Charles George Douglas Roberts.

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JIM

THE STORY OF A BACKWOODS POLICE DOG




THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA
MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.

TORONTO



JIM



THE STORY OF A BACKWOODS

POLICE DOG



BY
MAJOR CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS











Neto gorit

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1931



THrJ , , ORK

PUBLIC LIBRARY



AM*



COPYRIGHT, 1918,
By CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS.

COPYRIGHT, 1919,
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.



All rights reserved no part of this

book may be reproduced in any form

without permission in writing from

the publisher.



Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1919.



,

,

. ,












NortoooU

J. 8. Cashing Co. Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



CONTENTS

PAGE

JIM, THE STORY OF A BACKWOODS POLICE DOG . . 7

I. How WOOLLY BILLY CAME TO BRINE'S RIP . 9

II. THE BOOK AGENT AND THE BUCKSKIN BELT . 32

III. THE HOLE IN THE TREE 65

IV. THE TRAIL OF THE BEAR .... 91
V. THE FIRE AT BRINE'S RIP MILLS . . .115

VI. THE MAN WITH THE DANCING BEAR . .135

THE EAGLE 157

THE MULE 179

STRIPES THE UNCONCERNED ...... 199



JIM: THE STORY OF A
BACKWOODS POLICE DOG



JIM: THE STORY OF A
BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

I. HOW WOOLLY BILLY CAME TO

BRINE'S RIP



JIM'S mother was a big cross-bred bitch,
half Newfoundland and half bloodhound,
belonging to Black Saunders, one of the hands
at the Brine's Rip Mills. As the mills were
always busy, Saunders was always busy, and
it was no place for a dog to be around, among
the screeching saws, the thumping, wet logs,
and the spurting sawdust. So the big bitch,
with fiery energy thrilling her veins and
sinews and the restraint of a master's hand
seldom exercised upon her, practically ran
wild.

Hunting on her own account in the deep
wilderness which surrounded Brine's Rip
Settlement, she became a deadly menace to
every wild thing less formidable than a bear



10 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

or a bull moose, till at last, in the early prime
of her adventurous career, she was shot by an
angry game warden for her depredations
among the deer and the young caribou.

Jim's father was a splendid and pedigreed
specimen of the old English sheep-dog. From
a litter of puppies of this uncommon parent-
age, Tug Blackstock, the Deputy Sheriff of
Nipsiwaska County, chose out the one that
seemed to him the likeliest, paid Black
Saunders a sovereign for him, and named him
Jim. To Tug Blackstock, for some unfath-
omed reason, the name of " Jim" stood for
self-contained efficiency.

It was efficiency, in chief, that Tug Black-
stock, as Deputy Sheriff, was after. He had
been reading, in a stray magazine with torn
cover and much-thumbed pages, an account of
the wonderful doings of the trained police
dogs of Paris. The story had fired his imagi-
nation and excited his envy.

There was a lawless element in some of the
outlying corners of Nipsiwaska County, with
a larger element of yet more audacious law-
lessness beyond the county line from which
to recruit. Throughout the wide and mostly
wilderness expanse of Nipsiwaska County the
responsibility for law and order rested almost



WOOLLY BILLY 11

solely upon the shoulders of Tug Blackstock.
His chief, the Sheriff, a prosperous shop-
keeper who owed his appointment to his
political pull, knew little and thought less of
the duties of his office.

As soon as Jim was old enough to have an
interest beyond his breakfast and the worry-
ing of his rag ball, Tug Blackstock set about
his training. It was a matter that could not
be hurried. Tug had much work to do and
Jim, as behoved a growing puppy, had a deal
of play to get through in the course of each
twenty-four hours. Then so hard was the
learning, so easy, alas! the forgetting. Tug
Blackstock was kind to all creatures but timber
thieves and other evil-doers of like kidney. He
was patient, with the long patience of the
forest. But he had a will like the granite of
old Bald Face.

Jim was quick of wit, willing to learn,
intent to please his master. But it was hard
for him to concentrate. It was hard to keep
his mind off cats, and squirrels, the worrying
of old boots, and other doggish frivolities.
Hence, at times, some painful misunder-
standings between teacher and pupil. In the
main, however, the education of Jim pro-
gressed to a marvel.



12 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

They were a pair, indeed, to strike the most
stolid imagination, let alone the sensitive,
brooding, watchful imagination of the back-
woods. Tug Blackstock was a tall, spare
figure of a man, narrow of hip, deep of chest,
with something of a stoop to his mighty
shoulders, and his head thrust forward as if
in ceaseless scrutiny of the unseen. His hair,
worn somewhat short and pushed straight
back, was faintly grizzled. His face, tanned
and lean, was markedly wide at the eyes, with
a big, well-modelled nose, a long, obstinate
jaw, and a wide mouth whimsically uptwisted
at one corner.

Except on the trail and even then he
usually carried a razor in his pack he was
always clean-shaven, just because he didn't
like the curl of his beard. His jacket, shirt,
and trousers were of browny-grey homespun,
of much the same hue as his soft slouch hat,
all as inconspicuous as possible. But at his
throat, loosely knotted under his wide-rolling
shirt collar, he wore usually an ample silk
handkerchief of vivid green spattered with big
yellow spots, like dandelions in a young June
meadow.

As for Jim, at first glance he might almost
have been taken for a slim, young black bear



WOOLLY BILLY 13

rather than a dog. The shaggy coat be-
queathed to him by his sheep-dog sire gave
to his legs and to his hindquarters an appear-
ance of massiveness that was almost clumsy.
But under this dense black fleece his lines were
fine and clean-drawn as a bull-terrier's.

The hair about his eyes grew so long and
thick that, if left to itself, it would have
seriously interfered with his vision. This his
master could not think of permitting, so the
riotous hair was trimmed down severely, till
Jim's large, sagacious eyes gazed out unim-
peded from ferocious, brush-like rims of stubby
fur about half an inch in length.

II

For some ten miles above the long, white,
furrowed face of Brine's Rip, where Blue
Forks Brook flows in, the main stream of the
Ottanoonsis is a succession of mad rapids and
toothed ledges and treacherous, channel-
splitting shoals. These ten miles are a trial
of nerve and water-craft for the best canoeists
on the river. In the spring, when the river
was in freshet and the freed logs were racing,
battering, and jamming, the whole reach was
such a death-trap for the stream-drivers that



14 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

it had come to be known as Dead Man's Run.

Now, in high summer, when the stream was
shrunken in its channel and the sunshine lay
golden over the roaring, creamy chutes and
the dancing shallows, the place looked less
perilous. But it was full of snares and hid-
den teeth. It was no place for the canoeist,
however expert with pole and paddle, unless
he knew how to read the water unerringly for
many yards ahead. It is this reading of the
water, this instantaneous solving of the hiero-
glyphics of foam and surge and swirl and
glassy lunge, that makes tjie skilled runner of
the rapids.

A light birch-bark canoe, with a man in the
stern and a small child in the bow, was ap-
proaching the head of the rapids, which were
hidden from the paddler's view by a high,
densely-wooded bend of the shore. The canoe
leapt forward swiftly on the smooth, quiet cur-
rent, under the strong drive of the paddle.

The paddler was a tall, big-limbed man, with
fair hair fringing out under his tweed cap, and
a face burnt red rather than tanned by the
weather. He was dressed roughly but well,
and not as a woodsman, and he had a subtle
air of being foreign to the backwoods. He
knew how to handle his paddle, however, the



WOOLLY BILLY 15

prow of his craft keeping true though his
strokes were slow and powerful.

The child who sat facing him on a cushion
in the bow was a little boy of four or five
years, in a short scarlet jacket and blue
knickers. His fat, bare legs were covered
with fly-bites and scratches, his baby face of
the tenderest cream and pink, his round, inter-
ested eyes as blue as periwinkle blossoms.
But the most conspicuous thing about him was
his hair. He was bareheaded his little cap
lying in the bottom of the canoe among the
luggage and the hair, as white as tow, stood
out like a fleece all over his head, enmeshing
the sunlight in its silken tangle.

When the canoe shot round the bend, the
roar of the rapids smote suddenly upon the
voyagers' ears. The child turned his bright
head inquiringly, but from his low place could
see nothing to explain the noise. His father,
however, sitting up on the hinder bar of the
canoe, could see a menacing white line of toss-
ing crests, aflash in the sunlight, stretching
from shore to shore. Backing water vigor-
ously to check his headway, he stood up to get
a better view and choose his way through the
surge.

The stranger was master of his paddle, but



16 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

he had had no adequate experience in running
rapids. Such light and unobstructed rips as
he had gone through had merely sufficed to
make him regard lightly the menace confront-
ing him. He had heard of the perils of Dead
Man's Run, but that, of course, meant in time
of freshet, when even the mildest streams are
liable to go mad and run amuck. This was
the season of dead low water, and it was hard
for him to imagine there could be anything
really to fear from this lively but shrunken
stream. He was strong, clear-eyed, steady of
nerve, and he anticipated no great trouble in
getting through.

As the light craft dipped into the turmoil,
jumping as if buffeted from below, and the
wave-tops slapped in on either side of the
bow, the little lad gave a cry of fear.

" Sit tight, boy. Don't be afraid," said the
father, peering ahead with intent, narrowed
eyes and surging fiercely on his blade to avoid
a boiling rock just below the first chute. As
he swept past in safety he laughed in triumph,
for the passage had been close and exciting,
and the conquest of a mad rapid is one of the
thrilling things in life, and worth going far
for. His laugh reassured the child, who
laughed also, but cowered low in the canoe and



WOOLLY BILLY 17

stared over the gunwale with wide eyes of
awe.

But already the canoe was darting down
toward a line of black rocks smothered in
foam. The man paddled desperately to gain
the other shore, where there seemed to be a
clear passage. Slanting sharply across the
great current, surging with short, terrific
strokes upon his sturdy maple blade, his teeth
set and his breath coming in grunts, he was
swept on downward, sideways toward the
rocks, with appalling speed. But he made the
passage, swept the bow around, and raced
through, shaving the rock so narrowly that
his heart paused and the sweat jumped out
suddenly cold on his forehead.

Immediately afterwards the current swept
him to mid-stream. Just here the channel was
straight and clear of rocks, and though the
rips were heavy the man had a few minutes'
respite, with little to do but hold his course.

With a stab at the heart he realized now
into what peril he had brought his baby.
Eagerly he looked for a chance to land, but on
neither side could he make shore with any
chance of escaping shipwreck. A woodsman,
expert with the canoe-pole, might have man-
aged it. but the stranger had neither pole nor



18 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

skill to handle one. He was in the grip of the
wild current and could only race on, trusting
to master each new emergency as it should hurl
itself upon him.

Presently the little one took alarm again at
his father's stern-set mouth and preoccupied
eyes. The man had just time to shout once
more, " Don't be afraid, son. Dad'll take care
of you/' when the canoe was once more in a
yelling chaos of chutes and ledges. And now
there was no respite. Unable to read the
signs of the water, he was full upon each new
peril before he recognized it, and only his great
muscular strength and instant decision saved
them.

Again and again they barely by a hair's-
breadth, slipped through the jaws of death,
and it seemed to the man that the gnashing
ledges raved and yelled behind him at each
miracle of escape. Then hissing wave-crests
cut themselves off and leapt over the racing
gunwale, till he feared the canoe would be
swamped. Once they scraped so savagely
that he thought the bottom was surely ripped
from the canoe. But still he won onward,
mile after roaring mile, his will righting dog-
gedly to keep his eyesight from growing hope-
lessly confused with the hellish, sliding dazzle
and riot of waters.



WOOLLY BILLY 19

But at last the fiend of the flood, having
played with its prey long enough, laid bare its
claws and struck. The bow of the canoe, in
swerving from one foam-curtained rock,
grounded heavily upon another. In an
instant the little craft was swung broadside
on, and hung there. The waves piled upon
her in a yelling pack. She was smothered
down, and rolled over helplessly.

As they shot out into the torrent the man,
with a terrible cry, sprang toward the bow,
striving to reach his son. He succeeded in
catching the little one, with one hand, by the
back of the scarlet jacket. The next moment
he went under and the jacket came off over the
child's head. A whimsical cross-current
dragged the little boy twenty feet off to one
side, and shot him into a shallow side channel.

When the man came to the surface again
his eyes were shut, his face stark white, his
legs and arms flung about aimlessly as weeds;
but fast in his unconscious grip he held the
little red jacket. The canoe, its side stove in,
and full of water, was hurrying off down the
rapid amid a fleet of paddles, cushions, blan-
kets, boxes, and bundles. The body of the
man, heavy and inert and sprawling, followed
more slowly. The waves rolled it over and



20 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

trampled it down, shouldered it up again, and
snatched it away viciously whenever it showed
an inclination to hang itself up on some pro-
jecting ledge. It was long since they had had
such a victim on whom to glut their rancour.

The child, meanwhile, after being rolled
through the laughing shallows of the side
channel and playfully buffeted into a half-
drowned unconsciousness, was stranded on a
sand spit some eight or ten yards from the
right-hand shore. There he lay, half in the
water, half out of it, the silken white floss of
his hair all plastered down to his head, the
rippled current tugging at his scratched and
bitten legs.

The unclouded sun shone down warmly
upon his face, slowly bringing back the rose
to his baby lips, and a small, paper-blue but-
terfly hovered over his head for a few seconds,
as if puzzled to make out what kind of being
he was.

The sand spit which had given the helpless
little one refuge was close to the shore, but
separated from it by a deep and turbulent cur-
rent. A few minutes after the blue butterfly
had flickered away across the foam, a large
black bear came noiselessly forth from the fir
woods and down to the water's edge. He



WOOLLY BILLY 21

gazed searchingly up and down the river to
see if there were any other human creatures
in sight, then stretched his savage black muzzle
out over the water toward the sand spit, eyeing
and sniffing at the little unconscious figure
there in the sun. He could not make out
whether it was dead or only asleep. In either
case he wanted it. He stepped into the foam-
ing edge of the sluice, and stood there whim-
pering with disappointed appetite, daunted by
the snaky vehemence of the current.

Presently, as the warmth of the flooding
sun crept into his veins, the child stirred, and
opened his blue eyes. He sat up, noticed he
was sitting in the water, crawled to a dry spot,
and snuggled down into the hot sand. For
the moment he was too dazed to realize where
he was. Then, as the life pulsed back into
his veins, he remembered how his father's hand
had caught him by the jacket just as he went
plunging into the awful waves. Now, the
jacket was gone. His father was gone, too.

" Daddy! Daddee-ee!" he wailed. And
at the sound of that wailing cry, so unmis-
takably the cry of a youngling for its parent,
the bear drew back discreetly behind a bush,
and glanced uneasily up and down the stream
to see if the parent would come in answer to
the appeal. He had a wholesome respect for



22 JIM: THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

the grown-up man creature of either sex, and
was ready to retire on the approach of one.

But no one came. The child began to sob
softly, in a lonesome, frightened, suppressed
way. In a minute or two, however, he stopped
this, and rose to his feet, and began repeating
over and over the shrill wail of " Daddy, Dad-
dee-ee, Daddee-ee ! ' At the same time he
peered about him in every direction, almost
hopefully, as if he thought his father must be
hiding somewhere near, to jump out presently
for a game of bo-peep with him.

His baby eyes were keen. They did not find
his father, but they found the bear, its great
black head staring at him from behind a bush.

His cries stopped on the instant, in the
middle of a syllable, frozen in his throat with
terror. He cowered down again upon the
sand, and stared, speechless, at the awful
apparition. The bear, realizing that the little
one's cries had brought no succour, came out
from its hiding confidently, and down to the
shore, and straight out into the water till the
current began to drag too savagely at its legs.
Here it stopped, grumbling and baffled.

The little one, unable any longer to endure
the dreadful sight, backed to the extreme edge
of the sand, covered his face with his hands,



WOOLLY BILLY 23

and fell to whimpering piteously, an unceasing,
hopeless, monotonous little cry, as vague and
inarticulate as the wind.

The bear, convinced at length that the sluice
just here was too strong for him to cross, drew
back to the shore reluctantly. It moved slowly
up-stream some forty or fifty yards, looking
for a feasible crossing. Disappointed in this
direction, it then explored the water's edge for
a little distance down-stream, but with a like
result. But it would not give up. Up and
down, up and down, it continued to patrol the
shore with hungry obstinacy. And the piteous
whimpering of the little figure that cowered,
with hidden face upon the sand spit, gradually
died away. That white fleece of silken locks,
dried in the sun and blown by the warm breeze,
stood out once more in its radiance on the
lonely little slumbering head.

Ill

Tug Blackstock sat on a log, smoking and
musing, on the shore of that wide, eddying
pool, full of slow swirls and spent foam clus-
ters, in which the tumbling riot of Brine's Rip
came to a rest. From the mills behind him
screeched the untiring saws. Outstretched at



24 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

his feet lay Jim, indolently snapping at flies.
The men of the village were busy in the mills,
the women in their cottages, the children in
their schools; and the stretch of rough shore
gave Tug Blackstock the solitude which he
loved.

Down through the last race of the rapids
came a canoe paddle, and began revolving
slowly in the eddies. Blackstock pointed it
out to Jim, and sent him in after it. The dog
swam for it gaily, grabbed it by the top so
that it could trail at his side, and brought it
to his master's feet. It was a good paddle, of
clean bird's-eye maple and Melicite pattern,
and Tug Blackstock w r ondered who could have
been so careless as to lose it. Carelessness is
a vice regarded with small leniency in the
backwoods.

A few minutes later down the rapids came
wallowing a water-logged birch-canoe. The
other things which had started out with it, the
cushions and blankets and bundles, had got
themselves tangled in the rocks and left behind.

At sight of the wrecked canoe, Tug Black-
stock rose to his feet. He began to suspect
another of the tragedies of Dead Man's Run.
But what river-man would come to grief in
the Run at this stage of the water? Black-



WOOLLY BILLY 25

stock turned to an old dug-out which lay hauled
up on the shore, ran it down into the water and
paddled out to salvage the wrecked canoe. He
towed it to shore, emptied it, and scrutinized
it. He thought he knew every canoe on the
river, but this one was a stranger to him. It
had evidently been brought across the Portage
from the east coast. Then he found, burnt
into the inside of the gunwale near the bow,
the letters J. C. M. W.

"The Englishman," he muttered. "He's
let the canoe git away from him at the head
of the Run, likely, when he's gone ashore.
He'd never have tried to shoot the Run alone,
an' him v/ith no experience of rapids."

But he was uneasy. He decided that he
would get his own canoe and pole up through
the rapids, just to satisfy himself.

Tug Blackstock's canoe, a strong and swift
" Fredericton ' of polished canvas, built on
the lines of a racing birch, was kept under
cover in his wood shed at the end of the village
street. He shouldered it, carrying it over his
head with the mid bar across his shoulders,
and bore it down to the water's edge. Then
he went back and fetched his two canoe poles
and his paddles.

Waving Jim into the bow, he was just about



26 JIM : THE BACKWOODS POLICE DOG

to push off when his narrowed eyes caught
sight of something else rolling and threshing
helplessly down the rapid. Only too well he
saw what it was. His face pale with concern,
he thrust the canoe violently up into the tail
of the rapid, just in time to catch the blindly
sprawling shape before it could sink to the
depths of the pool. Tenderly he lifted it out
upon the shore. It was battered almost out
of recognition, but he knew it.

" Poor devil ! Poor devil ! ' he muttered
sorrowfully. " He was a man all right, but
he didn't understand rapids for shucks ! '

Then he noticed that in the dead man's right
hand was clutched a tiny child's jacket. He
understood he saw the whole scene, and he
swore compassionately under his breath, as he
unloosed the rigid ringers. Alive or dead, the
little one must be found at once.

He called Jim sharply, and showed him the
soaked red jacket. Jim sniffed at it, but the
wearer's scent was long ago soaked out of it.
He looked it over, and pawed it, wagging his
tail doubtfully. He could see it was a small
child's jacket, but what was he expected to
do with it?

After a few moments, Tug Blackstock
patted the jacket vigorously, and then waved
his arm up-stream.



WOOLLY BILLY 27

" Go, find him, Jim ! ' he ordered. Jim,
hanging upon each word and gesture, compre-
hended instantly. He was to find the owner
of the little jacket a child somewhere up
the river. With a series of eager yelps
which meant that he would do all that living
dog could do he started up the shore, on
the full run.

By this time the mill w r histles had blown,
the screaming of the saws had stopped, the
men, powdered with yellow sawdust, were
streaming out from the wide doors. They
flocked down to the water.

In hurried words Blackstock explained the


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