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[Illustration: THE HEAD AND SHOULDERS OF A MAN INTENTLY STUDYING
THEM]



KLONDIKE NUGGETS

AND

HOW TWO BOYS SECURED THEM



By

E. S. ELLIS

AUTHOR OF "Deerfoot Series," "Boy-Pioneer Series," etc.



24 ILLUSTRATIONS AFTER
ORSON LOWELL



DOUBLEDAY & McCLURE CO.
NEW YORK
1898

Copyright, 1898, by
Doubleday & McClure Co.




CONTENTS


Page

THE GOLD-HUNTERS 3

AT JUNEAU 13

UP THE LYNN CANAL 37

THE AVALANCHE 47

THROUGH CHILKOOT PASS 58

A SIGNIFICANT DISCOVERY 71

THE PLOTTERS 80

ON LAKE BENNET 90

INTO BRITISH TERRITORY 100

AT WHITE HORSE RAPIDS 111

ON THE YUKON 120

AT DAWSON CITY 131

ON THE EDGE OF THE GOLD-FIELDS 141

PROSPECTING 151

A FIND 159

THE CLAIM 169

A GOLDEN HARVEST 180

A STARTLING DISCOVERY 191

THE TRAIL INTO THE MOUNTAINS 200

A SOUND FROM OUT THE STILLNESS 209

A TURNING OF THE TABLES 218

A LION IN THE PATH 227

A GENERAL SETTLEMENT OF ACCOUNTS 236

CONCLUSION 246




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


Page

THE HEAD AND SHOULDERS OF A MAN INTENTLY STUDYING
THEM Frontispiece.

JEFF 9

"ROSWELL, DO YOU KNOW THAT STRANGE MAN HAS BEEN
FOLLOWING US FOR THE PAST HOUR?" 33

CATCHING THE EYE OF THE AMAZED BOYS, TIM WINKED 43

THE TENT-POLES WERE SHOVED DOWN INTO THE SNOW 53

ALL JOINED IN PUSHING AND PULLING ONE SLED 65

SUDDENLY HARDMAN MADE A SIGN 75

"YOU'RE A PRETTY FELLOW TO STAND GUARD," SAID FRANK 85

"OH, LOOK THERE! ISN'T IT DREADFUL?" 97

"WE'RE AT THE FUT OF THE LAKE," SHOUTED TIM 105

THE CURRENT WAS NOT ONLY VERY SWIFT, BUT THE CHANNEL
WAS FILLED WITH ROCKS 113

TIM AND JEFF LIT THEIR PIPES; HARDMAN SAT APART 127

AND THE THREE CHEERS WERE GIVEN WITH A WILL 137

"I DON'T SEE THE USE OF YOUR HARPING ON THAT AFFAIR,"
SAID HARDMAN 147

"IT'S GOLD!" HE EXCLAIMED 161

THE BOYS STOOD ATTENTIVELY WATCHING THE OPERATION 175

"I HAVE JUST THOUGHT WHAT TIM'S BUSINESS IS AT DAWSON,"
SAID FRANK 189

"WE HAVE BEEN ROBBED! ALL THE GOLD IS GONE," 195

THE TELL-TALE FOOTPRINTS 203

WATCHING AT THE TURN IN THE TRAIL 215

"HANDS UP, YOUNKER!" 223

"WE HAVE MADE A MESS OF IT," WAS THE DISGUSTED
COMMENT OF FRANK 231

TIM AND HIS PRISONERS 241

"SAY, TIM, YOU HAIN'T ANY IDEA OF GOING TO COLLEGE,
HAVE YOU?" 251




KLONDIKE NUGGETS AND HOW TWO BOYS SECURED THEM




CHAPTER I.

THE GOLD-HUNTERS.


Jeff Graham was an Argonaut who crossed the plains in 1849, while he
was yet in his teens, and settling in California, made it his permanent
home. When he left Independence, Mo., with the train, his parents and
one sister were his companions, but all of them were buried on the
prairie, and their loss robbed him of the desire ever to return to the
East. Hostile Indians, storm, cold, heat, privation, and suffering were
the causes of their taking off, as they have been of hundreds who
undertook the long journey to the Pacific coast in quest of gold.

Jeff spent several years in the diggings, and after varying fortune,
made a strike, which yielded him sufficient to make him comfortable for
the rest of his days. He never married, and the income from his
investments was all and, indeed, more than he needed to secure him
against want.

He was now past threescore, grizzled, somewhat stoop-shouldered, but
robust, rugged, strong, and, in his way, happy. His dress varied
slightly with the changes of the seasons, consisting of an old slouch
hat, a red shirt, coarse trousers tucked in the tops of his heavy
boots, and a black neckerchief with dangling ends. He had never been
addicted to drink, and his only indulgence was his brierwood pipe,
which was his almost inseparable companion. His trousers were secured
at the waist by a strong leathern belt, and when he wore a coat in cold
weather he generally had a revolver at his hip, but the weapon had not
been discharged in years.

There were two members of that overland train whom Jeff never forgot.
They were young children, Roswell and Edith Palmer, who lost both of
their parents within five years after reaching the coast. Jeff proved
the friend in need, and no father could have been kinder to the
orphans, who were ten and twelve years younger than he.

Roswell Palmer was now married, with a son named for himself, while his
sister, Mrs. Mansley, had been a widow a long time, and she, too, had
an only son, Frank, who was a few months older than his cousin. The
boys had received a good common-school education, but their parents
were too poor to send them to college. Jeff would have offered to help
but for his prejudice against all colleges. The small wages which the
lads received as clerks in a leading dry-goods house were needed by
their parents, and the youths, active, lusty, and ambitious, had
settled down to the career of merchants, with the hoped-for reward a
long, long way in the future.

One evening late in March, 1897, Jeff opened the door of Mr. Palmer's
modest home, near the northern suburb of San Francisco, and with his
pipe between his lips, sat down in the chair to which he was always
welcome. In truth, the chair was considered his, and no one would have
thought of occupying it when he was present. As he slowly puffed his
pipe he swayed gently backward and forward, his slouch hat on the floor
beside him, and his long, straggling hair dangling about his shoulders,
while his heavy beard came almost to his eyes.

It was so late that the wife had long since cleared away the dishes
from the table, and sat at one side of the room sewing by the lamp. The
husband was reading a paper, but laid it aside when Jeff entered,
always glad to talk with their quaint visitor, to whom he and his
family were bound by warm ties of gratitude.

Jeff smoked a minute or two in silence, after greeting his friends, and
the humping of his massive shoulders showed that he was laughing,
though he gave forth no sound.

"What pleases you, Jeff?" asked Mr. Palmer, smiling in sympathy, while
the wife looked at their caller in mild surprise.

"I've heerd it said that a burned child dreads the fire, but I don't
b'lieve it. After he's burnt he goes back agin and gits burnt over. Why
is it, after them explorers that are trying to find the North Pole no
sooner git home and thawed out than they're crazy to go back agin! Look
at Peary. You'd think he had enough, but he's at it once more, and will
keep at it after he finds the pole--that is, if he ever does find it.
Nansen, too, he'll be like a fish out of water till he's climbing the
icebergs agin."

And once more the huge shoulders bobbed up and down. His friends knew
this was meant to serve as an introduction to something else that was
on Jeff's mind, and they smilingly waited for it to come.

"It's over forty years since I roughed it in the diggings, starving,
fighting Injins, and getting tough," continued the old minor musingly.
"After I struck it purty fair I quit; but I never told you how many
times the longing has come over me so strong that it was all I could do
to stick at home and not make a fool of myself."

"But that was in your younger days," replied his friend; "you have had
nothing of the kind for a good while."

Jeff took his pipe from the network of beard that enclosed his lips,
and turned his bright, gray eyes upon the husband and wife who were
looking curiously at him. They knew by the movement of the beard at the
corners of the invisible mouth that he was smiling.

"There's the joke. It's come over me so strong inside the last week,
that I've made up my mind to start out on a hunt for gold. What do you
think of that, eh?"

And restoring his pipe to his lips, he leaned back and rocked his chair
with more vigor than before, while he looked fixedly into the faces of
his friends.

[Illustration: JEFF.]

"Jeff, you can't be in earnest; you are past threescore--"

"Sixty-four last month," he interrupted; "let's git it right."

"And you are in no need of money; besides it is a hard matter to find
any place in California where it is worth your while--"

"But it ain't Californy," he broke in again; "it's the Klondike
country.



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