Legacy of the Chief, Chapter 25: "Buckner to Goodlataw-1924"
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“I expected this letter to come sooner, Cap.
“Barrett won’t be happy, especially since other men had been
leaving as well, but it’s time to go, Cap.”
“What about Kay-yew-nee? They probably won’t allow him at
“I know they won’t. Dad already told me. I’ll have to leave
him with Rose.”
“Will she take him?”
“I don’t know. I can only ask.”
“We’ll have to let the boss know in the morning. Then we can
walk the nine or ten miles into McCarthy tomorrow.”
“Dad will never get any better. I’ve seen him so little in
these last few years. At least now I will be able to be there
The two ate a last late meal served by Harry.
“You two leaving tomorrow.”
“I never told anyone. How would you know?”
“Harry know. Fix something special for you.”
“What have you got cooking for us, Harry?”
“Salmon and rice with tea. Fix veal cutlet for others earlier.
This just for you.”
“I’ll miss you, Harry. You’ve taken good care of us.”
“No miss Harry. Just appreciate good cook. You work hard in
mine. Deserve good food. Bosses happy.”
“I haven’t told them yet. They won’t like it.”
“Barrett and Harrison will understand. Happy to get month work
out of you.”
“We’re out of here early, Cap. We’ll need to work our way down
the goat trail. The tram won’t be operating that early.”
“I figured as much. Steep drop, but it looks like the trail
goes all the way down. At least Kay-yew-nee can follow.”
“I want to be at the boss’s office by seven to sign out.”
“So, you two are quitting?”
“Jacob ! How did you know?”
“I could tell. Seen it dozens of times. The men get restless.
Next thing you know, they’re gone. Harry always knows. He
tries to fix them a special last meal.”
“We think so. Wouldn’t trade him for anything.”
“Let us tell Barrett ourselves, if he doesn’t already know.”
“He doesn’t. Leaving early? The tram doesn’t operate until
eight, you know.”
“We’re taking the goat trail down. Want to be there at his
office by seven.”
“Good luck. It’s tricky. Good working with you guys. You did
fine here.” Johnny could hear Cap sleeping in the
least he’s handling it well. Nothing seems to ever bother him.
Wish I could sleep like that. Hope we’re not walking into
something we can’t handle. Oh well. Been there
before. Just nothing quite this big. What could be larger
The two were up earlier than the rest of the crew. At about 5
a.m. they tortuously worked their way down the dangerously steep
bank. It was not really a goat trail, but a bear path. The dog
was happily following along, sniffing the air from time to time
checking for predators. It took nearly two hours, but the
pair showed up in time to find Barrett in the lower mess hall
having coffee. waiting for breakfast. He knew right away that
the Indians were leaving.
“I hope this is not because of something we did to you?” I can
see that you are on your way out of here. We’ve been happy with
your work. If anything, you’ve helped our production by shaming
some of the others into working harder.”
“You have a good camp here, Mr. Barrett. The other workers have
been fine, especially Jacob and Harry. No reflection on you or
the camp. The both of us have been happy with the work here.
It’s just time to move on. We have jobs at Kennecott.”
John Barrett raised his eyebrows.
That can’t be right. It’s
been an unstated policy from the beginning over there that there
won’t be any Indians hired. Something strange is going on.
“Well, you two are really going places. What an accomplishment
to land work up there.”
“We thought so. It helps to know one of the engineers.”
“You do? Which one?”
“No one important. He just seems to have the ear of the
“You can always come back here, if things don’t work out. I
don’t blame you for moving on to Kennecott. I have to admit
they pay better and I hear the food is excellent. I hope it
works out for you. I have a feeling it won’t be easy, but then
both of you have proved to be an unusual team, so who knows?”
“I feel badly about leaving like this.”
“I’m sorry to lose you two, but that’s nothing new around here.
Even Kennecott has a tough time holding onto help for very
long. That’s just how it is. No point in any of us getting
upset about it.
“Sit down and have some coffee while I go to the office and work
out your pay. You can have your breakfast here before you
“Josephine! We have two more for breakfast here.”
“Your wife’s still here?”
“Oh, she’s been in and out. Can’t seem to keep a good cook down
here. I need Harry in the upper camp. He keeps the crew well
“We know. He’s special.”
“How was the trip down the bear trail?”
“It doesn’t go where we thought. It wound around that creek.
Went way upstream before turning around. Took a long time.”
“So I’ve heard, Cap. East Fork trail winds a long way. No
“Not with Kay-yew-nee along.”
“Oh yes. The dog. I hear he’s kept the bears away from the
upper camp. They’re real pests up there. Down here, too. We
have to watch the horses carefully. Don’t want to lose any to a
bear. So far, so good. Well, I’ve got to get at the paperwork.
See you a little later. Don’t plan on walking out, by the way.
I’m taking you into McCarthy. Have to go in anyway. Might have
a new cook and some new crewmen coming in on the train.”
They were alone at the large dining table. Mrs. Barrett was in
the back preparing breakfasts for them. The others had already
“What do you think, Cap?”
“About Barrett? He really surprised me. This has been a good
camp. I have good memories from here. Good place.”
"Buckner to Goodlataw,"