Once again we are in the roaring twenties, this time 100 years later. To celebrate this milestone we will be republish stories written by the students in the Vulcan in the 1920s. We will also try to include any events as well. Here’s our first story.
The Tell-Tale Snow
Rita Hasall, M.G.3
Alaska! The country of wild, desolate, trackless wastes, the country where opportunity awaits around the corner for some, not all, who search for gold!
It was a stranger who entered “Igloo Inn.” A blizzard was raging outside, and the man was covered with snow. His entrance caused little interest to the men laughing and joking around tables. They knew it was merely another follower, joining the endless search, to satisfy their greed for gold. One elderly man, however, came forward with outstretched hand.
“Welcome to Alaska, brother, and good luck to ye. If you’re as unlucky as me , ye’ll hurry and retrace your steps and go back to where ye came from. But come, warm yourself before the fire; ye look frozen to death standin’ there.”
Such was the greeting Steve Latimer received, on the night of January the twenty-eighth, 1868. Steve did as he was bid. He was a heavily –built man, handsome, and with that look of trustfulness which one rarely saw on the men who patronized “Igloo Inn.”
“I’m George Stevens,” the man continued, “but before I tell you anthin’ about myself, how would you like to tell me your name?”
“Certainly,” answered Steve, “I am Steve Latimer. I come from New York City. Tell me, Mr. Stevens, do you think there is much chance of being successful in this district?”
“That depends on your own ability and how long ye’ll be able to stick it out here,” he answered. “It’s a God-forsaken country and many lose hope before they have been here a month. By the way, I don’t suppose ye have anywhere to stay to-night; how’d ye like to come over to my cabin? Somehow I like your looks, I think we are going to be good friends.”
“Thank you for your kindness,” Steve replied. “I accept your offer readily.”
They made their way to the cabin. It was made of logs, typical of every miner’s home in the far North. As they approached, Steve noticed a light burning through the window. “You do not live alone, I presume,” he asked, with a gesture of his hand toward the light.
“Oh no, I have a great deal to be thankful for. There aren’t many men around here who have a daughter to live with them.”
On entering, a pretty girl, about eighteen years of age, came forward to meet them.
“Hello Dad,” she cried, “how are you to-day?”
“Sound as a nut, darlin’,” he replied. “I have brought a stranger, who is going to stay for the night. Come, Steve, meet my daughter Jane.” The night passed very pleasantly. Steve became a staunch friend of Jane and her father. Next morning the question arose as to where he was going to stay.
“You know you’re quite welcome to live with us,” began Stevens. “We could live quite comfortably together.”
“Nothing would please me better,” Steve replied. “I am certain I would enjoy living with you immensely.” Thus Steve Latimer came to live with George Stevens and his daughter. George taught Steve all he knew about mining and its prospects. They went together on many camping trips, searching for the yellow metal. Success never seemed to come their way. One morning, however, as they were conversing together, Steve knocked one of their utensils down the slope, into the stream below.
“Better go and fetch it,” laughed George. “It’s the best pan we’ve got.” Steve followed it. Before picking it out of the water he filled it to drink. He glanced at it casually before quenching his thirst. Something in it caught his eye. He called George and together they scrutinized the water. Suddenly Stevens burst out –“Gold Dust!”
It took them almost two days, following the course of the stream, to discover from where the water was collecting the “dust.” Mining at once started. Soon they discovered they had made the most prodigious strike so far on record. The news spread quickly around town. Everyone was discussing the auspicious good fortune of old Stevens and his friend.
Pat Howe, the Sheriff, had, in his effort for gold, been unprosperous. He disliked Steve, not for any wrong act he might think Steve had committed, but for his honesty and frankness. When he learned that Steve had struck it rich, his evil mind began conceiving many plans which might prove practicable to Steve’s ruin, and help him gain hold on the new-found mine. But there was plenty of time, and no suitable plan presented itself, he decided to wait.
Spring passed, then a short summer. Soon the ground received its first covering of snow. By this time George and Steve were considered the wealthiest men in town. Being exposed to the cold and damp, George had developed a serious chronic cough. Doctor Shaw warned him to be careful, but Stevens would not heed the warning. One day he was caught in a snow storm. Steve found him lying unconscious in the snow. That night George took double pneumonia. It was thirty miles to the nearest physician, and by the time he arrived, Stevens had passed away.
Steve could not suppress his grief. To lose his only true friend out in the cold frozen North was the last thing he ever thought could happen. Jane received the news bravely. She had loved her father dearly, and now was alone. There was only one person she could depend on and trust-Steve.
One morning three weeks later Steve was standing near the entrance of “Igloo Inn.” Pat Howe drew up with his team huskies.
“Hello Pat,” drawled Steve.
“How do,” came the short reply.
Steve’s glance happened to be directed toward the runners on Pat’s sleigh.
“Had any trouble to-day Howe?” I notice one of your runners is missing.”
“What if it is?” ejaculated Howe. “You would get along better if you did not interfere with other people’s business.”
Steve took the remark coolly; he was used to such replies from Pat. The next morning Steve went over to visit Jane; his cabin was quite close to hers. He tapped at the door; he found it yielded readily to his grasp.
“Jane! Jane!” he cried, “where are you?”
He rushed outside again. Quickly he examined the marks on the snow. He gave a startled cry, for there were the impressions of a sleigh with only one runner. The snow told the tale to Steve plainer than words! He knew Howe had a liking for Jane. Evidently he had carried her off, hoping to marry her, and then gain control of her father’s gold.
How grateful Steve was then that he had made good out North. If he had failed he would not have been able to secure the swiftest team of huskies. All he could do now was to trust his dogs. He leaped on the back of his sleigh. Crack! sounded the whip. The dogs were off.
Fifteen miles ahead sped Pat Howe with Jane. His dogs required rest, and they were hungry. Gradually their pace slackened. Pat whipped them, it was no use, they needed food. In the distance he noticed a cabin. He carried Jane in, and waited until the dogs became more fit for travelling. Little did he realize that fifteen miles behind, Steve was following, swift and steady.
It was dusk when Steve overtook them. Pat heard him approach. With revolver in hand he neared the door. Steve was prepared. Instantly two shots rang out, then the gradual fall of a limp body was heard. Steve entered the cabin.
“Jane!” he cried.
“Oh Steve,” she answered, rushing forward. “I knew you’d come.”
Jane and Steve made their way slowly homeward. They were not far from the cabin when Steve stopped and listened. “What is it?” whispered Jane. Again they waited. It came once more – the cry of a satisfied wolf on the night.