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need not be particularly unencumbered by In a wooded country you will not take brush or saplings, so the combination ought the time to fool with tent-poles. A stout not to be hard to discover. Now return line run through the eyelets and along the to your canoe. Do not unpack the tent. apex will string it successfully between
With the little ax clear the ground your two trees. Draw the line as tight as thoroughly. By bending a sapling over possible, but do not be too unhappy if, strongly with the left hand, clipping after your best efforts, it still sags a little. sharply at the strained fibers, and then That is what your long crotched stick is bending it as strongly the other way to for. Stake out your four corners. If you repeat the ax stroke on the other side, get them in a good rectangle and in such you will find that treelets of even two or relation to the apex as to form two isosthree inches diameter can be felled by celes triangles of the ends, your tent will two blows. In a very few moments you stand smoothly. Therefore be an artist, will have accomplished a hole in the for- and do it right. Once the four ccrners est, and your two supporting trees will are well placed, the rest follows naturally. stand sentinel at either end of a most Occasionally in the north country it will respectable-looking clearing. Do not be found that the soil is too thin, over the unpack the tent.
rocks, to grip the tent pegs. In that case Now, although the ground seems free drive them at a sharp angle as deep as of all but unimportant growths, go over it they will go, and then lay a large flat stone thoroughly for little shrubs and leaves. across the slant of them. Thus anchored They look soft and yielding, but are often you will ride out a gale. Finally, wedge possessed of unexpectedly abrasive roots. your long sapling crotch under the line Besides, they mask the face of the ground. outside the tent, of course—to tighten it. When you have finished pulling them up Your shelter is up. If you are a woodsby the roots, you will find that your sup- man, ten or fifteen minutes has sufficed to posedly level plot is knobby with hum- accomplish all this. mocks. Stand directly over each little There remains the question of a bed, mound; swing the back of your ax vigor- and you'd better attend to it now, while ously against it, adz-wise, between your your mind is still occupied with the legs. Nine times out of ten it will crumble, shelter problem. Fell a good thrifty and the tenth time means merely a root young balsam and set to work pulling off to cut or a stone to pry out. At length the fans. Those you cannot strip off you are possessed of a plot of clean, fresh easily with your hands are too tough for earth, level and soft, free from projections. your purpose. Lay them carelessly crissBut do not unpack your tent.
cross against the blade of your axe and up Lay a young birch or maple an inch or the handle. They will not drop off, and so in diameter across a log. Two clips when you shoulder that ax you will rewill produce you a tent-peg. If you are semble a walking haystack, and will probinexperienced, and cherish memories of ably experience a genuine emotion of striped lawn markees, you will cut them surprise at the amount of balsam that about six inches long. If you are wise can be thus transported. In the tent lay and old and gray in woods experience, smoothly one layer of fans, curve side up, you will multiply that length by four. butts toward the foot. Now thatch the Then your loops will not slip off, and you rest on top of this, thrusting the butt ends will have a real grip on mother earth, underneath the layer already placed in than which nothing can be more desirable such a manner as to leave the fan ends in the event of a heavy rain and wind curving up and down towards the foot of squall about midnight. If your ax is as your bed. Your second emotion of sursharp as it ought to be, you can point prise will assail you as you realize how them more neatly by holding them sus- much spring inheres in but two or three pended in front of you while you snip at layers thus arranged. When you have their ends with the ax, rather than by spread your rubber blanket, you will be resting them against a solid base. Pile possessed of a bed as soft and a great them together at the edge of the clearing deal more aromatic and luxurious than Cut a crotched sapling eight or ten feet any you would be able to buy in town, long. Now unpack your tent.
Your next care is to clear a living space
in front of the tent. This will take you logs—unless they happen to be of granite. about twenty seconds, for you need not Granite explodes most disconcertingly. be particular as to stumps, hummocks, or Poles sharpened, driven upright in the small brush. All you want is room for ground, and then pressed down to slant cooking, and suitable space for spreading over the fireplace, will hold your kettles a out your provisions. But do not unpack suitable height above the blaze. anything yet.
Fuel should be your next thought. A Your fireplace you will build of two roll of birch bark first of all. Then some green logs laid side by side. The fire is of the small, dry, resinous branches that to be made between them. They should stick out from the trunks of medium-sized converge slightly, in order that the uten- pines, living or dead. Finally, the wood sils to be rested across them may be of itself. If you are merely cooking supper, various sizes. If your vicinity yields flat and have no thought for a warmth-fire stones, they build up even better than the or a friendship-fire, I should advise you to stick to the dry pine branches, helped is altered somewhat. If the rain has just out, in the interest of coals for frying, by commenced, do not stop to clear out very a little dry maple or birch. If you need thoroughly, but . get your tent up as more of a blaze, you will have to search quickly as possible, in order to preserve out, fell, and split a standing dead tree. an area of comparatively dry ground. This is not at all necessary. I have trav- But if the earth is already soaked, you eled many weeks in the woods without had best build a bonfire to dry out by, using a more formidable implement than while you cook over a smaller fire a little a one-pound hatchet. Pile your fuel-a distance removed, leaving the tent until complete supply, all you are going to later. Or it may be well not to pitch the need—by the side of your already impro tent at all, but to lay it across slanting vised fireplace. But, as you value your supports at an angle to reflect the heat peace of mind, do not fool with matches. against the ground.
It will be a little difficult to turn your It is no joke to light a fire in the rain. mind from the concept of fire, to which An Indian can do it more easily than a all these preparations have compellingly white man, but even an Indian has more led it-especially as a fire is the one trouble than the story-books acknowledge. cheerful thing your weariness needs the You will need a greater quantity of birch most at this time of day—but you must bark, a bigger pile of resinous dead limbs do so. Leave everything just as it is, and from the pine-trees, and perhaps the unpack your provisions.
heart of a dead pine stub or stump. Then, First of all rinse your utensils. Hang with infinite patience, you may be able to your tea-pail, with the proper quantity of tease the flame. Sometimes a small dead water, from one slanting pole, and your birch contains in the waterproof envelope kettle from the other. Salt the water in of its bark a species of powdery dry the latter receptacle. Peel your potatoes, touchwood that takes the flame readily. if you have any; open your little provis- Still, it is easy enough to start a blaze-a ion sacks; puncture your tin cans, if you very fine-looking, cheerful, healthy blaze: have any ; slice your bacon ; clean your the difficulty is to prevent its petering out fish; pluck your birds; mix your dough the moment your back is turned. or batter; spread your table tinware on But the depths of woe are sounded and your tarpaulin or a sheet of birch bark; the limit of patience reached when you cut a kettle-lifter ; see that everything you are forced to get breakfast in the dripping are going to need is within direct 'reach forest. After the chill of early dawn you of your hand as you squat on your heels are always reluctant to leave your blanbefore the fireplace. Now light your fire. kets, to fumble with numbed fingers for
The civilized method is to build a fire matches, to handle cold steel and slippery and then to touch a match to the com- fish. But when every leaf, twig, sapling, pleted structure. If well done and in a and tree contains a douche of cold water; grate or stove, this works beautifully. when the wetness oozes about your mocOnly in the woods you have no grate. casins from the soggy earth with every The only sure way is as follows: Hold a step you take; when you look about you piece of birch bark in your hand. Shelter and realize that somehow, before you can your match all you know how. When the get a mouthful to banish that beforebark has caught, lay it in your fireplace, breakfast ill-humor, you must brave cold assist it with more bark, and gradually water in an attempt to find enough fuel to build up, twig by twig, stick by stick, cook with, then your philosophy and early from the first pin-point of flame, all the religious training avail you little. The fire you are going to need. It will not first ninety-nine times you are forced to be much. The little hot blaze rising do this you will probably squirm circumbetween the parallel logs directly against spectly through the brush in a vain the aluminum of your utensils will do the attempt to avoid shaking water down on business in very short order. In fifteen yourself; you will resent each failure to minutes at most your meal is ready. And do so, and at the end your rage will peryou have been able to attain to hot food sonify the wilderness for the purpose of thus quickly because you were prepared. one sweeping anathema. The hundredth
In case of very wet weather the affair time will bring you wisdom. You will do