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Wild Northern Scenes by S. H. Hammond

Part 4 out of 5

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"Very well," the Doctor answered, "we'll only take a hand in his
capture if he's likely to escape. So, go ahead."

As we came within a few yards of the shore, and we could see that the
animal's hoofs touched the bottom, I aimed carefully at his head, and
fired. He made one desperate lunge forward, and turned over on his
side, dying with scarcely a straggle, the ball having passed directly
through his brain.

This was the first and only live moose I have ever seen. He was not a
large one, being, probably, a three-year-old, but well-grown. We
should have called him a monster, had we not, before that time, seen
in various museums the stuffed skins of those a quarter or a third
larger. He would have weighed, as shot, probably between five and six
hundred pounds. He had made this solitary island his home, as we
ascertained by his spoor and other signs that we found upon subsequent
explorations. We saw his bed but a few rods from where we landed, and
from which our dogs had aroused him, though they, in their excitement,
had overrun his scent, and dashed off after a deer.

We had now accomplished one of the objects of our journey in this
direction, and as the law we had imposed upon ourselves had reached
its limits, prohibiting our shooting another moose that day, even
should an opportunity occur, we concluded to return to our shanty, on
the lake below. We, therefore, dressed our moose, and taking with us
the skin and hind quarters, started down stream to a late dinner on
Little Tupper's Lake. Indeed, there was a sort of necessity for our
doing so. We had left our provisions there, calculating to return in
the afternoon, not having taken with us even pepper or salt, wherewith
to season the food which, upon constraint, we might cook during our
absence. A few crackers, in the pockets of each, was all, in the
provision line, that we had provided ourselves with, and though, when
we saw the moose-tracks in the sand, we had concluded to rough it, for
a single night, for the chance of securing such rare game, yet having
secured it, that part of our mission was accomplished, and we turned
towards home.

On our return to the lake, Spalding and myself rowed across to the
mouth of a cold brook, to procure a supply of fresh trout, upon which,
with our moose and bear-meat, to dine. This we soon accomplished, and
on our arrival home, we found huge pieces of moose and bear roasting
before a blazing fire. The meat was supported upon long sticks, one
end of which was sharpened, and the meat spitted upon it, and the
other thrust into the ground, in a slanting direction, so as to bring
the roasting pieces into a proper position before the fire. The meat
was removed occasionally, and turned, until the roasting process was
completed, and then served up on clean birch bark, just peeled from
the trees, in the place of platters. We had tin plates, knives, and
forks, with us, also a tea-kettle, tin cups, and tea of the choicest
quality, sugar, pepper, salt, and pork. The man who cannot make a meal
where the viands present are moose-meat, bear, jerked venison, fresh
trout, and pork, and for drink the best of tea and the purest and
coldest spring water, had better keep out of the Rackett woods.

The people, whoever they were, who prepared the camp in which we were
domiciled, had an eye to convenience and comfort. The shanty was built
of logs, on three sides, the crevices between which were filled with
moss, and the sloping roof neatly covered with bark, in layers, like
an old-fashioned roof, covered with split shingles. The front was
open, and directly before it was a rough fire-place, with jams, made
of small boulders, laid up with clay, regularly-fashioned, as if
intended for a kitchen. This fire-place was three or four feet high,
and served an excellent purpose, with reference to our cookery, and
the lighting of our shanty at night. It served, also, to conduct the
smoke upward, and prevented it from being blown into our faces, as we
sat in front, at once, of our sleeping-place and our camp-fire. The
only things that reminded us of civilization, aside from what we
carried with us, were the innumerable crickets that, through all the
night, kept up their chirruping in the crevices of this rude
fireplace. There was something old-fashioned and sociable in their
song. These, with the shrill notes of the little peepers along the
shore, were old sounds to us, familiar voices, and they fell
pleasantly on the ear. We had finished our meal, and taken to our
pipes in the evening, as the sun went down among the old forests, away
off in the west. The greyness of twilight came stealing over the
water, and grew into darkness in the beautiful valley where that lake
lay sleeping. The stars stole out silently, and set their watch in the
sky, and calmness and repose rested upon everything around us.

"I remember," said Smith, "the first year that I was in college, of
hearing two learned professors disputing about what sort of animal it
was that made the piping noise we hear in the marshy places, and
stagnant pools, in the spring time, usually known as peepers. One
insisted that it was a newt, or small lizard; and I remember that he
went to his library, and brought a volume which proved his theory to
be correct. The other denied the authority of the author, and insisted
that the peeper was a frog. The discussion excited my curiosity, and I
made up my mind to satisfy myself on the subject, if possible, by
occular demonstration. There was a small marshy place, half a mile, or
so, from the college grounds, from which I had heard, in my walks, the
music of the peepers coming up every evening, in a loud and joyous
chorus. I watched by it a number of evenings, and though there were a
plenty of peepers, piping merrily enough, yet I could not get sight of
one to save me. I began to think it was a myth, the viewless spirit of
the bog, that made all the noises about which the learned professors
had been disputing. At last, however, I got sight of a peeper, caught
him in the act, and saw that it was, in fact, a little frog, nothing
more, nothing less. He was not more than three feet from me, and
though, when I moved, he hid himself in the muddy water, yet I managed
to capture and take him home alive. He was a little animal, certainly,
not larger than a half-dollar piece, and it was marvellous how a thing
so small could make such a loud and piercing noise. I took him to my
room, and placed him in a water-tight box, in which I fashioned an
artificial bog, in the hope that he would confirm my testimony by his
piping. The second evening, as I sat in my room, poring over the
recitations of the morrow, he lifted up his voice, loud, shrill, and
clear, as when singing in his native marsh. I hurried, in triumph, to
the learned disputants about his identity, and in their presence, he
furnished unanswerable evidence that the peeper was a frog, and not a
newt. I was complimented by both the learned pundits, as though I had
added a great item to the aggregate of human knowledge."

"You _did_ do a great thing, my friend," said Spalding, "you solved a
mystery about which men, wise in the learning of the books, had
perhaps been disputing for centuries. What are the peepers? asked the
naturalist, who listened to their piping notes from the marshy places
in the spring time. It was a matter of small practical importance,
what they were. Still it was a question which MIND wanted to have
solved. Its solution would do no great amount of good to the world.
But then it was a mystery which it was the business of mind to lay
bare; and what more has science done in tracing the history and
progress of this earth of ours, as written upon the rocks, among which
geology has been so long delving? 'What are the peepers?' asked the
naturalist. 'They are newts, little lizards,' answers a learned
pandit. 'They are spirits of the bog, myths, that hold their carnival
in the early grass of the marshy pools,' says the theorist and poet,
who _believes_ in the idealities of a poetic fancy. 'They are frogs,'
says a third, who is ready to chop any amount of logic in favor of his
system of frogology, and hereupon columns of argument, and pages of
learned discussion, have been held over the identity of the jolly
peepers of the spring-time.

"But you discarded logic, threw away argument, and came down to the
sure demonstrations of sober fact. You watched by the marshy pool, and
caught the 'peeper' in the act, took him '_in flagrante, delicto_,' as
the lawyers say, and thus ended the theoretical discussion about the
'peepers.' You placed another fixed fact upon the page of
natural history.

"And how often has the wisdom of the schools, the philosophy of the
profoundest theorists, been overthrown by the simple demonstrations of
practical facts? For a thousand years the world was in pursuit of the
giant power that lay hidden in heated vapor, the steam that came
floating up from boiling water. That power eluded the grasp and
baffled the research of human genius, which was looking so earnestly
after it, until ingenuity gave it up, and philosophy pronounced it a
delusion. Not far from the beginning of the present century, practical
experiment began to develop the mysterious power of steam. Rudely and
imperfectly harnessed, at first, it still made the great wheel
revolve, and men talked about making it a great motor for mechanical
purposes. Philosophy volunteered its demonstrations of the absolute
impossibility of such a thing. Still human ingenuity felt its way
carefully onward, until the great fact was developed, that steam was
in truth capable of moving machinery, was endowed almost with
vitality, and could be made to throw the shuttle and spin. Ingenious
men hinted that it might be made to propel water-craft in the place of
wind and sails, and thus be harnessed into the service of commerce, as
it had already been into that of manufactures. Here again philosophy
interposed its axioms, and declared the scheme among the wild vagaries
of a distempered fancy. But years rolled on, and the tall ship that
swung out upon the broad ocean, and moved forward when the air was
still and calmness was on the face of the deep, forward in the eye of
the wind--forward in the teeth of the storm, that stopped not for
billow or blast, gave the lie to philosophy, and scattered the theory
of the wise like chaff.

"The lightning, that fierce spirit of the storm, that darted down on
its mission of destruction from the black cloud floating in the sky,
became a thing of interest to the mechanical world, and the question
was asked, 'Why cannot the lightning be harnessed into the service of
man, and be made utilitarian?' Philosophy sneered at the wild
delusion, but see how that same subtle and mysterious agency has been
conquered? Note how truthfully it carries every word intrusted to its
charge, along thousands of miles of the telegraph wire, with a speed,
in comparison with which, sound is a laggard, a speed that annihilates
alike space and time. Men looked into a mirror, and seeing their own
counterpart, a _fac-simile_ of themselves reflected there, began to
ask, 'Why may not that shadow be fixed; fastened in some way, to
remain upon the polished surface that gives it back, even after the
original may be mouldering in the grave?' Here again philosophy laid
its finger upon its nose, and winked facetiously, as if it had found a
new subject for ridicule, in the stupendous folly of such an inquiry.
But from that simple question, rose up the Daguerreian art; an art
which fixes upon metallic plates, upon paper, the shadow of a man, of
palace and cottage, of mountain and field, giving thus a picture ten
thousand times truer to nature than the pencil of the cunningest
artist. These and a thousand other mighty triumphs of human ingenuity
have fought their way onward to their present position, against the
fogyism of philosophy, the inertia of the schoolmen. They have been
the sequence of cold, resistless demonstrations of experiment and
fact. The world would stand still but for the spirit of research for
the practical; for experimental, and not theoretical knowledge, that
is abroad. It is this spirit that moves the world in all its present
matchless career of progress, and distinguishes our era above all
others of the world's existence. You may be thankful, my friend, that
you have been able to add another fixed fact to the stock of human
knowledge, even though it be only that the 'peeper' is a frog, and not
a 'newt' or a 'myth.'

"But who would suppose that such a tiny little frogling could make
such a loud, shrill, and ear-piercing sound? Who would think that a
million of such puny things, could make the air of a summer evening so
full of the music of their songs? I remember how, in my boyhood, I
listened to their voices, which came up loudest, shrillest, merriest,
when twilight was spreading its grey mantle over the earth; while the
song of the birds was hushing into silence, and the coming darkness
was lulling the things of the day into repose; Oh! how merrily they
sang along the little brooklet that took its rise in a spring in the
meadow, and wended its way among the young grass, just springing into
verdure, to the beautiful lake beyond. Their song is in my ear now,
and that meadow, that beautiful lake, the tall hills on the summits of
which the departing sunlight lingered, the tall maples that clustered
in their conelike beauty around that gushing fountain, the clustered
plum trees, the giant oak, spared by the woodman's axe when the old
forest was swept away, the fields, the 'Gulf' in the hill-side, and
the beautiful creek, that came cascading down the shelving rocks, and
leaping over precipices in which the speckled trout sported: all these
are before me now--a vision of loveliness, all the more dear because
stamped upon the memory when life was young. Oh! Time! Time! the
wrecks that lie scattered in thy pathway! That little brooklet, and
the peepers, the fountain, the maples, and the meadow, are all gone.
The brave old oak was riven by the lightning. The fields have crept up
to the very summit of the hills, and even the stream that came down
from the mountain has vanished away, save when the rains, or the
melting snows send it in a freshet over the rocks where, when I was a
boy, it was cascading always. That beautiful meadow, too, is gone, and
the streets of a modern village, with blocks of houses, and stores,
and shops, occupy the place where I swung my first scythe. The old
log-house vanished years and years ago. A steamboat ploughs its way
through that beautiful lake, and the things of my boyhood are but
visions of memory, called up from the long, long past. Not one
landmark of the olden time remains. Oh! Time! Time!"



We spent the following day in drifting quietly around the lake,
floating lazily in the little bays, under the shadow of the tall
trees, and lounging upon small islands, gathering the low-bush
whortleberries which grew in abundance upon them. We filled our tin
pails with this delicious fruit for a dessert for our evening meal. On
one of these islands we found indications of its being inhabited by
wood rabbits, and we sent Cullen to the shanty for the dogs to course
them, not however with any intention of capturing them, but to enjoy
the music of the chase, and hear the voices of the hounds echoing over
the water. We landed them upon the island, and began beating for the
game. The hounds understanding that their business was the pursuit of
deer, and having hunted the island over thoroughly, came back to us,
and sat quietly down upon their haunches, as much as to say there was
nothing there worth looking after. But we had seen one of the little
animals that had been roused from its bed by the dogs, and we called
their special attention to the fact by leading them to the spot, and
bidding them to "hunt him up." They understood our meaning, and
started on the trail, with a loud and cheerful cry. For half an hour,
they coursed him round and round the island, making the lake vocal
with their merry music. We might have shot the game they were pursuing
fifty times, but we had no design against its life. The little fellow
did not seem to be greatly alarmed, for we noted him often, when by
doubling he had temporarily thrown off the dogs, squat himself down,
and throw his long ears back in the direction of the sound that had
been pursuing him; and when the dogs straightened upon his trail, and
approached where he sat, he would bound nimbly away among the thick
bushes to double on them again.

We called off the dogs and passed on to float along under the shadow
of the forest trees and the hills, and take an occasional trout by way
of experiment among the broken rocks along the shore. We had
dispatched Cullen to the shanty to prepare dinner for us by six
o'clock, at which hour we were to be at home. Cullen had promised, to
use his own expression, "to spread himself" in the preparation of this
meal, and he kept his promise. On our return, we found a sirloin of
moose roasted to a turn, a stake of bear-meat broiled on the coals, a
stew of jerked venison, and as pleasant a dish of fried trout and pork
as an epicure could desire. Our appetites were keen, and we did ample
justice to his cookery. This was one of the most delightful evenings
that I have ever spent in the northern woods. There was such a calm
resting upon all things, such an impress of repose upon forest and
lake, such a cheerful quiet and serenity all around us, that one could
scarcely refrain from rejoicing aloud in the beauty and the glory of
the hour. As the sun sank to his rest behind the western hills, and
the twilight began to gather in the forest and over the lake, the moon
rose over the eastern high lands, walking with a queenly step up into
the sky, casting a long line of brilliant light across the waters,
showing the shadows of the mountains in bold outline in the depths
below, and paling the stars by her brightness above. We all felt that
we were recruiting in strength so rapidly in these mountain regions,
where the air was so bracing and pure, under the influence of
exercise, simple diet, natural sleep, and the absence of the labors
and cares of business, that we were contented, notwithstanding the
monotony that began to mark our everyday proceedings.

"I have been listening," said Spalding, as we sat upon the rude
benches in front of our camp-fire, indulging in our usual season of
smoking after our meals, "to the song of the crickets in those rude
jams, and they call up sad, yet pleasant memories from the long past;
of the old log house, the quiet fire-place, the crane in the jam, the
great logs blazing upon the hearth of a cold winter evening, the house
dog sleeping quietly in the corner, and the cat nestled confidingly
between his feet. Oh! the days of old! the days of old! These crickets
call back with these memories the circle that gathered around the
hearth of my home, when I was young. Father, mother, brothers,
sisters, playmates, and friends. How quietly some of them grew old and
ripe, and then dropped into the grave. How quietly others stole away
in their youth to the home of the dead, and how the rest have drifted
away on the currents of life and are lost to me in the mists and
shadows of time. Even the home and the hearth are gone; they

'Battled with time and slow decay,'

until at last they were wiped out from the things that are. The song
of the peepers is a pleasant memory, and comes welling up with a
thousand cherished recollections of our vanished youth; but the song
of the cricket that made its home in the jams of the great stone
fire-place is pleasanter, and the memories that come floating back
with his remembered lay are pleasanter still. He was always there. He
was not silent, like the out-door insect, through the spring month and
the cold of winter, piping only in sadness when the still autumnal
evenings close in their brightness and beauty over the earth; but he
sang always, and his chirrup was heard at all seasons. In the winter
the fire on the hearth warmed him; in the summer he had a cool resting
place, and he was cheerful and merry through all the long year. And
this reminds me of an anecdote of a venerable minister, who passed
years ago to his rest. He was a Scotchman, and when preaching to his
own congregation at Salem, in Washington comity, he indulged in broad
Scotch, which to those who were accustomed to it was exceedingly
pleasant. I was a boy then, and was returning with my father from a
visit to Vermont. We stopped over the Sabbath at Salem, and attended
worship in the neat little church of that pleasant village. There were
no railroads in those days. The iron horse had not yet made his
advent, and the scream of the steam whistle had never startled the
echoes that dwell among the gorges of the Green Mountain State. Oh!
Progress! Progress! I have travelled that same route often since, more
than once within the year, and I flew over in an hour what was the
work of all that cold winter day that brought us at night to that neat
little village of Salem. I thought, as I dashed with a rush over the
road I once travelled so leisurely, how change was written upon
everything; how time and progress had obliterated all the old
landmarks, leaving scarcely anything around which memory could cling.
Well! well! it is so everywhere. All over the world, change,
improvement, progress are the words. The venerable minister, for his
locks were grey, and time had ploughed deep furrows down his cheeks,
and draws palpable lines across his brow, was, as my memory paints
him, the personification of earnestness, sincerity and truth. The text
and the drift of the sermon I have forgotten, save the little fragment
that fixed itself in my memory by the singularity of the figure by
which he illustrated his meaning. He was speaking of the operation of
the Holy Spirit upon the human heart, and how gently it won men from
their sinful ways. He said, 'It was not boisterous, like the rush of
the tempest; it was not fierce, like the lightning; it was not loud,
like the thunder; but it was a still sma' voice, like a wee cricket in
the wa's.' I regard the cricket that chirruped in the wall as an
institution. One of the past to be sure, swept away by the current of
progress, whose course is onward always; over everything, obliterating
everything, hurling the things of today into history, or burying them
in eternal oblivion. In this country there is nothing fixed, nothing
stationary, and never has been since the first white man swung his axe
against the outside forest tree; since the first green field was
opened up to the sunlight from the deep shadows of the old forests
that had stood there, grand, solemn, and boundless since this
world was first thrown from the hand of God. There will be nothing
fixed for centuries to come. The tide of progress will sweep onward in
the future as it has done in the past. Onward is the great watchword
of America, and American institutions; onward and onward, over the
ancient forests; onward, over the log-houses that stood in the van of
civilization; over the great fire-places; over the cricket in the
wall; over the old house dog that slept in the corner; over the loved
faces that clustered around the blazing hearth in the days of our
childhood; over everything primitive, everything, my friends, that you
and I loved, when we were little children, and that comes drifting
along down on the current of memory--bright visions of the returnless
past. Ah, well! it is best that it should be so. It is best that the
world should move on; that there should be no pause, no halting in the
onward march. What are we that the earth should stand still at our
bidding, or pause to contemplate our tears? Dust to dust is the great
law, but so long as a phoenix rises from the ashes of decay, what
right have we to murmur? Time may desolate and destroy, but man can
build up and beautify. True, his works perish as he perishes, but new
works and new men are rising forever to fill, and more than fill, the
vacancies and desolations of the past. Go ahead then, world! Sweep
along, Progress! Mow away, Time! Tear down temple and stronghold;
sweep away the marble palace and log-house! sweep away infancy and
youth, manhood and old age; wipe out old memories, and pass the sponge
over cherished recollections. The energy and the ingenuity of man are
an over-match even for time. From the ruins of the past, from the
desolations of decay, new structures will rise, and a new harvest,
more abundant than the old, will spring up from the stubble over which
Time's sickle has passed. Recuperation is a law stronger than decay,
and it is written all over the face of the earth."



While we sat thus conversing, our boatmen went down along the beach,
and around a little point that ran out into the lake, to bathe. They
were jolly, but uncultivated men, given to rudeness and profanity of
speech when out of our immediate presence, and by themselves, and we
heard from them, while they were splashing and struggling in the
water, expressions somewhat inelegant as well as profane.

"I have often thought," said Spalding, as we listened to the rude and
sometimes profane speech of our men, "how vast the influence which
circumstances or accident, over which men have no control, have upon
their conduct and destiny in this world, if not in the next. The poet
has well said,

'Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of Ocean bear;
And many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.'

"These rude men are but testifying to the great truth, that man is the
creature, in a greater or less degree, of circumstances; that he is
great or small, polished or rude, wise or simple, according to the
accident of his birth, or the surroundings in the midst of which his
journey of life lays. True, there _are_ intellects that will work
themselves into position, men who will hew their way upward in spite
of the difficulties which beset them, as there are others who will
plunge down to degradation and dishonor, in defiance of tender
rearing, of education, of association, and all the allurements to an
upward career that can be presented to the human understanding. But
these are so rare, that they may be properly regarded as exceptions to
the general rule; so rare, indeed, as to prove its truth. You and I
can look around us, and from among our acquaintances select many men
and women, whose genius and solid understanding, and whose virtues
too, have remained undeveloped, and probably will do so till they die,
from lack of opportunity for their exercise. Accident seems to have
stricken them from their legitimate sphere. Circumstances, for which
they were not responsible, and over which they could exercise no
control, have barred them out from their seeming true position in the
world, and the genius which was intended for the daylight and the
eagle's flight towards the sun, is left to skim in darkness along the
ground, like the course of the mousing owl. We have all seen another
thing, which baffles our philosophy, while it proves the truth of the
theory of which I am speaking. We have seen men, and see them every
day, who, from no quality of heart or mind seem fitted to rise in the
world, occupying commanding positions to which accident has lifted
them; whose genius commands no admiration, whose virtues are of a
doubtful character, and who possess no one quality which entitles them
to our respect or the respect of the world. As the former are the
victims of circumstance, these latter are its creatures. Both are the
sport of fortune; the one class its victims, and the other its
favorites. How is all this to be accounted for? And where rests the
responsibility of failure, and where the credit of success? Are there
accidents floating about among the paths marked out on the chart of
life by the Deity, which jostle his creatures from the destiny
intended for them? Or were men thrown loose upon the currents of life,
to take their chances of good and evil, to be virtuous or vile,
according to the influences among which they were floating, to be
fortunate or otherwise, as the means of advancing themselves drifted
within their reach? If so, where rests the responsibility, I ask
again, of failure, and where the credit of success? Children are born
into the world under strangely different influences. One first sees
the light in the haunts of vice and crime, amidst the corruptions
which fester away down in the depths of a great city. The influences
which surround it are only and always evil. They are such in infancy,
in childhood, in youth, and in manhood. Another is cradled under the
influence of intelligences, piety, virtue; having around it always the
safeguards of refined and Christian civilization. What is the
difference in the degree of responsibility attached to the future of
these antipode beginnings? Can you tell me where, and how these wide,
terribly wide distinctions are to be reconciled? When and where the
career of these germs of being, starting from points so wide asunder,
are to meet, and how the balances of good and evil, of suffering and
enjoyment of sinning and retribution, are to be adjusted at last? I
have been asking myself, too, while listening to the speech of these
men, so thoughtlessly uttered, where these profane epithets, these
impious expressions, are to rest at last? Who can tell whether they do
not go jarring through the universe, marring the music of the spheres,
throwing discord into the anthems of the morning stars when they sing
together, a wail among the glad voices of the sons of God, when they
shout for joy? In this world, and to the dulness of human perception,
when the sound of the impious words has died away, or a smile comes
back to the face clouded by the angry thought, the effect seems to
have ceased; but it may not be so. The word or the thought may be
wandering for ages, vibrating still, away off among the outer
creations of God. The angel that bore them at the beginning from the
lips or the heart, may be flying still, and generations and centuries
may have passed, before his journeying with them shall have ceased.

"It is a fanciful idea, that whatever we say or think, is immortal;
that every word we utter goes ringing through the universe forever;
that every thought of the heart becomes a creation, a thing of
vitality in some shape, starting forward among the things of some sort
of life, never to die! I have sometimes, in my dreamy hours,
speculated upon the truth of such a theory, and reasoned with myself
in favor of its reality. All I can say in its favor, however, is that
I cannot disprove it. It may be true, or it may not. There are other
mysteries quite as incomprehensible, the results of which we can see,
without being able to penetrate the darkness in which they dwell. But
assuming its truth, and appreciating the consequences which would
follow, we should rule the tongue with a sterner sway, and guard the
heart with a more watchful care than is our wont. Think of the obscene
word becoming a living entity, the profane oath a thing of life; the
filthy or impure thought, assuming form and vitality, all starting
forward to exist forever among the creations of infinite purity. Who
would own one of these ogres in comparison with the beautiful things
of God? Who would say of the obscene word, the profane oath, or the
filthy or impious thought, 'this is mine. I made it. I am the author
of its being--its creator!' And yet it may be so. If it is, there are
few of us who have not thrown into life much, very much to mar the
harmonies of nature, to throw discord among the spheres."

"Your statement," remarked Smith, "that accident has much to do with
making or marring the fortunes of men, is doubtless true. Men are
destroyed by accident, and their lives are sometimes saved by it. And
if you'll put away metaphysics, come out of the cloud in which you
have hid yourself in your dreamy speculations, I will furnish you with
a case in point, showing that a man may get into a very unpleasant
predicament, where he runs a great risk and gets some hard knocks, and
yet be able to thank God for it, in perfect earnestness of spirit. A
case of the kind came under my own observation, and while there was
not much philosophy, or abstract speculation about it, there was a
great deal of hard practical fact. It happened when I was a boy, at
the old homestead, in the valley that stretches to the southwest from
the head of Crooked Lake. That valley is hemmed in by high and steep
hills, and at the tune of which I speak, was much more beautiful in my
view than it is now. There was no village there then, and the farms
which stretched from hill to hill were greatly less valuable than they
are now; but the woods and pastures, and meadows, lay exactly in the
right places, and had among them partridges, and squirrels, and
pigeons, and cattle, and sheep enough to make things pleasant;
besides, there were plenty of trout in those days, in the stream that
flows along through the valley midway between the hills. On the north
side, coming down through a gorge, or 'the gulf,' as we used to call
it, was a stream which, in the dry season of the year, was a little
brook, trickling over the rocks, but which, in the spring freshets, or
when the clouds emptied themselves on the mountain, was a wild,
foaming, roaring, and resistless torrent. In following this stream
into 'the gulf,' you walked on a level plain between walls of rock,
rising two or three hundred feet on either hand, and a dozen or more
rods apart, until you came to 'the falls,' down which the stream
rushed with a plunge and a roar, when its back was up, or over which,
in the dry season, it quietly rippled. These 'falls' were not
perpendicular, but steep as the roof of a Dutch barn, and it was a
great feat to climb them when the stream was low. Ascending about
fifty feet, you came to a broad flat rock, large and smooth as a
parlor floor, and which in the summer season was dry. Well, one day,
in company with a boy who was visiting me, I went up to the 'falls,'
and we concluded to climb the shelving rocks to the 'table;' and
taking off our shoes and stockings, entered upon the perilous
ascent--for such to some extent it was. Hands and feet, fingers and
toes, were all put in requisition. My friend began the ascent before I
did, and was half way up when I started. I ought to have said, that at
the foot of the 'falls,' was a basin, worn away by the torrent, and in
which the water, clear and cold, then stood to the depth of three or
four feet. We were toiling painfully up, when I heard a rush above,
and in an instant my friend came like an arrow past me, sliding down
the shelving rocks on his back, or rather in a half-sitting posture,
his rear to the rocks. I won't undertake to say that the fire flew as
he went by me, for the rocks were slate, and therefore such a
phenomenon was not likely to occur, but the entire absence of the seat
of my friend's pantaloons, and the blood that trickled down to his
toes, showed that the friction was considerable. As he passed me, I
heard him exclaim, 'thank God,' and the next instant he plunged into
the cold water at the base of the falls. What there was to be thankful
for in such a descent over the rocks, I could not at the time
comprehend, as the chances were in favor of a broken back, or neck, or
some other consummation equally out of the range of gratitude, in an
ordinary way. He came up out of the water blowing and snorting like a
porpoise with a cold in his head, and waded to the shore. 'Come down,'
he shouted, which I did, not quite so far or fast as he did, but fast
enough to make an involuntary plunge, head foremost, into the pool at
the bottom. The occasion of his catastrophe was this: he had ascended
so near the table rock, that his hands were upon it, and was lifting
himself up, when, as his eyes came above the surface, the edge upon
which his hands with most of his weight rested, gave way, and he
started for the basin below. But he had a view of what satisfied him
that to this accident he owed his life, and it was a sense of
gratitude for his escape, that prompted the exclamation I heard as he
went bumping past me. Coiled on the rock above, and within reach of
his face, were several large rattlesnakes, and he always insisted that
one made a spring at him, as his hands gave way, and he put out for
the basin into which he plunged. He was a good deal bruised, but his
escape from the poisonous reptiles reconciled him to that."



We concluded that we would break up our camp in the morning, and drift
leisurely back towards civilization. We had tarried upon this
beautiful lake until we had explored its romantic nooks, and we
started on our return to our old camping ground at the foot of Round
Pond. We had refrained for two days from disturbing the deer, and our
supply of fresh venison was entirely exhausted. Just at the outlet of
the lake we were leaving, is a little bay, towards the head of which
are a great number of boulders, laying around loose, scattered about
like haycocks in a meadow, only a great many more to the acre. The
water about these boulders is shallow, and the lily-pads and grasses
make a luxuriant pasture for the deer. Among these boulders, and
concealed by one of them, save when his head was up, was a deer. While
he fed we could see nothing of him, but when he raised his head to
look around him, that alone was visible above the rock. Smith and
myself were in the leading boat, he in the bow with his rifle. As the
current swept near the rocks where the deer was feeding, we let our
little craft drift quietly in that direction. As we came within
shooting distance, say from fifteen to twenty rods, Smith adjusted his
rifle, and as the animal raised its head above the rock, he sighted
him carefully, and fired. It was a beautiful shot. There was nothing
of the animal but the head visible, and the bullet, true to its aim,
struck it square between the eyes, and it fell dead. This shot,
together with the glory of killing the bear, elated Smith wonderfully,
and upon the strength of them, he assumed the championship of the

We drew the deer into the baggage-boat, and sent forward our pioneer
to erect our tents, and prepare a late dinner, at our old camping
ground, while we landed with the dogs on the island near the head of
Round Pond, or Lake, to course whatever game they might find upon it.
They soon burst into full chorus, and dashed away. The island is
small, containing only a few acres, and the game could not, therefore,
take a wide range After a single turn, a deer broke, like a maddened
war-horse, from the thicket, and plunging into the lake, struck boldly
for the mainland, five hundred yards distant. We were near by with our
two boats when he took to the water, and we thought we would accompany
him as an escort to the shore; so we rowed up, and with a boat on each
side, and within ten feet of him, as he swam, escorted him towards the
forest. We treated him with great respect, offering him no indignity,
interfering with him in nothing; and yet the old fellow seemed very
far from appreciating our politeness, or relishing our company. The
truth is, he was horribly frightened, and he struggled desperately to
rid himself of our association; but we stuck by him like his destiny,
talking kindly to him, endeavoring to impress upon his mind that we
meant him no harm--indeed, that we were his friends. But, I repeat, he
did not appreciate our politeness. By-and-by his feet touched the
sand, and he bounded forward, as much as to say, "Good-bye,
gentlemen," when a simultaneous yell from all six of us, and the
discharge of four rifles in quick succession over him, added
wonderfully to the energy of his flight. He will be likely to
recognise us if he ever meets us again, and if the past furnishes any
admonitions to his kind, he will give us a wide berth.

We rowed leisurely along the eastern shore, and in a deep bay found
excellent fishing, at the mouth of a cold mountain brook. On the banks
of this bay we found the winter hut of a martin and sable trapper. It
had an outer and inner apartment, the latter almost subterranean. The
hut was composed of small logs, which a single man could lay up, the
crevices between which were closely packed with moss, and the roof
covered with two or three layers of bark. The doorway was sawed
through these logs, and a door, constructed of bark, was made to fit
it; a rude hearth of sandstone was built in one corner, and a hole was
open above it to let out the smoke. Against the outside of this pen,
only about ten feet square, logs were leaned up, the ends of which
rested upon the ground, the interstices between them carefully stopped
with moss, and the whole covered with bark; the ends consisted of
stakes, driven into the ground and chinked with moss. Into this
sleeping apartment a door was cut from the parlor, large enough for a
man to pass by getting down on all-fours; while within was a plentiful
supply of boughs from the spruce and fir tree. In this hut, now so
dark, and in which the air was so dead and fetid, a solitary trapper
had wintered, pursuing his occupation of martin and sable hunting--the
which, if tolerably successful, would yield him some two or three
hundred dollars the season. He carried into the woods a bag of flour
or meal, a few pounds of pork, pepper, salt, and tea; and this, with
the game he killed, made up his supply of food. With no companion but
his dog, he had probably spent two or three months, and very possibly
more, in this lonely cabin.

We arrived at our camp towards evening, and dined sumptuously on fresh
venison and trout. Our pioneer had provided a luxurious bed of boughs
within, and had fashioned rude seats in front of our tents. He had
rolled the butt of a huge tree, which he had felled, to the proper
place, against which to kindle our camp-fire, and we had a pleasant
place to sit, with our pipes, in the evening, looking out over the
water, listening to the pile-drivers, half a dozen of which were
driving their stakes along the reedy shore, with commendable
diligence. The sunlight lay so beautifully on the hillsides, and
contrasted so admirably with the deep shadows of the valley beneath,
the lake was so calm and still, the old woods stood around so moveless
and solemn, that one could scarcely persuade himself that he was not
looking upon some gigantic picture, the fanciful grouping and
transcendent coloring of some ingenious and winning artist.

"The hillsides about these lakes," remarked the Doctor, "must be
superlatively beautiful in the fall, when the forest puts on its
autumnal foliage. They present such a variety of trees, of so many
different kinds, and the hills and mountains are so admirably
arranged, that they must be gorgeous beyond description. However we
may prefer the green and _living_ beauty of spring, when everything is
so full of vitality, so buoyant and free, yet the autumn scenery is
the most magnificent of any in the year."

"Every season has its charms," said Spalding, "Even the winter, with
its cold, its dead and cheerless desolation, has its robe of chaste
and peerless white, which, as well as that of the spring-time, the
summer, and the autumn, has been the theme of song. I agree with you,
that in gorgeousness of beauty, there is no season so rich as the
autumn. Spring-time has its pleasant scenery, its genial days, its
deep green, its flowers, and its singing birds; and these are all the
more lovely because they follow so closely upon the cold storms, and
bleak winds, the chilling and blank desolation of winter. We love the
spring because of its freshness, its pervading vitality, its
recuperating influences. Everybody loves the spring-time; everybody
talks about the spring-time; poets sing of it; orators praise it;
'fair women and brave men' laud it; so that were spring-time human,
and possessing human instincts, and subject to human frailties, it
would have plenty of excuse, for becoming a very vain personage.

"Somebody has called the autumnal days the 'saddest of the year.' I
have forgotten who he was, if I ever knew; but in my judgment, he was
all wrong. Dark days there are--damp, chilly, misty, wet, and
unpleasant days in autumn; days that make one relish a corner by an
old-fashioned fire. There are gusty, windy, capricious days in autumn,
which nobody cares to praise, when the northwest wind goes sweeping
over the forest, roaring among the trees, and whirling the sere leaves
along the ground, and which, to tell the truth about them, are
anything but pleasant. But 'some days _must_ be dark and dreary,' and
they serve to give the sunlight of a bright to-morrow a keener relish,
and a lovelier comparative beauty. To call the fall days the 'saddest
of the year' is an absurdity, poetical I admit, but still an
absurdity. There is nothing sad in a cold, or a wet, a drizzly, a
gusty, or a stormy day; much there may be that is unpleasant, much
that one may be disposed to quarrel with, but they are anything
but sad.

"A calm autumnal day in the country is a great thing, a beautiful
thing, a thing to thank God for; a thing to make one happy, buoyant of
spirit, full of gratitude to the great Creator; a thing to make one
merry, too, not with a loud and boisterous mirth, but with a heart
full to overflowing with cheerfulness, and a calm joy. To see the
bright sun standing in his glory up in the sky, shedding his placid
light over the earth, when the air is clear, the winds hushed, and the
leaves are still and moveless on the trees; and then to look along the
hillsides, and mark the bright sunlight, and the deep shadows, the
green of the fir, the hemlock, and the spruce, the yellow of the
birch, the crimson of the maple, the dark brown of the beech, the grey
of the oak, the silver glow of the popple, and the varying shades of
all these, mingling and blending in all the harmony of brilliant
coloring. Why, these hillsides are decked like a maiden in her beauty,
like a bride robed for the altar! Talk about springtime, or summer!
Green on the hillside! green in the meadows and pastures! green
everywhere--all around is changeless and everlasting green! as if
hillside and valley, forest and field, had but a single dress for
morning, noon, and night, and that only and always green! True, there
is the music of the birds, joyous notes and variant, happy and
hilarious, in the spring-time, but there is no cricket under the flat
stone in the pasture, his song is not heard in the stone wall, or in
the corner of the fences; no music of the katydid; no tapping of the
woodpecker on the hollow tree, or the dead limb; no chattering of the
squirrel, as he gathers his winter store; no pattering of the faded
leaves, as they come so quietly down from their places; no falling of
the ripened nuts, loosened from their burs or shucks by the recent
frosts. All these sounds belong to the calm autumnal days, and while
they differ the whole heavens from the merry songs of spring, there is
nothing sad about them. No! No! nothing sad. I remember (and who that
was reared in the country does not) when I was a boy, how I went out
in the sunny days of autumn, after the frosts had painted the
hillsides, to gather chestnuts; and when the breeze rustled among the
branches, how the nuts came rattling down; and how if the winds were
still, I climbed into the trees and shook their tops, and how the
chestnuts pattered to the ground like a shower of hail. I remember the
squirrels how they chattered, and chased each other up and down the
trees, or leaped from branch to branch, gathering here and there a
nut, and scudding away to their store houses in the hollow trees,
providing in this season of plenty for the barrenness of the winter
months. I remember, too, how we gathered, in those same old autumnal
days, hickory-nuts and butter-nuts by the bushel; and how pleasant it
was in the long cold winter evenings, to sit around the great old
kitchen fire-place, cracking the nuts we had gathered when the green,
the yellow, the crimson, the brown, the grey, and the pale leaves were
on the trees. Pleasant evenings those seem to me now, as they come
floating down on the current of memory from the long past, and dear
are the faces of those that made up the tableaux as they were grouped
around those winter fires. Logs were blazing on the great hearth, and
the pineknots, thrown at intervals on the fire, gave a bold and
cheerful light throughout that capacious kitchen. I remember how the
winter wind went glancing over the house-top, whirling, and eddying,
and moaning around the corners, hissing under the door and sending its
cold breath in at every crevice; and how the windows rattled when the
blast came fiercest, and how the smoke would sometimes whirl down the
great chimney, I remember well where my father's chair was always
placed; and where my mother sat of those winter evenings, when her
household cares were over for the day, plying her needle, or knitting,
or darning stockings, or mending garments, for such employment was no
dishonor to the matrons of those days. With these for the leading
figures, I remember how seven brothers and sisters were grouped
around, and how the old house dog had a place in the corner, and how
lovingly the cat nestled between his feet. Cherished memories are
these pleasant visions and they come to me often, vivid as realities.
But the dream vanishes, the vision fades away, and I think of the six
pale, still faces as I saw them last, and of the names that are
chiseled upon the cold marble that stands through the sunny
spring-time, the heat of summer, the autumnal days, and the storms and
tempests of winter, over the graves of the dead."



The evening was calm, and the lake slept in stirless beauty before us.
The shadows of the mountains reached far out from the shore, lieing
like a dark mantle upon the surface of the waters, above and beneath
which the stars twinkled and glowed like the bright eyes of seraphs
looking down from the arches above, and up from the depths below. The
moon in her brightness sailed majestically up into the sky, throwing
her silver light across the bosom of the lake; millions of fireflies
flashed their tiny torches along the reedy shore; the solemn voices of
the night birds came from out the forest; the call of the raccoon and
the answer, the hooting of the owl, and the low murmur of the leaves,
stirred by the light breeze that moved lazily among the tree-tops, old
familiar music to us, were heard. This latter sound is always heard,
even in the stillest and calmest nights. There may be no ripple upon
the water; it may be moveless and smooth as a mirror, no breath of air
may sweep across its surface, and yet in the old forest among the
tree-tops, there is always that low ceaseless murmur, a soft
whispering as if the spirits of the woods were holding, in hushed
voices, communion together. We had retired for the night under the
cover of our tents. My companion had sunk into slumber, and I was just
in that dreamy state, half sleeping and half awake, which constitutes
the very paradise of repose, when there came drifting across the lake
the faint and far off strains of music, which, to my seeming, exceeded
in sweetness anything I had ever heard. They came so soft and
melodious, floating so gently over the water, and dying away so
quietly in the old woods, that I could scarce persuade myself of their
reality. For a while I lay luxuriating as in the delusion of a
pleasant dream, as though the melody that was abroad on the air was
the voices of angels chanting their lullaby into the charmed ear of
the sleeper. Presently, Smith raised his head, supporting his cheek
upon his hand, his elbow resting upon the ground, and after listening
for a moment, opened his eyes in bewilderment exclaiming, as he looked
in utter astonishment about him, "What, in the name of all that is
mysterious, is that?"

Spalding and the Doctor followed, and their amazement was equalled
only by their admiration when

"Oft in the stilly night"

came stealing in matchless harmony over the water, "A serenade from
the Naiads, by Jupiter!" exclaimed Smith.

"A concert, by the Genii of the waters!" cried the

"Hush!" said Spalding, "we are trespassing upon fairy
domain; the spirits of these old woods, these mountains and
rock-bound lakes, are abroad, and well may they carol in
their joyousness in a night like this."

In a little while the music changed, and

"Come o'er the moonlight sea"

came swelling over the lake. And again it changed and

"Come mariner down in the deep with me"

went gently and swiftly abroad on the air. The music
ceased for a moment, and then two manly voices, of great
depth and power, came floating to our ears to the words:

"'Farewell! Farewell! To thee, Araby's daughter,'
Thus warbled a Perl, beneath the deep sea,
'No pearl ever lay under Onan's dark water,
More pure in its shell than thy spirit in thee.'"

"That's flesh and blood, at least," exclaimed the Doctor, "and I
propose to ascertain who are treating as to this charming serenade in
the stillness of midnight."

We went down to the margin of the lake, and a few rods from the shore
lay a little craft like our own, in which were seated two gentlemen,
the one with a flute and the other with a violin. They had seen our
campfire from their shanty on the other side of the lake, and had
crossed over to surprise us with the melody of human music. And
pleasantly indeed it sounded in the stillness and repose of that
summer night in that wild region. The echoes that dwell among those
old forests, those hills and beautiful lakes, had never been startled
from their slumbers by such sounds before, and right merrily they
carried them from hill to hill, and through the old woods, and over
the calm surface of that sleeping lake, and with a joyousness, too,
that told how welcome they were among those wild and primeval things.

After listening to their music for half an hour, we invited our new
friends ashore. We found them to be two young gentlemen from
Philadelphia, who had just graduated at one of the Eastern colleges,
and who had concluded to spend a month among these mountains and
lakes, before entering upon the study of the profession to which they
were to devote themselves. They had been close friends from their
childhood, and room-mates during their collegiate course. They had
cultivated their taste for music, until few mere amateurs could equal
their skill upon their respective instruments, or in harmony of voice.
They were highly intelligent and courteous gentlemen, and if their
future shall equal the promise of the present, they will make their
mark in the world. We accepted, at parting, their invitation to
breakfast with them on the morrow, and at one o'clock they left us to
return to their shanty over the lake. We sent one of our boatmen to
row them home; and as they started across the water, they treated us
to a concert to which it was pleasant to listen. There is something
surpassingly sweet in the music of the flute and violin in the hands
of skillful performers; and yet, to my thinking, it falls far short of
the melody of the human voice. I have listened to some of the most
celebrated singers, and of the most distinguished performers, but it
appears to me now, that I never, on any other occasion, heard the
melody of the human voice, or instrumental music half so enchanting,
as that which came floating over the lake on that calm summer night.
There was a volume and compass about it which can never be reached in
a concert room. It was not loud, but it seemed to fill all the air
with its sweetness. It came over the senses like a pleasant dream, as
it went swelling up to the hills that skirted the lake, floating away
over the water, and dying away in lengthened cadence in the old
forests. Every other sound was hushed; the voices of the night-birds
were stilled; even the frogs along the shore suspended their
bellowing, and all nature seemed listening to the new harmony that
thus fell like enchantment upon the repose of midnight. The music grew
fainter and fainter as it receded, until only an occasional strain,
wavy and dream-like, came creeping like the voice of a spirit over the
water, and then it was lost in the distance. The frogs resumed their
roaring, the night-birds lifted up their voices; the raccoon called to
his fellow, and was answered away off in the forest; the pile-driver
hammered away at his stake, the old owl hooted solemnly from his
perch, and we retired to our tents to talk over the romance of our
serenade, and to dream of Ole Bull and the Swedish Nightingale.

The morning broke bright and balmy. A pleasant breeze swept lazily
over the lake, lifting the thin mist that hung like a veil of gauze
above the water. We left our tents standing, and crossed over to the
shanty of our friends of the previous evening to breakfast. We found
them living like princes. Their two boatmen had built them a log
shanty; open in front, and covered with bark so as to be impervious to
the rain, while within was a luxurious bed of boughs. Around the
campfire were benches of hewn slabs, and a table of the same material.
A few rods from the door a beautiful spring came bubbling up into a
little basin of pure white sand, the water of which was limpid and
cold almost as ice-water. They had been here for a week, hunting and
fishing. They had employed their leisure in jerking the venison they
had taken, of which they had some four or five bushels, and which they
intended to take home with them, to serve, together with the skins of
the deer they had slain, as trophies of their success.

They received us cordially, and we sat down to a breakfast, which, for
variety, at least, rivalled the elaborate preparations of the Astor or
the St. Nicholas; albeit, the cookery, as an abstract fact, might have
been of the simplest. We had venison-steak, pork, ham, jerked venison
stew, fresh trout, broiled partridge, cold roast duck, a fricassee of
wood rabbits, and broiled pigeon upon our table, coming in courses,
or piled up helter-skelter on great platters of birch bark, some on
tin plates, and now and then a choice bit on a chip! We had coffee,
and tea, and the purest of spring water, by way of beverage, and truth
compels me to admit, that under the advice of the Doctor, a drop or
two of Old Cognac may have been added by way of relish, or to temper
the effect of a hearty meal upon the delicate stomachs of some of the
guests. We were exceedingly fashionable in our time for breakfasting
this morning, and it was eleven o'clock before we rose from table. The
sun was travelling through a cloudless sky, and his brightness lay
like a mantle of glory upon the water, while his heat gave to the deep
shadows of the old trees, whose long arms with their clustering
foliage were interlocked above us, a peculiar charm. The description
which we gave of the beautiful lake we had left the day before, the
story of the moose and the bear we had killed, together with our
quit-claim of the shanty we had, inhabited, brought our friends to the
conclusion to drift that way for a week or so.

It was amusing to hear Smith relate the manner of capturing the bear,
the glory of which achievement he had won by the tossing up of a
dollar; how he had started out alone in one of the boats with his
rifle to look into a little bay half a mile below the shanty, where be
left the rest of us sleeping after dinner; and how, as he was floating
along under the shadow of the hills, at the base of a wall of rocks
some forty feet high, rising straight up from the water, he heard
something walking just over the precipice; and how he picked up his
rifle that lay in the bottom of the boat, to be ready for any
emergency; and then how astonished he was to see a great black bear
walk out into view along the edge of the rocks above, and how
carefully he sighted him; and how, at the crack of his rifle, the
animal came tumbling down the cliff, and how quick he reloaded and
gave trim a settler in the shape of a second bullet; and how he
tugged, and strained, and lifted to get him into the boat, and how
astonished we all were when he returned with his prize to camp. While
relating this wonderful achievement, he winked at the Doctor, as much
as to say, "fair play; remember our compact; stand by me now." And the
Doctor did stand by him, boldly endorsing, with a gravity that was
refreshing, every invention of Smith's prolific imagination, on the
subject of his slaughtering the bear.

We left our new friends in the afternoon; they to start in the morning
for our old camping-ground on the lake above, and we down the stream
on our retreat from the wilderness. We came back to our tents, after
securing a string of trout from the mouth of the little stream across
the bay. Our evening meal was over, and we sat around our campfire
just as the sun was hiding himself behind the western highlands, when,
from a little hollow in the forest behind us, and but a short way off,
we heard the call of a raccoon. Martin started over the ridge with the
dogs, and in five minutes he hallooed to us to come with our rifles
for he had the animal "treed," and ready to be brought down at "a
moment's warning." We went over to where he was, and sure enough, away
up in the top of a tall birch, sat his coonship, looking quietly down
upon the dogs that were baying at the foot of the tree.

"Gentlemen," said Spalding, "we will not all fire at this animal as we
did at Smith's bear. One bullet is enough for him, and if he gets down
among us, I think six men will be a match for one 'coon,' so we need
not be inhuman through a sense of danger. Whose shot shall he be?"

"I move that Spalding have the first shot," said Smith; and the motion
was carried.

"Do I understand you, gentlemen," Spalding inquired, adjusting
himself, as if preparing to bring down the game, "that I am to have
this first shot, and that no one is to fire until I have taken a fair
shot at him?"

We all answered, "Yes."

"Are you perfectly agreed in this, and do you all pledge yourselves to
abide the compact?" Spalding inquired again, bringing his rifle to a
present, and looking up at the game.

"All agreed," we answered, with one voice.

"Very well, gentlemen," said Spalding, shouldering his rifle, "there's
one life saved anyhow. That animal up there has been in great peril,
but he's safe now. I don't intend to fire at him sooner than ten
o'clock to-morrow, and if I understand our arrangements, we leave
here in the morning at six."

"Sold, by Moses!" exclaimed Martin, as he broke out into a roar that
you might have heard a mile; "I thought the Judge meant something, by
the time he wasted in talkin' and gettin' ready to shoot."

"Spalding," inquired Smith, "do you expect us to keep this compact?"

"Of course I do," he replied; "did any of us peach when you opened so
rich in the matter of your bear? Did any one break his compact with
you on that subject? Absolve us from our agreement about the bear, and
you may take my shot at that animal up in the tree."

"I wasn't born yesterday," Smith replied, "and I can't afford to
exchange the glory of killing the bear in my own way, and baring three
responsible endorsers, for the honor of shooting a coon. Gentlemen,"
he continued, "I move that that coon be permitted to take his own time
to descend from his perch up in the tree-top there;" and the motion
was carried unanimously.



"We have played the boy again, yesterday and to-day, pretty well,"
remarked Smith, as we sat in front of oar tents in the evening,
smoking our pipes. "And I am half inclined to think we have started
for home too soon, after all. Spalding's moralizing for the last two
or three days deceived me. I thought, as he was becoming so serious,
he must be getting tired of the woods; but his proposition yesterday
to escort that deer to the shore, and frighten him almost to death,
his jolly humor with our young friends over the way, and the trick he
played on as in regard to the raccoon this evening, satisfies me that
he's got a good deal of the boy in him yet. We shall have to retreat
from the woods slower than I thought, to exhaust it."

"If the cares of business or the duties of life did not call us back
to civilization" said the Doctor, "I could almost spend the summer
among these lakes, only for the luxury of feeling like a boy again.
When I listen to the glad voices of the wild things around as, I can
almost wish myself one of them."

"That coon, for instance," interrupted Smith, "that came so near
getting shot by his chattering."

"I call the gentleman to order," said I; "the Doctor has the floor."

"I sometimes think that it is no great thing after all to be human;"
the Doctor continued, bowing his acknowledgments for my protecting his
right to the floor. "Mind is a great thing, but there is more of
sorrow, anxiety, and care clustering about it, than these wild things
we hear and see around us suffer through their instincts. Reason,
knowledge, wisdom, are great things. To stand at the head of created
matter, to be the noblest of all the works of God, the only created
thing wearing the image, and stamped with the patent of Diety, are
proud things to boast of. But great and glorious and proud as they
are, they have their balances of evil. They bring with them no
contentment, no repose, while they heap upon us boundless necessities
and limitless wants. We are hurried through life too rapidly for the
enjoyment of the present, and the good we see in prospect is never
attained. When we were boys we longed to be men, with the strength and
intellect of men; and now that we are men, with matured powers of body
and mind, true to our organic restlessness and discontent, we look
back with longing for the feelings and emotions of our boyhood. What a
glorious thing it would be if we could always be young--not boys
exactly, but at that stage of life when the physical powers are most
active, and the heart most buoyant. That, to my thinking, would be a
better arrangement than to grow old, even if we live on until we
stumble at last from mere infirmity into the grave, looking forward in
discontent one half of our lives, and backward in equal discontent
the other."

"You remind me," said Spalding, "of a little incident, simple in
itself, but which, at the time, made a deep impression upon my mind,
and which occurred but a few weeks ago. Returning from my usual walk,
one morning, my way lay through the Capitol Park. The trees, covered
with their young and fresh foliage, intertwined their arms lovingly
above the gravelled walks, forming a beautiful arch above, through
which the sun could scarcely look even in the splendor of his noon.
The birds sang merrily among the branches, and the odor of the leaves
and grass as the dews exhaled, gave a freshness almost of the forest
to the morning air. On the walk before me were two beautiful children,
a boy of six and a little girl of four. They were merry and happy as
the birds were, and with an arm of each around the waist of the other,
they went hopping and skipping up and down the walks, stopping now and
then to waltz, to swing round and round, and then darting away again
with their hop and skip, too full of hilarity, too instinct with
vitality, to be for a moment still. The flush of health was on their
cheeks, and the warm light of affection in their eyes. They were
confiding, affectionate, loving little children, and my heart warmed
towards them, as I saw them waltzing and dancing and skipping about
under the green foliage of the trees. "'Willy,' said the little girl,
as they sat down on the low railing of the grass plats, to breathe for
a moment, and listen to the chirrup and songs of the birds in the
boughs above them, 'Willy, wouldn't you like to be a little bird?'

"'A little bird, Lizzie,' replied her brother. 'Why should I like to
be a little bird?'

"'Oh, to fly around among the branches and the leaves upon the trees,'
said Lizzie, 'and among the blossoms when the morning is warm, and the
sun comes out bright and clear in the sky. Oh! they are so happy,'

"'But the mornings aint always warm, and the sun don't always come up
bright and clear in the sky, Lizzy,' said her brother, 'and the leaves
and blossoms aint always on the trees. The cold storms and the winter
come and kill the blossoms and scatter the leaves, and what would you
do then? I shouldn't like to be a bird, but I _should_ like to be a
big strong man like father.'

"'Please tell me what tune it is?' said the little boy, addressing me.

"I told him, and he turned to his little sister, saving, 'Come,
Lizzie, we must go; mother said we must be home by half-after seven,
and it's most that now;' and he put his arm lovingly around her neck,
and she put hers around his waist, and they walked away towards home,
talking about the leaves and the blossoms on the trees, the merry
little birds, the bright sunshine, and the pleasant time they had had
in the park that morning.

"It was a pleasant thing to see those two little children, so
confiding, so earnest and true in their young affections, clinging to
each other so closely, as if no shadow could ever come between them,
or tarn their hearts from each other. How natural was that simple
question put by that little girl to her brother, 'Wouldn't you like to
be a little bird?' It was the thought of a pure young mind, that sees
only the bright sunshine of to-day, whose life is in the present, and
to which there is no forebodings of darkness in the future. There was
philosophy, too, in the answer of her brother, a simple but suggestive
sermon, 'But the sun' said he, 'don't always come up bright and clear;
the mornings aint always warm; the leaves and blossoms aint always on
the trees. The cold storms, and the winter come and kill the blossoms
and scatter the leaves, and what would you do then?' To finite minds
like ours, it would seem to have been a more beautiful arrangement of
nature, could it have been, that we could always have the spring time
in its glory with us; if the leaves and the blossoms were always young
and fresh and fragrant; if the cold storms of winter could never come
to 'kill the blossoms and scatter the leaves;' if the sun would always
come up bright and clear; if the birds were always merry, and their
glad voices always on the air. This world would be a paradise then,
and one older and wiser in the learning of the schools, but not wiser
or better in the heart's affections, than that little girl, might well
wish to be a little bird, to fly around among the branches, the green
leaves, and the blossoms on the trees. And yet what presumption in
finite man to sit in judgment upon, or criticise the wisdom of the
Omnipotent God! How know we but that a single change, the slightest
alteration of a simple law, would go jarring through all the universe,
throwing everything into confusion, and bringing utter chaos, where
now all is order. The mother sees her little child die, she lays it in
its coffin, and surrenders it to the grave, and her heart rebels
against the Providence that snatched away her treasure. In her agony,
she appeals reproachfully to Heaven, and asks, 'Why am I thus
bereaved?' Foolish mother! impeach not the wisdom of your bereavement.
Mysterious as it may be, know this, that in the councils of eternity
your sorrows were considered, and the decree which took from you your
darling, was ordered in mercy. Pestilence sweeps over the land; a wail
is on the air. Peace, mourners, be still! The pestilence has a mission
of mercy, mysterious as it may be to us. The storm lashes the ocean
into fury; tall ships, freighted with human souls, go down into its
relentless depths; a shriek of agony comes gurgling up from the
devouring waters; a cry of woe is heard from a thousand homes over the
wrecked and the lost. Peace, again, mourners! The storm has a mission
of mercy. It may never be comprehended by us here, but when the veil
shall be lifted, as in God's good time it doubtless will be, we shall
see how the pestilence and the storm, that cost so many tears, were
essential to the harmony of a glorious system, a perfect plan, and
that seeming sorrow was at last the occasion of unspeakable joy. Let
no man say that this or that law, or operation of nature, were better
changed, until he can fathom the designs of God; till he can create a
planet, and send it on its everlasting round; till he can place a star
in the firmament; till he can breathe upon a statue, the workmanship
of his own hands, and be obeyed when he commands it to walk forth a
thing of life; till he can dip his hand into chaos and throw off
worlds. The 'cold storms of winter' are essential to the enjoyment of
the brightness and glory, the genial sunshine, the pleasant foliage,
the blossoms and the odors of spring. They have their uses, and chill
and dreary and desolate as they may be, they are parts of an
arrangement ordered by infinite goodness and omnipotent wisdom.

"'I should like to be a big strong man like father is!' How like a boy
was this? Thirsting for the strength, the might and power of manhood!
And this is the aspiration of the young heart always; to be mature,
strong to grapple with the cares, and wrestle with the stern
actualities of life. How little of these does childhood know! How
little does it calculate the chances, that when, in the long future,
it shall have attained the full strength and maturity of life, when
manhood shall be in the glory and strength of its prime, and it looks
forward into the dark cloud beyond, and backward into the bright
sunshine of the past, the aspiration, the hope will change into
regret, and the yearning of the heart, speaking from its silent
depths, will be, 'would I were a boy again!'"



We started down stream again at six o'clock in the morning, intending,
if possible, to reach Tupper's Lake before encamping for the night. It
would make for us a busy day to accomplish so much; but going down
stream and down hill are very different things from going up, as any
gentleman may satisfy himself by rowing against a current of two miles
the hour, or toiling up an ascent of three or four hundred feet to the
mile, and then retracing his steps. We accomplished more than half the
distance, and that over the worst of the journey, by twelve o'clock,
and we halted for dinner and a _siesta_. If there is one thing in life
which can lay any claim to being considered a positive luxury, it is a
nap on a mossy bank, in the deep shadows of the forest trees, after a
hearty meal, of a warm summer day. There should be, in order to its
full appreciation, a mixture of weariness with a due proportion of
laziness. Too much of either detracts from the enjoyment of its
beatitudes. To _feel_ the sensation of resting, that weariness is
leaving you, and that the process of recuperation is an active, living
agency, going on all through the system, while the natural love of
repose is being gratified as an independent emotion, constitute the
very perfection of mere animal enjoyment. The musquitoes at midday
have gone to their rest, or if a straggler comes buzzing and singing
about your ears, you are lulled rather than disturbed by his song. If
he takes his drop of blood from your veins, the tickling of his tiny
lance is but a pleasant titilation, and you let him feed on, almost
grateful for his kindness in keeping you from sleeping too soundly, or
losing in utter oblivion the full extent of the luxury of
perfect repose.

After an hour's rest, we launched our little fleet upon the river
again, and while the sun was yet above the western highlands, we stood
upon the broad flat rock at the mouth of Bog River, looking out over
Tupper's Lake, one of the most beautiful sheets of water that the sun
or the stars ever looked upon. Our sea-biscuit was getting low, and
our egress from the wilderness was therefore becoming, in some sort, a
necessity. There was no lack of venison, or fish, but these are rather
luxuries than actual necessaries, and they were becoming somewhat
stale to as. The staff of life is bread, and of this we had but two
days' supply. It is entirely true that our jerked venison, now dry and
hard as chips, could, if necessary, be made to furnish, to some
extent, a substitute; still, while "it is written that man shall not
live by bread alone," it is equally the law that he cannot very well
get along without it.

We launched our boats upon the lake and rowed to the head of Long
Island, where we put up our tents for the night. I have spoken so
often of the loveliness of the evenings on these beautiful lakes, that
to attempt a description of the one we enjoyed on this romantic
island, would be only a tiresome repetition. But there was a splendor
about the heavens above, and their counterpart in the depths below,
which I have scarcely ever seen equalled. There was no moon in the
early evening, and so pure and clear was the atmosphere, so moveless
and still the waters, that the stars seemed to come out in vaster
numbers, and with an intenser glow, and to be reflected back from away
down in the lake with a brighter refulgence; the hills along the shore
seemed to stand up in bolder outline; the bays to lay in deeper
shadow; while the tall peaks stood in grim solemnity, like pillars
supporting the mighty arches of the sky.

"I was asking myself," said Smith, as we sat looking out over the
water, in the evening, or gazing down into the glowing depths, and
listening to the night voices, faint and far off in the old forests,
as they came floating over the lake, "I was asking myself, as we
journeyed around the falls to-day, and as we stood on the rock where
the river comes leaping down and plunging into the lake, whether the
march of improvement would ever spread a Lowell around those falls, or
subject those wild waters to the uses of civilization. Whether
progress would ever invade those mountain regions; or the ingenuity of
man ever discover uses for these rocks and boulders, or coin wealth
from the sterile and sandy soil of this old wilderness? Hitherto a
country like this has been regarded of no value, save for the timber
which it grows; and when that is exhausted, as fit only to be
abandoned to sterility and desolation. But who can tell whether there
may not be in these boulders, these rocks, this sandy and unproductive
soil, unknown wealth, held in reserve to reward the researches of
science in its utilitarian explorations. I am not now speaking of
gold, or silver, or any other dross, which men have hitherto wasted
their toil to accumulate; but of new discoveries, and new purposes to
which these now useless things may be applied; discoveries which may
send the tide of emigration surging up from the valleys to mountain
regions like these. May it not be that science, while delving among
the wrecks of vanished ages, may stumble upon some new principle, or
combination of the elements of which these old rocks are composed,
that shall give them a value beyond that of the richest lowlands, and
make them the centre of a dense and cultivated population?"

"Your question," answered Spalding, "is suggestive. Did you ever think
what gigantic strides the world has made within the memory of men now
living, and who are yet unwilling to be counted as old? Look back for
only fifty years, and note what a stupendous leap it has taken! Where
then were the iron roads over which the locomotive goes thundering on
its mission of civilization? where the telegraph, that mocks at time
and annihilates space? Hark! there is a new sound breaking the
stillness of midnight, and startling the mountain echoes from their
sleep of ages! It is the scream of the steam-whistle, the snort of the
iron horse, the thunder of his hoofs of steel, rushing forward with
the speed of the wind, shaking the ground like an earthquake as he
moves. A new motor has been harnessed into the service of man, and
made to fly with his messages swifter than sound? It is the winged
lightning; and as it flashes along the wires stretched from city to
city, and across continents, carries with unerring certainty every
word committed to its charge. Ocean steamers have made but a ferriage
of seas. The photographic art has made even the light of the sun a
substitute for the pencil of the artist. Everywhere, in all the
departments of science, in every branch of the arts, improvement,
progress, has been going on with a sublimity of achievement unknown in
any age of the past. These things are mighty motors which push along
civilization, throwing a wonderful energy into the forward impulse of
the world. But remember, that though these results are brought about
by the advance in the mechanic arts, yet that advance is based upon a
deeper philosophy, a profounder wisdom, than mere perfectability in
those arts. Take the steam-engine--it is a great contrivance, a
wonderful invention; but the greatest of all was the discovery of the
principle and operation, the practical phenomena of steam itself. The
telegraphic machine was a great invention; but the great thing was the
development of the science of electricity, the discovery of the
secret agency which sent forward the thought entrusted to it swifter
than light. The daguerrian instruments, the metallic plates, the
prepared paper, were great inventions; but vastly greater was the
discovery and development of the phenomena and affinities of light,
the mystery of solar influences.

"There is hope for the world in all this mighty progress, for with it
will one day come the development of the true nature and theory of
government, the true solution of the great theory of the social
compact, the proper adjustment of the relations of man to man, a right
appreciation of the nature and value of human rights. It is bringing
forward the masses, elevating the millions who work. It will rouse
into activity their innate energies, and bring forth their inward
might. It creates THOUGHT to guide the hands that set all this vast
machinery in motion. It diffuses and strengthens intellectuality, and
the pride of intellectuality, making of the men who work something
more than mere machines themselves. It is developing and perfecting a
mightier engine than any of man's invention; one that tyrants cannot
always control, that kings cannot always manage. That engine is the
human mind. Like the steam-engine, it is gathering power, and
capability for the exercise of power, and the time will come when it
will go crashing, with resistless energy, among thrones, overturning
despotisms, upheaving dynasties, sweeping away those false theories of
governmental institutions, which guarantee to one class of people a
life of luxurious idleness, coupled with a prerogative to rule; and
which dooms another class to an hereditary servitude, changeless as
fate, and relentless as the grave. It will vindicate the rights, and
ennoble the destiny of the masses of the people who work.

"But where is this career of progress to end? Is there a limit to this
onward movement? We know that the world has made greater advancement
in the present century, than it did in the five thousand years
preceding it, and that new discoveries in the sciences and the arts
are being made every day. Nature has been compelled, and is still
being compelled, to yield up secrets which have been for centuries
regarded as beyond the power of human capacity to penetrate. How is
this? Is the world to go on thus, always? Is this rush of progress to
remain unchecked, always? If so, what mystery, even of Omnipotent
wisdom, will remain unsolved at last? What results will not human
energy be able to accomplish? Is the time to come when man shall be
able to shape out of clay, fashion from wood, or stone, an image of
himself, and, breathing upon it, command it to walk forth a thing of
life, and be obeyed? Will he be able to search out a universal
antidote to disease? Will he discover the means of supplying the human
frame with such recuperative power as will nullify the law that
prescribes to all flesh the dilapidation and decay of age, of weakness
and of death? Will he search out some secret agency which will hold
his body in perpetual youth, defying alike the attritions of age, and
the ravages of disease? Will he discover how it is that time saps the
strength, and steals away the vigor of the human system, and a remedy
for exhausted and wasted energies? It is not my purpose to advance a
theory based upon an affirmative answer to these inquiries, but when
we contemplate the stupendous pace at which the world is moving
forward, who will venture to assert where the limit to this progress
is to be found? You tell me that man cannot _create_; that he can only
combine into new shapes elements which God has furnished to his hands.
I do not know this. That he _has_ not created I admit; but that he has
not capabilities, as yet undeveloped, as a creator, I do not KNOW. I
will not venture the assertion that the time will ever come when he
will have discovered wherein lies the mystery of life; that he will
ever find an antidote to disease; that he will search out some
recuperative agency stronger than the law of decay, and that will hold
the human system in the perpetual vigor, and bloom, and beauty of
maturity. I will not assert that science will, at last, be carried to
such perfection, that there shall be no more infirmities of age; that
the pestilence will be stayed from walking in the darkness, and
destruction from wasting at noonday; that men will cease to grow old,
save in years, or that death will be compelled to seek its victims
only through the channel of accidents, against which forecast will
not, and science has no opportunity to guard. What I mean to say is,
that I do not KNOW that just such results are beyond the capabilities
of human progress. Measuring the future by the past, I cannot
demonstrate that such results may not one day be attained."

"The good time of which you speak," said the Doctor, "when there shall
be no more infirmity of age, no growing old, save in years; when there
shall be no wasting by disease, through the perfectability of the
curative science, or the discovery of some recuperative agency,
stronger than the law of decay, will never come. When it is granted,
as an abstract proposition, that the capabilities of science are
sufficient to counteract the mere wasting influence of time upon the
human system, you are met by a great practical fact which will
overturn your theory. The excesses of the world are a much more
fruitful source of disease and death than the attritions of age. There
is a constant struggle on the part of nature to build up and beautify,
to strengthen and recuperate, against the results of human excesses.
Not one in a million of those who pass away every year, die from the
effects of age, as a primary cause. Hence, you must not only perfect
science, but you must perfect the morals and the habits of the human
family, before you can exempt them from decay and death. The instincts
of men, the appetencies which they possess in common with the whole
animal creation, are each made the source of disease, and premature
decay. Some men eat too much; some drink too much; some sleep too
much; some waste their vital energies in sensual indulgence, while all
have some vicious habit (I mean with reference to the preservation of
life), known or unknown to the world, which, sooner or later,
undermines the constitution, and helps on the work of dilapidation.
These excesses will always exist; they are inherent in the human
constitution, resulting from the very nature of man; they are an
inevitable sequence of his physical structure, and his intellectual
life. To avoid them implies absolute perfectability in every
attribute, and that makes him a god. Until man shall have become
infinite in wisdom, as well as immaculate in purity, he will continue
to indulge, to a greater or less extent, in excesses of some sort, and
those excesses will always be an overmatch, when superadded to the
natural law of decay, for the recuperative efforts of science. You
must create a radical reform in every department of life; in business,
in social habits, in the fashions, in the mode of living, in
everything, before you can hope to reach the Utopia of which you
speak. The outrages perpetrated upon nature by the conventionalities
of the world alone, would be an insurmountable barrier to the
realization of your idea. The necessity for excessive labor to satisfy
artificial wants hews away at one end of society, and the indulgence
of idleness and ease, at the other. Exposure to the elements, to heat
and cold, buries its millions; and too great seclusion, in pursuit of
comfort in heated rooms, and a confined and corrupted atmosphere,
buries its millions also. Lack of wholesome food fills thousands of
graves, and the results of abundance fill other thousands. Lack of
appropriate clothing, fitted for the constitution and the seasons,
engenders disease and death; and an excess of the same article,
fashioned as stupendous folly only can fashion it, engenders vastly
more disease and death. There are elements of decay and death
furnished to men and women, tempting their weakness, and forced upon
their adoption by the conventionalities of life, every day, every
hour, and everywhere. It is a part of our civilization, an offshoot of
the very progress of which you speak, a sort of necessity in practical
results, at least, that men _shall_ so live as to wage war against
nature, and against themselves; that they shall hurry themselves, or
be hurried by inevitable circumstances, into the grave at the earliest
possible moment. You may, therefore, dismiss from your mind, my
friend, the fanciful idea, that science will ever enable the world to
dispense with the cemeteries, or that the cities of the dead will,
through its agency, cease to flourish. You will find that as science
closes up one avenue to the grave, men will force a way to it through
another. We shall have to live as our fathers lived, be subject to
disease as they were, grow old as they grew old, and die as they died.
We must submit to the law which has written the doom of decay upon all
things, which has made us mortal, and when our time comes we must be
content to pass away as the countless millions who preceded us
have done."

"Well," said Spalding, as he knocked the ashes from his pipe, and rose
to retire, under the cover of the tent, for the night, "be it as you
say, what matters it? 'I would not live always.' Give to us the hope
of an hereafter, a faith that looks through the valley of the shadow
of death, and sees immortality, a world of glory beyond, and what
matters it how soon the hour of our departure shall come?"



As Spalding ceased speaking, there came from away off, over the forest
in the direction of the tall mountain peaks, a faint sound like the
boom of a cannon, so distant that it could scarcely be heard, and yet
it was distinct and palpable to the senses. I say that it came from
the direction of the mountains, seen dim and shadowy in the distance,
and yet none of us were quite sure of this. We all heard it, but not
one of us could assert that the direction from which it came was a
fixed fact in his mind.

"There, Judge" said Cullen, "I've hearn that sound often among the
mountains, and when I've been driftin' about on these lakes, it never
seems much louder or nearer. It always seems to come from the
mountains, and yet you'll hear it while shantyin' at their base, and
it sounds just as faint and far off as it did just now. What it is, or
where it comes from, I won't undertake to say. The old Ingins who,
five and twenty year ago, fished and hunted over these regions, told
of it as a thing to wonder at, and that it was handed along down from
generation to generation, as one of the mysteries of this wilderness.
I mind once I was out among the Adirondacks, trappin' martin and
sable. I shantied for a week with Crop, under the shadow of Mount
Marcy. It was twenty odd year ago, and that old mountain stood a good
deal further from a clearin' than it does now. Crop and I had a good
many hard days' work that trip; but we got a full pack of martin and
sable skins, and two or three wolf scalps, besides a bear and a
painter, and we didn't complain. Wal, one afternoon, we put up a
shanty in an open spot two miles from our regular campin' ground, and
built our fire for the night. There was no moon, and though the stars
shone out bright and clear, yet in the deep shadow of the forest it
was dark and gloomy enough. We had eaten our supper, and I was smokin'
my last pipe before layin' myself away, when all at once the forest
was lighted up like the day. It was all the more light from the sudden
glare which broke upon the darkness, and there, for an instant, stood
the old woods, lighted up like noon, every tree distinct, every
mountain, every rock, and valley, as perfect and plain to be seen as
if the sun was standin' right above us in the sky. Crop was as much
astonished as I was, and he crept to my feet and trembled like a
coward, as he crouched beside them. I looked up, and flyin' across the
heavens was a great ball of fire, lookin' for all the world as if the
sun had broke loose, and was runnin' away in a fright. A long trail of
light flashed and streamed along the sky where it passed. It was out
of sight in a moment, and the fiery tail it left behind faded into
darkness. A little while after, maybe ten minutes after it
disappeared, that boomin' sound came driftin' down the wind, and I
somehow tho't it was mixed up in some way with that great ball of fire
that flew across the sky. Maybe I was wrong, but I've always tho't it
was the bustin' into pieces of that fiery thing that lighted up the
old woods that night, that broke the forest stillness, like a far off
cannon. I never heard it so loud at any other time, and when I hear it
now, I always say to myself, there goes another of Nater's fireballs
into shivers. I've hearn it in the daytime, when the air was still,
and the forest voices were hushed, but I never at any other time, day
or night, saw what I suspicioned occasioned it. The Ingins used to say
it came from the mountains, but it don't. I've hearn some folks
pretend that it comes from the bowels of the airth, but it don't; its
a thing of the air, and I've a notion it travels a mighty long way
from its startin' place afore it reaches us.

"Talkin' about that trip among the Adirondacks, puts me in mind of an
adventer I had with a bull moose, on one occasion among them. There
are times when sich an animal is dangerous. I've hearn tell of
elephants gittin' crazy and breakin' loose from their keepers, or
killin' them, and makin' a general smash of whatever comes in their
way. I believe its so sometimes with a bull moose; and when the fit
is on the animal forgets its timid nater, and is bold and fierce as a
tiger. I've seen two sich in my day; one of 'em sent me into a tree,
and the other put me around a great hemlock a dozen or twenty times, a
good deal faster than I like to travel in a general way, and if I
hadn't hamstrung him with my huntin' knife, maybe he'd have been
chasin' me round that tree yet. Wal, as I was sayin' I was out among
the Adirondacks one fall, airly in November; I'd wounded a deer, and
sent Crop forward on his trail to overtake and secure him. It was a
big buck, with long horns, and Crop had a pretty good general idea of
what sich things meant. He was cautious about cultivatin' too close an
acquaintance with such an animal, unless something oncommon obligated
him to do so. I heard him bayin' a little way over a ridge layin' gist
beyond where I shot the buck. I warn't in any great hurry, for I knew
Crop would attend to his case, and I tho't I'd wipe out my rifle afore
I loaded it again. I was standin' by the upturned roots of a tall fir
tree that had been blown down, and in fallin' had lodged in a crotch
of a great birch, maybe twenty feet from the ground, and broke off. I
stepped onto the butt of the fallen spruce, and was takin' my time to
clean my gun, when I heard a crashin' among the brush on the other
side of the ridge, as if some mighty big animal was comin' my way. I
walked pretty quick along up the slopin' log till I was, maybe fifteen
feet from the ground, and I saw Crop comin' over the ridge, in what
the Doctor would call a high state of narvous excitement, with his
tail between his legs, lookin' back over his shoulder, and expressin'
his astonishment in a low, quick bark, at every jump, at something he
seemed to regard as mighty onpleasant on his trail. I didn't have to
wait long to find out what it was, for about the biggest bull moose I
ever happened to see, came crashin' like a steam-engine after him. He
wasn't more than two rods behind the dog, and if I ever saw an ugly
looking beast, that moose was the one. Every hair seemed to stand
towards his head, and if he wasn't in earnest I never saw an animal
that was. He was puttin' in his best jumps, and the way he hurried up
Crop's cakes was a thing to be astonished at. The dog didn't see me,
and seemed to be principled agin stoppin' to inquire my whereabouts.
He dashed under the log where I stood, and the moose after him like
mad. He seemed to be expectin' aid and comfort from me, as the papers
say, and was wonderin', no doubt, where me and my rifle was all this
time. I called after him, but he was in a hurry and couldn't stop, for
there was a thing he didn't care about shakin' hands with, not three
rods from his tail. He heard me, though, and took a circle round a
great boulder, and the moose after him, and as he got straightened my
way, I called him again, and he saw me. He leaped onto the log and
came runnin' up to where I stood, and was mighty glad to be out of the
way of them big hoofs and horns that were after him. He was safe now,
and he opened his mouth and let off a good deal of tall barkin' at his
enemy. The moose saw us, and his fury was the greater because he
couldn't get at us. He kept chargin' back and forth under the log we
were perched on, and if there wasn't malice in his eye, I wouldn't
say so.

"When I first saw him, I was standin' with the butt of my rifle on the
log, my hand graspin' the barrel, and as I caught it up suddenly to
load, the string of my powder-horn caught between the muzzle and the
ramrod, broke, and the horn fell to the ground. Here was a fix for a
hunter to be in. My rifle was empty, and every grain of powder I had
in the world was in the horn, fifteen feet below me, on the ground. To
go down after it was a thing I was principled agin undertaking
considerin' the circumstance of that bull moose with his great horns
and the onpleasant temper he seemed to be in. What to do I didn't
know. I hollered and shouted at the kritter, thinkin', maybe, that the
voice of a human might scare him; but it only made him madder, and
every time I hollered he charged under the log more furiously than
before. I threw my huntin' cap at him, but he pitched into it, and if
he didn't trample it into the ground, as if it was a human, you may
shoot me. After a while, he got tired of dashin' back and forth, under
the log, and took a stand two or three rods off, and as he eyed us,
shook his great horns and stamped with his big hoofs, as much as to
say, 'very well, gentlemen, I can wait, don't hurry yourselves, take
your time; but I shall stay here as long as you stay up there. And
when you do come down, we'll take a turn that won't be pleasant to
some of us.' Crop and I took the hint and sat still, thinkin' maybe
he'd get over his pet and move off; but he did'nt lean that way at
all. He seemed to've made up his mind to stay there as long as we
stayed on the log, be the same more or less. We'd sat there maybe an
hour, when I happened to think of a trollin' line and some fishhooks I
had in my pocket, and it came across me that possibly I might fish up
my powder horn. So tyin' half a dozen hooks to the end of my line, I
laid down on the log to angle for my powder-horn. When I laid down,
the old bull made a pass under the log, as if he expected me down
there, and charged back again, as if he was disappointed in not
runnin' agin me. But he saw 'twan't no use, and took his old stand
agin. I dropped down the grapnel, and after a great many failures, I
hooked into the string of the powder horn, and hoisted away. I hauled
it up mighty quick, for the old bull seemed to be suspicions that
something was goin' on that might have something to do with his futer
happiness, and when he got sight of it, the pass he made was a thing
to stand out of the way of. But he was too late; the powder-horn was
safe, and I notified him, as Squire Smith did the cats, to leave them
parts in just one minute by the clock. He did'nt pay any attention to
the warnin'. I loaded my rifle carefully, and while I was puttin' on
the cap, asked the gentleman if he calculated to move on, and let
peaceable people alone. He didn't condescend to answer a word, looking
for all the world like a tiger in savageness. 'Very well,' said I, as
I sighted him between the eyes, 'on your head be it,' and pulled. The
ball went crashin' through his skull into his brain, and he went down.
Crop knew what that meant. He didn't wait to run down the log, but
leaped to the ground, and had his teeth in the animal's throat before
the echoes of my rifle were done dancin' around among the mountains. I
loaded my gun before I came down, thinkin' maybe there might be
another bad tempered moose about, but there wasn't. Crop and I learned
what we ought to've know before, and that was that it's a safe thing
for a hunter to have an extra horn of powder in his pocket, and a
loaded rifle in his hand when a mad bull moose is on his trail, and
that a slantin' tree is a good thing to get onto at sich a time."



We rose with the dawn the next morning, and before the sun was above
the hills we were on our way down the lake, to separate as we struck
the Rackett; the Doctor and Smith to return by the way of Keeseville
and the Champlain, and Spalding and myself to drift down that pleasant
stream to Pottsdam, and thence to the majestic St. Lawrence, to spend
a fortnight among the "Thousand Islands" of that noble river. Near the
outlet of the lake is a bold rocky bluff, rising right up out of the
deep water twenty feet, against which the waves dash, and around which
a romantic bay steals away to hide itself in the old woods. This
beautiful bay is always calm, for even the narrow strait which
connects it with the open water is divided by a rocky, but wooded
island, shutting out alike the winds and the waves from disturbing its
repose. It is surrounded by gigantic forest trees, whose shadows make
it a cool retreat in the heat of noon, and whose dense foliage fills
the air with freshness and fragrance when the sun is hot in the sky.
Towards its head, a cold stream comes creeping around the boulders,
and dancing and singing down the rocks from a copious spring, a short
way back in the forest. Near where this brook enters we landed at
seven o'clock to breakfast. We supplied ourselves with fish by casting
across the mouth of the little stream, while our boatmen were
preparing a fire. Our sail of eight miles down the lake furnished us
with appetites which gave to the beautiful speckled trout we caught
there a peculiar relish. We arranged matters so that the Doctor and
Smith were to return in one boat to the Saranacs, while Spalding and
myself were to move on down the Rackett with the other two. Cullen and
Wood were to go with us to Pottsdam, from whence our route lay by
railroad to Ogdensburgh. We had, on entering the woods, dispatched our
baggage to the former place to await our arrival there. At nine
o'clock we launched out upon the lake again. There are two outlets
which enter the Rackett, half a mile apart, down the right hand one of
which the Doctor and Smith's course lay, and ours down the left. We
shook hands with our friends, and lay upon our oars while they passed
on towards home, wishing them a pleasant voyage, and a safe return.

"I say," shouted Smith, as they were about rounding a point that would
hide them from our view, "remember our compact about killing the bear.
The glory of that achievement belongs to me, you know. Don't say a
word about it when you get home till you see me. I haven't fully made
up my mind as to the manner of capturing him, and there must be no
contradictions on the subject."

"Go ahead," replied Spalding, "we'll be careful of your honor. Drop us
a line at Cape Vincent, when you've digested the matter, and we'll
stand by you. Good-bye!"

"Good-bye!" And our friends disappeared from our sight on their voyage

"And so," said Spalding, "we are to leave this beautiful lake, and
these old forests so soon. I could linger here a month still, enjoying
these shady and primitive solitudes. To you and I, the quiet which one
finds here is vastly more inviting than it is to the friends who have
just left us. The Doctor, of necessity, leads a life of activity,
feeling physical weariness as the result of his labors, but little of
that strong yearning for intellectual repose which those in your
profession or mine so often feel. Smith's life demands excitement. The
absence of the cares and toil of business occasions a restlessness and
desire of change, which makes him discontented here. With them the
great charm of this wild region is its novelty. They enjoy its
beauties for a season with peculiar relish, but as these become
familiar, the spell is broken, and they turn towards home without a
regret To you and I, there is something beyond this. We, too, feel and
appreciate the beauty of these lakes and mountains The hill-sides and
placid waters, the forest songs, and wild scenery are pleasant to us;
but we enjoy them the more from the intellectual relaxation, the
mental quiet and repose, which we find among them. We feel that we are
resting, that the process of recuperation, intellectual as well as
physical, is going on within us. We can almost trace its progress,
and we feel that the time spent by us here is full of profit as well
as pleasure. At all events, it is so with me, and if duty to others,
whose interests it is my business to serve, did not demand my return,
I could enjoy another month here with unabated pleasure."

"You have left me little," I replied, "to add to what you have already
said, in expressing the sources of my enjoyment among these beautiful
lakes. Fishing and hunting, considered in the abstract, are things I
care but little about. They are pleasant enough in their way, but what
brings me here is the strong desire as well as necessity for the
repose of which you speak. There is a luxury in intellectual rest,
when the brain is wearied with protracted toil, which far surpasses
the mere animal enjoyment which follows relaxation from physical
labor. That rest I cannot find in society. I must seek it among wild
and primeval solitudes, where I can be alone with nature in her
unadorned simplicity, away from the barbarisms, so to speak, of
civilization, where I can act and talk and think as a natural, and not
an artificial man, where I can be off my guard, and free from the
weight of that armor which the conventionalities of life, the captions
espionage of the world compels us to wear, un-tempted by the thousand
enticements which society everywhere presents to lure us
into unrest."

We drifted leisurely down the left hand channel, and entered the
Rackett, bidding good-bye to the beautiful lake as a bend in the river
hid it from our view. A mile below the junction, the river runs square
against a precipice some sixty feet in height, wheeling off at a right
angle, and stretching away though a natural meadow on either hand, of
hundreds of acres in extent. At the base of this precipice, formed by
the rocky point of a hill, the water is of unknown depth. Above, and
fifty feet from the surface of the river, there are ledges of a foot
or two in width, like shelves, along which the fox, the fisher, and
possibly the panther, creep, instead of travelling over the high ridge
extending back into the forest. As we rounded a point which brought us
in view of this precipice, Spalding, who was in the forward boat,
discovered a black object making its way along the face of the rocks.
A signal for silence was given, and the boats were permitted to float
with the current in the direction of the precipice. We were forty rods
distant, and the animal, whatever it was, had no suspicion of danger.
It paused midway across the rocks, looked about, nosing out over the
water, and sat down upon its haunches, as if enjoying the beauty of
the scenery around it. In the meantime, the boats had drifted within
twenty rods, and Spalding, taking deliberate aim, fired. At the crack
of the rifle, the animal leapt dear of the ledge, struck once against
the face of the rock some twenty feet below, and then went, end over
end, thirty feet into the river. As he struck the water he commenced
swimming round and round in a circle, evidently bewildered by
Spalding's bullet, or the effect of his involuntary plunge down the
rocks. Our men bent to their oars, and had got within five or six rods
of it, when it straightened up in alarm for the shore.

"Hold on, Cullen," said I, "lay steady for a moment." I drew upon the
animal, and just as it reached the shore, fired, and it turned over
dead. We found it to be a black fox, that had walked out upon the
ledge, and thus been added another victim to the indulgence of an idle
curiosity. Spalding's bullet had grazed its belly, raking off the hair
and graining the skin; mine had gone through its head.

"There, Judge," said Cullen, as he lifted the animal into the boat,
"is a kritter that isn't often met with in these parts, and the wonder
is, that he didn't discover us as we floated down the stream. He's
about the cunningest animal that travels the woods. He's got an eye
that's always open, a delicate ear, and a sharp nose, and he keeps 'em
busy, as a general thing. He never neglects their warnin', but puts
out about the quickest, whenever they notify him that there's an enemy
about. I've had a good deal of trouble with them in my day, when I've
been out trappin' martin. They'll manage to spring the trap and carry
off the bait. When one of them chaps gets on a line of traps, there's
no use in talkin'. The game's up, and the trapper may make up his mind
to get rid of the varmint in some way, or locate in another range of
country. He'll find his traps sprung and his bait gone. Or if a martin
has been in ahead of the fox, he'll find only the skull, the end of
the tail, the feet, and a few of the larger bones, and they'll be
picked mighty clean at that. You've seen a martin trap, or if you
haven't, I'll try and describe one so that you'll understand it. It's
a very simple contrivance, and if a martin was not a good deal more
stupid than a goose, he'd never be caught in one of them. We drive
down a couple of rows of little stakes, plantin' the stakes close
together, and leaving between the rows a space of six or eight inches.
The rows are may be a foot and a half long. We then cut and trim a
long saplin', say five or six inches across at the butt, and leaving
one end on the ground, set the other, may be two feet high, with a
kind of figure four, so that when it falls, it will come down between
the rows of stakes. We fix the bait so that a martin in getting at it,
will have to go in between the rows of stakes, and displace the trap
sticks, when down comes the pole upon him and crushes him to death. We
talk about a _line_ of traps, because we blaze a line of trees,
sometimes for miles, and set a trap every twenty or thirty rods. I've
had a line of a dozen miles or more, in my day, in a circle around my
campin' ground. In minding our traps, we follow the line of marked
trees from one to the other, and so never miss a trap, nor get lost in
the woods.

"I mind once, a good many years ago, Crop and I was over towards the
St. Regis, on a cruise after martin and sable, and anything else in
the way of game we could pick up. I'd laid out my trappin'
arrangements on a pretty large scale, and was doin' a little better
than midlin', when I found that my traps were sprung by some animal
that helped himself to the bait, without leavin' his hide as a
consideration for settin' of 'em. After a few days, I found that
whatever it was, understood the line as well as I did, for he took the
range regular, and not only stole the bait, but ate up half a dozen
martin, that had given me a claim on their hides by springin' my
traps. This was a kind of medlin' with my private concerns that I
didn't like, and I was bound to find out who the interloper was, and
if possible, to make his acquaintance. There was no snow on the
ground, and I couldn't get at his track. So I made up my mind to watch
for him. Well, one day I spoke to Crop to stay by the shanty and take
care of the things, while I went to find out who it was that was
medlin' with our property, and started off on my line of traps. I got
up into the crotch of a great birch near one of 'em, and sat there
with my rifle, waitin' for something to turn up. It was a little after
noon when I got located. The sun travelled slowly along down towards
the western hills, his bright light, in that calm November day, makin'
the rocky ranges and the bare heads of the tall peaks shine out in a
blaze of glory. The livin' things of the old woods were busy and jolly
enough. An old owl came flying lazily out of the thick branches of a
hemlock, and lightin' within a dozen feet of me, opened his great
round eyes in astonishment, and as the bright sunlight dazzled him, he
squinted and turned his cat-like face from side to side, as if makin'
up his mind that he'd know me the next time we met. By-and-by he
opened his hooked beak, and great red mouth, and roared out, 'Hoo!
hohoo! hoo!' as much as to say, 'who the devil are you?' I didn't
answer a word, and after a little, he flew back to his shadowy perch
among the dense foliage of the hemlock. A black squirrel came hopping
along with his mouth full of beech nuts, and running nimbly up the
tree on which I was perched, and out upon one of the great limbs,
deposited his store in a hollow he found there. He caught sight of me
as he came back, and seating himself upon a branch, not six feet from
my head, began chatterin' and barkin' as if givin' me a regular lecter
for invadin' his premises, and takin' possession of his tree. He
didn't seem to understand the matter at all, and I didn't undertake to
explain the reason of my being there. After a little, he went off
about his business, and left me to attend to mine. A raccoon came
nosing along, stoppin' every little way to turn over the leaves, or
pull away the dirt from a root with his long hands, tastin' of one
thing and smellin' of another in a mighty dainty way. When he came to
my tree, he seemed to think that there might be something among its
branches worth looking at. So he came clambering up its rough bark
towards where I sat. He came up on the other side of the tree from me,
till he got about even with my huntin'-cap, and then came round to my
side, and there we were, face to face, not two feet apart. I reckon
that coon was astonished when our eyes met, for with a sort of scream
he let right loose, and dropped twenty feet to the ground like a clod,
and the way he waddled away into the brash, mutterin' and talkin' to
himself, was a thing to laugh at.

"The sun was, may be, an hour high, when lookin' along the line of
marked trees, I saw a black animal come trotting mighty softly towards
the trap I was watchin'. I knew him at once. He was a black fox, and I
knew that he was the gentleman that had been makin' free with my
property for the last few days. He trotted up to the trap, and walked
carefully around it, nosin' out towards the bait, but keepin' out from
under the pole. He seemed to understand what that pole meant, and that
if it fell on him, he'd be very likely to be hurt. After a little, he
trotted out to the other end of the pole, and gettin' on to it, walked
carefully along to within ten or twelve feet of the bait; if he didn't
begin jumpin' up and down till he sprung the trap, you may shoot me.
When he'd done that job, he went back, and gettin' hold of the bait
with his teeth, drew it out and began very cooly to eat it. By this
time I'd brought my rifle to bear upon the gentleman, but I gave him a
little law, to see what his next move would be. After he'd finished
the bait, and found there warn't any more to be come at, he stretched
himself on his belly along the ground, and began lickin' his paws, and
passing them over his cheeks, as you've seen a cat do. After he'd
washed his face awhile, he sat himself down on his haunches, curled
his long bushy tail around his feet, and looked about as if
considerin' what he should do next. Just then I paid my respects to
him, and as my rifle broke the stillness of the forest, he turned a
double summerset, and after kickin' around a little, laid still. I
came down from my perch, and took the gentleman to the shanty and
added his hide to those of the martins I'd taken. My traps warn't
disturbed after that, and I carried home a pack of furs that bro't me
near two hundred dollars."



We floated quietly down the Rackett, carrying our boats around the
falls, shooting like an arrow down the rapids, or gliding along under
the shadows of the gigantic forest trees that line the long, calm
reaches of that beautiful river. We shook hands and parted with our
boatmen at the pleasant village of Pottsdam, where we arrived the
second evening after leaving Tupper's Lake. We found our baggage, and
it was a pleasant thing to change our long beards for shaved faces,
and our forest costume for the garniture of the outer man after the
fashion of civilization. We took the cars for Ogdensburgh, and the
next morning found us steaming up the majestic St. Lawrence, towards
that paradise of fishermen, the Thousand Islands. We stopped a couple
of days at Alexandria Bay, and passed on to Cape Vincent, a beautiful
village situated a mile or two below where the river takes its
departure from the broad lake beyond. This pleasant little town is
built upon a wide sweep of tableland, overlooking the river in front,
and the open lake on the west. It is accessible both by the lake and
river, having two or three arrivals' and departures of steamboats each
way daily, and being the terminus of the Rome and Watertown Railroad,
the great thoroughfare between Kingston and the central portion of the
Tipper Provinces and the States. It is a delightful place in the hot
summer months, with a climate unequalled for healthfulness, a cool
breeze always fanning it from the water, and in the vicinity the best
bass fishing to be found on this continent.

Opposite, and just below the town, is Carlton Island, on which stand
the ruins of an old French fortification, the walls and trenches and
the solitary chimneys, from which the wooden barracks have rotted or
been burned away, remain as melancholy testimonials of the bloody
strifes between the red men of the forest, and the pioneers of
civilization who were driving them from the hunting grounds of
their fathers.

The black bass of the St. Lawrence and Ontario, are the "gamest" fish
that swim, and they are nowhere found in such abundance as in the
neighborhood of Cape Vincent. On the outer edge of the bar, near the
head of Carlton Island, we caught between seventy and eighty in one
afternoon, weighing from three to five pounds each, every one of which
fought like a hero, diving with a plunge for the bottom, skiving with
a rush down, across, or up the river; leaping clear from the water
and shaking his head furiously, to throw the hook loose from his jaw,
before surrendering to his fate. In Wilson's Bay, a sweet place, three
miles from the village by water, or one and a half by land, we caught
as many more on another afternoon. We took a sail-boat and glided
round Lighthouse Point (a pleasant drive of two miles from the
village), out into the lake, and steered for Grenadier Island, five
miles distant, on which we tented for the night, and the bass we
brought home the next day were something worth looking at. Near the
upper end of Long Island are other prolific bass shoals, where the
fisherman may enjoy himself. Indeed, he can scarcely go amiss in the
surrounding waters.

The black bass of the St. Lawrence are not only game fish, but are, in
excellence of flavor, scarcely excelled by any fish of this country.
Baked or boiled, they have few superiors, and as a pan fish, are
excelled only by the brook-trout of the streams. The season for taking
them commences in July; and continues through September. August is the
best month in the year for the bass fishermen. If, during that month,
he will supply himself with a strong bass-pole, a strong treble-action
reel, stout silk lines, and proper hooks, and visit Gape Vincent, he

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