Again the captain shook hands. Then he asked the boys where they came from and was pleased to learn they were used to a life in the open air.
"I was a lumberman myself onct—up in Michigan," he said. "But thar wasn't enough excitement, so I gave it up to seek gold and silver. Minin' and prospectin' just suit me—leas'wise so long as the grub holds out. One thing is in our favor—scarcity o' men up in them new gold fields. Now, down in Colorady it's different—all overrun with men, eh, Portney?"
"Yes, we'll have rather an open field," answered Foster Portney. And then followed a long discussion about the new gold fields and what might be expected when Dyea was reached and the terrible climb over the mountains began. The discussion lasted until ten o'clock, and the boys listened with interest and picked up many stray bits of information. Both concluded that the overland trip to the mines would prove every bit as rough and dangerous as they had pictured it.
The distance from San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska, is, in round figures, one thousand miles. The Golden Hope was not as large as a regular ocean liner, yet she was a fast boat, and it was expected that she would cover the distance inside of four days. Much, of course, would depend upon the weather encountered, for she was heavily loaded with both passengers and