Page:To Alaska for Gold.djvu/18

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"We shall have to do something," was Earl's unsatisfactory response.

The Portney brothers lived upon a small timber claim in the state of Maine. Their parents had died three years before, from injuries received in a terrible forest fire, which had at that time swept the locality. The family had never been rich, and after the sad affair the boys were left to shift for themselves. The father had owned an interest in a timber claim, and this had been sold for three hundred dollars, and with the proceeds the two brothers had rented another claim and gone to work to get out lumber for a new company which had begun operations in the vicinity.

Earl was now eighteen years of age, and Randolph, or Randy, as he was always called, was nearly seventeen. Both lads were so tall, well-built, and muscular, that they appeared older. Neither had had a real sickness in his life, and the pair were admirably calculated, physically, to cope with the hardships which came to them later.

The collapse of the new lumber combination, and the running away of its head man, Aaron Jackson, had proved a serious blow to their prospects. As has been intimated, the company owed them two hundred dollars for timber, and, as not a cent was forthcoming, they found themselves in debt, not only for the quarter's rent for the land they were working, but also at the general supply store at the village of Basco, three miles