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|The Man On The Other Bank||Jack London|
|Page 4 of 5||
The door opened, and Breck entered.
"Well," he said, "we four are all that are left in camp. It's forty miles to the Stewart by the cut-off I broke, and the fastest of them can't make the round trip in less than five or six days. But it's time you pulled out, Smoke, just the same."
Breck drew his hunting knife across the other's bonds, and glanced at the woman.
"I hope you don't object?" he said, with significant politeness.
"If there's goin' to be any shootin'," the blind man broke out, "I wish somebody'd take me to another cabin first."
"Go on, an' don't mind me," Lucy answered. "If I ain't good enough to hang a man, I ain't good enough to hold him."
Smoke stood up, rubbing his wrists where the thongs had impeded the circulation.
"I've got a pack all ready for you," Breck said. "Ten days' grub, blankets, matches, tobacco, an axe, and a rifle."
"Go to it," Lucy encouraged. "Hit the high places, Stranger. Beat it as fast as God'll let you."
"I'm going to have a square meal before I start," Smoke said. "And when I start it will be up the McQuestion, not down. I want you to go along with me, Breck. We're going to search that other bank for the man that really did the killing."
"If you'll listen to me, you'll head down for the Stewart and the Yukon," Breck objected. "When this gang gets back from my low-grade hydraulic proposition, it will be seeing red."
Smoke laughed and shook his head.
"I can't jump this country, Breck. I've got interests here. I've got to stay and make good. I don't care whether you believe me or not, but I've found Surprise Lake. That's where that gold came from. Besides, they took my dogs, and I've got to wait to get them back. Also, I know what I'm about. There was a man hidden on that bank. He came pretty close to emptying his magazine at me."
Half an hour afterward, with a big plate of moose-steak before him and a big mug of coffee at his lips, Smoke half-started up from his seat. He had heard the sounds first. Lucy threw open the door.
"Hello, Spike; hello, Methody," she greeted the two frost-rimed men who were bending over the burden on their sled.
"We just come down from Upper Camp," one said, as the pair staggered into the room with a fur-wrapped object which they handled with exceeding gentleness. "An' this is what we found by the way. He's all in, I guess."
"Put him in the near bunk there," Lucy said. She bent over and pulled back the furs, disclosing a face composed principally of large, staring, black eyes, and of skin, dark and scabbed by repeated frost-bite, tightly stretched across the bones.
"If it ain't Alonzo!" she cried. "You pore, starved devil!"
"That's the man on the other bank," Smoke said in an undertone to Breck.
"We found it raidin' a cache that Harding must a-made," one of the men was explaining. "He was eatin' raw flour an' frozen bacon, an' when we got 'm he was cryin' an' squealin' like a hawk. Look at him! He's all starved, an' most of him frozen. He'll kick at any moment."
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