"Tell you what
we'll do; we'll shake for it."
"That suits me," said the second
man, turning, as he spoke, to
the Indian that was mending snow-shoes
in a corner of the cabin. "Here,
you Billebedam, take a run down
to Oleson's cabin like a good
fellow, and tell him we want
to borrow his dice box."
This sudden request in the
midst of a council on wages of
men, wood, and grub surprised
Billebedam. Besides, it was early
in the day, and he had never
known white men of the calibre
of Pentfield and Hutchinson to
dice and play till the day's
work was done. But his face was
impassive as a Yukon Indian's
should be, as he pulled on his
mittens and went out the door.
Though eight o'clock, it was
still dark outside, and the cabin
was lighted by a tallow candle
thrust into an empty whisky bottle.
It stood on the pine-board table
in the middle of a disarray of
dirty tin dishes. Tallow from
innumerable candles had dripped
down the long neck of the bottle
and hardened into a miniature
glacier. The small room, which
composed the entire cabin, was
as badly littered as the table;
while at one end, against the
wall, were two bunks, one above
the other, with the blankets
turned down just as the two men
had crawled out in the morning.
Lawrence Pentfield and Corry
Hutchinson were millionaires,
though they did not look it.
There seemed nothing unusual
about them, while they would
have passed muster as fair specimens
of lumbermen in any Michigan
camp. But outside, in the darkness,
where holes yawned in the ground,
were many men engaged in windlassing
muck and gravel and gold from
the bottoms of the holes where
other men received fifteen dollars
per day for scraping it from
off the bedrock. Each day thousands
of dollars' worth of gold were
scraped from bedrock and windlassed
to the surface, and it all belonged
to Pentfield and Hutchinson,
who took their rank among the
richest kings of Bonanza.
Pentfield broke the silence
that followed on Billebedam's
departure by heaping the dirty
plates higher on the table and
drumming a tattoo on the cleared
space with his knuckles. Hutchinson
snuffed the smoky candle and
reflectively rubbed the soot
from the wick between thumb and
"By Jove, I wish we could both
go out!" he abruptly exclaimed. "That
would settle it all."
Pentfield looked at him darkly.
"If it weren't
for your cursed obstinacy,
it'd be settled anyway.
All you have to do is get up
and go. I'll look after things,
and next year I can go out."
I go? I've no one waiting for
"Your people," Pentfield
broke in roughly.
"Like you have," Hutchinson
went on. "A girl, I mean, and
you know it."
his shoulders gloomily. "She
can wait, I guess."
been waiting two years now."
won't age her beyond recognition."
"That'd be three years. Think
of it, old man, three years in
this end of the earth, this falling-off
place for the damned!" Hutchinson
threw up his arm in an almost
He was several years younger
than his partner, not more than
twenty-six, and there was a certain
wistfulness in his face that
comes into the faces of men when
they yearn vainly for the things
they have been long denied. This
same wistfulness was in Pentfield's
face, and the groan of it was
articulate in the heave of his
"I dreamed last night I was
in Zinkand's," he said. "The
music playing, glasses clinking,
voices humming, women laughing,
and I was ordering eggs--yes,
sir, eggs, fried and boiled and
poached and scrambled, and in
all sorts of ways, and downing
them as fast as they arrived."
"I'd have ordered salads and
green things," Hutchinson criticized
hungrily, "with a big, rare,
Porterhouse, and young onions
and radishes,--the kind your
teeth sink into with a crunch."
"I'd have followed the eggs
with them, I guess, if I hadn't
awakened," Pentfield replied.
He picked up a trail-scarred
banjo from the floor and began
to strum a few wandering notes.
Hutchinson winced and breathed
"Quit it!" he burst out with
sudden fury, as the other struck
into a gaily lifting swing. "It
drives me mad. I can't stand
Pentfield tossed the banjo
into a bunk and quoted:-
"Hear me babble
what the weakest won't confess
- I am Memory and
Torment--I am Town! I am all
that ever went with evening dress!"
The other man winced where
he sat and dropped his head forward
on the table. Pentfield resumed
the monotonous drumming with
his knuckles. A loud snap from
the door attracted his attention.
The frost was creeping up the
inside in a white sheet, and
he began to hum:-
are folded, boughs are bare,
The salmon takes the
sea; And oh, my fair, would I
somewhere Might house my heart
Silence fell and was not again
broken till Billebedam arrived
and threw the dice box on the
"Um much cold," he said. "Oleson
um speak to me, um say um Yukon
freeze last night."
"Hear that, old man!" Pentfield
cried, slapping Hutchinson on
the shoulder. "Whoever wins can
be hitting the trail for God's
country this time tomorrow morning!"
He picked up the box, briskly
rattling the dice.
"Straight poker dice," Hutchinson
answered. "Go on and roll them
Pentfield swept the dishes
from the table with a crash and
rolled out the five dice. Both
looked tragedy. The shake was
without a pair and five-spot
"A stiff!" Pentfield
After much deliberating Pentfield
picked up all the five dice and
put them in the box.
"I'd shake to the five if I
were you," Hutchinson suggested.
"No, you wouldn't, not when
you see this," Pentfield replied,
shaking out the dice.
Again they were without a pair,
running this time in unbroken
sequence from two to six.
"A second stiff!" he groaned. "No
use your shaking, Corry. You
The other man gathered up the
dice without a word, rattled
them, rolled them out on the
table with a flourish, and saw
that he had likewise shaken a
"Tied you, anyway, but I'll
have to do better than that," he
said, gathering in four of them
and shaking to the six. "And
here's what beats you!"
But they rolled out deuce,
tray, four, and five--a stiff
still and no better nor worse
than Pentfield's throw.
"Couldn't happen once in a
million times," said.
"Nor in a million lives," Pentfield
added, catching up the dice and
quickly throwing them out. Three
fives appeared, and, after much
delay, he was rewarded by a fourth
five on the second shake. Hutchinson
seemed to have lost his last
But three sixes turned up on
his first shake. A great doubt
rose in the other's eyes, and
hope returned into his. He had
one more shake. Another six and
he would go over the ice to salt
water and the States.
He rattled the dice in the
box, made as though to cast them,
hesitated, and continued rattle
"Go on! Go on! Don't take all
night about it!" Pentfield cried
sharply, bending his nails on
the table, so tight was the clutch
with which he strove to control
The dice rolled forth, an upturned
six meeting their eyes. Both
men sat staring at it. There
was a long silence. Hutchinson
shot a covert glance at his partner,
who, still more covertly, caught
it, and pursed up his lips in
an attempt to advertise his unconcern.
Hutchinson laughed as he got
up on his feet. It was a nervous,
apprehensive laugh. It was a
case where it was more awkward
to win than lose. He walked over
to his partner, who whirled upon
"Now you just
shut up, Corry! I know all
you're going to say--that
you'd rather stay in and let
me go, and all that; so don't
say it. You've your own people
in Detroit to see, and that's
enough. Besides, you can do for
me the very thing I expected
to do if I went out."
"And that is--?"
Pentfield read the full question
in his partner's eyes, and answered:-
very thing. You can bring her
in to me. The only
difference will be a Dawson wedding
instead of a San Franciscan one."
"But, man alike!" Corry Hutchinson
objected "how under the sun can
I bring her in? We're not exactly
brother and sister, seeing that
I have not even met her, and
it wouldn't be just the proper
thing, you know, for us to travel
together. Of course, it would
be all right--you and I know
that; but think of the looks
of it, man!"
Pentfield swore under his breath,
consigning the looks of it to
a less frigid region than Alaska.
"Now, if you'll just listen
and not get astride that high
horse of yours so blamed quick," his
partner went on, "you'll see
that the only fair thing under
the circumstances is for me to
let you go out this year. Next
year is only a year away, and
then I can take my fling."
Pentfield shook his head, though
visibly swayed by the temptation.
"It won't do,
Corry, old man. I appreciate
your kindness and
all that, but it won't do. I'd
be ashamed every time I thought
of you slaving away in here in
A thought seemed suddenly to
strike him. Burrowing into his
bunk and disrupting it in his
eagerness, he secured a writing-pad
and pencil, and sitting down
at the table, began to write
with swiftness and certitude.
"Here," he said, thrusting
the scrawled letter into his
partner's hand. "You just deliver
that and everything'll be all
Hutchinson ran his eye over
it and laid it down.
"How do you know the brother
will be willing to make that
beastly trip in here?" he demanded.
"Oh, he'll do it for me--and
for his sister," Pentfield replied. "You
see, he's tenderfoot, and I wouldn't
trust her with him alone. But
with you along it will be an
easy trip and a safe one. As
soon as you get out, you'll go
to her and prepare her. Then
you can take your run east to
your own people, and in the spring
she and her brother'll be ready
to start with you. You'll like
her, I know, right from the jump;
and from that, you'll know her
as soon as you lay eyes on her."
So saying he opened the back
of his watch and exposed a girl's
photograph pasted on the inside
of the case. Corry Hutchinson
gazed at it with admiration welling
up in his eyes.
"Mabel is her name," Pentfield
went on. "And it's just as well
you should know how to find the
house. Soon as you strike 'Frisco,
take a cab, and just say, 'Holmes's
place, Myrdon Avenue'--I doubt
if the Myrdon Avenue is necessary.
The cabby'll know where Judge
"And say," Pentfield continued,
after a pause, "it won't be a
bad idea for you to get me a
few little things which a--er--"
"A married man should have
in his business," Hutchinson
blurted out with a grin.
Pentfield grinned back.
and tablecloths and sheets
and pillowslips, and
such things. And you might get
a good set of china. You know
it'll come hard for her to settle
down to this sort of thing. You
can freight them in by steamer
around by Bering Sea. And, I
say, what's the matter with a
Hutchinson seconded the idea
heartily. His reluctance had
vanished, and he was warming
up to his mission.
"By Jove! Lawrence," he said
at the conclusion of the council,
as they both rose to their feet, "I'll
bring back that girl of yours
in style. I'll do the cooking
and take care of the dogs, and
all that brother'll have to do
will be to see to her comfort
and do for her whatever I've
forgotten. And I'll forget damn
little, I can tell you."
The next day Lawrence Pentfield
shook hands with him for the
last time and watched him, running
with his dogs, disappear up the
frozen Yukon on his way to salt
water and the world. Pentfield
went back to his Bonanza mine,
which was many times more dreary
than before, and faced resolutely
into the long winter. There was
work to be done, men to superintend,
and operations to direct in burrowing
after the erratic pay streak;
but his heart was not in the
work. Nor was his heart in any
work till the tiered logs of
a new cabin began to rise on
the hill behind the mine. It
was a grand cabin, warmly built
and divided into three comfortable
rooms. Each log was hand-hewed
and squared--an expensive whim
when the axemen received a daily
wage of fifteen dollars; but
to him nothing could be too costly
for the home in which Mabel Holmes
was to live.
So he went
about with the building of
the cabin, singing, "And oh,
my fair, would I somewhere might
house my heart with thee!" Also,
he had a calendar pinned on the
wall above the table, and his
first act each morning was to
check off the day and to count
the days that were left ere his
partner would come booming down
the Yukon ice in the spring.
Another whim of his was to permit
no one to sleep in the new cabin
on the hill. It must be as fresh
for her occupancy as the square-hewed
wood was fresh; and when it stood
complete, he put a padlock on
the door. No one entered save
himself, and he was wont to spend
long hours there, and to come
forth with his face strangely
radiant and in his eyes a glad,
In December he received a letter
from Corry Hutchinson. He had
just seen Mabel Holmes. She was
all she ought to be, to be Lawrence
Pentfield's wife, he wrote. He
was enthusiastic, and his letter
sent the blood tingling through
Pentfield's veins. Other letters
followed, one on the heels of
another, and sometimes two or
three together when the mail
lumped up. And they were all
in the same tenor. Corry had
just come from Myrdon Avenue;
Corry was just going to Myrdon
Avenue; or Corry was at Myrdon
Avenue. And he lingered on and
on in San Francisco, nor even
mentioned his trip to Detroit.
Lawrence Pentfield began to
think that his partner was a
great deal in the company of
Mabel Holmes for a fellow who
was going east to see his people.
He even caught himself worrying
about it at times, though he
would have worried more had he
not known Mabel and Corry so
well. Mabel's letters, on the
other hand, had a great deal
to say about Corry. Also, a thread
of timidity that was near to
disinclination ran through them
concerning the trip in over the
ice and the Dawson marriage.
Pentfield wrote back heartily,
laughing at her fears, which
he took to be the mere physical
ones of danger and hardship rather
than those bred of maidenly reserve.
But the long
winter and tedious wait, following
upon the two
previous long winters, were telling
upon him. The superintendence
of the men and the pursuit of
the pay streak could not break
the irk of the daily round, and
the end of January found him
making occasional trips to Dawson,
where he could forget his identity
for a space at the gambling tables.
Because he could afford to lose,
he won, and "Pentfield's luck" became
a stock phrase among the faro
His luck ran with him till
the second week in February.
How much farther it might have
run is conjectural; for, after
one big game, he never played
It was in the Opera House that
it occurred, and for an hour
it had seemed that he could not
place his money on a card without
making the card a winner. In
the lull at the end of a deal,
while the game-keeper was shuffling
the deck, Nick Inwood the owner
of the game, remarked, apropos
"I say, Pentfield,
I see that partner of yours
has been cutting
up monkey-shines on the outside."
"Trust Corry to have a good
time," Pentfield had answered; "especially
when he has earned it."
"Every man to his taste," Nick
Inwood laughed; "but I should
scarcely call getting married
a good time."
"Corry married!" Pentfield
cried, incredulous and yet surprised
out of himself for the moment.
'Sure," Inwood said. "I
saw it in the 'Frisco paper
came in over the ice this morning."
"Well, and who's the girl?" Pentfield
demanded, somewhat with the air
of patient fortitude with which
one takes the bait of a catch
and is aware at the time of the
large laugh bound to follow at
Nick Inwood pulled the newspaper
from his pocket and began looking
it over, saying:-
a remarkable memory for names,
but it seems to me
it's something like Mabel--Mabel--oh
yes, here it--'Mabel Holmes,
daughter of Judge Holmes,'--whoever
Lawrence Pentfield never turned
a hair, though he wondered how
any man in the North could know
her name. He glanced coolly from
face to face to note any vagrant
signs of the game that was being
played upon him, but beyond a
healthy curiosity the faces betrayed
nothing. Then he turned to the
gambler and said in cold, even
got an even five hundred here
that says the print
of what you have just said is
not in that paper."
looked at him in quizzical
surprise. "Go 'way,
child. I don't want your money."
"I thought so," Pentfield
sneered, returning to the game
a couple of bets.
Nick Inwood's face flushed,
and, as though doubting his senses,
he ran careful eyes over the
print of a quarter of a column.
Then be turned on Lawrence Pentfield.
"Look here, Pentfield," he
said, in a quiet, nervous manner; "I
can't allow that, you know."
"Allow what?" Pentfield
that I lied."
"Nothing of the sort," came
the reply. "I merely implied
that you were trying to be clumsily
"Make your bets, gentlemen," the
"But I tell you it's true," Nick
"And I have told you I've five
hundred that says it's not in
that paper," Pentfield answered,
at the same time throwing a heavy
sack of dust on the table.
"I am sorry to take your money," was
the retort, as Inwood thrust
the newspaper into Pentfield's
though he could not quite bring
himself to believe.
Glancing through the headline, "Young
Lochinvar came out of the North," and
skimming the article until the
names of Mabel Holmes and Corry
Hutchinson, coupled together,
leaped squarely before his eyes,
he turned to the top of the page.
It was a San Francisco paper.
"The money's yours, Inwood," he
remarked, with a short laugh. "There's
no telling what that partner
of mine will do when he gets
Then he returned
to the article and read it
word for word, very
slowly and very carefully. He
could no longer doubt. Beyond
dispute, Corry Hutchinson had
married Mabel Holmes. "One of
the Bonanza kings," it described
him, "a partner with Lawrence
Pentfield (whom San Francisco
society has not yet forgotten),
and interested with that gentleman
in other rich, Klondike properties." Further,
and at the end, he read, "It
is whispered that Mr. and Mrs.
Hutchinson will, after a brief
trip east to Detroit, make their
real honeymoon journey into the
fascinating Klondike country."
"I'll be back again; keep my
place for me," Pentfield said,
rising to his feet and taking
his sack, which meantime had
hit the blower and came back
lighter by five hundred dollars.
He went down the street and
bought a Seattle paper. It contained
the same facts, though somewhat
condensed. Corry and Mabel were
indubitably married. Pentfield
returned to the Opera House and
resumed his seat in the game.
He asked to have the limit removed.
"Trying to get action," Nick
Inwood laughed, as he nodded
assent to the dealer. "I was
going down to the A. C. store,
but now I guess I'll stay and
watch you do your worst."
This Lawrence Pentfield did
at the end of two hours' plunging,
when the dealer bit the end off
a fresh cigar and struck a match
as he announced that the bank
was broken. Pentfield cashed
in for forty thousand, shook
hands with Nick Inwood, and stated
that it was the last time he
would ever play at his game or
at anybody's else's.
No one knew nor guessed that
he had been hit, much less hit
hard. There was no apparent change
in his manner. For a week he
went about his work much as he
had always done, when he read
an account of the marriage in
a Portland paper. Then he called
in a friend to take charge of
his mine and departed up the
Yukon behind his dogs. He held
to the Salt Water trail till
White River was reached, into
which he turned. Five days later
he came upon a hunting camp of
the White River Indians. In the
evening there was a feast, and
he sat in honour beside the chief;
and next morning he headed his
dogs back toward the Yukon. But
he no longer travelled alone.
A young squaw fed his dogs for
him that night and helped to
pitch camp. She had been mauled
by a bear in her childhood and
suffered from a slight limp.
Her name was Lashka, and she
was diffident at first with the
strange white man that had come
out of the Unknown, married her
with scarcely a look or word,
and now was carrying her back
with him into the Unknown.
But Lashka's was better fortune
than falls to most Indian girls
that mate with white men in the
Northland. No sooner was Dawson
reached than the barbaric marriage
that had joined them was re-
solemnized, in the white man's
fashion, before a priest. From
Dawson, which to her was all
a marvel and a dream, she was
taken directly to the Bonanza
claim and installed in the square-hewed
cabin on the hill.
The nine days' wonder that
followed arose not so much out
of the fact of the squaw whom
Lawrence Pentfield had taken
to bed and board as out of the
ceremony that had legalized the
tie. The properly sanctioned
marriage was the one thing that
passed the community's comprehension.
But no one bothered Pentfield
about it. So long as a man's
vagaries did no special hurt
to the community, the community
let the man alone, nor was Pentfield
barred from the cabins of men
who possessed white wives. The
marriage ceremony removed him
from the status of squaw-man
and placed him beyond moral reproach,
though there were men that challenged
his taste where women were concerned.
No more letters arrived from
the outside. Six sledloads of
mails had been lost at the Big
Salmon. Besides, Pentfield knew
that Corry and his bride must
by that time have started in
over the trail. They were even
then on their honeymoon trip--the
honeymoon trip he had dreamed
of for himself through two dreary
years. His lip curled with bitterness
at the thought; but beyond being
kinder to Lashka he gave no sign.
March had passed and April
was nearing its end, when, one
spring morning, Lashka asked
permission to go down the creek
several miles to Siwash Pete's
cabin. Pete's wife, a Stewart
River woman, had sent up word
that something was wrong with
her baby, and Lashka, who was
pre-eminently a mother-woman
and who held herself to be truly
wise in the matter of infantile
troubles, missed no opportunity
of nursing the children of other
women as yet more fortunate than
Pentfield harnessed his dogs,
and with Lashka behind took the
trail down the creek bed of Bonanza.
Spring was in the air. The sharpness
had gone out of the bite of the
frost and though snow still covered
the land, the murmur and trickling
of water told that the iron grip
of winter was relaxing. The bottom
was dropping out of the trail,
and here and there a new trail
had been broken around open holes.
At such a place, where there
was not room for two sleds to
pass, Pentfield heard the jingle
of approaching bells and stopped
A team of tired-looking dogs
appeared around the narrow bend,
followed by a heavily-loaded
sled. At the gee-pole was a man
who steered in a manner familiar
to Pentfield, and behind the
sled walked two women. His glance
returned to the man at the gee-pole.
It was Corry. Pentfield got on
his feet and waited. He was glad
that Lashka was with him. The
meeting could not have come about
better had it been planned, he
thought. And as he waited he
wondered what they would say,
what they would be able to say.
As for himself there was no need
to say anything. The explaining
was all on their side, and he
was ready to listen to them.
As they drew
in abreast, Corry recognized
him and halted the
dogs. With a "Hello, old man," he
held out his hand.
it, but without warmth or speech.
By this time
the two women had come up, and
he noticed that the second one
was Dora Holmes. He doffed his
fur cap, the flaps of which were
flying, shook hands with her,
and turned toward Mabel. She
swayed forward, splendid and
radiant, but faltered before
his outstretched hand. He had
intended to say, "How do you
do, Mrs. Hutchinson?"--but somehow,
the Mrs. Hutchinson had choked
him, and all he had managed to
articulate was the "How do you
There was all the constraint
and awkwardness in the situation
he could have wished. Mabel betrayed
the agitation appropriate to
her position, while Dora, evidently
brought along as some sort of
peacemaker, was saying:-
is the matter, Lawrence?"
Before he could answer, Corry
plucked him by the sleeve and
drew him aside.
"See here, old man, what's
this mean?" Corry demanded in
a low tone, indicating Lashka
with his eyes.
"I can hardly see, Corry, where
you can have any concern in the
matter," Pentfield answered mockingly.
But Corry drove straight to
"What is that
squaw doing on your sled? A
nasty job you've
given me to explain all this
away. I only hope it can be explained
away. Who is she? Whose squaw
Then Lawrence Pentfield delivered
his stroke, and he delivered
it with a certain calm elation
of spirit that seemed somewhat
to compensate for the wrong that
had been done him.
"She is my squaw," he said; "Mrs.
Pentfield, if you please."
gasped, and Pentfield left
him and returned
to the two women. Mabel, with
a worried expression on her face,
seemed holding herself aloof.
He turned to Dora and asked,
quite genially, as though all
the world was sunshine:- "How
did you stand the trip, anyway?
Have any trouble to sleep warm?"
"And, how did Mrs. Hutchinson
stand it?" he asked next, his
eyes on Mabel.
"Oh, you dear ninny!" Dora
cried, throwing her arms around
him and hugging him. "Then you
saw it, too! I thought something
was the matter, you were acting
"I--I hardly understand," he
"It was corrected in next day's
paper," Dora chattered on. "We
did not dream you would see it.
All the other papers had it correctly,
and of course that one miserable
paper was the very one you saw!"
"Wait a moment! What do you
mean?" Pentfield demanded, a
sudden fear at his heart, for
he felt himself on the verge
of a great gulf.
But Dora swept volubly on.
it became known that Mabel
and I were going to
Klondike, EVERY OTHER WEEK said
that when we were gone, it would
be lovely on Myrdon Avenue, meaning,
of course, lonely."
"I am Mrs. Hutchinson," Dora
answered. "And you thought it
was Mabel all the time--"
"Precisely the way of it," Pentfield
replied slowly. "But I can see
now. The reporter got the names
mixed. The Seattle and Portland
He stood silently for a minute.
Mabel's face was turned toward
him again, and he could see the
glow of expectancy in it. Corry
was deeply interested in the
ragged toe of one of his moccasins,
while Dora was stealing sidelong
glances at the immobile face
of Lashka sitting on the sled.
Lawrence Pentfield stared straight
out before him into a dreary
future, through the grey vistas
of which he saw himself riding
on a sled behind running dogs
with lame Lashka by his side.
Then he spoke, quite simply,
looking Mabel in the eyes.
"I am very
sorry. I did not dream it.
I thought you had married
Corry. That is Mrs. Pentfield
sitting on the sled over there."
Mabel Holmes turned weakly
toward her sister, as though
all the fatigue of her great
journey had suddenly descended
on her. Dora caught her around
the waist. Corry Hutchinson was
still occupied with his moccasins.
Pentfield glanced quickly from
face to face, then turned to
"Can't stop here all day, with
Pete's baby waiting," he said
The long whip-lash hissed out,
the dogs sprang against the breast
bands, and the sled lurched and
"Oh, I say, Corry," Pentfield
called back, "you'd better occupy
the old cabin. It's not been
used for some time. I've built
a new one on the hill."