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THE author puts forth this little book
of actual adventures in the great
new land of Alaska with the hope that it will afford healthy-minded young people a true idea of some phases of human and animal life there. These stories are picked out of an experience of forty years and selected with a view to both unity and variety.
The first three chapters are an attempt to draw in bold outline some dramatic episodes of the author's experience in the second of the three great gold stampedes of the Northwest. All these struggles for gold have in them richly dramatic elements. Life in such camps pulses strongly with all human ambitions, affections and passions. The missionary, if he is really to commend himself to the men who rush into the wilderness for gold, and do them good, must, first of all, prove himself a man, ready and able to do and suffer everything that falls to the lot of the gold seekers. He must live their life and play the game with them. He must cheerfully put up with the privations they endure, must take the lead in their healthy sports, must alleviate their sufferings, and, keeping himself free from the deadly goldlust, must show that he has in himself and can give to his fellow pioneers something better than gold. His heart must be, for himself and those about him, a living fountain of joy and peace.
As in his earlier work, “The Klondike Clan," the author endeavored to draw a true picture not only of the life and conditions of the first Northwestern gold-rush, but also of the minister's aims and field of duty; so in this short sketch of the second Stampede his aim has been, above all things, truth. Every incident is actual history, and even the names are real. The dog story is also conscientiously true history, and belongs to one of the minor gold stampedes.
The second section of the book the three bear stories and the walrus story-are also bits of history. Every pioneer missionary in Alaska should be an ardent hunter. The author's life has often depended upon his
gun and fishing tackle. For ten years in Southeastern Alaska he and his family had no beef or pork or mutton, but the gameanimals, birds and fish-more than made up for the lack of these.
In Interior Alaska the same conditions prevail. The wild animals furnish not only the food of the people, both natives and whites, but also their winter clothing. Life would be unbearable there in “sixty-below weather” were the inhabitants unable to procure the warm coats provided by kindly Mother Nature for the use both of her fourfooted and her human children.
The Eskimo faces the hardest conditions of almost any native race in his battle for life; and yet he is, perhaps, the most comfortable of any. He gets his living from the Arctic seas, the seal and walrus being his main dependence. From the great walrus he gets meat, clam chowder, light and fuel; its skin makes his foot-wear, the walls and roof of his house, and his boats; its ivory furnishes his tools and implements of the chase. When the author and his friends brought the great supply of walrus meat to the Eskimo village of East Cape they insured the life and comfort of its inhabitants for the winter. All this is an essential part of a missionary's beneficent work. Good service for God and humanity is not inconsistent with the joy of the chase.