Down the Yukonby Will Hobbs
The great race across Alaska!
As Dawson City goes up in flames, Jason Hawthorn itches to join the new rush for gold in Nome, 1,700 miles away. He and his brothers have been cheated out of their sawmill, so when a $20,000 prize is announced for the winner of a race to Nome, Jason enters. His partner in the canoe is Jamie Dunavant, the/h4>
The great race across Alaska!
As Dawson City goes up in flames, Jason Hawthorn itches to join the new rush for gold in Nome, 1,700 miles away. He and his brothers have been cheated out of their sawmill, so when a $20,000 prize is announced for the winner of a race to Nome, Jason enters. His partner in the canoe is Jamie Dunavant, the adventurous girl he loves. Will they make it to the finish line, despite the hazards of the Yukon River, two dangerous rivals, and the terrors of the open sea?
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.41(d)
- Age Range:
- 10 - 14 Years
Read an Excerpt
The trouble started over a mongrel dog, small, mostly black, short-haired and shivering. Without the fur to keep itself warm or the size to pull a sled, it had no business being in the North. How an animal so unsuited to living in the shadow of the Arctic Circle ever made it all the way to the Klondike is anyone's guess.
The gold rush had dumped a legion of abandoned dogs in Dawson City. They were a noisy, thieving bunch generally ignored by the population, including me. I no longer had the heart for dogs. During my struggle to catch up with my brothers in Dawson City, I'd lost a magnificent husky, as fine an animal as ever drew breath.
His name was King. The two of us had clawed our way over the Chilkoot Pass late in the fall of '97, only to lose our race with freeze-up on the Yukon. On New Year's Eve, that's when I lost King. More than a year later I missed him nearly as much as I missed Jamie Dunavant, the raven-haired Canadian girl I'd met along the trail.
Jamie was performing thousands of miles south, bringing the Klondike to the big cities. She was famous. Jamie had first become a sensation right in Dawson City, on the stage of the Palace Grand Theater. "The Princess of Dawson," that's what the miners called her.
Man, oh man, how I missed her.
Jamie's theater, as I thought of the Palace Grand, is where I found myself on a Saturday evening in March of '99. Strange to think that an hour later, a chance encounter with a dog would steer my brothers and me onto the road to disaster. Abraham, Ethan, and I were marveling at moving pictures, the first we'd ever seen. New inventions reached "the San Francisco of the North"surprisingly fast.
After the moving pictures, the owner of the Palace Grand entertained the audience with one of his shooting demonstrations. Arizona Charlie's target was a glass ball that his underdressed wife held between her thumb and forefinger. From clear across the stage, time after time, the old frontiersman never missed.
As the crowd spilled out into the sub-zero chill of Dawson's Front Street, the excited talk produced a cloud of vapor that fell as frost all around us. With buildings just on one side of Front Street and the other side being the riverbank, I could see the jagged ice ridges out on the frozen Yukon all lit by moonlight. Breakup, I was thinking, was only two months and a couple of weeks away.
While my brothers were trading guesses about the workings of the motion-picture projector, I was picturing those few freckles on Jamie's nose, her smile, her hair black as a raven's wing. For the thousand-and-first time I was pondering whether she really would return to the Golden City as she'd vowed.
Back in the fall, with Jamie gone only a few months, I was certain I'd see her walk down the gangplank of the first steamboat up from the Pacific. The endless winter darkness, however, had all but snuffed out my optimism. By March, despite the increasing daylight and the promise of breakup on the Yukon, I had little hope. Sometimes I doubted whether Jamie Dunavant even remembered me.
It wasn't often that Ethan or I had an excuse to visit dance-hall row. Abraham had laid down the law concerning drinking, gambling, and dollar dances. We were going to live by the code that our long-dead father had taught us, so help us God.
So far we had, though I could tell that Ethan, who had a fun-loving streak as long as Abraham's was short, was chafing at the harness. He resented Abe always playing the patriarch. At twenty-five, Abraham was oldest by only two years, while Ethan was nothing if not a full-grown man, burly and bearded and well over two hundred pounds. At sixteen I'd come into my full strength, but I hadn't yet succeeded in wrestling him to the ground.
As we passed by the entrance of the Monte Carlo, the fateful mongrel was padding down the boardwalk in our direction. I noticed the dog pausing here and there to look up at passersby with half-hopeful, half-wary eyes. Its face was split down the middle, half white and half black. Otherwise it was black except for white paws. The mutt's skinny excuse for a tail was bent at the halfway mark, broken maybe by a slamming door.
Its gaze met Ethan's. The white side of the dog's face had an eye that was uncannily blue; the eye on the black side was brown.
Ethan slowed to a shuffle. "That animal's all ribs. Look how he's shivering, Jason."
"Nobody's going to skin him for a fur coat," I remarked.
A knot of men who'd just emerged from one of the saloons was joking about the weather warming up, which it had, from fifty degrees below zero to around twenty below. One of them, a tall, lanky man in a fur coat, reached out his leg to give the creature a swift kick. Kindhearted Ethan was noticing and gave the fellow a nudge to knock him off his balance and spare the animal a crippling injury.
In an instant, the tall man spun around, discarded his gloves, and roared, "The glubs er off!" His slurred speech left a spear of frost in front of his ruddy face. The accent sounded not quite English, Irish, or Canadian. I wondered if he was a Scot. The crowd moving along the boardwalk-prospectors and hired men from the creeks, doctors, lawyers, gamblers, bankers, dance-hall girls, actresses, shopkeepers, and clerks-fell back in a loose circle, anticipating a fight.Down the Yukon. Copyright © by Will Hobbs. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Will Hobbs is the award-winning author of nineteen novels, including Far North, Crossing the Wire, and Take Me to the River.
Never Say Die began with the author's eleven-day raft trip in 2003 down the Firth River on the north slope of Canada's Yukon Territory. Ever since, Will has been closely following what scientists and Native hunters are reporting about climate change in the Arctic. When the first grolar bear turned up in the Canadian Arctic, he began to imagine one in a story set on the Firth River.
A graduate of Stanford University, Will lives with his wife, Jean, in Durango, Colorado.
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