Smoke Bellew
Jack London
“And I asked her to let me have you at table.
And here’s my chance.”
Smoke Bellew
Jack London
illustrated by
P. J. Monahan
Goretti Publications
Dozenal numerationis a system of thinking of numbers in twelves, rather
than tens. Twelve is much more versatile, having four evendivisors—2, 3,
4, and 6—as opposed to only two for ten. ^is means that such hatefulness
as “0.333 . . . for Ä and “0.1666 . . . for 1
are things of the past, replaced
by easy “0;4” (four twel hs) and “0;2” (two twel hs).
Indozenal, counting goes “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine,
ten, elv, dozen; dozen one, dozen two, dozen three, dozen four, dozen five,
dozen six, dozen seven, dozen eight, dozen nine, dozen ten, dozen elv, two
dozen, two dozen one . . . It’s written as such: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, X, E, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 1X, 1E, 20, 21 . . .
Dozenal counting is at once much more efficient and much easier than
decimal counting, and takes only a little bit of time to get used to. Further
information can be had from the dozenal societies (http://www.dozenal.
org), as well as in many other places on the Internet.
2015 (11EE) Donald P. Goodman III. Version 1.0. ^e text is taken from
Google Books (, and is in the public domain. ^e
cover image is licensed CC-BY-SA by Zeledi at English Wikipedia, at
^is document may be copied and distributed freely, as its text is in the public
Goretti Publications
Table of Contents
I The Taste of the Meat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
II The Meat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1E
III The Stampede to Squaw Creek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
IV Shorty Dreams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
V The Man on the Other Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
VI The Race for Number Three . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
VII The Little Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
VIII The Hanging of Cultus George . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . X1
IX The Mistake of Creation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E5
X A Flutter in Eggs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
XI The Town-site of Tra-Lee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
XII Wonder of Woman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
The Taste of the Meat
n the beginning he was Christopher Bellew. By the time he was at
college he had become Chris Bellew. Later, in the Bohemian crowd
of San Francisco, he was called Kit Bellew. And in the end he was
known by no other name than Smoke Bellew. And this history of
the evolution of his name is the history of his evolution. Nor would it have
happened had he not had a fond mother and an iron uncle, and had he not
received a letter from Gillet Bellamy.
“I have just seen a copy of The Billow,” Gillet wrote from Paris. “Of
course O’Hara will succeed with it. But he ’s missing some tricks.” Here
followed details in the improvement of the budding society weekly. “Go
down and see him. Let him think they ’re your own suggestions. Don’t
let him know they ’re from me. If you do, he ’ll make me Paris corre-
spondent, which I can’t afford, because I ’m getting real money for my
stuff from the big magazines. Above all, don’t forget to make him fire
that dub who ’s doing the musical and art criticism. Another thing. San
Francisco has always had a literature of her own. But she has n’t any now.
Tell him to kick around and get some gink to turn out a live serial, and to
put into it the real romance and glamour and color of San Francisco.”
And down to the office of The Billow went Kit Bellew faithfully to in-
struct. O’Hara listened. O’Hara debated. O’Hara agreed. O’Hara fired
the dub who wrote criticisms. Further, O’Hara had a way with him, the
very way that was feared by Gillet in distant Paris. When O’Hara wanted
anything, no friend could deny him. He was sweetly and compellingly
irresistible. Before Kit Bellew could escape from the office, he had be-
come an associate editor, had agreed to write weekly columns of criti-
cism till some decent pen was found, and had pledged himself to write
a weekly instalment of ten thousand words on the San Francisco serial—
and all this without pay. The Billow was n’t paying yet, O’Hara explained;
and just as convincingly had he exposited that there was only one man in
San Francisco capable of writing the serial and that man Kit Bellew.
“Oh, Lord, I ’m the gink!” Kit had groaned to himself a erward on
the narrow stairway.
And thereat had begun his servitude to O’Hara and the insatiable
6 The Taste of the Meat
columns of The Billow. Week a er week he held down an office chair,
stood off creditors, wrangled with printers, and turned out twenty-five
thousand words of all sorts. Nor did his labors lighten. The Billow was
ambitious. It went in for illustration. ^e processes were expensive. It
never had any money to pay Kit Bellew, and by the same token it was un-
able to pay for any additions to the office staff. Luckily for Kit, he had his
own income. Small it was, compared with some, yet it was large enough
to enable him to belong to several clubs and maintain a studio in the Latin
quarter. In point of fact, since his associate-editorship, his expenses had
decreased prodigiously. He had no time to spend money. He never saw
the studio any more, nor entertained the local Bohemians with his famous
chafing-dish suppers. Y The Billow, in perennial distress, absorbed his
cash as well as his brains. ^ere were the illustrators, who periodically
refused to illustrate; the printers, who periodically refused to print; and
the office-boy, who frequentlyrefused to officiate. At, such times O’Hara
looked at Kit, and Kit did the rest.
When the steamship Excelsior arrived from Alaska, bringing the
news of the Klondike strike that set the country mad, Kit made a purely
frivolous proposition.
“Look here, O’Hara,” he said. “^is gold rush is going to be big—the
days of ’49 over again. Suppose I cover it for The Billow ? I ’ll pay my
own expenses.”
O’Hara shook his head. “Can’t spare you from the office, Kit. ^en
there ’s that serial. Besides, I saw Jackson not an hour ago. He ’s starting
for the Klondike to-morrow, and he ’s agreed to send a weekly letter and
photos. I would n’t let him get away till he promised. And the beauty of
it is that it does n’t cost us anything.”
^e next Kit heard of the Klondike was when he dropped into the club
that a ernoon and in an alcove off the library encountered his uncle.
“Hello, avuncular relative,” Kit greeted, sliding into a leather chair
and spreading out his legs. “Won’t you join me?”
He ordered a cocktail, but the uncle contented himself with the thin
native clarethe invariably drank. He glanced with irritated disapproval
at the cocktail and on to his nephew’s face. Kit saw a lecture gathering.
“I ’ve only a minute,” he announced hastily. “I ’ve got to run and take
in that Keith exhibition at Ellery’s and do half a column on it.”
“What ’s the matter with you?” the other demanded. “You ’re pale.
You ’re a wreck.”
Kit’s only answer was a groan.
The Taste of the Meat 7
“I ’ll have the pleasure of burying you. I can see that.”
Kit shook his head sadly. “No destroying worm, thank you. Crema-
tion for mine.”
John Bellew came of the old hard and hardy stock that had crossed
the plains by ox-team in the fi ies, and in him was this same hardness
and the hardness of a childhood spent in the conquering of a new land.
“You ’re not living right, Christopher. I’m ashamed of you.”
“Primrose path, eh?” Kit chuckled.
^e older man shrugged his shoulders.
“Shake not your gory locks at me, avuncular. I wish it were the prim-
rose path. But that ’s all cut out. I have no time.”
“^en what in—?”
John Bellew laughed harshly and incredulously.
Again came the laughter.
“Men are the products of their environment,” Kit proclaimed, pointing
at the other’s glass. “Your mirth is thin and bitter as your drink.”
“Overwork!” was the sneer. “You never earned a cent in your life.”
“You bet I have, only I never got it. I ’m earning five hundred a week
right now, and doing four men’s work.”
“Pictures that won’t sell? Or—er—fancy work of some sort? Can you
“I used to.”
“Sit a horse?”
“I have essayed that adventure.”
John Bellew snorted his disgust. “I ’m glad your father did n’t live
to see you in all the glory of your gracelessness,” he said. “Your father
was a man, every inch of him. Do you get it? A man. I think he ’d have
whaled all this musical and artistic tom foolery out of you.”
“Alas! these degenerate days,” Kit sighed.
“I could understand it, and tolerate it,” the other went on savagely, “if
you succeeded at it. You ’ve never eamed a cent in your life, nor done a
tap of man’s work. What earthly good are you, anyway? You were well
put up; yet even at university you did n’t play football. You did n’t row.
You did n’t—”
“I boxed and fenced—some.”
“When did you box last?”
“Not since, but I was considered an excellent judge of time and dis-
8 The Taste of the Meat
tance, only I was—er—”
“Go on.”
“Considered desultory.”
“Lazy, you mean.”
“I always imagined it was an euphemism.”
“My father, sir, your grandfather, old Isaac Bellew, killed a man with
a blow of his fist when he was sixty-nine years old.”
“^e man?”
“No, you graceless scamp! But you ’ll never kill a mosquito at sixty-
“^e times have changed, O my avuncular! ^ey send men to prison
for homicide now.”
“Your father rode one hundred and eighty-five miles, without sleep-
ing, and killed three horses.”
“Had he lived’ to-day he ’d have snored over the same course in a
^e older man was on the verge of choking with wrath, but swallowed
it down and managed to articulate, “How old are you?”
“I have reason to believe—”
“I know. Twenty-seven. You finished college at twenty-two. You ’ve
dabbled and played and frilled for five years. Before God and man, of
what use are you? When I was your age I had one suit of underclothes.
I was riding with the cattle in Coluso. I was hard as rocks, and I could
sleep on a rock. I lived on jerked beef and bear-meat. I am a better man
physically right now than you are. You weigh about one hundred and
sixty-five. I can throw you right now, or thrash you with my fists.”
“It does n’t take a physical prodigy to mop up cocktails or pink tea,”
Kit murmured deprecatingly. “Don’t you see, my avuncular, the times
have changed. Besides, I was n’t brought up right. My dear fool of a
John Bellew started angrily.
“—as you once described her, was too good to me, kept me in cotton
wool and all the rest. Now, if when I was a youngster I had taken some of
those intensely masculine vacations you go in for— I wonder why you did
n’t invite me sometimes? You took Hal and Robbie all over the Sierras
and on that Mexico trip.”
“I guess you were too Lord-Fauntleroyish.”
“Your fault, avuncular, and my dear—er—mother’s. How was I to
know the hard? I was only a chee-ild. What was there le but etchings