band of gaudy Indian beadwork. But there was no mistaking that high, nasal voice.
"I thought you were, too," Steve replied.
"So I was, but I didn't stay there. You looking for Chatburn? You just missed him. He left this morning."
"For the mine?"
"The old mine? No, he had other business. He left a message for you."
"You told him I was coming?" Steve asked in surprise. "I said there was a young feller on the Scott who was headed this way, but that the last I saw of you, you were still at Saint Marys. Come on up to the boarding house and I'll give you the message. Had any supper yet?"
"On the schooner," Steve replied briefly.
Mr. Westman accepted the answer without comment. "Well, come on up and get the message anyhow."
Steve followed him through the little settlement of log cabins and frame shacks to the boardinghouse. Not until they reached Westman's own room and he had lit a can-
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dle in a battered pewter candlestick did Westman say anything further. He motioned the boy to take the single chair and sat down on the bed.
"Chatburn'" he began, "told me to tell you he was sorry to hear about your uncle. He was a fine man, Chatburn said. If you came on here, I was to tell you just how things stand." He paused to take out a plug of tobacco and bite off a chunk. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news. I hate to be the one to disappoint a fine young feller like you, but that location Chatburn and your uncle were interested in just ain't no good."
Steve steadied himself against the grim news. "What's the matter with it?" he demanded.
"The mineral's not there. It looked good at first. They took out some native copper, but the vein petered out, and they didn't find enough to think about. There's lots of places like that here on Keweenaw. There's more disappointments than lucky finds, a darn sight more."
For a moment the boy did not know what to say. Then he asked, "Why didn't Mr. Chatburn write all that to Uncle Mark?"
"He did, as soon as he was sure the vein was no good. Mail is mighty slow getting anywhere from here, and likely your uncle didn't get the letter before he left home."
Steve could only stare at Westman in silent dismay. If
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there wasn't enough mineral in the vein to pay for working it, the shares of stock left to his mother and himself were worthless. An even more pressing
worry at the moment was that there would be no job for him. He could hardly believe that things were so bad,
for he had the optimism of redheaded youth. Perhaps the company had other property, some location where Mr. Chatburn could find work for him.
Westman went on before Steve had gathered his wits together after this blow. "Chatburn says to tell you he'll try to save something out of the wreck, but it'll take time. A better location will have to be found and explored, the company reorganized and all that. It'll take time—and money. His advice to you is to go home and forget you ever heard of copper veins. If he can get going, he'll look after your interests. I told him you were bringing some papers, and he said you could give them to me to hold till he gets back. Then you won't need to wait for him. Just leave your home address, and he'll let you know how things shape up."
On the Scott, when Westman was an inquisitive traveling companion, he had suggested that the boy open the packet he carried. As one of his uncle's heirs, it was Steve's duty to see what was in those papers, he had said. But Steve did not feel that he had the right to break the seal, and now he made up his mind not to part with the
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packet before he put it in Mr. Chatburn's hands himself. And, anyway, he could not go back until he had earned money to pay his passage.
"I'd rather wait for Mr. Chatburn," he said.
"Suit yourself. Chatburn said there was no use in your staying, but if you did, you might like to go and have a look at the abandoned mine, just to see what they were up against."
"I wouldn't . . ." Steve began, and then he stopped. He had been about to say he would not know anything more if he saw it, but he did not want to show how ignorant he was. Instead he asked, "How can I get there?"
"There's a feller here that'll take you in."
"About how much would he charge?" The question was absurd, for he had nothing left to pay a guide.
"The trip won't cost you a red cent. Chatburn said if you wanted to go, I was to get hold of Mike and fit you out." Mr. Westman waved away Steve's thanks as if the generosity were his own. "Chatburn said he could do that much for your uncle's nephew."
"I suppose it's too late to go tonight? How about tomorrow morning?"
"That's all right if I can find Mike. He's likely at Finnegan's."
Steve followed Westman downstairs and out into the gathering dusk. At a sort of general store, Westman
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paused and went in while Steve waited outside, listening to men's voices and loud laughter. In a few minutes Westman was back with a small man whose skin was as dark as an Indian's. He had a straggling black beard and a thin moustache which did not hide his sullen mouth. He seemed entirely indifferent and smelled strongly of liquor, but he agreed to take the boy to the mine if he was supplied with everything for the trip. Steve mistrusted the guide at sight, but Westman insisted that Mike Bedeau was reliable enough if not exactly a cheerful companion.
"He's had a few drinks of Finnegan's bad whisky," Westman explained as they walked back to the boarding house, "but he'll be all right by morning. How about you taking a hand in a game of cards to pass away the rest of the evening, my boy?"
Steve declined politely. "I think if I can get a bed, I'd better turn in and get rested up for tomorrow."
To his relief, he found that he could get a cot in a room with two other men at a rate low enough to leave him money to pay for breakfast and one more meal on his return from the mine. He was too tired to worry any further, and after the boards he had slept on in the hold of the White Gull, the hard cot seemed a real luxury.
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3. A Strange Companion
WESTMAN JOINED STEVE AT BREAKFAST WITH AN
invitation to do his packing in his room where there would be more privacy. When Steve brought his carpetbag, the man advised him as if he were an old-timer in these parts himself.
"You don't want to lug that. You can leave it here, but you'd better take extra socks and shirt. You might get soaking wet. You ain't used to rough going, and you'd better take two days to it and have time to look the place over.
He spread a thick new blanket on the floor and watched the boy sort over his scanty belongings. When Steve took out the packet of papers, Westman held out his hand. "Want to leave that with me?"
"No, it doesn't take up any room." Steve tucked it inside his extra shirt.
It was almost noon when the guide put in an appearance, no more attractive by day than he had been the night before. The dirty red flannel shirt and ragged coat
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did not bother Steve, but the sullen expression in the beady eyes dampened his already low spirits.
Westman brought the supplies, and the guide made up his pack in a blanket like Steve's, then wrapped each blanket in a square of canvas, and buckled straps around them. But he refused to start until he had had his dinner.
Steve had not expected to pay for another meal before starting. Since it took his last penny, he made the most of it, eating heartily of the bean soup, fried pork and potatoes, saleratus biscuits, and dried-apple pie. How he would get a meal when he came back was a problem to be faced later. Maybe the boardinghouse keeper would let him do chores for his food and a cot.
Westman helped Steve adjust his pack so that it rested neither too high nor too low on his back and fastened the broad strap around his head. The burden was quite comfortable, and the boy felt sure that he could carry it anywhere he could go himself.
Almost in the village of Eagle Harbor, men were at work opening up a vein of mineral. Steve would have liked to ask them about it, but Bedeau would not slacken the springy, sagging stride that took him over the ground at a pace that put Steve on his mettle. They followed a rough, narrow road through the woods where trees had been felled and the stumps left standing. Ahead they could bear ax strokes and the crash of falling timber, but
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before they reached the workers, the guide turned off on a less used trail, and Steve got his first taste of real woods' travel.
All the afternoon he plodded up and slid down rocky slopes, clambered over boulders, pushed through thickets of balsam, cedar, and tamarack. He penetrated ancient forest where his feet sank deep in leaf mold and moss, and he climbed over fallen trees. He waded two swift little brooks and crossed a deeper stream on a slender pole laid from bank to bank. He wallowed knee deep in bog mud, and with every quarter mile his burden grew heavier and clumsier. He tripped and stumbled, straining muscles he had not known he possessed. But he dared not fall too far behind his light-footed guide, and pride kept him from asking for a slower pace or more rests.
The sun was low and the woods had grown dusky when Steve wearily climbed a steep, rocky slope to the summit of a high ridge. This time the guide was waiting for him. "Where you want to go?" Bedeau asked. "Mine or cabane?"
"The cabin," Steve replied shortly, trying to catch his breath. What he needed was rest, a fire, and food. The diggings could wait until morning.
The guide grunted and led the way along the ridge to the edge of a ravine that cut through it. They scrambled down the steep slope to a weather-beaten shack built
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against a rock wall. The walls of the cabin were of mere poles with the bark on, and the flat roof was of sheets of bark weighted down with stones. Bedeau pushed aside the sagging birchbark door which was attached to poles and hung by leather thongs tied through auger holes in the frame.
Thick brush cut off most of the waning light, making the one unglassed window useless. When his eyes became accustomed to the gloom, Steve saw that there was no furniture except a rude bedframe of poles which was supported at one end by stakes driven into the dirt floor, the other end thrust into crevices in the log wall. This primitive couch was covered with withered evergreen boughs from which the brown needles had dropped. There was no fireplace, only a circle of smoked and ash-strewn fragments of rock in the middle of the room. A gloomy, damp, and dirty lodging it was, but the weary boy was uncritical. He slipped off his pack and stretched the aching muscles of his back and neck.
Bedeau seemed wholly uninterested in the physical condition of his charge. He dropped his own bundle, unfastened ax and coffeepot. "I go get wood," he growled.
Steve opened his own pack and got out dry socks, for his feet were wet and cold from wading a bog at the foot of the ridge. He wished he could have worn the high boots Uncle Mark had bought him in Detroit, but he had
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left them at Eagle Harbor. Westman advised him not to wear them on a long tramp until he had broken them in, and the advice had been sound. For all their sore tiredness, his feet were not blistered.
Westman had really been very kind to him, Steve thought, and he wished he liked the man better. On a sudden impulse the boy took the packet out of his bundle and stowed it away in the pocket of his flannel shirt. It was a tight fit, but did not show when he buttoned his coat over it. Then he spread his blanket on the evergreen couch, rolled his other things in the canvas cover, and placed the roll for a pillow.
Bedeau came in with a back load of wood and the coffeepot full of water. Steve watched with interest the making of a cooking fire. The guide laid small dry sticks within the circle of stones, and tucked in among them shredded bark and bits of charred wood from former fires. This tinder he lit by striking a piece of flint against the roughened edge of a little steel bar until the falling sparks set fire to the bark. In a few minutes he had a small clear flame, the scanty smoke from which found its way through a hole in the roof.
As soon as the fire had burned down to a bed of coals, the guide sliced a piece of salt pork and half a loaf of bread, while Steve sat on a log with his stockinged feet on a fire-warmed rock. When the meal was ready, he
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thought he had never tasted anything so good as the hot coffee sweetened with brown sugar, the sizzling pork, and the slabs of bread fried in the fat.
Supper over, both, without exerting themselves to bring in fresh balsam-fir branches for their bed, lay down side by side. Steve's boots were drying by the fire, but Bedeau did not even take his off. Though his neck still ached from the strain of carrying his burden, Steve, his head on his hard canvas pillow, was asleep in an instant.
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4. The Abandoned Mine
IN THE MORNING, WHILE BEDEAU WENT FOR WATER,
Steve made up his pack again. As soon as breakfast was over, he was ready to go to the mine. "I'll just take this with me," he said, as he picked up the pack. "Then I won't have to come back here to the cabin."
"Bien"—it sounded more like beng—the guide grunted.
Steve had expected to see a large excavation, a shaft house, and machinery, but Bedeau led him to two holes in the side of the ridge, with a dump heap of broken rock between them. There were no buildings but the shack in the ravine, no road but a rough footpath. If any ore worth the crushing had been found, it must have been packed out on men's backs'.
Carrying a lighted tallow candle, Steve ventured into one of the holes, the entrance to a tunnel which ran at a slight downgrade to come to an end in a heap of broken rock. As he retraced his steps, he held the flickering can-
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dle up to the walls and ceiling. Veins and patches differed in color from the main body of the rock, and here and there were gleaming metallic-looking bits, but whether those flakes and threads were copper he could not tell. The other tunnel went down more steeply and came to an abrupt end at a vertical wall. There was nothing Steve could do, he realized, but go back to Eagle Harbor and find some way to live until Mr. Chatburn returned.
He found his guide sitting on the dump pile, his pack beside him. "We might as well be starting back," said Steve.
Bedeau knocked out his pipe against a rock, and made a vague gesture. "Good mine over dere, not belong to Chatburn. You want see it, we go back dat way.
Steve did want to see a real mine being worked and said so. As they had no reason to return to the shack, the two followed the path which led down the ridge side from the abandoned mine. At the base of the ridge they crossed a brook and struck off into the deep woods where Steve could see no sign of a trail. He was not even sure of the direction, nor had he any notion of the time. The morning had dawned bright, but the sky had clouded while he was exploring the holes.
Suddenly Bedeau came to a stop. "Eat now," he announced.
It was not a good spot for a picnic. "Hadn't we better
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go on to drier ground?" Steve suggested. They were deep in a spongy and overgrown white cedar swamp.
"Eat here," the guide insisted. "No want fire."
Steve hung his pack on a low branch and went off to scout around for a drier spot while Bedeau opened his bundle. In a few minutes Steve was back. "There's a fallen tree over beyond those cedars that we can sit on," he said as he took the thick sandwiches the guide had made of bread and some slices of fried pork left from breakfast. Bedeau nodded and followed him to the spot.
The only fault Steve could find with the food was that there was not enough of it. The coffeepot was almost half full of cold coffee, and he was glad Bedeau had not thrown it away, since the brown swamp water was decidedly uninviting. When Steve commended him, the guide only grunted. What good nature he had shown earlier in the day had vanished as if it had never been.
Steve thought that he understood the reason for his bad humor when, after he had bolted his food, Bedeau rose to his feet and said abruptly, "I go look for trail."
"Do you mean you've lost it?" cried the startled boy.
"Find it all right," Bedeau answered. "You stay here."
"I'd rather go with you."
Steve got up from the log, but as he turned toward the thick clump of shrubby cedar around which Bedeau had vanished, he caught his foot in a sprawling root and nearly
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went headfirst into a pool of muddy water. By the time he had regained his balance, the guide had disappeared.
Steve was angry. He shouted and got no reply. If he tried to follow the experienced woodsman through the confusing growth, he would probably get lost himself, and then Bedeau would have to hunt for him. Bedeau would be back soon. He knew the country, and would soon get his bearings.
As time passed, Steve's anger began to turn to alarm. The afternoon was wearing away. The patch of sky that he could see was already dark gray, and gusts of wind swayed the cedars. Worst of all, bloodthirsty mosquitoes attacked him in force. He had to keep moving and slapping at them with a cedar branch in a futile attempt at defence. Slumping around in spongy moss and mud and water, he could not go more than a few steps in any direction for fear he would not be able to find his way back to the spot where he must await Bedeau.
As the daylight waned, something very like panic took hold of Steve. How could the guide ever find him in this confusing place in the darkness? The thought of being left alone in the swamp for even one black, stormy night appalled the boy, and the storm was fast coming up. Per haps he could find his way out in the morning. But if he did not. . . . He had heard of men lost in the woods, starving to death. And he had no weapon except his
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pocketknife with which to defend himself against wolves or ....
The cold touch of rain interrupted forebodings as gloomy as the swamp itself and stirred him to action. He shouted for Bedeau until he was hoarse, and waited in vain for a reply. Then he decided to try to find his way back to a little dike of higher ground that rose a few feet above the swamp, but he would have to leave word for Bedeau.
He pulled a small notebook and pencil his uncle had given him from his pocket and tore out a leaf. Carefully he wrote in large letters: "I have gone back to the last rise of ground we crossed." Could Bedeau read? Under the message he drew an arrow pointing the way he intended to go. He would leave the note on the guide's pack which he supposed must be hanging with his own on a limb on the other side of the cedar clump
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5. A Night in a Cedar Swamp
STEVE STARED AT THE BRANCH. ONLY ONE CANVAS-
covered bundle was hanging there. Why had Bedeau burdened himself with his pack when he expected to be back almost at once? Steve took down the one that had been left. There was something wrong about it. The weight was not right, neither was the shape. He undid the straps. Inside the blanket he found the frying pan, the tin plates, a pair of dirty moccasins, an extra strap. It was Bedeau's pack.
The coffeepot and two tin cups Steve discovered under a bush where the guide had tossed them in his hurry to get away. The boy's alarm grew. Had Bedeau actually deserted him? He could hardly believe that a professional guide would do such a thing. And yet. . .
If he had been deserted, that was all the more reason to get out of the swamp at once. On the faint chance that Bedeau might yet come back, he tore a strip from his pocket handkerchief and tied one end to the note he had written and the other to the tree where his pack had
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hung. The white cloth showed up well against the gray-green cedar. Then, his own being gone, he took Bedeau's pack. He would certainly need the blanket. He left the coffeepot: it was clumsy and of no use to him, for the pack contained no coffee. And Bedeau carried his flint and steel in his pocket.
Steve started in almost panic haste, but a misstep that sent him to his knees in wet moss and sticky mud taught him caution. The thought of becoming mired sickened him. To avoid such disaster, he forced himself to go slowly, picking his way and testing each step.
He did not succeed in retracing the way he and Bedeau had come, but in spite of detouring around the most treacherous places he believed that he was keeping the general direction. Now even on the slight rise of ground, only a few feet up from the depths of the swamp, the light was almost gone. Steve dared not attempt to cross this little rise and go on through the swamp in the pitch darkness of a rainy night. If he were not to be completely lost and perhaps sucked down to his death, he would have to stay here till daylight. The prospect of such camping in the rain, without tent or fire or supper, was dismal, yet to try to go on would be worse.
He opened Bedeau's pack again and found inside the frying pan a small piece of salt pork wrapped in the
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greasy cloth with which the guide had wiped out the pan. There was not a crumb of bread. And he could not cook the pork. Salt pork could be eaten raw, he supposed, but he was not hungry enough yet to try it. And anyway, if he had to stay here all night, he would need this bit of food worse in the morning.
After searching about, he found a spot sheltered by a clump of spruce and shrubby cedar where the ground was fairly dry. When he crawled in under the largest tree, he had to lie flat, so he decided to make himself a better lair. Bedeau had taken the ax, and Steve's pocketknife was small, but he managed to hack off a couple of the lower limbs. He laid them across the next ones above to form a sort of roof over his camping site. When he had covered it with an armful of small cedar branches, he had a fairly good thatch. He gathered more cedar to cover the ground of his shelter.
Time after time he paused to shout at the top of his lungs, on the remote chance that there might be some one within hearing. The only answer was the raucous jeer of a bird that he did not recognize.
Inside the shelter he hung his heavy coat, which was not quite soaked through, on the stub of a limb, and wrapped himself in the blanket. He pulled off his boots and drew up his knees and wished for the pair of socks he
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had dried before the fire the night before. The thought of his lost pack reminded him of the packet for Mr.
Chatburn. That, at any rate, was safe in his shirt pocket and still dry.
The blackness of the night pressed in upon him. Rain came down steadily. The cedar thatch was not water tight, but only an occasional drop struck him as he sat with his back against the tree trunk. The wind did not reach him either, but it moaned through the branches above his head.
Now that his eyes were useless, his bearing seemed more than normally acute. He noted scores of sounds that would have gone unheard if he had had the light of a fire. The rain beat and dripped; the wind sighed and whistled and moaned. Evergreen needles rustled and hummed; the branches creaked and grated and squeaked and groaned. That rushing noise might be a waterfall or merely the wind in the trees. He fairly ached with listening. He had given up hope of hearing Bedeau's voice, but he wanted to be warned, by howl or cry or stealthy step, of the approach of any wild beast.
In spite of all these night terrors, his eyes closed and his head dropped down on his chest. He was too uncomfortable to sleep more than in snatches, waking to shift his aching neck and legs, pulling the damp blanket
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this way and that. Half in a nightmare, he promised himself that he would never again go into the woods without some means of kindling a fire, and that hereafter he would always carry the food himself.
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WAKING FROM DREAMS OF DARK AND DANGEROUS
wanderings, Steve realized that he could no longer hear the rain. The stillness was broken only by the gentle sighing of spruce needles fanned by a light breeze and by the trickling of water not far away. It was not yet light, but the darkness was less solid, and somewhere above his head a bird chirped sleepily. The miserable night was almost over.
Steve cast off his blanket and pulled on his wet boots. He was so cramped that it was slow work crawling out of the shelter, but when he was able to stand up and stretch, his young muscles loosened. Even when dawn came, the sky was gray-clouded and mist shrouded the swamp. On the chance that Bedeau might be looking for him now that the night was past, he shouted again as loud as he could. "Bedeau! Bedeau! Here I am on the ridge! Ahoy there!"
Not even an echo answered him. There was no use waiting for a guide who would not come. Last night he
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had been hungry. This morning he was ravenous. He crawled back into his lair, felt around for the frying pan and hunk of pork which he dragged out into the light. Too famished to be squeamish, he cut off a slice of the fat meat and ate it eagerly. From a second slice he took one bite. Then he paused and wrapped the scant remains back in the cloth. He might need it worse later on. The salt had made him thirsty, but the swamp puddles were muddy. He turned toward the sound of trickling water and found a little rivulet dropping over an outcropping of rock, the tiniest of waterfalls but a boon beyond measure.
He adjusted his pack to set out, futilely shouting again and again and being answered only by a scolding jay. Trees and brush showered rain water upon him, and the footing was wet and slippery on the dike. He had gone only a few hundred yards when the ground sloped down ward and the dike came to an end in swamp. Steve was dismayed. If he went down into the swamp, he would be lost worse than before. He retraced his steps, and at his camping place he paused to call once more, this time answered by the indignant chattering of a squirrel.
He kept on going, looking now for the place where he and Bedeau had come up out of the swamp the day be fore. His hope now was to get back to the abandoned mine and plot his course afresh from there. When he
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reached a narrow opening in the undergrowth, he concluded that this was the spot. He thought he remembered that leaning cedar at the base of the ridge. The open lane looked like a trail, so down he went.
Traveling through the swamp after the rain was worse than it had been the day before. In spite of his caution, he went to his knees over and over again in saturated moss and mud. He struggled in cold fear to pull his feet out of the clinging, sucking stuff. Clouds of mosquitoes and midges blinded him, and his face and hands were bloody from their attacks.
Then the path he had thought to be a trail came to an abrupt end. But he kept on. There was nothing else to do.
It seemed hours that he plodded through treacherous bog, climbing over decaying logs, pushing through the tangled growth, before he felt firmer footing under his mud-heavy boots. With relief he realized that he was going upgrade at last.
He was penetrating dense woods where moss-draped dead trees mingled with the living, and he could not see what lay ahead. Had he and Bedeau been through here? He blamed himself bitterly for not taking more heed of landmarks. "The next time I go into any woods," he muttered to himself, "I'm going to watch where I'm going—if there is a next time."
He pressed on as the ascent became steeper, the growth
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With a gasp of surprise, he realized that he was looking down on Lake Superior itself
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thinner, the ground firmer. The weather was clearing. Between treetops he could
see blue sky with patches of fleecy white clouds. Quite suddenly he reached a
partially open summit of the hill. His spirits soared as he took in the view he had been seeking.
Below him, between wooded ridges, lay a landlocked lake, blue and sparkling in the sun. Beyond a low marshy stretch at the farther end of the lake was more blue water enlivened with dancing whitecaps. With a gasp of surprise, he realized that he was looking down on Lake Superior itself.
That was undoubtedly a bay out beyond the small lake. It puzzled him. The bay looked very different from Copper Harbor or Eagle Harbor, but he thought he had seen it before—from the water instead of from the land. The steep, forested coast on one side might be the rampart that had sheltered the White Gull from the driving storm. The longer he looked the surer he grew that this was the place called by the absurd name of Beet Grease.
One other landmark seemed familiar, too—a domed mountain peak, its slopes forest-clad, rising near the head of the small lake. Steve was not sure of the points of the compass. He did not know what time of day it was. The sun was high, but whether it was ascending or descending he could not tell.
There was not a single cabin in sight and no living
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creature but a few gulls circling above the little lake. He had not heard any mention of a camp in the vicinity of Beet Grease, and in near terror he realized that he might have to make his way clear across the peninsula to reach food and shelter.
Perhaps it was fear that suddenly made him feel so weak and exhausted. He could not go on. He would have to wait here and rest, letting the sun dry his wet clothes until it had traveled far enough across the sky to show him east and west. He threw himself down on the ground.
Then he saw something that made him catch his breath. Was that smoke? Weariness forgotten, Steve sat up and stared. There was no doubt about it. And where there was smoke, there must be men—and food!
He wanted to plunge down the hill, but he forced himself to take careful note of the direction he must follow to reach the fire. When he got to his feet, he felt so faint that he swallowed the last morsel of pork before setting out down the steep slope, slipping and sliding in his hurry.
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7. The Kindly Prospector
WHEN HE REACHED THE LAKE, STEVE COULD NO
longer see the smoke, and as he skirted the shore, the fear grew in him that he might never find the campfire. Then, quite unexpectedly, he emerged into an open space a little back from the water. There embers smoldered within a circle of stones.
No one was in sight, but the camp was not deserted. There were cooking utensils strewn about, beds of fresh evergreen boughs, blankets spread over bushes in the sun. A packsack hung on a tree.
Steve slipped off his own pack and scrambled down to the lake. Thankfully he lay on his stomach, drank his fill of the clear cold water, and bathed his insect-bitten face.
As he climbed up to the camp again, he heard faint hammer strokes from the direction of the mountain. Weak and tired though he was, action seemed more endurable than waiting. He replaced his pack and set off along a new trail, a path that had been clearly traveled since last night's rain.
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He had not gone far when the sounds ceased, and he began to fear that he was getting farther away from the prospector instead of nearer. He paused, in doubt whether he should go on or back to the camp, but he was heartened by a new sound. Three explosions came from the mountainside straight ahead of him.
Steve tried to run along the trail which had now grown steep. As he rounded a thicket, he nearly pitched head on into a tall man in a red flannel shirt who was gazing up at a bare opening on the mountainside where smoke was drifting away from shattered rocks.
The boy stopped so suddenly that he almost fell over backward into the underbrush, and the prospector turned quickly.
"Hello! Now where did you come from, bub?"
"Out of a cedar swamp," Steve panted.
"You look it." The man inspected him with keen blue eyes. "Nigh used up, ain't you, boy?"
"I am tired," Steve confessed.
"Hungry, too, I shouldn't wonder."
"I've had nothing to eat but a little piece of raw pork in about twenty-four hours." Steve had to brace himself to keep upright.
"A square meal'll soon fix that. My partner and I have a camp over there by the lake and there's a pot o' beans baking under the fire. Does that sound good to you?"
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Steve's face made a reply unnecessary. The man glanced up at the mountainside again. "Sit down for a bit and rest your bones while I take a look where I've been blowing her up. Then we'll go see if the beans are done."
Steve dropped down in his tracks, too tired to look for a more comfortable seat than the path.
The prospector was gone fifteen or twenty minutes, but it seemed hours to the hungry boy watching him climbing among shattered rocks, poking into holes and crannies, splitting off fragments with his chisel and hammer. He seemed to be pleased enough with what he had found, for he came back whistling. Steve got to his feet and picked up his pack.
"Here, give me that."
"There's not much in it. It isn't heavy."
"Anything's heavy when you're done up. Hand it over."
Steve was glad to obey. He had all he could do not to fall behind as the tall man covered the trail with long springy strides. At the camp site he sank to the ground again and watched his new friend brush aside the glowing embers and dig down into the ashes for an iron kettle with a tight lid. When that lid was lifted, the smell made Steve's nose twitch and his mouth water.
"Done fine," the man announced. "You won't mind
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hardtack with your beans, I guess. I'll heat up the coffeepot."
"Don't bother about coffee," Steve protested. "Water is plenty good enough." He hesitated, then added a little shamefacedly, "I haven't any money to . . ."
"Who asked for money?" The man turned on him fiercely. "This ain't a tavern." As he saw Steve's face flush, he said more mildly, "I guess what you eat won't break us. And some day we may ask you for a feed. You'd be willing to give it, I guess."
He turned to the pack of provisions and came back with the hardtack. "There's one thing, boy. You want to take it easy at first. Don't gobble things down too fast and don't eat too hearty."
In spite of his warning Steve's new friend filled a tin plate with the beans and put another plate stacked with hardtack beside his unexpected guest.
Steve had to exert all his will power to eat slowly. He finished the beans and every crumb of the crackers before he looked up to see the prospector grinning down at him.
"I expect you could eat another plateful, but you better wait till suppertime. Best thing you can do now is take a snooze. Then you'll be all ready for supper."
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8. The Bay of the Gray Beast
VOICES WAKED STEVE OUT OF A DEEP SLEEP, two
more men had arrived in camp and were gazing down at him.
"Have a good nap?" his tall friend inquired. "This is my partner, John Dellinger." He pointed to a stocky brown-eyed man with a grizzled beard. "And this," indicating a slender dark fellow in buckskin shirt and bead-work belt, "is Ba'tis'. Let me make you acquainted with— what is your name?"
"A good Yankee name. Mine's Enoch Latimer. I'm a down-Easter from Maine. Dellinger here hails from Pennsylvania, and Ba'tis' calls himself a French Canuck."
The Canadian grinned and bobbed his head as Steve said, "I'm glad to know you, Mr. Dellinger and Mr.— Ba'tis'—"
"Deschanel," Ba'tis' informed him, smiling.
The sun had sunk behind the ridges, and Latimer had
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already started the supper. The bean kettle was back in the hole, and a frying pan stood among embers and ashes, with red coals heaped on its cover. Nearby was the coffee pot. Steve felt that he was greedy to be starved again so soon, but he readily ate another plate of beans and a big hunk of skillet bread.
"It ain't so good as the biscuits my mother used to make," his host admitted. "I was raised on saleratus biscuits, but they were made with milk, sweet or sour. If I had the milk, I could make pretty fair ones myself, but you might as well wish for the Milky Way."
The heavy concoction of flour, water, salt, and soda was not much like his own mother's biscuits, Steve thought with a stab of homesickness. But it was far better than raw salt pork.
Not until after supper did the men around the fire question the boy. Then he told of his adventures since leaving Eagle Harbor.
"Dat guide Michel Bedeau?" Baptiste asked.
"Mr. Westman called him Mike."
"Same fellow. Michel Bedeau no good."
"You mean he never did intend to come back?"
Baptiste shrugged. "Maybe he intend. But storm come, and he go some place to keep his skin dry."
"Then I don't see how he can expect to be paid," Steve said.
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Baptiste shrugged again. "He make up a good story."
"Do you know Mr. Westman?"
The Canadian shook his black head, but Latimer answered, "There was a feller of that name on the boat I came on early in the spring—tall, skinny feller in a stove pipe hat."
"That's the man. He told me he'd been up here earlier but had to go back to Mackinac. What did you think of him?"
The prospector was deliberate. "Well, I can't say he's exactly my sort. Kind of a sharper, I figured, but sometimes a feller—like that singed cat you've heard tell of— is better than he looks."
"I tried to like him," Steve said, "but I never could much. I was on the General Scott with him coming from Mackinac, and he tried to get me to—" Steve had not said anything about the papers he was carrying, and he suddenly remembered Mr. Fleming's warning to be careful how he talked to strangers about his private affairs. "Mr. Westman was too nosy about other people's business," he concluded.
"He would be, I guess likely. And if I was you, son, I'd be a mite careful."
"I thought," Steve concluded his tale, "that I was headed somewhere near the right way back to Eagle Harbor, but I must have been all turned around."
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Latimer agreed. "Eagle Harbor is on the north side of the point, just about nor'west of Lac La
"Is that the name of the lake? I never saw it before, but I've been in the bay beyond if it's the one they call Beet Grease."
"What's that you called it?"
"The mate on the White Gull said it was Beet Grease Bay. How did it get a name like that? Isn't . . . ?"
Latimer threw back his head and guffawed. Dellinger chuckled in his beard, and a broad grin spread across Baptiste's dark face. "Beet Grease!" exclaimed the Maine man. "Beet Grease, that's good!"
"You don't need to laugh at the boy," Dellinger interrupted. "You didn't rightly know the name yourself till Ba'tis' told you. You were further off than Beet Grease. What do you think Latimer called it?" he asked Steve. "Rolling-pin Bay!"
"That was one on me," Latimer agreed affably. "A feller told me it was Bay Bree, and that bree was French for rolling pin. He said it was the shape of a rolling pin."
"But it isn't," protested Steve.
"Of course not. Somebody who didn't know French pronounced it wrong. You say it for him, Ba'tis'."
"It is Bete Grise," Baptiste replied. "Some folks say it Bete Gris." The second time he pronounced it gree.
"It's got nothing to do with beets or rolling pins."
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Latimer was still chuckling. "It means something about a beast."
"It is Bay o' de Gray Beast," Baptiste explained.
Steve was laughing too. "Was the Gray Beast a wolf?"
"Well, Gray Beast makes more sense anyway. We put in there in a storm on the way to Copper Harbor, but it doesn't look the same from landward. I've been badly lost for a fact, and I can't tell you how thankful I am to you for being so good to me."
"Shucks, boy, we ain't done anything but feed you a few beans. I guess maybe we'd do that much for the gray beast himself if he turned up lost and hungry. You aim to go back to Eagle Harbor?"
"If you will tell me how to get there."
"We can do better than that. Ba'tis' is going to Eagle River in a couple of days, and you can go with him and find someone there to take you to Eagle Harbor. You won't mind waiting over?"
"Of course not, and if I can help in any way. . . ."
"Shouldn't wonder if you could. Well, it's about time to turn in. We didn't any of us get much sleep last night, and we got some wet in that downpour. Guess we got to build us some kind of a shack. How about a tune on your fiddle before we turn in, Ba'tis'?"
Baptiste got out an ancient fiddle and played French
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songs and "Pop Goes the Weasel" which he had picked up from the miners. The evening concluded with a lumberman's ballad sung by Latimer.
Come all ye sons of freedom, throughout the state o' Maine,
Come all ye gallant lumbermen and listen to my strain.
. . . . . . .
Steve shared Baptiste's balsam bed, and he slept soundly in the sharp air under the stars. Once he was wakened by the savage eerie howling of a wolf not far off. Baptiste got up and piled more wood on the smoldering fire, a warning to the gray beast, who ceased his howls.
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9. A Visit to the Flemings
STEVE WORKED EAGERLY NEXT MORNING, anxious
to make himself useful, chopping wood, washing tin cups and plates and iron pots. He joined Mr. Latimer at the foot of the domed mountain to clear brush and work with pick and shovel.
The Maine man was frank about what he was doing. "John and I've got a location here, and we're aiming to drive a hole in the most likely spot. He's taking a look around the hill. I think I'm onto something good, but I won't know till he inspects it. He's a practical mining man. Timber's the thing I know about."
Steve asked questions, and Latimer pointed out indications of copper in the veins and pockets he uncovered. He showed the boy how to handle a prospector's drill and hammer, how to lay charges and fuse for blasting. It was all practical knowledge, and Steve was quick to learn.
On the morning of the third day Steve said good-by to the partners and set out with Baptiste.
His companion was a cheery fellow, quite unlike the
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surly Bedeau. He enjoyed answering questions about the country they covered, and he agreed readily when Steve asked if they could stop at the Keweenaw-Superior Mine on the way. Whenever Baptiste was not talking, he hummed voyageur songs. Steve had a quick ear, but when he tried to sing the French words, he made such a mess of them that Baptiste attempted a translation.
W'en I go to make de portage
I take my canoe on my back.
W'en I turn it upside down
It's my cabin for de night.
"Not so good in English," he apologized, "or maybe my English not so good."
"I only wish I could speak French as well as you do English."
"You do dat if you learn 'em at same time like me. Mon pere scold 'cause I not speak French so good as he do."
"Is your father here on Keweenaw, too?"
"Oui, he is boatman. His Jeanne he build himself and sail her. He take people and freight. Maybe you take his boat at Eagle River."
"I hope so. I think I'd like your father."
"Ever'body like him," Baptiste said proudly.
After traveling some distance over lower ground, they reached the central ridge—the great backbone of the
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peninsula—which towered steeply above them, forest-clad, but with bare ribs and pillars of rock showing through its greenery. They skirted the base until Baptiste pointed to a cleared space part way up the slope where several log and frame buildings perched upon a sort of shelf.
"Keweenaw-Superior," he announced.
A dump heap of rock projected like a welt, and a rough track led up to the rock shelf. Steve was eager to see his friends again. He admired Mr. Fleming and wanted his advice. For Jessie and Ronnie he felt warm friendship. He had never known a girl so self-reliant and yet so companionable as Jessie, or one with whom he felt so much at ease.
As he and Baptiste reached the little settlement, they passed the open front of the company blacksmith shop with its glowing hearth. The brawny smith, beating out an axle for a cart, was stripped to the waist save for the bib of his leather apron that protected him from flying sparks. He was a big man and fair, in contrast to the slender young woman beside him. She was small and lithe, and her dark skin showed her Indian blood.
Baptiste called out to the blacksmith as to an old friend. "Bo' jou', M'sieu' 'Arrison." And to the girl he spoke even more warmly, "You blacksmit' too now, Jane?"
A smile lighted the dark face and included Steve in its
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friendliness. "I keep house for my father, and he's at the shop more than at the cabin, so sometimes I keep it here."
The girl's appearance interested Steve. "She doesn't take after her father, does she?" he asked, as they went on.
"Non. Her maman was French and Chippewa and called her 'Jeanne.' But her maman dead dis long time, so 'Arrison say name 'Jane' like English. Her French grand pere is brother to mon pere."
"She is your cousin then. Has she always lived in this part of the country?"
"Oh, non. She was born at Mackinac, and went to mission school dere and den to school in Detroit. Jane can read good and do figuring." Baptiste sounded respectful of talents beyond his own.
They were greeted by a shout of welcome, as Ronald Fleming dashed out of a cabin and ran toward them. Jessie followed a little more sedately, but smilingly. Steve seized her by the hand and then introduced his companion.
"Father is over beyond the mine, examining a vein they have just uncovered," she told them. "He won't be back until suppertime."
"I'd better go find him then," Steve said. "I can't stay long."
Ronnie insisted on going along, and Jessie protested,
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"It's almost time for dinner. I'm getting it now, and there's plenty for you and Mr. Deschanel too. You must both stay."
"I'd love to," Steve said gratefully. "You're not in any special hurry, are you, Ba'tis'?"
"Non. Thank you ver' much, ma' m'selle." He made her a bow that would not have shamed a courtier.
Before they finished dinner, Jessie had persuaded Steve to stay over until morning. Baptiste, however, had to go on. He hoped to meet his father at Eagle River that night, and early the next morning he had to start back to Lac La Belle with a pack load of supplies. "I tell mon pere you coming," he promised Steve, "and he wait for you."
"And you will have Father with you to Eagle River," Jessie assured the boy. "He has to go there anyway."
"I do want to ask your father's advice," Steve said, "and of course I'd enjoy a longer visit with all of you."
After Baptiste was on his way, Steve told the young Flemings the story of his trip to the abandoned mine. Their excitement and indignation left nothing to be desired in an audience. In the evening he had a chance to repeat the story to their father.
When the boy had described the location of the abandoned mine, Mr. Fleming said seriously, "That sort of thing has happened in more than one site that promised
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well. Do you know whether Chatburn is a practical mining man or merely a speculator?"
"I don't know a thing about him," Steve admitted.
"Unfortunately, neither do I," said Mr. Fleming, "but I intend to make some inquiries. There are plenty of crooked men mixed up with this mining business, more dishonest speculators and adventurers than honest businessmen and miners. I shouldn't think that Chatburn would be in that category, though, since your uncle was an intelligent and sensible man and not easily hoodwinked. Of course he was new at this game. He told me in Detroit that it was reading Douglass Houghton's geological-survey reports of his copper discoveries here that roused his interest."
"Yes," Steve agreed. "He used to talk with Dr. Houghton about mining. He met him up here last summer, and it was then he decided to invest some money in a copper mine. I imagine it was then too that he met Chatburn—maybe even through Dr. Houghton. But there's no way of ever finding out, I'm afraid," he concluded soberly.
Mr. Fleming nodded regretfully. "Douglass Houghton's drowning was a great loss to Michigan and to the United States's geological surveys. It was an especially great loss to this Upper Peninsula country."
"Everybody seems to feel the same about that," Steve
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agreed. "I guess our mining shares will never make
Mother and me rich. What I've got to look for now is some way to make a living and save up enough to get back home. I am hoping that the company has some other mine where I can get work."
"Westman didn't mention any other property?"
"No, he just said Mr. Chatburn advised me to go on home, and if he could save anything out of the wreck, he would look out for my interests. What still puzzles me is Mike Bedeau. I can't figure that out."
"Nor I," Mr. Fleming admitted. "A guide usually has too much pride to lose a trail and the person he's guiding. Stealing your pack makes it look more like common thievery than anything else. One thing especially puzzles me. The Burnet and Chatburn tract appears on the map to be only a few miles inland from Eagle Harbor. It's rough country, to be sure, and you can't cross it as the crow flies, but even so, at a fair pace you should have reached it much sooner."
"It seemed a fast enough pace to me," Steve smiled ruefully. "I had all I could do to keep up. If it had been another hundred yards, I don't think I could have made it."
"Well, I can't pretend to explain it," Mr. Fleming conceded. "But I intend to look into the matter. I advise you to be on your guard, too, Steve. You ought to get a receipt from Chatburn for that packet you are taking
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him. It may be that there are papers of value in it. Possibly your guide thought it contained money—bank notes."
"Bedeau couldn't have known I had the packet," Steve objected. "Westman knew, of course, but Bedeau wasn't there when I made up my pack. And," he added, "he wasn't in the cabin when I undid it. He'd gone for wood and water. I put the packet in my shirt pocket before he got back. I slept with the rest of my things under my head, and made up the pack again in the morning while he was out getting water. Then I kept it with me every minute till I hung it on that cedar in the swamp. He had no chance to see what was inside it at any time. I do believe he stole it deliberately, but not for the packet or anything else that he knew was there. He just thought I might have something worth taking, I suppose."
"And so he left you to starve or get stuck in the mud and drowned," Ronnie concluded dramatically.
"It was the meanest, cruelest thing I ever heard of" was Jessie's emphatic verdict.
Mr. Fleming pondered the boy's story thoughtfully. Strange things happened in mining country. Most of them could be explained by men's greed for wealth or desire to avenge an injury, but neither of those motives seemed to apply, in Steve's case. The taking of the pack looked like common thievery.
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The thought of wealth reminded him of Steve's rueful look when he said he must find a way to earn money to get home. A little later he beckoned the boy outside the cabin. "Now, Steve," he said. "You must let me advance you enough money to go on with, at least until you have had a talk with Chatburn."
"I don't like to borrow," Steve returned, "but I haven't any money left. Could I sign a paper for a small loan? Then if I can't repay it now, I will later, or maybe you could collect it from Uncle Mark's estate."
"Yes, we'll make it a formal loan if you like."
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10. At the Keweenaw-Superior Mine
STEVE WANTED TO VISIT A REAL WORKING MINE, so early the next morning he was at the tunnel that had been driven into a fissure vein. From this "adit," as Mr. Fleming told him it was called, vertical shafts had been sunk. Pieces of copper-bearing rock were hauled up from the shafts in buckets by man power, and run out in crude cars on a plank track.
When he saw Tom Tressic pushing a car, Steve exclaimed, "That's the boy I shared blankets with on the White Gull."
"I know," Mr. Fleming replied, "and a good worker he is."
Tom caught Mr. Fleming's praise and grinned broadly. "But, Tom," Steve said, "I thought you'd just come out here to live with your brother. You're only fourteen, aren't you?"
"And do ee think a Cornishman of fourteen is no but
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a cheeld?" Tom demanded indignantly. "Ee's a man
"All right, all right," Steve laughed. "I take it all back."
Tom did not stop work to talk, so Steve lent a hand pushing the heavy car to the kiln house. Here they dumped the rocks, which would be calcined for hours and then could be broken up with hammers.
"I'll wait and walk back with you when you take the empty car," Steve said.
"It don't go back empty," Tom said severely. "We don't waste car room that way."
Steve helped him load the waste rock which had shown so little copper that it was not worth saving for the stamp mill now being built, and went back with him by way of the dump. Mr. Fleming had finished talking with a mine foreman and was waiting there for Steve.
"Yon's a fine man," Tom said. "He do know about mining." From the Cornish lad there could have been no higher praise.
The Keweenaw-Superior site was less than five miles from the little settlement of Eagle River. On their way, Mr. Fleming pointed out two other mining camps to Steve. "A fine location, that," he said of the second. "Already a considerable amount of silver as well as rich copper ore has been taken out."
There was no sheltered bay where the Eagle River
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emptied into Lake Superior, for the stream had cut its channel through a broad sand beach open to the sweep of the wind. Only offshore shallows broke the full force of the waves.
As they approached it, the village lay spread out before them. The few log houses, a store or two, and the boardinghouse were scattered about on the sand hills above the beach.
Mr. Fleming halted by a new sawmill where the river was dammed as it ran through a narrow gully just before it reached the beach. "I have some business here, Steve. You might go on down to the beach and see if your friend Baptiste's father is waiting for you. That may be his boat over there at the dock."
Steve followed the river bank and then plodded through the sand to the dock where a Mackinaw boat lay, a rude but strong-looking craft, pointed at each end and high in the sides, and flat-bottomed. Steve looked at it with a boy's interest in any water craft. Raised on a farm, he knew very little about boats, but he decided the Jeanne was exactly the kind of boat he'd like to have himself one day soon. He inspected her pegged, white-cedar planking and her tamarack mast with the weather-stained sail loosely furled. He saw the long oars stowed away for use if the wind should fail.
A broad, muscular old man with a grizzled beard, who
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had been lashing down his cargo of planks fresh from the sawmill, straightened up and, turned to stare hard at Steve. The boy felt that those keen little reddish-brown eyes had taken in everything about him before the leathery face cracked in a grin.
"You know my Jeanne when you see 'gain, n'est-ce pas?"
"Uh—yes, sir. She's a fine boat."
"Bon. I build her." The deep voice held a note of fierce pride.
"You are Captain Deschanel?" Steve really had no need to ask that question, for there was enough resemblance between the voyageur and young Baptiste to render the formality superfluous.
"Oui. Old Anatole, most folks call me, 'cause my oldest boy is Anatole, too. And you are M'sieu' Etienne 'Arlow. Ba'tis' tell me you come."
Steve started to correct the old man about his first name, but then he remembered hearing that 'Etienne' was 'Stephen' in French and broke off awkwardly. "Ba'tis' told me a lot about you, too."
"He say his old man is one fine voyageur, eh? Ba'tis' is good boy—you not mistake w'en you 'ave him for guide. I got six sons, all good, but to you I say Ba'tis' best of lot."
"I'm sure he is," Steve agreed with the prideful parent. His eyes kept straying in fascinated curiosity to the boat-
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man's blue flannel shirt which was heavily embroidered in gaudy reds and yellows and greens. His beadwork belt was every bit as colorful, and his moccasins were heavily beaded as well. Anatole caught his glance.
"You like? My wife make them. She is chicotte, part Chippewa. Ver' fine, non? You want go Eagle 'Arbor in Jeanne?"
Anatole's fare for the trip was reasonable, and Steve handed over his pack to be stowed away. Then he turned to run back to the sawmill to bid Mr. Fleming good-by.
"Fifteen minute!" Anatole called after him, and the boy put forth a new burst of speed.
As Steve reached the mill, the screech of the saw driving through a log wailed to a stop. A voice went on shouting as if its owner had not noticed that comparative quiet had made this loud tone unnecessary.
"Brother, you can have it!" the voice declared vehemently. "You can have that there cave. You can have that there island. You can have this here whole peninsula with Lake Superior thrown in. I'm heading out of here, and I'm never coming back. If that cave had diamonds and rubies as big as your fist, or if that copper vein I saw is a mile deep and twenty feet wide, you can still have it. I give it to you."
"But McNerny—" Mr. Fleming tried to get in a word without any conspicuous success.
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"I'm telling you that there big boulder is shot through with the prettiest copper any prospector ever laid eyes on. You been telling me it might be an old Indian mine, and I'm telling you the Indians can have it."
Steve rounded a clump of birch trees and caught sight of three men. The excited McNerny was addressing Mr. Fleming, his face as red as the beard of his other listener, a laughing giant of a fellow.
Mr. Fleming was laughing more quietly. "Don't take it too hard, McNerny," he advised. "I may look into that location, and you can be sure if anything comes of it, my company will . . ."
The shriek of the saw beginning to bite its way through a new log drowned out the rest of the sentence. Catching sight of Steve, Mr. Fleming left his companions, and over the racket the boy shouted that Anatole was waiting for him. Mr. Fleming's friendly whack on his shoulder was warmer than any spoken good-by.
The Jeanne carried only one other passenger to Eagle River, a taciturn woodsman content to brood in silence upon his own problems, answering any words addressed to him with a curt nod or noncommittal grunt. This gave Steve and Anatole a chance to become firm friends, and both boy and boatman took full advantage of it. Steve began telling Anatole how he happened to come to the Lake
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Superior country, how his uncle had become interested in copper mines through Dr. Houghton.
Anatole's bright eyes misted. "Oui, dat leetle doctor knew more about rocks dan anybody else. I knew 'im, and I knew two men wit' 'im on trip when 'e drown over ot'er side Eagle Riviere. One big mistake to keep on in boat in snowstorm. Bad sea and boat she turn over. Two men get to shore. Leetle doctor and two ot'er—all drown. Ah, misere!" The boatman shook a mournful gray head.
But gloom had no place in Anatole's temperament, or in Steve's, either, on such a fine day with the wind blowing the cobwebs out of his brain. The trip was all too short.
When Anatole jumped ashore to pull the Jeanne up on the beach, the anonymous second passenger made off with a curt good-by. But Steve insisted on helping the voyageur unload.
"You pay fare—you not work too!" Anatole protested, but he gave in, and soon the boy was taking orders as cheerfully as if he were a real deck hand.
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11. Uncle Mark 's Partner
STEVE WAS HALFWAY UP THE SLOPE TO THE BOARD-
inghouse where he had left his carpetbag with Mr. Westman when his arm was grabbed. He was swung round to face a tall young fellow whose face flamed in competition with his scarlet cap.
It was Lewis Abbott, no longer the spruce college boy, but the very picture of the youthful prospector—except for his peeling nose and blazing sunburn.
"No, I haven't wasted any time," Lewis admitted. "In fact, I am on my way to Copper Harbor now to see about a mining lease. How is that for getting on with it?"
"I'll tell you when I see how much copper you take out of your mine," Steve replied with a laugh. "You wasted no time getting a sunburn at any rate."
"A slight error in judgment," Lewis conceded readily. "But now I know about that too. I did have quite a trip, though, and enjoyed it hugely. I didn't meet a single human being on the trail except a man named Chatburn and his guide that I happened to run across."
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"Chatburn?" Steve asked in astonishment. "That is a coincidence. He's my uncle's partner, and I have been looking for him."
"I thought it must be the same man. Well, you've run him to ground now. He's up at the only boardinghouse this place boasts."
"What kind of man is he? I've never seen him."
"There is a lot of him to see," Lewis said with a grin. "A big, square-built fellow. And not too friendly. At least he wasn't with me. Polite but chilly. Blast it, I've got to run or I'll miss my boat. I'm glad I met you. If you're going on to Copper Harbor, look me up. If I have to go back to my location before you get there, I'll leave a message for you at the Brockway House."
Lewis hurried away to the shore, his blanket roll on his back. Steve smiled at the thoroughness with which his friend was playing the part of copper prospector.
Even Lewis Abbott's description had not prepared the boy for Chatburn's appearance. He was a big, heavy man with a large head and a square, expressionless face. When he spoke, his voice came as an added surprise. It did not seem to go with his big frame, but was low, monotonous, almost toneless.
"I am deeply grieved to hear of your uncle's death," he told Steve when the boy had given him the packet, and he had read the lawyer's letter of introduction. But if any
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real feeling lay behind the conventional words, there was no indication of it. "He was a fine man. The only consolation I can offer is that at least he died before he suffered the disappointment of discovering that our mining venture has turned out a complete failure. Mr. Westman has told me that you visited the property, so doubtless you recognize just how worthless it is."
"I saw the place," Steve replied, "but I know nothing about mining or geology."
"I had presumed that," Mr. Chatburn said with a note of criticism in his voice. 'That is why I left with Mr. Westman my advice that you return home."
"I didn't want to leave my uncle's papers with a comparative stranger," Steve defended his action. He was an unusually mild-mannered youth for a redhead, he had always thought, but Chatburn's tone irritated him. "I also hoped that the Burnet-Chatburn Company might be able to give me a job for the rest of the summer. My uncle rather promised me that."
"My dear boy," Chatburn's tone became even more smoothly infuriating, "the Burnet-Chatburn Company, as you call it, is in no position to give a job to anyone. I advise you most strongly to return to your family. Should any development make your presence as your uncle's heir desirable here, I will be the first to inform you of that fact. But I fear me there is little danger of that contingency
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arising. I presume you have sufficient funds for the return journey?"
"No," Steve admitted. "That is one of the reasons I was hoping for a job."
"Under the circumstances I shall be glad to advance the necessary sum. We will call it a loan, but you may take your time about repaying it."
"That is very kind of you, Mr. Chatburn"—Chatburn's offer had not mollified Steve, and his tone was just as cold as the older man's—"but I don't want to borrow. I must see if I can get work elsewhere."
A raised eyebrow was the only outward sign that Mr. Chatburn was annoyed by this stubbornness. "You may suit yourself, of course. I might point out that your chance of finding work that would pay you enough to live on, let alone leave you anything over and above for your passage, is very remote. This country is swarming with adventurers and job seekers. With no knowledge of mining, geology, surveying, or any profession or trade of a useful nature, you have little chance of finding employment. However, that is your concern, and I trust you will not take it ill if I remind you that my offer of aid will not stand indefinitely."
Steve flushed with anger. "I quite understand, sir."
"These papers," Mr. Chatburn continued as if he had not been interrupted, "that your uncle sent to me are now
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virtually valueless. However, I will examine them more carefully tonight and prepare a receipt which you shall have in the morning. By that time I trust that your good sense will have convinced you of the wisdom of accepting my offer."
Steve felt himself dismissed. The interview had been most discouraging, but he was more angry than depressed. At least Mr. Chatburn had, without his asking for it, offered a receipt, but the man's words and his whole attitude had borne out Lewis Abbott's report of his unfriendliness. And Steve had not found him even polite. True, he had offered to pay the boy's fare home, but he had spoiled that gesture by his ungraciousness.
Not until Steve had left the boardinghouse did he remember about his carpetbag left in Westman's room. He suddenly recalled, too, that he had not had a chance to mention being lost in the swamp, or ask what could be done to recover his property from the guide. He was about to turn back when Mr. Westman came into view, covering the ground with his ungainly strides at an astonishing pace.
After hearing Steve's story, Westman was loud in his denunciation of Bedeau. "We will get that scoundrel, my lad," he said with a theatrical gesture. "Such a dastardly trick shall not go unpunished. I believe Bedeau is at Copper Harbor, and the moment we get there, I will take
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action to get your property back. Rest assured that Bedeau shall be called to account."
Not until the next morning did Steve understand why Westman took it for granted that he was going with him to Copper Harbor. When the boy entered the dining room to get his breakfast, Mr. Chatburn was already there. He motioned Steve to take the seat opposite to him.
"I have learned," he began without even saying good morning, "that a steamboat is expected in a day or two on her way east. You can go with Mr. Westman to Copper Harbor and wait there for the boat. I will supply the necessary funds."
At once, it became clear to Steve that Mr. Chatburn had planned all this even before their interview—in fact, that he had arranged it with Westman before Steve had been asked to make his decision. Apparently it had not occurred to Chatburn that his advice might not be taken. That was too much for any redhead to swallow. From the man's point of view, it was sound advice, no doubt, but Steve did not intend to have his decisions made for him.
"Thank you, Mr. Chatburn," he said, "but I have decided not to go home just yet."
"You are not going?" Both heavy eyebrows rose to show Mr. Chatburn's astonishment. Otherwise, the massive face was impassive.
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"Not yet. I'm going to see if a friend at the Keweenaw-Superior Mine can get a job for me that will let me save enough to pay my fare home. Then I shall not have to
borrow from anyone."
Mr. Chatburn's toneless voice was icy now. "I feel it is my duty to warn you that you are making a grave mistake. My offer is contingent on your going at the first opportunity. If you will put yourself in Mr. Westman's hands, he will arrange everything. You must remember that you are little more than a child and entirely without experience in the world. If you remain on Keweenaw after the steamboat has sailed, I cannot hold myself responsible for you."
A child! At sixteen! That insult and the proposal to turn him over to Westman for safekeeping were too much for Steve. He was big and he was strong, and he was not afraid to work. And he wanted nothing further to do with Chatburn or Westman, now or ever.
"I have made my decision, sir," he said, almost as coldly pompous as Chatburn was himself. "I promise you I shall not come back to you for help."
Mr. Chatburn drank the last swallow of coffee from the thick chipped cup. "Very well, young man." He rose and laid an impressively sealed paper by Steve's cornmush bowl. "Here is the receipt I promised. My offer will
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"I feel it my duty to warn you that you are making a grave mistake"
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remain open until noon when Mr. Westman leaves for Copper Harbor, not one minute longer."
Steve tried to swallow his temper. "I shan't change my mind, sir."
With a meaningless but dignified inclination of his massive head, Mr. Chatburn picked up his hat and strode from the dining room.
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12. An Exploring Trip
IN HIS ANGER, STEVE MADE SHORT WORK OF HIS BREAK-
fast. As he got up from the table, he thrust the receipt unread into his pocket, anxious only to be on his way. The boardinghouse keeper made change for him, and in answer to his question about Mr. Westman, said that the gentleman had had an early breakfast and gone out immediately afterward.
Steve was glad not to have to see Westman again, but he left a note for him. If he got back the pack, Steve's things could be sent to Mr. Fleming at the Keweenaw-Superior Mine or left with Mrs. Brockway at the hotel in Copper Harbor. He picked up his carpetbag then and started down to the beach.
He had decided to walk to Eagle River, to save as much as he could of the money Mr. Fleming had lent him. If he followed the shore line he would not get lost. From Eagle River to the mine he already knew the way.
Old Anatole was loading the Jeanne. He waved a vigor-
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ous greeting. "Bon jour, M'sieu' Etienne. You want go back wit' me to de Riviare?"
"I'm going back, but this time I'm walking. I can't afford to go by boat."
"You got no money?"
"Not much. I am looking for a job."
Anatole laughed. "I give you one job. You lend me hand wit' loading, and I take you. Already you earn 'alf your fare unloading Jeanne yesterday."
Steve went willingly to work stowing on board sacks and packing cases of food for the store in Eagle River, and heavier crates of supplies and tools for the mining camps. He was encouraged. Here was a little job the very first thing. The cargo was aboard in double-quick time. On the trip Steve was allowed to take the tiller, and under Anatole's animated instruction, improved both his seamanship and his knowledge of the country. He was beginning to regard himself as an experienced pioneer boatman by the time they sighted Eagle River, where he helped get the cargo ashore.
At the General Store he bought crackers and a slab of yellow cheese which he ate on the river bank just above the mill, washing the dry crumbs down with the clear water.
He made good time along the rough road to the Keweenaw-Superior, but as he drew near the mine he
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wondered just how wise he had been. If Mr. Fleming could not get him work, he was going to be in something of a predicament, but going back to Chatburn to eat humble pie was not to be considered for a moment.
The whole Fleming family welcomed him with a warmth that made him feel that he had come home.
"I guess maybe you think I ought to have taken his offer to send me home," Steve concluded his account of his interviews with his uncle's partner. "But he treated me so like a child that I just naturally got my dander up."
"I always knew that a temper would have to go with that red hair," Jessie teased him, "and I'm glad to be proved right."
"I would have hit him—on his big nose," Ronnie put in pugnaciously.
Steve laughed at his mental picture of the massive Chatburn and little Ronnie squared off for fisticuffs.
Mr. Fleming had his say more quietly than his children, but he was no less emphatic. "I understand how you feel, my boy, especially since I have made a few inquiries. Chatburn, from what I have been told, is not an easy man to get on with. You are probably fortunate not to have got a job with him, unless you thrive on hard work, little pay, and less thanks. Your friend Westman is a bird of another feather, I hear. The general impression of men who met him on his trip out here last year was
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that he would be quicker to turn a dishonest penny than to do a man's work in the mines. It's said that he manipulates a deck of cards with uncanny precision, and that he is not unknown among the gamblers on the Mississippi river boats. Not a type I would have expected your uncle's partner to associate with."
"Maybe Mr. Chatburn is not quite the honest man he seems," Jessie put in.
"Maybe not," said her father in smiling agreement.
"Did you find out anything about Mike Bedeau?" Steve wanted to know.
"Yes, and all to his discredit, except for the fact that he is known as one of the best woodsmen on Keweenaw. Otherwise, he is a thoroughly bad lot, and it is highly unlikely that his losing the trail was anything but deliberate."
"I don't seem to have been keeping very good company, do I?" Steve said.
"It is lucky you know some respectable people like us, Jessie put in, with a sparkle in her blue eyes.
Mr. Fleming looked serious indeed as he asked Steve if he got a receipt for his uncle's papers.
"Yes, sir." Steve pulled it from his pocket and broke the seal. "I haven't looked at it yet. At first I was so mad I didn't want to, and then I forgot all about it."
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He opened it and stared at the wording with a puzzled frown. Then he handed the paper to Mr. Fleming. For all its fancy seals, the receipt was elementary in its simplicity: "I herewith acknowledge a letter from Mark Burnet, now deceased, delivered to me by his nephew, Stephen Harlow." That was all.
"A letter!" Steve protested. "He took out three different papers from that packet. Of that I am certain."
Mr. Fleming looked thoughtful. "That is odd. He should at least have listed them."
"Of course, he said the papers were of no value anymore," Steve conceded. "But I don't like it. It is treating me like a child again." His eyes blazed as he remembered the earlier insult. "I'm going to write Grandfather about this."
"That is not a bad idea. Your grandfather was named as an executor in your uncle's will, wasn't he?"
"Yes. Grandfather and a lawyer in Albany."
"Write to them both," Mr. Fleming advised. "When they have gone through your uncle's papers, they should be able to tell you more about his mining interests. It is not impossible that the Burnet-Chatburn Company had assets besides the unsuccessful mine and that Mr. Chatburn has some idea of keeping them for his own profit. The next time I go to Copper Harbor, I will check further
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into their holdings. I'm afraid that may not be for some time, for I have at least two surveys to make for my
company first. I should, in fact, be out on the first one now but I have been postponing it from day to day in the hope that Mrs. Smith, our mine superintendent's wife, would
Steve did not see the point, but Jessie grasped it immediately. "Oh, father," she cried. "Aren't you going to take us?"
"You're going to take me?" Ronnie asked. "You don't want girls on field trips, but you need all the men you can get."
"Neither of you!" Mr. Fleming replied.
His tone was kind but so firm that both Jessie and Ronald knew from experience he would not budge under any entreaties. They did not press their arguments, but disappointment was written large on both young faces.
"Since Mrs. Smith has not come," Mr. Fleming went on, "I have asked Jane Harrison to stay with you. The cabin is well stocked, and Mr. Harrison has promised to supply you with firewood. If you need anything else, you can ask Mr. Smith. I don't think we shall be gone long so probably you won't even miss me."
"Oh, Father!" Jessie was indignant, but Steve could see that the mention of Jane Harrison had reconciled her somewhat to being left behind. Steve remembered Jane
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as the blacksmith's pretty daughter, the part Indian girl who was also Anatole's great-niece.
"I am taking an experienced woodsman with me," Mr. Fleming went on, "but I shall need a couple of other helpers to pack supplies, clear away brush, carry the chains and tape for surveying, and help with pick and drill. Hard work, but interesting. I'm taking Tom Tressic, your young Cornish friend, for one, and I wonder if you want to be the second one, Steve?"
"Do I?" Steve's whole face lit up. "Just show me that pick!"
His enthusiasm was heightened by his relief. He had hated to bring up the subject of a job, and here it was handed to him. Now that he had it, he felt sure that he could prove himself indispensable to the Keweenaw-Superior Company.
During the next fortnight he did prove his worth, though it was hard work keeping up with young Tom. The Cornish boy had a methodical, dogged persistence that ate through any job and amazed the more restless Steve. But no York State farmer could allow a Cornish man—and a younger one at that—to outdo him. Mr. Fleming watched their rivalry with secret amusement. He found that he had a harder task to keep them from over working than from doing their full share.
Steve returned from his first survey with hardened
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muscles, considerably more knowledge of copper mining, an increased sprinkling of freckles and a suggestion of a Cornish accent.
It was Jessie's claim that the whole party, including her father and the French-Canadian guide, had become good Cornishmen in two weeks, and that set Tom up immensely.
When the first greetings and teasing were over, Jessie had news for Steve. "Mr. Westman was at the mine while you were gone."
"Was he looking for me?" Steve asked.
"He said he happened to be coming this way and just dropped in to look at the workings. He was very inquisitive. He asked where you and Father had gone and what you were doing and when you would be back, and a lot of other questions. I pretended I didn't know very much, which wasn't too hard since I didn't, though maybe I'm not quite so stupid as I let him think."
"Good girl," her father commended. "There is no reason for him to know anything about our plans."
"You haven't told Steve about his pack," Ronnie struck in. "Mr. Westman said he got it back from that guide and left your things at Brockway's."
"We know that, son," Mr. Fleming told him. "We picked them up on our way through Copper Harbor when we stopped at Brockway's for a meal."
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Mr. Fleming spent the rest of the evening writing his report to the company on the survey, while Steve regaled Jessie and Ronnie with full details of the trip. But throughout his narrative there was an undercurrent of suspense, as if he had it on the tip of his tongue to tell them something quite different.
"Steve Harlow," Jessie finally protested in exasperation, "you're holding something back, and I want to know what it is."
Steve laughed. "You're too sharp by half, Jessie, as Tom Tressic would say. There is something, but I can't tell it. Remember, curiosity killed the cat."
"Are you calling me a cat?"
Another laugh was Steve's only answer to that bit of feminine logic. He still managed to keep his secret safe that night, and the first thing in the morning he left for Eagle River.
During the week Steve was away, Jessie was almost consumed with curiosity, for both her father and Jane refused to tell her what Steve was doing. Not only that, but they exchanged secrets that were abruptly hushed when she appeared. Some plan was afoot, but she got no slightest inkling of its nature.
With Steve's return on Friday the secret came out.
He had been helping Old Anatole overhaul his boat and rig a new sail and build a low cabin in the stern of the
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Jeanne. That cabin, Mr. Fleming explained, was to provide sleeping quarters for Jessie and Jane on a trip to Isle Royale.
"My survey there will take some time," he told Jessie, "and I would not want to leave you here so long. Luckily, Mr. Harrison will let Jane go with us, though he would not agree until he found out that I had hired Anatole as my boatman. Jane has made that trip with her great- uncle before."
Mr. Fleming had expected his news to be greeted with whoops of enthusiasm. Jessie came up to all he expected. but there was a stricken look on Ronnie's face. Somehow the little boy had gathered the impression that only his sister was to be allowed on this trip and that he would have to stay with the Smiths at the mine.
Once this was cleared up there was no holding Ronnie. He tore out of the cabin to collect all his dearest treasures to take with him. First and foremost among them were the bow and arrows he had made all by himself. He would want them, he said, if the party should run out of meat and have to hunt for "rabbits or bears or something."
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13. Isle Royale
RONNIE'S HIGH SPIRITS KEPT HIM IN everybody's
way and hampered somewhat the preparations for the camping trip. But they were all too cheerful to scold him. The girls hummed as they got together the supplies of food and bedding. Mr. Fleming whistled as he poured over charts and checked the tools he was taking along. Songs of the voyageurs roared from Anatole's powerful lungs as he lovingly readied his Jeanne for the voyage. Steve worked like a beaver in the springtime, now at Mr. Fleming's orders and now at Anatole's.
At sunrise one fine August morning, they finally got under way, joining Anatole in song as the Jeanne skimmed across the blue lake before a light southerly breeze. Holiday spirit pervaded the small craft even though it was a long day, with a blistering sun beating down on them, and they were crowded and tired and cramped. By late afternoon song came only in short snatches, but still no one was cross or discouraged. Ron-
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nie finally gave in to the weight upon his eyelids, however, and curled up in the bottom of. the Jeanne for a nap.
When he woke he stared ahead in amazement. "Look; just look!" he cried.
The dim blue line for which they had been bound had grown into a long stretch of wooded land.
"It's all one big island," Ronnie exclaimed. "You said there were lots of little islands," he said to Anatole.
"Oui, dere are, but dey are all 'long shore of de big island and in bays. It all look like one island till you get close and go in 'mong de leettle ones. And some of dose ain't so leettle. But big Isle Royale is ver' big, sixty mile long or more."
"It's just as well for us that I'm not supposed to explore all of the big island," Mr. Fleming remarked, "just some of the copper-bearing ridges and rocky small islands. We'll have to work out from several different camps," he explained to Steve.
As the sun was sinking, the breeze lessened, but the men were not obliged to take to the oars until the boat entered a narrow, eastward-opening harbor where the light breeze was cut off by an abrupt point. Sail lowered, Anatole on the lookout in the bow, they made their way cautiously up the waterway. The abrupt shores, crowned with evergreen woods, shut off the waning light and left the bay almost as dark as it would be at midnight. A silent
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place it was, too. There was not a rustle in the trees or the wash of a wave on the rocks, not a sound but the slight creak of the oars, the dip of the blades in the still water, and from the woods above, the dreamy, evening call of a thrush.
The boat grated against the pebbles, and Anatole jumped out to draw her bow up on the beach. The others stretched cramped legs before they ventured to follow him ashore.
"Tired, lass?" Mr. Fleming put a supporting arm around Jessie. "And hungry, too, I'll be bound."
"I'm hungry," Ronnie cried. "Can't we have supper right off, Captain?" he asked Anatole.
The grizzled boatman grinned at the eager lad. "You call me Captain 'cause I run boat for you?"
"Well, you own the boat too, so that ought to make you a captain," Ronnie returned.
"Captain Deschanel," Jessie put in. "Doesn't it sound fine?"
"Anatole—jus' plain Anatole sound better to me when it comes from Anatole's friends," the old man said.
"And we certainly are all friends of yours," Steve assured him. "From the first day I met you, I've felt you were an old, old friend."
"Not so old," Anatole protested quickly. "But friend—ah, oui."
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"Anatole it is then," agreed Mr. Fleming.
"And now," Anatole said briskly, "Captain—that's me—he tell Cook—that's me too—'Cook, you get supper.' And he say to crew—that's you, boys—'Crew, get wood for fire.' "
"What does the Captain tell me?" Jessie asked. "Can't I do something to help?"
"Oui, you and Jane can unpack pots and t'ings for Cook."
"And I will get them out of the boat," Mr. Fleming volunteered.
Everyone obeyed orders with alacrity, and soon the cook had a tiny flame springing up where he had gathered together a few sticks. Fed with dried bark and resinous boughs, it soon grew into a crackling blaze that lighted up the beach so the supplies and camping gear could be unloaded. A little way from this illuminating blaze, he kindled a small cooking fire where he heated an iron pot of baked beans and fried some slices of salt pork.
By the time supper was over, everyone was nodding from fatigue. The men laid their couches of evergreens on the pebbles of the beach. A bed was spread for Ronnie in the open bow of the Jeanne, and the girls retired to the tiny cabin that Anatole and Steve had built on the boat. They had brought along pillow cases of cotton sacking
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to be filled with balsam tips, but it was too late and too dark to gather balsam that night. Folded extra blankets had to serve as pillows.
Steve dropped to sleep within two minutes of stretching out, but it seemed only an instant later that he was startled into wide-eyed alertness, his ears still ringing from the appalling screech that had wakened him.
The moon lighted the camp, and Mr. Fleming and Anatole, bundled in their blankets, were still sound asleep. Steve got up and went down toward the Jeanne. He saw Jessie's head appear in the low door of the cabin.
A moment later, Jane joined the younger girl.
"Did the lynx scare you?" Steve called, feeling very much the frontiersman now that he could identify that animal voice.
"It did startle me, but I knew what it was, too. I heard a lynx one night at the mine. Look! Up there in the woods! Something just moved. It's gone already, but it couldn't have been the lynx."
"What was it then?"
"Just a black shadow. I didn't notice it till it moved. But it was too big—too tall—to be a lynx. More like a bear on its hind legs—or a man, maybe."
"Maybe some prospector who has lost his way."
But it seemed odd that such a man, stumbling about
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in the dark at that hour of the night, would not come down to the camp where the last embers of the fire still glowed red.
"Come back to bed, Jessie," Jane said. "There is nothing there, and if there was, your father and my Uncle Anatole would be more than a match for it." Ronnie's head emerged from its cocoon, and Jane asked, "Did the screech frighten you too?"
"It woke me up," the boy said positively, now that danger seemed less imminent. "But it really didn't scare me. Not much, that is."
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14. Angelique Mott's 's Isle
THE HARBOR LOOKED FAR MORE CHEERFUL WHEN
Steve woke up, his nose twitching in appreciation of the savory breakfast Anatole was cooking while Ronnie fed sticks into the fire under his direction. The sun touched the treetops, and beyond the pebble beach the thick woods were green now instead of black. The boy wondered why he had ever thought them menacing.
Jessie and Jane were already eating their first installment of flap jacks spread with molasses, and Steve hurried over to join them. In no time at all he managed to consume more food than they.
Mr. Fleming had been back in the woods, and he returned to propose taking the others up the cliff with him for a view of the terrain. The cliff and point were part of a ridge that extended inland, but a break let the explorers through into a ravine from which they could climb to the top.
For the trip, Jane had helped Jessie shorten her
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stoutest skirt for more freedom of movement and had given her
a pair of her own deerskin leggings and moccasins. A prospecting tramp was not
the setting in which to play the too-proper young lady, and Jessie was delighted with the opportunity to be something of a tomboy.
They found the summit of the ridge woods-clad except for a rock lane along the very top. On their right, as they walked along the natural avenue, the rock surface sloped gently to a thin line of trees at the edge of the abrupt cliff that descended to the water.
"That lynx we heard screeching last night must have been right up here," Steve remarked.
"Rabbit run 'long 'ere, and loup cervier—lynx—like to eat nice fat rabbit," Anatole returned.
"Is that one of his tracks? He must have big feet." Steve pointed to a bed of crushed green moss and small plants growing in a patch of deeper soil.
"Non, non. Loup cervier got big feet, but not so heavy like dat. Boot did dat, not soft foot of bete."
Jessie, anxious to prove that she was not a timid girl who imagined dangers in the dark, exclaimed, "I did see something up here last night, a black thing like a shadow and too tall for a lynx."
"Some prospector," her father reassured her. "We are not the only people on Isle Royale, you know. One mine
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is being opened already somewhere in this part of the
Anatole led on almost to the barren end of the point, then to the north across the point, and along the rocks and pebble beaches. Back from the beaches and open rocks, the land was thickly forested, but from the almost- flat top of a great rock, they had a view of waters and woods. A brisk breeze had risen with the sun, and the lake was a rich blue. In the clear air, a chain of islets stood out sharply, and beyond, to the north and northeast, stretched forests which seemed to be almost unbroken.
Pointing to the northeast, Mr. Fleming asked, "Is that one long island separated from the main one, Captain?"
"Dat is streeng of iles. Dat water is long bay wit' dose iles on one side and de big Isle Royale on ot'er. W'ere dat smoke is on de big one is dat mine you talk 'bout."
"Can't we camp on some of those islands?" Ronnie asked. "It would be fun to stay in a new place every night."
"We'll have to camp in places that Steve and I can work out from," his father replied. "We may try one of the smaller islands first, though."
Steve took the lead back to camp. He stopped in his tracks when he reached it. The camping equipment lay scattered over the beach. The place had been ransacked.
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"My satchel!" Mr. Fleming exclaimed. He hurried
across to the boat drawn up on the pebbles. The satchel in which he kept his
papers and field notes was safe in the cabin, but was not just where he had left
it. It had been taken from under Jessie's cot and left on top of it, but the bag
was still locked. The prowler had not been able to open it. "It's lucky he
didn't take the satchel itself," Mr. Fleming said with relief.
"He took my ax though," Steve cried. He had just climbed into the boat. "I can't find it anywhere."
"It's queer he should take just an ax," said Jessie who had followed. Steve was glad to note that there was more curiosity than fear in her voice.
"Very queer," agreed her father. "It was probably that lone prospector you glimpsed last night, but if he'd lost his ax, why didn't he come down and ask us if we could spare one?"
"Maybe it was an Indian," Ronnie put in, "a wild Indian."
"Dere ain't no wild Injuns on Isle Royale," Anatole informed him. "Dere ain't been for many year."
"So people say," Mr. Fleming agreed. "No, Ronnie, we can't lay the theft to Indians. We must be more careful after this, though."
Everything was stowed in the boat again. "En avant!" Anatole shouted. And forward they went, out of the bay,
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around the point, and into the long waterway with the
forested ridges of Isle Royale rising on one side arid the chain of wooded and
rocky small islands on the other. All kept a sharp lookout for reefs and
shallows as well as for a camping spot.
They had gone perhaps four miles when they found a spot on one of the islands where the boat could be brought into the rock shore of a small opening in the woods. There the Jeanne was anchored at the stern and the bow tied to a spruce tree.
Everyone was ravenous, so Anatole set about preparing what he called a galette, a corn-meal cake baked in the flying pan set down in the embers. With molasses poured over it and salt pork on the side, it made a fine, hearty meal.
There was only one disadvantage to their new camp site. There was no beach on which to draw up the Jeanne, and the girls would be tossed about if the wind should come up in the night. Already the sky was overcast and rain threatened.
"We make wigwam," said Anatole. And Steve helped him set up a frame of poles and cover it with the boat sail.
"Someone has lived on this island," Mr. Fleming reported after a short trip back from the camping place. "There is a sort of Indian lodge of bark back there. The
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old litter around it and the stumps of felled trees show that
it was no camp for one night."
"It is w'ere Angelique Molt was, maybe," Anatole replied.
"Who was she?" Steve asked.
"An Indian woman who was stranded here all alone," Jane told them with a little shudder.
"She was not 'lone at first," Anatole explained. "She and Mott come wit' men from Detroit to look for copper. On one of dese iles, Angelique walk on de beach and see chunk of copper shine in water. Dose men t'ink it one fine place. Dey decide to locate, and leave Motts to 'old de place. Motts got supplies; but 'fore Noel, everyt'ing used up. Mott got sick and die. Angelique got not'ing to eat for week. Den she pull 'air from 'ead and make snare, and catch rabbit. She eat 'im raw. She catch rabbit now and den, and eat bark and seeds and anyt'ing she could. And w'en spring come and ice break up, she got a fish sometimes. So w'en schooner Algonquin come, she still 'live, and de captain take 'er to Copper 'Arbor."
"'What a horrible experience!" Jessie cried. "I hope I don't dream about Angelique tonight."
The next day after Anatole had ferried Mr. Fleming and Steve across the waterway to the main island, he took the girls and Ronnie to see Angelique's wintering place, and then on along a faint trail to the outer shore. There
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"We make wigwam," said Anatole, and Steve helped him set up a frame of poles and cover it with the boat sail
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he left them to amuse themselves pawing over the strange and
beautifully marked pebbles on the beach.
The more adventurous Ronnie soon tired of such tame sport and went exploring along the beach and rocks until he found a vantage point where he could pretend he was in the prow of his ship, sailing across pirate-infested waters. He almost thought his game was turning into reality when he saw a Mackinaw boat nosing around the tip of a point that ran out into the lake from the next island. The boat looked to be about to pass between the islands, but when it was nearly opposite Ronnie, a man in the bow shouted something, and the craft was put about and ran back out of sight.
"I just saw a boat," Ronnie shouted as he scrambled down from the rocks to the beach, "and Westman was in it."
"Is he landing here? Are you sure it was Mr. Westman? How could you tell?" The girls pelted the boy with their questions.
"They turned around and went away," Ronnie answered the first question first. "There were three men, and one of them was Westman all right. He was standing in the bow, and you know how long and skinny he is. He waved those long arms when he yelled at the other men— and he was wearing that funny-looking hat with the bead band around it."
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"Did he see you, Ronnie?" Jane wanted to know. "I guess so. I
don't see how he could help it." When Anatole returned to conduct the three
back to camp, he was greeted with this news, but he too had seen the boat. He
was unusually quiet as he led the way back, and when Ronnie begged to go along
to the main island to meet the prospecting pair, he was almost curt in his
refusal to take the boy. He wanted a chance to tell Mr. Fleming about the boat
without the others listening. He had recognized the other two men.
"De big one wit' red beard I see at Eagle Riviere. I not know 'is name, but de ot'er is dat Michel, Mike you call 'im, Mike Bedeau. No good, dat Michel."
"Bedeau and Westman again," Steve exclaimed. "What are they doing here? Westman has poked his sharp nose into my affairs from the first day I met him on the Scott. If he's trailing me, I wish I knew why."
"If he's trailing you," Mr. Fleming said soberly, "it can only be because he has been instructed to by Chatburn. But Anatole's description of the big man with the red beard makes me think I am the one being trailed."
"There was a red-bearded man at the mill in Eagle River the day you were talking with that prospector," Steve remembered.
"That's the fellow. Did you hear what was said?"
"I heard some, but I wasn't paying much attention.
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There was something about giving you a cave, wasn't
"Giving it to me if I could find it. I'll tell you the story later, but right now let's say nothing to worry the girls. However, I don't think we'd better continue camping here. Tomorrow we'll sail farther up the islands and see if we can shake these men. At any rate, we can be pretty sure now who took your ax, Steve."
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15. McNerny's Cave
TO THE OTHERS, MR. FLEMING SAID THAT THE
appearance of Westman's boat had no real significance. He was probably prospecting, as he had every right to do. "Steve and I have done all we need to do around here," Mr. Fleming added. "Ransom, who is opening that mine across the harbor, has already located the best copper deposits. We're ready to move on. It's early to bed for all of us so we can make an early start."
In good time the next day the Jeanne was sailing on up the long waterway between the main island and the chain of smaller ones. But before the boat had reached the last islet, the sky had hazed over and fog was blowing in from the open lake. With the fog chasing them, Anatole steered around a point and into another harbor, where the thick cloud overtook and enfolded them. Having reached a possible landing place, he put in to shore, and they made camp at once.
Not until the following morning when the fog had cleared away, could they get any view of their surround-
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ings. Then they found that they had chanced on an ideal
camping place. They were on an island in another long harbor cutting into main
Isle Royale. The wooded shores of the points of the larger island protected it
on either side from storm winds. And they were near enough to those shores to
reach them quickly and easily.
Leaving Ronnie and the girls to help Anatole with his fishing or amuse themselves as they pleased. Mr. Fleming and Steve set out to explore the northeast half of the high backbone ridge of the great island. It was this ridge, extending into the lake, that formed the point which protected the harbor on the northwest. They planned to take two days for their explorations, so each carried a blanket and part of the food. With drills, hammers, an ax, and a pick besides the indispensable cooking utensils, their loads were heavy enough.
After a long day they camped on the summit of the ridge, on almost bare rock where only an occasional stunted tree maintained itself by sending its roots down into a crack or earth-filled depression. Their supper over, they sat by the fire while Mr. Fleming jotted down notes of the day's observations. When he closed his note book, Steve seized the opportunity to ask him why he thought he was being followed by Westman and the red-bearded giant.
"I scarcely noticed that fellow listening to McNerny
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and me at the time," Mr. Fleming replied. "Anyway.
McNerny had probably told his story often enough. Everybody has a story about
finding a rich copper deposit, but McNerny's tale did sound as if there might be
some truth in it. At least I thought so, and probably that red-bearded fellow
did too. Very likely he thinks McNerny gave me explicit directions for finding
the cave or some sort of map showing its location."
"No, He doesn't know himself just where the place is. He was prospecting up here last fall. One night he got caught in a thunderstorm on his way back to camp. He found refuge from the worst of the wind and rain behind a big rock, but while he crouched there, a blinding flash of lightning and a terrific crash of thunder stunned him. The bolt must have struck the rock or a tree nearby. Anyway, when he came to, the storm had let up some what. Darkness had come, and he was still dazed. He lost his way, slipped down into a hole, and in trying to climb out, broke through some bushes and slid down into utter blackness. One foot was doubled under him, and when he tried to straighten it, it hurt so much that he fainted.
"When he came to again, he managed to light a fire, using dry shoots from the partly dead bushes through which he had plunged. He was in a cave. For a few
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minutes his fire burned brightly enough to give him a view of
the place. Close to him on the floor of the cave, something gleamed in the
firelight—and this is what it was."
Mr. Fleming took a small object from his pocket and handed it to Steve. It looked like a piece of pure copper, hammered into the crude likeness of an animal. The head and nose were plain, but Steve could not make out just what beast it was meant to represent.
'That isn't the only curious thing he saw there," Mr. Fleming went on. "The firelight showed a vein of copper in the rock wall near him, and a few feet beyond there was a big rock mass or boulder, which looked, from where he was, to be made of copper. He tried—"
The story teller was interrupted by a sharp crack that seemed to come from somewhere not far beyond the circle of firelight. Steve jumped. "That sounded like a rifle shot," he exclaimed.
"Yes, didn't it?" Mr. Fleming did not seem concerned. But Steve could not easily ignore a shot so close to camp. He got up and went to investigate. Moonlight flooded the steep slope of the ridge, revealing nothing but an occasional dark patch of moss or bearberry, and a few juniper clumps. Not a living creature was in sight. When the boy returned to the campfire, Mr. Fleming continued his story without comment or question.
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"In the morning," he went on, "McNerny
succeeded in crawling out of the cave and the pit. The storm was over, but thick
fog prevented him from seeing much of anything of his surroundings. Slowly and
painfully he crawled in what he thought was the direction of his camp. Now and
then he paused to shout, though he didn't really expect to be heard. But he was
heard, answered, and rescued by two other prospectors, who took him down to
their boat. I'm decidedly curious about that cave. It may be a valuable
"But," protested the puzzled Steve, "it's evident, isn't it, that someone had been working there before McNerny found the place. So it's probably located already, don't you think?"
"I don't believe that anyone has worked there in a very long time," Mr. Fleming returned, smiling at the expression on Steve's face. "Two or three queer holes have been found recently in the copper ranges. One of them is close to Eagle River. The pits are man-made but centuries old, for they are partly filled with debris with trees growing out of them. Those pits were probably dug by Indians before the white men came or even by some prehistoric race which preceded the Indians we know."
The idea appealed to Steve's imagination. "And you think the hole McNerny fell into is one of those old Indian mines?"
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"I think so, yes. I showed McNerny a boulder taken from
the pit near Eagle River, and he said it looked just like some he saw in the
cave. Those small boulders are thought to be the hammers with which the
aboriginal miners broke the softer rock to get out the copper."
"Didn't he go back to the cave?"
"No, the men who found him were about to leave Isle Royale, and they took him with them. His foot and ankle were in bad shape. He stayed at Eagle River until he had worked out his board and doctor's bill, and had saved enough to take him to the Sault. But he has had his fill of prospecting. He said if I could find his copper mine, I was welcome to it. I told him that if I did find it and it proved worth anything, I was sure my company would pay him well either in cash or in stock. It's a good deal like looking for a needle in a haystack, though, or one particular pine cone in a forest. All we know about its location is that it is not in the part of Isle Royale we have been exploring so far, or anywhere on this highest ridge. His last camp was on another ridge somewhere to the west of here. He doesn't know just where, for he had no map. And the only landmarks he noticed near the pit were two tall masses of rock. Well, we won't worry our heads over all this tonight. It's time to turn in. You put out the fire, and I'll get our bed ready."
For a few minutes after he had lain down on the
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blanket spread over a thin layer of dry caribou moss, Steve lay staring up at the stars, his thoughts whirling. He wondered how Jessie and the others were getting along. He thought about the Indian mine, and even more about Mr. Fleming's strange indifference to what he was still sure was a rifle shot. Then he was asleep.
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16. A Second Search
THE SUN WAS WARM ON HIS FACE WHEN STEVE
rolled off his hard bed. He cut firewood while Mr. Fleming went down to a little lake for water. When the latter returned, Steve beckoned to him from across the ridge top. "I've got something to show you," the boy said. He pointed to a fresh scar a little way down the steep slope. "There was somebody down there last night. He knocked off a piece of rock."
Mr. Fleming smiled. "No intruder with his rifle did that. This is old, weathered rock, you know, and it gets very hot on a sunny day. The rapid cooling at night some times causes contraction until flakes are ready to split off. And when they do, it sounds like a shot. It fools every prospector at one time or another, especially in good hunting country where rifle shots are not uncommon."
"That wouldn't apply here," Steve said. "I haven't seen a trace of anything worth hunting. But it fooled me all the same."
"From what I saw down at that lake," Mr. Fleming re-
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turned smilingly, "I should say there was plenty of game
on Isle Royale. There are moose tracks down there, fresh ones, scores of them.
There must have been some of the animals down there last night."
"And we never heard them up here!"
"They can be amazingly quiet beasts. They look clumsy, but they can slip through the woods without making a sound."
Man and boy were so engrossed in their conversation that it was not until the acrid smoke of burning salt pork reached them that Steve remembered he had left their breakfast on the fire. Luckily, it was only a small piece of fat that had fallen out of the pan, and the rest had cooked itself to perfection untended. They ate it there and then, while the water heated for their coffee, and then drank the coffee while Steve made some flap jacks.
"I may not get it all at once as Anatole does," Steve explained, "but you can't say you don't get the full ration."
"Bit by bit I do," Mr. Fleming admitted. "And it tastes good in whatever order it comes. I'll take another cup of coffee, and I hope you have batter for at least one more pancake. Or, rather, for two more. I'd hate to devour the last one right under your hungry eyes."
They left their cooking utensils and the remains of their food at the night's camping place, and went on
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along the ridge. After passing beyond a thin growth of jack
pines, they came to a spot where they had a wide view to the east and southeast.
Wooded ridges and valleys, lanes of water, and small islands lay spread out far
"I think I can make out Angelique's island where we camped," Steve said, "and look away across the lake there! Is that land or a cloud?" He gazed intently at the faint blue streak on the horizon.
"I can't see it," Mr. Fleming admitted, "but that's the direction Keweenaw is in. So it must be the end of the peninsula. You saw this island from the White Gull, and now you're reversing it. You have good eyes, Steve."
"Unless it really is a cloud. It almost seems to move when I look at it too long. There's a lot of water between here and there."
As he spoke, Steve was swept by a strange sensation, not exactly loneliness, or homesickness, or fear—but something of all three, combined with a sense of foreboding. He tried to shrug off the feeling and turned to follow Mr. Fleming.
It was not until mid-afternoon that they came back to their camp of the night before. One look showed them that it had been ransacked. The packs were open with their contents strewn about, but nothing had been taken, not even food.
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"It seems to me," said Mr. Fleming, "that this is convincing proof that our first visitor was no chance prowler who merely
stumbled on our camp. Westman and his fellows must still be keeping an eye on us."
"Maybe that was a rifle shot last night after all."
"No," Mr. Fleming said with conviction, "it was no shot. But instead of that flake of rock splitting off just because of a change in temperature, it may have been broken off by someone stepping on it."
"Bedeau can creep like a shadow, I know from experience," Steve said with some bitterness. "He's probably good at hiding, too. He might have been lying flat behind a juniper clump when I was looking down there."
"It would have to be Bedeau," Mr. Fleming agreed. "Either of the others would probably have slid down himself or made some noise saving himself. We'll keep this affair from the girls and Ronnie, but from now on we must be even more careful than we have been. If we find the Indian mine and they trail us there, there is no telling what those three may try, to keep us from Copper Harbor until they get a chance to put in a first claim to the find."
After a hasty lunch, the two made speed back along the way they had come the day before. At the shore they found Anatole waiting to take them back to the island camp. Mr. Fleming asked if he had seen anything of
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Westrnan or the other men or their boat, but Anatole shook his head.
"I wish I knew where they are camping," Mr. Fleming said, "but we can't waste time hunting for the place. We must try to lose them tomorrow, though, when we move on."
"I catch dat Bedeau round my camp and I break 'is neck," Anatole asserted belligerently. "Bedeau t'ink 'ee's mighty good woodsman, but Old Anatole can show a treeck or two."
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17. The Moose in the Trail
THEY BROKE CAMP AGAIN NEXT DAY, ROUNDED THE
tip of the long point in which the ridge ended, and skirted its northwest shore line. Here the rocks rose abruptly, ribbed and pillared like giant palisades. The few little coves that broke the steep wall were too exposed to wind and waves to make good camping sites. Anatole steered the boat on through a waterway that narrowed to a mere channel, then opened out into a sheltered bay. Camp was set up on a little point with a sand and pebble beach.
The day had been sultry, and before midnight Jane and Jessie were wakened by peals of thunder, flashes of lightning, and rain driving down on the roof of the Jeanne's cabin. For two days, a gale rushed down the harbor, lashing the trees and sweeping the campground, carrying the waves so far up the sandy point that the sail wigwam had to be moved back into the brush and the boat drawn almost up to it.
They were all glad to get out of the cramped quarters
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and into the open when the storm finally cleared away. Jessie
went out for a before-supper walk and had gone only a few hundred yards when
Steve joined her.
He had found some queer-looking white flowers, he said, that had turned black in his hand when he started to take some back to her. He wanted to show her the place. "It's only a little way from here and the captain-cook hasn't started to mix his frying-pan bread yet. Come on, if you want to see my ghost flowers."
The two pushed through the bushes fringing the beach and on into the deep woods. Steve led the way along what seemed to be a rough path, among crowding spruce and balsam fir trees growing in low ground at the base of a steep slope. Right in the middle of the trail a little before it ended in a bog, a clump of Indian pipes, white and luminous in that gloomy spot, grew out of the damp ground, without a single green leaf or touch of color to relieve their ghostliness. Carefully Steve cut a shoot which Jessie wrapped in her handkerchief to take back to Jane.
As they were returning along the same track, Jessie caught sight of bunches of bright red berries, gleaming like jewels halfway up the steep slope. She exclaimed, and Steve offered to get some for her.
She watched him climbing up—and then, just as he reached the red-berried shrub, a twig snapped behind
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her, followed by a sharp clicking noise. She swung around and
caught her breath.
On the farther side of a fallen tree trunk stood a big, dark, ugly-looking beast. At her quick movement, he raised his head and twitched a long, heavy muzzle. Instead of slipping away among the trees again, he stood his ground, his spreading antlers lowered threateningly.
Frozen with fear, Jessie stood motionless, while the clicking sounded again and the moose took a step forward. She did not dare to call to Steve, for fear her voice would enrage the animal.
Girl and beast were still staring at each other when a new and terrifying sound came from the opposite direction. It was a groaning grunt that might have been the voice of some horrible ogre of the forest. The moose raised his head and lifted a hoof to step over the log. Then he paused, his hoof in the air, and turned his big nose to the slope. Steve was scrambling down, and the beast had heard him coming.
A new fear assailed Jessie. Would Steve see the animal in time? She opened her mouth to call a warning, but his voice came to her first.
"Keep still, Jessie! Don't make a move."
The moose tossed his antlers angrily. Steve shouted again as he came plunging down over rocks and through the brush. He was trying to distract the beast away from
Jessie. And he was succeeding! The moose lost interest in the
girl and moved toward that noisy creature.
"Run now!" Steve shouted.
The boy paused by a birch and waved his arms, but still Jessie did not move to leave him to his peril. Then he reached up for a branch. He meant to swing himself up, let the animal tree him, and give her time to escape.
As he got hold of the branch, the grunting groan came again, and from the opposite direction a terrific bellow answered. The moose stopped in his tracks, and he and the girl both turned their heads. With a snapping and trampling and a clicking like castanets, another moose plunged into the trail, an even bigger beast with wide spreading, many-pronged antlers. Jessie could not have fled if she had tried.
She did not need to run. The big bull directed all his wrath toward the younger one, and the first moose was too frightened to take any further interest in Steve. He was no match for the other bull. He turned and fled, with the giant animal after him, both of them plunging and crashing through the woods.
Steve was at Jessie's side in a moment. "Run!" he ordered again. And she darted off, leaping over obstructions, with Steve close behind her.
Both of them were panting when they burst out from the woods to the beach. Then Jessie stopped and drew a
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long breath. "You saved my life, Steve. That beast was coming straight at me."
"Oh, he might not have attacked you. Anatole says they usually leave you alone if you don't act as if you were going to bother them. But it's fall now, and this is their mating season, so you can't always tell what they'll do. It must have been a cow moose that made that queer groaning noise. Look, here comes Ronnie on the run to meet us. I'm afraid your father will blame me for taking you along a path that I should have guessed was a moose trail."
When the tale was told, mostly by Jessie who gave Steve his due as a hero, Mr. Fleming was far from blaming the boy. In fact, they all praised Steve's courage and quick-wittedness in such glowing terms that his face grew redder than his hair.
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18. The West Inlet
NOW THAT SEPTEMBER HAD COME, THE
ash berries were turning from orange-red to bright vermilion, and the dry, sun-swept places on the ridges were dyed with tints of red, yellow, brown, and tan. In the woods the squirrels were busy cutting off the cones of spruce, fir, and alder, and in the openings, flocks of migrating birds were stopping to rest and feed.
One morning there was frost on the Jeanne's cabin roof. "But we get fine weat'er now," Anatole assured Mr. Fleming.
"I hope so. I want to go on to the inlet that cuts into the northwest side of the main island. Did you go in there last year?"
"I gone most dere, to de fur comp'ny post. De clerk dere can tell me 'bout rest of way, and maybe we get some more supply. Dose two boys, dey eat awful lot."
"We all do," Mr. Fleming returned with a laugh.
Early the next day they broke camp and made a hurried start, for they had a long trip ahead around the rest of
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the northeast end of the main island and down the north west
shore. For much of the way the boat was exposed to the wind and waves of the
open lake, but luckily the weather remained good. Indeed, the breeze was barely
strong enough to keep them moving.
The sun was down when they reached the American Fur Company's post, a small and lonely station consisting of one good log building, a dock, a few small shacks, and a fish house at the water's edge. The clerk was delighted to welcome visitors. He had been rather expecting them, he told Mr. Fleming, for a friend of his had stopped there not many hours before to ask if anything had been seen of the party.
"A friend of mine? Who was he?"
The man had not given his name, the clerk replied. He had come in a boat with two others, a big man with a red beard and a "little weasel" of a guide. They had stayed only a few minutes.
Steve glanced at Mr. Fleming who said quietly, "I know who he is then. He's not a friend of mine, but one of my friends has had some dealings with him."
The lonely clerk insisted that they spend the night with him. Fishing, not fur gathering, he told them, was now the chief business of the station. Prime furs were growing scarce, but fish were plentiful and brought a fair price east of the Sault. The company ship brought in salt
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and barrels and carried away salted lake trout and white
The Jeanne got under way in the morning after Mr. Fleming had bought flour and beans and a jug of molasses. They passed through an island-bordered channel and skirted more islets, points, and rock shores before reaching the entrance to the inlet they were seeking. The clerk had warned Anatole that the way in was a difficult one. Outlying reefs and a submerged rock almost in the middle of the entrance made it necessary to follow a course like a letter S. They lowered the sail, and Mr. Fleming and Steve took their places at the oars while Anatole knelt in the bow to watch for shallows. In spite of his care and the quick response of the oarsmen to orders, the boat grazed the treacherous rock, but only grazed it.
Like the harbors of the northeast end of the great island, the waterway was long and narrow with wooded shores, but instead of occupying a sunken valley between ridges like the others, it ran in through a diagonal break or fault in the ridges. The head of the inlet proved to be marshy, but on the west shore they found a stretch of low, shelving rock, where a landing could be made and camp set up. From there they could conveniently explore the ridges.
While the others set up camp, Mr. Fleming and Steve did a little scouting. They did not get back until after sun-
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set. As they knelt on the shore to wash their hands, Mr. Fleming said, "I want to follow that promising-looking vein tomorrow and do some drilling, but you might explore a bit by yourself, Steve. You know copper signs now when you see them. But what I really want you to do is to look for McNerny's—" He was interrupted by Jessie's clear call summoning them to supper.
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19. The Indian Mine
NEXT MORNING, AS STEVE WAS PREPARING TO
leave camp, Ronald ran up to him, shouting in high glee, "I'm going exploring
with you, Steve. Father says I may."
"I said you might if Steve was willing to take you," Mr. Fleming corrected him.
"Sure I am" was the cordial response. "I won't be trying to make speed this time. We'll take it easy."
"And look for that Indian cave." Ronnie was thrilled at the thought.
"And who knows but what we might find it," Steve replied, smiling. "But you mustn't be too disappointed, Ron, if we don't."
The big boy and the little one followed the track Mr. Fleming and Steve had made on their return the night before until it made a sharp turn to the right.
"We'll keep straight on instead of turning here," Steve said as he blazed a birch by slicing off a small piece of
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bark. "We don't want to cover the same ground as your
On they went, up and down again, up and down, for they were going across the rises of ground, not along the top of one. At the bottom of a steep slope they found themselves on the bank of a small stream. Across the stream the ground was low, they could see, and grown up to bog plants and bushes, with feathery tamaracks and dark-foliaged spruces beyond. The stream looked too deep for Ron to wade, but a partly uprooted old birch leaning out over the water furnished a precarious bridge. From the birch Steve dropped down upon a mound of bog moss. It immediately sank under his weight until his feet were covered.
"Wait a minute, Ron," he called, then reached up, seized the boy, and swung him to a more solid spot. Forewarned, they picked their way carefully through the treacherous sphagnum moss and the swamp growth to firm ground.
Up they went again through the woods until they looked down on another brook at the bottom of a steep, narrow ravine. The clear stream was inviting to the hot, thirsty boys. Down they scrambled and lay side by side to drink long draughts of the cool water. Refreshed, they made short work of the upward slope until they reached the thin-soiled summit of a ridge, where wild-cherry and
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serviceberry bushes mingled with stunted evergreens. Some
ripe berries still clung to the bushes, but the boys did not stop to pluck them.
For a moment both stood staring along the ridge top. Over there, only a short distance away, a mass of dark rock towered above bushes and jack pines. Not far beyond it was another rock, not so tall and more irregular.
"Look, Steve, look!" Ronnie shrieked in excitement.
And Steve, almost as excited, cried, "Come on, Ron," and broke into a run.
Ronnie was after him as fast as his shorter legs would carry him. When he caught up, Steve was standing right on the rim of a roughly circular hole between the two rocks and close to the base of the taller one.
"This is an old mine pit, I'm sure of it," Steve said, pointing down into the hole. "And if those are the tall rocks McNerny remembered—here, Ron, let me swing you down."
He lowered Ronnie to a safe footing and climbed down after him. The hole or pit was four or five feet deep and partly filled with bushes, juniper, and shrubby cedar. He remembered that McNerny had been trying to climb out when he broke through bushes and slid down into the cave. Then, if this was the same pit, the cave entrance must be somewhere in the wall. At once Steve began to
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make his way along that wall, pushing aside the growth that
masked the weather-beaten, crumbling rock.
Ronald had started around in the opposite direction. Now he was standing by a clump of cedar and ninebark growing against the pit wall directly under the more irregular mass of rock. When Steve hurried up to him, Ron held back the ninebark stems as well as he could. There in the rock wall yawned a black hole. Was it the mouth of McNerny's cave? It must be, Steve thought.
With Ronnie still holding back the bush, Steve stooped and looked into the hole. The entrance was small, and Steve could see that it sloped steeply downward. No wonder McNerny, when he crashed through the bushes in the darkness, slipped down there. After sniffing carefully to discover if any wild animal had made the cave its den, Steve was about to go in when Ronnie cried out in indignation.
"Oh, no, you don't, Steve. I found it and I'm going first." Without giving Steve time for argument, Ron ducked under his arm and slid down into the hole feet first.
"All right," he shouted back. "Come on down. It's a whopping big cave."
Steve followed quickly. The cave was bigger in Ron-
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nie's eyes than in his own older pair. With the bushes sprung
back in place over the opening, it was dark—too dark to explore. But again,
Ronnie was triumphant. With a flourish he pulled out of his pocket a few
precious matches, a little piece of sandpaper borrowed from Anatole, and a
short section of tallow candle. Ever since Steve's tale of his experiences in
the cedar swamp, Ronnie had been prepared for just such emergencies, and there
was little telling what he might bring out of his bulging pockets.
By the candle's small steady flame, they could see that the floor of the cave was strewn with broken pieces of rock, while here and there was the dull gleam of almost pure copper. Rude as they were in shape, the boys could recognize these objects as Indian relics. A hatchet-shaped blade, tarnished and corroded, had been hammered out and ground to a blunt edge. There were copper arrow heads, too, and a small oblong nugget formed somewhat like a fish; with a hole bored through its tail—perhaps it had been a sinker for a fishing line, or maybe a lure for the wary. Each of the boys pocketed relics to be displayed back at camp as proof of their finding the mine.
There, too, was the boulder McNerny had described, proving again that this was indeed the right cave. Fire-blackened as it was, it still showed veins and pockets of the metal, and bore marks of having been split and ham-
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"There's somebody up there. A horrible-looking man just at the edge of the pit"
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mered. The ancient Indian miners had evidently made fires around it and had
then thrown water over the heated surface to split and shatter the rock so they
could get out the free copper.
It was while they were examining the boulder that the boys heard the first distant rumble.
"A storm coming up?" Steve was astonished because the day had been clear up to now. But another roll of thunder answered his question.
"Do you think we can get back to camp before it breaks?" Ronnie asked. His bravery did not go so far as to make him want to stay in a dark cave through a bad storm.
He began a hasty retreat toward the entrance. As he reached the opening, his candle flickered and then went out. The narrow mouth of the cave had acted like a chimney, and the rising wind had made a strong draft.
This was enough to send him scrambling up the incline, only to come tumbling down a second later and collide with Steve.
"Steve! Steve!" With an effort he kept his voice down to a hoarse whisper. "There's somebody up there. I saw him. A horrible-looking man just at the edge of the pit."
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THE STORM THAT HAD BROKEN OVER THE BOYS' heads as they explored the cave caught the rest of the party just as unprepared. Anatole had noticed a dark, ragged cloud low in the sky, and had heeded the warning, but he was still far from camp when the gale overtook him.
Mr. Fleming, almost as far away and a less experienced woodsman than Old Anatole, had not dared to travel during the storm. In the driving rain it was impossible to see the few blazes he had cut or any other landmarks.
Jessie and Jane had been picking wild raspberries that grew abundantly in an open place where, at some time, fire, probably kindled by lightning, had destroyed the forest growth. When their pans were full, they lingered to gather bunches of the goldenrod, wild asters, and white yarrow which bloomed luxuriantly in the burned clearing. The clearing was also a feeding place for migrating birds, as the girls now discovered. White-throated sparrows, with striped heads and plaintive call notes, scratched among the dry leaves. Dainty little chippies and blue
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birds in their autumn dress were seeking berries and insects. Goldfinches, now clad in sober olive, pulled the ripe seeds from a clump
of thistles. Then, suddenly, as if at some prearranged signal, they rose in
flocks, fluttered and wheeled, and made off.
"Whatever frightened them?" Jessie wanted to know. Jane was staring up at the sky. "They have far sharper senses than we have. Look over there."
"I don't see anything but a little dark cloud."
"But it's growing fast," Jane told her. "That's a thunderstorm coming. Look at it grow!"
They wasted no more time. Quickly they picked up their berry pans and sped back to camp, pursued by the rumble of thunder and the flashes of lightning. At the camp they worked feverishly, gathering all loose articles into the sail-covered wigwam.
The rumbling grew louder, and gusts of wind ruffled the gray waters of the inlet. Then; mingled with the thunder, came a rushing noise. The treetops began to sway, and a great rush of wind swept down harbor, filling the air with scurrying leaves, bearing along twigs and even branches, and lashing the waters into foam-tipped, green-gray waves.
Jane pulled Jessie to the ground. As they lay flat, faces down, there came a blinding flash of light, a deafening crack and crash, a rending sound. Jessie's body tingled
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and went numb, her head rang. Then she felt Jane's arm around
her. Her ears were clearing. "What—" she began.
Her words drowned in another crash of thunder. And then, just as both were getting to their feet, the rain began. They looked about for shelter. The wigwam was down, a mere heap of poles and flapping canvas. The split and shattered, lightning-struck birch at the edge of the woods was a warning against seeking refuge under a tree.
Jane seized Jessie's arm and ran with her toward a thicket of alders at some distance from the woods. In among the bushes the two crawled, and Jane, reaching up, bent down stems and twisted and wove the leafy branches together to make a shelter. It was far from rain proof, but it did protect them a little from the hardest of the downpour.
When Anatole and Mr. Fleming, coming from opposite directions, reached camp at almost the same moment, the bedraggled girls were struggling to disentangle the sail from the wreck of the wigwam. Everything had been drenched, but the rain had ceased, the storm cloud had gone on its way, and the worst of the gale had passed. Bright sunshine was warming the soaked campers and setting their clothes to steaming.
Anatole had feared for his precious boat in the violent wind, but the sturdy Jeanne had ridden out the storm
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bravely, and her moorings had held securely. The old voyageur
set the girls to bailing while he and Mr. Fleming rescued the sail. It was
torn, but Anatole was confident that he could mend it in time for them to use it
as a tent cover that night. While he plied his big needle, he told Mr. Fleming
something that had been troubling him.
"I talk wit' Wes'man dis morning. I was out 'unting, and I saw boat come 'long wit' two men. Dey down sail and come close in. Wes'man was one, and ot'er dat big feller wit' red beard. Dey see me on shore, and Wes'man shout and ask w'at we do in 'ere. I say just look 'round and ask 'im w'at dey do. He say dey just look 'round too. Den dey go on down 'arbor."
Mr. Fleming looked serious as he listened. "There is no question about it now. They are trailing us. Fortunately I have almost finished the company's surveys. I had hoped to get in a bit more prospecting, but now I think the best plan is to return to Keweenaw at once."
"Good," Anatole agreed soberly. "Early winter come. We go back 'fore snow."
"We'll leave tomorrow," Mr. Fleming decided, "unless Steve has found something of special interest today. I wonder why the boys aren't back yet?" There was anxiety in his voice.
"Dey come now." Anatole pointed with his needle.
The two boys, their clothes torn and sticking wetly to
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their bodies, had just come in sight, both looking tired and
dejected. But when Ron saw his father, he braced up and broke into a run.
"We found the cave! We found the cave!" he shouted.
His shout brought the girls from the boat, and he had a tense audience as he dramatically related the story of their find, and drew relics out of his pockets to prove it. It was only at the end of his tale that his spirits flagged and he concluded lamely, "And then we stayed in the cave during most of the storm."
Mr. Fleming had been watching Steve's sober face while his son talked, and he guessed that there was something to be added to their adventure.
"What's troubling you, Steve?" he asked when the girls had gone back to finish bailing out the Jeanne, taking Ronnie with them.
"Mike Bedeau," Steve said shortly. "He trailed us to the cave."
Steve told Mr. Fleming how Ronnie had tumbled back after seeing the face looking down into the pit.
"I climbed up then and saw him too. It was Bedeau. I saw his face lit up by a flash of lightning. Then the storm really broke. He couldn't see the cave entrance among the bushes, so he probably went to find shelter on the lee side of one of the high rocks. I knew that he would be back as soon as the storm ended, so I didn't wait long.
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Ronnie and I sneaked out while it was still raining hard.
But I lost my trail in the rain, and it took us a long time to get here. I warned Ron not to say anything
about Bedeau before the girls and . . . well . . . here we are. But
Bedeau probably knows the location of the cave now."
"And Westman knows where we are," Mr. Fleming said, and told Steve about Anatole's meeting with the two men. Then he asked suddenly, "How about copper indications in the cave?"
"They looked good to me," Steve replied. "The wall behind the big boulder shows a copper vein plainly, a wide one, and perhaps deep too. I could trace it from the cave roof to the floor. How much deeper it may go, I can't tell, of course."
"That sounds interesting," Mr. Fleming returned. "I'll go with you in the morning while the others get everything ready for us to leave. If the mineral prospects look promising, we'll try to beat Westman back to Copper Harbor and put in a claim for a lease."
"My Jeanne," Anatole put in, "get you back twice so fast as boat dey have. Dat boat good
to look at, but not so good sailer as mine. Jeanne one good bateau."
"She is indeed," Mr. Fleming agreed heartily, "and," he added slyly, "her captain is a wonderful cook too."
Anatole beamed. "You mean you 'ungry. I get meal
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you dream 'bout. Steve, Ronnie, Jane, Jessie—" he
called them all.
The girls and Ron came running.
"You," he said addressing them, "you all go queeck and get wood dat is not wet, no more wet dan you can help. Mr. Fleming he got one fine big appetite. And me, I cook for 'im dese fine bird." He held up three grouse. "Steve 'e tell me last night w'ere 'e see bird like dese. W'en you girls go berry I go 'unt. Now I clean 'em and make stew a la Anatole."
Everyone went briskly to work, and when the stew was ready, they all said they had never eaten anything better. When the last shred of meat had been taken from the iron pot, the cook knew that his stew a la Anatole had been a great success.
The wet supplies, equipment, and bedding were dried as well as possible by being spread out on the rock shore in the sun, and the wigwam poles were set up again and covered with the mended sail. Weather conditions were still somewhat unsettled, and a brisk wind blew down the inlet. As there was no spot where the Jeanne could be drawn up on the shore, the girls slept in the wigwam that night, and the others lay in the open around a campfire. All slept soundly, snuggled in their blankets.
Shortly before dawn, in the darkest hour of the night, everyone but Anatole was awakened with a start. It was
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Anatole's voice that aroused them, but they had never heard
it sound like that before.. He was at the edge of the water, waving both arms
and roaring with rage. "Come back wit' my Jeanne or I keel you! Me,
I do it. I cut your 'eart out! I choke you to deat'! I—"
"Anatole, Anatole!" Mr. Fleming shouted. "Have you gone crazy? What is it, man?"
"My boat, my Jeanne!" The old voyageur was almost sobbing from rage and grief. "Dat—dat Michel Bedeau, 'e stole my Jeanne!"
"Then we're stranded!" cried Steve.
"Stranded?" Jessie's voice was trembling. "Stranded like Angelique Mott!"
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21. Steve's Plan
A SOBER AND SILENT GROUP HUDDLED AROUND
the campfire when dawn broke. To have their boat stolen
from under their very noses without chance of recovery was a disaster to appall the bravest.
Anatole was vehemently sure that it was Bedeau who had taken the Jeanne. After being wakened by the sound of oars being fitted into the oarlocks, he had rushed down to the shore—in time to see nothing but the black, moving mass of the boat out on the water with one man aboard. "But dat man," he insisted, "was not so tall as Wes'man, and not near so big as ot'er feller." It seemed likely indeed that it was Bedeau who committed the theft, but undoubtedly with the approval and perhaps at the order of Westman.
With their boat gone, the Fleming party, so Westman thought, would be helpless. Probably he and his red-bearded companion would visit the old mine to get the location, and then return to Keweenaw to negotiate for a
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lease, secure in their knowledge that Mr. Fleming
could not beat them to it.
"And they won't care a bit if we all starve or freeze to death," Steve said bitterly. "They'd just as soon murder us as not."
"They don't really want to murder us, I think," Mr. Fleming returned. "They count on our finding a way to get somewhere sooner or later, but they want to keep us from Keweenaw as long as possible. Nevertheless, what they have done might easily amount to murder. No one with a shred of human feeling or decency would do such a thing." He spoke angrily, for he was thinking of Jessie and Jane and Ronnie and of what they might be exposed to by Westman's treacherous trickery.
All this they discussed over and over again, and at last grew silent, every mind occupied by one thought only. They were stranded, with winter not far away. Angelique's story was enough to remind them of what that could mean.
It was the quiet, soft-spoken Jane Harrison who broke the painful silence with a spirited protest. "You all look as if the end of the world had come," she cried, "but it hasn't. We're not even stranded, not really. We're only delayed. We can't be stranded as long as we have my uncle Anatole with us and he has his ax. He can make us some kind of boat that we can get somewhere in."
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Old Anatole straightened his shoulders. "Jane, you speak
true. My ax and me, we build a boat. Not like my Jeanne, that take too
long, but canoe—canoe big 'nough to talc' us to de fur comp'ny post. Dere is
birch-bark and everyt'ing 'round 'ere to build it. If wind good, we got sail. If
no wind, we paddle. We go close to shore w'ere we can get shelter if wind get
too strong. I mak' good, strong canoe in two day, moi."
"A fine idea, Captain." Mr. Fleming was smiling. He took his map out of his pocket and studied it with Steve peering over his shoulder. "See, Steve, we shall have only one stretch of open water. If we pick the right time, I believe we can make it."
"Yes," Steve agreed, "but it will have to be a big canoe to hold six of us. And how about all our equipment and your specimens? Wouldn't we have to leave those behind? There's the weather to consider, too. We might have to wait days or weeks before we dared to make a start in a canoe. I believe I have a better idea. Look." He pointed to the map. "Someone—me, for instance—could cross the inlet about here and go along overland to the end of this point and around here to this narrow neck of land and along it to this wider place. Then if he cut across here and went on to the northeast along the shore of the long channel that we came through in the Jeanne, he'd be close to the fur company's island, and ought to be able
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to get to it somehow, or attract their attention."
"Well—" Mr. Fleming began doubtfully. On the map the plan looked feasible enough, but he had already found too many errors in that map to trust it overfar.
"Let me try it, sir," Steve said eagerly.
"But how would you get across the inlet?" came the question.
"Couldn't you and the Captain build me a raft, just two or three logs, enough to hold me up? I'm not very heavy, and it wouldn't take long to make such a raft."
"I mak' it queeck and easy," Anatole put in.
"While I am away," Steve went on, you two can be starting to build a canoe. Then if I can't get to the post or the clerk refuses to send a boat for us—I'm sure he won't refuse—there would be no time lost. And if all goes well, maybe we can beat Westman to Copper Harbor after all. He'll think he has us stopped and won't be in any great hurry. Ron and I were the ones who found the Indian mine. Even if it isn't worth anything, I'd hate to see that crew get their hands on it."
Mr. Fleming was still somewhat doubtful, but Anatole was warmly in favor of the plan. "I mak' dat leettle raft today," he said. "I do it all alone. I don't need help."
"In that case," Mr. Fleming said with a smile, "we will get out of your way. Steve and I will take a look at the Indian mine, just to judge its value. If it should prove
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worthless, we won't even try to stop Westman from claiming
it, but let him lose his money, trying to develop it—if he can get the money."
"Probably he could get it from Chatburn," Steve put in, "and I won't mind his losing it, either. Unless it is Uncle's money. I have never got over the feeling that he has been trying to cheat me somehow, even if that one mine is no good."
"I've had the same feeling right along," Mr. Fleming admitted. "We'll really go into the matter when we get back. Are you ready?"
Steve was quite ready to go to the mine, and Ronnie demanded to be taken along. "You can't keep me from my mine!" he said in so deeply injured a tone that his father had to laugh. The laugh told Ron that he might go.
By the light of a candle lantern Mr. Fleming gave the cave a rapid examination. He looked pleased when he came out into the sunshine again.
"Steve, you're becoming an expert. That vein looks as if it might be as rich as you thought. If we can apply for a lease in the company's name and get it, I will see that you get a fair share of the profits if there are any."
"Me too!" Ronnie put in quickly. To Steve, Mr. Fleming's warm approval was as welcome as the promise of profits.
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All three were in a good humor as they went a little farther
along the ridge so Mr. Fleming could find some landmarks to locate the mine
accurately on his map. He explained to the boys that the great masses of rock
towering from the ridge were ancient basalt volcanic cones that had remained
standing for hundreds of thousands of years while the softer rock ridge had been
worn down and leveled off by weather and the great glaciers that had once
covered a vast part of North America.
"They make a fine landmark," Steve commented.
"But not so good for my purpose since they are not on the map. Over there is something of more use to me."
They had reached the flat top of a great mass of rock projecting from the ridge, and were looking down into a valley. Mr. Fleming pointed to a long, narrow pond below them. "That is on the map," he said. "It's the source of the stream that enters into the head of the inlet. And according to the map, the second stream we crossed to get here joins the larger one beyond the foot of that little lake. I suggest, Steve, that you follow that second stream and see if the map is correct. Then come back and join me at the cave which I want to examine more carefully."
"Can I go with Steve?" Ronnie wanted to know.
"Yes, if he's willing."
"I sure am," Steve agreed.
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22. The Forest Fire
POCKETS LOADED WITH INDIAN RELICS AND
samples of rock, and carrying a few tools that Mr. Fleming would not need, the two boys
set out. Ron was in high spirits, but Steve's thoughts kept going back to the
They had stopped at the brook in the ravine for a drink when Ron raised his head and exclaimed, "I smell smoke, Steve. Don't you?"
Steve sniffed the breeze that drew through the ravine. There was smoke in the air. And the smell was growing stronger each moment. Upstream smoke haze was thickening.
"We've got to get out of here, Ron," Steve said anxiously. "We'll make for camp. That's what your father would want us to do. He'll smell the smoke too. Maybe he'll overtake us. Hurry now."
They waded the brook and pushed through the growth on the bank. But before they were halfway up the slope, the air was thick with smoke, and from above, ahead of
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them, came the crack and roar of burning trees. Steve seized
Ronnie by the arm, swung him around, and hurried him back down to the brook.
"Drop what you're carrying," he ordered. He almost pushed Ron into the water. "Downstream and be quick about it!"
Driven by the westerly breeze, the fire was sweeping along the ridge on the other side of the stream. At first Steve had thought that they might retreat toward the Indian mine, but that was out of the question now. The narrow ravine would never stop the spread of the flames. He wanted to go back to warn Mr. Fleming, but he realized quickly that they could never do it. They would be overtaken before they reached the mine. Mr. Fleming would be safe within the cave, and he would consider that Steve's first duty was to save Ronnie.
Their best chance of safety lay in following the brook ahead of the flames to the place where, according to the map, it joined the larger stream, the outlet of the pond they had looked down on from the ridge near the cave. If it became necessary, Steve could swim across the pond and tow Ronnie. There was no time to explain the plan to the younger boy, but Ron understood the threat of the crackling, rushing sounds behind them. He obeyed every order without pause or question.
They ran, sometimes in the water, sometimes on the
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They ran, sometimes in the water, sometimes on the bank, slipping, stumbling
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bank, slipping, stumbling, leaping over obstacles. Ron was
light on his feet and the fear that drove him kept him up with Steve's longer
strides. A hare passed them in great leaps, then a second one, so close that it
brushed against Ronnie. Overhead swept a flock of birds uttering shrill cries of
The smoke choked Ronnie and made his eyes smart and water until he could scarcely see where he was going. Terror had him in its grip, terror of that red, roaring, stifling thing that chased them.
Across the brook some heavy animal plunged through the bushes; from behind them came the snarling screech of a lynx, a screech of fear as well as of rage.
On the two boys ran, leapt, stumbled. When they reached boggy ground, Steve thought they must be near the junction of the two streams, but the smoke was so thick and his eyes were watering so that he could not see anything clearly. Then Ron's foot caught in a root, and he fell flat. His face went down into water, and he lay there soaking his burning skin and lapping like a dog. Steve dropped down to drink too, but he was up again in an instant and pulling his companion to his feet.
"This way now!" he cried hoarsely. "Hurry!"
They had reached the wider stream into which the brook emptied, but they had still to follow it to its source, and there was no time to lose. Steve did not dare turn the
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other way, toward the head of the inlet, for that would be
going straight into the path of the flames. And there must be no slackening of
pace. The crackling behind them was louder. The fire, he was sure, had jumped
the brook and was gaining on them.
Steve urged the flagging, smoke-dazed lad on ahead of him, making him travel upstream in mud and water, snatching him back when he began to slip. Then as they stumbled on, the smoke thinned a little, for now they were out of the direct course of the fire. The widening water, barely visible to smoke-dimmed eyes, told Steve when they reached the pond itself.
"We've made it, Ron. Right out into the water now."
But Ronnie did not obey so quickly this time. He was beginning to sob chokily. "Steve, we ought to have gone back to tell Father."
"We couldn't, Ron. The smoke warned him quicker than we could. He'll be all right. I'm sure of that. Come on now, let's wade out. Feel your way. We don't know how deep it is." He grasped the little boy's shoulder and pushed him on.
They waded out until the water was up to Ronnie's middle. Then they stopped to drink again and duck their heads under, to cool their scorched skins. Nothing had ever felt so good, inside and out, as that cool water.
Soon they realized that they were not alone in the pond
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but were sharing the refuge with other fire-frightened
creatures. Reeds rustled as animals pushed their way through; gurgling, sucking
sounds betrayed feet being pulled up out of the mud. Drinking beasts gave
wheezing snorts and throaty grumblings. One dim form and then another moved
through the smoky haze only a little distance from them.
"What are they?" Ronnie asked Steve in an awed voice that trembled ever so slightly. "Wolves?"
"Some of them probably," Steve replied. Then he pointed to one huge shape. "But that one over there is too big for a wolf. A moose maybe. But you don't need to be afraid of them. They aren't interested in us now, but only in saving their own hides. Here, squat down and get wet all over. It feels awfully good."
Ron soaked himself to the neck to ease the burning of his back. Just as he was pulling himself upright again, a sharp crack sounded overhead, followed by a long rumble, and a flash of white light.
"It's going to rain!" Steve cried. "Thank God!"
There was another peal, another flash, another, and another. Then came the rain—no gentle shower, but a beating, drenching downpour.
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23. Was the Fire Set?
THE BOYS STAYED SOAKING IN THE POND UNTIL
the worst of the storm had passed over. The driving rain, coming
down through the overheated air and smoke, made the haze so thick they could not
see through it. But they could breathe more comfortably, and they drew in
long, deep breaths of the wet coolness. There was movement all around them as
the animals took to the shore and woods again. When the air had cleared enough
for them to look about, not a living creature was to be seen except two fish
"All right now, Ron. We have to get out of this."
Steve was sure that the cloudburst must have stopped the onward march of the flames, though the fire would continue to smolder for hours yet. "We've got to find a way up the ridge," he said.
"And look for Father," Ronnie cried.
"Of course. That's why I want to get up there."
On the shore the boys scraped the mud from their legs and wrung out their dripping garments as well as they
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could without taking them off. It was a rough scramble, but
they reached the top of the slope somewhere between the tall rocks and the
ravine. The fire had not spread that far before the rain came, so the scanty
undergrowth and stunted trees were unharmed.
Before they had taken more than a dozen steps along the level ground, they were startled by a shout.
"Father!" Ronnie cried.
Mr. Fleming was running toward them through the bushes. He seized Ronnie in his arms. "Thank Cod you re safe, both of you!"
"And you too, sir!" Steve replied warmly. "We were afraid that fire was going to sweep the whole ridge."
The boys fell silent then, as if ashamed of the emotion they had betrayed, and Mr. Fleming became matter-of-fact. "It might have burned over a lot of ground if the rain hadn't come just in time. The dampness from yesterday's storm slowed the progress of the flames somewhat, no doubt."
"They came plenty fast enough," Steve returned, "so fast, that I was afraid all the time we couldn't make it."
"What I don't understand," Mr. Fleming went on, "is how the fire started. Either some prospector carelessly let a fire run—and we haven't seen a sign of anyone except the Westman trio around here—or it was set, deliberately."
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"So the only one who could have set it was Westman or
Bedeau or the red-bearded fellow," Steve declared. "But why? They've
got us where we can't get away. If they set that fire, it must have been just
out of spite and meanness, just to hinder and scare us—and maybe burn us up."
"They might have another reason," Mr. Fleming said thoughtfully. "The wind is just right today so that a fire starting to the west of us would sweep between us and the mine. They may want to keep us away from the place until they, reaching it from the other side of the harbor, can examine it before they leave for Keweenaw. Westman may have sent Bedeau to start a fire, and Westman himself and the red-bearded man may be at the cave now. If that was their plan, it hasn't done us any harm. I have seen all I need to there. But we must stop speculating and make for camp. The fire ought to be well enough extinguished by now so that we can cross its path. We must try to, anyway. I'm anxious about the girls, though I doubt if the fire could have reached our camp."
"To do that, it would have had to spread clear across that wet bog," Steve returned
"That depends on just where it started. Come on. We must be getting back."
The flames had crept up over the top of the ravine and had left some burned and smoking trees along the summit
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of the ridge. Among the blackened remains the three made
their way to the edge of. the ravine. Smoke still rose from down there, but it
was not thick enough to shut off their view entirely. Such a scene of desolation
neither Steve nor Ronnie had ever seen before. Both slopes had been swept by the
flames, and there was not a bit of green left where such a short time before all
had been green and fresh.
Determined to get across the ravine if possible, they descended among burned and blackened trees and bushes and around spots where embers and moss were still smoldering. Even the foliage that had not been actually burned hung limp, brown, and withered, literally cooked by the heat of the fire.
"Isn't it awful?" said Ron, awed and horrified. "It's not the same place at all. It's—it's sort of like a bad dream."
Across the brook they waded, to find that on the farther side many of the trees were mere charred sticks. Some were still burning in spite of the rain, and a few had fallen.
"I never knew what a clean sweep a fire could make in just a little while," Steve exclaimed. "Whoever started it, Westman or somebody else, he ought to be hanged— no, burned to death!"
They were all tremendously relieved to see, when they reached the swamp and bog, that the fire had spread only
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a little way into it. But their anxiety was not wholly relieved, and they did not slacken their pace.
Jessie ran to meet them as soon as they came in sight. "We've been so worried about you," she cried. "Was all that smoke up the inlet a forest fire? Anatole said it must be."
"Yes, but it is all over now. Where is Anatole?"
The old man himself answered that question. He had come back to the camp at the first glimpse of smoke, and had stayed there with the girls.
Mr. Fleming and the boys did not wait for a regular meal, but ate slabs of frying-pan bread and strips of bacon as they followed Anatole to the place where he was working. He had chosen a low, open spot close to the water, and there had felled a couple of small trees and trimmed off the branches. The raft was to be of five or six small logs bound together with the ropes from the sail that covered the wigwam. Steve stayed to watch him at work and help when he could.
The raft was finished in time for a late supper. Steve was greatly pleased that he was to be the one to use it. He was anxious to try out his plan to reach the fur company's post. Ronnie, of course, was eager to go with him, but his father's "No" was too emphatic to be questioned. Even Mr. Fleming, in spite of his sense of responsibility for the older boy as well as for his own children, could
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find no good arguments against the expedition, though he insisted that it should not be undertaken unless and until the water was calm and the weather favorable. Steve was a strong swimmer. If the water were not so cold, he could, he believed, swim clear across the inlet. So, even if the worst happened and the raft sank or went to pieces,. he would be able, he was sure, to make it to one shore or the other. To suggest that the worst might happen would be an insult to Anatole that no one would think of offering.
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24. The Hidden Boat
THE MORNING DAWNED FINE WITH THE WATER
calm that Steve was sure he could cross the inlet safely. When Mr. Fleming, Anatole, Ronald, and Steve reached the raft, they found it already occupied by a long-eared hare nibbling a willow twig. Anatole called their attention to the white on the animal's ears, hind legs, and feet, contrasting with the brown-gray of the rest of its coat.
" 'E know cold wetter and snow soon. 'E begin make change to winter costume. In leettle w'ile 'e all over w'ite like snow."
"That's a warning to us" was Steve's sober reply, and even Ronnie looked solemn.
The raft was launched, and while Mr. Fleming and Anatole held it, Steve, stripped to shirt and trousers, crawled aboard. It sank considerably with his weight and his heart sank a bit too. "Push it out a little," he said. "Maybe deeper water will hold it up better."
He was right. The raft rose as the water deepened
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under it. "All right now," he called back, and
began to wield the primitive paddle Anatole had whittled from a section of stout
The inlet was as smooth as a mirror, but without the hard glitter of glass. The water looked softer, more like silk, Steve thought, as he broke the surface with his paddle. The sun had not yet appeared above the ridges which, along with the opposite shore, were blue and hazy Overhead the pale blue of the sky was dappled with white clouds and streaked with soft rose, and up the inlet a light mist was rising from the water. Two white gull circled low over Steve's head, the winnowing of their wings plainly audible in the morning stillness. From farther away came the wild cry, like mocking laughter, of a loon.
"If that bird can see me, he must think I'm a mighty awkward swimmer. No wonder he laughs at me," Steve thought.
The crossing took longer than he had expected. Paddling the raft was slow work, and he had to be careful not to overbalance by a too-vigorous or abrupt movement. But he felt no fear. Had it not been for the slowness of his progress and the cramps in his legs from kneeling on the wet logs, he would actually have enjoyed the voyage. It was hard to realize that this lovely place could turn unfriendly, to imagine that in a few short weeks it would
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be swept by bitter winds and driving snow, and that he and
his companions must flee from it quickly or be locked in to starve and freeze.
In a place where the ground was low and the water shallow, he propelled the raft to shore and crawled off, thankfully. A breeze was blowing up now, and wavelets washing over the low-riding raft had wet his legs. After rubbing away the chills and cramps, he put on his socks and boots, and pulled the raft up where it would not float away. He would have to use it again if he did not succeed in reaching the fur company's post. He must reach the post somehow, though. He would not admit to himself that he could be defeated.
At once he started alongshore toward the mouth of the inlet. Sometimes he traveled over low, wet ground or over rocks at the water's edge. Sometimes he had to go farther back among forest trees. The going was not easy, especially around the thickly overgrown shores of a small bay which cut into the inlet near its mouth. Beyond this cove he went up and over rocks, around a more shallow indentation, and up again, until he reached a spot where he gazed out over the blue, gently heaving lake to the north and northeast as well as to the west and northwest. There he paused to consult the copy he had made of this part of Mr. Fleming's map.
Going on again, he followed the high shore, where he
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now was, to the east. From a point beyond another indentation, he looked across the water a little east of north to the opening of the
long channel through which the Jeanne had come from the American Fur
Company's station. The map was right. There was the neck of rock he must go
along. On he went again. On either side of him lay water, but the neck led him
to a wider expanse of rocky heights, where he could leave behind the water way
that had been on his right hand, and turn north. A third time he paused to
consult his map. The day was bright, and in his travels of the past weeks he had
learned to keep his bearings fairly well by noting the position of the sun.
After a mile or more his course brought him to the water again. From where he paused to make sure of his position, the protected waterway extending to the north east looked to be closed at the farther end by wooded shores. But his map told him that it must be open if it really was the long, narrow harbor on which the fur company's station was situated. Around the end of this long harbor he went and to the northeast again, following the rock ridge which separated this harbor from the wide channel through which he and his companions had come by boat.
He was going confidently now, sure that he was on the right course. He no longer troubled to blaze his trail, for
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he could not very well get lost on this long point with the
water always on his right. As he went, he ate the sandwich of cold pancakes and
bacon he had been carrying in his pocket. Jessie had urged him to take something
more, but he had refused. He could not carry a regular lunch, he said. He had
another reason that he did not tell her. He knew well that unless they got away
from the inlet soon, every ounce of their food would be badly needed. They could
not depend entirely on fish, grouse, or other game. As he thought of the threat
of starvation, he quickened his stride. He must reach the post.
In his eagerness to get on, this part of his tramp seemed interminable, but he came at last to the end of the long point, where a finger of rock extended almost to the is land beyond. The rock point was so low here that it must, he thought, be under water in rough weather, but now he could make his way clear to the tip. Looking across the clear, calm water, he could see that the narrow channel separating him from that next island was shallow.
If that was the fur company's island—and he was sure it must be—the buildings were near the farther end, so it was not strange that he could not see them from here. This end of the island was not familiar to him, for he had merely seen it from the Jeanne when they were passing through the waterway on the other side. What he was
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the most interested in was the depth of the channel between
him and that island. He was thinking that he might be able to wade across, when
the squeak of oars in oarlocks came to his ears.
A skiff was coming from the direction in which he wanted to go. Steve shouted with all the strength of his lungs, and the oarsman turned his head to stare over his shoulder. Steve, standing on the bare rock, was in plain view. The boat came on and made for shore a short distance from where Steve stood. The man had selected a spot where he could bring his flat-bottomed craft up to the rocks. Steve ran to meet it and was on hand when the boat touched.
He recognized the oarsman now as one of the two Indians he had seen at the post. Nevertheless, he asked, "Are you from the fur company's station?"
The Indian nodded.
"Is it on that next island? Will you take me there?"
Another silent nod gave assent, and Steve stepped aboard. The Indian turned his boat and began to row back the way he had come. When Steve had hailed him, he had evidently been on his way to set the net which was lying in the bottom of the boat.
The boy was wondering if the man spoke no English when his thought was answered with the one word "Where?"
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"The company post," Steve repeated, but that was
not the reply wanted.
"Oh." Steve pointed in the direction from which he had come and tried to explain how he had got to the tip of the point.
The Indian said not another word, only nodded or shook his dark head as he plied his oars with strong, jerking strokes. As they passed an outward bend in the shore of the island, the dock and fish house came into view.
Though the Indian had been taciturn, the clerk's greeting was warm and friendly. "Glad to see you again, son! Where's the rest of your party? And where's your boat?"
"I wish I knew," Steve answered the second question. "It's been stolen!"
"What! Stolen?" the clerk exclaimed. "Where did that happen?"
"We're camping in the inlet down the coast, the one you told us how to get into, you remember," Steve explained. "I came from there overland to the point beyond the other end of your island, where your man picked me up. We've got to get away from the inlet somehow. We were hoping you could take us off and bring us this far anyway."
"Son," the clerk said with evident regret and concern, "you've come at a bad time. You see that?" He pointed to
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a good-sized sailboat that lay on shore with a gaping hole in
her side. "That freak storm ripped her from her mooring and drove her on a
rock. She hasn't been fixed yet, and she's the only thing I've got except two
skiffs. You're welcome to the loan of a skiff, but I'm afraid that will hardly
serve your purpose. If the rest of your party can come overland, though, I'll be
glad to keep you all here until you find some way to get where you want to go.
Do you think the girls and the small boy could make the trip?"
"I'm sure they could," Steve said loyally. But his heart sank at the prospect.
The Indian had been standing by listening in silence. Now he spoke. "Stole boat same you come in?" he asked.
"Yes," Steve replied.
"Maybe we get her" was the surprising return.
"What? What do you mean?" Steve and the clerk asked simultaneously.
"Dis morn," the Indian said slowly, as if it was hard work to get the words out, "oder Mack'naw—same boat wid t'ree men here one time—"
The clerk interrupted. "The three who asked about the Fleming party?"
The Indian nodded, and Steve exclaimed, "Westman and his crowd! Have they been here again?"
"Not at the post. I haven't seen anything of them."
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Then to the Indian, "You saw them this morning?"
Again the man nodded. "When I go to net. Dey come cross dere—" he pointed toward the open water beyond the end of the island "—in boat wid sail. Tow oder Mack'naw, no sail."
Steve gasped, but did not dare interrupt.
"I over by little islands." The Indian pointed again. "Boats go in cove. You know cove?" to the clerk.
"Boat wid sail and men come out, but no oder boat." "They left the one they were towing behind?" questioned the clerk. The Indian replied with a nod, then added, "In cove."
"That must be our boat," Steve cried excitedly. Then he explained to the clerk. "Anatole was sure it was one of those three—the little fellow, Bedeau—who stole his Jeanne." He turned to the Indian. "Will you take me to that cove?"
The man looked at his chief. "Take him, of course," the clerk gave permission.
"Go now," said the Indian.
"You'd better have something to eat first," the clerk said to Steve. "You've had a long tramp."
But Steve would not delay a minute. "I can eat after we've found the boat," he declared. "They might be coming back for it."
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"Not much danger of that," the clerk commented.
"If it's your boat, they wanted to get rid of it before anybody recognized
it. Which way did they go when they left the cove?" he asked the Indian.
"Back this way?"
The man straightened up from untying the skiff. "No, out," he said with an expressive gesture.
"Then they won't be back. I'm willing to bet on it."
Steve was not so sure. He would wait no longer, and he and the Indian got under way at once. To the eager and anxious boy the row to the cove seemed slow and long. He wished the man would row faster, but he did not like to ask him.
When they entered the secluded cove—like a bite taken out of the rock shore—the boy was met by disappointment. Nothing resembling a boat was in sight anywhere.
The oarsman, who knew the place well, showed no sign of disappointment or surprise. He skirted the rocks of the entrance and turned toward the southwest end of the cove, where it narrowed and the shores were low and overgrown with trees and bushes. The skiff was nearing the end when Steve, watching the shores intently, exclaimed, "What's that?" The Indian turned his head to look, uttered a grunt, and pulled with increased vigor.
Among the greens and autumn yellows of alders growing almost into the water, something showed dark and
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bulky. Drawn part way up on shore and almost hidden by the
bushes was a boat with a low cabin in the stern.
"'The Jeanne!" cried Steve.
And the Indian commented, "Good place for hide. Nobody come 'way in here."
"They thought we never would find her in here," Steve said bitterly. "And we wouldn't if it wasn't for you, if you hadn't just happened to see them."
The Indian nodded in agreement. "Somet'ing queer I guess w'en I see. Dat Bedeau I know him."
"You know Bedeau?"
"One time he work at Le Point post. I not forget." The man's dark face had an ugly look, but he would say no more. He had already talked far more than was usual with him.
Steve was relieved to find that the Jeanne was uninjured. He had feared that the thieves might have knocked a hole in her just out of spite. But, secure in the belief that she would not be found by the Fleming party, and probably not by anyone else for months to come, they had not taken the trouble to wreck her. Though they had not injured hull or cabin, they had stripped the boat of everything moveable, including oars and oarlocks. The Jeanne had to be ignominiously towed by the skiff back to the post.
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25. The Jeanne Sails Again
THE CLERK'S OFFER TO LEND STEVE A MAST AND
well as oars and oarlocks, solved the problem of getting the Jeanne back
to the inlet, but it was too late to make the trip that day. Steve had learned
something from Anatole about handling a sail, but he was not experienced enough
to risk entering the inlet in the darkness. Impatient as he was to get back, he
was obliged to wait until morning.
The clerk was an early riser, so the boy, after a hasty but hearty breakfast, got away in good time. Luckily the wind was neither too strong nor too light and favored him as far as the mouth of the inlet. To get around the reefs and avoid the submerged rock, he wisely took to the oars.
The anxious campers were on the watch for a rescue boat, but were dreading that they might see, instead, Steve and the raft recrossing the inlet. They never expected to see the Jeanne again, and could scarcely believe their eyes until she was so close in that there could be no
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doubt about her. Anatole recognized her first, and his joy
was almost beyond control. The moment Steve was out of the boat, the old man,
his bright brown eyes dimmed with moisture, seized the boy with one hand and
hammered him on the back with the other.
Steve's elation was not so great, however. He concluded the story of his experiences by saying, "Now we've got the boat back, we can get away from here, but we can't possibly beat Westman to Keweenaw. He's way ahead of us by now. His trick worked. He'll have the Indian mine location grabbed before we can get to Copper Harbor. It makes me mad and sick to think that he's won after all."
"Don't take it so hard, my boy," Mr. Fleming said more philosophically. "It's just one of the fortunes of war—and mining. Just remember that we have a lot to be thankful for."
He glanced around at the girls and Ronnie, and Jessie spoke up promptly, "We certainly have, and we owe it to you, Steve."
"No, not to me" was Steve's quick return, "—to that Indian fisherman. I never could have found the boat by myself."
"You did your part, nevertheless," Mr. Fleming said warmly, "and what that Indian saw proves conclusively who the thieves were."
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"I knew it was dat Bedeau," Anatole
reiterated. " 'E just wait till I catch 'im!"
"That's just what he'd better not do," Steve replied with a grin.
"What we have to do," said Mr. Fleming briskly, "is to stop talking and get away at once. We won't wait till tomorrow. We'll load up and go as far as we can today. Get to work, everyone."
Everyone did get to work with energy and enthusiasm. Anatole and Steve had to cross the inlet to recover the sail ropes that bound the raft together. But in spite of that delay and the necessity of snatching a hasty meal, the boat with everything and everyone aboard was on her way down harbor in a little more than an hour.
To return across Lake Superior to Keweenaw, it was necessary to go around one end or the other of the great island. To go to the southwest end would take them into strange waters, for Anatole had never been that way. Moreover, they were obliged to go back to the fur company's post to return the borrowed mast and sail.
The clerk greeted them warmly and urged them to stay all night, but Mr. Fleming and Anatole thought it wiser to take advantage of the good weather and go on as far as they could before dark. They stayed only long enough to change the mast and sail, pay for the oars and oarlocks, and thank the clerk warmly for his help and kindness.
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Mr. Fleming persuaded the Indian to accept more substantial
payment for his services.
Darkness was closing in when camp was made in a small and rather exposed bay, and they were away again at dawn. The weather continued favorable, and after a long day's run they reached the Ransom mining camp across from Angelique Mott's island. Mr. Ransom himself was not there, but the man left in charge welcomed them cordially.
"Have you seen anything of a man named Westman?" Mr. Fleming inquired.
"Why yes," he replied. "He blew in here yesterday with two other fellows. They stayed just long enough to beg a loaf of bread and some beans. They seemed to be in an awful hurry to get to Keweenaw."
Mr. Fleming changed the subject to ask, "Are you going to remain here through the winter?"
"Ransom wants me to stay to look after the place, but I don't know as I want to. We can't do much work here in the winter. We're expecting a schooner, and most of the men will be leaving on her. I'll stay till later if she's coming again this fall."
"When do you look for the schooner?"
"Any time now.
"Where does she go from here?"
"Straight to Copper Harbor and Eagle River."
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Steve who had been listening spoke up quickly. "Wouldn't
it be better for the girls and Ron to go back on her, Mr. Fleming?"
"It would be more comfortable for them if the schooner can take us all and Anatole's boat. But we can't wait long."
Early the next morning, however, a shout from the shore announced that the schooner was in sight, coming in between an outlying islet and a high cape. As soon as she docked, Mr. Fleming questioned the captain about passage. He would have room, the captain said, for two or three passengers besides the men returning from the mine, but no deck space for Anatole's boat, and to tow the Jeanne would be inconvenient and would cut down speed. The Jeanne would have to be left behind. But Anatole flatly refused to go without his boat. He could make the crossing alone, he declared, although it was plain that he was not pleased with the idea.
Mr. Fleming was in doubt what to do. "It's not fair for us to desert Anatole," he said to Steve.
"Of course not," Steve agreed, "not for all of us to do it. But I can go with him while you take the others on the schooner."
"That's not fair to you, Steve," he replied. "I'm the one to go with Anatole."
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"No, no, you belong with Jessie and Ron. You're responsible for them."
"I'm responsible for you, too."
"Not really. I came of my own free will, and if I go back with Anatole, that's of my own free will too."
"Perhaps we can find someone else to go with him," Mr. Fleming suggested.
But he could find no one. The miners were entitled to free passage on the schooner. Not one of them was willing to give up his passage to cross in a small boat, even if he were paid to do it.
Steve continued to protest that he preferred to go with Anatole, and the latter, too, insisted that Mr. Fleming's place was with his children. "I feel dat way if dey was mine," he said. They and Jane Harrison would be better off in the schooner than in the crowded small boat, he agreed. "Jeanne, she might go wit' me, but better Steve do it. W'en us two 'andle de boat, we don' mind leettle rough water. But I got work on boat first. I got piece canvas from captain for good patch on de sail w'ere I mend it. Dat mend not so good. De old rope not so good too, got used 'ard. I got new rope now. We don' start till tomorrow, not den if wetter ain't good. We wait till it is good."
Mr. Fleming had confidence in Anatole's judgment,
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and realized the reasonableness of his and Steve's arguments.
He understood Steve's determination, too. He could scarcely do otherwise than
give his consent though he did it reluctantly.
When the others heard of the arrangement, Ron said, "I could go with Captain Anatole too. I guess I could be of some use. I could bail, anyway, if a wave came into the boat." He did not speak eagerly, however, but more as if he thought he ought to make the offer. He raised no objections when his father said no, a third person would not be needed.
Jessie, however, protested earnestly against separating the party. Her protest was overruled, but her feeling that they ought all to stay together persisted. "I don't like to think of you two crossing alone in that boat," she said to Steve just before she boarded the schooner. "I shall be anxious until I know you are safe."
"You don't need to be, Jessie," Steve tried to reassure her. "We won't start unless the weather is good. Tonight I shall be hoping that the rest of you had a good crossing, and by tomorrow night I'll be with you again."
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STEVE AND ANATOLE PUT OUT IN A
wind just strong enough to take the Jeanne along at fair speed. But the good luck did not hold. Later in the day the wind lessened to the lightest of breezes, and then died down to almost nothing.
"We'll never get anywhere at this rate," said Steve impatiently. He turned to glance in the direction from which they had come. "Look at that!" he exclaimed.
The sun still shone, and there was not a cloud to be seen overhead, but the blue of the sky was not so bright as it had been earlier. It was a soft tint as if a little white had been mixed with the pure color, and across the water to the north lay a white band which veiled the meeting of lake and sky and blotted out the narrow line of the island they had left hours before.
Anatole turned his head also. "We don' want dat catch us, non! We go more queeck wit' oar." He suited the action to the words by reaching for an oar, and Steve followed his example.
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As he rowed, Steve watched the distant fog bank. "It's
standing still," he said after a little while. "At any rate it's not
moving any faster than we are. We'll get there ahead of it."
"Maybe, if wind don' come up and blow it dis way."
"If the wind comes from that quarter," argued Steve, "won't it help us to outsail the fog?"
"Maybe," Anatole said again, but he shook his grizzled head.
So interested was the boy in the fog bank across the water that he paid little attention to the sky. Not until puffs of wind began to roughen the lake in streaks and patches, did he notice the shreds of thin white cloud drifting across the pale blue overhead.
The spurts of breeze grew stronger and more frequent. Anatole ceased rowing to manage the sail, but Steve pulled his best. He saw that the band of fog had widened and the stretch of water between it and the boat had narrowed. Thin clouds soon veiled the sun, and the blue faded from the sky.
As Steve lowered his eyes from gazing up at the drifting clouds, he gave a cry of alarm. A distinct dark line had appeared along the base of the fog bank. Even as he cried the warning, a stronger wind filled the sail.
Anatole gave one glance toward the vanguard of waves, distant still, but coming on. Then he devoted his atten-
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tion to the sail while Steve shipped his oars so that he
might be ready to help.
The wind strengthened, bringing a damp chill. The sunlight had faded; the water, green-gray now, had roughened. Though the wind was taking the boat along at a good rate, the fog came more swiftly. It was bearing down upon them, and Keweenaw was still many miles away. As he realized that they could not outdistance the peril pursuing them, Steve felt, mingled with his fear, a thankfulness that he and Anatole were alone, that Mr. Fleming had taken Jessie, Jane, and Ron in the schooner.
Relentlessly the cold, gray-white cloud came on, blotting out sky and water. Quickly it enwrapped the boat, swathing it in a damp, woolly blanket which shut out the prospect ahead, behind, and on either hand. There was nothing left to steer by. They could only run before the wind and hope that it would blow them in the direction they wanted to go. If it remained in the north, it must take them to the shore of the peninsula somewhere. But if it shifted, who could guess where it would land them— if indeed it did not capsize them before they could reach land?
The danger that they might be overturned or swamped was no imaginary one. Carried along in the dense cloud by the capricious wind, which came in squalls of growing violence, they were tossed up and cast down by waves
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that were invisible until they lifted the stern of the boat
high or struck at an angle and rolled her about. Anatole and Steve had their
hands full handling the Jeanne and trying to avoid the disaster that they
could not see until it was almost upon them.
Running before the wind, Anatole was obliged to reef the sail. They were no longer racing the fog, for it had them in its clutch. It was the following sea he feared now. He must keep headway enough to ride the waves and not let them overtake him, but he dared not risk too much sail.
Tense, with eyes and ears strained for any hint of the dangers they could not foresee, they drove on—how long or how swiftly they could not tell—wrapped in that opaque white wool. Anatole, who seemed to know instinctively when the wind was about to veer or to come in a stronger blast, handled the sail while Steve steered. The boy's duty was to keep the boat headed straight with the waves. There was nothing but the wind and waves to steer by, and if there had been anything else, any attempt to change the course would have led to disaster.
As they went on endlessly, Steve's tension, but not his watchfulness, slackened somewhat. The boat was still above water and shipping very little, which was fortunate. for neither he nor Anatole could take but a few seconds
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now and then to bail: Moreover conditions seemed to be
growing no worse. The fog was as thick as ever, and the waves as high, if not
higher, but the wind seemed steadier, less gusty and unpredictable.
Steve began to wonder if they were not nearing Keweenaw. Then a new fear assailed him. Where would they reach shore, and how could they tell when they were approaching it, tell in time to keep from being smashed on the rocks? The whole end of the great peninsula was rock. Beaches were rare, only to be found in sheltered spots. Even if they survived wind and waves, was there one chance in a thousand that they could escape wreck? He could keep silence no longer. He had to put the questions that were tormenting him.
Anatole could give him little assurance. "Maybe we ear surf 'fore we go on rock, maybe non. We listen and pray to le ban Dieu. Dat is all we can do."
"Yes," thought Steve, "that is all we can do." He did pray from the bottom of his heart, though not out loud, and felt better, less afraid, less worried. He would do all that he could. The rest was in the hands of God.
On, on, in the wet, chill, enwrapping cloud, the wind and waves carried them, on to harbor and safety, or to wreck on barren rocks. In spite of his flannel shirt and heavy coat, Steve shivered with cold. His hands were so
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stiff and numb that he had to keep one in his pocket while
the other grasped the tiller, and to change about frequently.
Suddenly Anatole gave a shout of alarm and warning. At the same instant Steve heard through the muffling fog a dread sound, the thundering of surf on rocks. Down came the sail, and Anatole sprang back to the tiller. Steve seized an oar and leaped to the bow. With feet wide apart and braced, he stood there, accommodating his body to the rising up and falling away of the boat, trying to see ahead, and ready to fend the Jeanne off the rocks if he could.
The rocks were too close. The waves bore them on. Anatole's attempt to swerve off resulted in a great wave striking the boat almost broadside, dashing over it, and nearly swamping it. To keep above water he was forced to head with the waves again, straight toward the thundering surf. Without further warning, before Steve had time to brace himself more firmly, a violent shock jarred the boat from stem to stern, a great wave lifted the stern high, and he was thrown forward into that thunderous roar. Through the fog he hurtled, the oar still thrust out in front of him.
Steve had been flung clear out of the boat, up on the rocks, but the outthrust oar had saved him from broken bones. Blinded and choked by spray, the breath knocked
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He held on while the receding wave tugged at his feet
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out of him, he still had sense enough to drop the oar and
seize the edge of a ledge above him. He held on while the receding wave tugged
at his feet. With a mighty effort he pulled himself up out of reach of the next
"Anatole!" he shouted with what breath he could muster. He could see the boat, a dim shape in the fog, coming in again on a wave. She was still right side up, and there in the bow was a crouching figure. The old man had crawled forward to try a jump. He would need help.
Instantly Steve let himself down from the ledge he had reached so painfully. He had barely time to wedge one foot into a cranny of the rock, when in came the boat, and Anatole jumped. He was almost hidden in the foam and spray, but he jumped right toward Steve. He had seen the boy or merely heard his shout. Steve let go of the ledge and launched his body out, anchored only by his left foot in the cranny.
Anatole alighted on his feet like a cat, but slipped on the wet rock, went flat, and had begun to slide back, when Steve, barely able to reach him, seized him by one out-stretched arm and then around his neck. With all their combined strength they struggled to keep from being pulled down the shelving rock into the lake. Steve felt as if his foot were being wrenched off, but he did not let go his hold on the old man. Anatole dug his fingers and toes
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into the cracks in the wave-worn rock and clung like a leech.
When the water had receded and before the next wave dashed in, Anatole crawled farther up. In the following interval between waves, they both got hold of the ledge and pulled themselves out of reach of the surf. There on the narrow ledge they lay panting and exhausted, while below them the sturdy Jeanne was shattered to fragments as she was dashed on the rocks again and again.
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27. "Hunger Camp"
ANATOLE SHOUTED TO MAKE HIMSELF HEARD
above the roar of the breakers. "You save my life, mon ami. It is not grand life maybe, but I like keep
it a leettle longer."
"I didn't do anything but grab you," Steve shouted back. "And I came close to missing. We didn't save ourselves or each other—not really. It was just—" he choked a little.
"Le bon Dieu save us. We give t'ank."
The old man pulled himself to a kneeling position.
Steve too sat up. There on the narrow ledge, to the accompaniment of the thundering surf, they offered up their simple and heartfelt prayers of thanksgiving, Anatole aloud and in French, the boy in a low murmur. His throat was choked with the feeling he lacked the words to express.
His devotions concluded, Anatole put on his wet woolen cap, which had clung to his head throughout his
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leap and struggle with the waves, and stood up. "Now we
got do somet'ing. I climb up and look around. Den I come help you wit' hurt
"You don't need to do that. It's not so bad."
The rock wall from which the ledge projected was almost perpendicular at that spot. Cautiously and painfully Steve edged along the wet and slippery shelf to the right, while Anatole went to the left. For about thirty feet the wall was unclimbable. Then it became less steep, and the ledge widened before coming to an end at the edge of a cliff. From this part of the shelf, the slope upward looked possible to climb, though Steve could not see to the top through the fog.
During a lull in the roaring of the surf, he shouted to Anatole and was answered. Then he waited until his companion joined him. The rock slope was wet, but being out of wave-reach it was not worn as smooth as were the rocks below. It was rough and irregular enough to give them handholds and footholds. But it was lucky for Steve, with his strained foot and ankle, that the climb proved to be short.
The fog shut out the view landward as well as lakeward. They could see only a few feet of almost level surface, dotted here and there with creeping bearberry and clumps of juniper. Even that much growth was encouraging. Wet as they were, the strong wind chilled them through.
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They had gone but a few yards inland when they began to see
the blurred shapes of small bushes. Then a dark mass of woods appeared through
the mist ahead. Anatole quickened his pace to a trot, and Steve followed as best
Steve would have stopped as soon as they were a little sheltered from the wind, but Anatole kept on until he found a small open spot surrounding a large, outcropped rock and encircled with thick growth. The ax had been lost with the boat, but Anatole carried in a beaded deer skin sheath a stout knife that he kept as sharp as a razor. Steve too had a sturdy knife. In a few minutes they had gathered a little heap of bark and the dry, inner wood from the dead stump of a fallen birch. With his flint and steel Anatole kindled the little pile. Carefully he added tiny, resinous twigs, more bark, and larger pieces of wood until, in spite of the dampness, he had a good blaze, built against the rock which reflected the heat.
"If we only had something to eat, we wouldn't be so bad off," Steve said.
"We don' starve in one night."
"No," Steve agreed. "We're lucky that we're not at the bottom of the lake or smashed to pulp on the rocks." Now that there was nothing for him to do but crouch before the fire, he felt his bruises and strains more keenly, but he did not talk about them.
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"Is it really getting night, or are my eyes dazzled by
the fire?" he asked his companion.
Anatole turned his head. "Night come, certainement." Before the darkness grew too deep, they found a little more fuel that was not too wet, and cut a few evergreen boughs for beds. Although their couch was thin and they had no blankets, Anatole fell asleep at once. Hunger, damp chill, and wrenched muscles kept Steve wakeful. He slept only in fitful, nightmare-haunted naps. Several times he or Anatole rose to throw a few sticks on the fire.
When daylight penetrated the gloom of the trees and Anatole got stiffly to his feet, not a stick of fuel remained.
Anatole led the way back through growth to the open rocks. There the cold wind struck them with full force, but it had changed direction slightly and had blown away the fog. The weather had not cleared, however. The sky was still dark, and the lake a deep greenish gray, heaving with white-tipped waves.
Caught on a projection of rock that kept it from blowing away, what was left of the sail was billowed up and then sucked flat again by every wave that rolled in and retreated. Anatole's face was sad, as his eyes searched for some sign of the Jeanne.
"Mr. Fleming will see that you are paid for your boat," Steve assured him. "You were working for him, you know."
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"It is not dat. I build her myself, and she was good
boat, my Jeanne. It is like to lose a friend, you understand."
Anatole shook himself. "Bien. We go find w'ere we are."
The spot where they had been cast up was at the head of a shallow indentation in the shore line. They had been driven straight in, but now the waves were coming in at an angle. On either side of the little curve in the shore, the rocks rose higher. To get a view they climbed up in the easiest place. What they hoped to see from up there was a long stretch of more rocks backed by woods, which would indicate that they were somewhere on the main land. What they did see was about a hundred feet of bare, weather-beaten rock with a few scattered bushes and stunted trees, and beyond, nothing but hurrying waves, their dark, dull green streaked here and there with white.
"We must be on a point," suggested Steve.
"Or ile, maybe."
By following the shore line they soon found that Anatole was right. They were on a small offshore island, on the outer rocks of which they had been wrecked. From the inner side of the islet, they gazed across a channel of gray water to a rocky, tree-crowned shore.
"Is that Keweenaw?" Steve questioned. "Can you tell what part of it?"
"I t'ink," said Anatole slowly, "it is down shore from
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Eagle Riviere t'ree, four mile. See dat." He pointed to
his left. "Dat much w'ite water? I know dat reef. Down dere," to the
right, "ot'er side of dat point w'ere you don' can see it, Riviere Gratiot
come in lake. Mine and store'ouse and dock down dere."
"Then someone may come along here."
"W'en sea go down."
Steve was ravenously hungry. "Do you suppose there is anything here we can eat?" he asked.
"We go look."
Their search for food was fruitless, but they succeeded in salvaging a blanket, one oar, and a few broken planks. The sail they dislodged and spread out above the reach of the waves to dry in the wind. The bright red bearberries were the only things they could find to eat. They looked inviting but proved dry, tasteless, and made up almost entirely of seeds. In the shallow soil of the woods, Anatole found none of the little tubers called by the Indians "bears' potatoes." The water was still too rough for fishing from the shore, even if they had had any tackle. Steve was quite ready to eat sea gulls' eggs no matter how fishy they might taste, but it was too late for eggs. Only broken shells remained from which the young had hatched weeks before. Not a bird or a squirrel was to be seen on the islet.
Unwilling to give up the search entirely, Steve stationed himself on the inner, leeward shore of the islet, in
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the one spot where he could get down close to the water.
There might be small fish in that quieter water close in shore. Perhaps he could
seize one in his hand. He could see the bottom clearly, but not a minnow
appeared. Even after he had given up all hope of catching anything, he remained
at his post. He could at least keep a lookout for human beings on the opposite
shore. Moreover it was warmer on the leeward side of the islet, where he was
somewhat sheltered from the sharp wind. His hunger was making him feel the cold
After long hours of inaction Anatole suggested that they make camp on this side where a fire could be seen if anyone happened along in the night. "Hunger Camp," Steve named it, bravely attempting to joke. He was disgusted to find himself so tired and slack-muscled when he could not see that Anatole's strength had suffered in the least. The old man was as tough as tamarack.
The sky was clearing rapidly when they brought from the outer shore the boards, the canvas, and the blanket. They spread the canvas over the moss and bearberry which partly covered the rock, and laid a balsam-fir bed upon it.
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28. Baptiste to the Rescue
WITH HALF A BLANKET TO KEEP HIM WARMER,
Steve managed to get more sleep. He woke to find Anatole already up and sitting on a rock, scanning the channel. There was no sign of any boat, but the lake had changed. Now only wavelets rippled past, and the sky was clear and tinged with soft sunrise colors.
"We 'ave fine day," Anatole declared. "Boat come sure today. Or maybe 'morrow."
There was no real conviction in his voice, and Steve felt sure that the words were only intended to cheer him. He needed them, however unconvincing they were.
But Anatole leaped to his feet and peered out intently. Steve looked too.
Was that a sail? Or only a cloud?
Then Steve jumped as if he had been standing next a steam whistle when it erupted.
"Ho-la, Ho-la-a!" It was Anatole calling, a high, pierc-
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ing call that Steve thought must surely reach the main land.
As if it were an echo, the reply came, faint but just as shrill and piercing in tone.
Anatole's mouth dropped open in astonishment when he heard that answering call. He gazed at the approaching sail as if a miracle had been performed just for him.
"It is impossible!" he declared. "Dat is my Ba'tis'. I know dat voice anywhere, moi. But it is impossible."
It was not impossible. As the boat came nearer, Steve could see that it was Baptiste, sitting at the helm. And with him was Enoch Latimer, the Yankee prospector who had befriended Steve after his night in the swamp.
It was a glad reunion. Baptiste flung his arms about his father and burst into a gale of questions in French, with Anatole gesturing wildly as he told his son about the wreck of the Jeanne. Latimer was more matter-of-fact in his greeting to Steve.
"You do have adventures, don't you, boy? I heard you were due in this neck of the woods, but I didn't calculate to find you cast away on a desert island like Robinson Crusoe."
"You knew I was here?" Steve asked in complete astonishment.
"Well, not exactly. But I knew you were making the
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crossing. I met up with the Flemings when their schooner put
in. I kinda wanted to talk to Mr. Fleming, so I just up and introduced myself.
We figured out quite a few things together that will be right interesting to
you. But my turning up here now is just pure chance. I've got a little business
at a location down the shore a piece. But here I go blabbing when all you must
be interested in is a square meal. Seems like I never meet you but that you're
Baptiste was one son who followed in his father's foot steps exactly, even to the matter of always having a cache of hardtack and cheese along. Nothing had ever tasted better, and Steve and Anatole munched away as the boat took them to Eagle River. While they sailed, Latimer told Steve some of his news.
"Mr. Fleming's got some letters for you. I reckon you'll find quite a bit of news in them, but I can tell you some news without seeing the letters. One of the things I've found out is that Chatburn is a number A 1 skunk. You know that forsaken hole in the ground that Mike Bedeau showed you? That's the old abandoned Morgan mine and as far away from the Burnet-Chatburn location as he could well take you."
"But—but—" Steve was too surprised to get the words out.
"Yes, sirree, boy! He and Westman cooked up that lit-
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tle deal with Bedeau, and then tried their level best to get
you out of the Keweenaw country. Meanwhile Chatburn was working the real mine as
hard as he could. I've got a big bump of curiosity on my old head, and when I
heard some miners talking at Brockway's about how much ore Chatburn was taking
out, I figgered somebody'd been lying, and I didn't think it was you, son. So I
checked on the location of the Burnet and Chatburn lease and found that if
Bedeau had taken you straight there, you couldn't possibly have been on the road
as long as you said unless you crawled the whole way."
"So losing me in the swamp was deliberate," Steve said grimly, but without surprise after the events of the past weeks. "But why was Westman trying to steal the papers I was carrying if he knew I was going to take them to Chatburn anyway, since they were working together?"
"Thieves don't work together if they see a chance for any double dealing, son. It might be that Chatburn wanted to claim that he had never received them, but my hunch is that Westman wanted a private look at them first. He lives by his wits, and he's slick and smooth as butter, but he's a skunk just the same. You won't be bothered by him any more, though. He's cleared out."
"Didn't he come back from Isle Royale?"
"He came back, but he didn't stay. The boat that
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brought those letters for you brought a passenger Westman
didn't want to meet up with, a deputy sheriff sent here on purpose to get
"Did he get him?" Steve asked eagerly.
"No, more's the pity, but he may yet. He was at Eagle Harbor when Westman landed at Eagle River. Somebody tipped Westman off, and he went right away again in the boat he came in and took Bedeau and Jennings with him."
"He's your red-bearded friend. The deputy sheriff came all the way from Mackinaw for the privilege of locating Mr. Westman. Bedeau's wanted for stealing that boat they were using, and other things too, I guess. What Jennings is guilty of I don't know. The deputy was pretty close mouthed, as a sheriff ought to be. Anyway, if those three are wise, they'll clear out of the whole Great Lakes country. But that deputy may get them yet. He hired a boat and took right after them."
Steve was thinking about the Indian mine. "Did Westman see Chatburn, do you know?" he asked.
"He didn't have a chance. He didn't dare go anywhere near Eagle Harbor with that deputy waiting there for him. He didn't even go in that direction. He went just the opposite way, sou'west toward the Ontonagon."
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"Then he couldn't have stopped at Copper Harbor either,"
Steve said with relief. "He was trying to beat us in there to put in a
claim for a lease."
"Sure. Fleming told me about that trick, but Westman didn't make it work after all. Fleming has already put in his claim for that Indian mine location. Chatburn," Latimer went on, "is a harder nut to crack. He gets his dirty work done for him without soiling his own paws. But Fleming thinks he can be handled just the same. Your friend Fleming is a quiet sort, but he's got a first class think-piece. He's sent that young Abbott to scout around the Burnet-Chatburn Mine and see just how much of a concern it is. That boy's turned into a pretty fair copper man in just one summer. He's got a location of his own and is aiming to stay the winter. Here I am talking along and not giving you a chance to get in a word. Tell me about your own affairs."
"There's not much to tell that you don't know."
Here Anatole interrupted. "Dis boy, 'e is too modest. One fine boy 'e is." And for the rest of the trip to Eagle River Steve figured as the hero in Anatole's graphic account of their adventures, until the boy's face burned as red as his hair.
At Eagle River they found Mr. Fleming, and with him Lewis Abbott. Mr. Fleming had grown worried when Steve had not turned up at the Keweenaw-Superior Mine
Book Page 205
and had come seeking news of him. He was overjoyed to have
the boy back safe and sound. While they ate a hasty meal at the boardinghouse,
Steve and Anatole had to recount once again the tale of their voyage and casting
away. Mr. Fleming said at once that Anatole would be recompensed for the loss of
"Non, non," Anatole protested. "Not your fault she was wreck."
"I won't be paying for her personally, Anatole. You were working for the Keweenaw-Superior Company, and since your boat was lost in their service, they will make good the loss."
"Dat comp'ny rich? Bon, den it can pay for Jeanne, and I call my new bateau "Keweenaw-Superior and Steve 'Arlaw.' "
"That name would be a mouthful if you were in a hurry," Lewis commented.
Baptiste laughed merrily. "Man pere, he call her 'Jeanne' all the same after Jeanne 'Arrison."
Anatole shook his fist at his favorite son in mock anger, but did not deny the charge.
Latimer put off his own business to accompany Mr. Fleming, Steve, and Lewis to the Keweenaw-Superior Mine. As they went, Lewis told of his visit to the Burnet-Chatburn Mine.
"Is that place humming!" he said. "It's producing all
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right. Chatburn is even thinking of building a stamp mill. He
remembered meeting me on the trail when I had been prospecting, but I didn't let
him know that I knew you, Steve. For some reason he took me for a rich young
fellow with money to invest. I let him think so, and he showed me everything.
Then he told me in strictest confidence that the company was to be
reorganized, that there would be a very few shares for sale, and that I
would be lucky to get in on such a good thing."
"Reorganized?" cried Steve.
"Yes, I think that's the most important thing I learned. Don't you, Mr. Fleming?"
"Unquestionably," Mr. Fleming replied gravely.
Not until they had reached the Fleming cabin and Steve had been warmly welcomed by Jessie and Ron, did he have a chance to break the seal on his packet of letters. There were three of them, one each from his mother, his grandfather, and his Uncle Mark's lawyer, who, with the grandfather, had been named in Mark Burnet's will as executor and trustee. His mother's letter the boy read first to make sure that all was well at home. From the second letter he learned that his grandfather had been to Albany and with the lawyer had gone through Mark Burnet's papers. The lawyer would write him about some of the things they had found out. Eagerly Steve turned to
Book Page 207
the lawyer's letter. His uncle, the letter said, had invested
heavily in the Keweenaw mining venture and owned three-fifths of the stock. He
and Chatburn were the only stockholders. Furthermore, there was among the papers
a description of another location leased in Mr. Burnet's own name, but to be
turned over to the company. The papers concerning that location were undoubtedly
in the packet Steve had carried to Chatburn. The letter concluded with a
promise to go into the whole matter more thoroughly and find out what should be
done to protect the interests of Steve and his mother.
As soon as Steve had read the lawyer's letter aloud to Mr. Fleming, Latimer, and Lewis, the four held a council of war. Angry, Steve wanted to confront Chatburn at once with what Lewis had learned at the mine and with the lawyer's letter. But the two men advised against such a course.
"Don't let him know that you know he's a cheat and a fraud till you're ready to make trouble for him," Latimer said.
"That's right," Mr. Fleming agreed. "The thing to do is to get all possible proofs and then put the whole case in the lawyer's hands. And it must be done at once, before Chatburn carries out his plan of reorganization and freezes you out."
Book Page 208
"Chatburn told me." Lewis put in, "that he was
going to Detroit on the last boat of the season, and then the reorganization
would take place."
"We must beat him to it," Mr. Fleming declared emphatically. "The steamboat Julia Palmer is expected tomorrow from the Ontonagon on her way east. We'll take her, Steve, and get to Albany just as soon as we can. Lewis, will you write out a statement of what you saw at the mine and what Chatburn told you?"
"I'll be glad to, Mr. Fleming, and I'll swear to it if I can find a notary."
'There's a notary at Eagle River," Latimer informed him. "I can't go east with you folks, but I'm going to have a look at that mine. Chatburn don't know me, and I won't give anything away. Let me have that lawyer's address, and I'll send him a sworn statement too."
Steve had been listening in some puzzlement. "Just what can the lawyer do?" he asked.
"Confront Chatburn with charges and proofs of fraud, misrepresentation, and anything else we or he can find out about him," Mr. Fleming replied promptly. "I'm not a lawyer but I can qualify as a mining expert, so I believe I can help some. We certainly have a good case against him."
"I doubt very much that he will want to go into court to answer the charges," Latimer said dryly. "He will try
Book Page 209
to bluff at first, but in the end I think he will be glad to
avoid a trial by compromising. His kind don't like to be haled into court."
"You are right," Mr. Fleming agreed. "He must be made to buy your shares and your mother's and pay a generous price for them, too. You don't want to own stock in any company run by so dishonest a man. He would get the better of you in some way. I feel sure that the lawyer and your grandfather will agree with me in this."
"It seems the best thing to do," Steve said anxiously, "and I am certainly grateful for all your help and advice."
"Don't worry about it, son," Mr. Fleming added. "We'll see you through. I can get the help of the Keweenaw-Superior Company if necessary. Chatburn will have to compromise. But he must pay you cash for the stock. Don't accept any offer of part cash and part stock in the new company, no matter what he promises."
"I sure won't," Steve declared with vigor. "I never want anything more to do with any business he is mixed up in."
"And the trustees of the estate will certainly agree with you in that," Mr. Fleming concluded.
"From the tone of that lawyer's letter," Latimer said dryly, "I kinda think he'd smelled a rat already."
"I got that impression too," Mr. Fleming agreed.
Book Page 210
29. Good-by to Keweenaw
THE FLEMING CABIN COULD SCARCELY HOLD
crowded into it that night in an impromptu celebration that began as a
conference and ended as a party. Steve and Tom Tressic sat on the floor, Lewis
and Anatole on boxes, Jessie on a stool, and Mr. Fleming on one of the bunks,
so that Jane Harrison, her father, and Latimer might have the only chairs. Ronnie, too excited to rest anywhere for long, alternated between his father's
side and Steve's. The refreshments were simple, crackers with cheese or wild
strawberry jam and coffee without cream.
"The mine will be sorry to lose Tom," Mr. Fleming said.
"Is Tom going back east?" Steve asked in surprise.
"No," Lewis explained, "I've stolen him to stay with me this winter. Tom's a good man, and I can use him. I've always wanted to learn a foreign language." he added with a grin at Tom, "so I guess I'll try Garnish."
Tom blushed with pleasure at being called a "good
Book Page 211
man," but he objected strongly to Cornish being considered a foreign
language. Now if someone had said English was that. . . . Everyone laughed, and
Lewis thumped his new partner on the back.
"Then you're not going back to college?" Steve asked Lewis.
"Oh, I'll go back some time, next year maybe. When are you going to college, Steve?"
Steve had not thought of college as possible for him. He would like to go, he admitted, and study geology and surveying and that sort of thing.
"Why not, Steve?" Mr. Fleming asked. "I think we can arrange it so that you can live with us during the winter, and in the summer get your field experience with me."
Jessie and Ron were enthusiastic over this plan. It would be fine to have Steve live with them.
"You will have your inheritance from your uncle to use for your education," Mr. Fleming went on.
"And there will be money for you and me finding the Indian mine," Ronnie put in excitedly.
"Yes, the company intends to show its appreciation," Mr. Fleming said, smiling at the two boys.
Steve himself did not have much to say, but his beaming face clearly expressed his feelings. To go on working with Mr. Fleming, to see more, much more of Jessie—it
Book Page 212
all seemed too good to be true. His mother, he knew, would
not stand in the way of his getting more education and the training to do the
work that he liked. He could be with her some of the time, too, and maybe if he
was successful and made good in his work, he could do for her some of the things
he had dreamed of doing. With all these thoughts running through his head, he
sat silent, only half listening to the plans the others were making for him.
It was only the sudden appearance of Baptiste and his fiddle that aroused the boy from his dreaming. Smiling, Baptiste tuned up and played a lively jig as an opening number. Then he followed song with song, in which the others all joined whether they knew the air and the words or not.
The small side-wheeler Julia Palmer put in her appearance at Eagle Harbor next day, and the Flemings and Steve went aboard. From the beach where he was beginning work on his new Jeanne, Anatole shouted a last farewell. Latimer and Baptiste had returned to the Dellinger and Latimer location, but when the Julia put in at Bete Grise Bay, they came out to her in a skiff loaded with sacks of ore to be assayed. To Steve, Latimer handed up something wrapped in brown paper, while Baptiste cried, "Bon voyage present!"
Book Page 213
As Steve unwrapped the package, the thing slipped in his hands and he barely
retrieved it. It was a tin plate of baked beans.
"You've been hungry every time I've met up with you, son," Latimer called up to him, "so this time I thought I'd be prepared."
Steve shouted with laughter as he waved good-by.
The Julia Palmer churned the waters of Bete Grise Bay and swung out into the open lake. Side by side at the rail, Jessie and Steve watched the rocky, wooded shores of the peninsula slip by. In low voices they talked of the winter's plans, and of next summer when they would come to the copper country again.
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