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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 19. The Goldseekers' Camp At Glenora
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The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 19. The Goldseekers' Camp At Glenora Post by :47228 Category :Nonfictions Author :Hamlin Garland Date :May 2012 Read :1067

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The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 19. The Goldseekers' Camp At Glenora


Glenora, like Telegraph Creek, was a village of tents and shacks. Previous to the opening of the year it had been an old Hudson Bay trading-post at the head of navigation on the Stikeen River, but during April and May it had been turned into a swarming camp of goldseekers on their way to Teslin Lake by way of the much-advertised "Stikeen Route" to the Yukon.

A couple of months before our arrival nearly five thousand people had been encamped on the river flat; but one disappointment had followed another, the government road had been abandoned, the pack trail had proved a menace, and as a result the camp had thinned away, and when we of the Long Trail began to drop into town Glenora contained less than five hundred people, including tradesmen and mechanics.

The journey of those who accompanied me on the Long Trail was by no means ended. It was indeed only half done. There remained more than one hundred and seventy miles of pack trail before the head of navigation on the Yukon could be reached. I turned aside. My partner went on.

In order to enter the head-waters of the Pelly it was necessary to traverse four hundred miles of trail, over which a year's provision for each man must be carried. Food was reported to be "a dollar a pound" at Teslin Lake and winter was coming on. To set face toward any of these regions meant the most careful preparation or certain death.

The weather was cold and bleak, and each night the boys assembled around the big campfire to discuss the situation. They reported the country full of people eager to get away. Everybody seemed studying the problem of what to do and how to do it. Some were for going to the head-waters of the Pelly, others advocated the Nisutlin, and others still thought it a good plan to prospect on the head-waters of the Tooya, from which excellent reports were coming in.

Hour after hour they debated, argued, and agreed. In the midst of it all Burton remained cool and unhurried. Sitting in our tent, which flapped and quivered in the sounding southern wind, we discussed the question of future action. I determined to leave him here with four of the horses and a thousand pounds of grub with which to enter the gold country; for my partner was a miner, not a literary man.

It had been my intention to go with him to Teslin Lake, there to build a boat and float down the river to Dawson; but I was six weeks behind my schedule, the trail was reported to be bad, and the water in the Hotalinqua very low, making boating slow and hazardous. Therefore I concluded to join the stream of goldseekers who were pushing down toward the coast to go in by way of Skagway.

There was a feeling in the air on the third day after going into camp which suggested the coming of autumn. Some of the boys began to dread the desolate north, out of which the snows would soon begin to sweep. It took courage to set face into that wild land with winter coming on, and yet many of them were ready to do it. The Manchester boys and Burton formed a "side-partnership," and faced a year of bacon and beans without visible sign of dismay.

The ominous cold deepened a little every night. It seemed like October as the sun went down. Around us on every side the mountain peaks cut the sky keen as the edge of a sword, and the wind howled up the river gusty and wild.

A little group of tents sprang up around our own and every day was full of quiet enjoyment. We were all living very high, with plenty of berries and an occasional piece of fresh beef. Steel-head salmon were running and were a drug in the market.

The talk of the Pelly River grew excited as a report came in detailing a strike, and all sorts of outfits began to sift out along the trail toward Teslin Lake. The rain ceased at last and the days grew very pleasant with the wind again in the south, roaring up the river all day long with great power, reminding me of the equatorial currents which sweep over Illinois and Wisconsin in September. We had nothing now to trouble us but the question of moving out into the gold country.

One by one the other misguided ones of the Long Trail came dropping into camp to meet the general depression and stagnation. They were brown, ragged, long-haired, and for the most part silent with dismay. Some of them celebrated their escape by getting drunk, but mainly they were too serious-minded to waste time or substance. Some of them had expended their last dollar on the trail and were forced to sell their horses for money to take them out of the country. Some of the partnerships went to pieces for other causes. Long-smouldering dissensions burst into flame. "The Swedes" divided and so did "The Dutchman," the more resolute of them keeping on the main trail while others took the trail to the coast or returned to the States.

Meanwhile, Ladrone and his fellows were rejoicing like ourselves in fairly abundant food and in continuous rest. The old gray began to look a little more like his own proud self. As I went out to see him he came up to me to be curried and nosed about me, begging for salt. His trust in me made him doubly dear, and I took great joy in thinking that he, at least, was not doomed to freeze or starve in this savage country which has no mercy and no hope for horses.

There was great excitement on the first Sunday following our going into camp, when the whistle of a steamer announced the coming of the mail. It produced as much movement as an election or a bear fight. We all ran to the bank to see her struggle with the current, gaining headway only inch by inch. She was a small stern-wheeler, not unlike the boats which run on the upper Missouri. We all followed her down to the Hudson Bay post, like a lot of small boys at a circus, to see her unload. This was excitement enough for one day, and we returned to camp feeling that we were once more in touch with civilization.

Among the first of those who met us on our arrival was a German, who was watching some horses and some supplies in a big tent close by the river bank. While pitching my tent on that first day he came over to see me, and after a few words of greeting said quietly, but with feeling, "I am glad you've come, it was so lonesome here." We were very busy, but I think we were reasonably kind to him in the days that followed. He often came over of an evening and stood about the fire, and although I did not seek to entertain him, I am glad to say I answered him civilly; Burton was even social.

I recall these things with a certain degree of feeling, because not less than a week later this poor fellow was discovered by one of our company swinging from the crosstree of the tent, a ghastly corpse. There was something inexplicable in the deed. No one could account for it. He seemed not to be a man of deep feeling. And one of the last things he uttered in my hearing was a coarse jest which I did not like and to which I made no reply.

In his pocket the coroner found a letter wherein he had written, "Bury me right here where I failed, here on the bank of the river." It contained also a message to his wife and children in the States. There were tragic splashes of red on the trail, murder, and violent death by animals and by swift waters. Now here at the end of the trail was a suicide.

So this is the end of the trail to him--
To swing at the tail of a rope and die;
Making a chapter gray and grim,
Adding a ghost to the midnight sky?
He toiled for days on the icy way,
He slept at night on the wind-swept snow;
Now here he hangs in the morning's gray,
A grisly shape by the river's flow.

It was just two weeks later when I put the bridle and saddle on Ladrone and rode him down the trail. His heart was light as mine, and he had gained some part of his firm, proud, leaping walk. He had confidence in the earth once more. This was the first firm stretch of road he had trod for many weeks. He was now to take the boat for the outside world.

There was an element of sadness in the parting between Ladrone and the train he had led for so many miles. As we saddled up for the last time he stood waiting. The horses had fared together for ninety days. They had "lined up" nearly two hundred times, and now for the last time I called out: "Line up, boys! Line up! Heke! Heke!"

Ladrone swung into the trail. Behind him came "Barney," next "Major," then sturdy "Bay Bill," and lastly "Nibbles," the pony. For the last time they were to follow their swift gray leader, who was going south to live at ease, while they must begin again the ascent of the trail.

Ladrone whinnied piteously for his mates as I led him aboard the steamer, but they did not answer. They were patiently waiting their master's signal. Never again would they set eyes on the stately gray leader who was bound to most adventurous things. Never again would they see the green grass come on the hills.

I had a feeling that I could go on living this way, leading a pack train across the country indefinitely. It seemed somehow as though this way of life, this routine, must continue. I had a deep interest in the four horses, and it was not without a feeling of guilt that I saw them move away on their last trail. At bottom the end of every horse is tragic. Death comes sooner or later, but death here in this country, so cold and bleak and pitiless to all animals, seems somehow closer, more inevitable, more cruel, and flings over every animal the shadow of immediate tragedy. There was something approaching crime in bringing a horse over that trail for a thousand miles only to turn him loose at the end, or to sell him to some man who would work him to the point of death, and then shoot him or turn him out to freeze.

As the time came when I must return to the south and to the tame, the settled, the quiet, I experienced a profound feeling of regret, of longing for the wild and lonely. I looked up at the shining green and white mountains and they allured me still, notwithstanding all the toil and discomfort of the journey just completed. The wind from the south, damp and cool, the great river gliding with rushing roar to meet the sea, had a distinct and wonderful charm from which I rent myself with distinct effort.



What have I gained by the toil of the trail?
I know and know well.
I have found once again the lore I had lost
In the loud city's hell.

I have broadened my hand to the cinch and the axe,
I have laid my flesh to the rain;
I was hunter and trailer and guide;
I have touched the most primitive wildness again.

I have threaded the wild with the stealth of the deer,
No eagle is freer than I;
No mountain can thwart me, no torrent appall,
I defy the stern sky.
So long as I live these joys will remain,
I have touched the most primitive wildness again.

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The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 20. Great News At Wrangell The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 20. Great News At Wrangell

The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 20. Great News At Wrangell
CHAPTER XX. GREAT NEWS AT WRANGELLBoat after boat had come up, stopped for a night, and dropped down the river again, carrying from ten to twenty of the goldseekers who had determined to quit or to try some other way in; and at last the time had come for me to say good-by to Burton and all those who had determined to keep on to Teslin Lake. I had helped them buy and sack and weigh their supplies, and they were ready to line up once more. As I led Ladrone down toward the boat, he called again for his fellows,

The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 18. At Last The Stikeen The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 18. At Last The Stikeen

The Trail Of The Goldseekers - Chapter 18. At Last The Stikeen
CHAPTER XVIII. AT LAST THE STIKEENAbout the middle of the afternoon of the fifty-eighth day we topped a low divide, and came in sight of the Stikeen River. Our hearts thrilled with pleasure as we looked far over the deep blue and purple-green spread of valley, dim with mist, in which a little silver ribbon of water could be seen. After weeks of rain, as if to make amend for useless severity, the sun came out, a fresh westerly breeze sprang up, and the sky filled with glowing clouds flooded with tender light. The bloom of fireweed almost concealed the devastation