Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

Part 3 out of 4

perceptible slope. It begins to boil over hidden stones in the
middle, and gurgles at projecting points of rock. A mile farther
down there is an islet where the stream quickens, chafes, and
breaks into a rapid. Behind the islet it drops down in three or
four foaming steps. On the outside it makes one long, straight
rush into a line of white-crested standing waves.

As we approached, the steersman in the first canoe stood up to look
over the course. The sea was high. Was it too high? The canoes
were heavily loaded. Could they leap the waves? There was a quick
talk among the guides as we slipped along, undecided which way to
turn. Then the question seemed to settle itself, as most of these
woodland questions do, as if some silent force of Nature had the
casting-vote. "Sautez, sautez!" cried Ferdinand, "envoyez au
large!" In a moment we were sliding down the smooth back of the
rapid, directly toward the first big wave. The rocky shore went by
us like a dream; we could feel the motion of the earth whirling
around with us. The crest of the billow in front curled above the
bow of the canoe. "Arret', arret', doucement!" A swift stroke of
the paddle checked the canoe, quivering and prancing like a horse
suddenly reined in. The wave ahead, as if surprised, sank and
flattened for a second. The canoe leaped through the edge of it,
swerved to one side, and ran gayly down along the fringe of the
line of billows, into quieter water.

Every one feels the exhilaration of such a descent. I know a lady
who almost cried with fright when she went down her first rapid,
but before the voyage was ended she was saying:--

"Count that day lost whose low, descending sun
Sees no fall leaped, no foaming rapid run."

It takes a touch of danger to bring out the joy of life.

Our guides began to shout, and joke each other, and praise their

"You grazed that villain rock at the corner," said Jean; "didn't
you know where it was?"

"Yes, after I touched it," cried Ferdinand; "but you took in a
bucket of water, and I suppose your m'sieu' is sitting on a piece
of the river. Is it not?"

This seemed to us all a very merry jest, and we laughed with the
same inextinguishable laughter which a practical joke, according to
Homer, always used to raise in Olympus. It is one of the charms of
life in the woods that it brings back the high spirits of boyhood
and renews the youth of the world. Plain fun, like plain food,
tastes good out-of-doors. Nectar is the sweet sap of a maple-tree.
Ambrosia is only another name for well-turned flapjacks. And all
the immortals, sitting around the table of golden cedar-slabs, make
merry when the clumsy Hephaistos, playing the part of Hebe,
stumbles over a root and upsets the plate of cakes into the fire.

The first little rapid of the Grande Decharge was only the
beginning. Half a mile below we could see the river disappear
between two points of rock. There was a roar of conflict, and a
golden mist hanging in the air, like the smoke of battle. All
along the place where the river sank from sight, dazzling heads of
foam were flashing up and falling back, as if a horde of water-
sprites were vainly trying to fight their way up to the lake. It
was the top of the grande chute, a wild succession of falls and
pools where no boat could live for a moment. We ran down toward it
as far as the water served, and then turned off among the rocks on
the left hand, to take the portage.

These portages are among the troublesome delights of a journey in
the wilderness. To the guides they mean hard work, for everything,
including the boats, must be carried on their backs. The march of
the canoes on dry land is a curious sight. Andrew Marvell
described it two hundred years ago when he was poetizing beside the
little river Wharfe in Yorkshire:--

"And now the salmon-fishers moist
Their leathern boats begin to hoist,
And like antipodes in shoes
Have shod their heads in their canoes.
How tortoise-like, but none so slow,
These rational amphibii go!"

But the sportsman carries nothing, except perhaps his gun, or his
rod, or his photographic camera; and so for him the portage is only
a pleasant opportunity to stretch his legs, cramped by sitting in
the canoe, and to renew his acquaintance with the pretty things
that are in the woods.

We sauntered along the trail, Damon and I, as if school were out
and would never keep again. How fresh and tonic the forest seemed
as we plunged into its bath of shade. There were our old friends
the cedars, with their roots twisted across the path; and the white
birches, so trim in youth and so shaggy in age; and the sociable
spruces and balsams, crowding close together, and interlacing their
arms overhead. There were the little springs, trickling through
the moss; and the slippery logs laid across the marshy places; and
the fallen trees, cut in two and pushed aside,--for this was a
much-travelled portage.

Around the open spaces, the tall meadow-rue stood dressed in robes
of fairy white and green. The blue banners of the fleur-de-lis
were planted beside the springs. In shady corners, deeper in the
wood, the fragrant pyrola lifted its scape of clustering bells,
like a lily of the valley wandered to the forest. When we came to
the end of the portage, a perfume like that of cyclamens in
Tyrolean meadows welcomed us, and searching among the loose grasses
by the water-side we found the exquisite purple spikes of the
lesser fringed orchis, loveliest and most ethereal of all the
woodland flowers save one. And what one is that? Ah, my friend,
it is your own particular favourite, the flower, by whatever name
you call it, that you plucked long ago when you were walking in the
forest with your sweetheart,--

"Im wunderschonen Monat Mai
Als alle Knospen sprangen."

We launched our canoes again on the great pool at the foot of the
first fall,--a broad sweep of water a mile long and half a mile
wide, full of eddies and strong currents, and covered with drifting
foam. There was the old campground on the point, where I had
tented so often with my lady Greygown, fishing for ouananiche, the
famous land-locked salmon of Lake St. John. And there were the big
fish, showing their back fins as they circled lazily around in the
eddies, as if they were waiting to play with us. But the goal of
our day's journey was miles away, and we swept along with the
stream, now through a rush of quick water, boiling and foaming, now
through a still place like a lake, now through

"Fairy crowds
Of islands, that together lie,
As quietly as spots of sky
Among the evening clouds."

The beauty of the shores was infinitely varied, and unspoiled by
any sign of the presence of man. We met no company except a few
king-fishers, and a pair of gulls who had come up from the sea to
spend the summer, and a large flock of wild ducks, which the guides
call "Betseys," as if they were all of the gentler sex. In such a
big family of girls we supposed that a few would not be missed, and
Damon bagged two of the tenderest for our supper.

In the still water at the mouth of the Riviere Mistook, just above
the Rapide aux Cedres, we went ashore on a level wooded bank to
make our first camp and cook our dinner. Let me try to sketch our
men as they are busied about the fire.

They are all French Canadians of unmixed blood, descendants of the
men who came to New France with Samuel de Champlain, that
incomparable old woodsman and life-long lover of the wilderness.
Ferdinand Larouche is our chef--there must be a head in every party
for the sake of harmony--and his assistant is his brother Francois.
Ferdinand is a stocky little fellow, a "sawed off" man, not more
than five feet two inches tall, but every inch of him is pure vim.
He can carry a big canoe or a hundred-weight of camp stuff over a
mile portage without stopping to take breath. He is a capital
canoe-man, with prudence enough to balance his courage, and a fair
cook, with plenty of that quality which is wanting in the ordinary
cook of commerce--good humour. Always joking, whistling, singing,
he brings the atmosphere of a perpetual holiday along with him.
His weather-worn coat covers a heart full of music. He has two
talents which make him a marked man among his comrades. He plays
the fiddle to the delight of all the balls and weddings through the
country-side; and he speaks English to the admiration and envy of
the other guides. But like all men of genius he is modest about
his accomplishments. "H'I not spik good h'English--h'only for
camp--fishin', cookin', dhe voyage--h'all dhose t'ings." The
aspirates puzzle him. He can get though a slash of fallen timber
more easily than a sentence full of "this" and "that." Sometimes
he expresses his meaning queerly. He was telling me once about his
farm, "not far off here, in dhe Riviere au Cochon, river of dhe
pig, you call 'im. H'I am a widow, got five sons, t'ree of dhem
are girls." But he usually ends by falling back into French,
which, he assures you, you speak to perfection, "much better than
the Canadians; the French of Paris in short--M'sieu' has been in
Paris?" Such courtesy is born in the blood, and is irresistible.
You cannot help returning the compliment and assuring him that his
English is remarkable, good enough for all practical purposes,
better than any of the other guides can speak. And so it is.

Francois is a little taller, a little thinner, and considerably
quieter than Ferdinand. He laughs loyally at his brother's jokes,
and sings the response to his songs, and wields a good second
paddle in the canoe.

Jean--commonly called Johnny--Morel is a tall, strong man of fifty,
with a bushy red beard that would do credit to a pirate. But when
you look at him more closely, you see that he has a clear, kind
blue eye and a most honest, friendly face under his slouch hat. He
has travelled these woods and waters for thirty years, so that he
knows the way through them by a thousand familiar signs, as well as
you know the streets of the city. He is our pathfinder.

The bow paddle in his canoe is held by his son Joseph, a lad not
quite fifteen, but already as tall, and almost as strong as a man.
"He is yet of the youth," said Johnny, "and he knows not the
affairs of the camp. This trip is for him the first--it is his
school--but I hope he will content you. He is good, M'sieu', and
of the strongest for his age. I have educated already two sons in
the bow of my canoe. The oldest has gone to Pennsylvanie; he peels
the bark there for the tanning of leather. The second had the
misfortune of breaking his leg, so that he can no longer kneel to
paddle. He has descended to the making of shoes. Joseph is my
third pupil. And I have still a younger one at home waiting to
come into my school."

A touch of family life like that is always refreshing, and doubly
so in the wilderness. For what is fatherhood at its best,
everywhere, but the training of good men to take the teacher's
place when his work is done? Some day, when Johnny's rheumatism
has made his joints a little stiffer and his eyes have lost
something of their keenness, he will be wielding the second paddle
in the boat, and going out only on the short and easy trips. It
will be young Joseph that steers the canoe through the dangerous
places, and carries the heaviest load over the portages, and leads
the way on the long journeys.

It has taken me longer to describe our men than it took them to
prepare our frugal meal: a pot of tea, the woodsman's favourite
drink, (I never knew a good guide that would not go without whisky
rather than without tea,) a few slices of toast and juicy rashers
of bacon, a kettle of boiled potatoes, and a relish of crackers and
cheese. We were in a hurry to be off for an afternoon's fishing,
three or four miles down the river, at the Ile Maligne.

The island is well named, for it is the most perilous place on the
river, and has a record of disaster and death. The scattered
waters of the Discharge are drawn together here into one deep,
narrow, powerful stream, flowing between gloomy shores of granite.
In mid-channel the wicked island shows its scarred and bristling
head, like a giant ready to dispute the passage. The river rushes
straight at the rocky brow, splits into two currents, and raves
away on both sides of the island in a double chain of furious falls
and rapids.

In these wild waters we fished with immense delight and fair
success, scrambling down among the huge rocks along the shore, and
joining the excitement of an Alpine climb with the placid pleasures
of angling. At nightfall we were at home again in our camp, with
half a score of onananiche, weighing from one to four pounds each.

Our next day's journey was long and variegated. A portage of a
mile or two across the Ile d'Alma, with a cart to haul our canoes
and stuff, brought us to the Little Discharge, down which we
floated for a little way, and then hauled through the village of
St. Joseph to the foot of the Carcajou, or Wildcat Falls. A mile
of quick water was soon passed, and we came to the junction of the
Little Discharge with the Grand Discharge at the point where the
picturesque club-house stands in a grove of birches beside the big
Vache Caille Falls. It is lively work crossing the pool here, when
the water is high and the canoes are heavy; but we went through the
labouring seas safely, and landed some distance below, at the head
of the Rapide Gervais, to eat our lunch. The water was too rough
to run down with loaded boats, so Damon and I had to walk about
three miles along the river-bank, while the men went down with the

On our way beside the rapids, Damon geologised, finding the marks
of ancient glaciers, and bits of iron-ore, and pockets of sand full
of infinitesimal garnets, and specks of gold washed from the
primitive granite; and I fished, picking up a pair of ouananiche in
foam-covered nooks among the rocks. The swift water was almost
passed when we embarked again and ran down the last slope into a
long deadwater.

The shores, at first bold and rough, covered with dense thickets of
second-growth timber, now became smoother and more fertile.
Scattered farms, with square, unpainted houses, and long, thatched
barns, began to creep over the hills toward the river. There was a
hamlet, called St. Charles, with a rude little church and a
campanile of logs. The cure, robed in decent black and wearing a
tall silk hat of the vintage of 1860, sat on the veranda of his
trim presbytery, looking down upon us, like an image of propriety
smiling at Bohemianism. Other craft appeared on the river. A man
and his wife paddling an old dugout, with half a dozen children
packed in amidships a crew of lumbermen, in a sharp-nosed bateau,
picking up stray logs along the banks; a couple of boatloads of
young people returning merrily from a holiday visit; a party of
berry-pickers in a flat-bottomed skiff; all the life of the
country-side was in evidence on the river. We felt quite as if we
had been "in the swim" of society, when at length we reached the
point where the Riviere des Aunes came tumbling down a hundred-foot
ladder of broken black rocks. There we pitched our tents in a
strip of meadow by the water-side, where we could have the sound of
the falls for a slumber-song all night and the whole river for a
bath at sunrise.

A sparkling draught of crystal weather was poured into our stirrup-
cup in the morning, as we set out for a drive of fifteen miles
across country to the Riviere a l'Ours, a tributary of the crooked,
unnavigable river of Alders. The canoes and luggage were loaded on
a couple of charrettes, or two-wheeled carts. But for us and the
guides there were two quatre-roues, the typical vehicles of the
century, as characteristic of Canada as the carriole is of Norway.
It is a two-seated buckboard, drawn by one horse, and the back seat
is covered with a hood like an old-fashioned poke bonnet. The road
is of clay and always rutty. It runs level for a while, and then
jumps up a steep ridge and down again, or into a deep gully and out
again. The habitant's idea of good driving is to let his horse
slide down the hill and gallop up. This imparts a spasmodic
quality to the motion, like Carlyle's style.

The native houses are strung along the road. The modern pattern
has a convex angle in the roof, and dormer-windows; it is a rustic
adaptation of the Mansard. The antique pattern, which is far more
picturesque, has a concave curve in the roof, and the eaves project
like eyebrows, shading the flatness of the face. Paint is a
rarity. The prevailing colour is the soft gray of weather-beaten
wood. Sometimes, in the better class of houses, a gallery is built
across the front and around one side, and a square of garden is
fenced in, with dahlias and hollyhocks and marigolds, and perhaps a
struggling rosebush, and usually a small patch of tobacco growing
in one corner. Once in a long while you may see a balm-of-Gilead
tree, or a clump of sapling poplars, planted near the door.

How much better it would have been if the farmer had left a few of
the noble forest-trees to shade his house. But then, when the
farmer came into the wilderness he was not a farmer, he was first
of all a wood-chopper. He regarded the forest as a stubborn enemy
in possession of his land. He attacked it with fire and axe and
exterminated it, instead of keeping a few captives to hold their
green umbrellas over his head when at last his grain fields should
be smiling around him and he should sit down on his doorstep to
smoke a pipe of home-grown tobacco.

In the time of adversity one should prepare for prosperity. I
fancy there are a good many people unconsciously repeating the
mistake of the Canadian farmer--chopping down all the native
growths of life, clearing the ground of all the useless pretty
things that seem to cumber it, sacrificing everything to utility
and success. We fell the last green tree for the sake of raising
an extra hill of potatoes; and never stop to think what an ugly,
barren place we may have to sit in while we eat them. The ideals,
the attachments--yes, even the dreams of youth are worth saving.
For the artificial tastes with which age tries to make good their
loss grow very slowly and cast but a slender shade.

Most of the Canadian farmhouses have their ovens out-of-doors. We
saw them everywhere; rounded edifices of clay, raised on a
foundation of logs, and usually covered with a pointed roof of
boards. They looked like little family chapels--and so they were;
shrines where the ritual of the good housewife was celebrated, and
the gift of daily bread, having been honestly earned, was
thankfully received.

At one house we noticed a curious fragment of domestic economy.
Half a pig was suspended over the chimney, and the smoke of the
summer fire was turned to account in curing the winter's meat. I
guess the children of that family had a peculiar fondness for the
parental roof-tree. We saw them making mud-pies in the road, and
imagined that they looked lovingly up at the pendent porker,
outlined against the sky,--a sign of promise, prophetic of bacon.

About noon the road passed beyond the region of habitation into a
barren land, where blueberries were the only crop, and partridges
took the place of chickens. Through this rolling gravelly plain,
sparsely wooded and glowing with the tall magenta bloom of the
fireweed, we drove toward the mountains, until the road went to
seed and we could follow it no longer. Then we took to the water
and began to pole our canoes up the River of the Bear. It was a
clear, amber-coloured stream, not more than ten or fifteen yards
wide, running swift and strong, over beds of sand and rounded
pebbles. The canoes went wallowing and plunging up the narrow
channel, between thick banks of alders, like clumsy sea-monsters.
All the grace with which they move under the strokes of the paddle,
in large waters, was gone. They looked uncouth and predatory, like
a pair of seals that I once saw swimming far up the river
Ristigouche in chase of fish. From the bow of each canoe the
landing-net stuck out as a symbol of destruction--after the fashion
of the Dutch admiral who nailed a broom to his masthead. But it
would have been impossible to sweep the trout out of that little
river by any fair method of angling, for there were millions of
them; not large, but lively, and brilliant, and fat; they leaped in
every bend of the stream. We trailed our flies, and made quick
casts here and there, as we went along. It was fishing on the
wing. And when we pitched our tents in a hurry at nightfall on the
low shore of Lac Sale, among the bushes where firewood was scarce
and there were no sapins for the beds, we were comforted for the
poorness of the camp-ground by the excellence of the trout supper.

It was a bitter cold night for August. There was a skin of ice on
the water-pail at daybreak. We were glad to be up and away for an
early start. The river grew wilder and more difficult. There were
rapids, and ruined dams built by the lumbermen years ago. At these
places the trout were larger, and so plentiful that it was easy to
hook two at a cast. It came on to rain furiously while we were
eating our lunch. But we did not seem to mind it any more than the
fish did. Here and there the river was completely blocked by
fallen trees. The guides called it bouchee, "corked," and leaped
out gayly into the water with their axes to "uncork" it. We passed
through some pretty lakes, unknown to the map-makers, and arrived,
before sundown, at the Lake of the Bear, where we were to spend a
couple of days. The lake was full of floating logs, and the water,
raised by the heavy rains and the operations of the lumbermen, was
several feet above its usual level. Nature's landing-places were
all blotted out, and we had to explore halfway around the shore
before we could get out comfortably. We raised the tents on a
small shoulder of a hill, a few rods above the water; and a
glorious camp-fire of birch logs soon made us forget our misery as
though it had not been.

The name of the Lake of the Beautiful Trout made us desire to visit
it. The portage was said to be only fifty acres long (the arpent
is the popular measure of distance here), but it passed over a
ridge of newly burned land, and was so entangled with ruined woods
and desolate of birds and flowers that it seemed to us at least
five miles. The lake was charming--a sheet of singularly clear
water, of a pale green tinge, surrounded by wooded hills. In the
translucent depths trout and pike live together, but whether in
peace or not I cannot tell. Both of them grow to an enormous size,
but the pike are larger and have more capacious jaws. One of them
broke my tackle and went off with a silver spoon in his mouth, as
if he had been born to it. Of course the guides vowed that they
saw him as he passed under the canoe, and declared that he must
weigh thirty or forty pounds. The spectacles of regret always

The trout were coy. We took only five of them, perfect specimens
of the true Salvelinus fontinalis, with square tails, and carmine
spots on their dark, mottled sides; the largest weighed three
pounds and three-quarters, and the others were almost as heavy.

On our way back to the camp we found the portage beset by
innumerable and bloodthirsty foes. There are four grades of insect
malignity in the woods. The mildest is represented by the winged
idiot that John Burroughs' little boy called a "blunderhead." He
dances stupidly before your face, as if lost in admiration, and
finishes his pointless tale by getting in your eye, or down your
throat. The next grade is represented by the midges. "Bite 'em no
see 'em," is the Indian name for these invisible atoms of animated
pepper which settle upon you in the twilight and make your skin
burn like fire. But their hour is brief, and when they depart they
leave not a bump behind. One step lower in the scale we find the
mosquito, or rather he finds us, and makes his poisoned mark upon
our skin. But after all, he has his good qualities. The mosquito
is a gentlemanly pirate. He carries his weapon openly, and gives
notice of an attack. He respects the decencies of life, and does
not strike below the belt, or creep down the back of your neck.
But the black fly is at the bottom of the moral scale. He is an
unmitigated ruffian, the plug-ugly of the woods. He looks like a
tiny, immature house-fly, with white legs as if he must be
innocent. But, in fact, he crawls like a serpent and bites like a
dog. No portion of the human frame is sacred from his greed. He
takes his pound of flesh anywhere, and does not scruple to take the
blood with it. As a rule you can defend yourself, to some degree,
against him, by wearing a head-net, tying your sleeves around your
wrists and your trousers around your ankles, and anointing yourself
with grease, flavoured with pennyroyal, for which cleanly and
honest scent he has a coarse aversion. But sometimes, especially
on burned land, about the middle of a warm afternoon, when a rain
is threatening, the horde of black flies descend in force and fury
knowing that their time is short. Then there is no escape. Suits
of chain armour, Nubian ointments of far-smelling potency, would
not save you. You must do as our guides did on the portage, submit
to fate and walk along in heroic silence, like Marco Bozzaris
"bleeding at every pore,"--or do as Damon and I did, break into
ejaculations and a run, until you reach a place where you can light
a smudge and hold your head over it.

"And yet," said my comrade, as we sat coughing and rubbing our eyes
in the painful shelter of the smoke, "there are worse trials than
this in the civilised districts: social enmities, and newspaper
scandals, and religious persecutions. The blackest fly I ever saw
is the Reverend -----" but here his voice was fortunately choked by
a fit of coughing.

A couple of wandering Indians--descendants of the Montagnais, on
whose hunting domain we were travelling--dropped in at our camp
that night as we sat around the fire. They gave us the latest news
about the portages on our further journey; how far they had been
blocked with fallen trees, and whether the water was high or low in
the rivers--just as a visitor at home would talk about the effect
of the strikes on the stock market, and the prospects of the newest
organization of the non-voting classes for the overthrow of Tammany
Hall. Every phase of civilisation or barbarism creates its own
conversational currency. The weather, like the old Spanish dollar,
is the only coin that passes everywhere.

But our Indians did not carry much small change about them. They
were dark, silent chaps, soon talked out; and then they sat sucking
their pipes before the fire, (as dumb as their own wooden effigies
in front of a tobacconist's shop,) until the spirit moved them, and
they vanished in their canoe down the dark lake. Our own guides
were very different. They were as full of conversation as a
spruce-tree is of gum. When all shallower themes were exhausted
they would discourse of bears and canoes and lumber and fish,
forever. After Damon and I had left the fire and rolled ourselves
in the blankets in our own tent, we could hear the men going on and
on with their simple jests and endless tales of adventure, until
sleep drowned their voices.

It was the sound of a French chanson that woke us early on the
morning of our departure from the Lake of the Bear. A gang of
lumbermen were bringing a lot of logs through the lake. Half-
hidden in the cold gray mist that usually betokens a fine day, and
wet to the waist from splashing about after their unwieldy flock,
these rough fellows were singing at their work as cheerfully as a
party of robins in a cherry-tree at sunrise. It was like the
miller and the two girls whom Wordsworth saw dancing in their boats
on the Thames:

"They dance not for me,
Yet mine is their glee!
Thus pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find;
Thus a rich loving-kindness, redundantly kind,
Moves all nature to gladness and mirth."

But our later thoughts of the lumbermen were not altogether
grateful, when we arrived that day, after a mile of portage, at the
little Riviere Blanche, upon which we had counted to float us down
to Lac Tchitagama, and found that they had stolen all its water to
float their logs down the Lake of the Bear. The poor little river
was as dry as a theological novel. There was nothing left of it
except the bed and the bones; it was like a Connecticut stream in
the middle of August. All its pretty secrets were laid bare; all
its music was hushed. The pools that lingered among the rocks
seemed like big tears; and the voice of the forlorn rivulets that
trickled in here and there, seeking the parent stream, was a voice
of weeping and complaint.

For us the loss meant a hard day's work, scrambling over slippery
stones, and splashing through puddles, and forcing a way through
the tangled thickets on the bank, instead of a pleasant two hours'
run on a swift current. We ate our dinner on a sandbank in what
was once the middle of a pretty pond; and entered, as the sun was
sinking, a narrow wooded gorge between the hills, completely filled
by a chain of small lakes, where travelling became easy and
pleasant. The steep shores, clothed with cedar and black spruce
and dark-blue fir-trees, rose sheer from the water; the passage
from lake to lake was a tiny rapid a few yards long, gurgling
through mossy rocks; at the foot of the chain there was a longer
rapid, with a portage beside it. We emerged from the dense bush
suddenly and found ourselves face to face with Lake Tchitagama.

How the heart expands at such a view! Nine miles of shining water
lay stretched before us, opening through the mountains that guarded
it on both sides with lofty walls of green and gray, ridge over
ridge, point beyond point, until the vista ended in

"You orange sunset waning slow."

At a moment like this one feels a sense of exultation. It is a new
discovery of the joy of living. And yet, my friend and I confessed
to each other, there was a tinge of sadness, an inexplicable regret
mingled with our joy. Was it the thought of how few human eyes had
even seen that lovely vision? Was it the dim foreboding that we
might never see it again? Who can explain the secret pathos of
Nature's loveliness? It is a touch of melancholy inherited from
our mother Eve. It is an unconscious memory of the lost Paradise.
It is the sense that even if we should find another Eden, we would
not be fit to enjoy it perfectly, nor stay in it forever.

Our first camp on Tchitagama was at the sunrise end of the lake, in
a bay paved with small round stones, laid close together and beaten
firmly down by the waves. There, and along the shores below, at
the mouth of a little river that foamed in over a ledge of granite,
and in the shadow of cliffs of limestone and feldspar, we trolled
and took many fish: pike of enormous size, fresh-water sharks,
devourers of nobler game, fit only to kill and throw away; huge old
trout of six or seven pounds, with broad tails and hooked jaws,
fine fighters and poor food; stupid, wide-mouthed chub--ouitouche,
the Indians call them--biting at hooks that were not baited for
them; and best of all, high-bred onananiche, pleasant to capture
and delicate to eat.

Our second camp was on a sandy point at the sunset end of the lake--
a fine place for bathing, and convenient to the wild meadows and
blueberry patches, where Damon went to hunt for bears. He did not
find any; but once he heard a great noise in the bushes, which he
thought was a bear; and he declared that he got quite as much
excitement out of it as if it had had four legs and a mouthful of

He brought back from one of his expeditions an Indian letter, which
he had found in a cleft stick by the river. It was a sheet of
birch-bark with a picture drawn on it in charcoal; five Indians in
a canoe paddling up the river, and one in another canoe pointing in
another direction; we read it as a message left by a hunting party,
telling their companions not to go on up the river, because it was
already occupied, but to turn off on a side stream.

There was a sign of a different kind nailed to an old stump behind
our camp. It was the top of a soap-box, with an inscription after
this fashion:

Soap Mfrs. N. Y.
PIKE 147 1/2 LBS.

There was a combination of piscatorial pride and mercantile
enterprise in this quaint device, that took our fancy. It
suggested also a curious question of psychology in regard to the
inhibitory influence of horses and fish upon the human nerve of
veracity. We named the place "Point Ananias."

And yet, in fact, it was a wild and lonely spot, and not even the
Hebrew inscription could spoil the sense of solitude that
surrounded us when the night came, and the storm howled across the
take, and the darkness encircled us with a wall that only seemed
the more dense and impenetrable as the firelight blazed and leaped
within the black ring.

"How far away is the nearest house, Johnny?"

"I don't know; fifty miles, I suppose."

"And what would you do if the canoes were burned, or if a tree fell
and smashed them?"

"Well, I'd say a Pater noster, and take bread and bacon enough for
four days, and an axe, and plenty of matches, and make a straight
line through the woods. But it wouldn't be a joke, M'sieu', I can
tell you."

The river Peribonca, into which Lake Tchitagama flows without a
break, is the noblest of all the streams that empty into Lake St.
John. It is said to be more than three hundred miles long, and at
the mouth of the lake it is perhaps a thousand feet wide, flowing
with a deep, still current through the forest. The dead-water
lasted for several miles; then the river sloped into a rapid,
spread through a net of islands, and broke over a ledge in a
cataract. Another quiet stretch was followed by another fall, and
so on, along the whole course of the river.

We passed three of these falls in the first day's voyage (by
portages so steep and rough that an Adirondack guide would have
turned gray at the sight of them), and camped at night just below
the Chute du Diable, where we found some ouananiche in the foam.
Our tents were on an islet, and all around we saw the primeval,
savage beauty of a world unmarred by man,

The river leaped, shouting, down its double stairway of granite,
rejoicing like a strong man to run a race. The after-glow in the
western sky deepened from saffron to violet among the tops of the
cedars, and over the cliffs rose the moonlight, paling the heavens
but glorifying the earth. There was something large and generous
and untrammelled in the scene, recalling one of Walt Whitman's

"Earth of departed sunsets! Earth of the mountains misty-topped!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!
Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the river!"

All the next day we went down with the current. Regiments of black
spruce stood in endless files like grenadiers, each tree capped
with a thick tuft of matted cones and branches. Tall white birches
leaned out over the stream, Narcissus-like, as if to see their own
beauty in the moving mirror. There were touches of colour on the
banks, the ragged pink flowers of the Joe-Pye-weed (which always
reminds me of a happy, good-natured tramp), and the yellow ear-
drops of the jewel-weed, and the intense blue of the closed
gentian, that strange flower which, like a reticent heart, never
opens to the light. Sometimes the river spread out like a lake,
between high bluffs of sand fully a mile apart; and again it
divided into many channels, winding cunningly down among the
islands as if it were resolved to slip around the next barrier of
rock without a fall. There were eight of these huge natural dams
in the course of that day's journey. Sometimes we followed one of
the side canals, and made the portage at a distance from the main
cataract; and sometimes we ran with the central current to the very
brink of the chute, darting aside just in time to escape going
over. At the foot of the last fall we made our camp on a curving
beach of sand, and spent the rest of the afternoon in fishing.

It was interesting to see how closely the guides could guess at the
weight of the fish by looking at them. The ouananiche are much
longer in proportion to their weight than trout, and a novice
almost always overestimates them. But the guides were not
deceived. "This one will weigh four pounds and three-quarters, and
this one four pounds, but that one not more than three pounds; he
is meagre, M'sieu', BUT he is meagre." When we went ashore and
tried the spring balance (which every angler ought to carry with
him, as an aid to his conscience), the guides guess usually proved
to be within an ounce or two of the fact. Any one of the senses
can be educated to do the work of the others. The eyes of these
experienced fishermen were as sensitive to weight as if they had
been made to use as scales.

Below the last fall the Peribonca flows for a score of miles with
an unbroken, ever-widening stream, through low shores of forest and
bush and meadow. Near its mouth the Little Peribonca joins it, and
the immense flood, nearly two miles wide, pours into Lake St. John.
Here we saw the first outpost of civilisation--a huge unpainted
storehouse, where supplies are kept for the lumbermen and the new
settlers. Here also we found the tiny, lame steam launch that was
to carry us back to the Hotel Roberval. Our canoes were stowed
upon the roof of the cabin, and we embarked for the last stage of
our long journey.

As we came out of the river-mouth, the opposite shore of the lake
was invisible, and a stiff "Nor'wester" was rolling big waves
across the bar. It was like putting out into the open sea. The
launch laboured and puffed along for four or five miles, growing
more and more asthmatic with every breath. Then there was an
explosion in the engine-room. Some necessary part of the
intestinal machinery had blown out. There was a moment of
confusion. The captain hurried to drop the anchor, and the narrow
craft lay rolling in the billows.

What to do? The captain shrugged his shoulders like a Frenchman.
"Wait here, I suppose." But how long? "Who knows? Perhaps till
to-morrow; perhaps the day after. They will send another boat to
look for us in the course of time."

But the quarters were cramped; the weather looked ugly; if the wind
should rise, the cranky launch would not be a safe cradle for the
night. Damon and I preferred the canoes, for they at least would
float if they were capsized. So we stepped into the frail, buoyant
shells of bark once more, and danced over the big waves toward the
shore. We made a camp on a wind-swept point of sand, and felt like
shipwrecked mariners. But it was a gilt-edged shipwreck. For our
larder was still full, and as if to provide us with the luxuries as
well as the necessities of life, Nature had spread an inexhaustible
dessert of the largest and most luscious blueberries around our

After supper, strolling along the beach, we debated the best way of
escape; whether to send one of our canoes around the eastern shore
of the lake that night, to meet the steamer at the Island House and
bring it to our rescue; or to set out the next morning, and paddle
both canoes around the western end of the lake, thirty miles, to
the Hotel Roberval. While we were talking, we came to a dry old
birch-tree, with ragged, curling bark. "Here is a torch," cried
Damon, "to throw light upon the situation." He touched a match to
it, and the flames flashed up the tall trunk until it was
transformed into a pillar of fire. But the sudden illumination
burned out, and our counsels were wrapt again in darkness and
uncertainty, when there came a great uproar of steam-whistles from
the lake. They must be signalling for us. What could it mean?

We fired our guns, leaped into a canoe, leaving two of the guides
to break camp, and paddled out swiftly into the night. It seemed
an endless distance before we found the feeble light where the
crippled launch was tossing at anchor. The captain shouted
something about a larger steamboat and a raft of logs, out in the
lake, a mile or two beyond. Presently we saw the lights, and the
orange glow of the cabin windows. Was she coming, or going, or
standing still? We paddled on as fast as we could, shouting and
firing off a revolver until we had no more cartridges. We were
resolved not to let that mysterious vessel escape us, and threw
ourselves with energy into the novel excitement of chasing a
steamboat in the dark.

Then the lights began to swing around; the throbbing of paddle-
wheels grew louder and louder; she was evidently coming straight
toward us. At that moment it flashed upon us that, while she had
plenty of lights, we had none! We were lying, invisible, right
across her track. The character of the steamboat chase was
reversed. We turned and fled, as the guides say, a quatre pattes,
into illimitable space, trying to get out of the way of our too
powerful friend. It makes considerable difference, in the voyage
of life, whether you chase the steamboat, or the steamboat chases

Meantime our other canoe had approached unseen. The steamer passed
safely between the two boats, slackening speed as the pilot caught
our loud halloo! She loomed up above us like a man-of-war, and as
we climbed the ladder to the main-deck we felt that we had indeed
gotten out of the wilderness. My old friend, Captain Savard, made
us welcome. He had been sent out, much to his disgust, to catch a
runaway boom of logs and tow it back to Roberval; it would be an
all night affair; but we must take possession of his stateroom and
make ourselves comfortable; he would certainly bring us to the
hotel in time for breakfast. So he went off on the upper deck, and
we heard him stamping about and yelling to his crew as they
struggled to get their unwieldy drove of six thousand logs in

All night long we assisted at the lumbermen's difficult enterprise.
We heard the steamer snorting and straining at her clumsy, stubborn
convoy. The hoarse shouts of the crew, disguised in a mongrel
dialect which made them (perhaps fortunately) less intelligible and
more forcible, mingled with our broken dreams.

But it was, in fact, a fitting close of our voyage. For what were
we doing? It was the last stage of the woodman's labour. It was
the gathering of a wild herd of the houses and churches and ships
and bridges that grow in the forests, and bringing them into the
fold of human service. I wonder how often the inhabitant of the
snug Queen Anne cottage in the suburbs remembers the picturesque
toil and varied hardship that it has cost to hew and drag his walls
and floors and pretty peaked roofs out of the backwoods. It might
enlarge his home, and make his musings by the winter fireside less
commonplace, to give a kindly thought now and then to the long
chain of human workers through whose hands the timber of his house
has passed, since it first felt the stroke of the axe in the snow-
bound winter woods, and floated, through the spring and summer, on
far-off lakes and little rivers, au large.



"Those who wish to forget painful thoughts do well to absent
themselves for a time from the ties and objects that recall them;
but we can be said only to fulfil our destiny in the place that
gave us birth. I should on this account like well enough to spend
the whole of my life in travelling abroad if I could anywhere
borrow another life to spend afterwards at home."--WILLIAM HAZLITT:
On Going a Journey.

The peculiarity of trout-fishing in the Traun is that one catches
principally grayling. But in this it resembles some other pursuits
which are not without their charm for minds open to the pleasures
of the unexpected--for example, reading George Borrow's The Bible
in Spain with a view to theological information, or going to the
opening night at the Academy of Design with the intention of
looking at pictures.

Moreover, there are really trout in the Traun, rari nantes in
gurgite; and in some places more than in others; and all of high
spirit, though few of great size. Thus the angler has his
favourite problem: Given an unknown stream and two kinds of fish,
the one better than the other; to find the better kind, and
determine the hour at which they will rise. This is sport.

As for the little river itself, it has so many beauties that one
does not think of asking whether it has any faults. Constant
fulness, and crystal clearness, and refreshing coolness of living
water, pale green like the jewel that is called aqua marina,
flowing over beds of clean sand and bars of polished gravel, and
dropping in momentary foam from rocky ledges, between banks that
are shaded by groves of fir and ash and poplar, or through dense
thickets of alder and willow, or across meadows of smooth verdure
sloping up to quaint old-world villages--all these are features of
the ideal little river.

I have spoken of these personal qualities first, because a truly
moral writer ought to make more of character than of position. A
good river in a bad country would be more worthy of affection than
a bad river in a good country. But the Traun has also the
advantages of an excellent worldly position. For it rises all over
the Salzkammergut, the summer hunting-ground of the Austrian
Emperor, and flows through that most picturesque corner of his
domain from end to end. Under the desolate cliffs of the
Todtengebirge on the east, and below the shining ice-fields of the
Dachstein on the south, and from the green alps around St. Wolfgang
on the west, the translucent waters are gathered in little tarns,
and shot through roaring brooks, and spread into lakes of wondrous
beauty, and poured through growing streams, until at last they are
all united just below the summer villa of his Kaiserly and Kingly
Majesty, Francis Joseph, and flow away northward, through the rest
of his game-preserve, into the Traunsee. It is an imperial
playground, and such as I would consent to hunt the chamois in, if
an inscrutable Providence had made me a kingly kaiser, or even a
plain king or an unvarnished kaiser. But, failing this, I was
perfectly content to spend a few idle days in fishing for trout and
catching grayling, at such times and places as the law of the
Austrian Empire allowed.

For it must be remembered that every stream in these over-civilised
European countries belongs to somebody, by purchase or rent. And
all the fish in the stream are supposed to belong to the person who
owns or rents it. They do not know their master's voice, neither
will they follow when he calls. But they are theoretically his.
To this legal fiction the untutored American must conform. He must
learn to clothe his natural desires in the raiment of lawful
sanction, and take out some kind of a license before he follows his
impulse to fish.

It was in the town of Aussee, at the junction of the two highest
branches of the Traun, that this impulse came upon me, mildly
irresistible. The full bloom of mid-July gayety in that ancient
watering-place was dampened, but not extinguished, by two days of
persistent and surprising showers. I had exhausted the
possibilities of interest in the old Gothic church, and felt all
that a man should feel in deciphering the mural tombstones of the
families who were exiled for their faith in the days of the
Reformation. The throngs of merry Hebrews from Vienna and Buda-
Pesth, amazingly arrayed as mountaineers and milk-maids, walking up
and down the narrow streets under umbrellas, had Cleopatra's charm
of an infinite variety; but custom staled it. The woodland paths,
winding everywhere through the plantations of fir-trees and
provided with appropriate names on wooden labels, and benches for
rest and conversation at discreet intervals, were too moist for
even the nymphs to take delight in them. The only creatures that
suffered nothing by the rain were the two swift, limpid Trauns,
racing through the woods, like eager and unabashed lovers, to meet
in the middle of the village. They were as clear, as joyous, as
musical as if the sun were shining. The very sight of their
opalescent rapids and eddying pools was an invitation to that
gentle sport which is said to have the merit of growing better as
the weather grows worse.

I laid this fact before the landlord of the hotel of the Erzherzog
Johann, as poetically as I could, but he assured me that it was of
no consequence without an invitation from the gentleman to whom the
streams belonged; and he had gone away for a week. The landlord
was such a good-natured person, and such an excellent sleeper, that
it was impossible to believe that he could have even the smallest
inaccuracy upon his conscience. So I bade him farewell, and took
my way, four miles through the woods, to the lake from which one of
the streams flowed.

It was called the Grundlsee. As I do not know the origin of the
name, I cannot consistently make any moral or historical
reflections upon it. But if it has never become famous, it ought
to be, for the sake of a cozy and busy little Inn, perched on a
green hill beside the lake and overlooking the whole length of it,
from the groups of toy villas at the foot to the heaps of real
mountains at the head. This Inn kept a thin but happy landlord,
who provided me with a blue license to angle, for the
inconsiderable sum of fifteen cents a day. This conferred the
right of fishing not only in the Grundlsee, but also in the smaller
tarn of Toplitz, a mile above it, and in the swift stream which
unites them. It all coincided with my desire as if by magic. A
row of a couple of miles to the head of the lake, and a walk
through the forest, brought me to the smaller pond; and as the
afternoon sun was ploughing pale furrows through the showers, I
waded out on a point of reeds and cast the artful fly in the shadow
of the great cliffs of the Dead Mountains.

It was a fit scene for a lone fisherman. But four sociable
tourists promptly appeared to act as spectators and critics. Fly-
fishing usually strikes the German mind as an eccentricity which
calls for remonstrance. After one of the tourists had suggestively
narrated the tale of seven trout which he had caught in another
lake, WITH WORMS, on the previous Sunday, they went away for a row,
(with salutations in which politeness but thinly veiled their
pity,) and left me still whipping the water in vain. Nor was the
fortune of the day much better in the stream below. It was a long
and wet wade for three fish too small to keep. I came out on the
shore of the lake, where I had left the row-boat, with empty bag
and a feeling of damp discouragement.

There was still an hour or so of daylight, and a beautiful place to
fish where the stream poured swirling out into the lake. A rise,
and a large one, though rather slow, awakened my hopes. Another
rise, evidently made by a heavy fish, made me certain that virtue
was about to be rewarded. The third time the hook went home. I
felt the solid weight of the fish against the spring of the rod,
and that curious thrill which runs up the line and down the arm,
changing, somehow or other, into a pleasurable sensation of
excitement as it reaches the brain. But it was only for a moment;
and then came that foolish, feeble shaking of the line from side to
side which tells the angler that he has hooked a great, big,
leather-mouthed chub--a fish which Izaak Walton says "the French
esteem so mean as to call him Un Vilain." Was it for this that I
had come to the country of Francis Joseph?

I took off the flies and put on one of those phantom minnows which
have immortalised the name of a certain Mr. Brown. The minnow
swung on a long line as the boat passed back and forth across the
current, once, twice, three times-- and on the fourth circle there
was a sharp strike. The rod bent almost double, and the reel sang
shrilly to the first rush of the fish. He ran; he doubled; he went
to the bottom and sulked; he tried to go under the boat; he did all
that a game fish can do, except leaping. After twenty minutes he
was tired enough to be lifted gently into the boat by a hand
slipped around his gills, and there he was, a lachsforelle of three
pounds' weight: small pointed head; silver sides mottled with dark
spots; square, powerful tail and large fins--a fish not unlike the
land-locked salmon of the Saguenay, but more delicate.

Half an hour later he was lying on the grass in front of the Inn.
The waiters paused, with their hands full of dishes, to look at
him; and the landlord called his guests, including my didactic
tourists, to observe the superiority of the trout of the Grundlsee.
The maids also came to look; and the buxom cook, with her spotless
apron and bare arms akimbo, was drawn from her kitchen, and pledged
her culinary honour that such a pracht-kerl should be served up in
her very best style. The angler who is insensible to this sort of
indirect flattery through his fish does not exist. Even the most
indifferent of men thinks more favourably of people who know a good
trout when they see it, and sits down to his supper with kindly
feelings. Possibly he reflects, also, upon the incident as a hint
of the usual size of the fish in that neighbourhood. He remembers
that he may have been favoured in this case beyond his deserts by
good-fortune, and resolving not to put too heavy a strain upon it,
considers the next place where it would be well for him to angle.

Hallstatt is about ten miles below Aussee. The Traun here expands
into a lake, very dark and deep, shut in by steep and lofty
mountains. The railway runs along the eastern shore. On the other
side, a mile away, you see the old town, its white houses clinging
to the cliff like lichens to the face of a rock. The guide-book
calls it "a highly original situation." But this is one of the
cases where a little less originality and a little more
reasonableness might be desired, at least by the permanent
inhabitants. A ledge under the shadow of a precipice makes a
trying winter residence. The people of Hallstatt are not a
blooming race: one sees many dwarfs and cripples among them. But
to the summer traveller the place seems wonderfully picturesque.
Most of the streets are flights of steps. The high-road has barely
room to edge itself through among the old houses, between the
window-gardens of bright flowers. On the hottest July day the
afternoon is cool and shady. The gay, little skiffs and long, open
gondolas are flitting continually along the lake, which is the main
street of Hallstatt.

The incongruous, but comfortable, modern hotel has a huge glass
veranda, where you can eat your dinner and observe human nature in
its transparent holiday disguises. I was much pleased and
entertained by a family, or confederacy, of people attired as
peasants--the men with feathered hats, green stockings, and bare
knees--the women with bright skirts, bodices, and silk
neckerchiefs--who were always in evidence, rowing gondolas with
clumsy oars, meeting the steamboat at the wharf several times a
day, and filling the miniature garden of the hotel with rustic
greetings and early Salzkammergut attitudes. After much
conjecture, I learned that they were the family and friends of a
newspaper editor from Vienna. They had the literary instinct for
local colour.

The fishing at Hallstatt is at Obertraun. There is a level stretch
of land above the lake, where the river flows peaceably, and the
fish have leisure to feed and grow. It is leased to a peasant, who
makes a business of supplying the hotels with fish. He was quite
willing to give permission to an angler; and I engaged one of his
sons, a capital young fellow, whose natural capacities for good
fellowship were only hampered by a most extraordinary German
dialect, to row me across the lake, and carry the net and a small
green barrel full of water to keep the fish alive, according to the
custom of the country. The first day we had only four trout large
enough to put into the barrel; the next day I think there were six;
the third day, I remember very well, there were ten. They were
pretty creatures, weighing from half a pound to a pound each, and
coloured as daintily as bits of French silk, in silver gray with
faint pink spots.

There was plenty to do at Hallstatt in the mornings. An hour's
walk from the town there was a fine waterfall, three hundred feet
high. On the side of the mountain above the lake was one of the
salt-mines for which the region is celebrated. It has been worked
for ages by many successive races, from the Celt downward. Perhaps
even the men of the Stone Age knew of it, and came hither for
seasoning to make the flesh of the cave-bear and the mammoth more
palatable. Modern pilgrims are permitted to explore the long, wet,
glittering galleries with a guide, and slide down the smooth wooden
rollers which join the different levels of the mines. This pastime
has the same fascination as sliding down the balusters; and it is
said that even queens and princesses have been delighted with it.
This is a touching proof of the fundamental simplicity and unity of
our human nature.

But by far the best excursion from Hallstatt was an all-day trip to
the Zwieselalp--a mountain which seems to have been especially
created as a point of view. From the bare summit you look right
into the face of the huge, snowy Dachstein, with the wild lake of
Gosau gleaming at its foot; and far away on the other side your
vision ranges over a confusion of mountains, with all the white
peaks of the Tyrol stretched along the horizon. Such a wide
outlook as this helps the fisherman to enjoy the narrow beauties of
his little rivers. No sport is at its best without interruption
and contrast. To appreciate wading, one ought to climb a little on
odd days.

Isehl is about ten or twelve miles below Hallstatt, in the valley
of the Traun. It is the fashionable summer-resort of Austria. I
found it in the high tide of amusement. The shady esplanade along
the river was crowded with brave women and fair men, in gorgeous
raiment; the hotels were overflowing; and there were various kinds
of music and entertainments at all hours of day and night. But all
this did not seem to affect the fishing.

The landlord of the Konigin Elizabeth, who is also the Burgomaster
and a gentleman of varied accomplishments and no leisure, kindly
furnished me with a fishing license in the shape of a large pink
card. There were many rules printed upon it: "All fishes under
nine inches must be gently restored to the water. No instrument of
capture must be used except the angle in the hand. The card of
legitimation must be produced and exhibited at the polite request
of any of the keepers of the river." Thus duly authorised and
instructed, I sallied forth to seek my pastime according to the

The easiest way, in theory, was to take the afternoon train up the
river to one of the villages, and fish down a mile or two in the
evening, returning by the eight o'clock train. But in practice the
habits of the fish interfered seriously with the latter part of
this plan.

On my first day I had spent several hours in the vain effort to
catch something better than small grayling. The best time for the
trout was just approaching, as the broad light faded from the
stream; already they were beginning to feed, when I looked up from
the edge of a pool and saw the train rattling down the valley below
me. Under the circumstances the only thing to do was to go on
fishing. It was an even pool with steep banks, and the water ran
through it very straight and swift, some four feet deep and thirty
yards across. As the tail-fly reached the middle of the water, a
fine trout literally turned a somersault over it, but without
touching it. At the next cast he was ready, taking it with a rush
that carried him into the air with the fly in his mouth. He
weighed three-quarters of a pound. The next one was equally eager
in rising and sharp in playing, and the third might have been his
twin sister or brother. So, after casting for hours and taking
nothing in the most beautiful pools, I landed three trout from one
unlikely place in fifteen minutes. That was because the trout's
supper-time had arrived. So had mine. I walked over to the
rambling old inn at Goisern, sought the cook in the kitchen and
persuaded her, in spite of the lateness of the hour, to boil the
largest of the fish for my supper, after which I rode peacefully
back to Ischl by the eleven o'clock train.

For the future I resolved to give up the illusory idea of coming
home by rail, and ordered a little one-horse carriage to meet me at
some point on the high-road every evening at nine o'clock. In this
way I managed to cover the whole stream, taking a lower part each
day, from the lake of Hallstatt down to Ischl.

There was one part of the river, near Laufen, where the current was
very strong and waterfally, broken by ledges of rock. Below these
it rested in long, smooth reaches, much beloved by the grayling.
There was no difficulty in getting two or three of them out of each

The grayling has a quaint beauty. His appearance is aesthetic,
like a fish in a pre-raphaelite picture. His colour, in midsummer,
is a golden gray, darker on the back, and with a few black spots
just behind his gills, like patches put on to bring out the pallor
of his complexion. He smells of wild thyme when he first comes out
of the water, wherefore St. Ambrose of Milan complimented him in
courtly fashion "Quid specie tua gratius? Quid odore fragrantius?
Quod mella fragrant, hoc tuo corpore spiras." But the chief glory
of the grayling is the large iridescent fin on his back. You see
it cutting the water as he swims near the surface; and when you
have him on the bank it arches over him like a rainbow. His mouth
is under his chin, and he takes the fly gently, by suction. He is,
in fact, and to speak plainly, something of a sucker; but then he
is a sucker idealised and refined, the flower of the family.
Charles Cotton, the ingenious young friend of Walton, was all wrong
in calling the grayling "one of the deadest-hearted fishes in the
world." He fights and leaps and whirls, and brings his big fin to
bear across the force of the current with a variety of tactics that
would put his more aristocratic fellow-citizen, the trout, to the
blush. Twelve of these pretty fellows, with a brace of good trout
for the top, filled my big creel to the brim. And yet, such is the
inborn hypocrisy of the human heart that I always pretended to
myself to be disappointed because there were not more trout, and
made light of the grayling as a thing of naught.

The pink fishing license did not seem to be of much use. Its
exhibition was demanded only twice. Once a river guardian, who was
walking down the stream with a Belgian Baron and encouraging him to
continue fishing, climbed out to me on the end of a long
embankment, and with proper apologies begged to be favoured with a
view of my document. It turned out that his request was a favour
to me, for it discovered the fact that I had left my fly-book, with
the pink card in it, beside an old mill, a quarter of a mile up the

Another time I was sitting beside the road, trying to get out of a
very long, wet, awkward pair of wading-stockings, an occupation
which is unfavourable to tranquillity of mind, when a man came up
to me in the dusk and accosted me with an absence of politeness
which in German amounted to an insult.

"Have you been fishing?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"Have you any right to fish?"

"What right have you to ask?"

"I am a keeper of the river. Where is your card?"

"It is in my pocket. But pardon my curiosity, where is YOUR card?"

This question appeared to paralyse him. He had probably never been
asked for his card before. He went lumbering off in the darkness,
muttering "My card? Unheard of! MY card!"

The routine of angling at Ischl was varied by an excursion to the
Lake of St. Wolfgang and the Schafberg, an isolated mountain on
whose rocky horn an inn has been built. It stands up almost like a
bird-house on a pole, and commands a superb prospect; northward,
across the rolling plain and the Bavarian forest; southward, over a
tumultuous land of peaks and precipices. There are many lovely
lakes in sight; but the loveliest of all is that which takes its
name from the old saint who wandered hither from the country of the
"furious Franks" and built his peaceful hermitage on the
Falkenstein. What good taste some of those old saints had!

There is a venerable church in the village, with pictures
attributed to Michael Wohlgemuth, and a chapel which is said to
mark the spot where St. Wolfgang, who had lost his axe far up the
mountain, found it, like Longfellow's arrow, in an oak, and "still
unbroke." The tree is gone, so it was impossible to verify the
story. But the saint's well is there, in a pavilion, with a bronze
image over it, and a profitable inscription to the effect that the
poorer pilgrims, "who have come unprovided with either money or
wine, should be jolly well contented to find the water so fine."
There is also a famous echo farther up the lake, which repeats six
syllables with accuracy. It is a strange coincidence that there
are just six syllables in the name of "der heilige Wolfgang." But
when you translate it into English, the inspiration of the echo
seems to be less exact. The sweetest thing about St. Wolfgang was
the abundance of purple cyclamens, clothing the mountain meadows,
and filling the air with delicate fragrance like the smell of
lilacs around a New England farmhouse in early June.

There was still one stretch of the river above Ischl left for the
last evening's sport. I remember it so well: the long, deep place
where the water ran beside an embankment of stone, and the big
grayling poised on the edge of the shadow, rising and falling on
the current as a kite rises and falls on the wind and balances back
to the same position; the murmur of the stream and the hissing of
the pebbles underfoot in the rapids as the swift water rolled them
over and over; the odour of the fir-trees, and the streaks of warm
air in quiet places, and the faint whiffs of wood-smoke wafted from
the houses, and the brown flies dancing heavily up and down in the
twilight; the last good pool, where the river was divided, the main
part making a deep, narrow curve to the right, and the lesser part
bubbling into it over a bed of stones with half-a-dozen tiny
waterfalls, with a fine trout lying at the foot of each of them and
rising merrily as the white fly passed over him--surely it was all
very good, and a memory to be grateful for. And when the basket
was full, it was pleasant to put off the heavy wading-shoes and the
long rubber-stockings, and ride homeward in an open carriage
through the fresh night air. That is as near to sybaritic luxury
as a man should care to come.

The lights in the cottages are twinkling like fire-flies, and there
are small groups of people singing and laughing down the road. The
honest fisherman reflects that this world is only a place of
pilgrimage, but after all there is a good deal of cheer on the
journey, if it is made with a contented heart. He wonders who the
dwellers in the scattered houses may be, and weaves romances out of
the shadows on the curtained windows. The lamps burning in the
wayside shrines tell him stories of human love and patience and
hope, and of divine forgiveness. Dream-pictures of life float
before him, tender and luminous, filled with a vague, soft
atmosphere in which the simplest outlines gain a strange
significance. They are like some of Millet's paintings--"The
Sower," or "The Sheepfold,"--there is very little detail in them
but sometimes a little means so much.

Then the moon slips up into the sky from behind the hills, and the
fisherman begins to think of home, and of the foolish, fond old
rhymes about those whom the moon sees far away, and the stars that
have the power to fulfil wishes--as if the celestial bodies knew or
cared anything about our small nerve-thrills which we call
affection and desires! But if there were Some One above the moon
and stars who did know and care, Some One who could see the places
and the people that you and I would give so much to see, Some One
who could do for them all of kindness that you and I fain would do,
Some One able to keep our beloved in perfect peace and watch over
the little children sleeping in their beds beyond the sea--what
then? Why, then, in the evening hour, one might have thoughts of
home that would go across the ocean by way of heaven, and be better
than dreams, almost as good as prayers.


"Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, or hills, or field,
Or woods and steepy mountains yield.

"There we will rest our sleepy heads,
And happy hearts, on balsam beds;
And every day go forth to fish
In foamy streams for ouananiche."

Old Song with a new Ending.

It has been asserted, on high philosophical authority, that woman
is a problem. She is more; she is a cause of problems to others.
This is not a theoretical statement. It is a fact of experience.

Every year, when the sun passes the summer solstice, the

"Two souls with but a single thought,"

of whom I am so fortunate as to be one, are summoned by that
portion of our united mind which has at once the right of putting
the question and of casting the deciding vote, to answer this
conundrum: How can we go abroad without crossing the ocean, and
abandon an interesting family of children without getting
completely beyond their reach, and escape from the frying-pan of
housekeeping without falling into the fire of the summer hotel?
This apparently insoluble problem we usually solve by going to camp
in Canada.

It is indeed a foreign air that breathes around us as we make the
harmless, friendly voyage from Point Levis to Quebec. The boy on
the ferry-boat, who cajoles us into buying a copy of Le Moniteur
containing last month's news, has the address of a true though
diminutive Frenchman. The landlord of the quiet little inn on the
outskirts of the town welcomes us with Gallic effusion as well-
known guests, and rubs his hands genially before us, while he
escorts us to our apartments, groping secretly in his memory to
recall our names. When we walk down the steep, quaint streets to
revel in the purchase of moccasins and water-proof coats and
camping supplies, we read on a wall the familiar but transformed
legend, L'enfant pleurs, il veut son Camphoria, and remember with
joy that no infant who weeps in French can impose any
responsibility upon us in these days of our renewed honeymoon.

But the true delight of the expedition begins when the tents have
been set up, in the forest back of Lake St. John, and the green
branches have been broken for the woodland bed, and the fire has
been lit under the open sky, and, the livery of fashion being all
discarded, I sit down at a log table to eat supper with my lady
Greygown. Then life seems simple and amiable and well worth
living. Then the uproar and confusion of the world die away from
us, and we hear only the steady murmur of the river and the low
voice of the wind in the tree-tops. Then time is long, and the
only art that is needful for its enjoyment is short and easy. Then
we taste true comfort, while we lodge with Mother Green at the Sign
of the Balsam Bough.



Men may say what they will in praise of their houses, and grow
eloquent upon the merits of various styles of architecture, but,
for our part, we are agreed that there is nothing to be compared
with a tent. It is the most venerable and aristocratic form of
human habitation. Abraham and Sarah lived in it, and shared its
hospitality with angels. It is exempt from the base tyranny of the
plumber, the paper-hanger, and the gas-man. It is not immovably
bound to one dull spot of earth by the chains of a cellar and a
system of water-pipes. It has a noble freedom of locomotion. It
follows the wishes of its inhabitants, and goes with them, a
travelling home, as the spirit moves them to explore the
wilderness. At their pleasure, new beds of wild flowers surround
it, new plantations of trees overshadow it, and new avenues of
shining water lead to its ever-open door. What the tent lacks in
luxury it makes up in liberty: or rather let us say that liberty
itself is the greatest luxury.

Another thing is worth remembering--a family which lives in a tent
never can have a skeleton in the closet.

But it must not be supposed that every spot in the woods is
suitable for a camp, or that a good tenting-ground can be chosen
without knowledge and forethought. One of the requisites, indeed,
is to be found everywhere in the St. John region; for all the lakes
and rivers are full of clear, cool water, and the traveller does
not need to search for a spring. But it is always necessary to
look carefully for a bit of smooth ground on the shore, far enough
above the water to be dry, and slightly sloping, so that the head
of the bed may be higher than the foot. Above all, it must be free
from big stones and serpentine roots of trees. A root that looks
no bigger that an inch-worm in the daytime assumes the proportions
of a boa-constrictor at midnight--when you find it under your hip-
bone. There should also be plenty of evergreens near at hand for
the beds. Spruce will answer at a pinch; it has an aromatic smell;
but it is too stiff and humpy. Hemlock is smoother and more
flexible; but the spring soon wears out of it. The balsam-fir,
with its elastic branches and thick flat needles, is the best of
all. A bed of these boughs a foot deep is softer than a mattress
and as fragrant as a thousand Christmas-trees. Two things more are
needed for the ideal camp-ground--an open situation, where the
breeze will drive away the flies and mosquitoes, and an abundance
of dry firewood within easy reach. Yes, and a third thing must not
be forgotten; for, says my lady Greygown:

"I shouldn't feel at home in camp unless I could sit in the door of
the tent and look out across flowing water."

All these conditions are met in our favourite camping place below
the first fall in the Grande Decharge. A rocky point juts out into
the rivet and makes a fine landing for the canoes. There is a
dismantled fishing-cabin a few rods back in the woods, from which
we can borrow boards for a table and chairs. A group of cedars on
the lower edge of the point opens just wide enough to receive and
shelter our tent. At a good distance beyond ours, the guides' tent
is pitched; and the big camp-fire burns between the two dwellings.
A pair of white-birches lift their leafy crowns far above us, and
after them we name the place Le Camp aux Bouleaux.

"Why not call trees people?--since, if you come to live among them
year after year, you will learn to know many of them personally,
and an attachment will grow up between you and them individually."
So writes that Doctor Amabilis of woodcraft, W. C. Prime, in his
book, Among the Northern Hills, and straightway launches forth into
eulogy on the white-birch. And truly it is an admirable, lovable,
and comfortable tree, beautiful to look upon and full of various
uses. Its wood is strong to make paddles and axe handles, and
glorious to burn, blazing up at first with a flashing flame, and
then holding the fire in its glowing heart all through the night.
Its bark is the most serviceable of all the products of the
wilderness. In Russia, they say, it is used in tanning, and gives
its subtle, sacerdotal fragrance to Russia leather. But here, in
the woods, it serves more primitive ends. It can be peeled off in
a huge roll from some giant tree and fashioned into a swift canoe
to carry man over the waters. It can be cut into square sheets to
roof his shanty in the forest. It is the paper on which he writes
his woodland despatches, and the flexible material which he bends
into drinking-cups of silver lined with gold. A thin strip of it
wrapped around the end of a candle and fastened in a cleft stick
makes a practicable chandelier. A basket for berries, a horn to
call the lovelorn moose through the autumnal woods, a canvas on
which to draw the outline of great and memorable fish--all these
and many other indispensable luxuries are stored up for the skilful
woodsman in the birch bark.

Only do not rob or mar the tree, unless you really need what it has
to give you. Let it stand and grow in virgin majesty, ungirdled
and unscarred, while the trunk becomes a firm pillar of the forest
temple, and the branches spread abroad a refuge of bright green
leaves for the birds of the air. Nature never made a more
excellent piece of handiwork. "And if," said my lady Greygown, "I
should ever become a dryad, I would choose to be transformed into a
white-birch. And then, when the days of my life were numbered, and
the sap had ceased to flow, and the last leaf had fallen, and the
dry bark hung around me in ragged curls and streamers, some
wandering hunter would come in the wintry night and touch a lighted
coal to my body, and my spirit would flash up in a fiery chariot
into the sky."

The chief occupation of our idle days on the Grande Decharge was
fishing. Above the camp spread a noble pool, more than two miles
in circumference, and diversified with smooth bays and whirling
eddies, sand beaches and rocky islands. The river poured into it
at the head, foaming and raging down a long chute, and swept out of
it just in front of our camp in a merry, musical rapid. It was
full of fish of various kinds--long-nosed pickerel, wall-eyed pike,
and stupid chub. But the prince of the pool was the fighting
ouananiche, the little salmon of St. John.

Here let me chant thy praise, thou noblest and most high-minded
fish, the cleanest feeder, the merriest liver, the loftiest leaper,
and the bravest warrior of all creatures that swim! Thy cousin,
the trout, in his purple and gold with crimson spots, wears a more
splendid armour than thy russet and silver mottled with black, but
thine is the kinglier nature. His courage and skill compared with

"Are as moonlight unto sunlight, and as water unto wine."

The old salmon of the sea who begot thee, long ago, in these inland
waters, became a backslider, descending again to the ocean, and
grew gross and heavy with coarse feeding. But thou, unsalted
salmon of the foaming floods, not landlocked, as men call thee, but
choosing of thine own free-will to dwell on a loftier level, in the
pure, swift current of a living stream, hast grown in grace and
risen to a higher life. Thou art not to be measured by quantity,
but by quality, and thy five pounds of pure vigour will outweigh a
score of pounds of flesh less vitalised by spirit. Thou feedest on
the flies of the air, and thy food is transformed into an aerial
passion for flight, as thou springest across the pool, vaulting
toward the sky. Thine eyes have grown large and keen by peering
through the foam, and the feathered hook that can deceive thee must
be deftly tied and delicately cast. Thy tail and fins, by
ceaseless conflict with the rapids, have broadened and
strengthened, so that they can flash thy slender body like a living
arrow up the fall. As Lancelot among the knights, so art thou
among the fish, the plain-armoured hero, the sunburnt champion of
all the water-folk.

Every morning and evening, Greygown and I would go out for
ouananiche, and sometimes we caught plenty and sometimes few, but
we never came back without a good catch of happiness. There were
certain places where the fish liked to stay. For example, we
always looked for one at the lower corner of a big rock, very close
to it, where he could poise himself easily on the edge of the
strong downward stream. Another likely place was a straight run of
water, swift, but not too swift, with a sunken stone in the middle.
The ouananiche does not like crooked, twisting water. An even
current is far more comfortable, for then he discovers just how
much effort is needed to balance against it, and keeps up the
movement mechanically, as if he were half asleep. But his
favourite place is under one of the floating islands of thick foam
that gather in the corners below the falls. The matted flakes give
a grateful shelter from the sun, I fancy, and almost all game-fish
love to lie in the shade; but the chief reason why the onananiche
haunt the drifting white mass is because it is full of flies and
gnats, beaten down by the spray of the cataract, and sprinkled all
through the foam like plums in a cake. To this natural confection
the little salmon, lurking in his corner, plays the part of Jack
Horner all day long, and never wearies.

"See that belle brou down below there!" said Ferdinand, as we
scrambled over the huge rocks at the foot of the falls; "there
ought to be salmon there en masse." Yes, there were the sharp
noses picking out the unfortunate insects, and the broad tails
waving lazily through the foam as the fish turned in the water. At
this season of the year, when summer is nearly ended, and every
ouananiche in the Grande Decharge has tasted feathers and seen a
hook, it is useless to attempt to delude them with the large gaudy
flies which the fishing-tackle-maker recommends. There are only
two successful methods of angling now. The first of these I tried,
and by casting delicately with a tiny brown trout-fly tied on a
gossamer strand of gut, captured a pair of fish weighing about
three pounds each. They fought against the spring of the four-
ounce rod for nearly half an hour before Ferdinand could slip the
net around them. But there was another and a broader tail still
waving disdainfully on the outer edge of the foam. "And now," said
the gallant Ferdinand, "the turn is to madame, that she should
prove her fortune--attend but a moment, madame, while I seek the

This was the second method: the grasshopper was attached to the
hook, and casting the line well out across the pool, Ferdinand put
the rod into Greygown's hands. She stood poised upon a pinnacle of
rock, like patience on a monument, waiting for a bite. It came.
There was a slow, gentle pull at the line, answered by a quick jerk
of the rod, and a noble fish flashed into the air. Four pounds and
a half at least! He leaped again and again, shaking the drops from
his silvery sides. He rushed up the rapids as if he had determined
to return to the lake, and down again as if he had changed his
plans and determined to go to the Saguenay. He sulked in the deep
water and rubbed his nose against the rocks. He did his best to
treat that treacherous grasshopper as the whale served Jonah. But
Greygown, through all her little screams and shouts of excitement,
was steady and sage. She never gave the fish an inch of slack
line; and at last he lay glittering on the rocks, with the black
St. Andrew's crosses clearly marked on his plump sides, and the
iridescent spots gleaming on his small, shapely head. "Une belle!"
cried Ferdinand, as he held up the fish in triumph, "and it is
madame who has the good fortune. She understands well to take the
large fish--is it not?" Greygown stepped demurely down from her
pinnacle, and as we drifted down the pool in the canoe, under the
mellow evening sky, her conversation betrayed not a trace of the
pride that a victorious fisherman would have shown. On the
contrary, she insisted that angling was an affair of chance--which
was consoling, though I knew it was not altogether true--and that
the smaller fish were just as pleasant to catch and better to eat,
after all. For a generous rival, commend me to a woman. And if I
must compete, let it be with one who has the grace to dissolve the
bitter of defeat in the honey of a mutual self-congratulation.

We had a garden, and our favourite path through it was the portage
leading around the falls. We travelled it very frequently, making
an excuse of idle errands to the steamboat-landing on the lake, and
sauntering along the trail as if school were out and would never
keep again. It was the season of fruits rather than of flowers.
Nature was reducing the decorations of her table to make room for
the banquet. She offered us berries instead of blossoms.

There were the light coral clusters of the dwarf cornel set in
whorls of pointed leaves; and the deep blue bells of the Clintonia
borealis (which the White Mountain people call the bear-berry, and
I hope the name will stick, for it smacks of the woods, and it is a
shame to leave so free and wild a plant under the burden of a Latin
name); and the gray, crimson-veined berries for which the Canada
Mayflower had exchanged its feathery white bloom; and the ruby
drops of the twisted stalk hanging like jewels along its bending
stem. On the three-leaved table which once carried the gay flower
of the wake-robin, there was a scarlet lump like a red pepper
escaped to the forest and run wild. The partridge-vine was full of
rosy provision for the birds. The dark tiny leaves of the creeping
snow-berry were all sprinkled over with delicate drops of spicy
foam. There were few belated raspberries, and, if we chose to go
out into the burnt ground, we could find blueberries in plenty.

But there was still bloom enough to give that festal air without
which the most abundant feast seems coarse and vulgar. The pale
gold of the loosestrife had faded, but the deeper yellow of the
goldenrod had begun to take its place. The blue banners of the
fleur-de-lis had vanished from beside the springs, but the purple
of the asters was appearing. Closed gentians kept their secret
inviolate, and bluebells trembled above the rocks. The quaint
pinkish-white flowers of the turtle-head showed in wet places, and
instead of the lilac racemes of the purple-fringed orchis, which
had disappeared with midsummer, we found now the slender braided
spikes of the lady's-tresses, latest and lowliest of the orchids,
pale and pure as nuns of the forest, and exhaling a celestial
fragrance. There is a secret pleasure in finding these delicate
flowers in the rough heart of the wilderness. It is like
discovering the veins of poetry in the character of a guide or a
lumberman. And to be able to call the plants by name makes them a
hundredfold more sweet and intimate. Naming things is one of the
oldest and simplest of human pastimes. Children play at it with
their dolls and toy animals. In fact, it was the first game ever
played on earth, for the Creator who planted the garden eastward in
Eden knew well what would please the childish heart of man, when He
brought all the new-made creatures to Adam, "to see what he would
call them."

Our rustic bouquet graced the table under the white-birches, while
we sat by the fire and watched our four men at the work of the
camp--Joseph and Raoul chopping wood in the distance; Francois
slicing juicy rashers from the flitch of bacon; and Ferdinand, the
chef, heating the frying-pan in preparation for supper.

"Have you ever thought," said Greygown, in a contented tone of
voice, "that this is the only period of our existence when we
attain to the luxury of a French cook?"

"And one with the grand manner, too," I replied, "for he never
fails to ask what it is that madame desires to eat to-day, as if
the larder of Lucullus were at his disposal, though he knows well
enough that the only choice lies between broiled fish and fried
fish, or bacon with eggs and a rice omelet. But I like the fiction
of a lordly ordering of the repast. How much better it is than
having to eat what is flung before you at a summer boarding-house
by a scornful waitress!"

"Another thing that pleases me," continued my lady, "is the
unbreakableness of the dishes. There are no nicks in the edges of
the best plates here; and, oh! it is a happy thing to have a home
without bric-a-brac. There is nothing here that needs to be

"And no engagements for to-morrow," I ejaculated. "Dishes that
can't be broken, and plans that can--that's the ideal of

"And then," added my philosopher in skirts, "it is certainly
refreshing to get away from all one's relations for a little

"But how do you make that out?" I asked, in mild surprise. "What
are you going to do with me?"

"Oh," said she, with a fine air of independence, "I don't count
you. You are not a relation, only a connection by marriage."

"Well, my dear," I answered, between the meditative puffs of my
pipe, "it is good to consider the advantages of our present
situation. We shall soon come into the frame of mind of the Sultan
of Morocco when he camped in the Vale of Rabat. The place pleased
him so well that he staid until the very pegs of his tent took root
and grew up into a grove of trees around his pavilion."



The guides were a little restless under the idle regime of our lazy
camp, and urged us to set out upon some adventure. Ferdinand was
like the uncouth swain in Lycidas. Sitting upon the bundles of
camp equipage on the shore, and crying,--

"To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new,"

he led us forth to seek the famous fishing grounds on Lake

We skirted the eastern end of Lake St. John in our two canoes, and
pushed up La Belle Riviere to Hebertville, where all the children
turned out to follow our procession through the village. It was
like the train that tagged after the Pied Piper of Hamelin. We
embarked again, surrounded by an admiring throng, at the bridge
where the main street crossed a little stream, and paddled up it,
through a score of back yards and a stretch of reedy meadows, where
the wild and tame ducks fed together, tempting the sportsman to
sins of ignorance. We crossed the placid Lac Vert, and after a
carry of a mile along the high-road toward Chicoutimi, turned down
a steep hill and pitched our tents on a crescent of silver sand,
with the long, fair water of Kenogami before us.

It is amazing to see how quickly these woodsmen can make a camp.
Each one knew precisely his share of the enterprise. One sprang to
chop a dry spruce log into fuel for a quick fire, and fell a harder
tree to keep us warm through the night. Another stripped a pile of
boughs from a balsam for the beds. Another cut the tent-poles from
a neighbouring thicket. Another unrolled the bundles and made
ready the cooking utensils. As if by magic, the miracle of the
camp was accomplished.--

"The bed was made, the room was fit,
By punctual eve the stars were lit"--

but Greygown always insists upon completing that quotation from
Stevenson in her own voice; for this is the way it ends,--

"When we put up, my ass and I,
At God's green caravanserai."

Our permanent camp was another day's voyage down the lake, on a
beach opposite the Point Ausable. There the water was contracted
to a narrow strait, and in the swift current, close to the point,
the great trout had fixed their spawning-bed from time immemorial.
It was the first week in September, and the magnates of the lake
were already assembling--the Common Councilmen and the Mayor and
the whole Committee of Seventy. There were giants in that place,
rolling lazily about, and chasing each other on the surface of the
water. "Look, M'sieu'!" cried Francois, in excitement, as we lay
at anchor in the gray morning twilight; "one like a horse has just
leaped behind us; I assure you, big like a horse!"

But the fish were shy and dour. Old Castonnier, the guardian of
the lake, lived in his hut on the shore, and flogged the water,
early and late, every day with his home-made flies. He was
anchored in his dugout close beside us, and grinned with delight as
he saw his over-educated trout refuse my best casts. "They are
here, M'sieu', for you can see them," he said, by way of
discouragement, "but it is difficult to take them. Do you not find
it so?"

In the back of my fly-book I discovered a tiny phantom minnow--a
dainty affair of varnished silk, as light as a feather--and quietly
attached it to the leader in place of the tail-fly. Then the fun

One after another the big fish dashed at that deception, and we
played and netted them, until our score was thirteen, weighing
altogether thirty-five pounds, and the largest five pounds and a
half. The guardian was mystified and disgusted. He looked on for
a while in silence, and then pulled up anchor and clattered ashore.
He must have made some inquiries and reflections during the day,
for that night he paid a visit to our camp. After telling bear
stories and fish stories for an hour or two by the fire, he rose to
depart, and tapping his forefinger solemnly upon my shoulder,
delivered himself as follows:--

"You can say a proud thing when you go home, M'sieu'--that you have
beaten the old Castonnier. There are not many fishermen who can
say that. "But," he added, with confidential emphasis, "c'etait
votre sacre p'tit poisson qui a fait cela."

That was a touch of human nature, my rusty old guardian, more
welcome to me than all the morning's catch. Is there not always a
"confounded little minnow" responsible for our failures? Did you
ever see a school-boy tumble on the ice without stooping
immediately to re-buckle the strap of his skates? And would not
Ignotus have painted a masterpiece if he could have found good
brushes and a proper canvas? Life's shortcomings would be bitter
indeed if we could not find excuses for them outside of ourselves.
And as for life's successes--well, it is certainly wholesome to
remember how many of them are due to a fortunate position and the
proper tools.

Our tent was on the border of a coppice of young trees. It was
pleasant to be awakened by a convocation of birds at sunrise, and
to watch the shadows of the leaves dance out upon our translucent
roof of canvas.

All the birds in the bush are early, but there are so many of them
that it is difficult to believe that every one can be rewarded with
a worm. Here in Canada those little people of the air who appear
as transient guests of spring and autumn in the Middle States, are
in their summer home and breeding-place. Warblers, named for the
magnolia and the myrtle, chestnut-sided, bay-breasted, blue-backed,
and black-throated, flutter and creep along the branches with
simple lisping music. Kinglets, ruby-crowned and golden-crowned,
tiny, brilliant sparks of life, twitter among the trees, breaking
occasionally into clearer, sweeter songs. Companies of redpolls
and crossbills pass chirping through the thickets, busily seeking
their food. The fearless, familiar chickadee repeats his name
merrily, while he leads his family to explore every nook and cranny
of the wood. Cedar wax-wings, sociable wanderers, arrive in
numerous flocks. The Canadians call them "recollets," because they
wear a brown crest of the same colour as the hoods of the monks who
came with the first settlers to New France. They are a songless
tribe, although their quick, reiterated call as they take to flight
has given them the name of chatterers. The beautiful tree-sparrows
and the pine-siskins are more melodious, and the slate-coloured
juncos, flitting about the camp, are as garrulous as chippy-birds.
All these varied notes come and go through the tangle of morning
dreams. And now the noisy blue-jay is calling "Thief--thief--
thief!" in the distance, and a pair of great pileated woodpeckers
with crimson crests are laughing loudly in the swamp over some
family joke. But listen! what is that harsh creaking note? It is
the cry of the Northern shrike, of whom tradition says that he
catches little birds and impales them on sharp thorns. At the
sound of his voice the concert closes suddenly and the singers
vanish into thin air. The hour of music is over; the commonplace
of day has begun. And there is my lady Greygown, already up and
dressed, standing by the breakfast-table and laughing at my belated

But the birds were not our only musicians at Kenogami. French
Canada is one of the ancestral homes of song. Here you can still
listen to those quaint ballads which were sung centuries ago in
Normandie and Provence. "A la Claire Fontaine," "Dans Paris y a-t-
une Brune plus Belle que le Jour," "Sur le Pont d'Avignon," "En
Roulant ma Boule," "La Poulette Grise," and a hundred other folk-
songs linger among the peasants and voyageurs of these northern
woods. You may hear

"Malbrouck s'en va-t-en guerre--
Mironton, mironton, mirontaine,"


"Isabeau s'y promene
Le long de son jardin,"

chanted in the farmhouse or the lumber shanty, to the tunes which
have come down from an unknown source, and never lost their echo in
the hearts of the people.

Our Ferdinand was a perfect fountain of music. He had a clear
tenor voice, and solaced every task and shortened every voyage with
melody. "A song, Ferdinand, a jolly song," the other men would
say, as the canoes went sweeping down the quiet lake. And then the
leader would strike up a well-known air, and his companions would
come in on the refrain, keeping time with the stroke of their
paddles. Sometimes it would be a merry ditty:

"My father had no girl but me,
And yet he sent me off to sea;
Leap, my little Cecilia."

Or perhaps it was:

"I've danced so much the livelong day,--
Dance, my sweetheart, let's be gay,--
I've fairly danced my shoes away,--
Till evening.
Dance, my pretty, dance once more;
Dance, until we break the floor."

But more frequently the song was touched with a plaintive pleasant
melancholy. The minstrel told how he had gone into the woods and
heard the nightingale, and she had confided to him that lovers are
often unhappy. The story of La Belle Francoise was repeated in
minor cadences--how her sweetheart sailed away to the wars, and
when he came back the village church bells were ringing, and he
said to himself that Francoise had been faithless, and the chimes
were for her marriage; but when he entered the church it was her
funeral that he saw, for she had died of love. It is strange how
sorrow charms us when it is distant and visionary. Even when we
are happiest we enjoy making music

"Of old, unhappy, far-off things."

"What is that song which you are singing, Ferdinand?" asks the
lady, as she hears him humming behind her in the canoe.

"Ah, madame, it is the chanson of a young man who demands of his
blonde why she will not marry him. He says that he has waited long
time, and the flowers are falling from the rose-tree, and he is
very sad."

"And does she give a reason?"

"Yes, madame--that is to say, a reason of a certain sort; she
declares that she is not quite ready; he must wait until the rose-
tree adorns itself again."

"And what is the end--do they get married at last?"

"But I do not know, madame. The chanson does not go so far. It
ceases with the complaint of the young man. And it is a very
uncertain affair--this affair of the heart--is it not?"

Then, as if he turned from such perplexing mysteries to something
plain and sure and easy to understand, he breaks out into the
jolliest of all Canadian songs:

"My bark canoe that flies, that flies,
Hola! my bark canoe!"



Among the mountains there is a gorge. And in the gorge there is a
river. And in the river there is a pool. And in the pool there is
an island. And on the island, for four happy days, there was a

It was by no means an easy matter to establish ourselves in that
lonely place. The river, though not remote from civilisation, is
practically inaccessible for nine miles of its course by reason of
the steepness of its banks, which are long, shaggy precipices, and
the fury of its current, in which no boat can live. We heard its
voice as we approached through the forest, and could hardly tell
whether it was far away or near.

There is a perspective of sound as well as of sight, and one must
have some idea of the size of a noise before one can judge of its
distance. A mosquito's horn in a dark room may seem like a trumpet
on the battlements; and the tumult of a mighty stream heard through
an unknown stretch of woods may appear like the babble of a
mountain brook close at hand.

But when we came out upon the bald forehead of a burnt cliff and
looked down, we realised the grandeur and beauty of the unseen
voice that we had been following. A river of splendid strength
went leaping through the chasm five hundred feet below us, and at
the foot of two snow-white falls, in an oval of dark topaz water,
traced with curves of floating foam, lay the solitary island.

The broken path was like a ladder. "How shall we ever get down?"
sighed Greygown, as we dropped from rock to rock; and at the bottom
she looked up sighing, "I know we never can get back again." There
was not a foot of ground on the shores level enough for a tent.
Our canoe ferried us over, two at a time, to the island. It was
about a hundred paces long, composed of round, coggly stones, with
just one patch of smooth sand at the lower end. There was not a
tree left upon it larger than an alder-bush. The tent-poles must
be cut far up on the mountain-sides, and every bough for our beds
must be carried down the ladder of rocks. But the men were gay at
their work, singing like mocking-birds. After all, the glow of
life comes from friction with its difficulties. If we cannot find
them at home, we sally abroad and create them, just to warm up our

The ouananiche in the island pool were superb, astonishing,
incredible. We stood on the cobble-stones at the upper end, and
cast our little flies across the sweeping stream, and for three
days the fish came crowding in to fill the barrel of pickled salmon
for our guides' winter use; and the score rose,--twelve, twenty-
one, thirty-two; and the size of the "biggest fish" steadily
mounted--four pounds, four and a half, five, five and three-
quarters. "Precisely almost six pounds," said Ferdinand, holding
the scales; "but we may call him six, M'sieu', for if it had been
to-morrow that we had caught him, he would certainly have gained
the other ounce." And yet, why should I repeat the fisherman's
folly of writing down the record of that marvellous catch? We
always do it, but we know that it is a vain thing. Few listen to
the tale, and none accept it. Does not Christopher North,
reviewing the Salmonia of Sir Humphry Davy, mock and jeer
unfeignedly at the fish stories of that most reputable writer?
But, on the very next page, old Christopher himself meanders
on into a perilous narrative of the day when he caught a whole
cart-load of trout in a Highland loch. Incorrigible, happy
inconsistency! Slow to believe others, and full of sceptical
inquiry, fond man never doubts one thing--that somewhere in the
world a tribe of gentle readers will be discovered to whom his fish
stories will appear credible.

One of our days on the island was Sunday--a day of rest in a week
of idleness. We had a few books; for there are some in existence
which will stand the test of being brought into close contact with
nature. Are not John Burroughs' cheerful, kindly essays full of
woodland truth and companionship? Can you not carry a whole
library of musical philosophy in your pocket in Matthew Arnold's
volume of selections from Wordsworth? And could there be a better
sermon for a Sabbath in the wilderness than Mrs. Slosson's immortal
story of Fishin' Jimmy?

But to be very frank about the matter, the camp is not stimulating
to the studious side of my mind. Charles Lamb, as usual, has said
what I feel: "I am not much a friend to out-of-doors reading. I
cannot settle my spirits to it."

There are blueberries growing abundantly among the rocks--huge
clusters of them, bloomy and luscious as the grapes of Eshcol. The
blueberry is nature's compensation for the ruin of forest fires.
It grows best where the woods have been burned away and the soil is
too poor to raise another crop of trees. Surely it is an innocent
and harmless pleasure to wander along the hillsides gathering these
wild fruits, as the Master and His disciples once walked through
the fields and plucked the ears of corn, never caring what the
Pharisees thought of that new way of keeping the Sabbath.

And here is a bed of moss beside a dashing rivulet, inviting us to
rest and be thankful. Hark! There is a white-throated sparrow, on
a little tree across the river, whistling his afternoon song

"In linked sweetness long drawn out."

Down in Maine they call him the Peabody-bird, because his notes
sound to them like Old man--Peabody, peabody, peabody. In New
Brunswick the Scotch settlers say that he sings Lost--lost--
Kennedy, kennedy, kennedy. But here in his northern home I think
we can understand him better. He is singing again and again, with
a cadence that never wearies, "Sweet--sweet--Canada, canada,
canada!" The Canadians, when they came across the sea, remembering
the nightingale of southern France, baptised this little gray
minstrel their rossignol, and the country ballads are full of his
praise. Every land has its nightingale, if we only have the heart
to hear him. How distinct his voice is--how personal, how
confidential, as if he had a message for us!


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