Ballads of a Cheechako

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Barse & Hopkins, 1909 - Frontier and pioneer life - 131 pages
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Page 48 - I slept to lose and waked to dream again. River and plain and mighty peak — and who could stand unawed? As their summits blazed, he could stand undazed at the foot of the throne of God. North, aye, North, through a land accurst, shunned by the scouring brutes, And all I heard was my own harsh word and the whine of the malamutes, Till at last I came to a cabin squat, built in the side of a hill, And I burst in the door, and there on the floor, frozen to death, lay Bill.1 The human...
Page 111 - The greed of the gold possessed us; pity and love were forgot; Covetous visions obsessed us; brother with brother fought. Partner with partner wrangled, each one claiming his due; Wrangled and halved their outfits, sawing their boats in two. Thuswise we voyaged Lake Bennett, Tagish, then Windy Arm, Sinister, savage and baleful, boding us hate and harm. Many a scow was shattered there on that iron shore; Many a heart was broken straining at sweep and oar. We roused Lake Marsh with a chorus, we drifted...
Page 112 - Buts at the boulder-ribbed bottom, staggers and rears at the shock; Leaps like a terrified monster, writhes in its fury and pain; Then with the crash of a demon springs to the onset again. Dared we that ravening terror; heard we its din in our ears; Called on the Gods of our fathers, juggled forlorn with our fears; Sank to our waists in its fury, tossed to the sky like a fleece ; Then, when our dread was the greatest, crashed into safety and peace. But what of the others that followed, losing their...
Page 27 - In that vast white world where the silent sky communes with the silent snow, In hunger and cold and misery I wandered to and fro. But the Lord took pity on my pain, and He led me to the sea, And some ice-bound whalers heard my moan, and they fed and sheltered me. They fed the feeble scarecrow thing that stumbled out of the wild With the ravaged face of a mask of death and the wandering wits of a child— A craven, cowering bag of bones that once had been a man. They tended me and they brought me...
Page 113 - Gods of our fathers, juggled forlorn with our fears; Sank to our waists in its fury, tossed to the sky like a fleece; Then, when our dread was the greatest, crashed into safety and peace. But what of the others that followed, losing their boats by the score? Well could we see them and hear them, strung down that desolate shore. What of the poor souls that perished? Little of them shall be said — On to the Golden Valley, pause not to bury the dead. Then there were days of drifting, breezes soft...
Page 109 - Gold!" Oh, we were brutes and devils, goaded by lust and fear! Our eyes were strained to the summit; the weaklings dropped to the rear, Falling in heaps by the trail-side, heart-broken, limp and wan; But the gaps closed up in an instant, and heedless the chain went on. Never will I forget it, there on the mountain face, Antlike, men with their burdens, clinging in icy space; Dogged, determined and dauntless, cruel and callous and cold, Cursing, blaspheming, reviling, and ever that battle-cry —...
Page 13 - Monarch, your kingdom unravisht and gleaming; Mountains your throne, and a river your car: Crash of a bull moose to rouse you from dreaming; Forest your couch, and your candle a star. You who this faint day the High North is luring Unto her vastness, taintlessly sweet; You who are steel-braced, straight-lipped, enduring, Dreadless in danger and dire in defeat: Honor the High North ever and ever, Whether she crown you, or whether she slay; Suffer her fury, cherish and love her — He who would rule...
Page 21 - Oh, it was wild and weird and wan. and ever in camp o' nights We would watch and watch the silver dance of the mystic Northern Lights. And soft they danced from the Polar sky and swept In primrose haze; And swift they pranced with their silver feet, and pierced with a blinding blaze. They danced a cotillion in the sky ; they were rose and silver shod; It was not good for the eyes of man — 'twas a sight for the eyes of God. It made us mad and strange and sad, and the gold whereof we dreamed Was...
Page 105 - Men from the sands of the Sunland ; men from the woods of the West; Men from the farms and the cities, into the Northland we pressed. Graybeards and striplings and women, good men and bad men and bold, Leaving our homes and our loved ones, crying exultantly— "Gold!
Page 106 - Arctic, urged by the arch-tempter — Gold. "Farewell!" we cried to our dearests; little we cared for their tears. " Farewell!" we cried to the humdrum and the yoke of the hireling years; Just like a pack of school-boys, and the big crowd cheered us good-bye. Never were hearts so uplifted, never were hopes so high. The spectral shores flitted past us, and every whirl of the screw Hurled us nearer to fortune, and ever we planned what we'd do — Do with the gold when we got it — big, shiny nuggets...

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