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Wild Northern Scenes by S. H. Hammond

Part 3 out of 5

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principally at the two rapids around which our boats were carried. The
rest of the way it is a deep, sluggish stream, so that the descent
may be reckoned within less than three miles. A ledge of rocks forms
the lower boundary of the lake, through which the water, at some
remote period, broke its way, and it goes roaring down rapids for
three-quarters of a mile, then moves in a sluggish current across a
plain of several miles in extent; then plunges down a steep descent
for over a mile and a half to subside again into quiet, and move on
with a sluggish current to plunge down the ledges again into Tupper's
Lake. There are no perpendicular falls of more than twenty feet, but
the water goes plunging, and boiling, and foaming down shelving rocks,
and eddying, and whirling around immense boulders, rushing and roaring
through the gorges with a voice like thunder. These falls are all
useless here, and probably will be for centuries to come; but were
they out in the "living world," in the midst of civilization, with a
fertile and populous region about them, they would soon be harnessed
to great wheels, and made utilitarian; the clank of machinery would
soon be heard above the roar of their waters. They would do an
immensity of labor on their returnless journey to the ocean. But here,
they are utterly valueless, wasting their mighty power upon desolate
rocks, rushing in mad and impotent fury forever through a region of
barrenness and sterility, so far as the uses of civilization are
concerned, a region where the manufacturer or the agriculturist will
never tarry, until the world shall be so full of people that necessity
will drive them to the mountains, to build up the waste places of the
earth. Opposite, and across the bay from where our tents were
pitched, I noticed that a small stream entered the lake, and Smith and
myself crossed over to experiment among the trout I knew would be
gathered there. We were entirely successful, for we took one at almost
every throw. I have more than once stated, that the trout of these
lakes and rivers, in the warm season, congregate where the cold
streams enter; and if the sportsman will search out the little brooks,
no matter how small, and cast his fly across where their waters enter
the lake or river, he will be sure to find trout in any of the hot
summer months.

We returned to camp before the sun went behind the hills, with our
fish ready for the pan, and our boatmen provided us with a meal of
jerked venison, pork, and trout, which an epicure might envy, and to
which a hard day's journey and an appetite sharpened by the bracing
influence of the pure mountain air, gave a peculiar relish. It was a
pleasant thing to see the moon come up from among the trees that
formed a dark outline to the lake away off to the east, and travel up
into the sky; to see how faithfully it was given back from down in the
stirless waters, and how the stars twinkled and glowed around it in
the depths below, as they did in the depths above. There was the
moon, and there the stars, all bright and glorious in the heavens
above; and there another moon, and other stars, as bright and
glorious, down in the vault below; the lake floating, as it were, an
almost viewless mist, a shadowy and transparent veil between. As we
sat, in the greyness of twilight, in front of our tents, a curious
sound came over the lake from the opposite shore, so like civilization
that it startled us for a moment. Here we were, fifty miles from a
house, away in the forest beyond the sound of anything savoring of
human agency, and yet we heard distinctly what was for all the world
like the blows of an axe or hammer upon a stake, driving it into the
earth. It had the peculiar ring, which any one will recognise who has
driven a stake into ground covered with water, by blows given by the
side instead of the head of an axe. These blows were given at
intervals so regular, that we all suspended smoking, certain that
there were other sportsmen beside ourselves in the neighborhood of
this lake.

"Who in the world is that?" asked Smith, of Martin, who seemed to
enjoy our astonishment.

"That," replied Martin, "is a gentleman known in these parts as the
'Pile-driver.' He visits all these lakes in the summer season, and
though, as a general thing, he travels alone, yet he sometimes has
half a dozen friends with him. If you'll listen a moment, may be
you'll find that he has a friend in the neighborhood now who will
drive a pile in another place."

Sure enough, in a moment the same ringing blows came from a reedy spot
in a different part of the bay.

"The bird that makes that noise," said Martin, "is about the homeliest
creature in these woods. It is a small grey heron, that lights down
among the grass and weeds to hunt for small frogs and such little fish
as swim along the shore. When he drives his pile, he stands with his
neck and long bill pointed straight up, and pumping the air into his
throat, sends it oat with the strange sound you have heard. It is the
resemblance of the sound to that made by driving a stake into ground
covered with water, that gives him his name. He's an awkward, filthy
bird, but he helps to make up the noises one hears in these
wild regions."

"My first thought was," said Smith, "that we had got among the spirits
of the woods, and that they were 'rapping' their indignation at our
presence, there was something so human about it."

"By the way," remarked the Doctor, "and you remind me of the subject,
what a strange delusion is this Spiritualism, to the 'manifestations'
of which you refer, and how singular it is that men of strong natural
sense and cultivated minds, should be drawn into it. We all know such.
Their delusion, too, is stronger than mere speculative belief. It is a
faith which to them appears to amount to absolute knowledge. They have
no doubt or hesitancy on the subject. Their convictions are perfect;
such, that were they as strong in their faith as Christians, as they
are in the reality of Spiritualism, they would be able to move

"I have noticed this intensity of their faith," said Smith; "and while
I utterly reject the whole theory of Spiritualism, I could never join
in the ridicule of its earnest devotees. There is something that
commands my respect in this strong faith, when honestly entertained,
however stupendous the error may be to which it clings. There is
something, to my mind, too solemn for derision in the idea of
communing with the spirits of the departed, or that the time is
approaching when living men and the souls of the physically dead, are
to meet, as it were, face to face, and know each other as they are. It
is one which I can, and do reject, but cannot ridicule. The world,
however, regards it differently. And yet with all the contempt and
derision that has been poured upon this singular delusion, its
devotees have multiplied beyond all precedent in the history of the
world. They number, it is said, in this country alone, millions, and
have some forty or more newspapers in the exclusive advocacy of
their theory."

"The wise people of this world," said Spalding, "that is, those who
are wise in their day and generation, laugh at the believers in this
modern theory of Spiritualism. They pity them, too, as the unhappy
devotees of a faith which sober reason and all the experience of the
past prove to be as unsubstantial as the moonbeams that dance upon the
waters at midnight. Still these same devotees point to the
demonstrations of what they regard as living facts, phenomena palpable
to the senses, things that appeal to the eye, the ear, and the touch,
and say that these are higher proofs than all the dogmas of
philosophy, all the observation and experience of former times, all
the logic of the past. And here is the issue between Spiritualism and
the mass of mankind who deride and condemn it.

"Now, be it known to you, that I am no Spiritualist. I reject not all
the evidences of the phenomena upon which it is based, but I utterly
deny that such phenomena are the works of disembodied spirits. I
myself have seen what utterly confounded me, and while I reject all
idea of supernatural agencies, all interposition of departed spirits,
yet I have become thoroughly satisfied that there are more things in
heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy. These
phenomena of which the Spiritualists speak, I will not undertake to
pronounce all lies. Some of them are doubtless impostures--the work of
knaves, who speculate upon the credulity and superstitions which are
attributes of the human mind; but they are not all such. But while I
admit their reality, I insist that such as are so, are the results of
natural laws, which will one day be discovered, and which will turn
out to be as simple as the spirit which presides over the telegraph,
or that which constitutes the life of a steam engine. There may be,
and probably is, a great undiscovered principle which underlays these
spiritual manifestations, as they are called, and MIND is after it,
looking for it carefully; and what MIND has once started in pursuit of
earnestly, it seldom fails to overtake.

"I have sometimes amused myself by endeavoring to furnish a theory for
the Spiritualists to stand upon, based upon the demonstrations of the
past, the evidences brought to light by the researches of science,
which at all events should have about it truth enough to give color
and respectability even to an error as stupendous as that of
Spiritualism. This theory I have predicated upon the progress of the
material world, aside from animal life, showing that what may have
been impossible thousands of years ago, may be possible, or about
becoming possible now; that we are about entering upon a new era in
the advancement of all things towards perfectability, and that the
advent of that era may be marked by an established communication
between the living and the spirits of the departed.

"Science demonstrates that the material world presents in its history
an illustration of the great principle and theory of progress. It is
quite certain that our planet was once a very different thing from
what it is now; it differed in form, in substance, in compactness, in
everything from its present condition. We do not _know_ that it was
once wholly aeriform, mere gasses in combination, too crude to admit
of solidarity; but reasoning back from established facts, the
conclusion is almost irresistible, that this earth, now so rock-ribbed
and solid, so ponderous, so ragged with mountain ranges, and cloud
piercing peaks, was once but vapor, floating without form through
limitless space, drifting as mere nebulous matter among the older
creations of God. However this may be, it is regarded as quite
certain, that time was when ft was entirely void of solidity, void of
dry land, with no continent, island, or solid ground, with no living
thing within its circumference. It was thus passing through one of the
remote eras of its existence. It was then young, just emerging, as it
were, from nothingness, growing into form, assuming shape, and
gathering attributes of fitness for exterior vitality, preparing the
way for higher existences than mere inorganic matter. How long this
era existed, science has failed to demonstrate, but it passed away,
and solid land marked the next era of the earth's progress. It was
surrounded by an atmosphere absolutely fatal to animal life; an
atmosphere which, while it stimulated vegetable growth, no living
thing could breathe and continue to live. Hence it was, that
vegetation, gigantic almost beyond conception, covered its surface.
Fern, which is now a pigmy plant, nowhere higher than a few feet, grew
tall and overshadowing like great oaks, while oaks, it is fair to
presume, towered thousands of feet towards the sky. These stupendous
forests stood alone upon the surface of the earth; no animals wandered
through their fastnesses; no birds sported amidst their mighty
branches; noxious exhalations came steaming up from their tangled
recesses, and their gloomy shadows lay a mantle of darkness over
dreary and lifeless solitudes. The storms raged, and the winds howled;
the sun travelled its daily rounds, with its light dimmed and clouded
by the pestilential vapors it exhaled, and silence, so far as the
sounds of animal life were concerned, reigned supreme--the stillness
of the grave, the quiet of utter desolation, save the voice of the
wind or the storm, was unbroken all over the face of the earth.
Onward, and onward, rolled this mighty orb on its pathway through the
heavens, bearing with it no animal existences, freighted with no human
hopes--carrying with it nothing of human destiny. Man, with all his
lofty aspirations, his mighty schemes, his glory, and his pride, was a
thing of the future. He had not yet emerged from the eternity of the
past, to grapple with the present, or encounter the retributions of
the eternity which is to come. This was the era of gigantic vegetable
growth, and it had its uses; for it was preparing the way for higher
and more complicated existences. As the gases that surrounded the
earth became consolidated into vegetation, as this stupendous growth
decomposed the noxious atmosphere, drawing from it its grosser
particles and working them up into solid matter, extracting from it
what was fatal to animal life, this earth entered upon another era of
its progress.

"Animal life made its appearance. It was weak and feeble at first, but
a step removed from vegetable matter. The molusca, the polypi, and the
rudest forms of fishes, were, beyond question, the first of living
things. Science demonstrates that the water brought forth the first
creations endowed with animal vitality. How long this era continued no
man can tell. Then came the amphibise, gigantic animals of the lizard
kind; the sauruses, that could reach with their long necks and
ponderous jaws across a street and pick up a man, if street and man
there had been. Then came land animals, monstrous in growth, by the
side of which the elephant dwindles to the diminutive stature of the
dormouse. In all these advances, was a succession of steps, mounting
higher and higher, in complication of structure, each more perfect in
organism than its predecessor. Vegetation itself became more
complicated, and as it approached perfection lost its gigantic growth.
Solidarity, compactness in all things, became the order of nature; the
atmosphere surrounding the earth, became more and more fitted for
the higher and more complicated animal organizations. At last when
time was ripe for his advent, when the earth was fitted for his
residence, and the air for his breathing, MAN, the last and most
perfect in his structure, the most delicate and finished in his
organization of all living things, made his appearance. He stepped
from the hand of God, the only thinking, reflecting, the only
intellectual, responsible being, in all the world. He stood at the
head of created matter, with all things on the earth subject to his
will, and corresponding to his, condition, his attributes, his
necessities, and his instincts.

"Thus this great earth itself, has been but one continued illustration
of the great theory and principle of progress. From a beginning, lost
in the thick darkness of a past eternity, it has been marching forward
in a career as pause-less as the sun in his journeyings through the
sky, as clearly demonstrable as the growth of the germ that starts
from the buried acorn, and moves on to its full development in the
great oak. Science records with unerring certainty the progress of the
earth, and of animal life, from the lowest existences in the mollusca
and polypi, up to the superlatively complicated, and delicate
structure of man, tracing it step by step, until it is finished in the
noblest work of God, a human body coupled with an immortal soul!

"And here arises a question which science has not solved, and to which
the philosophy, the wisdom, the logic of the past can give no answer.
The earth, and the things of the earth, have been moving forward,
marching on towards perfectability always. Is this forward movement
finished? We have, in looking at the subject in the light of science,
a time when there was not on the earth, in the air, or in the water,
any living thing. We have an era when animal life was but a span
removed from vegetable vitality; we have an era of gigantic vegetable
growth; an era of gigantic but rude animal growth, and so on step by
step down to the advent of man. The previous combinations of animal
life and vegetable life passed away with the era in which they
flourished; one class succeeding another, each emerging from, and
stepping over the annihilation of its predecessor, till we come down
to the present--is there no future progress for this earth as a
planet? Is there to be no other era, where man himself, like the
sauruses, like the mastodon, shall have passed away, to be succeeded
by some nobler animal structure, some loftier intelligence, some more
cunning invention of the infinite mind?

"Man, great in intellect, powerful in mind, gifted with reason, and
having within him a spirit that is immortal, proud, glorious, aspiring
as he is, falls very far short of perfection in every attribute of his
nature. To say, therefore, that the prescience, the creative power of
the Almighty, reached the limit of its achievements in the creation of
man, is to impeach the omnipotence of God himself. Will any man insist
that the ingenuity of the Almighty is exhausted? May it not be, then
that the time will come when some sentient beings, as far superior to
man, as man is to the animals of the era of the lizards and the
amphibia, shall, like the geologists of the present day, be delving
among the rocks and rubbish of vanished ages, for evidences of the
existences of our own proud species at, to them, some remote period of
the world's progress?

"If these questions cannot be answered by the learned and the wise, if
science makes no response, and philosophy furnishes no solution of
them, who dare say that the world is not, even now, entering upon a
new era of progress, taking another step in the forward movement? May
it not be, that the time is coming when the barrier between the
living, and the disembodied spirit is to be broken down? When that
viewless essence, that mystery of mysteries, the spirit of life, the
immortal soul, shall be permitted to come back from the unknown
country, to impart to the people of this world, the wisdom, the
mysteries, and the glory of the next? May not this be the new era that
is about opening in the progress of all things? It may be asked, is it
not possible that a new principle is about being evolved, that will
admit of communication between the living and the physically dead? May
it not be that the world and its surroundings, have become so changed,
that what was impossible thousands, or even hundreds, of years ago,
may have become, or be about to become possible now? That the same
process which carried this earth forward from the beginning, that so
changed the atmosphere of old, rendered it fit to sustain animal life
in its rudest structure, that so changed it again, as to make it
capable of sustaining a higher order of animal organism, that kept on
changing, and improving the whole face of the earth, that so arranged
organic matter, as to make this world, at last, a fit residence for
man, may be going on still; approaching all things nearer, and nearer
to perfection, until we have arrived upon the threshold of an era,
when living men may commune with the spirits of the physically dead?
An era as yet but in its dawn, when the stupendous future can be seen
only as through a glass darkly?

"Remember, I do not assert my faith in a theory which is indicated by
an affirmative answer to these inquiries, for I have none. I give the
record of the earth's progress in the past, as it is written upon the
rocks, standing out upon precipices, brought to light by the
researches, and translated by the energy of science from forgotten and
buried ages. The deductions to be drawn from it, I leave to those who
have a taste for the speculative, neither believing in, nor
quarrelling with the theory which they may predicate upon it."



We spent the next day in coasting Round Pond, looking into its
secluded bays, and resting, when the sun was hot, beneath the shadows
of the brave old trees that line the banks. In floating along the
shore of this beautiful sheet of water, one can hardly help imagining
that in the broken rocks and rough stones piled up along the margin of
the lake, he sees the rains of an ancient wall, the mortar of which
has become disintegrated by time, and the masonry fallen down. He will
see at intervals what, from a little distance, seems like a solid wall
of stone, laid with care, and upon which the lapse of centuries has
wrought no change, so regular are the strata of which it is composed,
while an occasional boulder, large as a house, and covered with moss,
reminds him of the ruined tower of some stronghold. He will see, as he
rounds some rocky point, half a dozen of these gigantic boulders piled
together, leaning against each other with great cavernous openings
between, through which he can walk erect, and he involuntarily looks
around him for the armor of the ancient giants who piled up these
stupendous rocks and walled in the lake with these massive boulders.

As we swept around a point near the south shore of the lake, we saw a
deer at a quarter of a mile from us, feeding upon the lily pads that
grew along the shore. Spalding and myself were in advance of our
little fleet, and our boatman paddled us carefully and silently
towards the animal, using the paddle only when its head was down. He
would feed for a minute or two and then look carefully all around him.
Of us he took no particular notice, although we were within a hundred
and fifty yards of him; and even when we were within sixty yards he
seemed to regard us only as a log floating upon the water, or
something else which might be regarded as perfectly harmless. Spalding
was in the bow of the boat, and when within some eight rods of the
game, we lay perfectly quiet for a moment, when his rifle spoke out
and its voice rung and re-echoed among the surrounding hills as if a
whole platoon of musketry were blazing all around us. The deer made
three or four desperate leaps in a zigzag direction, and then went
down. When we got to him, he was dead. He was a fine two year old
buck, with spike horns, and in excellent condition. We took his saddle
and skin and passed on.

From Bound Pond we rowed up the inlet, a broad and sluggish stream,
full of grass and lily pads, to Little Tapper's Lake. We saw several
deer feeding along the shore that, discovering us as we rowed
carelessly along, went whistling and snorting away into the forest. As
we approached the lake, dark clouds gathered in the West; great ugly
looking thunderheads came rolling up from behind the hills higher and
higher; perfect stillness was all around us; the leaves were moveless
on the trees, and the voices of the birds were hushed.

"Squire," said Martin to me "I'm thinkin' we'd better go ashore and
put up our tents; there's a mighty big storm over the hill, and he'll
be down this way before many minutes."

And we rowed to a high point at a small distance, covered with spruce
and fir trees, and put up our tents on the lee side of it, so as to be
sheltered from the wind as well as the rain. This was the work of only
ten minutes; but before we had finished, the deep voice of the thunder
came rolling over the forest, and we could see the storm rising over
the hills, in a long black line, all across the Western sky. The
lightning darted down towards the earth, or across from cloud to
cloud, and the thunder boomed and rolled along the heavens, its deep
rumble shaking the ground like an earthquake. Presently, the hills
were hidden from our view, we heard the rush of the storm in the
forest on the other side of the river, then the splash of the big
drops on the water, and then the wind and the rain were upon us. For a
few minutes, I thought our tents would have been lifted bodily from
the ground, but the skill of our pioneer had provided against the
blast, and they remained standing safely over us. In a short time the
wind passed on, leaving the heavy rain to pour down in torrents, and
the deep voiced thunder to come crashing down to the earth, or go
rolling solemnly and heavily along the sky. It rained for an hour as
it can do only among these mountain regions. The clouds and the rain
at length swept on, and the bow of promise spanned the rear of the
retiring storm; a new joy seemed to take possession of the wild
things, and gladness and merriment sounded from every direction in the
old woods; a thin and shadowy mist hung like a veil over the water,
and a refreshing coolness, as well as brightness and glory, were all
around us. These storms of a hot summer day in this high region, if
one is prepared for them, are full of pleasant interest; they rise so
majestically, sweep along with such power, and pass away so
triumphantly, leaving behind them such a calm sweetness in the air,
that a journey to this wilderness would be imperfect in interest
without witnessing them.

We entered Little Tripper's Lake towards evening, at the north end,
and looking down south, one of the most beautiful views imaginable
opened upon our vision. Surrounded by low and undulating hills, dotted
with islands, with long points running far out into the lake, and
pleasant little bays hiding around behind wooded promontories, it
presented a wild yet pleasing landscape, on which a painter's eye
could not rest but with delight, and which, transferred to canvas,
would make a picture of which any artist might be proud.

By the way, I wonder that our artists do not summer among these
mountains and lakes, sketching and painting the transcendently
beautiful views they everywhere present. There is nothing like them on
all this continent. We talk about the scenery of Lake George. It is
all tame and spiritless compared with what may be seen here; it
possesses not a tithe of the variety, the bold and grand, the placid
and beautiful, all mingled, and changing always, as you pass from
point to point along these lakes. Why do not the artists whose
business it is to make the "canvas speak," drift out this way, and
deal with nature in all her ancient loveliness, clothed in her
primeval robes, and smiling in her freshness and beauty, as when
thrown from the hand of Deity? It would repay them for their labor,
and yield them a rich harvest of gain.

We had heard of the shanty in which we were to encamp, and we rowed
straight through the whole length of the lake towards it. We reached
it as the sun was going down, and stowed away our luggage before the
darkness had gathered over the forest. We took possession by the right
of squatter sovereignty, the owner being unknown, or at all events,
absent from the woods. This lake is one of the few in all this region
that I had never visited before, and is next in beauty to its
namesake, two days' journey nearer to civilization. It is about twelve
miles in length, and from one to two miles in width, with many
beautiful bays stealing around behind bold rocky promontories, and
sleeping in quiet beauty under the shadows of the tall forest trees
that tower above their shores. It is dotted, too, with beautiful
islands, some rising with a gentle slope from the water, covered with
scattering Norway pines, and a dense undergrowth of low bushes; others
are covered with tall spruce, fir, and hemlocks, standing up in
stately and solemn grandeur, their arms lovingly intertwined, through
the everlasting verdure of which the sun never shines; and others
still are gigantic rocks, rising up out of the deep water, all
treeless and shrubless, remaining always in brown and barren
desolation, on which the eagle and osprey devour their prey, and the
flocks of gulls that frequent the lake 'light to rest from their
almost ceaseless flight. Civilization has not as yet marred in
anything this beautiful sheet of water; even the lumberman has not
forced his way to the majestic old pines that tower in stately
grandeur above the forest trees of a lesser growth; not a foot of laud
has been cleared within thirty miles of it. The old woods stand around
it just as God placed them, in all their pristine solemnity, stately
and motionless; the wild things that roamed among them in the day of
old, are there still, and the same species of birds that sported in
their branches thousands of years ago, are there still. We heard the
howl of the wolf at night; we heard the scream of the panther; we saw
the tracks of the moose, and where he had fed on the pastures along
the shore; we saw the footprints of a huge bear in the sand on the
beach, and the deer-paths were like those that lead to a sheep-fold.
It was a pleasant thing to row along the shore, into the bays, around
the islands, and into the creeks that came in from other little lakes
deeper in the wilderness. The banks are mostly bold and bluff, the
rocks standing up four or eight feet from the water, or broken and
fallen like an ancient wall. Here and there is a long stretch of
beautiful sandy beach, on which the tiny waves break with a rippling
song, and from which bars go out with a gentle slope into the water.

We intended to remain here quietly for a few days, taking things easy,
rowing, and fishing, and hunting enough for exercise only. There is
plenty of deer, and trout, and duck, and partridge here, to be taken
with small labor; there are bears, and wolves, and panthers, in the
woods around. But these are fewer and harder to be come at than the
other game; there is an occasional moose too. We saw the tracks of all
these animals hereabouts, and we hoped to get a shot at some or all of
them before leaving the woods.

Reader, did you ever hear the wolves howl in the old woods of a Still
night! No? Then you have not heard _all_ the music of the forest. Some
deep-mouthed old forester will open his jaws, and send forth a volume
of sound so deep, so loud, so changeful, so undulating and variable in
its character, that, as it rolls along the forest, and comes back in
quavering echoes from the mountains, you will almost swear that his
single voice is an agglomerate of a thousand, all mixed, and mingled,
and rolled up into one. May be, away in the distance, possibly on the
other side of the lake, or across a broad valley, another will open
his mouth and answer, with a howl as deep, and wild, and variable, as
the first; and possibly a third and fourth, one on the right, and
another on the left, will join in the chorus, until the whole forest
seems to be fall of howling and noise; and yet not one of these
animals may be within a mile of you. To a timid man, there is something
terrific in the howl of the wolves; but in truth, they are harmless as
the deer, quite as wild and shy, and full as cowardly in the presence
of a man. They will fly as frightened from his approach, unless,
possibly, in the intense cold and desolation of winter, when driven
together and rendered desperate by hunger, they might be emboldened by
starvation to attack a man, but even this is among the apocryphal
legends of the wilderness.

"Hearing them wolves howlin'," said Hank Martin, as we sat in the
evening around our camp fire, "reminds me of a story Mark Shuff tells
of his experience with the critters; but mind, I don't pretend to
swear to its truth, for I don't claim to know anything about the facts
myself. I'll tell it as Mark told it to me, and if it turns out to be
too tough a yarn to take down whole, don't lay it to me. You know Mark
Shuff," said he, appealing to me, "and you may believe such parts of
it as you may be able to swallow, and the rest may be divided up, as
the Doctor said the other day, among the company."

"Go ahead," said the Doctor, "I'll take a quarter as my share of the
story, and you may cut it off of either end, or carve it out of the
middle. I'll take a quarter, tough or tender."

"You may set down a quarter to my account," said Smith, "and Spalding
shall take another." "Very well, then," said Martin, "I'll believe a
quarter of it myself, and so the case is made up, as the judge
would say."

"Well," repeated Martin, "you know MARE Shuff?" "Of course I know Mark
Shuff; and who, that has visited these lakes and woods don't know him?
He is a stalwart man, six feet in his stockings, strong, healthy, and
enduring as iron, I have had him as a boatman and guide about Tupper's
Lake, and the regions beyond it, more than once. He works at lumbering
in the winter, and if there is one among the hundreds, I had almost
said thousands, who make war, in the snowy season of the year, upon
the old pines of the Rackett woods, who can swing an axe more
effectually than Mark Shuff, his light is under a bushel--his fame
obscured. Mark works hard for four or five months, and lays around
loose the balance of the year. In the summer, he holds a cost as a
thing of ornament rather than use, and boots or shoes as luxuries, not
to be reckoned as among the necessaries of life. His hat, as a general
thing, is of straw, and minus a little more than half the brim. He
would be out of place, and out of uniform, as well as out of temper
with himself, if he was for any considerable length of time without
the stub of a marvelously black pipe in his mouth, filled with plug
tobacco, shaved and rubbed in his hand into a proper condition for
smoking. Mark, though by no means an intemperate man, is fond of a
drop now and then, and when he has just a thimbleful too much, the way
he will swear is emphatically a sin. And yet he is anything but
quarrelsome or contrary, even when a shade over the line of strict
sobriety. He is a great, strong, square-shouldered, big-breasted,
good-natured specimen of the genus homo, a giant in physical strength,
and were I a wolf, I would prefer letting him alone to any man in
these parts. When he gets just the least grain "shiny" (and he never
gets beyond that), and his oar goes a little wrong, or a twig brushes
him ungently, or his seat gets a little hard, he will express his
sense of its improper deportment by incontinently damning its eyes,
and so forth, as if it were a sentient thing, and understood all his
profane denunciations; but with all this, Mark never forgets to be
respectful, and, in his way, courteous to his employers. He has,
moreover, a sharp, clear eye in his head, and can see a deer, or any
other game, as quick, and shoot it as far as the best, and has as good
a knowledge of where they are to be found, as any man in these woods."

"Well," continued Martin, as he lighted his pipe by dipping it into
the embers and scooping up a small coal; "Well, Mark Shuff and a
friend of his by the name of Westcott, had a shanty one winter over on
Tupper's Lake; they were trappin' martin, and mink, and muskrat, and
wolves, when they could get one. They shantied on the outlet, just at
the foot of the lake, below the high rocky bluff round which the
little bay there sweeps. There wasn't any house then nearer than
Harriets Town, down by the Lower Saranac; but there was a company of
lumbermen having a shanty up towards the head of the lake, near where
the Bog River enters. Mark, one cold winter's morning, started on an
errand to the lumber shanty I speak of, calculatin' to return the same
evening. The lake was frozen over, and he took to the ice, as being
the nearest and best travelin'. The winter had set in airly, and the
snow had lain deep for months, and the game of the woods had got
pretty well starved out. Mark did'nt take his rifle with him, thinkin'
of course that he would see no game on the ice worth shootin', and a
gun would only be an incumbrance to him. Well, he did his errand at
the shanties, and started for home. I don't know whether he took a
drop or not, but they generally keep a barrel of old rye in the lumber
shanties, and my opinion is that Mark was invited to take a horn, in
which case, I'm bold to say, the horn was taken.

"However that may be, Mark started for home along in the afternoon,
and took to the ice, as he did when he went up in the morning.
Everything went right until he got within may be a mile of home, when
he heard, from a point of land, a little to the left of him, a sharp,
fierce bark, and turning that way, he saw a great shaggy,
fierce-looking wolf trot out from behind a boulder and squat himself
down on his haunches, and eye him as if calculating the probabilities
of his making a good supper. While Mark was looking at him, feelin' a
little oneasy, he heard another sharp bark, and from a point just
ahead of him another great wolf trotted out on to the ice, and sat
himself down, eyeing him with suspicious intensity. In a moment,
another came out right opposite to him, and then another, and another,
until Mark swears to this day that there were more than a dozen of
these fierce and hungry savages squatted on their haunches within
fifty yards of him.

"Mark, as I said, had no rifle, his only weapons being a hunting knife
and a heavy walking stick, which he carried in his hand. To say that
he was not frightened, would be stating what I don't believe to be
true, and I've heard him tell how his huntin' cap seemed to be lifted
right up on his head, as if every hair pointed straight towards the
sky. He looked at the wolves a moment, and then walked on; but the
animals trotted along with him, still, however, keepin' at a
respectful distance. Those in advance seemed inclined to cross his
path, as if to turn him towards the centre of the lake, while those
behind went further and further from the shore, as if to surround him;
and thus they travelled for near half a mile, Mark making for the open
water, which in the coldest weather is always to be found near the
outlet of the lake, determined, if they came to close quarters, to
take to that and swim for it. He had heard and knew that almost every
animal is afraid of the voice of a man; so he shouted at the top of
his voice, and as he said, ripped out some select and choice oaths,
which for a moment alarmed the wolves, and they fell back a few rods,
still, however, keepin' in a kind of half circle around him. But it
was'nt long before they began to gather in on him again, and though
his shoutin' and swearin' kept them at a good distance, yet they
seemed to be gettin' used to it, and it didn't alarm them as it did at
first. Mark had now got within reach of the water, and he felt
comparatively safe. He was not more than a quarter of a mile from
home, and cold as it was, he felt sure that he could swim
that distance.

"Before being compelled to take to the water, it occurred to him to
halloo for Westcott, which he did with all his might. The wolves
did'nt appear to care much about his hallooing, but kept trottin'
along between him and the shore, and before and behind him, drawin'
the circle closer and closer every ten rods; and Mark expected every
moment when they'd make a rush on him, in which case he'd made up his
mind to make a dive into the water, along which he was now travelin'.
Presently he saw Westcott, with his double-barrelled rifle, stealin'
along the shore, hid from the kritters by a high rocky point, within
some twenty rods of him. He felt all right then, for he knew that when
Westcott pinted that rifle at anything, something had to come. It was
a dangerous piece, that rifle was, 'specially when loaded and Westcott
was at one end of it.

"Mark was not more than fifteen rods from the shore, but that ground
was occupied by the wolves; on the right was the water, into which he
might at any moment be compelled to plunge; while both before and
behind him his advance and retreat was alike cut off. He had noticed
that whenever he stopped, the wolves stopped, as if the time for the
rush had not yet come, and it puzzled him to understand why they
delayed the onset. Seeing Westcott with his rifle, Mark determined to
treat his assailants to a choice lot of profane epithets, and the way
he opened on the cowardly rascals, he said, astonished even
himself. But while he was thus swearing at his enemies, he
discovered, as he thought, the reason why they had not attacked
him sooner. A troop of a dozen or more wolves broke cover
some distance up the lake, and came runnin' down towards where
he stood, for whose presence, no doubt, those around him were
waiting. Just then he saw WESTCOTT'S huntin' cap above the rocks on
the point, and saw his double-barrel poked out in the direction of the
leader of the pack, and he knew that that old grey-back's time had
come. Mark let off a fresh volley of profanity, and as the wolves
seemed preparing for a rush, WESTCOTT'S rifle broke the frozen
stillness of the woods, and old grey-back turned a summerset and went
down. The astonished wolves clustered together for a moment in
confusion, and the other barrel spoke out. Another of the pack bounded
into the air, and as he came down kicked and thrashed about in a most
oncommon way, and then laid still--while the way the rest put out for
the point, some distance up the lake, was a thing to be astonished at.
Mark threw up his hat, and hollered, and shouted, and swore, till the
last wolf disappeared into the forest, and then shoulderin' one of the
dead kritters, and WESTCOTT the other, started on home. The hides, and
the bounty on the scalps, made a good day's work of it; but Mark
swears to this day, that if the last dozen of wolves had been a little
earlier, or Westcott a little later, he'd a-been driven like a buck to
the water, cold as it was; and if they'd been a little earlier still,
he'd have been a goner. He never goes far from home since, without a
rifle; although with that he has no fear of wolves, yet he concludes
that a hunting-knife and a stick are no match for a whole pack of the
kritters, when made savage by the starvation of winter."

[Illustration: Westcott's rifle broke the frozen stillness of the
woods, and old greyback turned a summerset and went down. The
astonished wolves clustered together for a moment in confusion, and
the other barrel spoke out.]

While we were listening to the story of Mark Shuff and the wolves, the
old fellow over the water made the forest ring again with his howling.
He was answered from miles away down the lake by another. Their voices
kept the forest echoes busy, until we laid ourselves away in our
blankets, where we slept till wakened by the glad voices of the birds
in the early morning.



We started the next morning on an exploring voyage round the lake, to
look into the bays and inlets, try the fish and deer, and see what we
could see generally. We struck across to an island opposite our
landing-place, containing five or six acres, covered with a dense
growth of spruce, hemlock, and fir, with an occasional pine standing
with its tall head proudly above the other forest trees, while along
the ground the low whortleberry bushes, loaded with fruit, now just
ripening, grew. This island is near the south shore, and separated
from it by a narrow channel some twenty rods in width. We landed, and
were regaling ourselves upon the berries, leaving our boats and guns
on the lake side of the island. We had wandered near the centre of the
island, when three deer started up within two rods of us, and rushed
whistling and snorting in huge astonishment across the island in the
direction of the mainland, and dashing wildly into the water, swam to
the shore and disappeared into the forest. We, in truth, were little
less astonished than they, for we certainly expected no such game to
be hiding there, and when they leaped up so suddenly and plunged away,
crashing and snorting through the brush, it startled us somewhat; but
our boats and guns were on the other side of the island, and we could
only look on as they swam boldly to the shore without the power to
harm them.

At the east end of the lake a large stream, deep, sluggish, and
tortuous enters, which we voted came from a lake or pond, back at the
base of the hills, seen some three or four miles distant in that
direction, and while the other boats passed in another direction,
Spalding and myself started upstream to explore it. As we advanced,
the alders and willows encroached more and more upon the channel,
until it became too narrow for rowing. Our boatman took his paddle,
and seated in the stern of our little craft, propelled it up stream
for an hour or more. The alders gradually contracted, the channel
becoming narrower until we were passing under a low archway of
branches, covered with dense foliage, through which the sunlight could
not penetrate. The arch grew lower and lower, and the channel
narrower, until we at last absolutely stuck fast among the branches of
the alders which, here grew almost horizontally over the stream. We
could not turn round, and to go further was absolutely impossible;
there was but one mode of extrication, and that was to back straight
out the way we had entered. Our boatman changed his position to the
bow of the boat, and after much labor and exertion, we started down
stream. After two hours of hard work, pushing with the oars and
pulling by the branches, we emerged into daylight, came out into the
open stream, not a little fatigued by our efforts to find the
imaginary pond at the base of the mountains.

This stream, with the broad alder marsh that stretches away on either
side, was doubtless once a beaver dam; and we thought we could
discover where these singular and sagacious animals had erected the
structure that made for them an artificial lake. Our theory on this
subject may have been true or false, but this much is a fact, that in
all this region of lakes and rivers, I have seen no alder or other
marsh of any considerable extent, save this. In the times of old, when
the Indian and his brother the beaver, lived quietly together, before
the greed of the white man had built up a war of extermination between
them, this must have been a glorious country for the beaver. The lakes
are so numerous and the ponds and rivers so fitted for them, that they
must have had a good time of it here for centuries. The Indians never
disturbed them, never made war upon them; their flesh was not needed
or fitted for food, and the value of their fur was unknown. Tradition,
speaking from the dim and shadowy past, tells us of the vast numbers
of these sagacious and harmless animals which congregated in these
regions, living in undisturbed quiet and happiness all the year,
building their dams, their canals, and cities on all the ponds,
rivers, and lakes hereabouts. But they are all gone now. I inquired if
any had been seen of late years, and could hear of but a single
family, which some ten years ago were said to dwell somewhere in the
vicinity of Mud Lake, the highest and wildest of all these mountain
lakes. The last of these was taken four or five years ago, since which
no sign of the beaver has been discovered. They are doubtless all
gone, and as this was their last abiding-place, they may be regarded
as extinct on this side of the Alleghany ranges, and probably on this
side of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Like the beaver,
the Indian who turned against him, will soon be gone too. Annihilation
is written as the doom of both. The wild man must pass away with the
woods and the forests, before the onward rush of civilization, and
history will soon be all that will remain of the Indian and his
ancient brother the beaver.

Well, be it so, and who will regret it? It is a sad thing to see a
whole race perish, wiped out from the aggregate of human existence.
But in this instance, its place will be filled by a higher and nobler
race, and the hunting-ground of the savage and the pagan, be converted
into cultivated fields; where stood the wigwam, will stand the
farm-house; where the council-fires blazed, will stand the halls of
enlightened and Christian legislation; churches and school-houses, and
all the accompaniments of Christianity and civilization will take the
place of ancient forests; and educated, intellectual, cultivated minds
take the place of the rude, untaught, and unteachable men and women of
the woods.

As we re-entered the lake, we saw a noble buck feeding along the
shore, a short distance from us. We dropped behind a point of willows,
from the outer edge of which we would be in shooting distance. We
paddled silently round the point, and there, within fifteen rods of
us, he stood, broad side to us, presenting as beautiful a mark as a
man could wish. I counted him certainly ours, when I drew upon him
with my rifle. Well I blazed away, and as I did so, he raised his head
suddenly, gazed in astonishment at us for a moment, with his ears
thrown forward, and in an attitude of wildness, and then dashed madly
away into the forest, snorting like a war-horse at every bound. I had
not touched him, and I knew it the moment I fired. Our little boat was
light and rollish, and just as I pressed the trigger, it rolled
slightly on the water and my ball passed over, but mighty close to the
back of that deer. I was mortified enough at this mishap, for I prided
myself on my coolness and marksmanship, and here was a failure
apparently more inexcusable than any that had occurred. But there was
no help for it. The deer was gone, and Spalding and the boatman
indulged in a hearty laugh at my expense.

Some half a mile up the lake, we saw a great turtle sunning himself on
a rock which was partly out of water. He was twice as large as any of
the fresh-water kind I had ever seen. His shell was all of two feet in
diameter, and his scaly arms, as they hung loosely over the side of
the rock, were as large as the wrists of a man. He was some six or
eight rods from us, and Spalding gave him a shot with his rifle. The
ball glanced harmlessly from his massive shell against the ledge
behind him, and starting from his sleep, he clambered lazily and
clumsily into the water.

We threw out a trolling line as we passed up the lake; but we caught
no trout. Along the shore, however, we caught small ones in plenty
with the fly. These shore trout, as I call them, seem to be a distinct
species, differing in many respects from the other trout of the lakes
or streams. They are uniform in size, rarely exceeding a quarter of a
pound in weight. They are of a whitish color, longer in proportion
than the lake, river, or brook trout, have fewer specks upon them, and
those not of a golden hue, but rather like freckles. They are found
among the broken rocks where the shores are bold and bluff, or near
the mouths of the cold brooks that come down from the hills. I caught
them at every trial, and whenever we wanted them for food. Their flesh
is white and excellent--better, to my taste, than that of any other
fish of these waters.

We rejoined our companions in a little bay that lay quietly around a
rocky promontory, where we found them enjoying a dinner of venison and
trout, under the shade of some huge firtrees, by the side of a
beautiful spring that came bubbling up, in its icy coldness, from
beneath the tangled roots of a stinted and gnarled birch. Happily,
there was enough for us all, and we accepted at once the invitation
extended to us to dine. Towards evening, we rowed back to our shanty.
The breeze had entirely ceased, and the lake lay still and smooth; not
a wave agitated its surface, not a ripple passed across its stirless
bosom; the woods along the shore, and the mountains in the back
ground, the glowing sunlight upon the hill-tops were mirrored back
from its quiet depths as if there were other forests, and other
mountains and hills glowing in the evening sunshine away down below,
twins to those above and around us. We saw on our return along the
beach, the track of a bear in the sand, that had been made during the
day, and we had some talk of trying the scent of our dogs upon it. But
it was too near night, to allow of a hope of securing him, even if the
dogs could follow, and we gave up the idea, promising to attend to
bruin's case another day.

As we sat with our meerschaums, in the evening, speculating upon the
chances of securing a bear, or a moose, before leaving the woods, a
wolf lifted up his voice on the hill opposite as, and made the old
forest ring again with his howling. He was answered as in the night
previous, from away down the lake, and by another from the hill back
of us, and another still from the narrow gorge above the head of the
lake. However discordant the music appeared to us, they seemed to
enjoy it, for they kept it up at intervals during all the early part
of the night.

"Seeing that bear's track, and hearing the howl of those wolves," said
the Doctor, "reminds me of a story I heard told by an old Ohio pilot,
whom I found in drifting down that noble river in a pirogue, some five
and twenty years ago. We tied up one night by the side of another
similar craft, that had gone down ahead of us, the people on board of
which had landed and built a camp-fire, and erected their tent. They
were strangers to us, but in those days everybody you met in the
wilderness which skirted the Upper Ohio was your friend, if you chose
to regard him so. I was a mere boy then, and was in company with my
father and three other gentlemen, who owned a township of land not far
from Cincinnati; that is not far now, considering the difference in
the mode of travelling between then and now, and we were on our way to
explore that township. I did not regard it as of much value then,
though it has since brought a heap of money to its owners. We found
the company belonging to the other boat busily employed in cooking a
supper of venison and bear-meat, they having in the course of the day
killed two deer and a bear that they found swimming the river. We were
invited to help ourselves; an invitation which, being cordially given,
we as cordially accepted. We had been passing during most of the day
through unbroken forests, standing up in stately majesty on both sides
of the river, and stretching back the Lord knows how far. After the
darkness gathered, the wolves made the wilderness vocal with their
howling. It was the first time I had ever heard them, and for that
matter the last, until since we have been in these woods: but when
that old fellow over the lake lifted up his voice last night, I
recognized it at once. I can't say I admired it as a musical
performance then, and I don't appreciate its harmony now. If there are
those who like it, why, _de gustibus non_, and so forth.

"But I set out to tell the story that the old Ohio pilot told that
night, while the travellers sat smoking around their camp-fires, and
the wolves were howling in the wilderness about us. I do not, of
course, vouch for its truth; I simply tell it as he told it to us. He
seemed to believe it himself, for he told it with a gravity of face,
and a seriousness of manner, which would ill comport with its falsity.
His hearers did not seem to regard it as passing belief, but they
laughed at the idea of drowning a bear.

"'Twenty odd years ago,' said the old pilot, as he lighted his pipe
and seated himself on the head of a whisky-keg, 'there warn't a great
many people along the Ohio, except Ingins and bears, and we didn't
like to cultivate a very close acquaintance with either of them, for
the Ingins were cheatin', deceivin', and scalpin' critters, and the
bears had an onpleasant way with 'em, that people of delicate narves
didn't like. I came out for some people over on the east side of the
mountains, lookin' land, in company with four men who had hunted over
the country. Ohio warn't any great shakes then, but let me tell you,
stranger, it had a mighty big pile of the tallest kind of land layin'
around waitin' to be opened up to the sunlight. It's goin' ahead now,
and people are rushin' matters in the way of settlin' of it, but you
could stick down a stake most anywhere in it then, and travel in
any direction a hundred miles climbin' a fence.

"'Wal, we came down the Alleghany in two canoes, and shantied on the
Ohio, just below where the Alleghany empties itself into it. We hid
our canoes, and struck across the country, and travelled about
explorin' for six weeks, and when we got back to our shantyin' ground,
we were tuckered out you may believe. We rested here a couple of days,
layin' around loose, and takin' our comfort in a way of our own. Early
one morning, when my companions were asleep, I got up and paddled
across the river after a deer, for we wanted venison for breakfast. I
got a buck, and was returnin', when what should I see but a bear
swimmin' the Ohio, and I put out in chase right off. I soon overhauled
the critter, and picked up my rifle to give him a settler, when I
found that in paddlin' I had spattered water into the canoe, wettin'
the primin' and makin' the gun of no more use than a stick. I didn't
understand much about the natur of the beast then, and thought I'd run
him down, and drown him, or knock him on the head. So I put the canoe
right end on towards him, thinkin' to run him under, but when the
bow touched him, what did he do, but reach his great paws up over the
side of the canoe, and begin to climb in. I hadn't bargained for that;
I felt mighty onpleasant, you may swear, at the prospect of havin'
sich a passenger. I hadn't time to get at him with the rifle, till he
came tumblin' into the dugout, and as he seated himself on his stern,
showed as pretty a set of ivory as a body would wish to see. There we
sat, he in one end of the dugout and I in the other, eyein' one
another in a mighty suspicious sort of way. He didn't seem inclined to
come near my end of the dugout, and I was principled agin goin'
towards his. I made ready to take to the water on short notice, but at
the same time concluded I'd paddle him to the shore, if he'd allow me
to do it quietly.

"'Wal, I paddled away, the bear every now and then grinnin' at me,
skinnin' his face till every tooth in his head stood right out, and
grumblin' to himself in a way that seemed to say, 'I wonder if that
chap's good to eat?' I didn't offer any opinion on the subject; I
didn't say a word to him, treatin' him all the time like a gentleman,
but kept pullin' for the shore. When the canoe touched the ground, he
clambered over the side, and climbed up the bank, and givin' me an
extra grin, started off into the woods. I pushed the dugout back
suddenly, and gave him, as I felt safe again, a double war-whoop that
seemed to astonish him, for he quickened his pace mightily, as if
quite as glad to part company as I was. I larned one thing, stranger,
that mornin', and it's this, never to try drownin' a bear by runnin'
him under with a dugout. It won't pay.'"



"That story," said Spalding, "reminds _me_ of a bear story. I shall do
as the Doctor did, tell it as it was told to me. I did not see the
bear, but I know the man who was the hero of it, and his brother told
the story in his presence one day, and he made no denial. He at least
is estopped from disputing it, and we lawyers call that _prima facie_
evidence of its truth. It occurred a long time ago, when there were
fewer green fields in Oswego county and especially in the town of
Mexico, than there are now. The old woods stood there in all their
primeval grandeur. The waves of Ontario laved a wilderness shore, and
their dull sound, as they came rolling in upon the rocky beach, died
away in the solitudes of a gloomy and almost boundless forest. Here
and there a 'clearing' let in the sunlight, and the woodman's axe
broke the forest stillness as he battled against the brave old trees.
The smoke of burning fallows was occasionally seen, wreathing in
dense columns towards the sky. Civilization, enterprise, energy and
new life were just starting on that career of progress which has moved
onward till the wilderness, under the influence of their mighty power,
has been made to blossom as the rose. Those were pleasant times, as we
look upon them now, just fading into the dim and shadowy past, but
they were times of toil and privation. The arms of the men of those
times were nerved by the hope of the future, and the spirit that
sustained them was that of faith in the fact that the promise of
reward for their labor was sure.

"Do the men of the present day ever think what a gigantic labor that
was of clearing away those old forests? Contemplate a wilderness,
reaching from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, from the great lakes
and the majestic St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, every acre of
which was covered with tall trees which had to be cut away one by one,
not with some great machine which mowed them down in broad swaths like
the grass of a meadow, but by a single arm and a single axe. Talk
about the Pyramids, the Chinese Wall, the great canals of the earth!
They sink into utter insignificance when compared with the prodigious
labor of clearing away the American forests, and spreading out green
fields where our fathers found only a limitless wilderness of woods.
The sons of these men who performed that labor, in my judgment, have a
better patent to preferment and honors than those who come from other
lands to claim their inheritance after it has been thus perfected by
such toil and hardships, and dangers as the history of the world
cannot parallel."

"I think, if I remember rightly," said the Dr., "you set out to tell a
bear story. You are now indulging in a sermon on progress. Allow me to
call your attention to the bear."

"I appeal to the court," said Spalding, addressing Smith and myself,
"against this interruption."

"The counsel will proceed," said Smith, with all the gravity of a
judge; "we hope the interruption will not be repeated."

"Well," said Spalding, resuming his narrative, "some fifty years ago,
two enterprising men (brothers) marched into the woods in the town of
Mexico, now in Oswego county, with their axes on their shoulders, and
stout hearts beating in their bosoms. They located a mile or more
apart, and began a warfare, such as civilization wages, against the
old forest trees. Men talk about courage on the battle-field, the
facing of danger amid the conflict of armed hosts, and the crash of
battle. All that is well, but what is such courage, stimulated by
excitement and braced by the ignominy which follows the laggard in
such a strife, to that calm, enduring, moral courage of him who
encounters the toil and hardships incident to the settlement of a new
country, and battles with the dangers, the long years of privation,
which lie before the pioneer who goes into the forest to carve out a
home for himself and his children? How much more noble is such
courage, how infinitely superior is such a warfare, one which mows
down forest trees instead of men, which creates green pastures, broad
meadows, and fields of waving grain, instead of smouldering cities,
and desolated homes! How much more pleasant is the sound of the
woodman's axe, than that of the booming cannon! How much more cheerful
the smoke that goes up from the burning fallow, than that which hangs
in darkness over the desolation of the battle field, beneath which lie
the dead in their stillness, and the wounded in their agony! But I am
losing sight of the bear."

"Exactly so," said the Doctor; "and we have not as yet had the
pleasure of making his acquaintance. Suppose you give us an
introduction to the gentleman."

"These interruptions are entirely out of order," gravely remarked
Smith; "they must not be repeated. The counsel will proceed."

"Well," resumed Spalding, bowing deferentially to the court, "one of
these settlers started one day across the woods to visit his brother.
There were few roads in those times, and these were laid out without
much reference to distance; they went winding and crooking every way
to avoid this hill, or that creek, or water course, or any other
impediment which nature may have thrown in the way, and a blind
footpath, or a line of marked trees, was more commonly travelled from
one forest house to another. The forester was tramping cheerfully
along, thinking doubtless of the good time coming, when his farm would
be shorn of all its old woods, when flocks and herds would be grazing
in luxurious pastures, tall grain waving in fields, the summer grass
clothing in richness meadows reclaimed by his labor from the
wilderness, and he should be at ease among his children. First
settlers of a new country think of these things, and it is because
they think of them, that their hearts are strong and buoyant with
hope. They live in the future, enduring the darkness and privation of
the present, in their faith in the brightness of the years to come.
Thus they wait in patience for, while they command success, and the
end of their toil is an old age of competence, and in the closing
years of life, quiet and repose. Well, he was enjoying these pleasant
visions when he saw, some thirty rods ahead of him, a huge bear, with
her cubs, 'travelling his way,' as the saying is, in other words
coming directly towards him. He was no hunter, and had with him no
weapon. He had heard strange stories of the ferocity of the bear when
her cubs were by her side, and to say that he was not horribly
frightened would be a departure from the strict requirements of truth.
He had heard, too, that a bear could not climb a small, straight tree,
and _he_ could. The question then was between climbing and running. He
was not much in a race, and he decided to climb; so selecting a
smooth-barked, perpendicular ash sapling, he started with might and
main towards the top. He went up, as he supposed, till he was out of
the reach of the bear, and held on, all the time keeping his eye on
the animal, and making as little noise as possible. The bear,
doubtless seeing that he was beyond her reach, passed on out of sight,
and after he remained till the danger was over, he concluded to come
down. He was astonished to find that his efforts to descend were
powerless. He seemed to have frozen to the tree. Upon looking around,
to his utter amazement, he found himself sitting on the ground, _with
both legs and arms locked fast around the, tree! He had not climbed an
inch, and the bear had not been aware of his presence in the woods!_

"That ash sapling was safe from that day. It stood then in the old
forest. The woodman's axe spared it. It stands now in the open field,
a majestic tree; its great trunk, eight feet in circumference, its
long arms covered with foliage, casting a broad shadow over the
pasture beneath, in which cattle and sheep seek for coolness and
ruminate in the heat of the summer days. It is pointed out as the tree
which the man who was frightened by a bear _didn't_ climb, and is
referred to as evidence of the truth of my story, as the Dutchman
proved the authenticity of his Bible, 'by the pictures.'"

"And that," said I, "puts _me_ in mind of a bear story, which has this
merit over both of yours--it is true. I can speak of it as a thing of
personal knowledge, occurring within my own personal experience. I
began the study of law in Angelica, the county seat of Alleghany
county, and as it was a good many years ago, it is fair to assume that
I was a good many years younger than I am now, and that the country in
that region was younger too. Everybody knows that Alleghany county is,
or used to be, a great place for whirlwinds and tornadoes. If they do
not, they may understand and be assured of the fact now. A few years
(less than twelve) ago, a black cloud came looming up in the
northwest, and started on its career towards the southeast. As it
swept along, it sent its fierce winds crashing, and howling, and
roaring, through the old forests, uprooting, hurling to the ground,
and scattering everything that encountered its fury. Houses, barns,
haystacks, fences, trees, everything were prostrated, and to this day
its track is visible in the swath it mowed through the old woods, from
sixty to a hundred rods wide, plain and distinct still, for miles and
miles. It was not of that tornado, however, that I propose to speak.
Others had preceded it, and in the country all about Angelica were
what were called 'windfalls.' These windfalls were neither more nor
less than the old tracks of these whirlwinds and tornadoes, that had
swept down the forest trees. Fire had finished what the whirlwind
begun. In time, blackberry-bushes had grown up among the charred
trunks of the old pines, and other trees, bearing an immensity of
fruit; and it was a pleasant resort for young people, one of those
windfalls, when the blackberries were ripe and luscious. These
windfalls were great places, too, for rabbits, partridges, and 'such
small deer,' and it was no great thing to boast of, to kill a dozen or
two of the birds of an afternoon.

"I went out with a friend one day to one of these windfalls, partly
after blackberries, and partly for partridges. We were both boys,
younger than fifteen, then, and each possessing, probably, quite as
much discretion as valor. We had separated a short distance from each
other, he to gather berries, and I, with a small fowling-piece, in
pursuit of game. Presently I saw my friend crashing through the brush
towards me, and also towards the fields, without his basket, and bare
headed, his hair standing straight up, putting in his very best jumps,
as if a thousand tigers were at his heels. Without heeding for a
moment my anxious inquiries as to what was the matter, he kept right
on, leaping the logs like a deer, looking neither to the right hand
nor the left, but with his coat tail sticking out on a dead level
behind, making a straight wake for home. Fear is said to be
contagious, and I believe in the doctrine that it is so. I caught it
bad; and without knowing what I was afraid of, I started, and if any
fourteen year old boy can make better time than I did on that
occasion, I should like to see him run. I kept possession of my
fowling-piece, and came out neck and neck with my friend. We scrambled
over the outer fence, and ran some dozen rods or more in the open
field, without either of us looking back. Then, however, we made the
astounding discovery, that there was nothing after us, and we both
paused to take breath, and, so far as I was concerned, to ascertain,
if possible, what had occasioned the race. I learned that my friend,
after I left him, had gone into the windfall, and was standing upon
the long trunk of a fallen tree, picking berries, when he saw, a few
rods from him towards the other end of the log on which he was
standing, a great black hand reach up and bend down a tall
blackberry-bush that was loaded with berries. This alarmed him
somewhat, for whoever the great black hand belonged to was concealed
by the thick bushes and their foliage from his view. Presently, two
great black hands were placed upon the log, and a huge black bear
clambered lazily up, and, for a second, stood in utter amazement, face
to face, and within fifty feet of my friend. Both broke at the same
instant, in affright; my friend in one direction, and the bear in the
other--my friend for the fields, and the bear for the deep woods--and
each as anxious as fear could make him to put a 'broad belt of
country' between them. My friend dropped his basket, as he leaped from
the log; it was no time to stop for a basket; a limb caught his hat
and pulled it off; he had not time to stop for his hat. The truth is,
he was in a hurry, and something more than a hat or a basket was
required to stay his progress towards home."

"The Squire's story," said Cullen, as he knocked the ashes from his
pipe, and commenced shaving a fresh supply of tobacco with his
jack-knife, and depositing it in the palm of his left hand, "the
Squire's story reminds me of an adventer Crop and I met with, over
towards St. Regis Lake, a good many year ago; and I'll state the
circumstances of the case, as the Judge would say. It was an adventer
that don't happen often--leastwise, not in the same way. It made me
understand some things that I hadn't much idea of before. Let me tell
you, Judge, if you don't want a fight with an animal that's got long
claws and sharp teeth, don't come close upon him onawares, or may be
there'll be trouble. Give him time to think, and ten to one he'll take
to his heels. Most animals have more confidence in their legs than
they have in their teeth and claws, and they'll be very likely to use
'em, if you'll give 'em time to consider. But if you find a painter,
or a bear, takin' a nap in your path, and don't want to have a clinch
with him, wake him up before you get right onto him, or he'll be very
likely to think he's cornered, and them animals have onpleasant ways
with 'em when they're in that fix.

"Wal, as I was sayin', Crop and I was over on St. Regis Lake, layin'
in a store of jerked venison, and trappin' martin, and mink, and
muskrat, and huntin' wolves, and sich other wild animals as came in
our way. The scalp of a wolf was good for fifteen dollars in them
days, and a backload of furs was worth a heap of money. We had a line
of martin traps leadin' back to the hills, and over into a valley
beyond, where the animal was plentier than they were on our side. In
passin' along this line, we had to round the end of a hill that
terminated in a sharp point of rocks. In a deep gully at its foot, a
stream went surgin' over rapids; the bank on the side towards the hill
was, may be, twenty feet high, and a right up and down ledge. Above
this ledge, and between it and the rocky point, was a narrow path,
only three or four feet wide, that turned short around the end of the
hill. On the left hand was the ledge, and at the bottom of it were
broken rocks, and on the right was a bluff point of rocks, that made
up the end of the hill, standin' straight up, may be, fifty feet.
Around this point, the path turned sharp almost as your elbow.

"I was passin' quietly round this pint, lookin' down into the gully,
with Crop at my heels, when, on turnin' the short elbow, there I
stood, face to face, and within ten feet of a mighty big bear, that
was travellin' my way, as the Judge said. I had no idee that he was
around, and I'm quite sartain he didn't expect to meet a human in such
a place. Of course, we were naterally astonished at seein' one another
just then, and the meetin' didn't seem to be altogether agreeable to
either party. I ain't easily scared when I've time to prepare for a
scrimmage, yet, I'm free to say, I'd have given a couple of
wolf-scalps to've been on the other side of the gully, just at that
time. The bear seemed to expect me to begin the fight, for, after
gruntin' out in a very oncivil way his surprise at makin' my
acquaintance, he reared himself up on eend, and, with a fierce growl,
showed a set of ivory that wasn't pleasant to look at. I should have
been willin' myself, to've backed down, and apologized for my rudeness
in crossin' his path, for I was carryin' my rifle carelessly in my
left hand, and our meetin' was so sudden that I scarcely had time to
bring it to bear upon the kritter. I rather think I should have dodged
back, any how, but Crop seemed to think his master was in danger, and
that he was obligated, live or die, to go in. So, quick as a flash, he
rushed by me, and threw himself into the very face of the desperate
brute. Crop made a great mistake when he calculated he was a
match for that bear, for, with one cuff, the animal sent him
eend over eend down the bank, upon the broken rocks below.
But the little time that was so occupied saved me a deal of
trouble and danger, for it lasted just long enough for me to bring
my rifle into position, which I did about the quickest, you may bet
your life on that. I run my eye along the barrel, sighted him between
the eyes, and pulled. The bear keeled over onto his back with a jerk,
gave a spiteful kick with both hind feet, and he, too, went over the
ledge onto the sharp rocks below. I looked over, and saw Crop
staggerin' to his feet, and lookin' about in a bewildered way, as if
not quite understandin' how he came there. I went round a little way,
and got down into the gully where the animals were. I found the bear
stone dead, and Crop with two ribs broken and his shoulder out of
joint, whinin', and moanin' piteously with pain. I set his shoulder as
well as I could, and, after takin' the skin off the bear, I backed him
two miles to my shanty. It was a fortnight before he 'left the house,'
but he learned a little piece of wisdom by that cuff that sent him
down the bank, and got a little insight into the nater of an
angry bear."

[Illustration: Crop made a great mistake when he calculated he was a
match for that bear, for, with one cuff, the animal sent him eend over
eend down the bank, upon the broken rocks below. But the little time
that was so occupied saved me a deal of trouble and danger, for it
lasted just long enough for me to bring my rifle into position, which
I did about the quickest, you may bet your life on that.]



We had as yet had no use for our dogs since we left the Saranac. They
had travelled quietly with us as we moved from place to place, or
stayed inactive at the tents while we remained stationary. The game
was so abundant, that the real difficulty was to restrain ourselves
from destroying more than was needful for our use. We had indeed,
failed to live strictly up to the law we had imposed upon ourselves,
for we had at all times trout and venison beyond our present wants,
excusing ourselves on the ground that an excess of supply was always
preferable to a scant commissariat. More than one deer was
slaughtered, if the truth must be told, for no better reason than that
given by an Irishman for smashing a bald head he chanced to see at a
window: it presented a mark too tempting to be resisted the lake
from our camping ground. We stationed two of our boats between the
island and the shore nearest the main land, and the other on the
opposite side, and sent Cullen upon the island to beat for game. It
was scarcely five minutes, before the voices of the dogs broke upon
the stillness of the morning, in a simultaneous and fierce cry, as if
they had started the game suddenly, and fresh from his lair. Away they
went in full cry across the island, the deer sweeping around the upper
end, and returning on the opposite side, as if loth to take to the
water; but true to their instincts, the hounds followed, making the
hills and the old woods ring again with the music of their voices.
Presently, a noble buck broke cover, directly opposite to where the
Doctor and Smith's boat lay. As our object was rather to enjoy the
music of the chase, than to capture the deer, they shouted and
hallooed as he entered the water, and he wheeled back, and went
tearing in huge affright through the woods, up the island again. Still
the howling was upon his trail, and as he approached the upper end, he
again took to the water, to be frightened back by Martin and myself,
and with renewed energy he bounded across to a point stretching out
into the lake on the opposite side. Here Spalding and Wood were
stationed, and they, by their shouting, drove him back again to the
thickets. By this time, the poor animal began to appreciate the full
peril of his position, for turn where he would he found an enemy in
front, while the cry of his pursuers followed him like his destiny.
Thus far every effort to escape by taking to the water had failed, and
he seemed to think, as Martin expressed it, that "day was breaking."
He essayed it again on the land side, and was driven back by us, and
thus he coursed three times round the island, until, in desperation,
he plunged into the broad lake and struck boldly out for the opposite
shore, three quarters of a mile distant. Spalding shouted to us, and
when we rounded the headland, we saw that he and Wood had headed, and
were driving him towards a small island, of less than half an acre,
covered only with low bushes, half a mile down the lake. We did not
propose to harm him, but we intended to drive him upon that little
island, and by surrounding it, keep him there for a while by way of
experimenting upon his fears, or rather as Martin said, "to see what
he would do." As he approached the shore, he bounded upon the island,
and tossing his head from side to side, as if looking for a place of
concealment or escape. Finding none, he dashed across to the opposite
side and plunged into the lake. He was met by the Doctor and Smith,
and turned back. He rushed in another direction, across the island, to
be headed by the boat in which I was seated, and again in another
direction to be headed by Spalding. Thus met and driven back at every
turn, he at last stationed himself on a high knoll, near the centre of
the island, apparently expecting that the last struggle for life was
to be made there. We rested upon our oars, making no noise, and
watching his movements. The bushes were low, coming only up midside
to the animal. He watched us latently for half an hour, tossing his
head up and down, looking first at one, then at another, as if
calculating from which the attack upon his life was to come. At last,
as if overcome by weariness, or concluding that after all there was no
real danger, he laid quietly down. In answer to his confidence in the
harmlessness of our intentions, we rowed away back to the island where
we started him. We had not reached it, however, when we saw him enter
the water, and swim to the main land, and glad enough he seemed to be
when he had regained the protection of his native forests.

We took our dogs from the island, and rowed to the broad channel of
the inlet which enters the lake on the left hand side, as you look to
the south. There are two of these inlets, which enter within a quarter
of a mile of each other, each of which comes down from little lakes,
or ponds, deeper in the wilderness. The one we entered flows in a
tortuous course through a natural meadow, stretching away on either
hand forty or fifty rods, to a dense forest of spruce, maple, and
beech, above which gigantic pines stand stately and tall in their
pride. Three miles from the lake, the hills approach each other, and
the little river comes plunging down through a gorge, over shelving
rocks, and around great boulders, as if mad with the obstructions
piled up in its way.

As we approached these falls, Smith, who sat in the bow of the boat,
motioned to the boatman to lay upon his oars, and pointed to an object
partly concealed by some low bushes, forty or fifty rods in advance
of us. Remaining perfectly still a moment, we saw a bear step out upon
a boulder, look up and down the stream, and stretch his long nose out
over the water, as if looking for a good place to cross the rapids.
After scratching his ear with one of his hind feet, and his side with
the other, he turned and walked deliberately from our sight into the
forest. By this time, the boat with the dogs came in sight, and we
beckoned its occupants to come to us. One of the hounds only had ever
seen game of this kind. But Cullen declared that there was no game
that they would not follow when once fairly laid on. We wanted that
bear. It was the only one we had seen; indeed it was the only one I
had ever seen wild in the forest. We went to the spot where we last
saw him, and there in the sand, by the side of the boulder, was his
great track, almost like a human foot. Cullen called the attention of
the dogs to it, and hallooed them on. They took the scent cheerfully,
and with a united and fierce cry they dashed away in pursuit. They had
ran but a short distance, when they seemed to become stationary, and
deep, quick baying succeeded the lengthened and ringing sound of
their voices.

"Treed, by Moses!" cried Cullen, as he dashed forward, the rest of us
following as fast as we could.

"Not too fast," said Martin, "not too fast. There's no hurry; he won't
come down unless our noise frightens him. Let us go quietly; there's
plenty of time. Belcher has got his eye on him, and will stay by him
till we come." We travelled quietly, and as silently as we could for
near half a mile, and as we rounded a low but steep point of a hill,
there sat bruin, some twelve rods from us, in the forks of a great
birch tree, forty feet from the ground, looking down in calm dignity
upon the dogs that were baying and leaping up against the tree beneath
him. Did anybody ever notice what a meek, innocent look a bear has
when in repose? How hypocritically he leers upon everything about him,
as if butter would not melt in his mouth? Well, such was the look of
that bear, as he peered out first on one side, then on the other of
the great limbs between which he was sitting, secure, as he supposed,
from danger. But he was never more mistaken in his life. In watching
the dogs he had failed to discover us. We agreed that three should
fire upon him at once, reserving the fourth charge for whatever
contingency might happen. Smith, the Doctor, and Spalding sighted him
carefully, each with his rifle resting against the side of a tree, and
blazed away, their guns sounding almost together. It was pitiful the
scream of agony that bear sent up. It was almost human in its anguish.
It went ringing through the woods, dying away at last almost in a
human groan. After struggling and clasping his arms for a moment
around the great branch of the tree, his hold relaxed, he reeled from
side to side, and then fell heavily to the ground, with three balls
within an inch of each other, right through his vitals. He was larger
than a medium sized animal of his species, and in excellent case.

The next thing in order was to transport him to our boats. This was
done by tying his feet together, then running a long pole, cut for the
purpose, between them, and lifting each end upon the shoulder of a
boatman, he was "strung up," as Allen expressed it, clear from the
ground. They stumbled along as best they could, over the rough ground,
and through the tangle brush, towards the river. It was a heavy load
considering the unevenness of the path, and the men were compelled to
halt every few rods to breathe. We got him safely to the landing at
last, and tumbling him into the bottom of one of the boats, started
down stream towards our shanty. A proud trio were Spalding, Smith, and
the Doctor that afternoon, returning with their game across the lake;
and they certainly had some occasion to congratulate themselves, for
this was the first wild, uncaged bear either of us had ever seen, and
him they had succeeded in capturing.

We dined that afternoon on a roasted sirloin of bear, stewed jerked
venison, fried trout, and pork. I cannot say that I altogether
relished the roast, though some of our company took to it hugely. The
truth is, that with some of them venison and trout were beginning to
be somewhat stale dishes, they did not relish fat pork, and a change
therefore to roasted bear meat was peculiarly acceptable.

"Gentlemen," said Smith to the Doctor and Spalding, as we sat after
our meal, enjoying our pipes, "what say you to selling out your
interest in that bear? If you're open for a bargain, I'll make you a

"Why," the Doctor replied, "there'll be nothing left but the skin,
and that will be of no special value except as a trophy."

"Not exactly," resumed Smith. "I'll deal frankly with you, gentlemen.
There'll be a good many stories to be told about the killing of that
bear, and my object is to appropriate the glory of the achievement.
Now it wont be a matter to boast of, to say that we three fired into
one bear, and that none of the largest."

"Oh! as to that," said the Doctor, "I intend to enlarge upon the
subject, exaggerating the size of the bear, describing the terrible
conflict I had with him, how I happened to save myself by remembering
my double-barrelled pistol; how I made the three ball holes in him,
while you and Spalding were running away, and how he bit me in the
arm, and almost hugged me to death, while I was trying to get at the
pistol. I shall shine in that bear story! Yes! yes! I shall shine!"

"Hear the cormorant!" exclaimed Smith. "Hear him! And he'll do
precisely as he says he will, only a great deal worse. We must buy him
out, Spalding. We must purchase his silence for our own credit."

"Well, gentlemen," replied Spalding, "settle it between you--you are
welcome to my share of the achievement. The scream of mortal agony
which that bear sent up when our three balls went crashing through its
body rings in my ears yet. I don't feel quite so proud of the shot as
I otherwise should have done. You are welcome to my share of the

"Spoken like a liberal and free-hearted gentleman," said
Smith. "Well, Doctor, name the amount and nature of the blackmail you
intend to levy upon me. But have a conscience, man! have a

"It will be making a great sacrifice on my part," the Doctor replied,
"but out of friendship for you, I'll make you a proposition. We'll
toss op a dollar, and the one that wins shall have the honour of
having killed the bear, and of telling the story in his own way, and
the others shall indorse it."

"Agreed," said Smith, "but if you win, I shall have to borrow a
conscience of Spalding, or some other lawyer, for there'll be need of
a pretty elastic one."

"Yours will answer, I think," drily remarked Spalding.

"It appears to me, gentlemen," said I "that I've something to say
about the killing of that bear."

"You," exclaimed the Doctor, "what had you to do with it, pray? There
stands your rifle, with the same ball in it that you placed there this
morning. You haven't discharged your rifle to-day."

"Notwithstanding that," I replied, "I am entitled to a portion of the
glory, as I am chargeable with my share of the responsibility, of
killing the bear. I was one of the first who discovered him; I was
among the foremost in the pursuit; I was present, aiding and advising
in the manner of the killing; I had my weapon in my hand, and was
restrained from using it, only because you might fail to accomplish
what my reserved bullet would have made secure. Now, if this bear had
been human, and we were accused of killing him, I would be regarded
in the eye of the law as equally guilty with you. I appeal to Spalding
if this is not so?"

"H----is right," replied Spalding, as he sent a column of smoke
wreathing upward from his lips. "Such is the law."

"We must buy this fellow off, Smith," said the Doctor, "we must buy
him off. He's an old hunter, known as such, and he'll take to himself
all the glory; and what is worse, the world will believe him. He'll
spread himself beyond all bounds. He'll shine beyond endurance upon
the strength of this bear. We must buy him off. It is against all
conscience, but there is no help for it. We must buy him off. There's
an impudence in this claim which reminds me of an anecdote related
by Noah."

"By Noah?" asked Smith, interrupting him, "Noah who?"

"What ignorance there is in this world, even in these days of
educational enlightenment!" remarked the Doctor to Spalding and
myself. "Now, here is a decently informed gentleman, claiming to be a
Christian man, to have studied the Bible, and don't know who Noah was.
Such an instance of human ignorance in these times, is shocking."

"Oh! I understand now," said Smith, "he was the gentleman who built
the ark. Well, go on with your anecdote."

"Well, as I was saying," the Doctor resumed, "this claim of H----'s
to a share of the glory of slaying the bear, reminds me of an
anecdote related by Noah soon after the subsidence of the flood, and
it shows that impudence is, at least, not post-deluvian in its origin.
It seems that there were in the world before, as well as after the
flood, some very meddling impudent fellows, who were always
interfering with other people's business, claiming a share of other
people's credit, trying to make the world believe that they were great
things, and persuading everybody that whatever remarkable achievement
was accomplished, occurred through their counsel and advice, and as a
consequence, claiming a large share of all the honors going.

"Well, after the rain had continued falling for a number of days, and
the valleys were all full of water, and the angry surges went roaring,
with the voice of ten thousand thunders, high up along the sides of
the hills, one of these pestilent fellows--deriding the miraculous
exhibition going on all around him--undertook, in his self-conceit, to
lead the people to a place of safety. So he selected a lofty peak that
shot up from a range of mountains, and commenced travelling up its
steep acclivities. But the flood followed him, roaring, and boiling,
and heaving, in its onward rush. Day by day, night by night, it crept
up, and up, higher and higher, until the self-confident leader, who
scoffed at the supernatural warning, had but a mighty small place
above the surge, whereon to shelter himself from the destruction that
surrounded him. About that time the Ark, with Noah and his people, all
safe and snug, came drifting that way.

"'Halloo!' says the occupant of the rock, 'send us a boat, and take
us aboard. The freshet is getting pretty bad, and it is getting a
little damp, up here.'

"'I can't do it,' says Noah, 'my craft is full of better people.'

"'But,' says the applicant for admission into the Ark, 'let me in, and
I'll superintend the navigation. I'll man the wheel, and see that the
sails are all right, and we can pick up a deal of floating plunder as
we go along.'

"'Can't do it,' says Noah, 'we've got a good steersman and safe
navigators on board already.'

"'Well,' says the applicant, 'I'll work my passage as a deck hand,
asking only a small portion of such spoils as we may pick up. Come,
bring us aboard.'

"'Can't do it,' says Noah, 'can't think of such a thing."

"'Then,' said the persevering applicant for a passage in the Ark,
'I'll go along for nothing--giving the benefit of my counsel and
assistance free gratis; more than all that, I'll stand the liquor
all round.'

"'No use in talking,' says Noah, 'you can't come on board of my craft,
on any terms. You'd corrupt my people, and set them by the ears in a
week. You can't have a berth on any conditions. Good-bye!'

"'Then go to thunder with your old Ark,' indignantly responded the
occupant of the rock, 'I don't believe there's going to be much of a
shower, after all.'

"In a day or two, Noah drifted that way again. The mountain peak had
disappeared beneath the waters, and the occupants were all gone." "I
give up my claim," said I, "Doctor, in consideration of your anecdote.
Take the glory of killing the bear. I see you're not disposed to give
me a place in your Ark. So toss up the dollar."

The dollar was tossed up, and Smith won the glory.



The right to the glory of having killed the bear being settled, the
Doctor, addressing himself to Spalding, remarked--"There was something
in H----'s appeal to you about the law of his case, that reminded me
of a little scene between my wife and myself, many years ago, when we
were both younger than we are now, and certainly had never anticipated
the dark years of trial, through which we were unexpectedly called
upon to pass. You know that I started in life, like Smith here, a
gentleman of fortune, calculating, like him, to live at my ease,
without troubling myself with the cares of any particular business, as
I passed along. Still I thought, or rather my father thought, that it
would be well enough, even for a gentleman, to have at least a nominal
title to some profession. So I studied the law, and was admitted as an
attorney and counsellor of the courts. Never intending to practise, I
did not become very profoundly learned in the profession; still I
became, to some extent, indoctrinated with its mysteries. I did not
like it; and when the necessity for some active employment came
looming up in the distance, I chose a different calling, and at
six-and-twenty, commenced the study of my present profession. This did
not occur until after I had been married some three years. I lived in
the country then, or rather, summered there, in a beautiful little
village in the interior of the State, in a pleasant, old-fashioned
house, which my father built, and which, as I was his only heir, I
supposed of course I owned. Some half a dozen miles from the village
was a fine trout stream, to which my wife and myself used occasionally
to go on a fishing excursion. On such occasions we went on horseback,
as the road was somewhat rough, and my wife was as much at home in the
saddle as I was. This, I repeat, was a good while ago, and we were
both a score of years younger than we are now. Well, I started out
alone one day to visit this trout stream, anticipating a good time
with its speckled, and usually greedy inhabitants. I say I was alone,
and yet there was with me, all the way, and all the time, one who can
talk, reason, philosophise, understand things as well as you or I; and
one, to all appearance, as much and distinctly human as you or I."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Smith, "we can't go that, Doctor. I can't
stand my quarter of that."

"Foolish man!" continued the Doctor; "I say I was alone; let me
demonstrate my proposition. Blackstone says, and what he says every
lawyer will concede is the end of the law, and the beginning too, for
that matter, that when a woman becomes a wife, she loses her identity,
becomes nobody; that her husband absorbs her existence, as it were, as
he does her goods and chattels, in his own. Now, sir, do you
comprehend? My wife was with me, and she, being according to law
nobody, of course I was alone. You, sir, being a law abiding man, must
admit that my proposition is Q.E.D.

"The doctrine of absorption, as I call it, is convenient. It promotes
harmony of action, by subjecting it to the control of a single will,
thus avoiding all embarrassment from a conflict of opinion between man
and wife. So, on my way to the trout stream (I say _my_ way, for
though my wife was on horseback by my side, yet she being, according
to the best legal authorities, nobody, you see I was alone), I thought
I would enlighten the good lady in regard to the true position, or
rather the no position at all, which she occupied. Our way lay for a
couple of miles along an old road, towards a clearing which had been
abandoned, and through which the stream flowed. The tall old trees
spread their long arms over us, clothed in the rich verdure of spring,
and the breeze, so fresh and fragrant, moaned, and sighed, and
whispered among the leaves.

"'My dear,' said I, blandly, as we rode along, the birds singing
merrily among the branches above us, 'do you know that you
are NOBODY?'

"'Nobody, Mr. W----,' (I was simply Mr. W----then; I had not become,
nor even dreamed that I should become a Doctor), 'Nobody, Mr. W----?
Did you say nobody?'

"'Absolutely nobody,' said I. 'A perfect nonentity. You are less even
than a legal fiction.'

"'Look you,' said she, as she applied the whip to her pony, in a way
that brought him, with a bound, across the road directly in front of
me (she rode like a belted knight), obstructing my progress, 'Look
you, Mr. W----,' and there was a red spot on her cheek, and her eye
sparkled like the sheen of a diamond, 'let us settle this matter now.
I can bear being of small consideration, occupying very little space
in the world, but to be stricken out of existence entirely, to possess
no legal identity, to be regarded as absolutely nobody, is a thing I
don't intend to stand--mark that, Mr. W----.'

"'Keep cool, my dear,' said I; 'let us argue this matter.' I was calm,
for I knew the law was on my side; I had the books, and the courts,
and the statutes all in my favor. I was fortified, you see.

"'Argue the matter!' she exclaimed; 'not till it is admitted that I'm
somebody. If I'm nobody, I can't be argued with, I can't reason, nor
talk. Now, Mr. W----, I've a tongue.'

"'Gospel truth,' said I, 'whatever the authorities may say. But we
will admit, for the sake of the argument, that you are somebody;
Blackstone says'----

"'Out on Blackstone,' she exclaimed; 'what do I care for Blackstone,
whose bones have been mouldering in the grave for more than a hundred
years, for what I know. Don't talk to me about Blackstone.'

"'But, my dear, you are _my_ wife, and Blackstone says'--

"'I don't care a fig what Blackstone says. If I _am_ your wife, I am
my mother's daughter, and my brother's sister, and Tommy's mother, and
there are four distinct individualities all centered in myself.'

"'But,' said I again, 'Blackstone says'--

"'Confound that Blackstone,' she exclaimed; 'I do believe he has
driven the wits out of the man's head. Now, look you, Mr. W----, you
invited me to ride with you; you now say I am nobody. Very well. If
nobody leaves you, I suppose you won't be without company, for
somebody certainly left home with you this morning, and has rode with
you thus far. So, good-bye, Mr. W----; success to your fishing, Mr.
W----,' and she struck into a gallop towards home.

"'Hallo!' said I, 'I give up the point. I take back all I said. _Culpa
mea_, my good wife. If Blackstone does say'--

"'Not a word more about Blackstone,' said she, shaking her whip, half
serious half playfully, at me; 'if I go with you, I go as somebody--a
legal entity.'

"'Very well,' said I, 'we'll drop the argument.'

"'Not the argument, but the fact, Mr. W----; and admit that Blackstone
was a goose, and that his law, like his logic, is all nonsense when
measured by the standard of common sense and practical fact. Admit
that a woman, when she becomes a wife does not become a mere
nonentity, or I leave you to journey alone.'

"'Very well, my dear, let us see if we cannot compromise this matter.
Suppose we allow his philosophy to stand as a general truth, making
you an exception. We'll say that wives in general are nobody, but that
you shall be exempt from the general rule, and be considered always
hereafter, and as between ourselves, as somebody.'

"You see the shrewdness of my proposition. Firstly, it saved
Blackstone; secondly, it saved _me_, let me down easy; and thirdly, it
appealed to the womanly vanity of my wife, and it took.

"'Oh, well,' she said, as she brought her pony alongside of me, and we
jogged along cosily together, 'I see no objection to that. Other wives
can take care of themselves. But this compromise, as between _us_, Mr.
W----, must be a _finality_. No Nebraska traps, Mr. W----. No Kansas
bills hereafter. It must be a finality, mind.'

"'Very well,' said I; and a robin that was building its nest on a limb
that hung over the road, paused in its labors, and burst into song,
and the burden of its lay seemed to be a compromise, which, in truth,
should be a FINALITY.

"We were successful in our fishing, and we followed the old-fashioned
custom as to bait. We discarded the fly, using only the angle-worm. At
the foot of the ripples; under the old logs; where the water went
whirling under the cavernous banks; in the eddies; among the
driftwood; everywhere, we found trout--not large, none weighing over
six ounces, and few less than three. We caught my basket full in less
then two hours, and then rode home. It was a day of enjoyment to us,
you may be sure.

"And now I appeal to you, in all seriousness, my friend," the Doctor
continued, addressing himself to Spalding, "if there is not something
due to the wives and mothers of the present generation? Is there not
some relaxation of the law necessary in vindication of the
civilization of the age, against the legal barbarisms still remaining
on the statute books, and adhered to by the common law, in regard to
wives and mothers? Is the current of progress to flow by them for
ever, bearing no reforms which shall affect them? Do not misunderstand
me. I am no advocate of the practices of the 'strong-minded women,'
who hold their conventions and public meetings, who unsex themselves
by mounting the forum, and, throwing off the retiring modesty of the
true woman, seek to secure notoriety at the price of popular contempt.
But there are evils which bear heavily, too heavily, upon the women
even of this country, and which, for the credit of the civilization of
the age, should be corrected. As calm-minded, philanthropic men, we,
the American people, should look into this subject, and, regardless of
jeer and scoff, do what justice, humanity, and the right demand of us,
in regard to some of the social and legal inequalities between the
sexes, pertaining to the married state."

"It is one of the mysteries of our system of jurisprudence," replied
Spalding, "that while everything else is on the move, while progress
is written in letters of living light upon all other things, that
remains stationary--at least in a comparative sense. The world moves
on, civilization advances, science and the arts stride forward, but
the law stands still. A principle which may have been somewhat
changed, modified, bent, if you please, into an adaptation to the
exigencies of the present, and a fitness for the changed circumstances
of the times in which we live, is suddenly thrown back into its old
position by the exhumation of some 'decision' from the dust of ages,
made by some judge away back in the olden times, resurrected by the
research of some antiquarian lawyer, who loves to delve among the
rubbish of past generations. The learning, the wisdom, the philosophy
of the present is discarded, and the spirits of a lower civilization
are conjured from the darkness of vanished centuries, to settle rules
for the government of commerce, personal conduct, and the social
relations of the times in which we live. There seems to be something
paradoxical in the idea that the older the decision the better the
law--the more ancient the commentator, the profounder the wisdom of
his axioms. This might be well, were it true that civilization is
'progressing backwards,' the science of government retrograding. In
that case, it would of course be true, that the nearer you approach
the fountain, the purer the stream would be. But such is not the fact.
In all these attributes the world is on the advance, the science of
government progressive; and to make the wisdom of centuries ago
override the wisdom, or overshadow the light of the present, is a
paradox peculiar to our system of jurisprudence. There are lawyers and
judges, who enjoy a high reputation, whose fame rests upon their
profound research among the worm-eaten tomes of black-letter law, and
whose glory consists in their familiarity with the opinions and axioms
of men who lived and died so long ago that their very tombs are
forgotten. This class of lawyers and jurists hold in contempt all the
learning, the philosophy, the practical wisdom of the present
--rejecting everything that is not bearded and hoary with age.
Seated in their libraries, in the midst of their ponderous octavos,
their Roman and black-letter volumes, they reject with disdain the
commentators, the opinions of the jurists of the present century; and
brushing away the cobwebs and dust from the covers of their treasured
relics of bygone ages, they clasp them in a loving embrace close to
their hearts, exclaiming, 'These are my jewels.' Whatever has not the
sanction of ancient authority, is folly to them--worse than folly, for
it is innovation, and that is rank impiety.

"I remember an anecdote of the celebrated William Wirt, related to
show how ready his mind was, how instant in activity, and how suddenly
it would flash with an eloquence, superior to that exhibited by the
most elaborate preparation. He was arguing a cause before the Supreme
Court of the United States, and laid down, as the basis of his
argument, a principle to which he desired to call the particular
attention of the judges. The opposing counsel interrupted him,
calling for the authority sustaining his principle,--'The book--the
book!' demanded his adversary. 'Sir, and your honors,' said Wirt,
straightening himself up to his full height, 'I am not bound to grope
my way among the ruins of antiquity, to stumble over obsolete
statutes, or delve in black letter law, in search of a principle
written in living letters upon the heart of every man.' If the idea
contained in this answer of Wirt, were more fully appreciated by our
modern jurists, it would be all the better for the country.

"The common law is said to be the perfection of reason. This is
doubtless true, but it is the perfection of the reason of the present,
as well as of the past. Its principles are elastic, suiting themselves
to the civilization of all ages. They are progressive, keeping pace
with the progress of all times. They are not immutable, save in the
element of right, and they therefore shape themselves to all
circumstances, moving along with the onward march of trade, the
commerce, the social relations, and business of the people. The
learning of to-day, the wisdom, the philosophy of to-day is profounder
than that of any preceding century, and it is folly to overthrow it
by, or compel it to give place to, the learning, the wisdom, the
philosophy of departed and ruder ages.

"In regard to your question, whether there is not some relaxation of
the law necessary, in vindication of the civilization of the age,
against the legal barbarisms remaining upon the statute book, and in
the common law in regard to our wives, I answer frankly that I do not
know about that. The law, as you read it in Blackstone, and as you
expounded it to your wife, on your fishing excursion, has been
somewhat modified. Wives have been given a _status_ by modern
legislation; and a woman, by becoming a wife, does not now cease to be
a legal entity. The law permits her to retain and control her property
irrespective of her husband, and she has, therefore, thus far, ceased
to be 'nobody.' But my private opinion is, that, as a general thing,
the women of this country get along very well, even under the pressure
of the 'barbarisms' of which you speak. They manage, one way and
another, to get the upper hand of their legal lords, law or no law. If
their existence, in the light of authority, is 'less than a legal
fiction,' they come to be regarded, or make themselves felt in the
world as practical facts. They are quite as apt to be at the top, as
at the bottom of the ladder, notwithstanding what 'Blackstone says'
about their legal position. There is, doubtless, a good deal of abuse
of authority on the part of husbands, but the women get their share of
the good that is going in the world, as a general thing. If the law is
against them, they manage to usurp full an even amount of privilege
and authority, and keep along about in line with the other sex. I
never knew an out and out controversy between a man and his wife, in
which the former did not get the worst of it in the end; and as to the
impositions, which as a melancholy truth are too frequent, they are
about as much on one side as the other. It is not to legal enactments
that we must look for the cure of unhappiness incident to the married
state, but to a reform in temper and habits of life. Besides, I do not
believe the wives of this country would accept of a strict legal
equality at all, if it were tendered them as a FINALITY. I believe
they would prefer remaining as they are; for by being so, they are
left to the resources of their own genius, to win by their tact, what
is not guaranteed by law. I know that there are a good many
crazy-headed people in pantaloons as well as petticoats, who go about
laboring for the 'emancipation of women,' as if the heavens and earth
were coming together. But those of them who wear skirts, generally
have delicate white hands, flowing curls, flashing black eyes, and the
gift of oratory--and a desire to exhibit them all; while those in
pantaloons have their hair combed smoothly back, as if preparing to be
swallowed by a boa-constrictor, wear white cravats, talk softly, and
show a good deal of the whites of their eyes, from a chronic habit of
looking up towards the moon and stars. As a general thing, these
latter are of no practical use in the world, and make as good a tail
to the kite of the 'strong-minded women' as anything else. But these
people represent a very small portion of the American women, and until
the masses demand 'emancipation,' I rather think that matters had
better be permitted to remain as they are. The women will take care of
themselves--no fear of that."



We started the next morning on an exploring voyage up the right-hand
stream, which enters this beautiful lake some half a mile west of the
one we had looked into the day before. On either hand, as we passed
along the narrow channel, was a natural meadow, covered with a
luxuriant growth of rank grass and weeds, conspicuous among which was
a beautiful flower, the like of which I have never seen anywhere else.
I am no botanist, and therefore cannot describe it in the language of
the florist, so that the learned in that beautiful science might
classify it. It resembles somewhat the wild lily in shape, growing
upon a tall, strong stem, almost like the stem of the flag. The flower
itself is double, and its deep crimson--the deepest almost of any
flower I have ever seen--shone conspicuously, as it waved gracefully
in the breeze above the surrounding vegetation. It has one defect,
however; it is without fragrance, I infer from the fact that its roots
spread far out every way, and reach down into the water beneath, that
it can hardly be transferred to the garden, or become civilized. It
would be a great acquisition to the collection of the florist if it
could, for I know of no flower that excels it in richness of color,
gracefulness of appearance, or in gorgeousness of beauty.

We saw abundance of deer feeding quietly upon the narrow meadows, and
upon the lily pads on our way. We had no inclination to injure them,
and we let them feed on. Some of them were hugely astonished, however,
at our presence, and dashed away, whistling and snorting, into the
forest. Two miles from the lake, we came to a rocky barrier, down
which the stream, came rushing and roaring, for fifty or sixty rods,
in a descent of perhaps sixty feet in all. Around these rapids the
boats were carried, and we found, above them, the water deep and
sluggish, flowing through a dense forest, the tall trees on the banks
stretching their leafy arms across the narrow channel, forming above
it an arch delightfully cool, through which the sunlight could
scarcely penetrate. We followed this channel a long way, when we came
to a little lake or pond, four or five miles in circumference. It was
a perfect gem, laying there all alone, so calm, so lovely in its
solitude, with no sign of civilization around it, no sound of
civilization startling its echoes from their sleep of ages, no human
voice having perhaps ever been heard upon its shore since the red man
departed from the hunting-ground of his fathers. The shores all around
it were bold and rocky, save on the western side, where a broad sandy
beach, of a quarter of a mile in extent, lay between the water and the
shadow of the deep forest beyond. A solitary island of half a dozen
acres, covered with majestic pines and tall, straight spruce trees,
rises near the centre of the lake, adding a new charm to its quiet
beauty. The waters of this little lake are clearer and more
transparent than those of any other we had seen; we could see the
white shells on its sandy bottom, fifteen feet below the surface. This
peculiarity induced us to believe that we were above the stratum of
iron ore which seems to underlay most of this wild region, coloring,
while it does not render impure, the waters of most of these lakes and
rivers. I have frequently, in my wanderings in these northern wilds,
stumbled upon outcropping orebeds, which, were they nearer market, or
more accessible to the energy and enterprise of the American people,
would be capable of building up gigantic fortunes, but they are all
valueless here, and probably will continue so for generations to come.

We saw the fresh tracks of a moose on the sandy beach, tracks that had
been made that morning, and we concluded to spend the day here, in the
hope of securing one of these gigantic deer. We rowed to the island,
intending to encamp there. We entered a little bay, of half an acre,
the points forming it coming within a few yards of each other, and the
branches of the trees intertwining their long arms lovingly above. As
we landed, our dogs began nosing and dashing about, as if suddenly
roused into excitement by the hot scent of some animal that had been
disturbed by our coming. They broke into a simultaneous cry, and
plunged like mad into the thicket. We pushed our boat back towards the
open water, when we heard the plunge of some animal into the lake, on
the other side of the island. Martin, who was in the leading boat with
me, by a few vigorous pulls at the oar, rounded the point between us
and the spot where we had heard the plunge, and there, not ten rods
from the shore, making for the mainland, was the game which, of all
others, we most desired to see.

"A moose! by Moses!" exclaimed Martin, in huge excitement. "Hurrah!
hurrah! A moose! he's ours! he can't escape!" and away he dashed in
pursuit. The other boats now hove in sight, and a loud hurrah! went up
from each, when they saw the nature of the game that had been started.
There was no difficulty in overtaking the animal, desperate as were
his efforts to escape. We shot past him, and turned him back in a
direction towards the island again, and I picked up my rifle to settle
the matter.

"Don't shoot him," said Martin; "don't shoot him yet; he can't get
away, and if you kill him, he'll sink; and if he don't, we can't get
him into the boat. Let us drive him back to the island." The other
boats were, by this time, up with us, every man in a wild state of
excitement, eager to be first in at the death. We had headed the
animal towards the island, with our three boats so arranged, as that
he could swim in no other direction, without running one of them down.
The dogs had started a deer that had taken to the water, on the other
side of the island.

"Look here!" said I; "gentlemen, this game is mine. I claim him by
right of discovery, and my right must not be interfered with."

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