In the little Crimson Manual it’s written plain and clear
That who would wear the scarlet coat shall say good-bye to fear;
Shall be a guardian of the right, a sleuth-hound of the trail–
In the little Crimson Manual there’s no such word as “fail”–
Shall follow on though heavens fall, or hell’s top-turrets freeze,
Half round the world, if need there be, on bleeding hands and knees.
It’s duty, duty, first and last, the Crimson Manual saith;
The Scarlet Rider makes reply: “It’s duty–to the death.”
And so they sweep the solitudes, free men from all the earth;
And so they sentinel the woods, the wilds that know their worth;
And so they scour the startled plains and mock at hurt and pain,
And read their Crimson Manual, and find their duty plain.
Knights of the lists of unrenown, born of the frontier’s need,
Disdainful of the spoken word, exultant in the deed;
Unconscious heroes of the waste, proud players of the game,
Props of the power behind the throne, upholders of the name:
For thus the Great White Chief hath said, “In all my lands be peace”,
And to maintain his word he gave his West the Scarlet Police.
Livid-lipped was the valley, still as the grave of God;
Misty shadows of mountain thinned into mists of cloud;
Corpselike and stark was the land, with a quiet that crushed and awed,
And the stars of the weird sub-arctic glimmered over its shroud.
Deep in the trench of the valley two men stationed the Post,
Seymour and Clancy the reckless, fresh from the long patrol;
Seymour, the sergeant, and Clancy–Clancy who made his boast
He could cinch like a bronco the Northland,
and cling to the prongs of the Pole.
Two lone men on detachment, standing for law on the trail;
Undismayed in the vastness, wise with the wisdom of old–
Out of the night hailed a half-breed telling a pitiful tale,
“White man starving and crazy on the banks of the Nordenscold.”
Up sprang the red-haired Clancy, lean and eager of eye;
Loaded the long toboggan, strapped each dog at its post;
Whirled his lash at the leader; then, with a whoop and a cry,
Into the Great White Silence faded away like a ghost.
The clouds were a misty shadow, the hills were a shadowy mist;
Sunless, voiceless and pulseless, the day was a dream of woe;
Through the ice-rifts the river smoked and bubbled and hissed;
Behind was a trail fresh broken, in front the untrodden snow.
Ahead of the dogs ploughed Clancy, haloed by steaming breath;
Through peril of open water, through ache of insensate cold;
Up rivers wantonly winding in a land affianced to death,
Till he came to a cowering cabin on the banks of the Nordenscold.
Then Clancy loosed his revolver, and he strode through the open door;
And there was the man he sought for, crouching beside the fire;
The hair of his beard was singeing, the frost on his back was hoar,
And ever he crooned and chanted as if he never would tire:–
“I panned and I panned in the shiny sand,
and I sniped on the river bar;
But I know, I know, that it’s down below
that the golden treasures are;
So I’ll wait and wait till the floods abate,
and I’ll sink a shaft once more,
And I’d like to bet that I’ll go home yet
with a brass band playing before.”