Wild Northern Scenes
S. H. Hammond

Part 5 out of 5

will find boatmen with a supply of minnows, ready to serve him; and if
he fails to enjoy himself for a fortnight among the black bass of the
St Lawrence and Ontario, he may count himself as a man who is very
hard to please.

We spent a pleasant week at Cape Vincent, and then turned our faces
homeward, invigorated in strength and buoyant in spirits, to begin
again a round of toil, from which we, at least, could claim no further

"H----," said a friend of mine, as he stalked into my sanctum, a few
days after my return, and seated himself at my elbow, as if for a
private and confidential talk, "did Smith really shoot the bear, the
skin of which he brought home, and which he exhibits with such
triumph. Tell me, honestly, as between you and me, did he in fact
shoot him?"

"Smith certainly did shoot that bear," I replied.

"But is the marvellous story he tells about the manner of killing him
really true?"

"That, of course, I cannot tell," I replied, "as I have never heard
the story."

"Why," said my friend, "he tells about a beautiful lake, lying away
back in the northern wilderness, above which Mount Marcy, and Mount
Seward, and other nameless peaks of the Adirondacks, rear their tall
heads to the clouds, throwing back the sunlight in a blaze of glory;
on which the moonbeams lie like a mantle of silver, while away down in
its fathomless depths the stars glow and sparkle, like the sheen of a
million of diamonds. Of the old forests and trees of fabulous growth,
stretching away and away on every hand, throwing their sombre shadows
far out over the water, in whose tangled recesses countless deer and
moose, and panthers, and bears range, and among whose branches birds
of unknown melody carol. That one side of this beautiful lake is
palisadoed by a wall of rocks, stand straight up sixty feet high, near
the top of which is a shelf or narrow pathway, along which two men can
scarcely walk abreast. That he was passing along this pathway one
afternoon, examining the rocks, and looking for geological specimens.
Below him was a precipice of fifty feet, against the base of which the
waves, when the winds swept over the lake, dashed. Around him the
birds that build their nests in the crevices of the rock were whirling
and screaming, while before him lay the beautiful lake, motionless and
calm, as if it had fallen asleep and was slumbering sweetly in its
forest bed. That he was passing leisurely along with his rifle at a
trail, admiring the transcendent loveliness of the scenery around him,
where the rugged and the sublime, the placid and the beautiful, were
so magnificently mingled, when, in turning a sharp angle, a huge bear"

"Copy!" shouted the printer's devil, as he came plunging down three
steps at a bound from the compositors' room above. "Copy!" he
screamed, as he dove into the outer office where that article was
usually kept, but found none.

"Mr. H.," said he, as he opened my door so gently, with a voice so
quiet, and a look so innocent, that one might well be excused for
believing that he had never spoken a loud word in his life, "Mr. H----,
the foreman desired me to ask you for some copy."

"You see, my friend," said I to the anxious inquirer after truth,
"that I am exceedingly busy just now. You will excuse me, therefore,
for referring you to the Doctor and Spalding, who know all about the
matter. Good day." And my friend departed without finishing the story
Smith told him about his killing the bear. I have never heard the
balance of that story yet.

And now, Reader, a word to you, and I have done. When the sun comes
up over the city, day after day, pouring his burning rays along the
glimmering streets, shining on and on in a changeless glare, till he
hides himself in the darkness again; when your strength wilts under the
enervating influences of the summer heats, and you pant for the forest
breezes and the "cooling streams," remember that the same wild region
I have been describing, the same pleasant rivers, beautiful lakes, tall
mountains, and primeval forests are there still, all inviting you to test
their recuperative agencies. The same singing birds, the fishes and the
game are there waiting your pleasure. Visit them when the summer heat
makes the cities a desolation. Give a month to the enjoyment of a
wilderness-life, and you will return to your labors invigorated in
strength, buoyant in spirit--a wiser, healthier, and a better man.



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