Read CHAPTER XV of Colorado Jim , free online book, by George Goodchild, on


It was a weary and travel-stained man that drove a dog-sled into Dawson a fortnight later. The team was like the “musher,” lean and wild-eyed, after their four hundred miles of merciless driving. Through wind and snow this man had kept the trail. Sleep became a thing unknown during the latter stages of the journey. He expected to find D’Arcy in Dawson and the desire to meet D’Arcy had grown into a craving. He had half killed the dogs and himself in this mad journey, but the incentive was tremendous.

How he missed her! Despite her soul-withering confession, he found himself building up visions of her in his brain. Life had become suddenly hopelessly blank, brightened by one thing the desire for retribution upon the head of the man who had smashed his idol.

Man, sled, and dogs went hurtling down the street a black mass in the falling snow. He handed them over to a man at the Yukon Hotel and mixed with the crowd in the gaming saloon. No one seemed to know anything about D’Arcy, so he inquired for Hanky Brown. Hanky was at length run to earth in a dance-hall.

“Gosh, it’s Colorado Jim!”

The latter hurled at him the question that obsessed him.

“Where’s D’Arcy?”

“D’Arcy? Who in hell is D’ Gee, I got you. You won’t find D’Arcy in Dawson. He’s up in Endicott somewhere.”

Jim’s face fell. Endicott was north of the Chandalar River. It meant another journey of five hundred miles back beyond the place where he had come.

“You’re certain, Hanky?”

“Sure. Ask Tony.” He turned round and beckoned a man from the back of the hall.

“’Member that swell guy they called D’Arcy didn’t he go with Lonagon and Shanks on that Northern trip?”

“Yep. Struck a rich streak up there so I heered. Why, what’s wrong?”

“Nothin’,” said Jim. “I was just kinder anxious to see him. I guess I’ll get along.”

Hanky was gazing at him curiously. He felt that something was wrong, but couldn’t lay his finger on the trouble.

“You ain’t going up to Endicott?”

“Maybe I am.”

“It’s sure a hell of a journey just now, and you ain’t likely to find that man among them hills.”

“I’ll find him all right, Hanky. Are you clearing out next spring?”

“Yes. Gotta quarter share in ‘26 below’ on Black Creek. We sold out yesterday to the Syndicate. The missus’ll be crazed when she hears. And how about you?”

“No luck. I don’t think I was born lucky, Hank. I used to think so ”

Hanky shook his head and pointed to the untasted spirit in Jim’s mug.

“Drink up!”

Jim quaffed the vile spirit and fastened the chin-strap of his cap.

“Jim, don’t go to Endicott.”


“Don’t. You’re looking ugly, boy, and things are done sudden-like when you’re that way.”

Jim gave a harsh laugh and his eyes flashed madly. Then he stopped, biting off the laugh with a snap of his teeth.

“There are some crimes for which there ain’t no punishment but one, Hanky. There’s no power on this earth, bar death, that’ll stop me from gitting D’Arcy. If I don’t come back before the break-up you can take it that he saw me coming before I got him.”

He thrust his hands into the big mittens strung to his shoulders, and nodding grimly went through the door. Ten minutes later he was cracking the new dog-whip over the backs of his yelping team, and mounting the high bank heading for the North once more.

There is nothing more exciting than a manhunt when the pursuer is convinced that his cause is just, and the punishment he intends to inflict well-merited. Jim, peering through the blinding snow, saw in imagination the man he sought, all unconscious of the swift justice that was coming to him from out of the wilderness. This was man’s law, whatever the written law might be. Not for one instant did his determination waver or his conviction falter. D’Arcy had partaken of forbidden fruit partaken of it consciously, without regard for any suffering it might cause to others and D’Arcy must pay the penalty!

It was a primitive argument and one that appealed to passions, but he was in many respects still a primitive man, with primitive ideas of right and justice. That law was good enough. It had served through all his experience of Western life, and would serve now!

The storm developed in fury, but still he drove the howling, unwilling dogs into the teeth of it. Icicles were hanging from his two weeks’ growth of beard, and thick snow covered him from head to foot. Extraordinary luck favored him, for the snags and pitfalls were innumerable, and any deviation from the old obliterated trail might launch the whole outfit down into an abyss. Fortunately he struck the river again without such a catastrophe happening.

The snow ceased to fall and the sky cleared. The red rim of the sun peeped over the horizon, flooding the landscape with translucent light. Before him lay the snow-clad Yukon, broad and gigantic, running between its high wooded banks, contrary to all precedents, Northwards.

Amid the maze of peaks and valleys, high up on the Endicott Mountains, a strange affray was taking place. In a small hut, sandwiched between two perpendicular ice-walls, three men crouched at holes newly bored through the log sides. They were D’Arcy and his two companions, Lonagon and Shanks.

It was Lonagon who had first struck gold in this desolate region, late in the summer, whilst engaged in hunting caribou. Shanks had gone in with him on a fifty-fifty basis, but both lacked the wherewithal to finance a trip so far North. Against their desire they were obliged to take in a third person. D’Arcy, having assured himself that Lonagon was no liar, put up the money to buy food and gear and joined in. The idea was to thaw out the frozen pay dirt all through the winter, and to wash it when the creek ran again. Unlike the claims nearer Dawson, it made small appeal to the big Capitalized Syndicate. Lonagon was of opinion that more gold could be washed out in one season than the Syndicate would be willing to pay as purchase price.

Lonagon’s optimism had been vindicated. The pay streak seemed to run along the whole length of creek.

“It sure goes to the North Pole!” ejaculated Shanks gleefully.

D’Arcy realized that he had struck a good proposition. They built the rough hut and commenced their awful task. Day by day the dump of excavated pay dirt grew larger. They tested it at times to find the yield of gold ever-increasing. At nights they sat and talked of the future. Shanks and Lonagon were for running a big hotel in San Francisco. That seemed to be their highest ideal, and nothing could shift them from it.

The fact that each of them would in all probability possess little short of a million dollars made no difference whatever. They were set on a drinking-place where one could get drink any hour of the night without having to knock folks up, or even to get out of bed for it!

D’Arcy was planning for a life of absolute luxury. He had been poor from birth the worst poverty of all, coupled as it was with social prominence. He glowed with pleasure as he looked forward to a time when moneylenders and dunning creditors would be conspicuously absent.

It was Shanks who brought the trouble upon them. Shanks had hit upon a Thlinklet encampment a mile or two down the creek. There were about a dozen mop-headed, beady-eyed men, and some two dozen women two apiece and children. Shanks in his wanderings after adventure had met a more than usually attractive Thlinklet girl. She had not been averse to his approaches and it ended in a pretty little love-scene, upon which the husband was indiscreet enough to intrude. Having some hard things to say to Shanks, who unfortunately for the devoted husband, knew a lot of the Thlinklet dialect, and who resented aspersions upon his character from an “Injun Polygamist,” the latter promptly shot him.

The girl screamed with terror, and the Thlinklet community ran as one man to the scene of the tragedy. Shanks, reading swift annihilation in their eyes, promptly “beat it” for the hut.

They were now in the midst of their trouble. All the Indians had turned out armed to the teeth. Not unskilled in the art of war, they had garbed themselves in white furs, presenting an almost impossible target for the men inside the hut. A spokesman had come forward demanding the body of Shanks, and was told to go to blazes. They now crept along the deep ravine spread out over the snowy whiteness.

“I wish you’d kep’ your courtin’ till we got to ’Frisco,” growled Lonagon.

“I didn’t even kiss the gal!” retorted Shanks. “I was jest telling her ”

There was a report from outside, and a rifle-bullet whizzed within a few inches of his head.

“Gee, they’ve got guns!” exclaimed Lonagon. “That’s darn unfortunate!”

D’Arcy crept forward and, squinting through the small loop-hole, fired twice. He gave a grunt of great satisfaction.

“That’s one less.”

A fusillade of shots came from the ravine. They ripped through the thick logs and out the other side. D’Arcy drew in his breath with a hiss.

“They’ll get us when the light goes,” he said.

“Hell they will!”

“Looky here,” said Shanks, “let’s hike out and get at ’em. Can’t shoot through these little slits.”

“They’re about four to one and there are at least six rifles there,” said D’Arcy.

Shanks sneered.

“They couldn’t hit an iceberg.”

“Reckon they could, with an arrow,” growled Lonagon. “We’d be crazed to go out there.”

D’Arcy was for following Shanks’ advice. They debated the point for a few minutes and then decided to attempt an attack. But the decision was made too late. There came a diabolical yell down the ravine. Shanks ran to a loop-hole.

“Gosh! they’re coming the whole lot of them!” he cried.

The three men ran to their posts and commenced firing at the leaping figures of the Thlinklets. Three or four of them bit the snow, but the remainder reached the hut. Shots came through and the sound of hatchets sounded on the thick logs.

D’Arcy fired and a scream of anguish followed. Then he threw up his arms and fell back with a groan, his rifle sticking in the slit through which it had fired. Shanks ran to him, and saw a round hole through his coat, near the heart, around which the blood was freezing as it issued. There was obviously nothing to be done with D’Arcy. Shanks dragged the rifle from the hole and reloaded it, cursing and swearing like a madman. Still came the steady thud, thud of the hatchets, but they rang much more hollow, and the two defenders expected to see part of the wall go down at any moment. Suddenly the sound of hatchets ceased and some of the noise subsided. Lonagon peeped through a crack, and saw half a dozen Indians coming up with a battering-ram in the shape of a felled tree. They approached at a wide angle, out of the line of fire.

“Shanks, it’s all up. Get your six shooter we’ll have the black devils inside in a minute.”

Shanks flung down the rifle and snatched the revolver from his belt. He bent low and took a glimpse at what was happening outside. The Indians were but twenty yards away, and preparing to charge the half dissected portion of the wall with their heavy ram. He tried to get a shot at them, but could not get enough angle on to the revolver.

He saw them ambling towards him, and then, to his surprise, one of them gasped and pitched headlong. The remainder stood, transfixed, at this inexplicable occurrence. Before they recovered from their amazement another man howled with pain and placed one hand over a perforated shoulder. From afar came the sharp crack of a firearm. Shanks suddenly saw the shooter, high up on the ice wall above them.

“Gee whiz! Lonagon it’s a big feller up on the cliff! Whoever he is, he’s got Buffalo Bill beaten to a frazzle. Did you see that? A bull’s-eye at three hundred feet, and with a six-shooter. It clean wallops the band!”

He unbarred the door, as the remaining Thlinklets went helter-skelter down the ravine, and waved his hands to the figure above him. Lonagon turned to the still form of D’Arcy. He lifted the latter on the camp-bed, poured some whisky between his teeth, and saw the eyes open and shine glassily.

“How’s it going?” he queried.

D’Arcy gave a weak smile.

“I’m finished with gold-digging, Pat. It’s a rotten shame to have to let go just when luck has changed ... but that’s life all over.... I’m cold cold.”

Lonagon, who recognized Death when he saw it coming, pulled some blankets over D’Arcy and turned moodily away. His was not a sentimental nature. Forty years in the North had killed sentiment, but he liked D’Arcy and it hurt. He went out to get a sight of their unknown ally.

He found him and his hungry, grizzled team coming down the ravine with Shanks. It was Jim but scarcely the Jim of old. For a month he had traveled up from Dawson and among the merciless peaks, eating but half rations and fighting storm and snow with all the power of his indomitable will. He looked like a great gaunt spectre, with hollow cheeks and eyes that shone in unearthly fashion. Shanks could not make head or tail of him. His proffered hand had been neglected and his few questions went unanswered. He was pleased when Lonagon turned up, for he had a deadly fear of madmen.

“What cheer, stranger!” cried Lonagon. “You turned up in the nick of time.”

Jim stopped the sled and regarded him fixedly.

“Are you Lonagon?” he asked in a husky voice.


“Then where’s D’Arcy? I want D’Arcy. D’ye git that? It’s D’Arcy I’m after.”

Lonagon looked at Shanks. Shanks tapped his forehead significantly to indicate that in his opinion the stranger had left the major portion of his senses out on the trail, and wasn’t safe company.

“So you want D’Arcy?” quavered Lonagon.

“I said so.”

“Wal, you’re only jest in time. Come right in and see for yourself.”

Jim reeled across to the cabin and hesitated on the threshold.

“It’s kinder private,” he growled.

“Oh, like that, is it?”

Lonagon began to smell a rat. He pursed his lips and met Jim’s flaming eyes. Undaunted, he placed his back to the door.

“See here, we’re mighty obliged to you for plugging them Injuns, but you ain’t going in there till we know what your game is. You ain’t safe there’s a skeery look in your eyes and ” he lowered his voice “D’Arcy is hitting the long trail.”

Jim started back in amazement. The news brought him the bitterest disappointment he had yet suffered. After all this terrible time on the trail fate was to rob him of his reward! For a moment he became suspicious.

“So he put you up to that, eh? Better stand away. I ain’t in a humor for hossplay. We got a score to settle.”

Shanks stepped up to him.

“That score will be settled in less’n an hour. The Injuns got D’Arcy over the heart. Go in and see. I reckon you’ll find there’s no need to settle scores.”

Lonagon, realizing that nothing could worsen D’Arcy’s condition, turned away and watched Jim enter the cabin.

Once inside the door, Jim saw that the two men had spoken the truth. D’Arcy’s deathly white face was turned towards him and the hands were clenched on the brown blanket. Providence was robbing him of his vengeance, and despite his crushing sense of failure, somewhere in his heart leapt a great gladness. He approached the bed, and the sound of his heavy tread awoke the dying man to consciousness. He turned his glassy eyes on his visitor, and for a moment failed to recognize him. Then memory came.

“You you are the man I saw on the bank at Dawson.... Angela’s husband!”

Jim nodded grimly.

“I’ve come,” he said. “Didn’t you know I’d come?”