Hawthorn Fly Fishing & Angling Collection

The tent dwellers Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 1921

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=- ~i—^ ^—^^-—^sistg*  THE  TENT
NEW   YORK   AND    LONDON Copyright, 1908, by The Outing Publishing Company.
All rights reserved.
Pa Chapter ©ne
Come, shape your plans where the fire is bright,
And the shimmering glasses are—
When the woods are white in the winter's night,
Under the northern star.  ®f)e ®ent  Btoellera
Chapter ®nt
IT was during the holiday week that Eddie proposed the matter. That is Eddie's way. No
date, for him, is too far ahead to begin to plan
anything that has vari-colored flies in it, and tents,
and the prospect of the campfire smell. The very
mention of these things will make his hair bristle up
(rather straight, stiff hair it is and silvered over
with premature wisdom) and put a new glare into his
spectacles (rather wide, round spectacles they are)
until he looks even more like an anarchist than
usual—more indeed than in the old Heidelberg days,
when, as a matter of truth, he is a gentle soul; sometimes, when he has transgressed, or thinks he has,
almost humble.
As I was saying, it was during the holidays—about
the end of the week, as I remember it—and I was
writing some letters at the club in the little raised
corner that looks out on the park, when I happened
to glance down toward the fireplace, and saw Eddie
sitting as nearly on his coat collar as possible, in one
of the wide chairs, and as nearly in the open hickory
3 The  Tent Dwellers
fire as he could get, pawing over a book of Silver
Doctors, Brown Hackles and the like, and dreaming
a long, long dream.
Now, I confess there is something about a book of
trout flies, even at the year's end, when all the brooks
are flint and gorged with white, when all the north
country hides under seamless raiment that stretches
even to the Pole itself—even at such a time, I say,
there is something about those bits of gimp, and gut,
and feathers, and steel, that prick up the red blood
of any man—or of any woman, for that matter—
who has ever flung one of those gaudy things into a
swirl of dark water, and felt the swift, savage tug on
the line and heard the music of the singing reel.
I forgot that I was writing letters and went over
" Tell me about it, Eddie," I said. " Where are
you going, this time? "
Then he unfolded to me a marvelous plan. It was
a place in Nova Scotia—he had been there once before,
only, this time he was going a different route, farther
into the wilderness, the deep unknown, somewhere
even the guides had never been. Perhaps stray
logmen had been there, or the Indians; sportsmen
never. There had been no complete surveys, even
by the government. Certain rivers were known by
their outlets, certain lakes by name. It was likely
that they formed the usual network and that the circuit could be made by water, with occasional carries.
4 The Tent Dwellers
Unquestionably the waters swarmed with trout. A
certain imaginative Indian, supposed to have penetrated the unknown, had declared that at one place
were trout the size of one's leg.
Eddie became excited as he talked and his hair
bristled. He set down a list of the waters so far as
known, the names of certain guides, a number of articles of provision and an array of camp paraphernalia.
Finally he made maps and other drawings and began
to add figures. It was dusk when we got back. The
lights were winking along the park over the way,
and somewhere through the night, across a waste of
cold, lay the land we had visited, still waiting to be
explored. We wandered out into the dining room
and settled the matter across a table. When we rose
from it, I was pledged—pledged for June; and this
was still December, the tail of the old year.  Chapter Ctoo
And let us buy for the days of spring,
While yet the north winds blowl
For half the joy of the trip, my boy,
Is getting your traps to go.  Chapter Ctoo
IMMEDIATELY we, that is to say, Eddie,
began to buy things. It is Eddie's way to read
text-books and to consult catalogues with a view
of making a variety of purchases. He has had a
great deal of experience in the matter of camp life,
but being a modest man he has a fund of respect for
the experience of others. Any one who has had
enough ability, or time, to write a book on the subject, and enough perseverance, or money, to get it
published, can preach the gospel of the woods to
Eddie in the matter of camp appointments; and even
the manufacturers' catalogues are considered sound
reading. As a result, he has accumulated an amazing
collection of articles, adapted to every time and season, to every change of wind and temperature, to
every spot where the tent gleams white in the camp-
fire's blaze, from Greenland's icy mountains to India's
coral strand. Far be it from me to deride or deprecate this tendency, even though it were a ruling passion. There are days, and nights, too, recalled now
with only a heart full of gratitude because of Eddie's
almost inexhaustible storehouse of comforts for soul
and flesh—the direct result of those text-books and
those catalogues, and of the wild, sweet joy he always
9 The Tent Dwellers
found in making lists and laying in supplies. Not
having a turn that way, myself, he had but small
respect for my ideas of woodcraft and laid down the
law of the forest to me with a firm hand. When I
hinted that I should need a new lancewood rod, he
promptly annulled the thought. When I suggested
that I might aspire as far as a rather good split bamboo, of a light but serviceable kind, he dispelled the
ambition forthwith.
" You want a noibwood," he said. 11 have just
ordered one, and I will take you to the same place
to get it."
I had never heard of this particular variety of timber, and it seemed that Eddie had never heard of it,
either, except in a catalogue and from the lips of a
dealer who had imported a considerable amount of
the material. Yet I went along, meekly enough, and
ordered under his direction. I also selected an assortment of flies—the prettiest he would let me buy. A
few others which I had set my heart on I had the
dealer slip in when Eddie wasn't looking. I was
about to buy a curious thing which a trout could not
come near without fatal results, when the wide glare
of his spectacles rested on me and my courage failed.
Then he selected for me a long landing net, for use
in the canoe, and another with an elastic loop to go
about the neck, for wading; leaders and leader-boxes
and the other elementary necessaries of angling in
the northern woods. Of course such things were as
10 ^^^^^ ■   • ■
The  Tent Dwellers
A, B, C to Eddie. He had them in infinite variety,
but it was a field day and he bought more. We
were out of the place at last, and I was heaving a
sigh of relief that this part of it was over and I need
give the matter no further thought, when Eddie
" Well, we've made a pretty good start. We can
come down here a lot of times between now and
" But what for? " I asked.
" Oh, for things. You haven't a sleeping bag yet,
and we'll be thinking of other stuff right along. We
can stay over a day in Boston, too, and get some
things there. I always do that. You want a good
many things. You can't get them in the woods, you
Eddie was right about having plenty of time, for
this was January. He was wrong, however, about
being unable to get things in the woods. I did, often.
I got Eddie's. Chapter Cfjree
Now the gorges break and the streamlets wake
And the sap begins to flow,
And each green bud that stirs my blood
Is a summons, and I must go.  Cfjapter W$xtt
EDDIE could not wait until June. When the
earliest April buds became tiny, pale-green
beads—that green which is like the green of
no other substance or season—along certain gray
branches in the park across the way, when there was
a hint and flavor of stirring life in the morning sun,
then there came a new bristle into Eddie's hair, a
new gleam into his glasses, and I felt that the wood
gods were calling, and that he must obey.
" It is proper that one of us should go on ahead,"
he argued, " and be arranging for guides, canoes and
the like at the other end."
I urged that it was too soon—that the North
was still white and hard with cold—that preliminaries
could be arranged by letter. I finally suggested that
there were still many things he would want to buy.
He wavered then, but it was no use. Eddie can put
on a dinner dress with the best and he has dined
with kings. But he is a cave-, a cliff- and a tree-
dweller in his soul and the gods of his ancestors were
not to be gainsaid. He must be on the ground, he
declared, and as for the additional articles we might
need, he would send me lists. Of course, I knew he
would do that, just as I knew that the one and mighty
15 The Tent Dw.elM
reason for his going was to be where he could smell
the first breath of the budding North and catch the
first flash and gleam of the waking trout in the nearby
He was off, then, and the lists came as promised.
I employed a sort of general purchasing agent at
length to attend to them, though this I dared not
confess, for to Eddie it would have been a sacrilege
not easy to forgive. That I could delegate to another
any of the precious pleasure of preparation, and
reduce the sacred functions of securing certain brands
of eating chocolate, camp candles, and boot grease
(three kinds) to a commercial basis, would, I felt,
.be a thing almost impossible to explain. The final
list, he notified me, would be mailed to a hotel in
Boston, for the reason, he said, that it contained
things nowhere else procurable; though I am convinced that a greater reason was a conviction on his
part that no trip could be complete without buying
a few articles in Boston at the last hour before sailing, and his desire for me to experience this concluding touch of the joy of preparation. Yet I was
glad, on the whole, for I was able to buy secretly
some things he never would have permitted—among
them a phantom minnow which looked like a tin
whistle, a little four-ounce bamboo rod, and a gorgeous Jock Scott fly with two hooks. The tin whistle
and the Jock Scott looked deadly, and the rod seemed
adapted to a certain repose of muscle after a period
16 The Tent Dwellers
of activity with the noibwood. I decided to conceal
these purchases about my person and use them when
Eddie wasn't looking.
But then it was sailing time, and as the short-nosed
energetic steamer dropped away from the dock, a
storm (there had been none for weeks before) set
in, and we pitched and rolled, and through a dim
disordered night I clung to my berth and groaned,
and stared at my things in the corner and hated them
according to my condition. Then morning brought
quiet waters and the custom house at Yarmouth, where
the tourist who is bringing in money, and maybe a
few other things, is made duly welcome and not bothered with a lot of irrelevant questions. What Nova
Scotia most needs is money, and the fisherman and
the hunter, once through the custom house, become
a greater source of revenue than any tax that could
be laid on their modest, not to say paltry, baggage,
even though the contents of one's trunk be the result
of a list such as only Eddie can prepare. There is a
wholesome restaurant at Yarmouth, too, just by the
dock, where after a tossing night at sea one welcomes
a breakfast of good salt ham, with eggs, and pie—
two kinds of the latter, pumpkin and mince.
I had always wondered where the pie-belt went,
after it reached Boston. Now I know that it extends
across to Yarmouth and so continues up through
Nova Scotia to Halifax. Certain New Englanders
more than a hundred years ago, " went down to Nova
17 The Tent Dwellers
Scotia," for the reason that they fostered a deeper
affection for George, the King, than for George of
the Cherry Tree and Hatchet. The cherry limb
became too vigorous in their old homes and the
hatchet too sharp, so they crossed over and took the
end of the pie-belt along. They maintained their
general habits and speech, too, which in Nova Scotia
to-day are almost identical with those of New England.    But I digress—a grave and besetting sin.
I had hoped Eddie would welcome me at the railway station after the long forenoon's ride—rather
lonely, in spite of the new land and the fact that I
made the acquaintance of a fisherman who taught me
how to put wrappings on a rod. Eddie did not meet
me. He sent the wagon, instead, and I enjoyed a
fifteen-mile ride across June hills where apple blossoms were white, with glimpses of lake and stream
here and there; through woods that were a promise
of the wilderness to come; by fields so thickly studded
with bowlders that one to plant them must use drill
and dynamite, getting my first impression of the interior of Nova Scotia alone. Then at last came a
church, a scattering string of houses, a vista of lakes,
a neat white hotel and the edge of the wilderness had
been reached. On the hotel steps a curious, hairy,
wild-looking figure was capering about—doing a sort
of savage dance—perhaps as a preparation for war.
At first I made it out to be a counterpart of pictures
I had seen of Robinson Crusoe on his desert island.
mm The Tent Dwellers
Then I discovered that it wore wide spectacles and
these in the fading sunlight sent forth a familiar glare.
So it was Eddie, after all, and no edged tool had
touched hair or beard since April. I understood,
now, why lie had not met me at the station.
19  Cfjaptet Jfotit
Now, the day is at hand, prepare, prepare-
Make ready the boots and creel,
And the rod so new and the fly-book, too,
The line and the singing reel.  Chapter Jfottr
EDDIE'S room and contents, with Eddie in the
midst of them, was a marvel and a revelation.
All the accouterments of former expeditions
of whatever sort, all that he had bought for this one,
all that I had shipped from week to week, were gathered there. There were wading boots and camp
boots and moccasins and Dutch bed-slippers and shoe-
packs—the last-named a sort of Micmac Indian cross
between a shoe and a moccasin, much affected by
guides, who keep them saturated with oil and wear
them in the water and out—there were nets of various
sizes and sorts, from large minnow nets through a
line of landing nets to some silk head nets, invented
and made by Eddie himself, one for each of us, to
pull on day or night when the insect pests were bad.
There was a quantity of self-prepared ointment, too,
for the same purpose, while of sovereign remedies,
balms and anodynes for ills and misfortunes, Eddie's
collection was as the sands of the sea. Soothing
lotions there were for wounds new and old; easing
draughts for pains internal and external; magic salves
such as were used by the knights of old romance,
Amadis de Gaul and others, for the instant cure of
ghastly lacerations made by man or beast, and a large
mm TgPBTOHIffir -"HfflH
The  Tent Dweller
fresh bottle of a collodion preparation with which the
victim could be painted locally or in general, and stand
forth at last, good as new—restored, body, bones
and skin. In addition there was a certain bottle of
the fluid extract of gelsemium, or something like that,
which was recommended for anything that the rest
of the assortment could do, combined. It was said
to be good for everything from a sore throat to a
snake bite—-the list of its benefits being recorded in
a text-book by which Eddie set great store.
" Take it, by all means, Eddie," I said, " then
you won't need any of the others."
That settled it.   The gelsemium was left behind.
I was interested in Eddie's rods, leaning here and
there on various parcels about the room. I found
that the new noibwood, such as I had ordered, was
only a unit in a very respectable aggregate—rather an
unimportant unit it appeared by this time, for Eddie
calmly assured me that the tip had remained set after
landing a rather small trout in a nearby stream and
that he did not consider the wood altogether suitable
for trout rods. Whereupon I was moved to confess
the little bamboo stick I had bought in Boston, and
produced it for inspection. I could see that Eddie
bristled a bit as I uncased it and I think viewed it
and wiggled it with rather small respect. Still, he
did not condemn it utterly and I had an impulse to
confess the other things, the impossible little scale-
wing flies, the tin whistle and the Jock Scott with
24  The Tent Dwellers
two hooks. However, it did not seem just the psychological moment, and I refrained.
As for Eddie's flies, viewed together, they were a
dazzling lot. There were books and books of them—
American, English, Scotch and what not. There was
one book of English dry-flies, procured during a
recent sojourn abroad, to be tried in American waters.
One does not dance and jiggle a dry-fly to give it the
appearance of life—of some unusual creature with
rainbow wings and the ability to wriggle upstream,
even against a swift current. The dry-fly is built to
resemble life itself, color, shape and all, and is cast
on a slow-moving stream where a trout is seen to rise,
and allowed to drift with the gently flowing current
exactly over the magic spot. All this Eddie explained
to me and let me hold the book a little time, though
I could see he did not intend to let me use one of
the precious things, and would prefer that I did not
touch them.
He was packing now and I wandered idly about
this uncatalogued museum, of sporting goods. There
was a heap of canvas and blankets in one corner—
a sleeping bag, it proved, with an infinite number of
compartments, or layers; there were hats of many
shapes, vests of many fabrics, coats of many colors.
There were things I had seen before only in sporting
goods windows; there were things I had never seen
before, anywhere; there were things of which I could
not even guess the use. In the center of everything
B^1* The  Tent Dwellers
were bags—canvas and oil-skin receptacles, vigorously
named " tackle bag," " wardrobe," " war bag " and
the like—and into these the contents of the room were
gradually but firmly disappearing, taking their predestined place according to Eddie's method—for,
after all, it was a method—and as I looked at Eddie,
unshaven for weeks, grizzled and glaring, yet glowing
with deep kindliness and the joy of anticipation, I
could think of nothing but Santa Claus, packing for
his annual journey that magic bag which holds more
and ever more, and is so deep and so wide in its
beneficence that after all the comforts and the sweets
of life are crowded within, there still is room for more
a-top. Remembering my own one small bag which
I had planned to take, with side pockets for tackle,
and a place between for certain changes of raiment, I
felt my unimportance more and more, and the great
need of having an outfit like Eddie's—of having it
in the party, I mean, handy like, where it would be
easy to get hold of in time of need. I foresaw that
clothes would want mending; also, perhaps, rods; and
it was pleasant to note that my tent-mate would have
boxes of tools for all such repairs.
I foresaw, too, that I should burn, and bruise, and
cut myself and that Eddie's liniments and lotions and
"new skin" would come in handy. It seemed to me
that in those bags would be almost everything that
human heart could need or human ills require, and
when we went below where Del and Charlie, our
27 r
The  Tent Dwellers
appointed guides, were crowding certain other bags
full of the bulkier stores—packages, cans and bottles,
and when I gazed about on still other things—tents,
boots, and baskets of camp furniture—I had a sense
of being cared for, though I could not but wonder
how two small canoes were going to float all that
provender and plunder and four strong men.
28 Chapter Jftoe
Then away to the heart of the deep unknown,
Where the trout and the wild moose are—
Where the fire burns bright, and tent gleams white
Under the northern star.
u  Chapter Jf(be
IT was possible to put our canoes into one of the
lakes near the hotel and enter the wilderness by
water—the Liverpool chain—but it was decided
to load boats and baggage into wagons and drive
through the woods—a distance of some seventeen
uneven miles—striking at once for the true wilderness
where the larger trout were said to dwell and the
" over Sunday " fisherman does not penetrate. Then
for a day or two we would follow waters and portages
familiar to our guides, after which we would be on
the borders of the unknown, prepared to conquer the
wilderness with an assortment of fishing rods, a supply of mosquito ointment and a pair of twenty-two
. caliber rifles, these being our only guns.
It seems hardly necessary to say that we expected
to do little shooting. In the first place it was out of
season for most things, though this did not matter
so much, for Eddie had in some manner armed himself with a commission from the British Museum to
procure specimens dead or alive, and this amounted
to a permit to kill, and skin, and hence to eat, promiscuously and at will. But I believe as a party,
we were averse to promiscuous killing; besides it is
well to be rather nice in the matter of special permits.
3i The Tent Dwellers
Also, we had come, in the main, for trout and exploration. It was agreed between us that, even if it were
possible to hit anything with our guns, we would not
kill without skinning, and we wouldn't skin without
eating, after which resolution the forest things probably breathed easier, for it was a fairly safe handicap.
I shall not soon forget that morning drive to Jake's
Landing, at the head of Lake Ked-gee-ma-koo-gee,
where we put in our canoes. My trip on the train
along the coast, and the drive through farming country, more or less fertile, had given me little conception
of this sinister land—rockstrewn and barren, seared
by a hundred forest fires. Whatever of green timber
still stands is likely to be little more than brush.
Above it rise the bare, gaunt skeletons of dead forests,
bleached with age, yet blackened by the tongues of
flame that burned out the life and wealth of a land
which is now little more than waste and desolation—
the haunt of the moose, the loon and the porcupine,
the natural home of the wild trout.
It is true, that long ago, heavy timber was cut
from these woods, but the wealth thus obtained was
as nothing to that which has gone up in conflagrations,
started by the careless lumbermen and prospectors
and hunters of a later day. Such timber as is left
barely pays for the cutting, and old sluices are blocked
and old dams falling to decay. No tiller of the soil
can exist in these woods, for the ground is heaped
and drifted and windrowed with slabs and bowlders,
32 The  Tent Dwellers
suggesting the wreck of some mighty war of the
gods—some titanic missile-flinging combat, with this
as the battle ground. Bleak, unsightly, unproductive,
mangled and distorted out of all shape and form of
loveliness, yet with a fierce, wild fascination in it that
amounts almost to beauty—that is the Nova Scotia
Only the water is not like that. Once on the stream
or lake and all is changed. For the shores are green;
the river or brook is clear and cold—and tarry black
in the deep places; the water leaps and dashes in
whirlpools and torrents, and the lakes are fairy lakes,
full of green islands—mere ledges, many of them,
with two or three curious sentinel pines—and everywhere the same clear, black water, and always the
trout, the wonderful, wild, abounding Nova Scotia
To Jake's Landing was a hard, jolting drive over
a bad road, with only a break here and there where
there is a house or two, and maybe a sawmill and a
post-office, the last sentinels of civilization. It was at
Maitland, the most important of these way stations,
that we met Loon. Maitland is almost a village, an
old settlement, in fact, with a store or two, some
pretty houses and a mill. Loon is a dog of the hound
variety who makes his home there, and a dear and
faithful friend of Eddie's, by the latter's account.
Indeed, as we drew near Maitland, after announcing
that he would wish to stop at the Maitland stores to
33 The Tent Dwellers
procure some new things he had thought of, Eddie
became really boastful of an earlier friendship with
Loon. He had met Loon on a former visit, during
his (Loon's) puppyhood days, and he had recorded
the meeting in his diary, wherein Loon had been set
down as " a most intelligent and affectionate young
dog." He produced the diary now as evidence, and
I could see that our guides were impressed by this
method of systematic and absolute record which no
one dare dispute. He proceeded to tell us all he knew
about Loon, and how glad Loon would be to see
him again, until we were all jealous that no intelligent
and affectionate hound dog was waiting for us at
Maitland to sound the joy of welcome and to speed
us with his parting bark.
Then all at once we were at Maitland and before
Loon's home, and sure enough there in the front
yard, wagging both body and tail, stood Loon. It
took but one glance for Eddie to recognize him. Perhaps it took no more than that for Loon to recognize
Eddie. I don't know; but what he did was this: He
lifted up his voice as one mourning for a lost soul and
uttered such a series of wails and lamentations as
only a hound dog in the deepest sorrow can make
" Wow-ow-oo-ow-wow-oo-oo-o."
The loon bird sends a fairly unhappy note floating down the wet, chill loneliness of a far, rainy lake,
but never can the most forlorn of loons hope to
34 The Tent Dwellers
approach his canine namesake of Maitland. Once
more he broke out into a burst of long-drawn misery,
then suddenly took off under the house as if he had
that moment remembered an appointment there, and
feared he would be late. But presently he looked
out, fearfully enough, and with his eyes fixed straight
on Eddie, set up still another of those heart-breaking
As for Eddie, I could see that he was hurt. He
climbed miserably down from the wagon and crept
gently toward the sorrowing hound.
"Nice Loon—nice, good Loon. Don't you remember me? "
" Wow-ow-oo-ow-wow-oo-oo-o," followed by another disappearance under the house.
" Come, Loon, come out and see your old friend
—that's a good dog! "
It was no use. Loon's sorrow would not be allayed,
and far beyond Maitland we still heard him wailing
it down the wind.
Of course it was but natural that we should discuss
the matter with Eddie. He had assured us that dogs
never forget, and we pressed him now to confess what
extreme cruelty or deceit he had practiced upon Loon
in his puppyhood, that the grown hound dog had
remembered, and reproached him for to-day. But for
the most part Eddie remained silent and seemed
depressed. Neither did he again produce his diary,
though we urged him to do so, in order that he might
35 The Tent Dwellers
once more read to us what he had recorded of Loon.
Perhaps something had been overlooked, something
that would make Loon's lamentations clear. I think
we were all glad when at last there came a gleam
through the trees and we were at Jake's Landing,
where our boats would first touch the water, where we
would break our bread in the wilderness for the first
It was not much of a place to camp. There was
little shade, a good deal of mud, and the sun was
burning hot. There was a remnant of black flies, too,
and an advance guard of mosquitoes. Eddie produced his jug of fly mixture and we anointed
ourselves for the first time, putting on a pungent
fragrance which was to continue a part of us, body
and bone, so long as the wilderness remained our
shelter. It was greasy and sticky and I could not
muster an instant liking for the combined fragrance
of camphor, pennyroyal and tar. But Eddie assured
me that I would learn to love it, and I was willing
to try.
I was more interested in the loading of the canoes.
Del, stout of muscle and figure—not to say fat, at
least not over fat—and Charlie, light of weight and
heart—sometimes known as Charles the Strong—
were packing and fitting our plunder into place, condensing it into a tight and solid compass in the center
of our canoes in a way that commanded my respect
and even awe.    I could see, however, that when our
36 T1 The  Tent Dweller
craft was loaded the water line and the gunwale were
not so far apart, and I realized that one would want
to sit decently still in a craft like that, especially in
rough water.
Meantime, Eddie had coupled up a rod and standing on a projecting log was making a few casts. I
assumed that he was merely giving us an exhibition
of his skill in throwing a fly, with no expectation of
really getting a rise in this open, disturbed place. It
was fine, though, to see his deft handling of the rod
and I confess I watched him with something of envy.
I may confess, too, that my own experience with fly
casting had been confined to tumbling brooks with
small pools and overhanging boughs, where to throw
a fly means merely to drop it on a riffle, or at most to
swing it out over a swirling current below a fall. I
wondered as I watched Eddie if I ever should be able
to send a fly sailing backward and then shoot it out
forward a matter of twenty yards or so with that
almost imperceptible effort of the wrist; and even if I
did learn the movement, if I could manage to make
the fly look real enough in such smooth, open water
as this to fool even the blindest and silliest of trout.
But, suddenly, where Eddie's fly—it was a Silver
Doctor, I think—fell lightly on the water, there was
a quick swirl, a flash and then a widening circle of
I You got him comin'," commented Charlie, who,
it seems, had been noticing.
38 The  Tent Dwellers
The fly went skimming out over the water again
and softly as thistle seed settled exactly in the center
of the circling rings. But before it touched, almost,
there came the flash and break again, and this time
there followed the quick stiffening of the rod, a sudden tightening of the line, and a sharp, keen singing
of the reel.
" That's the time," commented Charlie and
reached for a landing net.
To him it was as nothing—a thing to be done a
hundred times a day. But to me the world heaved
and reeled with excitement. It was the first trout
of the expedition, the first trout I had ever seen taken
in such water, probably the largest trout I had ever
seen taken in any water. In the tension of the
moment I held my breath, or uttered involuntary
It was beautiful to see Eddie handle that trout.
The water was open and smooth and there is no
gainsaying Eddie's skill. Had he been giving an
exhibition performance it could not have been more
perfect. There was no eagerness, no driving and
dragging, no wild fear of the fish getting away. The
curved rod, the taut swaying line and the sensitive
hand and wrist did the work. Now and again there
was a rush, and the reel sang as it gave line, but there
was never the least bit of slack in the recover. Nearer
and nearer came the still unseen captive, and then
presently our fisherman took the net from his guide,
39 The Tent Dwellers
there was a little dipping movement in the water at
his feet and the first trout of the expedition was a
visible fact—his golden belly and scarlet markings
the subject of admiration and comment.
It was not a very big fish by Nova Scotia standards
—about three-quarters of a pound, I believe; but it
was the largest trout I had ever seen alive, at that
time, and I was consumed with envy. I was also rash.
A little more, and I had a rod up, was out on a log
engaged in a faithful effort to swing that rod exactly
like Eddie's and to land the fly precisely in the same
But for some reason the gear wouldn't work. In
front of me, the fly fell everywhere but in the desired
spot, and back of me the guides dodged and got
behind bushes. You see, a number three steel hook
sailing about promiscuously in the air, even when
partially concealed in a fancy bunch of feathers, is
a thing to be avoided. I had a clear field in no time,
but perhaps Eddie had caught the only fish in the
pool, for even he could get no more rises. Still I persisted and got hot and fierce, and when I looked at
Eddie I hated him because he didn't cut his hair, and
reflected bitterly that it was no wonder a half-savage
creature like that could fish. Finally I hooked a tree
top behind me and in' jerking the fly loose made a
misstep and went up to my waist in water. The
tension broke then—I helped to break it—and the
fishing trip had properly begun.
T~TTr"-iiir* The Tent Dwellei
The wagons had left us now, and we were alone
with our canoes and our guides. Del, the stout, who
was to have my especial fortunes in hand, knelt in
the stern of the larger canoe and I gingerly entered
the bow. Then Eddie and his guide found their
respective places in the lighter craft and we were
ready to move. A moment more and we would drop
down the stream to the lake, and so set out on our
long journey.
I recall now that I was hot and wet and still a little
cross. I had never had any especial enthusiasm about
the expedition and more than once had regretted my
pledge made across the table at the end of the old
year. Even the bustle of preparation and the journey
into a strange land had only mildly stirred me, and.
I felt now that for me, at least, things were likely to
drag. There were many duties at home that required
attention. These woods were full of mosquitoes,
probably malaria. It was possible that I should take
cold, be very ill and catch no fish whatever. But then
suddenly we dropped out into the lake—Kedgeema-
koogee, the lake of the fairies—a broad expanse of
black water, dotted with green islands, and billowing
white in the afternoon wind, and just as we rounded
I felt a sudden tug at the end of my line which was
trailing out behind the canoe.
In an instant I was alive.   Del cautioned me softly
from the stern, for there is no guide who does not
wish his charge to acquit himself well.
41 The  Tent Dwellers
I Easy now—easy," he said. " That's a good one
—don't hurry him."
But every nerve in me began to tingle—every drop
of blood to move faster. I was eaten with a wild
desire to drag my prize into the boat before he could
escape. Then all at once it seemed to me that my line
must be fast, the pull was so strong and fixed. But
looking out behind, Del saw the water break just then
—a sort of double flash.
I Good, you've got a pair," he said. " Careful,
now, and we'll save 'em both."
To tell the truth I had no hope of saving either,
and if I was careful I didn't feel so. When I let the
line go out, as I was obliged to, now and then, to
keep from breaking it altogether, I had a wild, hopeless feeling that I could never take it up again and
that the prize was just that much farther away.
Whenever there came a sudden slackening I was sickened with a fear that the fish were gone, and ground
the reel handle feverishly. Fifty yards away the other
canoe, with Eddie in the bow, had struck nothing as
yet, and if I could land these two I should be one
ahead on the score. It seems now a puny ambition,
but it was vital then. I was no longer cold, or hot,
or afraid of malaria, or mosquitoes, or anything of
the sort. Duties more or less important at home were
forgotten. I was concerned only with those two trout
that had fastened to my flies, the Silver Doctor and
the Parmcheenie Belle, out there in the black, tossing
42 The Tent Dwellers
water, and with the proper method of keeping my line
taut, but not too taut, easy, but not too easy, with
working the prize little by little within reach of the
net. Eddie, suddenly seeing my employment, called
across congratulations and encouragement. Then,
immediately, he was busy too, with a fish of his own,
and the sport, the great, splendid sport of the far
north woods, had really begun.
I brought my catch near the boatside at last, but
it is no trifling matter to get two trout into a net
when they are strung out on a six-foot leader, with
the big trout on the top fly. Reason dictates that
the end trout should go in first and at least twice I
had him in, when the big fellow at the top gave a
kick that landed both outside. It's a mercy I did not
lose both, but at last with a lucky hitch they were duly
netted, in the canoe, and I was weak and hysterical,
but triumphant. There was one of nearly a pound
and a half, and the other a strong half-pound, not
guess weight, but by Eddie's scales, which I confess I
thought niggardly. Never had I taken such fish in
the Adirondack or Berkshire streams I had known,
and what was more, these were two at a time! *
Eddie had landed a fine trout also, and we drew
alongside,  now,   for  consultation.     The  wind  had
* The ordinary New York and New England "half pound trout" will weigh
anywhere from four to six ounces. It takes a trout nearly a foot long to
weigh half a pound. With each additional inch the weight increases rapidly.
A trout thirteen inches in length will weigh about three quarters of a pound.
A fourteen-inch trout will weigh a pound. A fifteen-inch trout, in good condition, will weigh one and a half pounds, plump.
43 The Tent Dwellers
freshened, the waves were running higher, and with
our heavy canoes the six-mile paddle across would
be a risky undertaking. Why not pitch our first
night's camp nearby, here on Jim Charles' point—a
beautiful spot where once long ago a half-civilized
Indian had made his home? In this cove before dark
we could do abundant fishing.
For me there was no other plan. I was all enthusiasm, now. There were trout here and I could catch
them. That was enough. Civilization—the world,
flesh and the devil—mankind and all the duties of life
were as nothing. Here were the woods and the
waters. There was the point for the campfire and the
tents. About us were the leaping trout. The spell
of the forest and the chase gripped me body and
soul. Only these things were worth while. Nothing
else mattered—nothing else existed.
We landed and in a little while the tents were white
on the shore, Del and Charlie getting them up as if
by conjury. Then once more we were out in the
canoes and the curved rod and the taut line and
the singing reel dominated every other force under the
wide sky. It was not the truest sport, maybe, for the
fish were chiefly taken with trolling flies. But to me,
then, it did not matter. Suffice it that they were
fine and plentiful, and that I was two ahead of Eddie
when at last we drew in for supper.
That was joy enough, and then such trout—for
there are no trout on earth like those one catches
44 The  Tent Dwellers
himself—such a campfire, such a cozy tent (Eddie's
it was, from one of the catalogues), with the guides'
tent facing, and the fire between. For us there was
no world beyond that circle of light that on one side
glinted among boughs of spruce and cedar and maple
and birch, and on the other, gleamed out on the black
water. Lying back on our beds and smoking, and
looking at the fire and the smoke curling up among
the dark branches toward the stars, and remembering
the afternoon's sport and all the other afternoons
and mornings and nights still to come, I was moved
with a deep sense of gratitude in my heart toward
I Eddie," I murmured, " I forgive you all those
lists, and everything, even your hair. I begin to
understand now something of how you feel about the
woods and the water, and all.   Next time 1
Then (for it was the proper moment) I confessed
fully—the purchasing agent, the tin whistle, even the
Jock Scott with two hooks.
msssm Il Chapter &ix
Nearer the fire the shadows creep—
The brands burn dim and red—
While the pillow of sleep lies soft and deep
Under a weary head.  Chapter fetx
WHEN one has been accustomed to the comforts of civilized life—the small ones, I
mean, for they are the only ones that count
—the beginning of a wild, free life near to nature's
heart begets a series of impressions quite new, and
strange—so strange. It is not that one misses a house
of solid walls and roof, with stairways and steam
radiators. These are the larger comforts and are
more than made up for by the sheltering temple of
the trees, the blazing campfire and the stairway leading to the stars. But there are things that one does
miss—a little—just at first. When we had finished
our first evening's smoke and the campfire was burning low—when there was nothing further to do but
go to bed, I suddenly realized that the man who said
he would be willing to do without all the rest of a
house if he could keep the bathroom, spoke as one
with an inspired knowledge of human needs.
I would not suggest that I am a person given to
luxurious habits and vain details in the matter of
evening toilet. But there are so many things one is
in the habit of doing just about bedtime, which in a
bathroom, with its varied small conveniences, seem
nothing at all, yet which assume undue proportions
49 The  Tent Dwellers
in the deep, dim heart of nature where only the large
primitive comforts have been provided. I had never
been in the habit, for instance, of stumbling through
several rods of bushes and tangled vines to get to a
wash-bowl that was four miles wide and six miles long
and full of islands and trout, and maybe snapping turtles (I know there were snapping turtles, for Charlie
had been afraid to leave his shoepacks on the beach for
fear the turtles would carry them off), and I had not
for many years known what it was to bathe my face
on a ground level or to brush my teeth in the attitude
of prayer. It was all new and strange, as I have said,
and there was no hot water—not even a faucet—that
didn't run, maybe, because the man upstairs was using
it. There wasn't any upstairs except the treetops and
the sky, though, after all, these made up for a good
deal, for the treetops feathered up and faded into the
dusky blue, and the blue was sown with stars that
were caught up and multiplied by every tiny wrinkle
on the surface of the great black bowl and sent in
myriad twinklings to our feet.
Still, I would have exchanged the stars for a few
minutes, for a one-candle power electric light, or even
for a single gas jet with such gas as one gets when the
companies combine and establish a uniform rate. I
had mislaid my tube of dentifrice and in the dim, pale
starlight I pawed around and murmured to myself a
good while before I finally called Eddie to help me.
| Oh, let it go," he said. " It'll be there for you
mm The  Tent Dwellers
in the morning. I always leave mine, and my soap
and towel, too."
He threw his towel over a limb, laid his soap on a
log and faced toward the camp. I hesitated. I was
unused to leaving my things out overnight. My custom was to hang my towel neatly over a rack, to
stand my toothbrush upright in a glass on a little
shelf with the dentifrice beside it. Habit is strong. I
did not immediately consent to this wide and gaudy
freedom of the woods.
" Suppose it rains," I said.
" All the better—it will wash the towels."
" But they will be wet in the morning."
" Um—yes—in the woods things generally are
wet in the morning.    You'll get used to that."
It is likewise my habit to comb my hair before
retiring, and to look at myself in the glass, meantime.
This may be due to vanity. It may be a sort of
general inspection to see if I have added any new
features, or lost any of those plucked from the family
tree. Perhaps it is only to observe what the day's
burdens have done for me in the way of wrinkles and
gray hairs. Never mind the reason, it is a habit; but
I didn't realize how precious it was to me until I got
back to the tent and found that our only mirror was
in Eddie's collection, set in the back of a combination
comb-brush affair about the size of one's thumb.
Of course it was not at all adequate for anything
like a general inspection. It would just about hold
5i The  Tent Dwellers
one eye, or a part of a mouth, or a section of a nose,
or a piece of an ear or a little patch of hair, and it
kept you busy guessing where that patch was located.
Furthermore, as the comb was a part of the combination, the little mirror was obliged to be twinkling
around over one's head at the precise moment when
it should have been reflecting some portion of one's
features. It served no useful purpose, thus, and was
not much better when I looked up another comb and
tried to use it in the natural way. Held close and far
off, twisted and turned, it was no better. I felt lost
and disturbed, as one always does when suddenly
deprived of the exercise of an old and dear habit,
and I began to make mental notes of some things I
should bring on the next trip.
There was still a good deal to do—still a number
of small but precious conveniences to be found wanting. Eddie noticed that I was getting into action and
said he would stay outside while I was stowing myself
away; which was good of him, for I needed the room.
When I began to take off things I found I needed
his bed, too, to put them on. I suppose I had expected
there would be places to hang them. I am said to be
rather absent-minded, and I believe I stood for several
minutes with some sort of a garment in my hand,
turning thoughtfully one way and another, probably
expecting a hook to come drifting somewhere within
reach. Yes, hooks are one of the small priceless conveniences, and under-the-bed is another. I never
SB The  Tent Dwellers
suspected that the space under the bed could be a
luxury until I began to look for a place to put my
shoes and handbag. Our tent was just long enough
for our sleeping-bags, and just about wide enough for
them—one along each side, with a narrow footway
between. They were laid on canvas stretchers which
had poles through wide hems down the sides—the
ends of these poles (cut at each camp and selected
for strength and springiness) spread apart and tacked
to larger cross poles, which arrangement raised us
just clear of the ground, leaving no space for anything
of consequence underneath. You could hardly put a
fishing rod there, or a pipe, without discomfort to the
flesh and danger to the articles. Undressing and
bestowing oneself in an upper berth is attended with
problems, but the berth is not so narrow, and it is flat
and solid, and there are hooks and little hammocks
and things—valuable advantages, now fondly recalled.
I finally piled everything on Eddie's bed, temporarily.
I didn't know what I was going to do with it next,
but anything was a boon for the moment. Just then
Eddie looked in.
" That's your pillow material, you know," he said,
pointing to my medley of garments. u You want a
pillow, don't you ? "
Sure enough, I had no pillow, and I did want one.
I always want a pillow and a high one. It is another
" Let me show you," he said.
mmm The Tent Dweller
So he took my shoes and placed them, one on each
side of my couch, about where a pillow should be,
with the soles out, making each serve as a sort of
retaining wall. Then he began to double and fold
and fill the hollow between, taking the bunchy, seamy
things first and topping off with the softer, smoother
garments in a deft, workmanlike way. I was even
moved to add other things from my bag to make it
higher and smoother.
" Now, put your bag on the cross-pole behind your
pillow and let it lean back against the tent. . It will
stay there and make a sort of head to your bed,
besides being handy in case you want to get at it in
the night."
Why, it was as simple and easy as nothing. My
admiration for Eddie grew. I said I would get into
my couch at once in order that he might distribute
himself likewise.
But this was not so easy. I had never got into a
sleeping-bag before, and it is a thing that requires
a little practice to do it with skill and grace. It has
to be done section at a time, and one's night garment
must be worked down co-ordinately in order that it
may not become merely a stuffy life-preserver thing
under one's arms. To a beginner this is slow, warm
work. By the time I was properly down among the
coarse, new blankets and had permeated the remotest
corners of the clinging envelope, I had had a lot of
hard exercise and was hot and thirsty. So Del
54 The Tent Dwellers
brought me a drink of water. I wasn't used to being
waited on in that way, but it was pleasant. After
all there were some conveniences of camp life that
were worth while. And the bed was comfortable
and the pillow felt good. I lay watching Eddie shape
his things about, all his bags and trappings falling
naturally into the places they were to occupy through
the coming weeks. The flat-topped bag with the
apothecary stores and other urgency articles went at
the upper end of the little footway, and made a sort
of table between our beds. Another bag went behind
his pillow, which he made as he had made mine,
though he topped it off with a little rubber affair
which he inflated while I made another mental memorandum for next year.   A third bag	
But I did not see the fate of the third bag. A
haze drifted in between me and the busy little figure
that was placing and pulling and folding and arranging—humming a soothing ditty meantime—and I was
swept up bodily into a cloud of sleep.
55 M CJjapter g>eben
Now, Dawn her gray green mantle weaves
To the lilt of a low refrain—
The drip, drip, drip of the lush green leaves
After a night of rain.  Chapter g>eben
THE night was fairly uneventful. Once I
imagined I heard something smelling around
the camp, and I remember having a sleepy
curiosity as to the size and manner of the beast, and
whether he meant to eat us and where he would be
likely to begin. I may say, too, that I found some difficulty in turning over in my sleeping-bag, and that it did
rain. I don't know what hour it was when I was
awakened by the soft thudding drops just above my
nose, but I remember that I was glad, for there had
been fires in the woods, and the streams were said to
be low. I satisfied myself that Eddie's " patent,
guaranteed perfectly waterproof " tent was not leaking unduly, and wriggling into a new position, slept.
It was dull daylight when I awoke. Through the
slit in the tent I could see the rain drizzling on the
dead campfire. Eddie—long a guest of the forest—
lost now in the multiple folds of his sleeping-bag—
had not stirred. A glimpse of the guides' tent opposite revealed that the flap was still tightly drawn.
There was no voice or stir of any living creature.
Only the feet of the rain went padding among the
leaves and over the tent.
Now, I am not especially given to lying in bed,
and on this particular morning any such inclination
59 The  Tent Dweller
was rather less manifest than usual. I wanted to
spread myself out, to be able to move my arms away
from my body, to whirl around and twist and revolve
a bit without so much careful preparation and deliberate movement.
Yet there was very little to encourage one to get
up. Our campfire—so late a glory and an inspiration—had become a remnant of black ends and soggy
ash. I was not overhot as I lay, and I had a conviction that I should be less so outside the sleeping-
bag, provided always that I could extricate myself
from that somewhat clinging, confining envelope.
Neither was there any immediate prospect of breakfast—nobody to talk to—no place to go. I had
an impulse to arouse Eddie for the former purpose,
but there was something about that heap of canvas
and blankets across the way that looked dangerous,
I had never seen him roused in his forest lair, and
I suspected that he would be savage. I concluded to
proceed cautiously—in some manner which might
lead him to believe that the fall of a drifting leaf or
the note of a bird had been his summons. I worked
one arm free, and reaching out for one of my shoes—
a delicate affair, with the soles filled with spikes for
clambering over the rocks—I tossed it as neatly as
possible at the irregular bunch opposite, aiming a
trifle high. It fell with a solid, sickening thud, and
I shrank down into my bag, expecting an eruption.
None came. Then I was seized with the fear that
60 The  Tent Dwellers
I had killed or maimed Eddie.    It seemed necessary
to investigate.
I took better aim this time and let go with the
other shoe.
I Eddie! " I yelled, " are you dead? "
There was a stir this time and a deep growl. It
seemed to take the form of words, at length, and I
caught, or fancied I did, the query as to what time
it was; whereupon I laboriously fished up my watch
and announced in clear tones that the hand was upon
the stroke of six. Also that it was high time for
children of the forest to bestir themselves.
At this there was another and a deeper growl, ending with a single syllable of ominous sound. I could
not be sure, but heard through the folds of a sleeping-
bag, the word sounded a good deal like | hell " and
I had a dim conviction that he was^ sending me there,
perhaps realizing that I was cold. Then he became
unconscious again, and I had no more shoes.
Yet my efforts had not been without effect. There
was a nondescript stir in the guides' tent, and presently the head of Charles, sometimes called the
Strong, protruded a little and was withdrawn. Then
that of Del, the Stout, appeared and a little later two
extraordinary semi-amphibious figures issued—wordless and still rocking a little with sleep—and with that
deliberate precision born of long experience went
drabbling after fuel and water that the morning fire
might kindle and the morning pot be made to boil.
61 The  Tent Dwellers
They were clad in oilskins, and the drapery of
Charles deserves special attention. It is likely that
its original color had been a flaunt of yellow, and
that it had been bedizened with certain buttonholes
and hems and selvages and things, such as adorn
garments in a general way of whatever nature or sex.
That must have been a long time ago. It is improbable that the oldest living inhabitant would be able
to testify concerning these items.
Observing him thoughtfully as he bent over the
wet ashes and skillfully cut and split and presently
brought to flame the little heap of wood he had garnered, there grew upon me a realization of the vast
service that suit of oilskins must have rendered to its
owners—of the countless storms that had beaten upon
it; of the untold fires that had been kindled under its
protection; of the dark, wild nights when it had
served in fording torrents and in clambering over
slippery rocks, indeed of all the ages of wear and tear
that had eaten into its seams and selvages and hues
since the day when Noah first brought it out of the
Ark and started it down through the several generations which had ended with our faithful Charles,
the Strong.
I suppose this is just one of those profitless reflections which is likely to come along when one is still
tangled up in a sleeping-bag, watching the tiny flame
that grows a little brighter and bigger each moment
and forces at last a glow of comfort into the tent
62 The  Tent Dwellers
until the day, after all, seems worth beginning, though
the impulse to begin it is likely to have diminished.
I have known men, awake for a long time, who have
gone off to sleep during just such morning speculations, when the flames grew bright and brighter and
crackled up through the little heap of dry branches
and sent that glow of luxury into the tent. I remember seeing our guide adjust a stick at an angle above
the fire, whereby to suspend a kettle, and then, suddenly, of being startled from somewhere—I was at
the club, I think, in the midst of a game of pool—by
a wild whoop and the spectacle of Eddie, standing
upright in the little runway between our beds, howling
that the proper moment for bathing had arrived, and
kicking up what seemed to me a great and unnecessary
The idea of bathing on such a morning and in that
primitive costume had not, I think, occurred to me
before, but I saw presently there was nothing else for
it. A little later I was following Eddie, cringing from
the cold, pelting rain, limping gingerly over sharp
sticks and pebbles to the water's edge. The lake was
shallow near the shore which meant a fearful period
of wading before taking the baptismal plunge that
would restore one's general equilibrium. It required
courage, too, for the water was icy—courage to wade
out to the place, and once there, to make the plunge.
I should never have done it if Eddie had not insisted
that according to the standard text-books the day in
63 ■Sr     ■■IfflWB
" Not to take the morning dip   .    .    .   was to manifest a sad
lack of the true camping spirit."
every well-ordered camp always began with this ceremony. Not to take the morning dip, he said, was to
manifest a sad lack of the true camping spirit. Thus
prodded, I bade the world a hasty good-by and
headed for the bottom. A moment later we were
splashing and puffing like seals, shouting with the
fierce, delightful torture of it—wideawake enough
now, and marvelously invigorated when all was over.
We were off after breakfast—a breakfast of trout
and flapjacks, the latter with maple sirup—in the
little eating tent. The flapjacks were Del's manufacture, and his manner of tossing the final large one
64 The  Tent Dwellers
into the air and catching it in the skillet as it fell,
compelled admiration.
The lake was fairly smooth and the rain no longer
fell. A gray morning—the surface of the water
gray—a gray mantle around the more distant of the
islands, with here and there sharp rocks rising just
above the depths. It was all familiar enough to the
guides, but to me it was a new world. Seated in the
bow I swung my paddle joyously, and even with our
weighty load it seemed that we barely touched the
water. One must look out for the rocks, though, for
a sharp point plunged through the bottom of a canoe
might mean shipwreck. A few yards away, Eddie
and his guide—light-weight bodies, both of them—
kept abreast, their appearance somehow suggesting
two grasshoppers on a straw.
It is six miles across Kedgeemakoogee and during
the passage it rained. When we were about half-way
over I felt a drop or two strike me and saw the water
about the canoe spring up into little soldiers. A
moment later we were struck on every side and the
water soldiers were dancing in a multitude. Then
they mingled and rushed together. The green islands
were blotted out.   The gates of the sky swung wide.
Of course it was necessary to readjust matters. Del
drew on his oilskins and I reached for my own. I
had a short coat, a sou'wester, and a pair of heavy
brown waders, so tall that they came up under my
arms when fully adjusted. There was no special diffi-
warn wr
"To put on a pair of waders like that in the front end of a
canoe in a pouring rain is no light matter."
culty in getting on the hat and coat, but to put on a
pair of waders like that in the front end of a canoe in
a pouring rain is no light matter. There seemed no
good place to straighten my legs out in order to get a
proper pull. To stand up was to court destruction,
and when I made an attempt to put a leg over the
side of the canoe Del admonished me fearfully that
another such move would send us to the bottom forthwith. Once my thumbs pulled out of the straps and
I tumbled back on the stores, the rain beating down
in my face. I suppose the suddenness of the movement disturbed the balance of the boat somewhat,
66  The  Tent Dwellers
for Del let out a yell that awoke a far-away loon, who
replied dismally. When at last I had the feet on, I
could not get the tops in place, for of course there
was no way to get them anywhere near where they
really belonged without standing up. So I had to
remain in that half-on and half-off condition, far from
comfortable, but more or less immune to wet. I realized what a sight I must look, and I could hardly
blame Eddie for howling in derision at me when he
drew near enough to distinguish my outline through
the downpour. I also realized what a poor rig I had
on for swimming, in event of our really capsizing,
and I sat straight and still and paddled hard for the
other side.
It was not what might be termed a " prolonged
and continuous downpour." The gray veil lifted
from the islands. The myriad of battling soldiers
diminished. Presently only a corporal's guard was
leaping and dancing about the canoe. Then these
disappeared. The clouds broke away. The sun
came. Ahead of us was a green shore—the other
side of Kedgeemakoogee had been reached.
68 Chapter €tsf)t
Where the trail leads back from the water's
Tangled and overgrown—
Shoulder your load and strike the road
Into the deep unknown. ■ Chapter €tgf)t
WE were at the beginning of our first carry,
now—a stretch of about two miles through
the woods. The canoes were quickly
unloaded, and as I looked more carefully at the various bags and baskets of supplies, I realized that they
were constructed with a view of being connected with
a man's back. I had heard and read a good deal
about portages and I realized in a general way that
the canoes had to be carried from one water system to
another, but somehow I had never considered the
baggage. Naturally I did not expect it to get over
of its own accord, and when I came to consider the
matter I realized that a man's back was about the
only place where it could ride handily and with reasonable safety. I also realized that a guide's life is
not altogether a holiday excursion.
I felt sorry for the guides. I even suggested to
Eddie that he carry a good many of the things. I
pointed out that most of them were really his, anyway,
and that it was too bad to make our faithful retainers
lug a drug store and sporting goods establishment,
besides the greater part of a provision warehouse.
Eddie sympathized with the guides, too. He was
really quite pathetic in his compassion for them, but
7i The Tent Dwellers
he didn't carry any of the things. That is, any of
those things.
It is the etiquette of portage—of Nova Scotia portage, at least—that the fisherman shall carry his own
sporting paraphernalia—which is to say, his rods, his
gun, if he has one, his fishing basket and his landing
net. Also, perhaps, any convenient bag of tackle or
apparel when not too great an inconvenience. It is
the business of the guides to transport the canoes, the
general outfit, and the stores. As this was to be
rather a long carry, and as more than one trip would
be necessary, it was proposed to make a half-way
station for luncheon, at a point where a brook cut
the trail.
But our procession did not move immediately. In
the first place one of the canoes appeared to have
sprung a leak, and after our six-mile paddle this seemed
a proper opportunity to rest and repair damages.
The bark craft was hauled out, a small fire scraped
together and the pitch pot heated while the guides
pawed and squinted about the boat's bottom to find
the perforation. Meantime I tried a few casts in
the lake, from a slanting rock, and finally slipped in,
as was my custom. Then we found that we did not
wish to wait until reaching the half-way brook before
having at least a bite and sup. It was marshy and
weedy where we were and no inviting place to serve
food, but we were tolerably wet, and we had paddled
a good way. We got out a can of corned beef and
72 The  Tent Dwellers
a loaf of bread, and stood around in the ooze, and
cut off chunks and chewed and gulped and worked
them down into place. Then we said we were
ready, and began to load up. I experimented by
hanging such things as landing nets and a rod-bag on
my various projections while my hands were to be
occupied with my gun and a tackle-bag. The things
were not especially heavy, but they were shifty. I
foresaw that the rod-bag would work around under
my arm and get in the way of my feet, and that
the landing nets would complicate matters. I tied
them all in a solid bunch at last, with the gun inside.
This simplified the problem a good deal, and was an
arrangement for which I had reason to be thankful.
It was interesting to see our guides load up.
Charles, the Strong, had been well named. He swung
a huge basket on his back, his arms through straps
somewhat like those which support an evening gown,
and a-top of this, other paraphernalia was piled. I
have seen pack burros in Mexico that were lost sight
of under their many burdens and I remembered them
now, as our guides stood forth ready to move. I still
felt sorry for them (the guides, of course) and suggested once more to Eddie that he should assume
some of their burdens. In fact, I was almost willing
to do so myself, and when at the last moment both
Charlie and Del stooped and took bundles in each
hand, I was really on the very point of offering to
carry something, only there was nothing more to
73 11
The Tent Dwellers
carry but the canoes, and of course they had to be
left for the next trip. I was glad, though, of the
generous impulse on my part. There is always comfort in such things.   Eddie and I set out ahead.
There is something fine and inspiring about a portage. In the first place, it is likely to be through a
deep wood, over a trail not altogether easy to follow.
Then there is the fascinating thought that you are
cutting loose another link from everyday mankind—
pushing a chapter deeper into the wilderness, where
only the more adventurous ever come. Also, there is
the romantic gipsy feeling of having one's possessions
in such compass that not only the supplies themselves,
but the very means of transportation may be bodily
lifted and borne from one water link to another of
that chain which leads back ever farther into the
. I have suggested that a portage trail is not always
easy to follow. As a matter of fact the chances are
that it will seldom be easy to follow. It will seldom
be a path fit for human beings. It won't be even a
decent moose path, and a moose can go anywhere that
a bird can. A carry is meant to be the shortest distance between two given places and it doesn't strive
for luxury. It will go under and over logs, through
scratchy thickets and gardens of poison ivy. It will
plow through swamps and quicksands; it will descend
into pits; it will skin along the sharp edge of slippery
rocks set up at impossible angles, so that only a
74 The Tent Dwellers
mountain goat can follow it without risking his neck.
I believe it would climb a tree if a big one stood
directly in its path.
We did not get through with entire safety. The
guides, shod in their shoe-packs, trained to the business, went along safely enough, though they lurched
a good deal under their heavy cargoes and seemed
always on the verge of disaster. Eddie and I did
not escape. I saw Eddie slip, and I heard him come
down with a grunt which I suspected meant damage.
It proved a serious mishap, for it was to one of his
reels, a bad business so early in the game. I fell, too,
but I only lost some small areas of skin which I knew
Eddie would replace with joy from a bottle in his
apothecary bag.
But there were things to be seen on that two-mile
carry. A partridge flew up and whirred away
into the bushes. A hermit thrush was calling from
the greenery, and by slipping through very carefully
we managed to get a sight of his dark, brown body.
Then suddenly Eddie called to me to look, and I
found him pointing up into a tree.
"Porky, Porky!" he was saying, by which I
guessed he had found a porcupine, for I had been
apprised of the numbers in these woods. " Come,
here's a shot for you," he added, as I drew nearer.
" Porcupines damage a lot of trees and should be
I gazed up and distinguished a black bunch clinging
75 II
The  Tent Dwellers
to the body of a fairly large spruce, near the top.
" He doesn't seem to be damaging that tree much,"
I said.
" No, but he will. They kill ever so many. The
State of Maine pays a bounty for their scalps."
I looked up again. Porky seemed to be inoffensive
enough, and my killing blood was not much aroused.
" But the hunters and logmen destroy a good many
more trees with their fires," I argued. " Why doesn't
the State of Maine and the Province of Nova Scotia
pay a bounty for the scalps of a few hunters and
logmen? "
But Eddie was insistent. It was in the line of
duty, he urged, to destroy porcupines. They were of
no value, except, perhaps, to eat.
" Will you agree to eat this one if I shoot him ? "
I asked, unbundling my rifle somewhat reluctantly.
" Of course—that's understood."
I think even then I would have spared Porky's life,
but at that moment he ran a little way up the tree.
There was something about that slight movement that
stirred the old savage in me. I threw my rifle to my
shoulder, and with hasty aim fired into the center of
the black bunch.
I saw it make a quick, quivering jump, slip a little,
and cling fast. There was no stopping now. A
steady aim at the black ball this time, and a second
shot, followed by another convulsive start, a long
slide, then a heavy thudding fall at our feet—a writh-
I The  Te?tt Dwelle*
ing and a twisting—a moaning and grieving as of a
stricken child.
And it was not so easy to stop this. I sent shot
after shot into the quivering black, pin-cushioned ball
before it was finally still—its stained, beautifully
pointed quills scattered all about. When it was over,
I said:
" Well, Eddie, they may eat up the whole of Nova
Scotia, if they want to—woods, islands and all, but
I'll never shoot another, unless I'm starving."
We had none of us starved enough to eat that
porcupine. In the first place he had to be skinned,
and there seemed no good place to begin. The guides,
when they came up, informed us that it was easy
enough to do when you knew how, and that the
Indians knew how and considered porcupine a great
delicacy. But we were not Indians, at least not in the
ethnological sense, and the delicacy in this instance
applied only to our appetites. I could see that Eddie
was anxious to break his vow, now that his victim was
really dead by my hand. We gathered up a 'few of
the quills—gingerly, for a porcupine quill once in the
flesh, is said to work its way to the heart—and passed
on, leaving the black pin cushion lying where it fell.
Perhaps Porky's death saved one or two more trees
for the next Nova Scotia fire.
There were no trout for luncheon at our half-way
halt. The brook there was a mere rivulet, and we
had not kept the single small fish caught that morn-
77 wr
The Tent Dwellers
ing. Still I did not mind. Not that I was tired of
trout so soon, but I began to suspect that it would
require nerve and resolution to tackle them three
times a day for a period of weeks, and that it might
be just as well to start rather gradually, working in
other things from time to time.
I protested, however, when Del produced a can
of Columbia River salmon. That, I said, was a gross
insult to every fish in the Nova Scotia waters. Canned
salmon on a fishing trip! The very thought of it was
an offense; I demanded that it be left behind with
the porcupine. Never, I declared, would I bemean
myself by eating that cheap article of commerce—that
universally indigenous fish food—here in the home of
the chief, the prince, the ne plus ultra of all fishes—
the Nova Scotia trout.
So Del put the can away, smiling a little, and produced beans. That was different. One may eat
beans anywhere under the wide sky.
1 Chapter Mnt
The black rock juts on the hidden pool
And the waters are dim and deep,
Oh, lightly tread—'tis a royal bed,
And a king Jies there asleep.  Chapter Mint
IT was well into the afternoon before the canoes
reached the end of the carry—poking out
through the green—one on the shoulders of each
guide, inverted like long shields, such as an ancient
race might have used as a protection from arrows.
Eddie and I, meantime, had been employed getting
a mess of frogs, for it was swampy just there, and
frogs, mosquitoes and midges possessed the locality.
We anointed for the mosquitoes and u no-see-ums,"
as the midges are called by the Indians, and used our
little rifles on the frogs.
I wonder, by the way, what mosquitoes were made
for. Other people have wondered that before, but
you can't overdo the thing. Maybe if we keep on
wondering we shall find out. Knowledge begins that
way, and it will take a lot of speculation to solve the
mosquito mystery.
I can't think of anything that I could do without
easier than the mosquito. He seems to me a creature
wholly devoid of virtues. He is a glutton, a poisoner, a spreader of disease, a dispenser of disturbing
music. That last is the hardest to forgive. If he
would only be still I could overlook the other things.
I wonder if he will take his voice with him into the The Tent Dwellers
next world. I should like to know, too, which place
he is bound for. I should like to know, so I could
take the other road.*
Across Mountain Lake was not far, and then followed another short carry—another link of removal
—to a larger lake, Pescawess. It was nearly five
miles across Pescawess, but we made good time, for
there was a fair wind. Also we had the knowledge
that Pescawah Brook flows in on the other side, and
the trout there were said to be large and not often
We camped a little below this brook, and while the
tents were going up Eddie and I took one of the
canoes and slipped away past an island or two, among
the strewn bowlders at the stream's mouth, pausing
to cast a little here and there, though at first with no
other result than to get our lines in a mess together.
" Now, say, old man," Eddie began, as my line
made a turn around his neck and a half-dozen twists
around his tackle, the whole dropping in a heap in the
water, " you mustn't cast like that. You should use
the treetop cast—straight up in the air, when there's
a man behind you.   Don't you know you might lacer-
* When this chapter appeared in The Outing Magazine Frederic Remington
wrote as follows:
"My dear Paine: Just read your Outing article on the woods and your
speculation on 'why mosquitoes were made,' etc. I know the answer. They
were created to aid civilization—otherwise, no man not an idiot would live anywhere else than in the woods."
I am naturally glad to have this word of wisdom from an authority like
Remington, but I still think that Providence could have achieved the same
result and somehow managed to leave the mosquito out of it.
82 The  Tent Dwellers
ate a fellow's ear, or put a hook through his lip, or
his nose, or something? "
I said that I was sorry, and that if he would give
me a few points on the treetop cast, and then avoid
sitting in the treetops as much as possible himself I
thought there would be no further danger.
He was not altogether pacified. The lines were in
a bad tangle and he said it was wasting precious time
to be fooling that way. Clearly two men could not
fish from one canoe and preserve their friendship, and
after our lines were duly parted and Eddie had
scolded me sufficiently, we went ashore just below
where the swift current tumbles in, and made our way
to the wide, deep, rock-bound pools above. The
going was pretty thick and scratchy, and one had to
move deliberately.
Eddie had more things to carry than I did, for he
had brought his gun and his long-handled net, and
these, with his rod, set up and properly geared with
a long leader and two flies, worried him a good deal.
The net had a way of getting hung on twigs. The
line and leader displayed a genius for twisting around
small but tough branches and vines, the hooks caught
in unexpected places, and the gun was possessed to
get between his legs. When I had time to consider
him, he was swearing steadily and I think still blaming me for most of his troubles, though the saints
know I was innocent enough and not without difficulties of my own.    Chiefly, I was trying to avoid
83 The Tent Dweller
poison ivy, which is my bane and seemed plentiful in
this particular neck of the woods.
We were out at last, and the wide, dark pool,
enclosed by great black bowlders and sloping slabs
of stone, seemed as if it might repay our efforts. Not
for years, maybe, had an artificial fly been cast in that
water. Perhaps Eddie was still annoyed with me,
for he pushed farther up to other pools, and was
presently lost to view.
I was not sorry of this, for it may be remembered
that I had thus far never caught a trout by casting
in open, smooth water, and I was willing to practice
a little alone. I decided to work deliberately, without
haste and excitement, and to get my flies caught in
the treetops as infrequently as possible. I adjusted
them now, took a good look behind and tossed my
cast toward the other side of the dark pool. I thought
I did it rather well, too, and I dragged the flies with
a twitching motion, as I had seen Eddie do it, but
nothing happened. If there were trout anywhere in
the world, they would be in a pool like this, and if
there was ever an evening for them it was now. It
was in the nature of probability that Eddie would
come back with a good string, and I could not let
him find me a confessed failure. So once more I sent
the flies out over the pool—a little farther this time,
and twitched them a little more carefully, but I -might
have been fishing in a tub, so far as any tangible fish
were concerned.
84 The Tent Dwellers
A little more line and a reckless back cast landed
my tail fly in a limb—a combination which required
time and patience to disengage. By the time I had
worked out the puzzle it began to seem like a warm
evening. Then I snapped the flies into several different corners of the pool, got hung again on the same
limb, jerked and broke the fly and repeated some of
the words I had learned from Eddie as we came
through the brush.
I was cooler after that, and decided to put on a
new and different fly. I thought a Jenny Lind would
be about the thing, and pretty soon was slapping it
about—at first hopefully, then rashly. Then in mere
desperation I changed the top fly and put on a Montreal. Of course I wouldn't catch anything. . I never
would catch anything, except by trolling, as any other
duffer, or even a baby might, but I would have fun
with the flies, anyway. So the Montreal went capering out over the pool, landing somewhere amid the
rocks on the other side. And then all at once I had
my hands full of business, for there was a leap and a
splash, and a z-z-z-t of the reel, and a second later
my rod was curved like a buggy whip, the line as taut
as wire and weaving and swaying from side to side
with a live, heavy body, the body of a trout—a real
trout—hooked by me with a fly, cast on a quiet
I wouldn't have lost that fish for money. But I
was deadly afraid of doing so.   A good thing for me,
85 The Tent Dwellers
then, my practice in landing, of the evening before.
" Easy, now—easy," I said to myself, just as Del had
done. " If you lose this fish you're a duffer, sure'
enough; also a chump and several other undesirable
things. Don't hurry him—don't give him unnecessary line in this close place where there may be snags
—don't, above all things, let him get any slack on you.
Just a little line, now—a few inches will do—and
keep the tip of your rod up. If you point it at him
and he gets a straight pull he will jump off, sure, or
he will rush and you cannot gather the slack. Work
him toward you, now, toward your feet, close in—
your net has a short handle, and is suspended around
your neck by a rubber cord. The cord will stretch, of
course, but you can never reach him over there.
Don't mind the reel—you have taken up enough line.
You can't lift out a fish like that on a four-ounce
rod—on any rod short of a hickory sapling. Work
him toward you, you gump! Bring your rod up
straighter—straighter—straight! Now for the net
—carefully—oh, you clumsy duffer, to miss him!
Don't you know that you can't thrash him into the
net like that ?—that you must dip the net under him ?
I suppose you thought you were catching mice. You
deserve to lose him altogether. Once more, now, he's
right at your feet—a king! "
Two long backward steps after that dip, for I must
be certain that he was away from the water's edge.
Then I bumped into something—something soft that
86 The Tent Dwellers
laughed. It was Eddie, and he had two fish in his
landing net.
"Bully!" he said. "You did it first-rate, only
you don't need to try to beat him to death with the
landing net. Better than mine," he added, as I took
my trout off the fly. " Suppose now we go below.
I've taken a look and there's a great pool, right where
the brook comes out. We can get to it in the canoe.
I'll handle the canoe while you fish."
That, also, is Eddie's way. He had scolded me
and he would make amends. He had already taken
down his rod, and we made our way back through the
brush without much difficulty, though I was still hot
with effort and excitement, and I fear a little careless
about the poison ivy. A few minutes later, Eddie,
who handles a canoe—as he does everything else
pertaining to the woods—with grace and skill, had
worked our craft among the rocks into the wide, swift
water that came out from under a huge fallen log—
the mouth of Pescawah Brook.
" Cast there," he said, pointing to a spot just
below the log.
Within twenty minutes from that time I had
learned more about fishing—real trout fishing—than
I had known before in all my life. I had, in Eddie,
a peerless instructor, and I had such water for a drill
ground as is not found in every day's, or every week's,
or every month's travel. Besides, there were fish.
Singly and in pairs they came—great, beautiful, mot-
87 The Tent Dwellers
<b V
tied fellows—sometimes leaping clear of the water
like a porpoise, to catch the fly before it fell. There
were none less than a pound, and many over that
weight. When we had enough for supper and breakfast—a dozen, maybe—we put back the others that
came, as soon as taken from the hook. The fishing
soon ended then, for I believe the trout have some
means of communication, and one or two trout
returned to a pool will temporarily discourage the
others. It did not matter. I had had enough, and
once more, thanks to Eddie, returned to the camp,
11 Chapter Cen
Where the path is thick and the branches twine
I pray you, friend, beware!
For the noxious breath of a lurking vine
May wither your gladness there. II
If Chapter %tu
IT was raining next morning, but that was not the
worst. During the night I had awakened with
a curious, but not entirely unfamiliar sensation
about one of my eyes. There was a slight irritant,
itching tendency, and the flesh felt puffy to the touch.
I tried to believe it was imagination, and went to
sleep again.
But there was no doubt next morning. Imagination is a taunting jade, but I don't believe she could
close one of my eyes and fatten up the other—not in
so short a time. It was poison ivy—that was what it
was—and I had it bad.
When Eddie woke, which he did, finally, he took
one look at me and dove back into his sleeping bag
out of pure fear. He said I was a sight, and he was
correct. Our one looking-glass was not big enough
to hold all of even one eye, but taking my features in
sections I could see that he had not overstated my
appearance. Perhaps the situation was amusing, too
—at least Eddie, and even the guides, professed to
be entertained—but for me, huddled against one side
of a six by eight tent—a tent otherwise packed with
bags and bundles and traps of various kinds—Eddie's
things, mostly, and Eddie himself among them—with
9i I Our one looking-glass was not big enough to hold all of even
one eye."
a chill rain coming down outside, and with a face
swollen and aching in a desperate way with poison,
the quality of the humor to me seemed strained when
I tried to distinguish it with the part of an eye I had
Eddie meantime had dived down into his bag of
remedies, happy to have a chance to use any or all
of them, and was laying them out on his sleeping bag
in front of him—in his lap, as it were, for he had not
92 The Tent Dwellers
yet arisen—reading the labels and wondering which
he should try on me first. I waited a little, then I
u Never mind those, Eddie, give me your alcohol
and witch hazel."
But then came an embarrassing moment. Running
his eye over the bottles and cans Eddie was obliged to
confess that not one of them contained either alcohol
or witch hazel.
I Eddie," I said reproachfully, " can it be, in a
drug store like that, there is neither alcohol nor witch
He nodded dismally.
" I meant to bring them," he said, " but the triple
extract of gelsemium would do such a lot of things,
and I thought I didn't need them, and then you made
fun of that, and—and "
" Never mind, Eddie," I said, 11 have an inspiration. If alcohol cures it, maybe whisky will, and
thank Heaven we did bring the whisky! "
We remained two days in that camp and I followed
up the whisky treatment faithfully. It rained most
of the time, so the delay did not matter. Indeed
it was great luck that we were not held longer by that
distressing disorder which comes of the malignant
three-leaved plant known as mercury, or poison ivy.
Often it has disqualified me for a week or more. But
the whisky treatment was a success. Many times a
day I bathed my face in the pure waters of the lake
93 The  Tent Dwellers
and then with the spirits—rye or Scotch, as happened
to be handy. By the afternoon of the first day I could
see to put sirup on my flapjacks, and once between
showers I felt able to go out with Eddie in the canoe,
during which excursion he took a wonderful string
of trout in a stagnant-looking, scummy pool where no
one would ever expect trout to lie, and where no one
but Eddie could have taken them at all.
By the next morning, after a night of sorrow—for
my face always pained and itched worse when everybody was in bed and still, with nothing to soothe me
but the eternal drip, drip from the boughs and from
the eaves of the tent—the swelling was still further
reduced, and I felt able to travel. And I wish to add
here in all seriousness that whatever may be your
scruples against the use of liquors, don't go into the
woods without whisky—rye or Scotch, according to
preference. Alcohol, of course, is good for poison
ivy, but whisky is better. Maybe it is because of the
drugs that wicked men are said to put into it. Besides, whisky has other uses. The guides told us of
one perfectly rigid person who, when he had discovered that whisky was being included in his camp supplies, had become properly incensed, and commanded
that it be left at home. The guides had pleaded that
he need not drink any of it, that they would attend
to that part of what seemed to them a necessary camp
duty, but he was petrified in his morals, and the
whisky remained behind.
94 The Tent Dwellers
Well, they struck a chilly snap, and it rained. It
was none of your little summer landscape rains,
either. It was a deadly cold, driving, drenching
saturation. Men who had built their houses on the
sand, and had no whisky, were in a bad fix. The
waves rose and the tents blew down, and the rigid,
fossilized person had to be carried across an overflowed place on the back of a guide, lifting up his
voice meanwhile in an effort to convince the Almighty
that it was a mistake to let it rain at this particular
time, and calling for whisky at every step.
It is well to carry one's morals into the woods, but
if I had to leave either behind, I should take the
It was a short carry to Lake Pescawah. Beyond
that water we carried again about a quarter of a mile
to a lake called Pebbleloggitch—perhaps for the reason that the Indian who picked out the name couldn't
find a harder one. From Pebbleloggitch we made
our way by a long canal-like Stillwater through a land
wherein no man—not even an Indian, perhaps—has
ever made his home, for it lies through a weird, lonely
marsh—a sort of meadow which no reaper ever harvested, where none but the wild moose ever feeds.
We were nearing the edge of the unknown now.
One of the guides, Del, I think, had been through
this Stillwater once before, a long time ago. At the
end of it, he knew, lay the upper Shelburne River,
which was said to flow through a sheet of water called
mam The Tent Dwellers
Irving Lake. But where the river entered the lake
and where it left it was for us to learn. Already
forty miles or more from our starting point, straight
into the wilderness, we were isolated from all mankind, and the undiscovered lay directly before. At
the end of the Stillwater Del said:
" Well, gentlemen, from this on you know as much
of the country as I do. All I know is what I've heard,
and that's not much. I guess most of it we'll have
to learn for ourselves."
96 Cfjapter Clebeu
By lonely tarn, mid thicket deep,
The she-moose comes to bear
Her sturdy young, and she doth keep
It safely guarded there.  Chapter Cleben
WE got any amount of fly-casting in the
Pebbleloggitch Stillwater, but no trout. I
kept Del dodging and twice I succeeded
in hooking him, though not in a vital spot. I could
have done it, however, if he had sat still and given
me a fair chance. I could land Del even with the
treetop cast, but the trout refused to be allured. As
a rule, trout would not care to live in a place like that.
There would not be enough excitement and activity.
A trout prefers a place where the water is busy—
where the very effort of keeping from being smashed
and battered against the rocks insures a good circulation and a constitution like a steel spring. I have
taken trout out of water that would have pulverized a
golf ball in five minutes. The fiercer the current—
the greater the tumult—the more cruel and savage the
rocks, the better place it is for trout.
Neither do I remember that we took anything in
the Shelburne above Irving Lake, for it was a good
deal like the Stillwater, with only a gentle riffle here
and there. Besides, the day had become chill, and a
mist had fallen upon this lonely world—a wet white,
drifting mist that was closely akin to rain. On such'
a day one does not expect trout to rise, and is seldom
disappointed. Here and there, where the current was
99 The  Tent Dwellers
slow-moving and unruffled, Eddie, perhaps, would
have tried his dry flies,* but never a trout was seen
to break water, and it is one of the tenets of dry-fly
fishing that a cast may only be made where a trout
has been seen to rise—even then, only after a good
deal of careful maneuvering on shore to reach the
proper spot on the bank without breaking the news to
the trout. It wasn't a pleasant time to go wriggling
through marsh grass and things along the shore,
so it is just as well that there was no excuse for
doing it.
As it was, we paddled rather silently down the
still river, considerably impressed with the thought
that we were entering a land to us unknown—that
for far and far in every direction, beyond the white
mist that shut us in and half-obliterated the world, it
was likely that there was no human soul that was not
of our party and we were quieted by the silence and
the loneliness on every hand.
Where the river entered the lake there was no dashing, tumbling water. In fact, we did not realize that
we had reached the lake level until the shores on
either hand receded, slowly at first, and then broadly
widening, melted away and were half lost in the mist.
The feeling grew upon me, all at once, that we
were very high here. There were no hills or ridges
that we could see, and the outlines of such timber
as grew along the shore seemed low. It was as if
we had reached the top of the world, where there
affltoJa. The Tent Dwellers
were no more hills—where the trees had been obliged
to struggle up to our altitude, barely to fringe us
round. As for course now, we had none. Our map
was of the vaguest sort. Where the outlet was we
could only surmise.
In a general way it was supposed to be at the
| other end " of the lake, where there was said to be
an old dam, built when the region was lumbered, long
ago. But as to the shape of the lake, and just where
that " other end " might lie, when every side except
the bit of shore nearest at hand was lost in the wet,
chill mist, were matters for conjecture and experiment.
We paddled a little distance and some islands came
out of the gray veil ahead—green Nova Scotia
islands, with their ledges of rock, some underbrush
and a few sentinel pines. We ran in close to these,
our guides looking for moose or signs of them.
I may say here that no expedition in Nova Scotia
is a success without having seen at least one moose.
Of course, in the hunting season, the moose is the
prime object, but such is the passion for this animal
among Nova Scotia guides, that whatever the season
or the purpose of the expedition, and however triumphant its result, it is accounted a disappointment and
a failure by the natives when it ends without at least
a glimpse of a moose.
We were in wonderful moose country now; the
uninvaded wild, where in trackless bog and swamp,
or on the lonely and forgotten islands the she-moose
101 The Tent Dwellers
secludes herself to bear and rear her young. That
Charlie and Del were more absorbed in the possibility
of getting a sight of these great, timid, vanishing
visions of animal life—and perhaps a longer view of
a little black, bleating calf—than in any exploration
for the other end of the Shelburne River was evident.
They clung and hovered about those islands, poking
the canoes into every hook and corner, speaking in
whispers, and sitting up straight at sight of any dark-
looking stump or bunch of leaves. Eddie, too, seemed
a good deal interested in the moose idea. I discovered presently that he was ambitious to send a specimen of a moose calf, dead or alive, to the British
Museum, and would improve any opportunity to
acquire that asset.
I may say that I was opposed to any such purpose.
I am overfond of Eddie, and I wanted him to have a
good standing with the museum people, but I did not
like the idea of slaughtering a little calf moose before
its mother's very eyes, and I did not approve of its
capture, either. Even if the mother moose could be
convinced that our intentions were good, and was
willing to have her offspring civilized and in the
British Museum, or Zoo, or some other distinguished
place, I still opposed the general scheme. It did not
seem to me that a calf moose tied either outside or
inside of our tent for a period of weeks, to bleat and
tear around, and to kick over and muss up things
generally, would be a proper feature to add to a well-
■Mmffiim The Tent Dwellers
ordered camp, especially if it kept on raining and we
had to bring him inside. I knew that eventually he
would own that tent, and probably demand a sleeping
bag. I knew that I should have to give him mine,
or at least share it with him.
I stated and emphasized these views and insisted
that we go over toward the half-obscured shore, where
there appeared to be an opening which might be the
river. We did go over there, at length, and there
was, in fact, an opening, but it was made by a brook
entering the lake instead of leaving it. Our memorandum of information declared that a stream called
the Susketch emptied into the lake somewhere, and
we decided to identify this as the place. We went up
a little way to a good looking pool, but there were
no trout—at least, they refused to rise, though probably the oldest and mossiest inhabitant of that place
had never had such an opportunity before. Back to
the lake again, we were pretty soon hovering about
the enchanted islands, which seemed to rise on every
It was just the sort of a day to see moose, Del
said, and there was no other matter that would stand
in importance against a proposition like that. I
became interested myself, presently, and dropped my
voice to a whisper and sat up at every black spot
among the leaves. We had just about given it up at
length, when all at once Del gave the canoe a great
shove inshore, at the same time calling softly to the
mm m
The Tent Dwellers
other canoe, which had already sheared off into the
They were with us in an instant and we were
clambering out. I hadn't seen a thing, but Del swore
that he had caught a glimpse of something black that
moved and disappeared.
Of course we were clad in our wet-weather armor.
I had on my oilskins, and what was more, those high,
heavy wading boots that came up under my arms. It
is no easy matter to get over even level ground rapidly
with a rig like that, and when it comes to scaling an
island, full of ledges and holes and underbrush and
vines, the problem becomes complex. Del and.
Charlie, with their shoepacks, distanced me as easily
as if I had been sitting still, while that grasshopper,
Eddie, with only the lightest sort of waders, skipped
and scampered away and left me plunging and
floundering about in the brush, with scarcely the possibility of seeing anything, even if it were directly in
front of my nose.
As a matter of fact, I didn't care anything about
seeing moose, and was only running and making a
donkey of myself because the others were doing it,
and I had caught a touch of their disease.
Suddenly, I heard Charlie call, " There they are 1
There they go! " and with a wild redoubled effort I
went headlong into a deep pit, half-filled with leaves
and brush, and muck of various sorts. This, of
course, would seem to assassinate any hope I might
104 ^Shf.-
'Hurry!    Hurry!   They've got over to the shore! "
have of seeing the moose, but just then, by some occult
process, Charles, the Strong, discovered my disaster,
and with that prowess which has made him famous
yanked me out of the mess, stood me on my feet and
had me running again, wallowing through the bushes
toward the other side of the little island whence the
moose had fled.
" There they go—they are swimming! " I heard
Del call, and then Eddie:
"I  see  'em!    I see  'em!"  and then  Charles's
voice, a little ahead of me:
" Hurry!     Hurry!     They've   got   over  to   the
105 The Tent Dwellers
I reached the shore myself just then—our shore,
I mean—on all fours and full of scratches and bruises,
but not too late, for beyond a wide neck of water,
on the mainland, two dark phantoms drifted a little
way through the mist and vanished into the dark
foliage behind.
It was only a glimpse I had and I was battered
up and still disordered, more or less, with the ivy
poison. But somehow I was satisfied. For one thing,
I had become infected with a tinge of the native
enthusiasm about seeing the great game of the woods,
and then down in my soul I rejoiced that Eddie had
failed to capture the little calf. Furthermore, it
was comforting to reflect that even from the guides'
point of view, our expedition, whatever else might
come, must be considered a success.
We now got down to business. It was well along
toward evening, and though these days were long
days, this one, with its somber skies and heavy mist,
would close in early. We felt that it was desirable
to find the lake's outlet before pitching our tents, for
the islands make rather poor camping places and lake
fishing is apt to be slow work. We wanted to get
settled in camp on the lower Shelburne before night
and be ready for the next day's sport.
We therefore separated, agreeing upon a signal of
two shots  from whichever of us had the skill or
fortune to discover the outlet.   The other canoe faded
into the mist below the islands while we paddled
106 The  Tent Dwellers
slowly toward the gray green shores opposite. When
presently we were all alone, I was filled, somehow,
with the feeling that must haye come over those old
Canadian voyageurs who were first to make their
way through the northlands, threading the network
of unknown waters. I could not get rid of the idea
that we were pioneers in this desolate spot, and so far
as sportsmen were concerned, it may be that we were.
107 Iff"
£| Chapter Ctoelbe
The lake is dull with the drifting mist,
And the shores are dim and blind;
And where is the way ahead, to-day,
And what of the path behind? m Chapter Ctoelbe
A LONG the wet, blurred shore we cruised, the
ZJm mist getting thicker and more like rain. Here
X A- and there we entered some little bay or nook
that from a distance looked as if it might be an outlet.
Eventually we lost all direction and simply investigated at random wherever any appearance seemed
inviting. Once we went up a long slough and were
almost ready to fire the signal shots when we discovered our mistake. It seemed a narrow escape
from the humiliation of giving a false alarm. What
had become of the others we did not know. Evidently the lake was a big one and they might be miles
away. Eddie had the only compass, though this
would seem to be of no special advantage.
At last, just before us, the shore parted—a definite,
wide parting it was, that when we pushed into it
did not close and come to nothing, but kept on and
on, opening out ahead. We went a good way in, to
make sure. The water seemed very still, but then we
remembered the flatness of the country. Undoubtedly
this was the outlet, and we had discovered it. It
was only natural that we should feel a certain elation
in our having had the good fortune—the instinct, as
it were—to proceed aright. I lifted my gun and it
in The Tent Dwellers
was with a sort of triumphant flourish that I fired the
two signal shots.
It may be that the reader will not fully understand
the importance of finding a little thing like the outlet
of a lake on a wet, disagreeable day when the other
fellows are looking for it, too; and here, to-day, far
away from that northern desolation, it does not seem
even to me a very great affair whether our canoe or
Eddie's made the discovery. But for some reason
it counted a lot then, and I suppose Del and I were*
unduly elated over our success. It was just as well
that we were, for our period of joy was brief. In
the very instant while my finger was still touching the
trigger, we heard come soggily through the mist,
from far down the chill, gray water, one shot and then
I looked at Del and he at me.
" They've found something, too," I said. " Do
you suppose there are two outlets? Anyhow, here
goes," and I fired again our two shots of discovery,
and a little later two more so that there might be no
mistake in our manifest. I was not content, you see,
with the possibility of being considered just an ordinary ass, I must establish proof beyond question of a
supreme idiocy in the matter of woodcraft. That is
my way in many things. I know, for I have done
it often. I shall keep on doing it, I suppose, until
the moment when I am permitted to say, " I die
112 The Tent Dweller
" They only think they have found something," I
said to Del now. " It's probably the long slough we
found a while ago. They'll be up here quick enough,"
and I fired yet two more shots, to rub it in.
But now two more shots came also from Eddie,
and again two more. By this time we had pushed
several hundred yards farther into the opening, and
there was no doubt but that it was a genuine river. I
was growing every moment more elated with our
triumph over the others and in thinking how we
would ride them down when they finally had to abandon their lead and follow ours, when all at once Del,
who had been looking over the side of the canoe grew
grave and stopped paddling.
" There seems to be a little current here," he said,
pointing down to the grass which showed plainly now
in the clear water, | yes—there—is—a current," he
went on very slowly, his voice becoming more dismal
at every word, " but it's going the wrong way! "
I looked down intently. Sure enough, the grass
on the bottom pointed back toward the lake.
" Then it isn't the Shelburne, after all," I said,
I but another river we've discovered."
Del looked at me pathetically.
" It's the Shelburne, all right," he nodded, and
there was deep suffering in his tones, " oh, yes, it's
the Shelburne—only it happens to be the upper end—
the place where we came in. That rock is where you
stopped to make a few casts."
ii3 The Tent Dwellers
No canoe ever got out of the upper Shelburne River
quicker than ours. Those first old voyageurs of that
waste region never made better time down Irving
Lake. Only, now and then, I fired some more shots,
to announce our coming, and to prepare for the lie
we meant to establish that we only had been replying
to their shots all along and not announcing anything
new and important of our own.
But it was no use. We had guilt written on our
features, and we never had been taught to lie convincingly. In fact it was wasted effort from the
start. The other canoe had been near enough when
we entered the trap to see us go in, and even then
had located the true opening, which was no great
distance away. They jeered us to silence and they
rode us down. They carefully drew our attention to
the old log dam in proof that this was the real outlet;
they pointed to the rapid outpouring current—for it
was a swift boiling stream here—and asked us if we
could tell which way it was flowing. For a time our
disgrace was both active and complete. Then came
a diversion. Real rain—the usual night downpour—
set in, and there was a scramble to get the tents up
and our goods under cover.
Yet the abuse had told on me. One of my eyes—
the last to yield to the whisky treatment, began to
throb a good deal—and I dragged off my wet clothes,
got on a dry garment (the only thing I had left by
this time that was dry) and worked my way labori-
Tiiifiiiiiii rii
'   *-   ""*- The  Tent Dwellers
ously, section by section, into my sleeping bag, after
which Eddie was sorry for me—as I knew he would
be—and brought me a cup of tea and some toast and
put a nice piece of chocolate into my mouth and sang
me a song. It had been a pretty strenuous day, and I
had been bruised and cold and wet and scratched and
humiliated. But the tea and toast put me in a forgiving spirit, and the chocolate was good, and Eddie
can sing. I was dry, too, and reasonably warm. And
the rain hissing into the campfire at the door had a
soothing sound.
iifiBiUai  Chapter thirteen
Now take the advice that I do not need—
That I do not heed, alway:
For there's many a fool can make a ride
Which only the wise obey.
iJfiaH F*P Chapter Cfnrteen
A S usual, the clouds had emptied themselves by
/\ morning. The sky was still dull and threat-
JL JL ening, and from the tent door the water of
the lake was gray. But the mist had gone, and the
islands came out green and beautiful. The conditions
made it possible to get some clothing decently smoked
and scorched, which is the nearest approach to dryness
one is ever likely to achieve in the woods in a rainy
I may say here that the time will come—and all
too soon, in a period of rain—when you will reach
your last dry suit of underwear—and get it wet. Then
have a care. Be content to stay in a safe, dry spot,
if you can find one—you will have to go to bed, of
course, to do it—until something is dry—that is,
pretty dry. To change from one wet suit to another
only a little less so is conducive neither to comfort nor
to a peaceful old age. Above all, do not put on your
night garment, or garments, for underwear, for they
will get wet, too; then your condition will be
I submit the above as good advice. I know it is
good advice for I did not follow it. I have never
followed good advice—I have only given it. At the
119 The Tent Dwellers
end of several nights of rain and moist days, I had
nothing really dry but my nightshirt and one slipper
and I think Eddie's condition was not so far removed.
What we did was to pick out the least damp of our
things and smoke and scorch them on a pole over the
campfire until they had a sort of a half-done look,
like bread toasted over a gas jet; then suddenly we
would seize them and put them on hot and go around
steaming, and smelling of leaf smoke and burnt dry
goods—these odors blended with the fragrance of
camphor, tar and pennyroyal, with which we were
presently saturated in every pore. For though it was
said to be too late for black flies and too early for
mosquitoes, the rear guard of the one and the advance
guard of the other combined to furnish us with a good
deal of special occupation. The most devoted follower of the Prophet never anointed himself oftener
than we did, and of course this continuous oily application made it impossible to wash very perfectly;
besides, it seemed a waste to wash off the precious
protection when to do so meant only another immediate and more thorough treatment.
I will dwell for a moment on this matter of washing. Fishing and camping, though fairly clean recreations, will be found not altogether free from soiling
and grimy tendencies, and when one does not or cannot thoroughly remove the evidences several times a
day, they begin to tell on his general appearance.
Gradually our hands lost everything original except
mug The Tent Dwellers
their shape. Then I found that to shave took off a
good deal of valuable ointment each time, and I approved of Eddie's ideas in this direction to the extent
of following his example. I believe, though, that I
washed myself longer than he did—that is, at stated
intervals. Of course we never gave up the habit
altogether. It would break out sporadically and at
unexpected moments, but I do not recall that these
lapses ever became dangerous or offensive. My
recollection is that Eddie gave up washing as a
mania, that morning at the foot of Irving Lake and
that I held out until the next sunrise. Or it may
have been only until that evening—it does not matter. Washing is a good deal a question of pride,
anyway, and pride did not count any more. Even
self-respect had lost its charm.
In the matter of clothing, however, I wish to
record that I never did put on my nightdress for an
undergarment. I was tempted to do so, daily, but
down within me a still small voice urged the rashness
of such a deed and each night I was thankful for
that caution. If one's things are well smoked and
scorched and scalded and put on hot in the morning,
he can forget presently that they are not also dry,
and there is a chance that they may become so before
night; but to face the prospect of getting into a wet
garment to sleep, that would have a tendency to
destroy the rare charm and flavor of camp life. In
time I clung to my dry nightshirt as to a life-belt. I
121 w
tin i
" If one's things are well smoked and scorched and scalded and
put on hot in the morning ''
wrapped it up mornings as a jewel, buried it deep in
the bottom of my bag, and I locked the bag. Not
that Eddie did not have one of his own—it may be
that he had a variety of such things—and as for the
guides, I have a notion that they prefer wet clothes.
But though this was a wild country, where it was
unlikely that we should meet any living soul, there
was always the possibility of a stray prospector or a
hunter, and a dry garment in a wet time is a temptation which should not be put in any man's way.
Neither that nor the liquor supply. When we left
122 The  Tent Dwellers
our camp—as we did, often—our guns, our tackle,
even our purses and watches, were likely to be scattered about in plain view; but we never failed to hide
. the whisky. Whisky is fair loot, and the woodsman
who would scorn to steal even a dry shirt would carry
off whisky and revel in his shame.
There were quantities of trout in the lower Shelburne, and in a pool just below the camp, next morning, Eddie and I took a dozen or more—enough for
breakfast and to spare—in a very few minutes. They
were lively fish—rather light in color, but beautifully
marked and small enough to be sweet and tender,
that is, not much over a half-pound weight. In fact,
by this time we were beginning to have a weakness
for the smaller fish. The pound-and-upward trout,
the most plentiful size, thus far, were likely to be
rather dry and none too tender. When we needed
a food supply, the under-sized fish were more welcome, and when, as happened only too rarely, we took
one of the old-fashioned New England " speckled
beauty " dimensions—that is to say, a trout of from
seven to nine inches long and of a few ounces weight
—it was welcomed with real joy. Big fish are a satisfaction at the end of a line and in the landing net, but
when one really enters upon a trout diet—when at
last it becomes necessary to serve them in six or seven
different ways to make them go down—the demand
for the smallest fish obtainable is pretty certain to
develop, while the big ones are promptly returned
123 The Tent Dwellers
with good wishes and God-speed to their native
For of course no true sportsman ever keeps any
trout he cannot use. Only the " fish-hog " does that.
A trout caught on a fly is seldom injured, and if
returned immediately to the water will dart away, all
the happier, it may be, for his recent tug-of-war. He
suffers little or no pain in the tough cartilages about
his mouth and gills (a fact I have demonstrated by
hooking the same fish twice, both marks plainly showing on him when taken) and the new kind of exercise
and experience he gets at the end of the line, and his
momentary association with human beings, constitute
for him a valuable asset, perhaps to be retailed in the
form of reminiscence throughout old age. But to
fling him into a canoe, to gasp and die and be thrown
away, that is a different matter. That is a crime
worse than stealing a man's lunch or his last dry
undershirt, or even his whisky.
In the first place, kill your trout the moment you
take him out of the water—that is, if you mean to eat
him. If he is too big, or if you already have enough,
put him back with all expedition and let him swim
away. Even if he does warn the other trout and
spoil the fishing in that pool, there are more pools,
and then it is likely you have fished enough in that
one, anyway. Come back next year and have another
battle with him. He will be bigger and know better
what to do then. Perhaps it will be his turn to win.
124 ^^^'lii^^S? tU\/ The Tent Dwellers
In the matter of killing a fish there are several ways
to do it. Some might prefer to set him up on the bank
and shoot at him. Another way would be to brain
him with an ax. The guides have a way of breaking
a trout's neck by a skillful movement which I never
could duplicate. My own method is to sever the
vertebrae just back of the ears—gills, I mean—with
the point of a sharp knife.    It is quick and effective.
I don't know why I am running on with digression
and advice this way. Perhaps because about this
period I had had enough experience to feel capable
of giving advice. A little experience breeds a lot of
advice.    I knew a man once *
♦The publisher wished me to go on with the story at this point. The man referred to above got his experience in Wall Street. He got enough in half a day
to keep him in advice for forty-seven years.
126 Chapter Jfourteen
Oh, never a voice to answer here,
And never a face to see—
Mid chill and damp we build our camp
Under the hemlock tree.  Cfjapter Jfourteett
IN spite of the rains the waters of the Shelburne
were too low at this point to descend in the
canoes. The pools were pretty small affairs and
the rapids long, shallow and very ragged. It is good
sport to run rapids in a canoe when there is plenty
of swift water and a fair percentage of danger. But
these were dangerous only to the canoes, which in
many places would not even float, loaded as we were.
It became evident that the guides would have towade
and drag, with here and there a carry, to get the
boats down to deeper water—provided always there
was deeper water, which we did not doubt.
Eddie and I set out ahead, and having had our
morning's fishing, kept pretty well to the bank where
the walking was fairly good. We felt pleasant and
comfortable and paid not much attention to the stream,
except where a tempting pool invited a cast or two,
usually with prompt returns, though we kept only a
few, smaller fish.
We found the banks more attractive.    Men had
seldom disturbed the life there, and birds sang an
arm's length away, or regarded us quietly, without
distrust.   Here and there a hermit thrush—the sweet-
129 The  Tent Dwellers
est and shyest of birds—himself unseen, charmed us
with his mellow syllables. Somehow, in the far,
unfretted removal of it all, we felt at peace with every
living thing, and when a partridge suddenly dropped
down on a limb not three yards away, neither of us
offered to shoot, though we had our rifles and Eddie
his B. M. license to kill and skin and hence to eat,
and though fish were at a discount and game not
And then we were rewarded by a curious and
beautiful exhibition. For the partridge was a mother
bird, and just at our feet there was a peeping and a
scampering of little brown balls that disappeared like
magic among the leaves—her fussy, furry brood.
I don't think she mistrusted our intent—at least,
not much. But she wanted to make sure. She was
not fully satisfied to have us remain just there, with
her babies hiding not two yards away. She dropped
on the ground herself, directly in front of us—so
close that one might almost touch her—and letting
one of her wings fall loosely, looked back at us over
her shoulder as if to say, " You see, it is broken. If
you wish, you can catch me, easily."
So we let her fool us—at least, we let her believe
we were deceived—and made as if to stoop for her,
and followed each time when she ran a few steps
farther ahead, until little by little she had led us
away from her family. Then when she was sure that
we really did not want her or her chickens, but cared
130 The  Tent Dwellers
only to be amused, she ran quickly a little way farther
and disappeared, and we saw her no more. Within
a minute or two from that time she was probably back
with her.little folks, and they were debating as to
whether we were bird or beast, and why we carried
that curious combination of smells.
It was such incidents as this that led us on. The
morning was gone, presently, and we had no means
of knowing how far we had come. It seemed to us
but a short way. We forgot the windings of the
stream, some of which we had eluded by cut-offs, and
how many hard places there would be for Del and
Charlie to get over with the canoes. As a matter of
fact we rather expected them to overtake us at any
time, and as the pools became deeper and longer and
the rapids somewhat more navigable we feared to
leave the stream on the chance of being passed. It
was about one o'clock when we reached a really beautiful stretch of water, wide and deep, and navigable for
an indefinite distance. Here we stopped to get fish
for luncheon, and to wait for the boats, which we
anticipated at any moment.
It was a wonderful place to fish. One could wade
out and get long casts up and down, and the trout
rose to almost any fly. Eddie caught a white perch
at last and I two yellow ones, not very plentiful in
these waters and most desirable from the food point
of view. The place seemed really inexhaustible. I
think there were few trout larger than fourteen
131 The Tent Dwellers
inches in length, but of these there were a great many,
and a good supply of the " speckled beauty " size.
When we had enough of these for any possible luncheon demand, and were fairly weary of casting and
reeling in, we suddenly realized that we were hungry;
also that it was well into the afternoon and that there
were no canoes in sight. Furthermore, in the enthusiasm of the sport we had both of us more than once
stepped beyond the gunwales of our waders and had
our boots full of water, besides being otherwise wet.
Once, in fact, I had slipped off a log on all fours, in
a rather deep place. It began to be necessary that
we should have a camp and be fed. Still we waited
hopefully, expecting every moment to see the canoes
push around the bend.
Eventually we were seized with misgivings. Could
the guides have met with shipwreck in some desperate
place and disabled one or both of the canoes, perhaps
losing our stores ? The thought was depressing. Was
it possible that they had really passed us during some
period when we had left the water, and were now far
ahead? We could not believe it. Could it be that
the river had divided at some unseen point and that
we had followed one fork and they another? It did
not seem probable. Perhaps, after all, we had come
farther than we believed, and they had been delayed
by the difficulties of navigation.
But when another hour passed and they did not
appear or answer to our calls, the reason for their
132 The Tent Dwellers
delay did not matter. We were wet, cold and hungry.
Food and fire were the necessary articles. We had
not a scrap of food except our uncooked fish, and it
would be no easy matter, without ax or hatchet, to get
a fire started in those rain-soaked woods. Also, we
had no salt, but that was secondary.
Eddie said he would try to build a fire if I would
clean some fish, but this proved pretty lonesome work
for both of us. We decided to both build a fire and
then both clean the fish. We dug down under the
leaves for dry twigs, but they were not plentiful.
Then we split open some dead spruce branches and
got a few resinous slivers from the heart of them, a
good many in fact, and we patiently gathered bits of
reasonably dry bark and branches from under the
sheltered side of logs and rocks and leaning trees.
We meant to construct our fire very carefully and
we did. We scooped a little hollow in the ground
for draught, and laid in some of the drier pieces of
bark, upon which to pile our spruce slivers. Upon
these in turn we laid very carefully what seemed to
be our driest selections of twigs, increasing the size
with each layer, until we laid on limbs of goodly
bulk and had a very respectable looking heap of fuel,
ready for lighting on the windward side.
Our mistake was that we did not light it sooner.
The weight of our larger fuel had pressed hard upon
our little heap of spruce slivers and flattened it, when
it should have remained loose and quickly inflamma-
133 The Tent Dwellers
ble, with the larger fuel lying handy, to be- added
at the proper moment. As it was, the tiny blaze had
a habit of going out just about the time when it ought
to have been starting some bigger material. When
we did get a sickly flame going up through the little
damp mess of stuff, there was a good deal more
smoke than fire and we were able to keep the blaze
alive only by energetic encouragement in the form of
First Eddie would get down on his hands, with
his chin against the ground and blow until he was
apoplectic and blind with smoke, and then I would
take my turn. I never saw two full-grown men so
anxious over a little measly fire in my life. We
almost forgot that we were perishing with cold and
hunger ourselves in our anxiety to keep the spark of
life in that fire.
We saved the puny thing, finally, and it waxed
strong. Then we put in a good deal of time feeding
and nursing our charge and making it warm and comfortable before we considered ourselves. And how
did the ungrateful thing repay us? By filling our
eyes with smoke and chasing us from side to side,
pursuing us even behind trees to blind and torture us
with its acrid smarting vapors. In fact, the perversity of campfire smoke remains one of the unexplained mysteries. I have seen a fire properly built
between two tents—with good draught and the whole
wide sky to hold the smoke—suddenly send a column
*34 The  Tent Dwellers
of suffocating vapor directly into the door of the tent,
where there was no draught, no room, no demand at
all for smoke. I have had it track me into the
remotest corner of my sleeping-bag and have found
it waiting for me when I came up for a breath of
air. I have had it come clear around the tent to
strangle me when I had taken refuge on the back
side. I have had it follow me through the bushes,
up a tree, over a cliff	
As I was saying, we got the fire going. After that
the rest was easy. It was simply a matter of cleaning
a few trout, sticking them on sticks and fighting the
smoke fiend with one hand while we burnt and blackened the trout a little with the other, and ate them,
sans salt, sans fork, sans knife, sans everything. Not
that they were not good. I have never eaten any
better raw, unsalted trout anywhere, not even at
The matter of getting dry and warm was different.
It is not the pleasantest thing in the world, even
by a very respectable fire such as we had now
achieved, to take off all of one's things without the
protection of a tent, especially when the woods are
damp and trickly and there is a still small breath of
chill wind blowing, and to have to hop and skip, on
one foot and then on the other, to keep the circulation going while your things are on a limb in the
smoke, getting scalded and fumigated, and black
edged here and there where the flame has singed up
135 The  Tent Dwelle)
high. It's all in a day's camping, of course, and altogether worth while, but when the shades of night
are closing in and one is still doing a spectral dance
about a dying fire, in a wet wood, on a stomach full
of raw trout, then the camping day seems pretty long
and there is pressing need of other diversion.
It was well toward night when we decided that
our clothes were scorched enough for comfortable
wear, and a late hour it was, for the June days in the
north woods are long. We had at no time lost sight
of the river, and we began to realize the positive
necessity of locating our guides and canoes. We had
given up trying to understand the delay. We decided
to follow back up the river until we found them, or
until we reached some other branch which they might
have chosen. It was just as we were about to begin
this discouraging undertaking that far up the bend
we heard a call, then another. We answered, both
together, and in the reply we recognized the tones of
Charles the Strong.
Presently they came in sight—each dragging a
canoe over the last riffle just above the long hole. A
moment later we had hurried back to meet two of the
weariest, wettest, most bedraggled mortals that ever
poled and dragged and carried canoe. All day they
had been pulling and lifting; loading, unloading and
carrying those canoes and bags and baskets over the
Shelburne riffles, where not even the lightest craft
could float.    How long had been the distance they
136 B
■n s
H    '''^^^^^ M 1 h
^^zSlffl^^NL--*?-';'* KvvlwA^ V«lc^- l^iaisi "^^K /  <%w
ex The Tent Dwellers
did not know, but the miles had been sore, tedious
miles, and they had eaten nothing more than a biscuit,
expecting at every bend to find us waiting.
It was proper that we should make camp now at
the first inviting place. We offered to stop right
there, where our fire was already going, but it was
decided that the ground was a poor selection, being
rather low. We piled into the canoes and shot down
the long hole, while the light of evening was fading
from the sky. Several hundred yards below, the
water widened and the bank sloped higher. It seemed
an attractive spot and we already knew the fishing in
these waters. But as a final test Eddie made a cast
as we rounded, tossing his flies into an inviting swirl
just below a huge bowlder. For some reason we had
put on three flies, and when he finally got his mess
of fish into the net, there were three trout—all good
ones—one on each fly.
We decided to camp there, for good luck, and to
stay until we were fully repaired for travel. No
camp was ever more warmly welcomed, or ever will
be more fondly remembered by us all.
138 Chapter Jftfteen
To-night, to-night, the frost is white,
Under the silver moon;
And lo, I lie, as the hours go by,
Freezing to death in June.  Chapter Jftfteen
THE reader will have gathered by this time
that I had set out with only a hazy idea of
what camping in Nova Scotia would be like.
I think I had some notion that our beds would be down
in the mud as often as not, and sticky and disagreeable—something to be endured for the sake of the
day's sport. Things were not as I expected, of
course. Things never are. Our beds were not in the
mud—not often—and there were days—chill, wet,
disheartening days—when I looked forward to them
and to the campfire blaze at the tent door with that
comfort which a child finds in the prospect of its
mother's arm.
On the whole, I am sure our camps were more
commodious than I had expected them to be; and they
were pretentious affairs, considering that we were
likely to occupy them no more than one night. We
had three tents—Eddie's, already described; a tent for
the guides, of about the same proportions, and a top
or roof tent, under which we dined when it rained.
Then there was a little porch arrangement which
we sometimes put out over the front, but we found
it had the bad habit of inviting the smoke to investigate and permeate our quarters, so we dedicated the
little porch fly to other uses. A waterproof ground
141 The  Tent Dwellers
cloth was spread between our stretcher beds, and upon
the latter, as mentioned before, were our sleeping-
bags; also our various bundles, cozily and conveniently bestowed. It was an inviting interior, on the
whole—something to anticipate, as I have said.
Yet our beds were not perfect. Few things are.
I am a rather large man, and about three o'clock in
the morning I was likely to wake up somewhat
cramped and pinched together from being so long
in the little canvas trough, with no good way of putting out my arms; besides being a little cold, maybe,
because about that hour the temperature seemed to
make a specialty of dropping low enough to get underneath one's couch and creep up around the back and
shoulders. It is true it was June, but June nights in
Nova Scotia have a way of forgetting that it is
drowsy, scented summertime; and I recall now times
when I looked out through the tent flap and saw the
white frost gleaming on the trees, and wondered if
there was any sum of money too big to exchange for
a dozen blankets or so, and if, on the whole, perishing
as I was, I would not be justified in drugging Eddie
and taking possession of his sleeping-bag. He had
already given me one of the woolen pockets, for
compared with mine his was a genuine Arctic affair,
and, I really believe, kept him disgustingly warm,
even when I was freezing. I was grateful, of course,
for I should have perished early in the fight without
it. I was also appreciative. I knew just how much
142 The  Tent Dwellers
warmer a few more of those soft, fleecy pockets would
make me, especially on those nights when I woke
about the cheerless hour of three, to find the world
all hard and white, with the frost fingers creeping
down my shoulder blades and along my spine. Then
it was I would work around and around—slowly and
with due deliberation of movement, for a sleeping-
bag is not a thing of sudden and careless revolution—
trying to find some position or angle wherein the cold
would not so easily and surely find my vitals. At
such a time, the desire for real comfort and warmth
is acute, and having already one of Eddie's pockets
and realizing its sterling worth—also that no more
than two feet away from me he lay warm and snug,
buried in the undue luxury of still other pockets—I
may confess now I was goaded almost to the point
of arising and taking peremptory possession of the
few paltry pockets that would make my lot less hard.
Sooner or later, I suppose, I should have murdered
Eddie for his blankets if he had not been good to me
in so many ways. Daily he gave me leaders, lines,
new flies and such things; nightly he painted my
scratches with new skin. On the slightest provocation
he would have rubbed me generously with liniment,
for he had a new, unopened bottle which he was
dying to try. Then there was scarcely an evening
after I was in bed—I was always first to go, for
Eddie liked to prepare his bed unhurriedly—that he
did not bring me a drink, and comfort me with some-
143 " Nightly he painted my scratches with new skin."   -
thing nice to eat, and maybe sing a little while he was
" tickling " his own bed (there is no other name for
it), and when he had finished with the countless little
tappings, and pattings, and final touches which insured
the reposeful comfort of his couch, he would place
the candle lantern just between, where each could see
equally well and so read a little in order that we might
compose our minds for rest.
144 Chapter Sixteen
Now snug, the camp—the candle-lamp,
Alighted stands between—
/ follow uAlice" in her tramp
And you your a Folly Queen."
-     -   — —  Cfjapter Sixteen
IN the matter of Eddie's reading, however, I was
not wholly satisfied. When we had been leaving the little hotel, he had asked me, suddenly,
what I would take for reading in the woods. He
added that he always read a little at night, upon
retiring, and from his manner of saying it, I assumed
that such reading might be of a religious nature.
Now, I had not previously thought of taking anything, but just then I happened to notice lying upon
the table a copy of " Alice in Wonderland," evidently
belonging to the premises, and I said I would take
that. I had not foregathered with Alice and the
White Rabbit for a good while, and it seemed to me
that in the depths of an enchanted wood I might
properly and profitably renew their acquaintance.
The story would hardly offend Eddie, even while he
was finding solace in his prayer-book.
I was only vaguely troubled when on the first night
of our little reading exercise I noticed that Eddie's
book was not of the sort which I had been led to
expect, but was a rather thick, suspicious-looking
affair, paper-bound. Still, I reflected, it might be an
ecclesiastical treatise, or even what is known as a
theological novel, and being absorbed just then in an
~=^—*^—a- The Tent Dwellers
endeavor to accompany Alice into the wonderful garden I did not investigate.
What was my surprise—my shock, I may say—
next morning, on picking up the volume, to discover
that it was printed in a foreign language, and that
language French—always a suspicious thing in print
—and to learn further, when by dint of recalling old
school exercises, I had spelled out the author's name
and a sentence here and there, that not only was it in
that suspicious language, but that it was a novel,
and of a sort—well, of course there is only one thing
worse than an English translation of a French novel,
and that is a French novel which cannot be translated—by any one in this country, I mean, who hopes
to keep out of jail.
I became absorbed in an endeavor to unravel a
passage here and there myself. But my French training had not fitted me for the task. My lessons had
been all about the silk gloves of my uncle's children
or of the fine leather shoes of my mother's aunt, and
such innocent things. I could find no reference to
them in Eddie's book. In fact I found on almost
every page reference to things which had nothing to
do with wardrobe of any sort, and there were words
of which I had the deepest suspicion. I was tempted
to fling the volume from me with a burning blush of
shame. Certainly it was necessary to protest against
the introduction of the baleful French novel into this
sylvan retreat.
1 The Tent Dwellers
I did so, later in the day, but it was no use. Eddie
had already gulped down some twenty pages of the
poison and would not listen to reason. There was a
duchess in the book, and I knew immediately from the
lame excuses he made for this person that she was not
at all a proper associate for Eddie, especially in this
remote place. I pleaded in vain. He had overtaken
the duchess on the third page, and the gaud of her
beauty was in his eyes. So it came to pass that while
I was following gentle little Alice and the White
Rabbit through a land of wonder and dreams, Eddie,
by the light of the same candle, was chasing this
butterfly of folly through a French court at the rate
of some twenty finely printed pages every night, translating aloud here and there, until it sometimes became
necessary for me to blow out the candle peremptorily,
in order that both of us might compose our minds for
needed slumber.
Perhaps I am dwelling unnecessarily upon our camp
detail, but, after all, the tent, with its daily and nightly
round becomes a rather important thing when it is
to be a habitation for a period of weeks of sun and
storm; and any little gem of experience may not be
wholly unwasted.
Then there is the matter of getting along without
friction, which seems important. A tent is a small
place, and is likely to contain a good many things—
especially in bad weather—besides yourselves. If you
can manage to have your things so the other fellow
 —■—— The Tent Dwellers
will stumble over them as infrequently as possible,
it is just as well for him, and safer for you. Also,
for the things. Then, too, if you will make your
beds at separate times, as we did, one remaining outside, or lying in a horizontal position among his own
supplies while the other is in active operation, you
are less likely to rub against each other, which sometimes means to rub in the wrong direction, with unhappy results. Of course forbearance is not a bad
asset to have along, and a small measure of charity
and consideration. It is well to take one's sense of
humor, too, and any little remnant of imagination
one may have lying about handy at the moment of
starting. Many a well-constructed camp has gone
to wreck during a spell of bad weather because one
or more of its occupants did not bring along imagination and a sense of humor, or. failed to produce these
articles at the critical moment. Imagination beautifies
many a desolate outlook—a laugh helps over many a
hard place.
150 Chapter S>ebenteen
Oh, the pulses leap where the fall is steep,
And the rocks rise grim and dark,
With the swirl and sweep of the rapids deep,
And the joy of the racing bark.
-^ ■ ~=———^-  Chapter g>ebenteen
WE established a good camp on the Shelburne
and remained in it for several days. For
one thing, our canoes needed a general
overhauling after that hard day on the rocks. Also,
it rained nightly, and now and then took a turn at it
during the day, to keep in'practice.
We minded the rain, of course, as it kept us forever
cooking our clothes, and restrained a good deal of
activity about the camp. Still, we argued that it was
<a good thing, for there was no telling what sort of
water lay ahead and a series of rock-strewn rapids
with low water might mean trouble.
On the whole, we were willing to stay and put up
with a good deal for the sport in that long pool.
There may be better fishing on earth than in the Shelburne River between Irving and Sand lakes, but it
will take something more than mere fisherman's gossip to convince either Eddie or me of that possibility.
We left the guides and went out together one morning, and in less than three hours had taken full fifty
fish of a pound each, average weight. We took off
our top flies presently and fished with only one, which
kept us busy enough, and always one of us had a
taut line and a curved rod; often both at one time.
153 The Tent Dwellers
We began to try experiments at last, and I took a
good fish on one of the funny little scale-winged flies
(I had happily lost the Jock Scott with two hooks
early in the campaign) and finally got a big fellow
by merely tying a bit of white absorbent cotton to a
plain black hook.
Yet curious are the ways of fish. For on the next
morning—a perfect trout day, with a light southwest
wind and running clouds, after a night of showers—
never a rise could we get. We tried all the casts
of the day before—the Parmcheenie, the Jenny
Lind, the Silver Doctor and the Brown Hackle. It
was no use. Perhaps the half a hundred big fellows
we had returned to the pool had warned all the
others; perhaps there was some other unwritten, occult
law which prohibited trout from feasting on this
particular day. Finally Eddie, by some chance, put
on a sort of a Brown Hackle affair with a red piece
of wool for a tail—he called it a Red Tag fly, I think
—and straightway from out of the tarry black
depths there rose such a trout as neither of us had
seen the day before.
After that, there was nothing the matter with
Eddie's fishing. What there was about this brown,
red-tailed joke that tickled the fancy of those great
silly trout, who would have nothing to do with any
other lure, is not for me to say. The creature certainly looked like nothing that ever lived, or that
they could ever have imagined before. It seemed to
§1 The Tent Dwellers
me a particularly idiotic combination and I could feel
my respect for the intelligence of trout waning.
Eddie agreed with me as to that. He said he had
merely bought the thing because it happened to be the
only fly he didn't have in his collection and there had
been a vacant place in his fly-book. He said it was
funny the trout should go for it as they did, and he
laughed a good deal about it. I suppose it was funny,
but I did not find it very amusing. And how those
crazy-headed trout did act. In vain I picked out flies
with the red and brown colors and tossed them as
carefully as I could in just the same spots where Eddie
was getting those great whoppers at every cast. Some
mysterious order from the high priest of all trout had
gone forth that morning, prohibiting every sort and
combination of trout food except this absurd creature
of which the oldest and mossiest trout had never
dreamed. That was why they went for it. It was
the only thing not down on the list of proscribed
There was nothing for me to do at last but to
paddle Eddie around and watch him do some of the
most beautiful fishing I have ever seen, and to net his
trout for him, and take off the fish, and attend to
any other little wants incident to a fisherman's busy
day. I did it with as good grace as I could, of course,
and said I enjoyed it, and tried not to be nasty and
disagreeable in my attitude toward the trout, the
water, Eddie, and the camp and country in general.
*55 The Tent Dwellers
But, after all, it is a severe test, on a day like that,
to cast and cast and change flies until you have wet
every one in your book, without even a rise, and to
see the other chap taking great big black and mottled
fellows—to see his rod curved like a whip and to
watch the long, lithe body leaping and gleaming in
the net.
But the final test, the climax, was to come at evening. For when the fish would no longer rise, even
to the Red Tag, we pulled up to the camp, where
Eddie of course reported to the guides his triumph
and my discomfiture. Then, just as he was opening
his fly-book to put the precious red-tailed mockery
away, he suddenly stopped and stared at me, hesitated, and held up another—that is, two of them, side
by side.
I So help me! " he swore, | I didn't know I had
itl I must have forgotten I had one, and bought
another, at another time. Now, I had forgotten
that, too.   So help me! "
If I hadn't known Eddie so well—his proclivity for
buying, and forgetting, and buying over again—also
his sterling honor and general moral purity—the
fishes would have got him then, Red Tag and all. As
it was, I condescended to accept the second fly. I
agreed that it was not such a bad production, after
all, though I altered my opinion again, next morning,
for whatever had been the embargo laid on other
varieties of trout bait the day before, it was off now,
i56 The  Tent Dwellers
and there was a general rising to anything we offered
—Doctors, Parmcheenie, Absorbent Cotton—any
old thing that skimmed the water and looked big and
We broke camp that morning and dropped down
" toward the next lake—Sand Lake, it would be, by
our crude map and hazy directions. There are no
better rapids and there is no more lively fishing than
we had on that run. There was enough water for
us to remain in the canoes, and it was for the most
part whirling, swirling, dashing, leaping water—
shooting between great bowlders—plunging among
cruel-looking black rocks—foaming into whirlpools
below, that looked ready to swamp our light craft,
with stores, crew, tackle, everything.
It was my first exhibition of our guides' skill in
handling their canoes. How they managed to just
evade a sharp point of rock on one side and by a
quick twist escape shipwreck from a bowlder or mass
of bowlders on the other, I fail to comprehend. Then
there were narrow boiling channels, so full of obstructions that I did not believe a chip could go through
with entire safety. Yet somehow Del the Stout and
Charles the Strong seemed to know, though they had
never traveled this water before, just where the water
would let the boats pass, just where the stones
were wide enough to let us through—touching on
both sides, sometimes, and ominously scraping on the
bottom, but sliding and teetering into the cauldron
157 The  Tent Dwellers
below, where somehow we did not perish, perhaps
because we shot so quickly through the foam. In the
beginning I remembered a few brief and appropriate
prayers, from a childhood where such things were a
staff of comfort, and so made my peace with the world
each time before we took the desperate plunge. But
as nothing seemed to happen—nothing fatal, I mean
—I presently gave myself up to the pure enjoyment of
the tumult and exhilaration, without disturbing myself
as to dangers here or hereafter.
I do not believe the times that the guides got out
of the canoes to ease them over hard places would
exceed twice, and not oftener than that were we called
on to assist them with the paddles. Even when we
wished to do so, we were often requested to go on
fishing, for the reason, I suppose, that in such a place
one's unskilled efforts are likely to be misdirected with
fatal results. Somewhat later we were to have an
example of this kind—but I anticipate.
We went on fishing. I never saw so many fish. We
could take them as we shot a rapid, we could scoop
them in as we leaped a fall. They seemed to be
under every stone and lying in wait. There were
great black fellows in every maelstrom; there were
groups holding receptions for us in the Stillwater pools
below. It is likely that that bit of the Shelburne River
had not been fished before within the memory of any
trout then living, and when those red and blue and
yellow flies came tumbling at them, they must have
158 The Tent Dwellers
thought it was " great day in the morning " and that
the white-faced prophets of big feeding had come.
For years, the trout we returned to those pools will
tell their friends and descendants of the marvels and
enchantments of that day.
I had given up my noibwood as being too strenuous
in its demands for constant fishing, but I laid aside
the light bamboo here in this high-pressure current
and with this high-speed fishing, where trout sometimes leaped clear of the water for the fly cast on the
foam far ahead, to be swinging a moment later at the
end of the line almost as far behind. No very delicate rod would improve under a strain like that, and
the tough old noibwood held true, and nobody cared
—at least I didn't—whether the tip stayed set or
not. It was bent double most of the time, anyway,
and the rest of the time didn't matter.
I don't know how many fish I took that day, but
Eddie kept count of his, and recorded a total of
seventy-four between camp and the great, splendid
pool where the Shelburne foams out into Sand Lake,
four miles or such a matter, below.
I do know that we lost two landing nets in that
swift water, one apiece, and this was a serious matter,
for there were but two more, both Eddie's, and landing nets in the wilderness are not easy to replace. Of
fish we kept possibly a dozen, the smallest ones. The
others—larger and wiser now—are still frolicking in
the waters of the Shelburne, unless some fish-hog has
159 The  Tent Dwellers
found his way to that fine water, which I think doubtful, for a fish-hog is usually too lazy and too stingy
to spend the effort and time and money necessary to
get there.
160 Chapter Cigfjteen
There's nothing that's worse for sport, I guess,
Than killing to throw away;
And there's nothing that's better for recklessness
Than having a price to pay. 1 Chapter €tgt)teen
WE had other camp diversions besides reading. We had shooting matches, almost
daily, one canoe against the other, usually
at any stop we happened to make, whether for luncheon or to repair the canoes, or merely to prospect
the country. On rainy days, and sometimes in the
evening, we played a game of cards known under
various names—I believe we called it pedro. At all
events, you bid, and buy, and get set back, and have
less when you get through than you had before you
began. Anyhow, that is what my canoe did on sundry
occasions. I am still convinced that Del and I played
better cards than the other canoe, though the score
would seem to show a different result. We were
brilliant and speculative in our playing. They were
plodders and not really in our class. Genius and
dash are wasted on such persons.
I am equally certain that our shooting was much
worse than theirs, though the percentage of misses
seemed to remain in their favor. In the matter of
bull's-eyes—whenever such accidents came along—
they happened to the other canoe, but perhaps this
excited our opponents, for there followed periods of
wildness when, if their shots struck anywhere, it was
163 The Tent Dwellen
impossible to identify the places. At such periods
Eddie was likely to claim that the cartridges were
blanks, and perhaps they were. As for Del and me,
our luck never varied like that. It remained about
equally bad from day to day—just bad enough to
beat the spectacular fortunes of Eddie and Charles
the Strong.
In the matter of wing-shooting, however—that is
to say, shooting when we were on the wing and any
legitimate quarry came in view—my recollection is
that we ranked about alike. Neither of us by any
chance ever hit anything at all, and I have an impression that our misses were about equally wide. Eddie
may make a different claim. He may claim that he
fired oftener and with less visible result than I. Possibly he did fire oftener, for he had a repeating rifle
and I only a single shot, but so far as the result is
concerned, if he states that his bullets flew wider of
the mark, such a claim is the result of pure envy,
perhaps malice. Why, I recall one instance of a
muskrat whose skin Eddie was particularly desirous
of sending to those museum folks in London—all
properly mounted, with their names (Eddie's and the
muskrat's) on a neat silver plate, so that it could
stand there and do honor to us for a long time—until
the moths had eaten up everything but the plate, perhaps, and Eddie struck the water within two or three
feet of it (the muskrat, of course) as much as a dozen
times, while such shots as I let go didn't hit anything
164 The Tent Dwelle?
but the woods or the sky and are, I suppose, still
buried somewhere in the quiet bosom of nature. I
am glad to unload that sentence. It was getting top-
heavy, with a muskrat and moths and a silver plate
in it. I could shoot some holes in it with a little
practice, but inasmuch as we didn't get the muskrat,
I will let it stand as a stuffed specimen.
I am also glad about the muskrat. Had he perished, our pledge would have compelled us to eat him,
and although one of Eddie's text-books told a good
deal about their food value and seven different ways
of cooking them, I was averse to experimenting even
with one way. I have never really cared for musk-
rats since as a lad I caught twenty of them one night
in a trammel net. Up to that hour the odor of
musk had never been especially offensive to me, but
twenty muskrats in a net can compound a good deal
of perfumery. We had to bury the net, and even
then I never cared much about it afterwards. The
sight of it stirred my imagination, and I was glad
when it was ripped away from us by a swift current
one dark night, it being unlawful to set a trammel
net in that river, and therefore sinful, by daylight.
It was on Sand Lake that Eddie gave the first
positive demonstration of his skill as a marksman.
Here, he actually made a killing. True, it was not
a wing shot, but it was a performance worthy of
record. A chill wet wind blew in upon us as we left
the river, and a mist such as we had experienced on
165 If
The Tent Dwellers
Irving Lake, with occasional drifts of rain, shut us
in. At first it was hard to be certain that we were
really on a lake, for the sheet of water was long and
narrow, and it might be only a widening of the river.
But presently we came to an island, and this we
accepted as identification. It was the customary
island, larger than some, but with the bushes below,
the sentinel pines, and here and there a gaunt old
snag—bleached and dead and lifting its arms to the
sky. On one of these " dead ones " we made out,
through the mist, a strange dark bunch about the
size of a barn door and of rather irregular formation.
Gradually nearing, we discovered the bunch to be
owls—great horned owls—a family of them, grouped
on the old tree's limbs in solid formation, oblivious
to the rain, to the world, to any thought of approaching danger.
Now, the great horned owl is legitimate quarry.
The case against him is that he is a bird of prey—a
destroyer of smaller birds and an enemy of hen roosts.
Of course if one wanted to go deeply into the ethics
of the matter, one might say that the smaller birds and
the chickens are destroyers, too, of bugs and grasshoppers and things, and that a life is a life, whether
it be a bird or a bumble-bee, or even a fish-worm. But
it's hard to get to the end of such speculations as
that. Besides, the owl was present, and we wanted
his skin. Eddie crept close in with his canoe, and
drew a careful bead on the center of the barn door.
166 The Tent Dwellers
There was an angry little spit of powder in the wet,
a wavering movement of the dark, mist-draped bunch,
a slow heaving of ghostly pinions and four silent,
feathered phantoms drifted away into the white
gloom. But there was one that did not follow. In
vain the dark wings heaved and fell. Then there
came a tottering movement, a leap forward, and half-
fluttering, half-plunging, the heavy body came swishing to the ground.
Yet unused to the battle as he was, for he was of
the younger brood, he died game. When we reached
him he was sitting upright, glaring out of his great
yellow eyes, his talons poised for defense. Even with
Eddie's bottle of new skin in reserve, it was not considered safe to approach too near. We photographed
him as best we could, and then a shot at close range
closed his brief career.
I examined the owl with considerable interest. In
the first place I had never seen one of this noble
species before, and this was a beautiful specimen.
Also, his flesh, being that of a young bird, did not
appeal to warrant the expression " tough as a boiled
owl," which the others remembered almost in a chorus
when I referred to our agreement concerning the
food test of such game as we brought down. I don't
think any of us wanted to eat that owl. I know I
didn't, but I had weakened once—on the porcupine, it
may be remembered—and the death of that porcupine
rested heavily upon me, especially when I remem-
167 The  Tent Dwellers
bered how he had whined and grieved in the moment
of dying. I think I had a notion that eating the owl
would in some measure atone for the porcupine. I
said, with such firmness as I could command, and all
day I repeated at intervals, that we would eat the owl.
We camped rather early that afternoon, for it was
not pleasant traveling in the chill mist, and the prospect of the campfire and a snug tent was an ever-
present temptation. I had suggested, also, that we
ought to go ashore in time to cook the owl for supper.
It might take time to cook him.
We did not especially need the owl. We had
saved a number of choice small trout and we were still
able to swallow them when prepared in a really
palatable form. Eddie, it is true, had condemned
trout at breakfast, and declared he would have no
more of them, but this may have been because there
were flap-jacks. He showed no disposition to condemn them now. When I mentioned the nice, tender
owl meat which we were to have, he really looked
longingly at the trout and spoke of them as juicy little
fellows, such as he had always liked. I agreed that
they would be good for the first course, and that a
bird for supper would make out a sumptuous meal.
I have never known Eddie to be so kind to me as he
was about this time. He offered me some leaders and
flies and even presented me with a silver-mounted
briar-root pipe, brought all the way from London.
I took the things, but I did not soften my heart. I
168 was born in New England and have a conscience.
I cannot be bribed like that.
I told the guides that it would be better to begin
supper right away, in order that we might not get
too hungry before the owl was done. I thought them
slow in their preparations for the meal. It was curious, too, for I had promised them they should have
a piece of the bird. Del was generous. He said he
would give his to Charles. That he never really
cared much for birds, anyhow. Why, once, he said,
he shot a partridge and gave it away, and he was
hungry, too. He gave it to a boy that happened
along just then, and when another partridge flew up
he didn't even offer to shoot it. We didn't take
much stock in that story until it dawned upon us that
he had shot the bird out of season, and the boy had
happened along just in time to be incriminated by
accepting it as a present. It was better to have him
as a partner than a witness.
As for Charles, he affected to be really eager for
owl meat. He said that all his life he had looked
forward to this time. Still, he was slow, I thought.
He seemed about as eager for supper as a boy is to
carry in the evening wood. He said that one of the
canoes leaked a little and ought to be pitched right
away. I said it was altogether too damp for such
work and that the canoe would wait till morning.
Then he wanted to look up a spring, though there
were two or three in plain sight, within twenty yards
169 The  Tent Dwellers
of the camp. I suspected at last that he was not
really anxious to cook the owl and was trying to
postpone the matter until it was too late for him (the
owl) to get properly done before bedtime. Then I
became firm. I said that a forest agreement was
sacred. That we were pledged to the owl before we
shot him, and that we would keep our promise to the
dead, even to the picking of his bones.
Wood was gathered then, and the fire blazed. The
owl's breast—fat and fine it looked—was in the
broiler, and on the fire. There it cooked—and
cooked. Then it cooked some more and sent up an
appetizing smell. Now and then, I said I thought
the time for it had come, but there was a burden of
opinion that more cooking would benefit the owl.
Meantime, we had eaten a pan or two of trout and a
few other things—the bird of course being later in
the bill of fare. At most dinners I have attended,
this course is contemplated with joy. It did not
seem to be on this occasion. Eddie agreed with Del
that he had never cared much for bird, anyway, and
urged me to take his share. I refused to deprive him
of it. Then he said he didn't feel well, and thought
he really ought not to eat anything more. I said
grimly that possibly this was true, but that he would
eat the owl.
It was served then, fairly divided and distributed,
as food is when men are on short rations. I took
the first taste—I was always venturesome—a little
W—-*■ The  Tent Dwellers
one. Then, immediately, I wished I had accepted
Eddie's piece. But meantime he had tasted, too—a
miserly taste—and then I couldn't have got the rest
of it for money.
For there was never anything so good as that
breast of young owl. It was tender, it was juicy, it
was as delicately flavored as a partridge, almost. Certainly it was a dainty morsel to us who had of late
dealt so largely in fish diet. Had we known where
the rest of that brood of owls had flown to we should
have started after them, then and there.
Extract from my diary that night: "Eddie has been taken
with a slight cramp, and it has occurred to him that the
owl meat, though appetizing, may be poisonous. He is
searching his medicine bag for remedies. His disaster is
merely punishment for the quantity of other food he ate
beforehand, in his futile effort to escape the owl."
171 **a Chapter Nineteen
Then scan your map, and search your plans,
And ponder the hunter's guess—
While the silver track of the brook leads back
Into the wilderness.  Chapter JSmeteen
WE looked for moose again on Sand Lake,
but found only signs. On the whole, I
thought this more satisfactory. One does
not have to go galloping up and down among the
bushes and rocks to get a glimpse of signs, but may
examine them leisurely and discuss the number, character and probable age of these records, preserving
meanwhile a measure of repose, not to say dignity.
Below Sand Lake a brook was said to enter.
Descending from the upper interior country, it would
lead us back into regions more remote than any
heretofore traveled. So far as I could learn, neither
of our guides had ever met any one who even claimed
to know this region, always excepting the imaginative
Indian previously mentioned. Somewhere in these
uncharted wilds this Indian person had taken trout
" the size of one's leg."
Regardless of the dimensions of this story, it had
a fascination for us. We wished to see those trout,
even if they had been overrated. We had been hurrying, at least in spirit, to reach the little water gateway
that opened to a deeper unknown where lay a chain of
lakes, vaguely set down on our map as the Tobeatic *
* Pronounced To-be-at-ic
175 The Tent Dwellers
waters. At some time in the past the region had
been lumbered, but most of the men who cut the
timber were probably dead now, leaving only a little
drift of hearsay testimony behind.
It was not easy to find the entrance to the hidden
land. The foliage was heavy and close along the
swampy shore, and from such an ambush a still small
current might flow unnoticed, especially in the mist
that hung about us. More than once we were deceived
by some fancied ripple or the configuration of the
shore. Del at length announced that just ahead was a
growth of a kind of maple likely to indicate a brook
entrance. The shore really divided there and a sandy
waterway led back somewhere into a mystery of vines
and trees.
We halted near the mouth of the. little stream
for lunch and consultation. It was not a desirable
place to camp. The ground was low and oozy and
full of large-leaved greenhousy-looking plants. The
recent rains had not improved the character of the
place. There was poison ivy there, too, and a delegation of mosquitoes. We might just as well have
gone up the brook a hundred yards or so, to higher
and healthier ground, but this would not have been
in accord with Eddie's ideas of exploration. Explorers, he said, always stopped at the mouth of
rivers to debate, and to consult maps and feed themselves in preparation for unknown hardships to come.
So we stopped and sat around in the mud, and looked
^——^ The  Tent Dwellers
at some marks on a paper—made by the imaginative
Indian, I think—and speculated as to whether it
would be possible to push and drag the canoes up the
brook, or whether everything would have to go overland.
Personally, the prospect of either did not fill me
with enthusiasm. The size of the brook did not
promise much in the way of important waters above
or fish even the size of one's arm. However, Tobeatic
exploration was down on the cards. Our trip thus
far had furnished only a hint of such mystery and
sport as was supposed to lie concealed somewhere
beyond the green, from which only this little brooklet
crept out to whisper the secret. Besides, I had learned
to keep still when Eddie had set his heart on a thing.
I left the others poring over the hieroglyphic map,
and waded out into the clean water of the brook. As
I looked back at Del and Charlie, squatting there
amid the rank weeds, under the dark, dripping boughs,
with Eddie looking over their shoulders and pointing
at the crumpled paper spread before them, they
formed a picturesque group—such a one as Livingstone or Stanley and their followers might have made
in the African jungles. When I told Eddie of this
he grew visibly prouder and gave me two new leaders
and some special tobacco.
We proceeded up the stream, Eddie and I ahead,
the guides pushing the loaded canoes behind. It was
the brook of our forefathers—such a stream as might
177 1
The Tent Dwellers
flow through the valley meadows of New England,
with trout of about the New England size, and plentiful. Lively fellows, from seven to nine inches in
length, rose two and three at almost every cast. We
put on small flies and light leaders and forgot there
were such things as big trout in Nova Scotia. It
was joyous, old-fashioned fishing—a real treat for a
We had not much idea how far we were to climb
this water stairway, and as the climb became steeper,
and the water more swift, the guides pushed and
puffed and we gave them a lift over the hard places—
that is, Eddie did. I was too tired to do anything
but fish.
As a rule, the water was shallow, but there were
deep holes. I found one of them presently, by mistake. It was my habit to find holes that way—places
deeper than my waders, though the latter came to
my shoulders. It seemed necessary that several times
daily I should get my boots full of water. When I
couldn't do it in any other way I would fall over something and let the river run into them for a while.
I called to Eddie from where I was wallowing around,
trying to get up, with my usual ballast.
| Don't get in here! " I said.
He was helping the boys over a hard place just
then, tugging and sweating, but he paused long
enough to be rude and discourteous.
11 don't have to catch my trout in my boots," he
wrrmdBF* The Tent Dwellers
jeered, and the guides were disrespectful enough to
laugh. I decided that I would never try to do any
of them a good turn again. Then suddenly everything was forgotten, for a gate of light opened out
ahead, and presently we pushed through and had
reached the shores of as lovely a sheet of water as
lies in the great north woods. It was Tupper Lake,
by our calculation, and it was on the opposite side
that Tobeatic Brook was said to enter. There, if
anywhere, we might expect to find the traditional
trout. So far as we knew, no one had looked on
these waters since the old lumbering days. Except
for exploration there was no reason why any one
should come. Of fish and game there were plenty in
localities more accessible. To me, I believe the
greatest joy there, as everywhere in the wilderness—
and it was a joy that did not grow old—was the
feeling that we were in a region so far removed from
clanging bells and grinding wheels and all the useful,
ugly attributes of mankind.
We put out across the lake. The land rose rather
sharply beyond, and from among the trees there
tumbled out a white foaming torrent that made a wide
swirling green pool where it entered. We swept in
below this aquarium, Eddie taking one side and I the
other. We had on our big flies now and our heavy
leaders. They were necessary. Scarcely had a cast
gone sailing out over the twisting water when a big
black and gold shape leaped into the air and Eddie
179 The  Tent Dwellers
had his work cut out for him. A moment later my
own reel was singing, and I knew by the power and
savage rushes that I had something unusual at the
other end.
" Trout as big as your leg! " we called across to
each other, and if they were not really as big as that,
they were, at all events, bigger than anything so far
taken—as big as one's arm perhaps—one's forearm,
at least, from the hollow of the elbow to the fingertips. You see how impossible it is to tell the truth
about a trout the first time. I never knew a fisherman
who could do it. There is something about a fish that
does not affiliate with fact. Even at the market I
have known a fish to weigh more than he did when I
got him home. We considered the imaginative
Indian justified, and blessed him accordingly. Chapter GTtoentp
You may slip away from a faithful friend
And thrive for an hour or two,
But you'd better be fair, and you'd better be square,
Or something will happen to you.  Chapter tEtoentp
WE took seventeen of those big fellows before
we landed, enough in all conscience. A
point just back of the water looked inviting as a place to pitch the tents, and we decided to
land, for we were tired. Yet curious are the ways of
fishermen: having had already too much, one becomes
greedy for still more. There was an old dam just
above, unused for a generation perhaps, and a long,
rotting sluiceway through which poured a torrent of
water. It seemed just the place for the king of
trouts, and I made up my mind to try it now before
Eddie had a chance. You shall see how I
I crept away when his back was turned, taking his
best and longest-handled landing net (it may be
remembered I had lost mine), for it would be a deep
dip down into the sluice. The logs around the premises were old and crumbly and I had to pick my way
with care to reach a spot from which it would be
safe to handle a big trout. I knew he was there. I
never had a stronger conviction in my life. The projecting ends of some logs which I chose for a seat
seemed fairly permanent and I made my preparations
with care.    I put on a new leader and two large new
183 ^mmufm
The Tent Dwellers
flies. Then I rested the net in a handy place, took a
look behind me and sent the cast down the greased
lightning current that was tearing through the sluice.
I expected results, but nothing quite so sudden.
Neither did I know that whales ever came so far up
into fresh-water streams. I know it was a whale,
for nothing smaller could have given a yank like that;
besides, in the glimpse I had of him he looked exactly
like pictures I have seen of the leviathan who went
into commission for three days to furnish passage for
Jonah and get his name in print. I found myself
suddenly grabbing at things to hold on to, among
them being Eddie's long-handled net, which was of
no value as ballast, but which once in my hand I could
not seem to put down again, being confused and
As a matter of fact there was nothing satisfactory
to get hold of in that spot. I had not considered the
necessity of firm anchorage when I selected the place,
but with a three-ton trout at the end of a long line,
in a current going a thousand miles a minute, I realized that it would be well to be lashed to something
permanent. As it was, with my legs swinging over'
that black mill-race, my left hand holding the rod,
and my right clutching the landing net, I was in no
position to withstand the onset of a battle such as
properly belongs to the North Pacific Ocean where
they have boats and harpoons and long coiled lines
suitable to such work.
184 The Tent Dwellers
Still, I might have survived—I might have avoided
complete disaster, I think—if the ends of those two
logs I selected as a seat had been as sound as they
looked. Of course they were not. They were never
intended to stand any such motions as I was making.
In the brief moment allowed me for thought I realized this, but it was no matter. My conclusions were
not valuable. I remember seeing the sluice, black and
swift, suddenly rise to meet me, and of dropping
Eddie's net as I went down. Then I have a vision of
myself shooting down that race in a wild toboggan
ride, and a dim, splashy picture of being pitched out
on a heap of brush and stones and logs below.
When I got some of the water out of my brains
so I could think with them, I realized, first, that I
was alive, still clutching my rod and that it was
unbroken. Next, that the whale and Eddie's landing
net were gone. I did not care so especially much
about the whale. He had annoyed me. I was willing to part with him. Eddie's net was a different
matter. I never could go back without that. After
all his goodness to me I had deceived him, slipped
away from him, taken his prized net—and lost it.
I had read of such things; the Sunday-school books
used to be full of similar incidents. And even if
Eddie forgave me, as the good boy in the books
always did, my punishment was none the less sure.
My fishing was ended. There was just one net left.
Whatever else I had done, or might do, I would never
185 in
The Tent Dwellers
deprive Eddie of his last net. I debated whether I
should go to him, throw myself on his mercy—ask his
forgiveness and offer to become his special guide and
servant for the remainder of the trip—or commit
But presently I decided to make one try, at least,
to find the net. It had not been thrown out on the
drift with me, for it was not there. Being heavy,
it had most likely been carried along the bottom and
was at present lodged in some deep crevice. It was
useless, of course; still, I would try.
I was not much afraid of the sluice, now that I
had been introduced to it. I put my rod in a place
of safety and made my way to the upper end of the
great trough. Then I let myself down carefully into
the racing water, bracing myself against the sides and
feeling along the bottom with my feet. It was uncertain going, for the heavy current tried hard to pull
me down. But I had not gone three steps till I felt
something. I could not believe it was the net. I
carefully steadied myself and reached one arm down
into the black, tearing water—down, down to my
elbow. Then I could have whooped for joy, for it
was the net. It had caught on an old nail or splinter,
or something, and held fast.
Eddie was not at the camp, and the guides were
busy getting wood.   I was glad, for I was wet and
bruised   and   generally   disturbed.     When   I   had
changed my things and recovered a good deal, I sat
T——J ' I remember seeing the sluice, black and swift, suddenly rise to
meet me,"
wrtrfffrrrmi-   ~ iMJiiftrl The  Tent Dwellers
in the shade and smoked and arranged my fly-book
and other paraphernalia, and brooded on the frailty
of human nature and the general perversity and
cussedness of things at large. I had a confession all
prepared for Eddie, long before he arrived. It was
a good confession—sufficiently humble and truthful
without being dangerous. I had tested it carefully
and I did not believe it could result in any disagreeable penance or disgrace on my part. It takes skill
to construct a confession like that. But it was wasted.
When Eddie came in, at last, he wore a humble hangdog look of his own, and I did not see the immediate
need of any confession.
" I didn't really intend to run off from you," he
began sheepishly. " I only wanted to see what was
above the dam, and I tried one or two of the places
up there, and they were all so bully I couldn't get
away. Get your rod, I want to take you up there
before it gets too late."
So the rascal had taken advantage of my brief
absence and slipped off from me. In his guilty haste
he had grabbed the first landing net he had seen,
never suspecting that I was using the other. Clearly
I was the injured person. I regarded him with
thoughtful reproach while he begged me to get my
rod and come. He would take nothing, he said, but
a net, and would guide for me. I did not care to
fish any more that day; but I knew Eddie—I knew
how his conscience galled him for his sin and would
188 The  Tent Dwellers
never give him peace until he had made restitution in
full.   I decided to be generous.
We made our way above the dam, around an old
half-drained pond, and through a killing thicket of
vines and brush to a hidden pool, faced with slabs
and bowlders. There, in that silent dim place I had
the most beautiful hour's fishing I have ever known.
The trout were big, gamy fellows and Eddie was
alert, obedient and respectful. It was not until dusk
that he had paid his debt to the last fish—had banished the final twinge of remorse.
Our day, however, was not quite ended. We must
return to camp. The thicket had been hard to conquer by daylight. Now it was an impenetrable wall
of night and thorns. Across the brook looked more
open and we decided to go over, but when we got
there it proved a trackless, swampy place, dark and
full of pitfalls and vines. Eddie, being small and
woods-broken could work his way through pretty well,
but after a few discouragements I decided to wade
down the brook and through the shallow pond above
the dam. At least it could not be so deadly dark
It was heart-breaking business. I went slopping
and plunging among stumps and stones and holes. I
mistook logs for shadows and shadows for logs with
pathetic results. The pond that had seemed small
and shallow by daylight was big enough and deep
enough now. A good deal of the way I went on my
189 The  Tent Dwellers
hands and knees, but not from choice. A nearby owl
hooted at me. Bats darted back and forth close to
my face. If I had not been a moral coward I should
have called for help. Eddie had already reached
camp when I arrived and had so far recovered his
spiritual status that he jeered at my condition. I
resolved then not to mention the sluice and the landing net at all—ever. I needed an immediate change
of garments, of course—the .third since morning.*
It had been a hard, eventful day. Such days make
camping remembered—and worth while.
* I believe the best authorities say that one change is enough to take on a
camping trip, and maybe it is —for the best authorities.
190 Chapter ®toentp=one
Oh, it's well to live high as you can, my boy,
Wherever you happen to roam,
But it's better to have enough bacon and beans
To take the poor wanderers home.  Chapter Ctoentpone
BY this time we had reached trout diet per se.
I don't know what per se means, but I have
often seen it used and it seems to fit this case.
Of course we were not entirely out of other things.
We had. flour for flap-jacks, some cornmeal for mush
and Johnnie-cake, and enough bacon to impart flavor
to the fish. Also, we were not wholly without beans
—long may they wave—the woods without them
would be a wilderness indeed. But in the matter of
meat diet it was trout per se, as I have said, unless
that means we did not always have them; in which
case I will discard those words. We did. We had
fried trout, broiled trout, boiled trout, baked trout,
trout on a stick and trout chowder. We may have
had them other ways—I don't remember. I know
I began to imagine that I was sprouting fins and gills,
and daily I felt for the new bumps on my head which
I was certain must result from this continuous absorption of brain food. There were several new bumps,
but when I called Eddie's attention to them he said
they were merely the result of butting my head so
frequently against logs and stumps and other portions of the scenery. Then he treated them with liniment and new skin.
193 The Tent Dwellers
Speaking of food, I believe I have not mentioned
the beefsteak which we brought with us into the
woods. It was Eddie's idea, and he was its self-
appointed guardian and protector. That was proper,
only I think he protected it too long. It was a nice
sirloin when we started—thick and juicy and of a
deep rich tone. Eddie said a little age would improve
it, and I suppose he was right—he most always is.
He said we would appreciate it more, too, a little
later, which seemed a sound doctrine.
Yet, somehow, that steak was an irritation. It is
no easy matter to adjust the proper age of a steak to
the precise moment of keen and general appreciation.
We discussed the matter a good deal, and each time
the steak was produced as a sort of Exhibit A, and
on each occasion Eddie decided that the time was not
ripe—that another day would add to its food value.
I may say that I had no special appetite for steak,
not yet, but I did not want to see it carried off by wild
beasts, or offered at last on a falling market.
Besides, the thing was an annoyance as baggage.
I don't know where we carried it at first, but I began
to come upon it in unexpected places. If I picked
up a yielding looking package, expecting to find a
dry undergarment, or some other nice surprise, it
turned out to be that steak. If I reached down into
one of the pack baskets for a piece of Eddie's chocolate, or some of his tobacco—for anything, in fact—I
would usually get hold of a curious feeling substance
194 The Tent Dwellet
and bring up that steak. I began to recognize its
texture at last, and to avoid it. Eventually I banished it from the baskets altogether. Then Eddie
took to hanging it on a limb near the camp, and if
a shower came up suddenly he couldn't rest—he
must make a wild rush and take in that steak. I
refused at last to let him bring it into the tent, or to
let him hang it on a nearby limb. But this made
trouble, for when he hung it farther away he sometimes forgot it, and twice we had to paddle back a
mile or so to get that steak. Also, sometimes, it got
wet, which was not good for its flavor, he said; certainly not for its appearance.
In fact, age told on that steak. It no longer had
the deep rich glow of youth. It had a weather-beaten,
discouraged look, and I wondered how Eddie could
contemplate it in that fond way. It seemed to me that
if the time wasn't ripe the steak was, and that something ought to be done about a thing like that. My
suggestions did not please Eddie.
I do not remember now just when we did at last
cook that steak. I prefer to forget it. Neither do I
know what Eddie did with his piece.    I buried mine.
Eddie redeemed himself later—that is to say, he
produced something I could eat. He got up early
for the purpose. When I awoke, a savory smell
was coming in the tent. Eddie was squatted by the
fire, stirring something in a long-handled frying pan.
Neither he nor the guides were communicative as to
195 The Tent Dwellers
its nature, but it was good, and I hoped we would
have it often. Then they told me what it was. It
was a preparation with cream (condensed), of the
despised canned salmon which I had denounced
earlier in the trip as an insult to live, speckled trout.
You see how one's point of view may alter. I said
I was sorry now we hadn't brought some dried herring. The others thought it a joke, but I was perfectly serious.
In fact, provisioning for a camping trip is a serious matter. Where a canoe must carry a man and
gujide, with traps and paraphernalia, and provisions
for a three-weeks' trip, the problem of condensation
in the matter of space and weight, with amplitude in
the matter of quantity, affords study for a careful
mind. We started out with a lot of can and bottle
goods, which means a good deal of water and glass
and tin, all of which are heavy and take up room. I
don't think ours was the best way. The things were
good—too good to last—but dried fruits—apricots,
prunes and the like—would have been nearly as good,
and less burdensome. Indeed by the end of the
second week I would have given five cents apiece for
a few dried prunes, while even dried apples, which
I had learned to hate in childhood, proved a gaudy
uxury. Canned beans, too, I consider a mistake.
You can't take enough of them in that form. No two
canoes can safely carry enough canned beans to last
two fishermen and two Nova Scotia guides for three
196  The  Tent Dwellers
weeks. As for jam and the like, why it would take
one canoe to carry enough marmalade to supply Del
the Stout alone. If there is any such thing as a
marmalade cure, I hope Del will take it before I am
ready to go into the woods again. Otherwise I shall
tow an extra canoe or a marmalade factory.
As I have said, dried things are better; fruits,
beans, rice, beef, bacon—maple sugar (for sirup),
cornmeal and prepared flour. If you want to start
with a few extras in the way of canned stuff, do it,
but be sure you have plenty of the staples mentioned.
You will have enough water and tin and glass to carry
with your condensed milk, your vinegar, a few pickles,
and such other bottle refreshments as your tastes and
morals will permit. Take all the variety you can in
the way of dried staples—be sure they are staples—
but cut close on your bulky tinned supplies. It is
better to be sure of enough Johnnie-cake and bacon
and beans during the last week out than to feast on
plum-pudding and California pears the first Chapter Ctoentpttoo
Oh, it's up and down the island's reach,
Through thicket and gorge and fen,
With never a rest in their fevered quest,
Hurry the hunter men.  Chapter Ctoentpttoo
I WOULD gladly have lingered at Tobeatic Dam.
It was an ideal place, wholly remote from
everything human—a haunt of wonderful
trout, peaceable porcupines and tame birds. The
birds used to come around the tent to look us over
and ask questions, and to tell us a lot about what was
going on in the back settlements—those mysterious
dim places where bird and beast still dwell together
as in the ancient days, their round of affairs and gossip
undisturbed. I wanted to rest there, and to heal up a
little before resuming the unknown way.
But Eddie was ruthless—there were more worlds
to conquer. The spirit of some old ancestor who
probably set out to discover the Northwest Passage
was upon him. Lower Tobeatic Lake was but a little
way above. We pushed through to it without much
delay. It was an extensive piece of water, full of
islands, lonely rocks and calling gulls, who come to
this inland isolation to rear their young.
The morning was clear and breezy and we set off
up the lake in the canoes, Eddie, as usual, a good way
in advance.   He called back to us now and then that
this was great moose country, and to keep a sharp
201 II
The  Tent Dwellers
lookout as we passed the islands. I did not wish to
see moose. The expedition had already acquitted
itself in that direction, but Eddie's voice was eager,
even authoritative, so we went in close and pointed
at signs and whispered in the usual way. I realized
that Eddie had not given up the calf moose idea and
was still anxious to shine with those British Museum
people. It seemed to me that such ambitions were
not laudable. I considered them a distinct mar to a
character which was otherwise almost perfect. It was
at such times that my inclination to drown or poison
Eddie was stronger than usual.
He had been behind an island a good while when
we thought we heard a shot. Presently we heard it
again, and were sure. Del was instantly all ablaze.
Two shots had been the signal for moose.
We went around there. I suppose we hurried. I
know it was billowy off the point and we shipped water
and nearly swamped as we rounded. Behind the
island, close in, lay the other canoe, Eddie waving to
us excitedly as we came up.
"Two calf meese!" he called (" meese"- being
Eddie's plural of moose—everybody knows that
I mooses " is the word). 1 Little helpless fellows not
more than a day or two old. They're too young to
swim of course, so they can't get off the island.
We've got 'em, sure! "
I Did you hit either of them.? " I asked anxiously.
" No, of course not!    I only fired for a signal.
•** The Tent Dwellers
They are wholly at our mercy. They were right
here just a moment ago. The mother ran, and they
hardly knew which way to turn. We can take them
| But, Eddie," I began, " what will you do with
them ? They'll have to be fed if we keep them, and
will probably want to occupy the tents, and we'll have
to take them in the canoes when we move."
He was ready for this objection.
" I've been thinking," he said with decision.
| Dell and Charlie can take one of the canoes, with
the calves in it, and make straight for Milford by the
shortest cut. While they're gone we'll be exploring
the upper lake."
This was a brief, definite plan, but it did not appeal
to me. In the first place, I did not wish to capture
those little mooses. Then, too, I foresaw that during the considerable period which must elapse before
the guides returned, somebody would have to cook
and wash dishes and perform other menial camp
labor. "I suspected Eddie might get tired of doing
guide work as a daily occupation. Also, I was sorry
for Charlie and Del. I had a mental picture of them
paddling for dear life up the Liverpool River with
two calf mooses galloping up and down the canoe,
bleating wildly, pausing now and then to lap the
faces of the friendly guides and perhaps to bite off
an ear or some other handy feature; Even the wild
animals would form along the river bank to view a
203 The Tent Dwellers
spectacle like that, and I imagined the arrival at the
hotel would be something particularly showy. I mentioned these things and I saw that for once the guides
were with me. They did not warm to the idea of that
trip up the Liverpool and the gaudy homecoming.
Eddie was only for a moment checked.
"Well, then," he said, "we'll kill and skin them.
We can carry the skins."
This was no better. I did not want those little
mooses slaughtered, and said so. But Eddie was
roused now, and withered me with judicial severity.
" Look here," he said, and his spectacles glared
fiercely. " I'm here as a representative of the British
Museum, in the cause of science, not to discuss the
protection of dumb creatures. That's another
I submitted then, of course. I always do when
Eddie asserts his official capacity like that. The
authority of the British Museum is not to be lightly
tampered with. So far as I knew he could have me
jailed for contempt. We shoved our canoes in shore
and disembarked.    Eddie turned back.
I We must take something to tie their hind legs,"
he said, and fished out a strap for that purpose. The
hope came to me that perhaps, after all, he might
not need the strap, but I was afraid to mention it.
I confess I was unhappy. I imagined a pathetic
picture of a little innocent creature turning its pleading eyes up to the captor who with keen sheath-knife
204 The Tent Dwellers
would let slip the crimson tide. I had no wish to go
racing through the brush after those timid victims.
I did, however. The island was long and narrow.
We scattered out across it in a thin line of battle,
and starting at one end swept down the length of it
with a conquering front. That sounds well, but it
fails to express what we did. We did not sweep,
and we did not have any front to speak of. The
place was a perfect tangle and chaos of logs, bushes,
vines, pits, ledges and fallen trees. To beat up that
covert was a hot, scratchy, discouraging job, attended
with frequent escapes from accident and damage. I
was satisfied I had the worst place in the line, for I
couldn't keep up with the others, and I tried harder
to do that than I did to find the little mooses. I didn't
get sight of the others after we started. Neither did
I catch a glimpse of those little day-old calves, or of
anything else except a snake, which I came upon
rather suddenly when I was down on my hands and
knees, creeping under a fallen tree. I do not like to
come upon snakes in that manner. I do not care to
view them even behind glass in a museum. An earthquake might strike that museum and break the glass
and it might not be easy to get away. I wish Eddie
had been collecting snake skins for his museum. I
* would have been willing for him to skin that one
I staggered out to the other end of the island, at
last, with only a flickering remnant of life left in me.
205 The Tent Dwellers
I thought Eddie would be grateful for all my efforts
when I was not in full sympathy with the undertaking;
but he wasn't. He said that by not keeping up with
the line I had let the little mooses slip by, and that we
would have to make the drive again. I said he might
have my route and I would take another. It was a
mistake, though. I couldn't seem to pick a better
one. When we had chased up and down that disordered island—that dumping ground of nature—for
the third time; when I had fallen over every log
and stone, and into every hole on it, and had scraped
myself in every brush-heap, and not one of us had
caught even an imaginary glimpse of those little, helpless, day-old meese, or mooses, or mice—for they
were harder to find than mice—we staggered out,
limp and sore, silently got into our canoes and drifted
away. Nobody spoke for quite a while. Nobody
had anything to say. Then Charlie murmured
reflectively, as if thinking aloud:
u Little helpless fellows—not more than a day or
two old 1
And Del added—also talking to himself:
" Too young to swim, of course—wholly at our
mercy." Then, a moment later, " It's a good thing
we took that strap to tie their hind legs."
Eddie said nothing at all, and I was afraid to.
Still, I was glad that my vision of the little creatures
pleading for their lives hadn't been realized, or that
other one of Del and Charlie paddling for dear life
206 " I do not like to come upon snakes in that manner."
SBSB9BBBB The Tent Dwellers
up the Liverpool, with those little mooses bleating
and scampering up and down the canoe.
What really became of those calves remains a mystery. Nature teaches her wild children many useful
things. Their first indrawn breath is laden with
knowledge. Perhaps those wise little animals laughed
at us from some snug hiding. Perhaps they could
swim, after all, and followed their mother across the
island, and so away. Whatever they did, I am glad,
even if the museum people have me arrested for it.
208 Chapter tKtoentp=tf)ree
When the utmost bound of the trail is found-
The last and loneliest lair—
The hordes of the forest shall gather round
To bid you a welcome there.  Chapter CtoentHfjree
I DO not know what lies above the Tobeatic
lakes, but the strip of country between is the
true wilderness. It is a succession of swamps
and spruce thickets—ideal country for a moose farm
or a mosquito hatchery, or for general exploration,
but no sort of a place for a Sunday-school picnic.
Neither is it a good place to fish. The little brook
between the lakes runs along like a chain pump and
contains about as many trout. There are one or two
pretty good pools, but the effort to reach them is too
We made camp in as dry a place as we could find,
but we couldn't find a place as big as the tent that
didn't have a spring or a water hole. In fact, the
ground was a mass of roots, great and small, with
water everywhere between. A spring actually bubbled up between our beds, and when one went outside
at night it was a mercy if he did not go plunging into
some sort of a cold, wet surprise, with disastrous and
profane results. Being the worst camp and the worst
country and the poorest fishing we had found, we
remained there two days. But this was as it should
be. We were not fishermen now, but explorers; and
explorers, Eddie said, always court hardships, and
pitch their camps in the midst of dangers.
211 The Tent Dwellers
Immediately after our arrival, Eddie and I took
one side of the brook and the guides the other, and we
set out to discover things, chiefly the upper lake. Of
course we would pick the hardest side. We could be
depended on to do that. The brook made a long
bend, and the guides, who were on the short side,
found fairly easy going. Eddie and I, almost immediately, were floundering in a thick miry swamp,
where it was hot and breezeless, and where the midges,
mooseflies and mosquitoes gave us a grand welcome.
I never saw anybody so glad to be discovered as
those mooseflies. They were as excited as if we were
long lost relatives who had suddenly turned up with
a fortune. They swarmed about us and clung to us
and tapped us in any convenient place. I did not.
blame them, of course. Moose diet, year in and year
out, would make them welcome anything by way of a
change. And what droves of moose there must be in
that swamp to support such a muster of flies! Certainly this was the very heart of the moose domain.
Perhaps the reader who has nerci seen a moosefly
may not appreciate the amplitude and vigor of our
welcome. The moosefly is a lusty fellow with mottled wings. I believe he is sometimes called the deer-
fly, though as the moose is bigger and more savage
than the deer, it is my opinion that the moosefly is
bigger and more savage than any fly that bites the
deer. I don't think the deer could survive him. He
is about the size of the green-headed horsefly, but
212 The Tent Dwellers
of more athletic build. He describes rapid and eager
circles about one's head, whizzing meanwhile in a
manner which some may like, but which I could not
learn to enjoy. His family is large and he has many
friends. He brings them all along to greet you,
and they all whiz and describe circles at once, and
with every circle or two he makes- a dip and swipes
up about a gill of your lifeblood and guzzles it down,
and goes right on whizzing and circling until he picks
out a place for the next dip. Unlike the mosquito,
the moosefly does not need to light cautiously and
patiently sink a well until he strikes a paying vein.
His practice on the moose has fitted him for speedier
methods. The bill with which he is accustomed to
bore through a tough moosehide in a second or two
will penetrate a man in the briefest fraction of the
We got out of that swamp with no unnecessary
delay and made for a spruce thicket. Ordinarily one
does not welcome a spruce thicket, for it resembles
a tangle of barbed wires. But it was a boon now.
We couldn't scratch all the places at once and the
spruce thicket would help. We plunged into it and
let it dig, and scrape, and protect us from those whizzing, circling blood-gluttons of the swamp. Yet it
was cruel going. I have never seen such murderous
brush. I was already decorated with certain areas of
"new skin," but I knew that after this I should need
a whole one. Having our rods and guns made it
213 The  Tent Dwellers
harder. In places we were obliged to lie perfectly
flat to worm and wriggle through. And the heat
was intense and our thirst a torture. Yet in the
end it was worth while and the payment was not long
delayed. Just beyond the spruce thicket ran a little
spring rivulet, cold as ice. Lying on its ferny margin
we drank and drank, and the gods themselves cannot
create a more exquisite joy than that. We followed
the rivulet to where it fed the brook, a little way
below. There we found a good-sized pool, and trout.
Also a cool breeze and a huge bowlder—complete
luxury. We rested on the big stone—I mean I did—
and fished, while Eddie was trying to find the way
out. I said I would wait there until a relief party
arrived. It was no use. Eddie threatened to leave
me at last if I didn't come on, and I had no intention
of being left alone in that forgotten place.
We struggled on. Finally near sunset of that long,
hard June day, we passed out of the thicket tangle,
ascended a slope and found ourselves in an open grove
of whispering pines th«i. through all the years had
somehow escaped the conflagration and the ax. Tall
colonnades they formed—a sort of Grove of Dodona
which because of some oracle, perhaps, the gods had
spared and the conquering vandals had not swept
away. From the top of the knoll we caught a glimpse
of water through the trees, and presently stood on the
shore of Little Tobeatic Lake.
So it was we reached the end of our quest—the
' The  Tent Dwellers
farthest point in the unknown. I hardly know what
I had expected: trout of a new species and of gigantic
size, perhaps, or a strange race of men. Whatever it
was, I believe I felt a bit disappointed.
I believe I did not consider it much of a discovery.
It was a good deal like other Nova Scotia lakes,
except that it appeared to be in two sections and
pretty big for its name. But Eddie was rejoiced
over our feat. The mooseflies and spruce thickets
and the miry swamps we had passed, for him only
added relish to this moment of supreme triumph.
Eddie would never be the man to go to the Arctics
in an automobile or an airship. That would be too
easy. He would insist on more embroideries. He
would demand all the combined hardships of the
previous expeditions. I am at present planning a trip
to the South Pole, but I shall leave Eddie at home.
And perhaps I shall also be disappointed when I get
to the South Pole and find it only a rock in a snowdrift.
We crossed the brook and returned to camp the
short way. We differed a good deal as to the direction, and separated once or twice. We got lost at
last, for the way was so short and easy that we were
below the camp before we knew it. When at last we
heard the guides calling (they had long since
returned) we came in, blaming each other for several
things and were scarcely on speaking terms for as
much as five minutes. It was lucky that Charles found
215 The  Tent Dwellers
a bottle of Jamaica rum and a little pot of honey just
then. A mixture of rum and honey will allay irritation due to moosefly and mosquito bites, and to a
variety of other causes if faithfully applied.
The matter of mosquitoes was really serious that
night. We kept up several smudge fires and sat
among them and smoked ourselves like herring. Even
then we were not immune. When it came time for
bed we brushed the inside of the tent and set our
pipes going. Then Eddie wanted to read, as was his
custom. I objected. I said that to light a candle
would be to invite all those mosquitoes back. He
pleaded, but for once I was firm. He offered me
some of his best things, but I refused to sell my blood
in that way. Finally he declared he had a spread
of mosquito net and would put it over the door and
every possible opening if I would let him read. I
said he might put up the netting and if I approved
the job I would then consider the matter. He got out
the net—a nice new piece—and began to put it up.
It was a tedious job, arranging that net and fastening it properly by the flickering firelight so that it
covered every crack and crevice. When he pulled
it down in one place it left an opening in another and
had to be poked and pinned and stuffed in and patted
down a great many times. From my place inside the
tent I could see his nimble shadow on the canvas like
some big insect, bobbing and flitting up and down
and from side to side. It reminded me of a per-
216 The Tent Dwellers
sistent moth, dipping and dodging about a screen. I
drowsily wondered if he would ever get it fixed, and
if he wasn't getting hot and tired, for it was a still,
sticky night. Yet I suppose I did not realize how
hot and tired one might get on such a night, especially
after a hard day. When he ceased his lightsome
movements at last and crept as carefully as a worm
under the net, I expected him to light the candle
lamp and read. He did not do so. He gave one
long sighing groan of utter exhaustion, dropped down
on his bed without removing his clothes and never
stirred again until morning.
The net was a great success.   Only two mosquitoes
got in and they bit Eddie.
aba J Chapter ®toentp=fcmr
Apollo has tuned his lute again,
And the pipes of Pan are near,
For the gods that fled from the groves of men
Gather unheeded here.
■mjBmmjlj  Chapter Ctoentp-four
IT was by no means an unpleasant camp, first and
last. It was our " Farthest North " for one
thing, our deepest point in the wilderness. It
would require as much as three or four days' travel,
even by the quickest and most direct route to reach
any human habitation, and in this thought there was
charm. It was a curious place, too, among those
roots and springs, and the brook there formed a rare
pool for bathing. While the others were still asleep
I slipped down there for my morning dip. It was
early, but in that latitude and season the sun had
already risen and filtered in through the still tree-
tops. Lying back in that natural basin with the cool,
fresh water slipping over and about one, and all the
world afar off and unreal, was to know the joy of the
dim, forgotten days when nymphs and dryads sported
in hidden pools or tripped to the pipes of Pan. Hemlock and maple boughs lacing above, with blue sky
between—a hermit thrush singing: such a pool Diana
might have found, shut away in some remote depths
of Arcady. I should not have been much surprised
to have heard the bay of her hounds in that still early
morning, and to have seen her and her train suddenly
appear—pursuing a moose, maybe, or merely coming
221 The  Tent Dwellers
down for a morning swim. Of course I should have
secluded myself had I heard them coming. I am
naturally a modest person. Besides, I gather from
the pictures that Diana is likely to be dangerous when
she is in her moods. Eddie bathed, too, later, but the
spell was gone then. Diana was far away, the stillness and sun-glint were no more in the treetops, the
hermit thrush was no longer in the neighborhood.
Eddie grumbled that the water was chilly and that
the stones hurt his feet. An hour, sometimes—a
moment, even—makes all the difference between
romance and reality. Finally, even the guides bathed!
We let off fireworks in celebration!
We carried the canoes to the lake that morning and
explored it, but there was not much to see. The lake
had no inlet that we could find, and Eddie and I lost
a dollar apiece with the guides betting on the shape
of it, our idea being based upon the glimpse of the
evening before. I don't care much for lakes that
change their shape like that, and even Eddie seemed
willing to abandon this unprofitable region. I suspected, however, that his willingness to take the back
track was mainly due to the hope of getting another
try at the little mooses, but I resolved to indulge
myself no further in any such pastime.
It was hard to drag Eddie by those islands.    He
wanted to cruise around every one of them and to go
ashore and prospect among the debris.    He vowed
at last that he would come back with Charles from our
asm ' We went down that long, lovely lake in a luxury of idle bliss.' The Tent Dwellers
next camp and explore on his own account. Then,
there being a fine breeze directly behind us, he opened
out a big umbrella which he had brought along for
just such a time, we hitched our canoe on behind, and
with that bellying black sail on the forward bow, went
down that long, lovely lake in a luxury of idle bliss.
We camped at our old place by the falls and next
morning Eddie did in fact return to have another go
at the calves. Del was willing to stay at the camp,
and I said I would have a quiet day's fishing nearby.
It proved an unusual day's fishing for those waters.
White perch are not plentiful there, but for some
reason a school of them had collected just by our
camp. I discovered them by accident and then gave
up everything else to get as many of them as possible,
for they were a desirable change from trout, and
eagerly welcomed. I fished for them by spells all
day. Del and I had them for luncheon and we saved
a great pan full to be ready for supper, when the
others should return.
It was dusk when the other canoe came in. Our
companions were very tired, also wet, for it had been
a misty day, with showers. Eddie was a bit cross,
too. They had seen some calves, he said, but could
not get them. His guide agreed with this statement,
but when questioned separately their statements varied
somewhat as to the reasons of failure. It did not
matter. Eddie was discouraged in the calf moose
project, I could see that. Presently I began boasting
224 The  Tent Dwellers
of the big day's sport I had enjoyed, and then to show
off I said, ' This is how I did it."
Eddie was washing his hands in my perch pool and
I had no idea of getting anything—one is not likely
to when he wishes to exhibit himself—but I made a
cast with the light tackle with two flies on it and
immediately had my hands full. For once, I did
actually show off when I undertook to do it. I think
the only two big perch in that pool seized those flies,
and for the next five or ten minutes they were making
my reel sing and giving me such sport as only two
big white perch on a light tackle can. I brought
them to the net at last and Eddie looked on with
hungry, envious eyes.
I You don't mean to say you've been taking those
things all day," he said.
I All day, more or less. I merely gave this little
exhibition to wind up on."
But of course I had to show him the size of the
others, then, and he was appeased to the extent of
forgetting most of his troubles in a square meal.
That quiet day with the white perch, ending as it
did with a grand finale, remains one of my fondest
225  Chapter Ctoentp=fibe
You may pick your place—you may  choose your
You may put on your choicest flies;
But never yet was it safe to bet
That a single trout would rise.  Cfjapter ®toenti>=fitie
BACK across Tupper Lake and down Sand
Brook to the Shelburne. Eddie left the further wilderness with a sigh, for he felt that
his chance of getting a moose calf for those museum
people was getting slim. A distance—I have forgotten the number of miles—down the Shelburne
would bring us to country known to the guides and
not remote enough for moose at this season. As
Eddie is no longer in this country, I may confess,
now, that I was glad.
It was beautiful going, down Sand Brook. There
was plenty of water and the day was perfect. There
is nothing lovelier in the world than that little limpid
stream with its pebbly riffles and its sunlit pools.
Sometimes when I think of it now I am afraid that
it is no longer there in that far still Arcady, or that
it may vanish through some enchantment before I can
ever reach it again. Indeed as I am writing here
to-day I am wondering if it is really there—hidden
away in that quiet unvisited place, when no one is
there to see it, and to hear it sing and whisper—if
anything is anywhere, unless some one is there to see
and hear. But these are deep waters. I am prone to
asaatm The  Tent Dwellers
stumble, as we have seen, and somehow my tallest
waders never take me through.
I have already said, and repeated, I think, that
there is no better trout fishing than in the Shelburne,
The fish now were not quite so heavy as they had been
higher up, but they were very many. The last half
of the miracle of the loaves and fishes would not have
been necessary here had the multitudes been given
some tackle and a few cans of bait. When we were a
little above Kempton Dam, Del pointed out the first
place familiar to him. The woods were precisely
the same—the waters just as fair and fruitful—the
locality just as wild; but somehow as we rounded
that bend a certain breath of charm vanished. The
spell of perfect isolation was gone. I had the feeling
that we had emerged from the enchanted borders of
No Man's Land—that we were entering a land of
real places, with the haunts and habitations of
Kempton Dam itself had been used to catch logs,
not so long ago, and Eddie had visited it on a previous
occasion. He still had a fond memory of a very
large trout—opinions differed a trifle as to its exact
size—which he had taken there in a certain pool of
golden water, and it was evident from his talk that
he expected to take that trout again, or some member
of its family, or its ghost, maybe, immediately upon
It certainly proved an attractive place, and there
4fct» The Tent Dwellers
were any number of fish. They were not especially
large, however. Even the golden water was fruitful
only as to numbers. We waded among the rocks or
stood on the logs, and cast and reeled and netted and
returned fish to the water until we were fairly surfeited. By that time the guides had the camp ready,
and as it was still early we gave them the rods and
watched the sport.
Now a fly-casting tournament at home is a tame
entertainment when one has watched the fishing of
Nova Scotia guides. To see a professional send a
fly sailing out a hundred feet or so in Madison Square
Garden is well enough, and it is a meritorious achievement, no doubt, but there is no return except the
record and the applause. To see Del the Stout and
Charles the Strong doing the same thing from that
old log dam was a poem, a picture, an inspiration.
Above and below, the rushing water; overhead, the
blue sky; on either side, the green of June—the tree-
tops full of the setting sun. Out over the foaming
current, skimming just above the surface, the flies
would go sailing, sailing—you thought they would
never light. They did not go with a swish and a
jump, but seemed noiselessly to drift away, as if the
lightly swinging rod had little to do with the matter,
as if they were alive, in fact, looking for a place to
settle in some cozy nook of water where a trout would
be sure to lie. And the trout were there. It was not
the empty tub-fishing of a sportsman's show. The
231 The Tent Dwellers
gleam and splash in the pool that seemed remote—
that was perhaps thirty yards away in fact—marked
the casting limit, and the sharp curve of the rod, and
the play to land were more inspiring than any measure
of distance or clapping of hands.
Charles himself became so inspired at length with
his handsome fishing that he made a rash statement.
He declared that he could take five trout in fifteen
minutes. He offered to bet a dollar that he could
do it. I rather thought he could myself, for the
fish were there, and they were not running over large.
Still, it was no easy matter to land them in that swift
water, and it would be close work. The show, would
be worth a dollar, even if I lost. Wherefore, I
scoffed at his boast and took the bet.
No stipulations were made as to the size of the
trout, nor the manner in which they should be taken,
nor as to any special locality. It was evident from
our guide's preparation that he had evolved certain
ideas of his own in the matter. Previously he had
been trying to hook a big fish, but it was pretty evident that he did not want any big fish now. There
was a little brook—a run-around, as it were—that
left the main water just below the dam and came in
again at the big pool several hundred yards below.
We had none of us touched this tumbling bit of water.
It was his idea that it would be full of little trout.
He wanted something he could lift out with no unnecessary delay, for time that is likely to be worth over
232 The Tent Dwellers
six cents a minute is too expensive to waste in fancy
sportsmanship. He selected a short rod and put on
some tiny flies. Then he took his position; we got
out our watches and called time.
Now, of course, one of the most uncertain things
in life to gamble on is fishing. You may pick your
place, your day and your time of day. The combination may seem perfect. Yet the fact remains that
you can never count with certainty on the result. One
might suppose that our guide had everything in his
favor. Up to the very moment of his wager he had
been taking trout about as rapidly as he could handle
them, and from water that had been fished more or
less all the afternoon. He knew the particular fly
that had been most attractive on this particular day
and he had selected a place hitherto unfished—just
the sort of a place where small trout seemed likely to
abound. With his skill as an angler it would not
have surprised me if he had taken his five trout and
had more than half the time to spare.
I think he expected to do that himself. I think
he did, for he went at it with that smiling sang froid
with which one does a sleight of hand trick after long
practice. He did not show any appearance of haste
in making his first cast, but let the flies go gently out
over a little eddying pool and lightly skim the surface of the water, as if he were merely amusing
himself by tantalizing those eager little trout. Yet
for some reason nothing happened. Perhaps the
233 The Tent Dwellers
little trout were attending a party in the next pool.
There came no lively snap at those twitching flies—
there was not even a silver break on the surface of
the water.
I thought our guide's smile faded the least trifle,
and that he let the flies go a bit quicker next time.
Then when nothing, absolutely nothing, happened
again, his look became one of injured surprise. He
abandoned that pool and stepping a rock or two downstream, sent the flies with a sharp little flirt into the
next—once—twice—it was strange—it was unaccountable, but nothing—not a single thing—happened again. It was the same with the next pool, and
the next.
There were no special marks of self-confidence, or
anything that even resembled deliberation, after this.
It was business, strictly business, with the sole idea
of taking five fish out of that run, or getting down to
a place where five fish could be had. It was a pretty
desperate situation, for it was a steep run and there
was no going back. To attempt that would be to
waste too much precious time. The thing to do was
to fish it straight through, with no unnecessary delay.
There was no doubt but that this was our guide's
programme. The way he deported himself showed
that. Perhaps he was not really in a hurry—I want
to be just—but he acted as if he was. I have never
seen a straddle-bug, but if I ever meet one I shall
recognize him, for I am certain he will look exactly
y^~ The  Tent Dwellers
like Charles the Strong going down Tommy Kemp-
ton's Run. He was shod in his shoepacks, and he
seemed to me to have one foot always in the air wildly
reaching out for the next rock—the pair of flies,
meanwhile, describing lightning circles over every
pool and riffle, lingering just long enough to prove
the futility of the cast, to be lying an instant later
in a new spot, several yards below. If ever there
is a tournament for swift and accurate fly-casting
down a flight of rugged stone stairs I want to enter
Charles for first honors against the world. But I
would not bet on any fish—I want that stipulated.
I would not gamble to that extent. I would not
gamble even on one fish after being a witness to our
guide's experience.
That was a mad race. The rest of us kept a little
to one side, out of his way, and not even Del and
Eddie could keep up with him. And with all that
wild effort not a fish would rise—nor even break
water. It was strange—it was past believing—I
suppose it was even funny. It must have been, for I
seem to recall that we fairly whooped our joy at his
acrobatic eagerness. Why, with such gymnastics,
Charles did not break his neck I cannot imagine.
With the utmost watchfulness I barely missed breaking mine as much as a dozen times.
The time was more than half-expired when we
reached the foot of the run, and still no fish, not
even a rise. Yet the game was not over. It was
235 The Tent Dwellers
supposable that this might be the place of places for
fish. Five fish in five minutes were still possible, if
small. The guide leaped and waded to a smooth,
commanding stone and cast—once—twice, out over
the twisting water. Then, suddenly, almost in front
of him, it seemed, a great wave rolled up from the
depths—there was a swish and a quick curving of
the rod—a monstrous commotion, and a struggle in
the water. It was a king of fish, we could all see
that, and the rest of us gave a shout of approval.
But if Charles was happy, he did not look it. In
fact, I have never seen any one act so unappreciative
of a big fish, nor handle it in so unsportsmanlike a
manner. If I remember his remark it had " damn "
and " hell " mixed up in it, and these words were
used in close association with that beautiful trout.
His actions were even worse. He made no effort to
play his catch—to work him gradually to the net,
according to the best form. Nothing of the kind.
You'd have supposed our guide had never seen a big
trout before by the way he got hold of that line and
yanked him in, hand over hand, regardless of the
danger to line and leader and to those delicate little
flies, to say nothing of the possibility of losing a fish
so handled. Of course the seconds were flying, and
landing a fish of that size is not an especially quick
process. A three-pound trout in swift water has a
way of staying there, even when taken by the main
strength and awkwardness system. When only about
life The  Tent Dweller
a yard of line remained between Charlie and the fish,
the latter set up such a commotion, and cut up such
a series of antics, that it was impossible for one man
to hold him and net him, though the wild effort which
our guide made to do so seemed amusing to those who
were looking on. In fact, if I had not been weak
with laughing I might have gone to his rescue sooner.
One may be generous to a defeated opponent, and the
time limit was on its last minute now. As it was, I
waded over presently and took the net. A moment
later we had him—the single return in the allotted
time, but by all odds the largest trout thus far of the
expedition. You see, as I have said, fish are uncertain things to gamble on. Trying for five small ones
our fisherman captured one large fish, which at any
other moment of the expedition would have been
more welcome. Yet even he was an uncertain
quantity, for big, strong and active as he was, he
suddenly gave a great leap out of the net and was
back in the water again. Still, I let him be counted.
That was generous.
You might have supposed after that demonstration,
Eddie would have been somewhat reticent about backing his skill as a fisherman. But he wasn't. He had
just as much faith in his angling, and in his ability
to pick good water as if he hadn't seen his guide go
down to ignominy and defeat. He knew a place
just above the dam, he said, where he could make
that bet good. Would I give him the same terms?
237 ' It was worth the dollar to watch the way he sought to wheedle and
coax and fascinate those trout." The  Tent Dwellers
I would—the offer was open to all comers,
it was taking candy from children.
We went up to Eddie's place and got out the
watches. Eddie had learned something from his
guide's exhibition. He had learned not to prance
about over a lot of water, and not to seem to be
in a hurry. It was such things that invited mirth.
He took his position carefully between two great
bowlders and during the next fifteen minutes gave us
the most charming exhibition of light and delicate fly-
casting I have ever witnessed. It was worth the
dollar to watch the way in which he sought to wheedle
and coax and fascinate those trout, and to study the
deft dispatch and grace with which he landed a fish,
once hooked. Still he hadn't learned quite enough.
He hadn't learned to take five trout in fifteen minutes
in that particular place and on that particular evening.
Perhaps it was a little late when he began. Perhaps
fifteen minutes is a shorter period than it sometimes
seems. Three trout completed his score at the end
of the allotted time—all fairly large.
Yet I must not fail to add here that a few days
later, in other water, both Eddie and his guide made
good their wager. Each took his five trout—small
ones—in fifteen minutes, and had time to spare. As
I have remarked once or twice already, one of the
most uncertain things in life to gamble on is fishing.
239  Chapter ®toentp=gtx
Oh, the waves they pitch and the waves they toss,
And the waves they frighten me;
And if ever I get my boat across
I'll go no more to sea.  Chapter €toenti>=*ix
WE were met by a surprise at our camp. Two
men sat there, real men, the first we had
seen since we entered the wilderness. Evidently they were natives by their look—trappers or
prospectors of some sort. They turned out to be bear
hunters, and they looked rather hungrily at the assortment of fish we had brought in—enough for supper
and breakfast. Perhaps they had not been to fish
so frequently as to bear. I believe they were without
tackle, or maybe their luck had been poor—I do not
remember. At all events it developed presently that
they needed fish, also that they had a surplus of
butter of a more recent period than the little dab we
had left. They were willing to dicker—a circumstance that filled us with an enthusiasm which we
restrained with difficulty. In fact, Del did not
restrain his quite enough. He promptly offered them
all the fish we had brought in for their extra pound
of butter, when we could just as easily have got it
for half the number of fish. Of course the fish did
not seem especially valuable to us, and we were willing enough to make a meal without them. Still, one
can never tell what will happen, and something like
six dollars' worth of trout—reckoned by New York
- -    -_- The  Tent Dwellers
prices—seems an unnecessary sum to pay for a pound
of butter, even in the Nova Scotia woods, though
possibly trout will never be worth quite that much
All the same, the price had advanced a good deal
by next morning, for the wind had shifted to the
northeast and it was bleak and blustery. Everybody
knows the old rhyme about the winds and the fish—
how, when the winds are north or east, the 1 fish bite
least," and how, when the winds are south and west,
the u fish bite best." There isn't much poetry in the
old rhyme, but it's charged with sterling truth. Just
why a northerly or easterly wind will take away a
fish's appetite, I think has never been explained, or
why a southerly and westerly wind will start him out
hunting for food. But it's all as true as scripture. I
have seen trout stop rising with a shifting of the wind
to the eastward as suddenly as if they had been
summoned to judgment, and I have seen them begin
after a cold spell almost before the wind had time to
get settled in its new quarter. Of course it had been
Del's idea that we could easily get trout enough for
breakfast. That was another mistake—we couldn't.
We couldn't take them from the river, and we couldn't
take them from our bear hunters, for they had gone.
We whipped our lines around in that chill wind,
tangled our flies in treetops, endangered our immortal
souls, and went back to the tents at last without a
single thing but our appetites. Then we took turns
244 The  Tent Dwelle*
abusing Del for his disastrous dicker by which he had
paid no less than five dollars and seventy-five cents a
pound too much for butter, New York market
schedule. Our appetites were not especially for trout
—only for hearty food of some kind, and as I have
said before, we had reached a place where fish had
become our real staple. The conditions were particularly hard on Del himself, for he is a hearty man,
and next to jars of marmalade, baskets of trout are
his favorite forage.
In fact, we rather lost interest in our camp, and
disagreeable as it was, we decided to drop down the
river to Lake Rossignol and cross over to the mouth
of the Liverpool. It was a long six-mile ferriage
across Rossignol and we could devote our waste time
to getting over. By the end of the trip the weather
might change.
The Shelburne is rough below Kempton Dam. It
goes tearing and foaming in and out among the black
rocks, and there are places where you have to get out
of the canoes and climb over, and the rocks are slippery and sometimes there is not much to catch hold
of. We shot out into the lake at last, and I was glad.
It was a mistake, however, to be glad just then. It
was too soon. The wind had kicked up a good deal
of water, and though our canoes were lighter than
when we started, I did not consider them suited to
such a sea. They pitched about and leaped up into the
air, one minute with the bow entirely out of water,
vmamm The Tent Dweller
and the next with it half-buried in the billow ahead.
Every other second a big wave ran on a level with the
gunwale, and crested its neck and looked over and
hissed, and sometimes it spilled in upon us. It would
not take much of that kind of freight to make a
cargo, and anything like an accident in that wide,
gray billowy place was not a nice thing to contemplate.
A loaded canoe would go down like a bullet. No one
clad as we were could swim more than a boat's length
in that sea.
As we got farther off shore the waves got worse.
If somebody had just suggested it I should have been
willing to turn around and make back for the Shelburne. Nobody suggested it, and we went on. It
seemed to me those far, dim shores through the mist,
five miles or more away, would never get any closer.
I grew tired, too, and my arms ached, but I could not
stop paddling. I was filled with the idea that if I
ever stopped that eternal dabbing at the water, my
end of the canoe would never ride the next billow.
Del reflected aloud, now and then, that we had made
a mistake to come out on such a day. When I looked
over at the other canoe and saw it on the top of a
big wave with both ends sticking out in the air, and
then saw it go down in a trough of black, ugly water,
I realized that Del was right. I knew our canoe was
doing just such dangerous things as that, and I would
have given any reasonable sum for an adequate life
preserver, or even a handy pine plank—for anything,
246 The  Tent Dwellers
in fact, that was rather more certain to stay on top
of the water than this billow-bobbing, birch-bark peanut shell of a canoe.
I suppose I became unduly happy, therefore, when
at last we entered the mouth of the Liverpool. I
was so glad that I grew gay, and when we started up
the rapids I gave Del a good lift here and there
by pushing back against the rocks with my paddle,
throwing my whole weight on it sometimes, to send
the canoe up in style. It is always unwise for me to
have a gay reaction like that, especially on Friday,
which is my unlucky day. Something is so liable to
happen. We were going up a particularly steep piece
of water when I got my paddle against a stone on the
bottom and gave an exceptionally strong push. I
don't know just what happened next. Perhaps my
paddle slipped. Del says it did. I know I heard
him give a whoop, and I saw the river coming straight
up at me. Then it came pouring in over the side,
and in about a minute more most of our things were
floating downstream, with Del grabbing at them, and
me clinging to the upset canoe, trying to drag it
We camped there. It was a good place, one of
the best yet selected. Still, I do not recommend
selecting a camp in that way. If it did not turn out
well, it might be a poor place to get things dry. One
needs to get a good many things dry after a selection
like that, especially on a cold day. It was a cold
smt? The  Tent Dwellers
night, too. I dried my under things and put them
all on.
" Did you ever sleep in your clothes in the
woods ? " I have been asked.
I did. I put on every dry thing I had that night,
and regretted I had left anything at home.
ia% Chapter Ctoent^setien
It is better to let the wild beast run,
And to let the wild bird fly:
Each harbors best in his native nest,
Even as you and I.  Chapter Ctoentp=seben
PERHAPS it was the cold weather that brought
us a visitor. There was a tree directly over
our tent, and in the morning—a sharp sunny
morning, with the wind where it should be, in the
west—we noticed on going out that a peculiar sort
of fruit had grown on this tree over night. On one
of the limbs just above the tent was a prickly looking
ball, like a chestnut burr, only black, and about a
hundred times as big. It was a baby porcupine, who
perhaps had set out to see the world on his own
account—a sort of prodigal who had found himself
without funds, and helpless, on a cold night. No
doubt he climbed up there to look us over, with a
view of picking out a good place for himself; possibly
with the hope of being invited to breakfast.
Eddie was delighted with our new guest. He
declared that he would take him home alive, and feed
him and care for him, and live happy ever after. He
got a pole and shook our visitor down in a basket, and
did a war-dance of joy over his new possession. He
was a cute little fellow—the " piggypine " (another
of Eddie's absurd names)—with bright little eyes
and certain areas of fur, but I didn't fancy him as a
pet. He seemed to me rather too much of a cross
251 The  Tent Dwellers
between a rat and a pin cushion to be a pleasant companion in the intimate relations of one's household.
I suspected that if in a perfectly wild state he had
been prompted to seek human companionship and the
comforts of civilized life, in a domestic atmosphere
he would want to sit at the table and sleep with somebody. I did not believe Eddie's affection would survive these familiarities. I knew how surprised and
annoyed he might be some night to roll over suddenly
on the piggypine and then have to sit up the rest of
the night while a surgeon removed the quills. I said
that I did not believe in taming wild creatures, and I
think the guides were with me in this opinion. I think
so because they recited two instances while we were
at breakfast. Del's story was of some pet gulls he
once owned. He told it in that serious way which
convinced me of its truth. Certain phases of the narrative may have impressed me as being humorous,
but it was clear they were not so regarded by Del.
His manner was that of one who records history. He
" One of the children caught two young gulls once,
in the lake, and brought them to the house and said
they were going to tame them. I didn't think they
would live, but they did. You couldn't have killed
them without an ax. They got tame right away, and
they were all over the house, under foot and into
everything, making all kinds of trouble. But that
wasn't the worst—the worst was feeding them. It
'     . The Tent Dwellers
wasn't so bad when they were little, but they grew
to beat anything. Then it began to keep us moving
to get enough for them to eat. They lived on fish,
mostly, and at first the children thought it fun to feed
them. They used to bait a little dip net and catch
minnows for the gulls, and the gulls got so they
would follow anybody that started out with that dip
net, calling and squealing like a pair of pigs. But
they were worse than pigs. You can fill up a pig and
he will go to sleep, but you never could fill up those
gulls. By and by the children got tired of trying
to do it and gave me the job. I made a big dip net
and kept it set day and night, and every few minutes
all day and the last thing before bedtime I'd go down
and lift out about a pailful of fish for those gulls,
and they'd eat until the fish tails stuck out of their
mouths, and I wouldn't more than have my back
turned before they'd be standing on the shore of the
lake, looking down into that dip net and hollering
for more. I got so I couldn't do anything but catch
fish for those gulls. It was a busy season, too, and
besides the minnows were getting scarce along the
lake front, so I had to get up early to get enough to
feed them and the rest of the family. I said at last
that I was through feeding gulls. I told the children
that either they'd have to do it, or that the gulls
would have to go to work like the rest of the family
and fish for themselves. But the children wouldn't
do it, nor the gulls, either. Then I said I would
253 The Tent Dwellers
take those birds down in the woods and leave them
somewhere. I did that. I put them into a basket
and shut them in tight and took them five miles down
the river and let them loose in a good place where
there were plenty of fish. They flew off and I went
home. When I got to the house they'd been there
three hours, looking at the dip net and squalling, and
they ate a pail heaping full of fish, and you could have
put both gulls into the pail when they got through.
I was going on a long trip with a party next morning,
and we took the gulls along. We fed them about
a bushel of trout and left them seventeen miles down
the river, just before night, and drove home in the
dark. I didn't think the gulls would find their way
back that time, but they did. They were there before
daybreak, fresh and hungry as ever. Then I knew
it was no use. The ax was the only thing that would
get me out of that mess. The children haven't
brought home any wild pets since."
That you see is just unembellished history, and
convincing. I regret that I cannot say as much for
Charlie's narrative. It is a likely story enough, as
such things go, but there are points about it here
and there which seem to require confirmation. I am
told that it is a story well known and often repeated
in Nova Scotia, but even that cannot be accepted as
evidence of its entire truth. Being a fish-story it
would seem to require something more. This is the
tale as Charlie told it.
254 The  Tent Dwellers
" Once there was a half-breed Indian," he said,
" who had a pet trout named Tommy, which he kept
in a barrel. But the trout got pretty big and had to
have the water changed a good deal to keep him
alive. The Indian was too lazy to do that, and he
thought he would teach the trout to live out of water.
So he did. He commenced by taking Tommy out of
the barrel for a few minutes at a time, pretty often,
and then he took him out oftener and kept him out
longer, and by and by Tommy got so he could stay
out a good while if he was in the wet grass. Then
the Indian found he could leave him in the wet grass
all night, and pretty soon that trout could live in the
shade whether the grass was wet or not. By that
time he had got pretty tame, too, and he used to
follow the Indian around a good deal, and when the
Indian would go out to dig worms for him, Tommy
would go along and pick up the worms for himself.
The Indian thought everything of that fish, and when
Tommy got so he didn't need water at all, but could
go anywhere—down the dusty road and stay all day
out in the hot sun—you never saw the Indian without
his trout. Show people wanted to buy Tommy, but
the Indian said he wouldn't sell a fish like that for
any money. You'd see him coming to town with
Tommy following along in the road behind, just like
a dog, only of course it traveled a good deal like a
snake, and most as fast.
u Well, it was pretty sad the way that Indian lost
255 The Tent Dwellers
his trout, and it was curious, too. He started for
town one day with Tommy coming along behind, as
usual. There was a bridge in the road and when
the Indian came to it he saw there was a plank off,
but he went on over it without thinking. By and by he
looked around for Tommy and Tommy wasn't there.
He went back a ways and called, but he couldn't see
anything of his pet. Then he came to the bridge and
saw the hole, and he thought right away that maybe
his trout had got in there. So he went to the hole
and looked down, and sure enough, there was
Tommy, floating on the water, bottom-side up. He'd
tumbled through that hole into the brook and
I think these stories impressed Eddie a good deal.
I know they did me. Even if Charlie's story was not
pure fact in certain minor details, its moral was none
the less evident. I saw clearer than ever that it is
not proper to take wild creatures from their native
element and make pets of them. Something always
happens to them sooner or later. We were through
breakfast and Eddie went over to look at his porcupine. He had left it in a basket, well covered with
a number of things. He came back right away-
looking a little blank I thought.
" He's gone! " he said. "The basket's just as I
left it, all covered up, but he isn't in it."
We went over to look. Sure enough, our visitor
had set out on new adventures. How he had escaped
256 The  Tent Dwellers
was a mystery. It didn't matter—both he and Eddie
were better off.
But that was a day for animal friends. Where
we camped for luncheon, Eddie and I took a walk
along the river bank and suddenly found ourselves
in a perfect menagerie. We were among a regular
group of grown porcupines—we counted five of them
—and at the same time there were two blue herons
in the water, close by. A step away a pair of partridges ran through the brush and stood looking at
us from a fallen log, while an old duck and her young
came sailing across the river. We were nearing civilization now, but evidently these creatures were not
much harassed. It was like the Garden of Eden
before the Fall. It is true the old duck swam away,
calling to her brood, when she saw us; the partridges
presently hid in the brush, and the blue herons waded
a bit further off. But the porcupines went on galumphing around us, and none of the collection seemed
much disturbed. During the afternoon we came upon
two fishermen, college boys, camping, who told us
they had seen some young loons in a nest just above,
and Eddie was promptly seized with a desire to
possess them.
In fact we left so hastily that Del forgot his extra
paddle, and did not discover the loss until we were a
half-mile or so upstream. Then he said he would
leave me in the canoe to fish and would walk back
along the shore. An arm of the river made around
257 The Tent Dwellers
an island just there, and it looked like a good place.
There seemed to be not much current in the water,
and I thought I could manage the canoe in such a spot
and fish, too, without much trouble.
It was not as easy as it looked. Any one who
has tried to handle a canoe from the front end with
one hand and fish with the other will tell you so.
I couldn't seem to keep out of the brush along the
shore, and I couldn't get near some brush in the
middle of the river where I believed there were
trout. I was right about the trout being there, too.
Eddie proved that when he came up with his canoe.
He had plenty of business with big fellows right
away. But the fact didn't do me any good. Just
when I would get near the lucky place and ready to
cast, a twitch in the current or a little puff of wind
would get hold of the stern of my craft, which rode
up out of the water high and light like a sail, and
my flies would land in some bushes along the bank,
or hang in a treetop, or do some other silly thing
which was entertaining enough to Eddie and his
guide, apparently, but which did not amuse me.
I never realized before what a crazy thing a
canoe can be when you want it to do something
out of its regular line of work. A canoe is a
good sort of a craft in its place, and I would not
wish to go into the woods without one, but it is limited
in its gifts, very limited. It can't keep its balance
with any degree of certainty when you want to stand
258 " I never realized before what a crazy thing a canoe can be
when you want it to do something out of its regular line of
up and fish, and it has no sort of notion of staying in
one place, unless it's hauled out on the bank. If
that canoe had been given the versatility of an ordinary flat-bottomed john-boat I could have got along
better than I did. I said as much, and disparaged
canoes generally. Eddie declared that he had never
heard me swear with such talent and unreserve.
He encouraged me by holding up each fish as he
caught it and by suggesting that I come over there.
259 The Tent Dwellers
He knew very well that I couldn't get there in a thousand years. Whenever I tried to do it that fool of a
canoe shot out at a tangent and brought up nowhere.
Finally in an effort to reconstruct my rod I dropped
a joint of the noibwood overboard, and it went down
in about four hundred feet of water. Then I believe
I did have a few things to say. I was surprised at my
own proficiency. It takes a crucial moment like that
to develop real genius. I polished off the situation
and I trimmed up the corners. Possibly a touch of
sun made me fluent, for it was hot out there, though
it was not as hot as a place I told them about, and I
dwelt upon its fitness as a permanent abiding place
for fishermen in general and for themselves in particular. When I was through and empty I see-sawed
over to the bank and waited for Del. I believe I had
a feverish hope that they would conclude to take my
advice, and that I should never see their canoe and its
contents again.
There are always compensations for those who suffer and are meek in spirit. That was the evening I
caught the big fish, the fish that Eddie would have
given a corner of his immortal soul (if he has a soul,
and if it has corners) to have taken. It was just
below a big fall—Loon Lake Falls I think they call
it—and we were going to camp there. Eddie had
taken one side of the pool and I the other and neither
of us had caught anything. Eddie was just landing,
when something that looked big and important, far
260 The Tent Dwellers
down the swift racing current, rose to what I had
intended as my last cast. I had the little four-ounce
bamboo, but I let the flies go down there—the fly,
I mean, for I was casting with one (a big Silver
Doctor)—and the King was there, waiting. He took
it with a great slop and carried out a long stretch of
line. It was a test for the little rod. There had been
unkind remarks about the tiny bamboo whip; this
was to be justification; a big trout on a long line, in
deep, swift water—the combination was perfect.
Battle now, ye ruler of the rapids! Show your
timber now, thou slender wisp of silk and cane!
But we have had enough of fishing. I shall not
dwell upon the details of that contest. I may say,
however, that I have never seen Del more excited
than during the minutes—few or many, I do not
know how few or how many—that it lasted. Every
guide wants his canoe to beat, and it was evident from
the first that this was the trout of the expedition. I
know that Del believed I would never bring that fish
to the canoe, and when those heavy rushes came I
was harrassed with doubts myself. Then little by
little he yielded. When at last he was over in the
slower water—out of the main channel—I began to
have faith.
So he came in, slowly, slowly, and as he was drawn
nearer to the boat, Del seized the net to be ready for
him.    But I took the net.    I had been browbeaten
and humiliated and would make my triumph com-
261 The  Tent Dwellers
plete. I brought him to the very side of the boat,
and I lifted him in. This time the big fish did not
get away. We went to where the others had been
watching, and I stepped out and tossed him carelessly
on the ground, as if it were but an everyday occurrence. Eddie was crushed. I no longer felt bitterness toward him.
I think I shall not give the weight of that fish.
As already stated, no one can tell the truth concerning a big fish the first trial, while more than one
attempt does not look well in print, and is apt to confuse the reader. Besides, I don't think Eddie's scales
were right, anyway.
262 Chapter Wtomty-tigbt
Then breathe a sigh and a long good-by
To the wilderness, to-day,
For back again to the trails of men
Follows the waterway.
JKSsL-  Chapter Ctoentp=etgf)t
THROUGH the Eel-weir—a long and fruitful rapid—we entered our old first lake,
Kedgeemakoogee, this time from another
point. We had made an irregular loop of one hundred and fifty miles or more—a loop that had
extended far into the remoter wilderness, and had
been marked by what, to me, were hard ventures and
vicissitudes, but which, viewed in the concrete, was
recorded in my soul as a link of pure happiness. We
were not to go home immediately. Kedgeemakoogee
is large and there are entering streams, at the mouth
of which the sport at this season was good. Besides,
the teams that were to come for us would not be due
yet for several days, if we had kept proper account
of time.
It was above the Eel-weir, at George's Run, that
Eddie had his first and only success with dry flies.
It was just the place—a slow-moving current between
two islands, with many vicious and hungry trout.
They would rise to the ordinary fly, two at a cast,
and when Eddie put on the dry fly—the artificial
miller that sits, upright on the water and is an exact
imitation of the real article—and let it go floating
down, they snapped it up eagerly. It is beautiful
265 The  Tent Dwellers
fishing—I should really have liked to try it a little.
But Eddie had been good to me in so many ways: I
hadn't the heart to ask him for one of his precious
dry flies.
During our trip across Kedgeemakoogee, Del—
inspired perhaps by the fact that we were getting
nearer to the walks and wiles of men—gave me
some idea of Nova Scotia political economies. He
explained the system of government there, the manner
of voting and the like. The representation is by
districts, of course, similar to our own, and the parties
have similar methods of making the vote of these
districts count on the right side. In Queens, for
instance, where we had been most, if not all, of the
time, the voters are very scattering. I had suspected
this, for in our one hundred and fifty miles' travel
we had seen but two natives, and only one of these was
believed to have political residence. Del said the
district had been gerrymandered a good deal to make
the votes count right, and it was plain enough that
if this man was the only voter in that much country,
and he chasing bears most of the time, they would
have to gerrymander around a good deal to keep up
with him. Del said that when election time came they
would go gunning for that voter over the rocks and
through the burnt timber, and would beat up the
brush for him as if he were a moose, and valuable.
Somehow politics did not seem to belong in this place,
but either Del exaggerated, this time, or there is a
266 The Tent Dweller
good deal of it to the individual. I suppose it's well
to have it condensed in that way.
We camped that night at Jim Charles's Point, our
old first camp, and it was like getting home after
long absence. For the time seemed an age since we
had left there. It was that. Any new and wonderful
experience is long—as long as eternity—whether it
be a day or a decade in duration. Next morning,
across to the mouth of West River—a place of many
fish and a rocky point for our camp, with deep beds
of sweet-fern, but no trees. That rocky open was
not the best selection for tents. Eddie and his guide
had gone up the river a little way when a sudden
shower came up, with heavy darkness and quick wind.
Del and I were stowing a few things inside that were
likely to get wet, when all at once the tents became
balloons that were straining at their guy ropes, and
then we were bracing hard and clinging fast to the
poles to keep everything from sailing into the sky.
It was a savage little squall. It laid the bushes
down and turned the lake white in a jiffy. A good
thing nobody was out there, under that black sky.
Then the wind died and there came a swish of rain—
hard rain for a few minutes. After that the sun once
more, the fragrance of the fern and the long, sweet
Looking at those deep tides of sweet-fern, I had
an inspiration. My stretcher had never been over
comfortable. I longed to sleep flat. Why not a
267 The  Tent Dwellers
couch of this aromatic balm? It was dry presently,
and spreading the canvas strip smoothly on the ground
I covered it with armfuls of the fern, evenly laid. I
gathered and heaped it higher until it rose deep and
cushiony; then I sank down upon it to perfect bliss.
This was Arcady indeed: a couch as soft and as
fragrant as any the gods might have spread by the
brooks of Hymettus in that far time when they stole
out of Elysium to find joy in the daughters of men.
Such a couch Leda might have had when the swan
came floating down to bestow celestial motherhood. I
buried my face in the odorous mass and vowed that
never again would I cramp myself in a canvas trough
between two sticks, and I never did. I could not
get sweet-fern again, but balsam boughs were plentiful, and properly laid in a manner that all guides
know, make a couch that is wide and yielding and
full of rest.
Up Little River, whose stones like the proverbial
worm, turned when we stepped on them and gave
Eddie a hard fall; across Frozen Ocean—a place
which justified its name, for it was bitterly cold there
' and we did nothing but keep the fire going and play
pedro (to which end I put on most of my clothes
and got into my sleeping-bag)—through another
stream and a string of ponds, loitering and exploring
until the final day.
It was on one reach of a smaller stream that we
found the Beaver Dam—the only one I ever saw, or
■liHf The  Tent Dwellers
am likely to see, for the race that builds them is nearly
done. I had been walking upstream and fishing some
small rapids above the others when I saw what
appeared to be a large pool of still water just above.
I made my way up there. It was in reality a long
Stillwater, but a pond rather than a pool. It interested me very much. The dam was unlike any I had
ever seen. For one thing, I could not understand why
a dam should be in that place, for there was no sign
of a sluice or other indication of a log industry;
besides, this dam was not composed of logs or of
stone, or anything of the sort. It was a woven dam—
a dam composed of sticks and brush and rushes and
vines, some small trees, and dirt—made without much
design, it would seem, but so carefully put together
and so firmly bound that no piece of it could work
loose or be torn away. I was wondering what people
could have put together such a curious and effective
thing as that, when Del came up, pushing the canoe.
He also was interested when he saw it, but he knew
what it was. It was a beaver dam, and they were
getting mighty scarce. There was a law against
killing the little fellows, but their pelts were worth
high prices, and the law did not cover traffic in them.
So long as that was the case the beavers would be
I had heard of beaver dams all my life, but somehow I had not thought of their being like this.    I
had not thought of those little animals being able to
mm The Tent Dwellers
construct a piece of engineering that, in a swift place
like this, could stand freshet and rot, year after year,
and never break away. Del said he had never known
one of them to go out. The outlet was in the right
place and of the proper size. He showed me some
new pieces which the builders had recently put into
the work, perhaps because it seemed to be weakening
there. He had watched once and had seen some
beavers working. They were as intelligent as human
beings. They could cut a tree of considerable size,
he said, and make it fall in any chosen direction.
Then he showed me some pieces of wood from which
they had gnawed the sweet bark, and he explained
how they cut small trees and sank lengths of them in
the water to keep the bark green and fresh for future
use. I listened and marveled. I suppose I had read
of these things, but they seemed more wonderful
when I was face to face with the fact.
The other canoe came up and it was decided to cut
a small section out of the dam to let us through. I
objected, but was assured that the beavers were not
very busy, just now, and would not mind—in fact
might rather enjoy—a repair job, which would take
them but a brief time.
" They can do it sometime while I'm making a
long carry," Charlie said.
But it was no easy matter to cut through. Charlie
and Del worked with the ax, and dragged and pulled
with their hands. Finally a narrow breach was made,
270 *£*
The Tent Dwellers
but it would have been about as easy to unload the
canoes and lift them over. Half-way up the long hole
we came to the lodge—its top rising above the water.
Its entrance, of course, was below the surface, but
the guides said there is always a hole at the top,
for air. It was a well-built house—better, on the
whole, than many humans construct.
I They'll be scrambling around, pretty soon,"
Charlie said, " when they find the water getting lower
in their sitting room. Then they'll send out a repair
gang. Poor little fellers! Somebody'll likely get 'em
before we come again. I know one chap that got
seven last year.   It's too bad."
Yes, it is too bad. Here is a wonderful race of
creatures—ingenious, harmless—a race from which
man doubtless derived his early lessons in constructive
engineering. Yet Nova Scotia is encouraging their
assassination by permitting the traffic in their skins,
while she salves her conscience by enacting a law
against their open slaughter. Nova Scotia is a worthy
province and means well. She protects her moose
and, to some extent, her trout. But she ought to do
better by the beavers. They are among her most
industrious and worthy citizens. Their homes and
their industries should be protected. Also, their skins.
It can't be done under the present law. You can't
put a price on a man's head and keep him from being
shot, even if it is against the law. Some fellow will
lay for him sure. He will sneak up and shoot him
271 The  Tent Dwellers
from behind, just as he would sneak up and shoot a
beaver, and he will collect his reward in either case,
and the law will wink at him. Maybe it would be
no special crime to shoot the man. Most likely he
deserved it, but the beaver was doing nobody any
harm. Long ago he taught men how to build their
houses and their dams, and to save up food and water
for a dry time. Even if we no longer need him,
he deserves our protection and our tender regard.*
*I have just learned from Eddie that Nova Scotia has recently enacted a new
law, adequately protecting the beaver. I shall leave the above, however, as
applying to other and less humane districts, wherever located.
272 Cfjapter Etoentpnme
Once more, to-night, the woods are white
That lie so dim and far,
Where the wild trout hide and the moose abide
Under the northern star.
mm  Cfjapter Ctoentp=mne
PERHAPS the brightest spot of that sad period
when we were making ready to leave the
woods, with all their comfort, their peace and
their religion, and go back to the harrying haunts of
men, to mingle with the fever and fret of daily strife,
is the memory of a trip to Jeremy's Bay. I don't
know in the least where Jeremy's Bay is, but it is
somewhere within an hour's paddle of Jim Charles's
Point, and it is that hour and the return that sticks
with me now.
It was among the last days of June—the most
wonderful season in the north woods. The sun seems
never ready to set there, then, and all the world is
made of blues and greens and the long, lingering tones
of evening.
We had early tea in preparation for the sunset
fishing. It was best, Del said, in Jeremy's Bay about
that time. So it was perhaps an hour earlier when we
started, the canoes light.
In any one life there are not many evenings such
as that. It is just as well, for I should account it a
permanent sadness if they became monotonous. Perhaps they never would. Our course lay between
 11     ' The Tent Dwellers
shores—an island on the one hand, the mainland on
the other. When we rounded the point, we were met
by a breeze blown straight from the sunset—a breath
that was wild and fresh and sweet, and billowed the
water till it caught every hue and shimmering iridescence that the sky and shores and setting sun could
We were eager and rested, for we had done little
that day, and the empty canoes slipped like magic
into a magical sea of amethyst and emerald gold, the
fresh breeze filling us with life and ecstasy until we
seemed almost to fly. The eyes could not look easily
into the glory ahead, though it was less easy to look
away from the enchantment which lay under the sunset. The Kingdom of Ponemah was there, and it was
as if we were following Hiawatha to that fair and
eternal hunting-ground.
Yet when one did turn, the transformation was
almost worth while. The colors were all changed.
They were more peaceful, more like reality, less like
a harbor of dreams and visions too fair for the eyes
of man to look upon. A single glance backward, and
then away once more between walls of green, billowing into the sunset—away, away to Jeremy's Bay!
The sun was just on the horizon when we reached
there—the water already in shadow near the shore.
So deep and vivid were its hues that we seemed to be
fishing in dye-stuff. And the breeze went out with
the sun, and the painted pool became still, ruffled only
276 The  Tent Dwellers
where the trout broke water or a bird dipped down
to drink.
I will not speak of the fishing there. I have
already promised that I would not speak of fishing
again. But Jeremy's Bay is a spot that few guides
know and few fishermen find. It was our last real
fishing, and it was worthy. Then home to camp,
between walls of dusk—away, away from Jeremy's
Bay—silently slipping under darkening shores—
silently, and a little sadly, for our long Day of Joy
was closing in—the hour of return drew near.
And postpone it as you will, the final moment must
come—the time when the rod must be taken down
for good; the leaders stripped and coiled in their
box, the fly-book tenderly gone over and the last flies
you have used fitted into place and laid away.
One does not go through that final ritual without
a little sentiment—a little tugging about the heart.
The flies were all new and trim and properly placed
when you set out. They were a gay array and you
were as proud of them as of a little garden. They are
in disarray now. They have an unkempt look. The
snells are shredded, the feathers are caked and bitten,
the hackle is frazzled and frayed out. Yet you are
even more proud of them than in the beginning. Then
they were only a promise, fair and beautiful to look
upon; now they conjure up pictures of supreme fulfillment—days and moments so firmly set upon the
past that they shall not soon fade away. That big
277 The Tent Dwellers
Silver Doctor—from which the snell has twice been
broken, and the feathers wrapped and rewrapped—
that must have been wound with a special blessing,
for when all else failed it was a certain lure. The big
trout below Loon Lake rose to that fly, and accordingly this battered thing will forever be preserved.
This scarlet Breck, with almost every gay feather
gone and the silver wrapping replaced with tinfoil—
even when it displayed a mere shred of its former
glory it proved far more fatal than many a newer
fly. How vividly it recalls a certain wild pool of
strange, dim lucence where, for me, the trout would
take no other lure. And this Montreal—it has
become a magic brush that paints a picture of black
rocks and dark water, and my first trout taken on a
cast. For a hundred years, if I live that long, this
crumpled book and these broken, worn-out flies will
bring back the clear, wild water and the green shores
of a Nova Scotia June, the remoter silences of the
deeper forest, the bright camps by twisting pools and
tumbling falls, the flash of the leaping trout, the feel
of the curved rod and the music of the singing reel.
I shall always recall Eddie, then, and I shall bless
him for many things—and forgive him for others.
I shall remember Del, too, the Stout, and Charles the
Strong, and that they made my camping worth while.
I was a trial to them, and they were patient—almost
unreasonably so. I am even sorry now for the time
that my gun went off and scarced Del, though it
278 The Tent Dweller
seemed amusing at the moment. When the wind
beats up and down the park, and the trees are bending and cracking with ice; when I know that once
more the still places of the North are white and the
waters fettered—I shall shut my eyes and see again
the ripple and the toss of June, and hear once more
the under voices of the falls. And some day I shall
return to those far shores, for it is a place to find one's
Yet perhaps I should not leave that statement
unqualified, for it depends upon the sort of a soul
that is to be found. The north wood does not offer
welcome or respond readily to the lover of conventional luxury and the smaller comforts of living.
Luxury is there, surely, but it is the luxury that
rewards effort, and privation, and toil. It is the comfort of food and warmth and dry clothes after a day
of endurance—a day of wet, and dragging weariness,
and bitter chill. It is the bliss of reaching, after long,
toilsome travel, a place where you can meet the
trout—the splendid, full-grown wild trout, in his
native home, knowing that you will not find a picnic
party on every brook and a fisherman behind every
tree. Finally, it is the preciousness of isolation, the
remoteness from men who dig up and tear down and
destroy, who set whistles to tooting and bells to
jingling—who shriek themselves hoarse in the market
place and make the world ugly and discordant, and
life a short and fevered span in which the soul has
279 The Tent Dwellers
a chance to become no more than a feeble and crumpled thing. And if that kind of a soul pleases you,
don't go to the woods. It will be only a place of
mosquitoes, and general wetness, and discomfort.
You won't care for it. You will hate it. But if you
are willing to get wet and stay wet—to get cold and
stay cold—to be bruised, and scuffed, and bitten—to
be hungry and thirsty and to have your muscles
strained and sore from unusual taxation: if you will
welcome all these things, not once, but many times,
for the sake of moments of pure triumph and that
larger luxury which comes with the comfort of the
camp and the conquest of the wilderness, then go!
The wilderness will welcome you, and teach you,
and take you to its heart. And you will find your
own soul there; and the discovery will be worth
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