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replied the latter

by tangwei 中國7 月前

Long Peter smiled and looked wise SMILE. "Injuns say they no go to-morrow. Big snow come. White men no keep together; some get lost. No wood for fire. But we go if no wind. Me know t'ail [trail]."

This was a long speech for Long Peter, and it meant much. The morrow would decide the race.
CHAPTER XII  THE SUMMIT OF CHILKAT PASS
The prediction of snow was fulfilled to the letter. When the Bradfords awoke, they found the air thick with feathery flakes, which came gently and noiselessly down on tent and tree and drift. Already the green boughs of the spruces were heavily laden. In Mr. Bradford's thermometer the mercury stood at twenty-five degrees above zero.

Long Peter noted the direction of the wind, which was so light as hardly to be perceptible. Then he examined the snowflakes, which were damp and large, indicating that the cloud currents of the air were not intensely cold.

"We can go," said he to Uncle Will.

Breakfast hurriedly disposed of, the sleds were loaded with half the supplies, oiled canvas being bound over the goods to keep them dry. Uncle Will knew that Long Peter was one of the most experienced pathfinders in his tribe, and would not undertake the march if he were not well able to bring them through in safety. By seven o'clock they were on their way, the Indian leading and treading a path with his narrow, turned-up[102] snow-shoes. The others followed easily in his track, all wearing snow-shoes, for otherwise they would have broken through the thin crust of the old snow, and the sleds would frequently have been stalled.

As they had camped in the edge of the woods, they were quickly out of sight of the trees, and traversing a barren, snowy waste which presented a gentle upward incline. The falling snow cut off the distant prospect, and in the absence of all landmarks the Indian was guided solely by the slope of the ground and the direction of the wind. Uncle Will, however, verified his course from time to time by a small compass.

After travelling thus about a mile, they arrived at the edge of a bank or bluff, which sloped steeply down to a level space fifty feet below.

"Devil's Slide," said the Indian to Uncle Will, in a tone of satisfaction.

"Yes," replied the latter. "I remember this place and its curious name very well."

"I don't see how we are going to get these loads down," said Roly. "It's awfully steep."

Long Peter, so far as his own sled was concerned, quickly solved that problem. He drew his load to the edge of the bluff, and then, with apparent recklessness, threw himself upon it just as it toppled over the brink. The others held their breath while man and sled went down, as Roly[103] said afterward, "like greased lightning;" but the runners cut through the snow at the bottom of the hill, and the outfit brought up safely.

Mr. Bradford declared that might do for Long Peter, but he didn't care to risk it. He accordingly let his sled go alone, which it did gracefully enough until half-way down, when it swerved, upset, and rolled over and over, the gee-pole finally sticking in the snow and ending its wild career. It was necessary to repack the whole load.

Uncle Will's sled fared better. As for the boys, they ventured to coast down as Long Peter had done, and reached the bottom in a whirl of snow without any mishap.

Near the foot of the slide they entered a narrow ravine,—the bed of a mountain brook now buried deep under the drifts,—and followed it up for a mile or two, emerging at length upon an almost level expanse, which Uncle Will said was one of the highest places on the pass.

"Indeed," said he, "we may as well call this the summit, although for many miles we shall continue at about this height. There is a shallow lake in the little hollow ahead, Long Peter tells me, but you wouldn't guess it to look at this unbroken snow-field."

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