Athabasca Bill. A Tale of the Far West - Bessie Marchant - ebook
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In Alberta, Canada, young Fred’s family awaits the return of their father who is looking for a site for a new home for them. But just as he return, bloodhounds seeking the thief who stole a box containing hundreds of dollars trace the scent to Fred’s father. Fred sets out to find Athabasca Bill who may have information that will prove that his father is innocent. Elizabeth Marchant (1862–1941) was a prolific English writer who wrote in the style of the Victorian adventure novel. She was born in Petham in Kent and preferred to be known as Bessie. In many of her novels the lead characters in her books were very often female, although she did write books with male heroes. „Athabasca Bill. A Tale of the Far West” is a must-read for anyone in need for a dose of entertaining, worthwhile writing.

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Liczba stron: 310

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Contents

CHAPTER I. OLD MAN ARLO’S DOGS

CHAPTER II. A GREAT SHOCK

CHAPTER III. THE MYSTERY GROWS

CHAPTER IV. WHERE WAS ATHABASCA BILL?

CHAPTER V. A STRANGE COINCIDENCE

CHAPTER VI. OLD MAN ARLO’S MONEY BAGS

CHAPTER VII. OLD MAN ARLO SHOWS A WAY OUT

CHAPTER VIII. THROUGH DENAREE’S LEAP

CHAPTER IX. THE TIDINGS FROM BLACK PINE PORTAGE

CHAPTER X. OUT OF THE WHIRLPOOLS

CHAPTER XI. STARTING IN PURSUIT

CHAPTER XII. ROUGH TRAVELLING

CHAPTER XIII. A BID FOR THE FARM

CHAPTER XIV. OLD ACQUAINTANCES

CHAPTER XV. MONTANA JENNY TAKES THE TRAIL

CHAPTER XVI. ‘FOLLOW MY LEADER’

CHAPTER XVII. A BAD NIGHT

CHAPTER XVIII. POTIPHAR’S FRAGMENT

CHAPTER XIX. MAKING THE BEST OF IT

CHAPTER XX. A FUTILE SEARCH

CHAPTER XXI. WOULD HE DIE?

CHAPTER XXII. THE CREDITORS OF SNEAKY MOSE TAKE POSSESSION

CHAPTER XXIII. WHAT THEY FOUND

CHAPTER XXIV. UNDER THE ASHES

CHAPTER XXV. THE EVE OF THE TRIAL

CHAPTER XXVI. JUST IN TIME

CHAPTER XXVII. A CURIOUS REVELATION

CHAPTER I. OLD MAN ARLO’S DOGS

The three Crawford boys, on their way home from school, paused as usual at Deerfoot Corner to listen to the deep-throated baying of old man Arlo’s bloodhounds, and to peer through the narrow openings in the high staked-fence with the hope of seeing the bent, wizened old fellow out with the dogs, practising their trade of man-hunting.

It was always a mystery to the boys, that old man Arlo should devote so much time and trouble to the training of his two bloodhounds, since no one in the district ever needed their services in tracking down thieves, or finding runaways, for he lived in a miserable fashion, and was always pleading poverty, yet spent enough on his dogs to have maintained himself in decent comfort.

The baying was coming nearer–plainly the hounds were on the trail, so in order to avoid accidents, they swarmed up into the lower boughs of some roadside trees to see the fun. As a rule, especially if Ella were with them, they took to their heels, racing at top speed down the slope through Golden Grove, and across Joe Armstrong’s lot, to their own holding at the far end of the valley.

But Ella was not at school to-day, and being unencumbered with a non-climber, they quickly made their way up to a safe roosting-place in the spreading boughs, then waited for the fun to begin.

“Why, there are three dogs to-day, and they are not hunting, but held in a leash!” exclaimed Fred, who by reason of his seniority and superior strength had climbed higher than the other two, and so caught sight of the dogs first.

“So he has,” cried Sam, peering through the yellowing leaves. “Then it must be true what Ross Johnson said about old man Arlo having bought a dog, that has come all the way from Montana, and can hunt a man through a crowded city street, yet never lose the trail. That is the one, that brown and white creature in the middle; easy to see which is the stranger, and, my word, but isn’t it a beauty too!” and he gave vent to a long, low whistle of admiration, craning his neck so far out through the branches, that it was almost a miracle he did not overbalance himself and fall out of the tree, in front of the whimpering hounds that were straining so eagerly at the leash, as if anxious to be free and away across country tracking down something or some one from sheer love of hunting.

“Hullo, old man Arlo, where are you off to now?” piped out Johnny, the youngest of the three boys, in his shrill treble; he always wanted to know other people’s business, and never scrupled to ask for information on the subject.

As a rule the old man was taciturn, and loth to gratify the curiosity of people, but to-day he was nearly as eager and excited as his dogs.

“I’m going to Millet–there has been a big robbery from the railway depôt, and the inspector has sent for me to bring my dogs to help ’em in tracking the thieves; so I’m reckoning that them wrong-doers are pretty nigh as good as convicted already,” replied the old man, with a knowing wink, and a vicious pull at the leash, for the dogs were straining at it so hard that they nearly dragged him off his feet in their eagerness to go forward.

“When was the robbery?” called out Fred. “I was over at the depôt with our team yesterday, and I heard no talk of anything having been taken then, nor did there seem anything much to steal except a few empty freight cars, and nobody would want bloodhounds to track them with, I should think.”

“Ah, it doesn’t ever do to judge by appearances,” retorted the old man, with a sly chuckle. “There was a little box standing in one corner of the office, that was worth double the value of every freight car on the depôt, and it is that box that was stolen last night, the thief getting clear away, and nobody none the wiser until this mornin’.”

“What was in the box?” piped Johnny, whilst Sam whistled again, in wonder this time that anything so valuable should be left in the office, instead of being locked away in the safe.

“They say the box was chock full of dollars–five hundred of ‘em, and they’d been labelled nails, so that no one should suspicion them for anything of more value. I reckon the thief that went for to steal that box o’ nails made eyes as big as glass marbles when he saw what that box had in it really.”

“Will your dogs be able to catch the thief?” called out Johnny, more shrilly than before, for the old man was moving on again, the straining of the hounds serving to tow him along.

But he turned to nod in token of assent, at the same time grimacing so hideously that the boys shivered in spite of themselves, because his face was so full of malevolence, and his reputation matched his appearance.

They watched until a bend in the road hid him from sight, then, with a little start of recollection, Fred began to scramble down from his perch among the branches. “Come along, boys, we must run for it now, for we’ve wasted quite ten minutes, and I promised mother I’d be home early to do the milking, because Dolty Simpson has to go to the mill this afternoon.”

Away raced the three boys like the wind, Johnny’s short legs twinkling along in the rear of the other two, as he made plucky efforts to keep up.

It was fairly easy going as they pelted down Golden Grove, but part of the way across Joe Armstrong’s lot was very rough and heavy, so that Sam and Johnny speedily dropped behind, though Fred raced on, taking the short way across the potato-patch when their own land was reached, jumping the rows in a series of quick bobbing leaps like a kangaroo.

The Crawford homestead was only a small square house, standing in an enclosure, around which were built other houses and sheds, all of the same rough unpainted wood. A belt of spruce firs and hardy larches on the north broke the worst violence of the wind from that quarter, sheltering the young apple and pear trees planted there. It was a bare dreary-looking spot, but the Crawfords loved it because it was home, and a pang shot through Fred’s heart as he neared it, knowing as he did that in all probability this time next year would see the old place in the hands of strangers, whilst they would be settled further away in the wilds, where land could be had for next to nothing.

Just as he reached the fence, over which he was preparing to take a flying leap to save time, instead of going round to the gate, a rosy-faced girl came rushing out of the house, and flung her hands up in joyful gesticulation about something or other, whilst she shouted something Fred could not hear.

“What is it?” he panted, thinking at first his sister was reproaching him for coming home late.

“Father has come home from Athabasca,” she shouted again, her voice plainly audible this time.

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