ePub 版

"I carn't say, mum, whar that oar 'rig'nated; but I can tell you 'bout another that was found here, in the 'Scoggin; and how it came round that a beautiful young lady 'tempted to do a man's work, and-and missed of it, mum.'


"O, delightful!" responded the ladies, instanter. Pray, let's have the story. Do-Mr. Guide."



'Well, mum; it was all for love-" "So much the better," rejoined the ladies.

"So much the wuss, mum, I think, for her," said the guide, gravely. "But, hows'ever, you shall hear."

"It was on one o' them awful nights that we have here in the mountains, sometimes; dark, and stormy, and fearful to witness-to say nothing of bein' caught out in it-that this young woman undertook to run away from her father's house, and 'lope with a Canadian that her parents didn't fancy.

"He was on the other side of this river-jest below the falls-waiting for her. They had 'ranged to meet there, privately, on this particular night, you see-and they hadn't calc'lated on any postponement on account o' the weather, you und'stand. She was to cross over, in her father's boat, and he had horses ready on t'other side-just yonder, for instance-for both of them; by w'ich means they expected to escape, and arterwards were to be married.

"Well; he came, and she came. He lit a signal on t'other side of the river. As I told you before, it was a man's work-yes, mum, and more-to paddle a boat 'cross the roarin' stream that night, amidst the white caps.' But, you see, mum, the young woman wus in love; and so she wus bound to resk it. She saw the fire-light, and, as her heart jumped into her beautiful throat, she jumped into the canoe-boat, and pushed out for the opposite shore, where her Canadian lover 'waited her."

"A brave girl she was, too!" exclaimed the ladies.


time-and the first thing he see was the gal in the boat out on the river!" And what did he do?" anxiously inquired the company of listeners.


"Do? W'y he yelled to her to come back, o' course. But she looked over to t'other side, and the other fellow told her to come across-to have courageand all that sort o' thing. But, she was a poor cretur, any how," continued the guide, sympathetically," she couldn't do n'ither one thing or t'other! Her boat whirled round an' round-veered off into the mad current--shot down stream with the rush of waters-struck a boulder-and went over and over before the wind and storm!"

"And what became of the young lady?"


Yes, mum; but disobed'ent, you Her father was a keen old mountaineer, and lov'd her. Well, he kep' a sharp watch over her movements, and suddenly missed her that night. He 'spected that somethin' was a goin' on, and he happened to run out to the river -'cause he'd got an idee runnin' in his head that his daughter might commit suicide, you see; 'cause she'd been wild-like, and unmanageable, for some

"Drowned, of course drowned, mum;" said the guide softly. "Next day, in one of the eddies, just like this, the paddle was found, and the boat was got five miles below here, badly stove up. The young woman was never heerd of a'gin. It was a awful storm, mum— certain!"

[ocr errors]


A sigh escaped the lady listeners to this pathetic tale of the Androscoggin," as the party entered the carriage once more, and turned toward the Alpine House.

A week after our arrival at Gorham, Mr. Greene proposed that our fishinggear should be brought into requisition; and after divers and sundry unsuccessful efforts, on the part of this gentleman, to "show us how to kill trout," we chanced one morning to meet with Tom Barnett, a fisherman of the old school, who had been bred at the mountains, and who knew where the speckled dainties dwelt-ay, every spring and brook and hummock they inhabited-throughout the entire trouting country.

Tom is a crude specimen of the genus homo, but a good-hearted, common-sense fellow, whom everybody learns to like. We chanced upon him as he returned from a fishing trip, with a noble string of sparklers in his hands, and we at once inquired where he obtained them. And he replied, good-naturedly, "over there."

"Over there" might seem to Tom Barnett very clear and intelligible; but, to Mr. Greene, the locality named was altogether unsatisfactory, and the term appeared very inexpressive!

"How long have you been out?" insisted Mr. Greene.

[blocks in formation]

pants of leather, his shirt of buck-skin. His beard and hair were worn au naturel, and covered his face almost entirely. He carried an old hog-skin portmanteau, upon all his excursions; and a large double-barreled pistol in his girdle-to defend himself against bears and other "varmint," as he wandered about-completed the costume of this "original."


Tom's fishing-rod was always cut from the nearest sapling upon the ground. For bait, he usually shot a partridge en route to his favorite pond or stream. His manner was rude, and his tout ensemble forbidding to strangers, yet his disposition was kindly in the extreme; and, though he knew little of the courtesies of civilized life, he was, certainly, in his own way, a trump"-as brave as a lion, and as hardy and reliable as he was brave. Tom had been reared in the mountain forests. Stalwart in form, and possessed of an iron will, as well as sinews, he felt himself, single handed, a match for the biggest b'ar in Hampshire, and feared neither hardship, weather, beast, nor "human."


My youthful friend, Mr. Greene, as has been hinted, was resolved upon a fishing excursion. He listened to Tom Barnett's stories of the fabulous numbers of trout he had killed at different times, and arranged with the veteran angler to accompany him, next day, upon a little jaunt" into the forest-a "pleasant walk," as Tom termed the prospective trip - where the sport would be "extr'onnery fine."


When Mr. G. made his appearance upon the hotel piazza, the next morning, he certainly was a model of a trouter. His delicate silver-tipt Conroy rod was of the latest pattern; his snugly fitting fishing-frock was a triumph; his pants, and boots, and gauntlets were unimpeachable; his chapeau sat light and jauntily upon his handsome forehead; his creel was ample in length and breadth; his impériale was faultless; and, altogether, he looked remarkably

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

foine," and well put up. Indeed, Tom Barnett himself, when he saw him in readiness to start, with a curl on his lip pronounced him a "nat'ral cur'osity."

The fishing-party, of three, took the up-train of cars, at nine A.M., and, after a ride of some fourteen miles, were set down by the roadside. Tom, with his portmanteau and double-barreled pistol; Mr. Greene, with his fashionable traps and "regimentals ;" and his friend, with a well-filled cigar-case, matches, and sketch-book. Crossing a narrow strip of meadow, Tom plunged at once into the forest beyond-flanked by his favorite dog-and bade us follow.

"How far is it, Tom?" he asked, out of breath.

How fur is what?" rejoined Tom.

"How far to the pond?" Seven mile," replied Barnett. "Come along."

At the end of the third mile, which we made after

fan food two hours hard scrabbling, and wearisome toil with hands and feet, Mr. Greene avowed his utter inability to proceed further, and sunk down, disheartened and absolutely used up" with his exertions.

The thick underbrush and briars we encountered at every step, rendered our passage exceedingly difficult, though Tom thrust his way along with such strides as compelled him, at every turn, to halt for us to come up. Greene's twenty-dollar rod had been ruined, at the outset, by contact with the scraggy bushes through which we had been forced, and he panted and blowed like an over-driven harse, at the end of the first half mile.



The dense mass of brush and bushes that were here matted together, and which completely covered the ground the whole distance we traveled, rendered the walking exceedingly laborious, not to speak of the incessant entanglement to which our limbs were subjected, at every other moment, and out of which we were obliged to draw our feet by main strength, at times. The atmosphere was heated, too, the weather being quite too warm for comfort, without exertion; and the small trees and numberless saplings were so closely and intimately interwoven one with another that, but for the fact that Barnett led and beat down the way for us, to a considerable extent, we should have found it impossible to proceed at all.

Occasionally, the trunk of some huge tree, that had fallen in the forest, would obstruct the passage obstinately; and, in one instance, Mr. Greene well nigh "yielded up the ghost' as he met with, and became entangled beside, a monstrous log, which he finally crossed, after the severest struggle, amid the painful scarifying of his face and limbs, and the destruction of his coat and hat and nether garments.

I hallooed for Tom, who was considerably in advance of us, who put about and returned.

"Anything happened?" he asked, as he reached the spot where I was resting.

Mr. Greene having come up, now animadverted rather fervently against scrub-forests in general, and in reference

[graphic][ocr errors]

to this one in particular, and informed Mr. Barnett that he could proceed no further; but requested to be "shown out" of that "infernal entanglement" forthwith.

Tom smiled, uttered some words of encouragement, averred that there were a million trout within three miles' distance, that this sort of traveling was "mere fun," and we at length moved slowly forward once more.

We proceeded sluggishly, through the tangled briars and dense woods, another mile, when we were forced to halt again and recalling our guide, we sat down to rest a second time-Mr. Greene protesting against this sort of "fishing-excursion" in most emphatic language, and positively declaring that on no consideration whatever could he now be dissuaded from taking the "back

[ocr errors]

Richardson Cox track," as soon as he was able to walk.

"It's near five mile to the rail," said Tom Barnett, quietly, "an' it's on'y two an' a half to the fishing-ground, young gentleman. Better go for'ard, after you've rested a w'ile--hadn't you? Besides, it'll be night afore we git there, sart'n. An' we must git out o' these woods, sure, afore it's dark."


Why?" exclaimed Mr. Greene, suddenly.


Oh, nothin'," said Tom. "Nothin' in partic'lar. But sometimes there's b'ars round, after dark."


Not here, Tom," said Greene, earnestly.


"No, not here 'specially, but in the woods, you know. Thar's whar the b'ars live gen'ally."

"But you are not afraid of bears,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

It seemed the work of but a single moment of time. Tom made for the spot where the dog was barking so furiously, and there he found Pompey, yelling at a bear, that stood wedged sternwise between the boll of a large prostrate tree and a huge rock, which formed an angle, and into which the beast had backed away when the dog discovered him. As Tom reached the side of the fallen tree-trunk, pistol in hand, he saw the condition of affairs, and, without an instant's hesitation, he "let fly"


The slugs penetrated the animal's brain, and he rolled over upon the ground, as Barnett quickly sprang for

« 上一頁繼續 »