Baldy of Nome
Esther Birdsall Darling
Part 3 out of 3
"Well, if Tom wouldn't do, there's no use talkin' 'bout Dick and Harry;
fer Tom is the smartest o' that bunch. But he ain't popular with the
rest o' the team, like Kid was. Them Tolmans has a high-handed way to
'em that some won't stand fer," remarked Matt as he began to remove the
racing harness from the hooks and place it on the floor beside the
tow-line, which was stretched out in the middle of the Kennel.
Dan, Ben and George had been considering the predicament gravely as
George bestowed even more than his usual attention upon Spot's
"Spot," he observed with repressed pride, "ain't had much 'sperience,
but he won a great race just the same. Don't forget that, Dad."
"He's a trifle young," replied "Scotty," "and besides," slyly, "we might
meet an Eskimo hunter somewhere on the way."
Dan claimed recognition for the Mego "houn'" pups, especially Judge, and
the Woman, with some hesitation, spoke of McMillan; but Allan gave
valid reasons why they were not eligible.
"Not much time left," announced the Big Man as he, with the Peril, paced
restlessly up and down in front of the Kennel.
"Scotty" pondered anxiously, for his decision must be made immediately.
He walked over to Rex, regarding him intently.
"Do you believe," said a low, faltering voice beside him, "that--that
Baldy could lead? Him and Kid took us safe over the Golden Gate Divide
in that terrible blizzard, an' mebbe he learnt somethin' about leadin'
from Kid that night. He's mighty willin' an' strong, an'--"
"True, Ben; that idea had just come to me, too. I am absolutely sure I
can depend upon him to do his level best. Whether he is fast enough is
the question." With a sigh he added, "Well, fast or slow, there's not
much choice. I'll have to fall back upon Baldy to-day. Matt," he called,
"you may put Baldy in the lead."
"Baldy in the lead!" exclaimed Matt in astonishment. "Why, except fer a
time or so that we've drove him that way t'kinda fill out, he's never
been in the lead since we got him. If we're as shy on leaders as all
that, I'd hook up Mego; she's still good, if she is old. But Baldy!"
"Surely, surely, 'Scotty,'" pleaded the Woman, "you'll not use an
untried dog to-day of all days. Baldy has never shown anything more than
just ordinary speed, and you know a leader has to set the pace for them
all. If he hasn't the pride in his work, the spirit, he's a failure; and
Baldy," desperately, "is just a plodder."
But "Scotty" was firm. "He's more than that; you couldn't see what he
did in the storm on the Hot Springs Trail. He's our best chance." Then,
"Baldy in the lead, Matt, and be quick; we're almost due now at the
post." And so it was Baldy who led the Allan and Darling entry in the
It took the strongest self-control and the keenest desire not to shake
"Scotty's" faith in him, to keep Baldy from bolting when he moved
through those throngs whose nearness roused in him such unaccountable
Most of the dogs, now more or less accustomed to these gatherings,
stood quietly indifferent to the clamor and confusion.
Jack McMillan was distinctly annoyed by it all; he did not wish to have
strangers pushing against him, stroking his back, and even taking
liberties with his velvety ears. What was the use of a Black Past, if it
did not protect one from such unwelcome familiarities?
Tom, Dick and Harry, as usual, were charmed with the situation; for they
dearly loved any sort of a demonstration in which they could figure
conspicuously. Tom, ever anxious to be in the public eye, glanced about
and, seeing the United States Marshal, who was known to be an ardent
admirer of the Allan and Darling team, jumped upon him, demanding
recognition, which was cordially granted.
Baldy, to whom the whole episode was trying in the extreme, did not even
resent this little play for favor in official circles, so anxious was he
to be over the ordeal, and out in the open speeding away toward the dark
and frowning cliffs of Cape Nome, in the dim distance.
Two teams at intervals of ten minutes had started before them, and there
were three others to follow.
As it was only sixty-five miles to Solomon and back, Allan decided to
try to pass the teams in front, even if he acted as trail-breaker and
pace-maker; for there was no necessity in so short a race for
generalship in the matter of feeding and resting.
Shortly after they left Fort Davis, four miles down the coast, they
could see John Johnson ahead, and still beyond him a rapidly moving dot
which Allan knew to be Fred Ayer with his "Ayeroplanes," as the Woman
had dubbed them; facetiously, but with a certain trepidation. For that
splendid team had been successful in many of the shorter races, and bade
fair to develop into dangerous antagonists in the longer ones.
But the Allan and Darling dogs, urged on constantly by "Scotty," went
forward at an even gait that soon lessened the space between themselves
and the Siberians; when, having passed them, they gained perceptibly
upon the others.
The "Ayeroplanes" seemed almost to float along the surface of the snow,
so light and smooth was their pace, so harmonious their team action.
But as if impelled by a hidden force he had never felt before, Baldy
sturdily forged on and on, till they, too, were left behind. A new
fervor thrilled him as he determined to show that he was more than "just
dog." No understudy on the stage, given an unexpected opportunity, ever
desired more ardently to eclipse the star than did Baldy to fill poor
How they flew over the ground; how exhilarating the air; how light the
sled. And then it suddenly dawned upon Baldy that the sled was too
light. When Allan was not running behind with a tight grasp on the
handle-bars, he was usually perched at the back on the projecting
runners; and for some time the dog had not noticed this additional
weight. Then, too, he was beginning to miss his master's voice--"Hi,
there, Tom, Dick, Harry, snowbirds in sight; rabbits, Spot; road house,
Barney." Of course all of the dogs knew perfectly well that it was only
a joke; that snowbirds, rabbits and road houses are things that do not
concern you at all when you are being driven in a race. But they enjoyed
the little pleasantry, nevertheless, and it gave them delightful
subjects to think about that might become possibilities when they were
not in harness.
If "Scotty" was not addressing them personally, he was often singing
bits of Scotch ballads, or whistling scraps of rag-time, which was
wonderfully cheering, and gave them a sense of companionship with him.
At last the instinct that all was not right was too strong for Baldy.
Stopping suddenly, he looked back and discovered that they were
He realized that such halts were most unwise; but the team without Allan
was as a ship without a Captain and to Baldy there was but one thing to
do--to find "Scotty" at all hazards.
For an instant there was danger of a mutiny amongst the dogs. Tom, Dick
and Harry tacitly agreed that it was a marvelous chance to make that
snowbird joke a charming reality; there was a stirring of McMillan's
fiery blood, for he still admitted but one source of control; a plump
fluffy hare, scurrying by within range of Spot's young eyes inspired him
with a desire to give chase, as once again he quite forgot the grave
importance of filling a position in a racing team.
But Baldy, knowing that the time for action had come, that his supremacy
as a leader must be acknowledged, and at once, firmly held his ground.
Turning, he faced them fearlessly. There was a low ominous growl, a
smouldering light in his strange, somber eyes, a baring of his sharp
white fangs. Yet it was something else, a something in the very nature
of the dog, in his steadfast spirit, his indomitable will, that made the
others feel in some subtle, final way that they must obey him. So when
he swung round they followed him as unswervingly as they would have
Far away in the whiteness, Baldy saw a black spot toward which he sped
with mad impatience. It grew more and more distinct, till, beside it, he
saw that it was his master, lying pale, motionless and blood-stained in
the trail. From a deep gash on his head a crimson stream oozed and
froze, matting his hair and the fur on his parka.
Baldy stopped short, quivering with an unknown dread. There was
something terrifying in the tense body, so still, so mute. He licked the
pallid face, the cold hands, and placed a gentle paw upon the man's
breast, scratching softly to see if he could not gain some response.
There was no answer to his loving appeal; and throwing back his head,
there broke from him the weird, wild wail of the Malamute, his
inheritance from some wolf ancestor. The other dogs joined the mournful
chorus, and then, as it died away, he tried again and again to rouse his
Moment after moment passed, the time seemed endless; but finally the
warm tongue and the insistent paw did their work; for there was a slight
movement, a flicker of the eyelids, and then "Scotty" lifted himself
upon his elbow and spoke to them.
He was hopelessly confused. What was he doing in the snow, in the bitter
cold, soaked in blood, and with his team beside him? Where was Kid?
Then it all came back to him; he remembered he was in a race--the
Solomon Derby, and Kid was dead. That with Baldy in the lead they had
gone ahead of the other teams at a terrific speed, when he heard
something snap. Thinking it might be a runner, he had leaned over the
side of the sled to look; there was a crushing blow, and he recalled no
more until he felt Baldy's hot breath, and an agonizing pain in his
Gazing about, he saw the cause of the mishap--an iron trail stake half
concealed by a drift, now red with his blood. All around, as far as the
eye could reach, stretched the vast snowy plains that merged into the
purple shadows of the distant mountains, outlined in dazzling beauty
against the azure sky. There was no sign of the other teams. He could
not tell how long he had been unconscious--whether minutes or hours; he
only realized that he had never entered Solomon.
Weakly he stumbled to his feet and fell helplessly into the sled. At a
word Baldy darted ahead, and Allan, wiping the blood from his eyes, saw
they were traveling in the wrong direction, toward the wireless tower at
Port Safety. In some way he dimly realized that the dogs had turned on
the trail. Given the order, Baldy wheeled instantly, and dashed forward
with no slackening of his former speed, though "Scotty" was lying inert
and useless, an unusual and unexpected burden.
But, wounded and shaken, "Scotty's" spirit was still undaunted; and
uncertain of anything save that you are never beaten till the race is
over, Allan inspired Baldy to do his willing best.
The bitter disappointment of Kid's death was fast yielding to amazement
at Baldy's unsuspected fleetness. Trustworthy he had always been, and
obedient and faithful--but his pace now was a revelation. There was yet
"On, Baldy; on boys." And away they flew till the roofs of Solomon
loomed on the horizon, directly ahead.
Solomon at last. At the end of the one short street was a group of
Kennel Club officials, and the entire population of the place, ready to
welcome the coming and speed the parting racers.
To his intense surprise Allan learned that his was the first team in,
his delay having evidently been but a brief one. He resisted all
entreaties that he should have medical attention. "There's no trouble at
all," he maintained stoutly, "so long as my cap is frozen to the wound.
Of course I am a little faint, and dizzy, but that will pass in the
fresh air. Just water the dogs and see that they're all right, will
you?" And resting only the five minutes that are obligatory for the
signing of papers, he was again on his way, as Fred Ayer came into view,
closely followed by Johnson.
Returning, it seemed as if Kid himself could not have excelled Baldy in
the management of the team--all of his latent powers developing to meet
the great demands made upon him. He was proving himself indeed a leader.
The news of the mishap had been telephoned to Nome; and the usual
enthusiasm over the first arrival was turned into an ovation for the
plucky and popular little Scotchman.
With the loss of the best dog in the Kennel, on the eve of the race, and
an obscure, untried dog in the lead; with a stunning blow that had left
him alone and senseless on the trail he was still victorious, to the
admiration of all Nome.
The excitement was intense as the cheering throngs closed in upon the
dogs and their driver, ready and eager to give their hearty greetings
and unstinted applause.
[Illustration: AN OVATION FOR THE PLUCKY LITTLE SCOTCHMAN]
Moose Jones and Ben hurried toward the winners, both overjoyed at the
success of Allan and their favorite, Baldy.
"Some dog, Baldy o' Golconda, ain't he, Mart?" was Jones's exultant
comment as they passed Barclay, who stood regarding the heroes with
"Some accident!" retorted Mart. "There'll be a fine day,"
belligerently, "when 'Scotty' Allan'll find out that there dog's a fake,
a reg'lar quitter. Jest now he's bluffed you all inter thinkin' him a
wonder; but you wait an' he'll give himself away yet. He was ornery as a
pup, an' he's ornery as a dog. You can't make a silk purse outen a sow's
ear, an' I tell you straight you can't make a Sweepstakes Winner out o'
Baldy o' Golconda, no matter what he done in this here measly Solomon
"Well, we'll see, Mart."
"You've won a great race," exclaimed the Woman as she came forward with
the Big Man, and grasped "Scotty's" hand warmly; "a great race, and
against heavy odds."
But "Scotty," looking down on Baldy with gratitude and pride, replied
"No, the credit all belongs to good old Baldy here; it is his race, not
Then the Woman, kneeling in the snow beside the leader, with her arms
about him, said softly, "It was wonderful, Baldy, simply wonderful, the
way you saved the day."
And so the Solomon Derby was over, and Baldy had made good.
The winning of the Solomon Derby marked a new era in Baldy's life. His
home-coming had been made both joyous and miserable by the various
attentions he had received. With his sensitive, shrinking nature, it was
a sore trial to be the center of attraction, and the object of constant
discussion. "Scotty" had warmly commended his record to Ben Edwards,
which was compensation even for the Woman's newly awakened and frankly
expressed admiration. She had almost wept on his neck, which was
embarrassing for an undemonstrative dog, and said he deserved a Carnegie
Medal--whatever that was--though she suggested, practically, a large
juicy beefsteak as an immediate compromise.
The neighbors conceded generously that it was more than they had
expected of an "old grouch." George Allan and Danny Kelly, from out
their superior wisdom in dog affairs, agreed that while improbable, it
had never been impossible for a freighter to develop into a racer under
favorable conditions. While most gratifying of all, Dubby came in to
express, with strenuous waggings of his stubby but eloquent tail, his
surprise and satisfaction that a member of a purely sporting fraternity
had distinguished himself so highly; had acted, in fact, in a manner
worthy of a dependable huskie. And Baldy, knowing that Dubby had himself
and his unblemished career in mind, felt that this was indeed the climax
Gradually he was coming to realize that through his unremitting efforts
to be of service, and because of real worth, there was an attitude of
kindly interest manifested toward him that had taken the place of the
covert criticism and careless indifference that had once caused him so
"Now that he's led once," confided Ben to George and Dan, "I don't
believe Baldy'll ever be satisfied again t' stay in the wheel. It seems
t' me that every minute he's awake he's tryin' t' do better in his work.
That race kinda roused him in every way."
"He'll never have to stay in the wheel," observed "Scotty." "The Derby
was a revelation to me in regard to Baldy. I confess frankly I didn't
think he was capable of the ability he showed that day and," with a
smiling glance toward the Woman, "there were those of less faith than
mine who were completely won over."
"If you mean me," she rejoined, "you are quite right. I've apologized to
Ben and Baldy every day since the Derby. I have even admitted that
Baldy's legs are as good as Jack McMillan's, if not better. Could
humility go further in making amends?"
And Baldy, who now saw the world through different and more friendly
eyes, learned that even the Woman was not wholly lacking in a certain
sense of discrimination as she had proved when she had felt the muscles
of his sturdy body and spanned the width of his broad chest with
After a complete rest of a week or more, the training began again; for
there was yet to be held the most important event of the year--the All
Alaska Sweepstakes, which takes place early in April.
The runs were much longer and harder than the preliminary dashes for the
Solomon Race; and sometimes they went back even to the Mountains which
rose, rugged and majestic, from the endless white wastes to a sky
brilliantly blue in the dazzling Arctic sunshine, or sodden and gray in
Totally different in temperament and methods from Kid and Dubby, Baldy
manifested, nevertheless, many of the fundamental qualities that had so
distinguished those wonderful leaders. And in communion with "Scotty" in
their long hours of exercise, he not only began to understand the speech
and the touch of his hand, but also his unexpressed moods. He knew when
Allan was care-free, and satisfied with the team, or was discouraged by
some unexpected act of stupidity or disobedience, though no syllable was
Not long before the Big Race, several unfortunate things happened in
the Kennel to make Allan believe it was, as the "Wonder Workers"
solemnly declared it, a "Hoodoo" year for the dogs. Rover wrenched his
shoulder in a friendly tussle with one of the Mego pups, Tom cut his
foot badly on a bit of broken glass, and Baldy developed a severe cold
that made him feverish and short of breath.
It seemed at first as if they might not be able to enter a team at all,
so many accidents combined against them; but the lure of the contest was
too much for "Scotty." "We'll do our best. Lots of teams go in that are
no stronger than ours at its weakest, and every entry that drops out
makes it less interesting. Then don't forget the luck of the trail, in
which you believe so thoroughly. Remember the Solomon Derby."
"I don't believe in working luck over time," she answered. "However, if
you really think it would make any difference in the sport, of course
we'll go in. I know you can do better," confidently, "with a poor team
than most men with a good one."
But "Scotty" shook his head decidedly. "Don't think it. Our antagonists
are all that they should be--men and dogs--and the most careful
driving will not always overcome the weakness of the team."
Since the driver may use his own discretion as to the length and
frequency of the stops to be made, he must have the ability to realize
exactly how much rest he may take himself and give his dogs without the
unnecessary loss of a moment. He must know what the other teams have
done, and are capable of doing; he must drive his own race, and he must
know how the other men are driving theirs. He must decide wisely how
many dogs it is well to use--that matter also being optional with him.
For it is an important point to select enough dogs to keep up to the
required standard, yet not too many for good team work, in which
individual peculiarities have been merged in general harmony of action.
No precaution is neglected to insure the comfort of the contestants.
Commissary teams sent out by the Kennel Club leave supplies at all of
the Road Houses and camps that are to be used as rest stations--drugs
for emergencies, and all sorts of luxuries that would be too bulky to be
carried in the racing sleds, but which are shared impartially at the
Each man must be certain of the best food for his dogs, and the length
of time it takes to digest it. The usual diet of the Allan and Darling
Racers, rolled oats, dried salmon, and the oily nutritious flesh of the
white whale, with a proper amount of bone, now was changed to chopped
beef and mutton, cooked with eggs. This was put up in hermetically
sealed tins, with enough in each for a feeding; and every dog's
allowance wrapped separately in muslin so that there might be no loss of
time in dividing it into portions.
And in all of these things "Scotty" Allan was a past master. Yet in
spite of his efforts and skill, they came in not first, but second;
which was, according to George and Dan, "not so worse for a scrub team,"
and according to Ben, "mighty good considerin' they didn't have Baldy."
These days of ceaseless striving and untiring patience had been of great
benefit to Baldy. He no longer experienced despair over such a Kennel
misfortune; but cheerfully resolved that each failure must be a
stepping-stone, not a stumbling-block, in the march toward success.
There was one real sorrow that came to him that spring--a sorrow shared
by many--which swept away the passing regret for the lost race. Dubby,
full of years and honors, was dead, mourned by all. His obituary in the
newspapers not only testified that he was generally beloved, but was one
that many a man might be proud to deserve. "Alaska's Most Famous Leader
Passes Away." What untold stories of marvelous intelligence, of
unfaltering allegiance, of loving service lay in those simple words.
Baldy missed Dubby sorely, for there had grown a firm bond of sympathy
between them. The old huskie had learned that a character may dignify a
calling, and that a true heart often beats beneath a racing harness;
while Baldy had long since discovered that Dubby's aloofness was but the
inevitable loneliness of a Dog that has had his Day.
To divert his mind from sad memories, Baldy would go to look at Mego's
twelve, beautiful, fat new puppies, and then would dream of a
comfortable serene old age when he would be given the tutoring of such
promising youngsters, and help to make them winners of future All Alaska
Then came the summer, and with it the play-time for the Kennel; a
summer filled with ever changing interests and pleasures.
"I'll be glad, 'Scotty,'" said Moose Jones, "t' keep till fall as many
dogs as you don't want in Nome. It's kinda hard t' have 'em tied up in
the fine weather, an' dogs like yours can't run 'round the streets
loose. Ben an' me's goin' t' be out t' Golconda, where I've got a crew
o' men at work. You may 'a' heerd I bought Golconda a few weeks ago, an'
I'm goin' t' mine there this season. Sold my ground over t' Marshall t'
a New York Syndicate that was nosin' round pretty sharp before I left;
and it's give me money enough t' take up this here property. Then I
leased my Dime Creek holdin's on royalties, an' that'll put me on my
feet even ef this Golconda claim ain't all I think. But I done a lot o'
prospectin' there once, an' it sure looks promisin'; an' besides it's
right next t' the Midas, an' fer the last couple years or more Barclay
has been takin' out wonderful pay there."
"I'd be glad to have you keep Baldy, Irish and Rover for us if you
will," replied Allan cordially. "George and Spot are inseparable in
vacation times, and McMillan," with a nod toward the Woman's house,
"seems to be under the impression, now that he is not in training, that
he is a lap dog, and rarely comes to the Kennel at all. Matt will take
the rest of them up to his cabin on Penny River, where they will have
all the exercise they want, and great fun hunting. You know I never have
a moment for them in summer, as it is our busy season in the office,"
and Allan, who was Secretary in the Big Man's Company, gave a sigh as he
realized that not until autumn would come again the happy Dog Days.
To Baldy it was a period of perfect joy--to be with Ben Edwards and
Moose Jones in the glorious freedom of the open country in the far
hills. Here the dogs did what their fancies dictated. They swam,
unmolested, in the ditch; ran for miles with their chum, the dappled
gray horse; gave chase to saucy, chattering squirrels, and even fished
so successfully that they were the admiration of all the camps about.
Irish and Baldy would stand in the riffles of a stream, and Rover,
leaping into the pools and quiet waters, would drive the fish up into
the shallows, where they were seized by his two companions, taken ashore
and dropped on the bank. Then they returned for more, keeping up the
sport till a bird in flight or some other fascinating moving creature
lured them away in a spirited pursuit through thick willows and across
At night they slept, if they chose, in the Bunk House; and ate without
restriction such mysterious delicacies as cake and pastries.
No longer was Baldy ignored by the men, nor did it now take the threats
of Moose Jones to prevent the petty annoyances to which he had been
subjected formerly; for in winning the Solomon Derby he had proved his
worth and they were glad to give him well-earned praise.
Occasionally there would be a dissenter from the general admiration of
the dog. Black Mart, who sometimes came over from the Midas, never
failed to belittle the record he had made. "It's no test, that short
mush t' Solomon, an' it don't prove nothin'. Why, I've seen teams that
could do wonders in that there run that couldn't git as fur as Council
in the Big Race without goin' t' pieces. It takes somethin' more'n a
slinkin' half-breed like him t' lead a winnin' team in the Sweepstakes."
And Moose would retort sarcastically, "Mart, ef you was as good a judge
o' dogs as dogs is o' you--stop growlin' at him, Baldy--you'd have a
winnin' team in yourself, instead o' just jawin' about it."
One man's enmity mattered but little, however, in the general
friendliness Baldy experienced; and there were so many glorious things
to offset those infrequent encounters with the one person he
instinctively regarded with aversion.
Encouraging news had come from Dime Creek, and Golconda was proving rich
beyond the highest expectations of Jones; and many happy hours did he
and Ben spend in plans for the boy's future; a future that now seemed
near and bright.
"Even without Golconda, Ben," Moose would exclaim confidently, "I've got
enough salted away from them other deals to put you through all the book
learnin' you'll need t' make a reg'lar spell-bindin' lawyer o' you like
Fink, er a way up Judge, mebbe in Washington. An' with Golconda,--well,
Sonny, that there Arabian Nights chap that she was tellin' you about
wouldn't have nothin' on us fer adventure, an' doin' good turns to folks
unbeknownst, an' all that kind o' stuff," and Moose Jones would pat
the boy's shoulder affectionately.
Every week or so Baldy, with Irish and Rover and some of the Wild Goose
dogs from the Grand Central Ditch House near, would be hitched to a flat
car belonging to the place, and would have a trip into town with Moose
to take the gold dust from the "clean-ups" to the bank.
The car coasted down all the hills, for there was a strong brake to keep
it safe. And the dogs were either invited to ride with Jones, or were
permitted to get to the bottom as best pleased them with Ben, which
meant a scamper through fields of blue forget-me-nots and purple lupine,
over damp and mossy dells, and along the slopes where tiny birds were
hidden in cozy nests about which the frightened parents fluttered
[Illustration: THE CAR COASTED DOWN ALL THE HILLS]
It was indeed a treat; for always at the end of the jaunt there was an
interview with "Scotty" Allan, who was sure to look Baldy over carefully
and say fondly, "Well, how's my Derby hero to-day?" and give the
expected hearty greetings to Irish and Rover. Or possibly there would be
a brief visit to the Woman, who, whatever her faults, never failed to
produce a tid-bit of some sort for her canine callers.
She and Ben would dwell with keen delight upon his prospects of
attaining his ambitions. "And besides all Moose will do for you," she
announced one day, "Mr. Daly tells me he will be only too glad to be of
any assistance possible. He thinks a boy with your ideal--Lincoln--should
have all the help it is in his power to give."
Of course, surfeited at last with luxury and idleness, the dogs would
finally be eager to return to the duties of the winter; glad of the
season that brings the cheery sound of bells, the joyous barks of
recognition from passing friends, the snarl of challenge from passing
enemies, and all of the wholesome pleasures that belong to a busy,
useful life. But now they were quite care-free, and content, and the
responsibilities of the winter seemed far away indeed.
But the most treasured moments of all to Baldy were those spent with Ben
when, waiting for Moose to finish his evening's tasks, he and the boy
wandered along the winding banks of the ditch. Far away across the sedgy
tundra lay the sea, a line of molten gold in the last rays of the
belated June sunset. Behind them rose the snow-crested peaks of the
Sawtooth Mountains, like frosted spires against an amber sky. Soon the
amber would change to amethyst and deepen to purple--fading at last to a
shadowy gray; and all the world seemed steeped in the mystic calm of
those twilight hours before the early Northern dawn.
And in those hours the brooding stillness of nature was broken only by
the voice of man; for it was then, in that vast solitude, that from the
lips of Ben Edwards came ringing words, sonorous sentences, impassioned
Baldy did not know it, but he was at such times a learned Judge moved
strangely by unexpected eloquence; a jury melted to tears by a touching
plea for clemency; a Populace swayed to great deeds by a silver-tongued
Orator. Even, on rare occasions, he was the Loyal Throng that stood,
silent and uncovered, before the White House steps, thrilled by the
fiery patriotism of Mr. Edwards, the President of the United States of
Then, he was just Baldy, a faithful loving dog that trotted happily at
the heels of the ragged little boy whose unselfishness had given him
the great chance of his life.
There was no faltering in the devotion of boy or dog. They believed in
The Great Race
THE GREAT RACE
Another winter had come and gone, and again it was the day of the Great
Never had the time passed so quickly to Baldy, for he had now become a
distinguished member of The Team, for whom every one, even the Woman,
entertained a real respect, and to whom all of the dogs turned readily
as to their acknowledged leader.
The Allan and Darling Racers were ready for the event.
There was an early stir in the Kennel, and all was hurry and bustle. The
Woman came in with the Big Man, the Allan girls, and Ben Edwards, who
helped her tie knots of white and gold on the front of the sled, on the
collars of the racing dogs, and on other members of the family, about
forty in all, who were old enough to appreciate the attention. Even the
Yellow Peril apparently considered it an honor, for which he waited with
The preparations were almost complete; and "Scotty" was everywhere,
superintending the minute details, upon the completeness of which so
much might depend.
Birdie was, in the confusion, about to borrow Mego's puppies and take
them out for an airing. Fisher, delighted that he was not of the elect,
basked in a warm and secluded corner; while Jemima, frantic to be a part
of the team, was restrained forcibly by Matt, and placed in solitary
Even Texas, for whom the Kennel had lost its charm--and safety--since
the death of old Dubby, followed the Allan girls, and was treated to a
becoming bow of the racing colors.
Matt brought out the long tow-line, and placed it carefully on the
"Rex and McMillan in the wheel, like we've been usin' 'em, I suppose?"
and at a nod he released them.
"Wheel, Jack; wheel, Rex," and they took their accustomed places next
the sled, and remained motionless, yet keenly alert. "Tom and Dick,
Harry and Tracy, Irish and Rover"--name after name was called, and each
dog stepped into position with joyful alacrity. They were, one and all,
sturdy, intelligent, and spirited; with the stamina of their wild
forebears, and the devoted nature of those dogs who have for generations
been trained to willing service and have been faithful friends to their
"Scotty's" eyes rested upon them with justifiable pride. "I think," he
announced happily, "that in all my years of racing I have never had so
fine a team; so many dogs I can count upon in every way." And then came
the expected order, "Baldy in the lead, Matt."
There was an imperceptible pause--- just long enough for him to brush
softly against Ben Edwards, and look up lovingly into a beaming
face--and then Baldy stood at the head of the Allan and Darling Racing
Team, a "likely Sweepstakes Winner," as the Daily Dog News had once
Baldy felt that now, if ever, had come his Day; the Day of which he had
dreamed in his despised puppy-hood; the Day in which he could prove that
the great dog man's confidence was not misplaced, and that the boy's
belief was well founded.
At last they stood, every detail of equipment perfect, while "Scotty"
glanced once more over his small kit in the sled; green veils for the
dog's eyes should the glare of the sun prove too troublesome, little
blankets, canton flannel moccasins for their feet in case of sharp ice,
and extra bits of harness--all stowed safely away, including his own fur
parka and water-tight boots.
Matt regarded the team critically, and while filled with a sober
satisfaction, was much relieved to hear that it had the unqualified
approval of the experts, George and Dan. "Of course Spot 'ud make a
classier leader, Dan, but I'm the only one that can really handle him
yet, so I guess Baldy's best for Dad."
The Woman waited to give each dog a parting caress and a word of
encouragement. "Tom, Dick and Harry, remember you're the Veterans, and
have an honorable record to maintain; Irish and Rover, never forget that
you _are_ Irish, and live up to all that it means; McMillan, it's your
chance to wipe out the past; and Baldy--well, Baldy, 'Scotty,' we all,
trust you." And then she turned and pinned the last knot of white and
gold on Allan's breast, and her voice trembled as she said, "Success to
Through the narrow streets, gay with the fluttering streamers of the
Kennel Club gold and green, they went. Banners and pennants shone
resplendent under the cloudless blue of the April sky; and the crowds in
high spirits and gala attire, eager and laughing, closed in upon them
till Baldy longed to howl in sheer fright, though howling in harness is
strictly forbidden by "Scotty," and would have been quite out of keeping
with the august dignity of his position. He was appalled by such a solid
mass of human beings--for of course the courts, schools, and business
houses were all closed in honor of this important occasion; and probably
the only people in all of Nome not bending their steps toward the
starting place were those unavoidably detained in the hospital or jail.
Women who would not have been out of place on Fifth Avenue or Bond
Street, women to whom even the French Poodle would have given his
approval; men of the West in flannel shirts and cowboy hats; miners
from the Creeks, gathered from all corners of the Earth; Eskimos in
their furs with tiny babies strapped on their backs; rosy-cheeked
children--all hurried to the point where the long journey was to begin.
Nomie was everywhere, barking delightedly, and giving each team an
Oolik Lomen with his latest doll, acquired that very morning from some
careless mother more intent upon sporting affairs than domestic duties,
paraded superciliously up and down, plainly bored by the proceedings;
but attending because it was the correct thing to do.
What a relief it was to reach the open space on the ice of Bering Sea,
in front of the town, where the fast gathering multitudes were being
held back by ropes, and kept in line by Marshals in trappings of the
Presently the merry jingle of bells, and loud shouts, announced the
approach of the Royal Sled. Covered with magnificent wolf robes, and
drawn by twelve young men, fur-clad from head to foot--her "human
huskies"--the Queen of the North dashed up to the Royal Box, where,
surrounded by her ten pretty maids of honor, like her clad in rare furs
of Arctic design and fashioning, she was given an imposing reception by
the judges and directors of the Kennel Club.
In one hand the Queen carried a quaintly carved scepter of ivory, made
from a huge walrus tusk, and in the other the American Flag at whose dip
would begin once more the struggle for the supremacy of the trail. A
supremacy which is not merely the winning of the purse and cup, but is
the conquering of the obstacles and terrors that beset the trackless
wastes--a defiance of the elements, a triumph of human nature over
There was the sound of many voices; small boys, scarcely out of
pinafores, discussed with a surprising amount of knowledge the merits of
the individual dogs and the capabilities of their drivers; little girls
donned ribbons with a sportsman-like disregard of their "becomingness"
to show a preference which might be based either on a personal fondness
for a driver or owner, or a loving interest in some particular dog.
While men and women, who on the Outside would be regarded as far beyond
an age when such an event would have an intense interest for them, here
manifest an allegiance so loyal that at times it threatens to disrupt
friendships, if not families.
The babble increased in volume, for the first team had drawn up between
the stands to wait for the final moment, and Charles Johnson stood
ready, with his noted Siberians, to begin the contest. They made a
charming appearance, and their admirers were many and enthusiastic.
"Ten seconds," was called; unconsciously all voices were hushed. "Five
seconds!" The silence was broken only by the restless moving of the
people and the barking of the excited dogs.
Then the clock struck ten, and simultaneously the stirring strains of
the trumpet ended the spell that held the crowd in breathless attention.
The men released the dogs, the flag in the hand of the Queen fluttered,
then fell, and the first team in the greatest race in the world had "hit
the Trail for Candle," while cheer after cheer followed its swift flight
between the long lines of eager faces and waving colors.
In the pause that ensued an impatient voice rose in insistent demand.
"What are you waiting for? Bring on your Fidos," and then as "Scotty"
Allan appeared and stood with difficulty holding the spirited Allan
and Darling dogs, the same voice asked in tones of utter disdain, "Whose
mangy Fidos are these?" He was evidently a stranger, and in favor of the
trim Siberians, scorning the rangy "Lop-ears," as they are sometimes
called in derision.
[Illustration: SCOTTY ALLAN ON THE TRAIL]
But whatever type may please their fancy, the faithfulness of all, and
the skill of each driver appeals to these Northerners, most of whom know
well the hardships of this ultimate frontier. So that their wild
enthusiasm seems not so much a question of personality as a spontaneous
tribute to the energy and courage of the men, and the patient
willingness of the dogs.
Allan's selection of dogs had caused much adverse criticism, but Matt
warmly defended his choice. "You can't tell me that Tom, Dick and
Harry's stale from too much trainin' an' bein' in too many races. I know
better; an' you can be certain that 'Scotty' wouldn't have taken 'em if
they was goin' t' be a drag on such wonders as Irish, Rover and Spot.
Take my word for it, them old Pioneers is goin' t' be the back-bone o'
the hull team when the youngsters has wore themselves out."
A few who did not believe in the sincerity or stability of Jack
McMillan's reformation predicted trouble because of his presence. As a
leader he had twice utterly demoralized teams in previous races, and it
was "not unlikely," declared the prophets of evil, "that he would blow
up on the Trail out of pure cussedness."
"Well, it ain't McMillan, ner Tom, Dick ner Harry that's goin' t' lose
this here race fer the Allan an' Darling team," exclaimed Mart Barclay
with vicious conviction. "It's that there cur leader they got--Baldy.
There's enough Scotch stubbornness in Allan t' try to make a leader
outen a cur jest becus folks said he couldn't. Up in Dawson I heered
once he trained a timber wolf t' lead a team o' McKenzie huskies; but
he'd find that a heap easier 'n puttin' the racin' sperit inter that
low-down Golconda hound; an' I'll bet he'll git all that's comin' t' him
this time fer his pains."
"Ef you're bettin' on that, Mart," quickly interposed Moose Jones, "I've
got some dust from my Golconda claim that's lyin' round loose at the
Miners and Merchants Bank, an' five hundred of it says that
you're--well, seem' as there's ladies present, it says you're _mistaken_
about Baldy's sperit. You see my friend, Ben Edwards here, is kinda
figgerin' on college some day after a while, an' a little loose change
wouldn't hurt none. It might come in right handy fer all the extry
things boys wants, like fancy clothes an' flat-faced bulldogs. I guess
Ben wouldn't want one o' them, though, after he's owned a dog like
Baldy. But he could use a thousand in lots o' ways easy--my money an'
"Double it," sneered Mart.
"Done," and those surrounding them witnessed the wager with much
applause; while the boy, clinging to the rough hand of his companion,
whispered tremulously, "Oh, Moose, I won't want any extras when I go to
college. It's enough to just go. But I do want Baldy t' win, though."
"Ten seconds; five seconds." The dogs were mad to be off, but Allan's
warning command, "Steady, boys, steady," kept them quiet, though they
were quivering with eagerness; all except Baldy, who again seemed
plainly panic-stricken, and wildly glanced from side to side as if
searching for some loophole of escape.
Five minutes past ten. Once more the flag dipped, the signal for them to
start was given, and "Scotty's"
"All right, boys, go," was music to their listening ears; as leaping
forward with one accord, amidst renewed cries of encouragement and
admiration, the defenders of the White and Gold sped far out over the
frozen sea, where they, too, were headed for the Arctic.
For the Supremacy of the Trail
FOR THE SUPREMACY OF THE TRAIL
Slowly the people returned to town after every team had received an
ovation; for none was too partisan to give a hearty "God Speed" to all
of the men and all of the dogs in the race--and favorites were, for the
Each day had brought word from the Outside that the Great Race was not
forgotten by the Alaskans in sunnier lands; and because of this the
excitement, as well as the purse, had grown apace.
No one, of course, settled down to anything serious, for business is
practically suspended during the entire progress of the event, and a
spirit of revelry is abroad. Formal and informal gatherings serve to
pass the hours, while telephone reports from each village and road house
are announced in all public places, and bulletins are posted at
convenient points for men, women and children, who await the news with
keen expectation. The messages come continuously, keeping up the intense
excitement from start to finish.
Soon on the Official Bulletin Board at the corner of Lane's way appeared
the first, telling that all of the teams had arrived in Solomon,
practically together, and had left shortly in the bitter wind that blows
in fierce gusts across the icy lagoons and sleet-swept beach.
Then in the low foot-hills had come milder weather; and the route was
fairly good, though it lay buried under freshly fallen snow through
which Baldy led, picking his way with unerring precision across the
trackless tundra. Now that he was in the open, away from noise and
people, he had settled down to a steady gait that promised much for his
Sometimes in the glory of the April sunshine they passed other teams, or
other teams passed them; and sometimes there were hours when two teams
and possibly more met at the same relay camp.
There was never a hint here that the men were pitted against one another
in the fiercest rivalry of the North; for they were ever ready to help
their opponents to patch a broken harness, mend a sled, or care for the
dogs--just as, on the way, they give fair warning of overflows or other
obstacles. It is no race for those of weak bodies, mean minds or small
The dogs, however, carried the idea of rivalry to the point of personal
enmity, and watched ceaselessly for the opportunity to engage in a
diverting row. A row in which they might leave as many wounded on the
scene as would be caninely possible before human intervention. But this
was a vain aspiration; for every precaution was taken to guard against
fighting, and every leader slept with his driver to insure safety. Dogs,
like Death, love a shining mark, and the leaders are usually the real
victims of the fray.
Then came Candle, the end of the first half of the race, where the dogs,
after being cordially welcomed by the whole town, were checked off by
the appointed Judges, and their identification papers signed.
"Open those tins of dog feed, will you, Rydeen? This is to be their
first big banquet, where they get as much as they can eat," said
"Scotty" to one of the friends in the group about him. "Then if Humber
and some of the rest will help me, we'll give them a fine alcohol rub in
"You'd better do some resting yourself, 'Scotty,'" they urged, but he
would not consider that till he had thoroughly examined the team.
Then, "McMillan's feet are bruised," he exclaimed ruefully. There were
many offers of assistance in caring for the dog, which, however, Allan
gratefully declined. "He doesn't like having strangers work over him;
and when he's nervous he becomes headstrong; so I'd better attend to him
From Candle came the news--"All teams have left on return trip except
Allan and Darling." And as hour after hour passed and "Scotty" had not
yet started, there was exasperation in the hearts of his backers in
Nome. Exasperation, but not despair; for all remembered when Allan had
driven Berger's Brutes to success after a wait so long that all of Nome
was in a ferment over the fact that "Scotty" had "slept the race away."
But he had planned that campaign well; he had figured the possibilities
of his rivals, and knew that they had exhausted their strength too early
in the game. And so he had come in first with every other team at least
six hours behind; and the cry "'Scotty's' sleeping the race away at
Candle" became the derisive slogan of the Allan clan.
"Jack McMillan's feet are giving trouble," was the response of "Central"
to the frantic inquiries over the long distance telephone as to the
delay, "and 'Scotty's' massaging them with menthalatum."
To the repeated request, and then the demand, that McMillan be put back
into the wheel to get along as best he could, there was a moment's
hesitation and a sweet, but firm, feminine voice replied, "'Scotty'
says"--a gasp and a pause--"he says he'll not ruin a faithful dog if
every man, woman and child in all Alaska has bet on him. And I think
he's just right, too; Jack is a perfect dear," and the receiver was hung
up with a click that admitted of no further argument.
At last they were off again, five hours behind the others; but when they
did leave, the North knew that the sport was on in earnest--for Allan's
policy had ever been to do his real driving on the "home stretch."
Soon the languor from the rest, and the heaviness from the food were
forgotten; and there existed but one dominating, resistless impulse in
dog and man--the impulse to win.
Even the least responsive dog must then have felt the thrill of the
famous race, for never a whip--hardly a word--was necessary to spur them
Frequently the trails were sodden, and often obliterated; soft snow
piling up like drifts of feathers into fleecy barriers through which the
dogs, with the aid and encouragement of their Master, fought their way,
inch by inch. Beyond them lay Death Valley, a dread waste where the dead
silence is broken only by the wailing and shrieking of the wind as it
sweeps down in sudden fury from the sentinel peaks that guard it. Across
this Baldy led unswervingly, never hesitating, and hardly relaxing his
steady pace, though the sudden gusts from the mountainside often curved
the team into a half circle; and he was forced to keep his nose well
into the air and brace himself firmly to keep from being carried off his
Further on came the Glacier Grade, on either side of which rose
overhanging cliffs. Here the bitter wind of Death Valley became a
veritable hurricane. Time and again the dogs tried to climb the icy
slopes and time and again they were hurled back by the fearful buffeting
of the elements.
"Scotty" finally halted them, and with the greatest difficulty succeeded
in fastening spiked "creepers" to his mukluks. Then he tied Baldy to the
back of his belt by a strong leash. "Baldy, it's up to us now to get
this team through safely--and quickly--" and bowing his head to the
storm he toiled step by step, slipping and sliding, up the perilous
heights, ten miles to the summit of the range, with the dogs following
and aiding where they could.
Then came the descent, fraught with more danger still; for the gale bore
down upon them so relentlessly that all resistance was useless, and the
dogs lay flat and were swept along with the sled; while "Scotty" stood
clinging to the brake, and dragging one spiked foot behind in the
desperate attempt to act as a human anchor.
And at the bottom, quite without warning, they found themselves
breaking through the snow into an overflow of a stream, where the water
had just come through cracks in the ice to the surface. As they landed
on it with great force it sprayed over them like a fountain; and almost
instantly was frozen by the chill of the air.
Allan unhooked them. "Now, boys, roll and get rid of that ice you've
been making. You're racing dogs, not ice plants." They pawed the ice
from their eyes, and thawed it out from between their toes with their
warm tongues. And "Scotty," too, was obliged to remove the ice from his
lashes before he could be sure of his bearings.
"Now then," as they had divested themselves of their glistening coats,
"the worst is over, and off we go."
At times the hard smooth trail wound like a silver ribbon under the pale
glow of the Aurora. Then, with flying feet, they sped along the edge of
deep gorges, up steep slopes, and over the glare ice of rivers and
But the distance between them and the other teams was now gradually
lessening, and at Timber Road House they had made up half of the time
lost in Candle. Here they had the next "big sleep," lying on clean straw
on the floor beside Allan, whose closeness calmed their nerves. It was a
great comfort to be able to place a paw on him, or sociably lick his
hand--for they felt that all was well if they were but within reach of
their master's touch.
They awoke full of renewed energy. "Scotty" was harnessing them for the
last long run, with the help of his brother Bill, and Paul Kegsted, who
had charge of that relay station for the Kennel Club.
"Boys," he gasped in amazement, "Baldy's gone lame. He's so stiff he can
scarcely move. I can't understand it, for he was all right when I turned
in." At the slightest touch the dog winced, and Allan was appalled at
He had trained nearly all of the dogs so that they could lead under most
circumstances; but this final struggle would require far more than
Wise old Tom, Dick and Harry, reluctant in the start, had saved
themselves until they were most needed; and were now steady and
reliable, as had been predicted--but they were not leaders for such a
trial as this. Irish and Rover were too inexperienced for so much
responsibility, Spot was too young, and McMillan too headstrong.
"Scotty" was without a leader.
Allan's consternation was echoed in Nome when the report of the mishap
was given out--"Allan practically no hope. Baldy down and out; no other
leader available. All other teams well ahead in good condition."
There was much diverse, and some heated, comment on the situation. But
above the general clamor rose the strident tones of Black Mart, alluding
with manifest satisfaction to the fact that Baldy was certainly proving
himself a "quitter" now.
"Baldy may be lame, but he is not a quitter," denied the Woman
wrathfully. "Besides, this race is never won--nor lost--till the first
team is in," and she turned to comfort Ben Edwards.
He had been suddenly roused from happy thoughts by this disconcerting
news. From his eyes there faded the glorious vision of the great
University beside the Golden Gate; of the rose-covered cottage where his
mother would have only pleasant things to do; of Moose Jones in a shiny
hat and tailed coat receiving the plaudits of a whole State for his
princely gifts to its chosen seat of learning--the vision of his own
success laid upon the altar of love and gratitude. And instead he saw
only the distant cabin at Timber, with poor Baldy crippled and
suffering, bringing bitter disappointment to his friends; and his heart
was filled with grief and longing for the dog.
Black Mart edged through the throng toward Jones. "I told you how it 'ud
be, Moose; that pet o' yourn ain't comin' through as good as you thought
he would when you was so willin' an' anxious t' bet your hard-earned
dust on him. An' I reckon 'Scotty' Allan ain't so pleased with himself
fer goin' agin what most ev'rybody said about his usin' that cur fer a
"Speakin' o' bets, _an' curs_, Mart, ef you want t' do any more bettin',
I'm willin't' accommodate you. I'm ready t' back my opinion that
'Scotty' kin come in first, without a leader, ef you think any ways
Black Mart glanced again at the Bulletin and read slowly--"Rubbing tried
without success. Baldy on sled. Irish and Rover probably in lead.
McMillan's feet still tender. Another storm coming up. Outlook bad."
"Seems kinda onsportsman like, like bettin' on a sure thing; but ef you
really insist, Moose, in the face o' this yere message, why you kin go
as fur's you like. Mebbe a dollar 'ud suit you better, the way things is
goin' now, than a thousand;" and the people laughed at the covert
allusion to their previous wager. Moose Jones whitened visibly under his
thick coat of tan at the insulting manner of his enemy. All of his
hatred culminated in his desire to show his contempt for Mart and his
"Well then, let's make it somethin' worth while this time. Let's say
your claim agin mine--the Midas agin the Golconda--that the Allan an'
Darlin' dogs win the race."
A thrill of wild excitement ran through the crowd--two of the richest
claims in the whole of Alaska staked on the success or failure of one
dog team, and the leader of that "down and out" at Timber.
"Oh, Moose, if our team don't come in you'll lose a terrible lot, an'
you've worked so hard t' git it."
"Even losin' Golconda won't break me now, Sonny; not by a long shot.
An' even ef it did, I got what I allers did have left; two hands t' work
with, the hull country t' work in, an' a kid that likes me," with an
affectionate glance at the boy, "t' work fer. With all that, an' a good
dog er two, I wouldn't call a Queen my aunt. An' ef we should win,
Ben,--well, it's porterhouse fer Baldy the rest of his life at Mart
At Timber the time was passing with discouraging rapidity. Nothing they
could do seemed to have any beneficial effect on Baldy's legs--the legs
that had been such a matter of pride to the boy in the old Golconda
In the races it is the custom to carry, at intervals, any dogs who need
to recuperate, but Baldy had always manifested a certain scorn of these
"passengers"; and "Scotty" knew that it would only be by force that he
could be kept off his feet.
"Bill, you hold the dog; and Paul, if you'll keep the mouth of the
sleeping bag open, I'll try to get Baldy into it."
Poor Baldy resisted, but he was in the hands of his friends, so that
his resistance was of necessity less violent than he could have wished;
and in spite of his opposition he was tied in the bag, and gently lifted
upon the sled.
After thoughtful consideration, "Scotty" placed Irish and Rover at the
head of the team. "They're good dogs; mighty good dogs, but they're not
used to the grind like Baldy."
He took his place at the handle-bars. "I'll try my hardest, boys, but
every chance is against me now."
Before he could give the word to the new leaders, there was the sound of
gnawing, and the quick rending of cloth. He turned to see Baldy's head
emerge from the bag, his eyes blazing with determination and his sharp
fangs tearing the fastenings apart, and the hide to shreds.
"Baldy," he called; but Baldy threw himself from the sled with evident
pain, but in a frenzy of haste.
With intense amazement they watched him drag himself, with the utmost
difficulty, out of the sled, and up to the front of the team.
He paused a moment, and then by a supreme effort started off, expecting
the others to follow. There was no response to his desperate
appeal--for they were not used to Baldy as a loose leader. Again he came
back, and again endeavored to induce his team-mates to go with him down
the trail, but in vain; they waited a word from their master.
The men stood speechless; and the dog, whimpering pitifully, crept close
to Allan and looking up into his face reproachfully seemed to beg to be
restored to his rightful place, and tried to show him that just so long
as there was life in Baldy's body, "Scotty" would have a leader.
Paul Kegsted and Bill Allan hastily disappeared around opposite corners
of the building to meet on the other side with eyes suspiciously wet.
"Bill, did you ever see anything like that," demanded Kegsted
tremulously, "for grit and spirit and--"
"And brave and loving service," added Bill, swallowing hard.
While "Scotty's" voice broke as, leaning down to stroke the dog
tenderly, he said, "I know you're game, Baldy, game to the end; but it
can't be done, and I'll hook you up to prove it."
To his astonishment Baldy moved forward; very, very slowly at first,
then slightly faster and with less and less stiffness, until in an hour
or so of moderate speed he was himself once more.
The exercise had done more than the liniment, and finally he was
swinging along at a rate that showed no sign of his recent incapacity.
They were off again in their usual form, and Nome waited impatiently for
word of the belated team.
In the next few hours the messages that reached the expectant city were
full of thrills--of hopes and fears. Groups of excited people met to
discuss again all phases of the contest; the freshness of the dogs, the
stamina of the men, the possibility of accidents; for a broken harness,
a refractory leader, an error in judgment, may mean overwhelming defeat
at the eleventh hour.
Never in the annals of the Sweepstakes had the result been so doubtful,
the chances so even. The two Johnsons, Holmsen, Dalzene, Allan--all men
noted for their ability and fortitude--men who would be picked out of
the whole North to represent the best type of trailsmen, were nearly
neck and neck, less than fifty miles from Nome, ready for the final
dash. And what a dash it was!
[Illustration: AN ALAKAN SWEEPSTAKES TEAM
Fay Dalzene, Driver]
Like phantom teams they silently sped far out over the frozen waters of
Bering Sea, threading their way between huge ice hummocks that rose,
grotesque and ghostly, in the misty grayness of the Arctic twilight.
Through the chill dusk they toiled up the steep slopes of Topkok Hill,
through treacherous defiles, over perilous hidden glaciers, toward
Solomon and safety.
It was any one's race.
The telephone brought news that varied from moment to moment. John
Johnson was steady as to pace, and slightly in the lead; later Holmsen
had passed him, then Dalzene. Allan had dropped behind. The excitement
grew more intense each instant. Side by side drove Dalzene and Charlie
Johnson, with Holmsen at their heels--dogs and men on their mettle,
magnificent in endurance and spirit; but closing in upon them was "Finn
John" with his Blue Eyed Leader, and Nome well knew what they could do,
and had done twice.
Then, too, there was always "Scotty" to be feared; always his marvelous
generalship to be reckoned with; his perfect mastery of the dogs, and
their devotion to him to be considered.
"Seals on the ice ahead, Spot," had been a suggestion that had fired not
only Spot, but Tom, Dick and Harry also with a new interest that almost
Then at intervals there were broken bars, alternately whistled and sung,
of Home Sweet Home; and the dogs knew, someway, that this strange noise
always signified that their journey was nearly at an end. And once, in
readjusting his harness, "Scotty" had caressed Baldy so affectionately
that the dog forgot the struggle he had passed through, remembering the
happy fact that he had not failed in his trust.
All of this encouragement resulted in an increased activity that began
to tell in the fast decreasing distance between their team and the
"On, Baldy; on, boys," and on they came out of the long reaches of utter
desolation, of dreary monotony, of lifeless calm, with a rush that soon
brought Johnson in view. "Gee"--they whirled to the right and by him
with unexpected ease; then on and on still, till they could see the
others. Baldy, spurred by that to yet stronger efforts, plunged forward
with renewed vigor until he seemed, with his team-mates, to touch the
drifted snows as lightly as a gull skims the crested waves.
When nearly abreast of those who had been setting so fast a pace, Allan,
in a low voice, tense with the excitement of the moment, called again to
the dogs. "Speed up, Baldy; speed up, boys. Don't let the Siberian
Fuzzy-Wuzzies beat you again. Show them what your long legs are good
for--Alaskans to the front," and Baldy, with an almost incredible burst
of speed, shot past them, and was at last in the lead in that mad,
headlong drive for Nome.
There was no hint of the laggard now in Tom, Dick and Harry--no
suspicion of "staleness" in their keen pride in their work; Irish and
Rover, ever fleet and responsive, needed no urging; Jack McMillan gave
his stupendous energy, his superb intelligence with loyal abandon; and
Baldy, as well as "Scotty," felt that each dog in the entire team had
proved the wisdom of his choice by a willing service now to the driver
Fort Davis! The thunderous boom of the guns heralded the approach of
the first team. Nome, up the coast, was in a furor. Once more the people
gathered quickly in the streets, and hurried toward the gaily
illuminated stands to witness the finish of the great event.
Though it was ten o'clock at night, the full moon and the radiance of
the snow made everything shimmer and glitter with wonderful brilliancy.
High above the lights of the little town, which seemed but a
continuation of the stars, flamed the Way-Farer's Cross on the spire of
St. Joseph's; huge bonfires cast a flickering crimson glow upon the
frosted pinnacles of ice, and rockets rose and fell like sparkling
jewels in the clear sky.
Overhead fluttered a silken purse and the Trophy Cup, suspended by the
Kennel Club colors from a wire that marked the end of the longest and
most picturesque course in the racing world.
The wild wailing of many wolf dogs, shrill whistles, the merry peal of
bells, added to the deafening clamor--as far away over the frozen sea a
dim black shadow came--a swiftly moving shadow that soon was engulfed in
the swaying mob that surged to meet it.
The Woman leaned from out the Judges' Stand, waving streamers of White
and Gold in joyous welcome.
Ben Edwards, thrilling with pride and happiness, slipped through the
jostling crowd, and saw coming to him, down the Silver Trail, an ugly,
rough-coated, faithful dog--bringing in his triumph, a justification of
the boy's unshaken faith, a reward for his unfaltering affection.
Again and again there were the stirring notes of the bugle, shouts of
good will and praise, wild, incessant cheers, as the Allan and Darling
Team, with every dog in harness, and "Scotty" Allan at the handle-bars,
swept over the line--winners of the most hotly contested race the North
has ever known, and led to victory by Baldy of Nome.
Immortals of the Trail
IMMORTALS OF THE TRAIL
The brief summer was over. The flowers that had blossomed so freely and
so brightly under fair skies and in ceaseless sunshine were gone; and in
the air was the chill of the early Arctic winter.
The Woman shivered slightly in spite of her furs. There was excitement
in the air.
Beside her, erect and soldierly, walked Captain Rene' Haas of the French
Army, with a firm elastic tread that spoke of many marches.
He was talking earnestly with an enthusiasm that lighted up his keen
dark eyes as with an inner fire.
"You see, there were many places last winter on the battle-front where
horses, mules or motors could not be used; for the snow was too soft and
deep, and the crust too thin. Many places where they needed just such a
method of transportation as we of the North know so well,--dogs. I
tried," modestly, "to show them a little of all that could be done, with
a few that I trained casually. But I spoke much of the marvelous dogs of
Alaska that I have learned to know and love so well in the past few
years; of their intelligence, their endurance, and their almost
incredible speed in the big races. My Government listened; and so I was
sent to take back with me the pick of the whole North, though there will
be many more from parts of Canada and Labrador."
"But not like ours of Nome," proudly replied the Woman.
"No, not like yours of Nome. That is why I am here. A hundred or more
trained by Allan and other racing men will be worth a thousand ordinary
recruits. Since he received my cable message telling my plans, 'Scotty'
has assembled a splendid lot of team dogs for me, with a full equipment
of sleds and harness; and even the dog salmon for the 'Commissary
"There is indeed but little left for me to do, as the outfit will be
perfect now, with a few more experienced leaders."
"And you think," questioned the Woman with lips that quivered and eyes
that were dim, "that they will be treated well, that--" Her voice was
unsteady and she hesitated.
The young Captain seemed to divine all the unspoken fears.
"There is very little danger in the work," he assured her readily. "They
will probably be used entirely in courier and carrier service in the
passes of the French Alps.
"I belong to an Alpine Corps myself, and they will be under my direct
supervision, so far as possible. Really," with honest conviction, "they
will be far better off than if you sold them to freighters or
prospectors for a life of toil, possibly of neglect even. All soldiers,
irrespective of nationality, are good to the animals in their charge."
"I suppose it's true," sighed the Woman, "that we cannot go on
accumulating dogs indefinitely; that some of them must be sold from time
to time. And I, too, would rather see them go like this than to feel
they might suffer worse hardships and abuses on the Trail."
"Scotty" met them at the door of the Kennel. "Come in, and we'll all go
over the place together. It will not take long now to make up the rest
of the required number," and he skimmed quickly over the paper in his
Matt, hovering near, doing unnecessary things for the dogs, was plainly
much disturbed. George and Dan, full of a war atmosphere produced by the
French officer, and a kennel and corral guarded night and day, conversed
eagerly of the important affairs that were happening about them; while
Ben, listening apparently to their serious discussions of the European
situation, as likely to be affected by this purchase, was in reality
beset with a dread that drove all else from his mind.
"It's going to be a hard choice," the Woman mused as she glanced down
the long line of stalls on either side, and one end, of the roomy
"Scotty" paused before the Mego dogs that had fought so valiantly for
first honors in the Juvenile Race.
[Illustration: CAPTAIN HAAS OF THE FRENCH ARMY, AND HIS ALASKAN SLEDGES]
"Excellent," observed Captain Haas, as he looked them over carefully.
"Strong, intelligent, fleet," and "Scotty" wrote the names of Judge,
Jimmie and Pete.
"I knew I was a pretty good judge o' dogs," announced Dan with pleased
conviction; "but there's some class t' bein' a judge backed up by the
French Government," and he regarded his former team with mingled
feelings of regret and satisfaction.
On they went, adding name after name to the fast growing list.
"Not Tom, Dick and Harry," the Woman exclaimed as they came to the
Tolmans. "These Veterans have served us too long and too loyally." And
"Scotty" nodded silently.
"Irish and Rover?"
But before the question could be answered, the gentle Irish Setters
gazed into her eyes beseechingly, and nosed her sleeve, confident of a
"Impossible," she murmured hastily; "they are our dear comrades. And
Spot," with an emphatic shake of the head, "belongs to George."
Finally they paused at the last two stalls and looked from Jack
McMillan to Baldy. McMillan tugged violently at his chain, striving to
reach the Woman; while Baldy, as though he understood it all, crept
close to "Scotty's" side.
Captain Haas knew both of the dogs well. He had seen Jack turned from a
career of rebellion and unrest to one of willing patient service; and
Baldy, plodding, obscure, hard working Baldy, become the boast of the
"Here are the two," admiringly, "that please me most of all. McMillan's
strength is superb--Baldy's endurance unparalleled. What War Dogs they
would make! One I must have; it matters little which. The price--" he
gave an eloquent gesture of complete indifference.
The Woman stroked Jack's sable muzzle gently. She thought of the old
days when his name was once a symbol of all that was fierce and
wolf-like and wicked in the annals of Nome; and then of his unbroken
spirit and steadfast allegiance to her. "McMillan of the Broken Tusks,"
she said softly, "has no price."
Then, eagerly, "Baldy?"
"I cannot give Baldy up," was the firm reply. "He has led the team in
three great victories; and he did not desert me when I lay freezing and
helpless, alone in the snow." "Scotty's" hand rested lovingly on the
ugly dark head pressed so tightly, so trustfully against him. "He's a
wonderful leader and my faithful friend."
"I understand," the Captain said, and turned away. "The list is now
And in the dusk of the Kennel, as once on the Golconda Trail, the boy's
wet cheek was laid tenderly against the dog's rough coat; but the tears
that fell now were tears of joy. "Oh, Baldy," he whispered happily,
"some day you'll be with me Outside. We'll do things there some day."
[Illustration: BALDY OF NOME]
Then came the day, filled with excitement and thrills, when on a
tow-line three hundred and fifty feet long, one hundred and six famous
dogs passed through the streets of the far-away Arctic town, on their
way to the battle-fields of France.
At their head was Spot, with George Allan trudging proudly by his side.
"I'll lend you Spot to get them down to the dock," was his offer to
Captain Haas. "You know he is fine in a crowd," and the officer
smilingly accepted the services of Spot.
And crowds there were, too, to go through; for as on the Sweepstakes
Days all of Nome had gathered to bid a final God Speed to the greatest
dogs of Alaska--a Foreign Legion indeed--bound for the front.
With no confusion, under the direction of Captain Haas and "Scotty"
Allan, who was to go with them as far as Quebec, they had been placed on
board the "Senator" lying out in the roadstead.
A silent little group stood on the dreary beach watching the twinkling
lights of the distant ship as she sailed, phantom-like, out into the
misty grayness of Bering Sea.
Only the dull pounding of the surf and the weird cry of the wolf dogs
broke the stillness.
At last the Woman turned from the Big Man at her side toward the boy and
"Some time, perhaps," she said half sadly, yet with pride, "the Captain
may have great tales for us of the War Dogs of the North. But never,
never, Ben, will there be greater tales than we can tell of the Old
Guard, Baldy of Nome and the others--our Immortals of the Trail."
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