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Of course, if every reader of this story had also read its forerunner there would be no need of introducing its characters, for they would already be old friends. We would merely meet them at the place where they have been patiently awaiting us all this time, give them an encouraging nod of recognition, and tell them to go ahead with their adventures as fast as they pleased. That would be well enough for us who are acquainted with them; but to those who may chance to read this sequel without having first read the story that gives it a reason for being, the references to people, things, and incidents of the past that must necessarily be made from time to time would be confusing. Therefore it seems fitting that those characters of the previous story who are to figure with any prominence in this one should be properly introduced; and in order to avoid the discriminating partiality of the author, who would be apt to say too much concerning those whom he fancied, or too little about those whom he disliked, each one shall be given the privilege of introducing himself. To begin with, here is our old friend Phil Ryder.
“Yes, that is my name right enough, and I want to say first thing that I think it is high time some notice were taken of us, after the unsatisfactory conclusion of that other book, and the wretched state of uncertainty in which we were all left. It seemed to me the very worst ending to a story that I ever heard of.”
“But, Phil, it wasn’t the end. There was to be a sequel.”
“Well, you didn’t say so, and nobody knew, and I for one have been greatly mortified ever since, without a chance to say a word on the subject either. Now, as to myself, if any one cares to know who I am, and where I am, and how I got here, I am the son of Mr. John Ryder, of New London, Connecticut. He is a mining expert, and is at present engaged to investigate some properties near Sitka, Alaska, where I was to have joined him last May. It is now September, and I haven’t got there yet, though I have been travelling steadily ever since April, and trying my very best to reach Sitka. I’m sure it isn’t my fault that things have happened to take me most everywhere else, and finally to drop me away up here in northern Alaska, two thousand miles or so beyond Sitka. I’m on the right track now, though, for I am on a steamboat belonging to Mr. Hamer, bound up the Yukon River. It will take me to the head of navigation. Then all I shall have to do will be to cross the Divide to Chilkat, and take another steamer for Sitka, which place I expect to reach before the winter is over. Then my father’s anxiety will be relieved, for I suppose he is anxious, though I can’t see why he should be. He must know that I am perfectly well able to take care of myself, and will turn up all right some time. Both he and Aunt Ruth seem to think that I am careless and liable to get into scrapes, while really I never do anything important without the most careful consideration—that is, whenever there is time for considering.