Fiona’s feet were getting drenched with icy water from the river. Grizzly
bears, some six feet high and some just cubs, stood in the middle of the
rushing water, waiting for the salmon to swim upstream and jump in their
mouths. “I’m glad we brought our coats. It’s cold.” She stepped backwards
into the rushes and reeds.
“We’re in Alaska,” Callum said. “I saw a photo of a bear with a fish in its
mouth and it was taken in Alaska.”
can’t be in Alaska. It’s not one of the places on the list,” Elspet said.
“What’s near Alaska?”
“The Yukon. We’re in Yukon. It’s next to Alaska. The same rivers run through
both places,” Callum said.
“That makes sense.” Fiona slapped her own face. “What’s with the mosquitoes?
There are millions of them. They’re worse than the midges back home.”
“Look at all the water. Mosquitoes like water.” Callum swatted at the
“There’s a group of people over there photographing the bears. You’ve got
your Uncle Angus’s camera.” Elspet reached for Fiona’s backpack and pulled
it out. “I’m going to take some photos of these wildflowers.”
“What about the bears? You can take pictures of flowers at home, but we’ll
never see grizzly bears again.” Callum pointed at the large beasts.
Elspet shot a few snaps of the bears and fish and then turned to photograph
the tiny purplish pink and white orchids. “See that flower over there? It
looks like a violet and has sticky stuff on the leaves to catch insects.
It’s called butterwort.”
“You mean there are plants that eat bugs?” Callum bent over to look at the
flower. “That’s weird.”
“I’ll take a photo of these bright red and purple legumes. I think they’re
called sweet vetch.” Elspet snapped away. She slipped the camera around her
“Enough flower pictures, Elspet. We’ve only got one film and we’ve not even
started our search for the emerald.” Fiona reached for the camera.
“Just one more, please? I want to take a picture of these arctic yellow
“One more then and that’s it. I’m going to sit down, if I can find a dry
spot where I won’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes,” Fiona said.
Callum went back to the riverbank to watch the bears.
After finding a patch of dry grass, Fiona sat down and closed her eyes. A
vision of a massive glacier, calving chunks of blue ice entered her mind.
She saw the emerald hidden deep within.
* * *
Drayton pulled a wool hat out of his coat pocket
and adjusted the neck so it covered him from the cool draft. “There are the
brats, just as I thought. Let’s give Fiona a taste of what’s to come.”
Knowing he now had power to talk to animals, he commanded one of the
grizzlies to attack her.
He watched the bear moving toward Fiona. “Get
her. Rip her eyes out with your claws,” he commanded.
* * *
Fiona stood and scratched her face. “I must have
a dozen bites on my cheeks alone. Why are the mosquitoes biting me and not
Callum and Elspet?” She walked down the stream and splashed water on her
face, hoping the iciness of the water would stop the itching.
As she knelt at the river she heard people
screaming. She looked up and saw one of the grizzlies running towards her
with a salmon hanging from its teeth. Dropping it, the bear stood on its
back legs. Growls and snarls roared from its mouth.
“Get out of there, Fiona.” Elspet shouted,
lifting the camera to her eye and started taking pictures of the bear.
Fiona, too frightened to move, watched in horror
as the 10-foot high bear moved towards her. A park ranger fired a
tranquilizer dart at the bear, scaring Fiona. She fell backwards at the
same time the bear fell forward into the river, sending a wave of water over
Elspet and Callum, along with a dozen other
people, ran to help.
* * *
When the ranger shot the dart and the bear
collapsed, Drayton was furious. Not wanting to seem the only one who didn’t
care, he moved closer with the group. She’s not hurt. Stupid brat. She’s
always getting away with things. Look at them making a fuss over her.
“Fiona! Are you all right?” Callum seemed frantic with worry. He looked
over at the snoring bear. “Why did that bear attack you?”
“She must have gotten too close and the bear
thought she was going to harm her babies,” a woman standing nearby said.
“Babies?” Elspet looked around. Two bear cubs
ran to their mother’s fallen body and pawed her fur. “Oh look! Bear cubs.”
She took more pictures with the camera.
“Back up, miss,” the ranger said to Elspet. “Are
you all right?” He pulled Fiona up by the arm. “These bears usually don’t
attack people. I don’t know what happened.”
Fiona instantly thought of Drayton. Her eyes
wandered around the group, searching for him. She saw a man with a hat on
and his neck covered and glared at him, but couldn’t see his face clearly
enough. “I’m all right.” After brushing the dirt and twigs off her clothes
the crowd dispersed. “I’m soaking wet though. Do you have a blanket?”
ranger ushered them onto the bus.
“We’re heading back into Whitehorse,” the ranger
said. “I didn’t see you three in the bus on the way up, but you’re welcome
to come back with us. You can sit up front near the heater.”
Fiona nodded. “That would be lovely. Thanks.”
Callum and Elspet agreed and the three of them
got into the bus and sat down at the front. The other passengers boarded.
Fiona watched each one. When Drayton boarded, he
kept his head down. Fiona watched him until he sat in his seat on the back
row and lay down. “Elspet, there’s something strange about that man on the
back row.” Both Elspet and Callum turned and looked back. “It’s Drayton. I
know it’s him.”
Drayton was one of the last to board. Knowing he had to walk past Fiona to
get to the back, he lowered his head and pulled up his collar. He avoided
making eye contact and headed for the back row. When a young couple tried to
sit next to him, he glared and refused to move. They took another seat.
Sprawling out, Drayton closed his eyes and endured the bus ride into
“He’s lying down. What’s strange about him?”
Elspet put the camera back in Fiona’s pack.
“That bear attack wasn’t just a coincidence. I
think that Drayton told the bear to attack me,” Fiona said.
“Drayton? He’s here?” Callum stood and looked
back. “What does he look like?”
“He’s got long black hair and wears an earring.”
“The man back there has black hair, but its
short and he’s not wearing any earrings,” Callum said.
“He probably cut his hair and took them out,”
Elspet said. “We’d better keep our eye on him.”
Fiona smiled when the park ranger sat next to
Callum. “Excuse me, Sir,” she said, looking into his mossy green eyes.
“My name’s Shane Jenkins, Miss.”
“Shane, are there any glaciers around this
area?” Fiona, warm under the blanket, looked out the bus window. She and
Elspet shared a seat and Callum and Shane sat across from them.
“Glaciers? You’re in glacier country, Miss.”
“You can call me Fiona.” She smiled. “This is
Elspet and that’s Callum.”
“Where are you from? Your accents sound
“We’re from Scotland.”
“Scotland! Very cool! Where are your parents?
Most adults don’t allow their children to go on bear expeditions by
themselves,” Shane said.
“They both got a touch of the tummy ache and
said we could come. They trust us.” Fiona said, nudged Elspet with her
“There are a lot of glaciers in the Yukon.
There’s a place, Kluane National Park. It’s actually called the Valley of
the Glaciers. Why do you ask?”
“Would you be interested in earning some extra
“I’m always interested in that, Fiona. What do
“Can you take the three of us to Kluane so we
can see some glaciers? Our parents won’t mind. They always let us go off by
ourselves.” Fiona lied.
“I can do that. I’ll have to rent a four-wheel
drive jeep and it’ll cost you,” Shane said.
“That’s not a problem. We’ve got plenty of money
to spend.” Fiona winked.
“We’ve been saving our allowances,” Callum said.
They sat quietly after that and rode the bus to
Whitehorse. Looking out the windows they saw caribou, elk, bison, mountain
goats and even a bald eagle. Elspet saw berries growing on the bushes along
the side of the road. “What are those?” She asked Shane with scrunched up
eyes. “They look like berries.”
“They are. Yukon is famous for its berries.
Those ones you see are gooseberries. Do you like them?”
“We’ve never tasted gooseberries, or at least I
haven’t,” Elspet said.
Fiona wasn’t listening. She turned in her seat
and stared at Drayton. I know it’s him. He thinks he’s being sneaky, but I
know it’s him. Stupid Drayton. He must think we’re so stupid not to