The Pirate of Jasper Peak
The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Pirate of Jasper Peak, by Cornelia Meigs
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Title: The Pirate of Jasper Peak
Author: Cornelia Meigs
Release Date: September 17, 2018 [eBook #57918]
Character set encoding: UTF-8
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PIRATE OF JASPER PEAK***
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Close to the hearth a big chair had been drawn and in this some one was sitting.
|I.||A Stranger in a Strange Land|
|II.||The Brown Bear’s Skin|
|IV.||The Heart of the Forest|
|VI.||The Promised Land|
|VIII.||A Night’s Lodging|
|IX.||Peril at the Bridge|
|X.||First Blood to the Pirate|
|XI.||The White Flag|
|XII.||A Highway through the Hills|
THE PIRATE OF JASPER PEAK
The long Pullman train, an hour late andgreatly begrudging the time for a specialstop, came sliding into the tiny station of Rudolmand deposited a solitary passenger upon the platform.The porter set Hugh Arnold’s suitcase onthe ground and accepted his proffered coin, all inone expert gesture, and said genially:
“We’re way behind time on this run, but wecome through on the down trip at six in the morning,sharp. You-all will be going back with usto-morrow, I reckon.”
“No,” replied Hugh, as he came down from thecar step and gathered up his belongings. “No,I’m going to stay.”
“Stay?” repeated the porter. “Oh—a week, Isuppose. No one really stays at Rudolmexcept them that are born there and can’t getaway.”
Hugh shook his head.
“I am going to stay all winter,” he said.
“The whole winter! Say, do you know whatwinter is up here?” the man exclaimed. “Forthe love of—”
A violent jolt of the train was the engineer’sreminder that friendly converse was not in orderwhen there was time to be made up.
“All right, sah, good-by. I hope you likestaying, only remember—we go through everyday at six in the morning less’n we’re late.Good-by.”
The train swept away, leaving Hugh to lookafter it for a moment before he turned to takehis first survey of Rudolm and the wide sheet ofblue water upon whose shore it stood.
Red Lake, when he and his father had firstlooked it up on the map, seemed a queer, crookedplace, full of harbors and headlands and hiddencoves, the wider stretches extending here andthere to fifteen, twenty, twenty-five miles of openwater, again narrowing to mere winding channelschoked with islands. Hugh would haveliked to say afterward that he knew even fromthe map that this was a region promising adventures,that down the lake’s winding tributaries hewas going to be carried to strange discoveries,but, as a matter of fact, he had no such foreknowledge.
Indeed, it was his father who observed that thelake looked like a proper haunt for pirates andHugh who reminded him that pirates were notever to be found so far north. All the books hehad seen, pictured them as burying treasure onwarm, sunny, sandy beaches, or flying in pursuitof their prey on the wings of the South Seawinds. Pirates in the wooded regions to thenorth of the Mississippi Valley, pirates where thesnow lay so deep and the lake was frozen fornearly half the year, where only through a shortsummer could the waters be plied by “a low, raking,black hulk” such as all pirates sail—it wasnot to be thought of! Even now, when Hughstood on the station platform and caught his firstglimpse of the real Red Lake, saw the wide bluewaters flecked with sunny whitecaps, the hundredpine-covered islands and the long miles ofwooded shore, even then he had no thought ofhow different he was to find this place from anyother he had ever seen. Both lake and townseemed to him to promise little.
For Rudolm, set in its narrow valley betweenthe Minnesota hills, looked as though it had beendropped from some child’s box of toys, so smalland square were the houses and so hit-or-misswas the order in which they stood along the onewide, crooked street. There were no trees growingbeside the rough wooden sidewalks, the streetwas dusty and the sun, even although it was October,seemed to him to shine with a pitiless glare.He walked slowly along the platform, wonderingwhy Dick Edmonds had not come to meethim, thinking that Rudolm seemed the dullestand most uninteresting town in America and tryingto stifle the rising wish that he had nevercome.
A soft pad, pad on the boards behind himmade him turn his head as a man walked swiftlypast. Hugh saw that his shapeless black hat hada speckled feather stuck into the band and thathe wore, instead of shoes, soft rounded moccasinsedged with a gay embroidery of beads.Plainly the man was an Indian. At the thoughtthe boy’s heart beat a little faster. He had notknown there would be Indians!
His own being in Rudolm was simple enough,although somewhat unexpected. Hugh’s fatherwas a doctor, enrolled in the Medical Reservesince the beginning of the war but not until thismonth ordered away to France. The problem ofwhere Hugh should live during his absence was adifficult one since Hugh had no mother and therewere no immediate relatives to whom he could go.He had finished school but had been judged rathertoo young for college, and, so his father maintainedin spite of frantic pleading, much tooyoung to enlist.
“I’m sixteen,” was the boy’s insistent argument,but—
“Wait until you have been sixteen more thantwo days,” was his father’s answer.
“I could go with the medical unit, I knowenough from helping you to be some use as ahospital orderly,” Hugh begged, “I would doanything just to go to France.”
“They need men in France, not boys just onthe edge of being men,” Dr. Arnold replied,“when you have had one or two years’ worth ofexperience and judgment, then you will be somehelp to them over there. But not now.”
“The war will be over by then,” wailed Hugh.
“Don’t fear,” his father observed grimly,“there is going to be enough of it for all of us tohave our share.”
So there the discussion ended and the questionof what Hugh was to do came up for settlement.There was a distant cousin of his father’sin New York—but this suggestion was neverallowed to get very far. Hugh had never metthe cousin and did not relish the idea of goingto live with him, “sight unseen” as he put it,on such short notice. It was his own plan to goto Rudolm where lived the two Edmonds brothers,John, cashier of the bank there and a greatfriend of his father’s, and Dick, a boy four yearsolder than himself, whom he had met but onceyet knew that he liked immensely. Several timesJohn Edmonds had written to Dr. Arnold—
“If Hugh ever wants to spend any time ‘onhis own’ we could find him a job here in Rudolm,I know. It is a queer little place, just a miningand lumbering town full of Swedes, but he mightlike the hunting and the country and find it interestingfor a while.”
It was the idea of spending the time “on hisown” that made Hugh feel that thus the periodof his father’s absence might chance to seem alittle shorter and the soreness of missing himmight grow a little less. John Edmonds had answeredtheir letters most cordially and had saidthat all could be arranged and Hugh need onlytelegraph the day of his arrival. The final preparationshad been hastened by the coming of Dr.Arnold’s sailing orders; the two had bidden eachother good-by and good luck with resolute cheerfulnessand Hugh had set forth on his long journeynorthward. He had never seen the GreatLakes nor the busy inland shipping ports withtheir giant freighters lying at the docks, nor therising hills of the Iron Range through which hisway must lead, but he noticed them very little.His thoughts were very far away and fixed onother things. Even now, as he walked slowlyup Rudolm’s one street he was not dwelling somuch on his forlorn wonder why he did not seehis friends, but was thinking of a great transportthat must, almost at that hour, be nosing her wayout of “an Atlantic port,” of the swift destroyersgathering to convoy her, of the salt seabreezes blowing across her deck, blowing sharpfrom the east, from over the sea—from France.For he was certain, from all that he could gather,that his father was sailing to-day and was launchingupon his new venture at almost the same timethat Hugh was entering upon his own.
Somewhat disconsolately the boy trudged onup the hot empty highway, seeing ahead of himthe big, ramshackle building that must be thehotel and beyond that, at the end of the