The God of His Fathers and Other Stories
Jan, The Unrepentant
"For there's never a law of God or man Runs north of Fifty-three."
Jan rolled over, clawing and kicking. He was fighting hand and foot now, and he fought
grimly, silently. Two of the three men who hung upon him, shouted directions to each
other, and strove to curb the short, hairy devil who would not curb. The third man
howled. His finger was between Jan's teeth.
"Quit yer tantrums, Jan, an' ease up!" panted Red Bill, getting a strangle-hold on Jan's
neck. "Why on earth can't yeh hang decent and peaceable?"
But Jan kept his grip on the third man's finger, and squirmed over the floor of the tent,
into the pots and pans.
"Youah no gentleman, suh," reproved Mr. Taylor, his body following his finger, and
endeavoring to accommodate itself to every jerk of Jan's head. "You hev killed Mistah
Gordon, as brave and honorable a gentleman as ever hit the trail aftah the dogs. Youah a
murderah, suh, and without honah."
"An' yer no comrade," broke in Red Bill. "If you was, you'd hang 'thout rampin' around
an' roarin'. Come on, Jan, there's a good fellow. Don't give us no more trouble. Jes' quit,
an' we'll hang yeh neat and handy, an' be done with it."
"Steady, all!" Lawson, the sailorman, bawled. "Jam his head into the bean pot and batten
"But my fingah, suh," Mr. Taylor protested.
"Leggo with y'r finger, then! Always in the way!"
"But I can't, Mistah Lawson. It's in the critter's gullet, and nigh chewed off as 't is."
"Stand by for stays!" As Lawson gave the warning, Jan half lifted himself, and the
struggling quartet floundered across the tent into a muddle of furs and blankets. In its
passage it cleared the body of a man, who lay motionless, bleeding from a bullet-wound
in the neck.
All this was because of the madness which had come upon Jan--the madness which
comes upon a man who has stripped off the raw skin of earth and grovelled long in
primal nakedness, and before whose eyes rises the fat vales of the homeland, and into
whose nostrils steals the whiff of bay, and grass, and flower, and new-turned soil.
Through five frigid years Jan had sown the seed. Stuart River, Forty Mile, Circle City,
Koyokuk, Kotzebue, had marked his bleak and strenuous agriculture, and now it was
Nome that bore the harvest,--not the Nome of golden beaches and ruby sands, but the