Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/29

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the house cut apart and spread until the room was large enough for the carpet. How Tagish Charley became one of the generous rich, beloved of all men, and how Siwash George deserted the woman who made his fortune for a San Francisco actress, all this, with the spectacular career of Swiftwater Bill, are known to every one in touch with the gossip of the smart set of Caribou Crossing, Seattle, and San Francisco.

When Ogilvie told all this in Juneau, the whole town responded. Juneau itself lay on the very frontier of adventure, and here was something newer and greater and only two thousand miles or so beyond.

So the gamblers and gold seekers, the clerks and lawyers resigned their positions, threw up their jobs, in some way or another made their way to the head of navigation, Dyea or Skagway, and then struck the White Pass Trail. The Bright Eyes Opera Company broke its engagement at Juneau and men and women started over the mountains to Bonanza Creek. And after them came a most wonderful migration—one of those movements which, if anything could, lend "to the sober twilight of the present, the color of romance."

All the way southward, the word went from Juneau. Cigarette young men, who had never done a man's day's work in their lives, crowded the smoking rooms in the Pullman cars, and pampered dogs—St. Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff, brought up in luxury, and bought or stolen to do the work of a husky or Siberian wolf dog—rode in the baggage cars. Along with the rest came young women and old women, dainty Mercedes, silly, pretty and whimsical, demanding the impossible, elderly graduates of cheap boarding houses with iron hand and iron jaw, capable of making some sort of a way anywhere. All were loaded down with clothing and provisions needed for an Arctic winter. Most knew nothing of hardships, nothing of dogs, nothing of trails over glacial mountains and through endless chains of rock-bound lakes, each hidden in its-cleft of rocks. They knew nothing of boats or rafts, or the breaking up of the ice, nothing of gold or men or Alaska. And the dogs were just as ignorant, and had not even seen a map of Alaska, and did not know beforehand that they were going there.

From Skagway—a wild bedlam of incongruous elements, with its hero mayor, chief of the Vigilantes—the trail goes up the boisterous river, through the fir woods, past the mouth of glaciers, into a great amphitheater like that at the foot of the Splügen Pass, then in long zigzags and windings past reckless splashing waterfalls and unbridged chasms to the foot of the moss-covered White Pass. Then up the pass to its gusty Summit Lake and the long ravine-like chain of lakes at the head of the Yukon which may keep one guessing for miles as to the way past or around them.