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Cold Ghost   By:

Cold Ghost by Chester S. Geier

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Amazing Stories November 1948. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


by Chester S. Geier

All Hager had to do was slow the dogsled to a walk, and his partner died. A perfect crime no chance to get caught!

In the valley, with the sheltering hills now behind them, the bitterly cold wind drove at the sled with unchecked ferocity. Gusts of snow came with the wind, thick and dry, the separate particles of it stinging on contact.

[Illustration: Hager huddled before the fire, trembling with cold that filled him with terror.]

The dogs made slow progress through the deep drifts. Hager's smoldering irritation blazed into abrupt rage. From his position at the rear of the sled, he lashed out with the driver's whip that he held in one heavily mittened hand, shouting behind the wool scarf covering the lower half of his face. The dogs lunged in their traces, whining. A couple floundered in the powdery footing and were immediately snapped at by their companions behind them.

The snow was falling swiftly and with a sinister steadiness. It seemed to hang like a vast white curtain over the valley, obscuring the hills and the fanged outline of mountains beyond. The wind seized portions of the curtain and twisted it into fantastic shapes the shapes of demons, Hager thought suddenly. For the scene through which he moved was a kind of hell, a white and frozen hell, with the howl of the wind like the despairing shrieks of tormented souls.

Hager pictured himself as one of them. And Cahill, huddled in furs on the sled, another. He cursed behind the scarf as he thought of Cahill. This was Cahill's fault, their being out here in the storm. If it weren't for Cahill, he would be back at the cabin, snug and warm, logs blazing cheerfully in the fireplace.

It was a rotten time for Cahill to have taken sick, Hager fumed. But it had happened. And it had left him with nothing else to do but pack their catch of furs, harness up the sled, and start out with Cahill for the doctor in Moose Gulch.

He almost regretted having taken the furs. With Cahill an added burden on the sled, it was too large a load for the dogs to pull with the necessary speed and endurance. But he hadn't dared to leave the entire season's catch unguarded at the cabin. If some wanderer appeared in his and Cahill's absence, the furs would be an irresistible temptation.

Fearing, thus, to leave the furs behind, and now endangered by their weight, Hager found the situation maddening. And the storm was making matters worse. It was near the end of winter, but the climate had chosen this moment to be at its most unco operative.

Hager muttered blackly against the storm, wondering why he had allowed his trapper's dream of wealth to lure him to this far northern corner of Alaska. It was a cold, bleak and hostile country. Tiny settlements, like Moose Gulch were few and far between. Of course, furs were at their best and most plentiful here. He and Cahill had proved that, for their catch was a large one. Hager's thoughts soared briefly above his bitter mood as he thought of the money the furs would bring. And of the things that the money would bring back in civilization.

Added to what he had so far managed to save, his share would make almost enough to start a fox breeding ranch. Or a mink ranch. Almost enough but not quite. That meant he would have to spend another winter in this location, and Hager flinched at the thought. He hated loneliness and the bitter, subzero cold. Most of all he hated the cold. Only a fur breeding ranch, with large, warm living quarters, would have made it bearable.

Hager didn't know when the idea came to him. It must have been lying dormant for a long time in a far, dark corner of his mind, only now surging to the fore... Continue reading book >>

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