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<- Previous | First | Next -> Digital Library - - Call Of The Wild by Jack London
men burning holes through frozen muck and gravel and washing
countless pans of dirt by the heat of the fire. Sometimes they went
hungry, sometimes they feasted riotously, all according to the
abundance of game and the fortune of hunting. Summer arrived,
and dogs and men, packed on their backs, rafted across blue
mountain lakes, and descended or ascended unknown rivers in
slender boats whipsawed from the standing forest.

Two months came and went, and back and forth they twisted
through the uncharted vastness, where no men were, yet where
men had been if the Lost Cabin were true. They went across
divides in summer blizzards, shivered under the midnight sun on
naked mountains between the timber line and the eternal snows,
dropped into summer valleys amid swarming gnats and flies, and
in the shadows of glaciers picked strawberries and flowers as ripe
and fair as any the Southland could boast. In the fall of the year
they penetrated a weird lake country, sad and silent, where wild-
flowl had been, but where then there was no life nor sign of
lifeonly the blowing of chill winds, the forming of ice in sheltered
places, and the melancholy rippling of waves on lonely beaches.

And through another winter they wandered on the obliterated
trails of men who had gone before. Once, they came upon a path
blazed through the forest, an ancient path, and the Lost Cabin
seemed very near. But the path began nowhere and ended
nowhere, and it remained mystery, as the man who made it and
the reason he made it remained mystery. Another time they
chanced upon the timegraven wreckage of a hunting lodge, and
amid the shreds of rotted blankets John Thornton found a long-
barrelled flint-lock. He knew it for a Hudson Bay Company gun of
the young days in the Northwest, when such a gun was worth its
height in beaver skins packed flat. And that was all-no hint as to
the man who in an early day had reared the lodge and left the gun
among the blankets.

Spring came on once more, and at the end of all their wandering
they found, not the Lost Cabin, but a shallow placer in a broad
valley where the gold showed like yellow butter across the bottom
of the washing-pan. They sought no farther.

Each day they worked earned them thousands of dollars in clean
dust and nuggets, and they worked every day. The gold was
sacked in moose-hide bags, fifty pounds to the bag, and piled like
so much firewood outside the spruce-bough lodge. Like giants they
toiled, days flashing on the heels of days like dreams as they
heaped the treasure up.
<- Previous | First | Next -> Digital Library - - Call Of The Wild by Jack London

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