Abbildungen der Seite

rubber suit and heavy blanket, slung around my neck by a leather thong, hung down in front across my chest. On one shoulder the oars and paddles were balanced, with a frying-pan and gridiron swinging from the blades; on the other was my rifle, from which were suspended a pair of boots, my creel, a coffee-pot, and a bag of flour.

Taking up the bag of pork in one hand, and seizing the stock of the rifle with the other, from two fingers of which hung a tin kettle of prepared trout, which we were loth to throw away, I started. Picture a man so loaded, forcing his way through a hemlock swamp, through whose floor of thin moss he sank to his kuees; or picking his way across oozy sloughs on old roots, often covered with mud and water, and slippery beyond description, and you have me daguerreotyped in your mind. Well, as I said, I started. .

For some dozen rods I got on famously, and was con. gratulating myself with the thought of an easy transit, when a root upou which I had put my right foot gave way, and, plunging headlong into the mud, I struck an attitude of petition; while the frying-pan and gridiron, flung off the oars and forward by the movement, alighted upon my prostrated head. An ejaculation, not exactly religious, escaped me, and with a few desperate flounces I assumed once more the perpendicular. Fishing the frying-pan from the mud, and lashing the gridiron to my belt, I made another start. It was hard work.

The most unnatural adjustment of weight upon my back made it difficult to ascertain just how far behind me lay the centre of equilibrium. I found where it did not lie several times. Before I had gone fifty rods the campbasket weighed one hundred and twenty pounds. The pork-bag felt as if it had several shoats in it, and the oar. blades stuck out in the exact form of an X. If I went one side of a tree the oars would go the other side. If i backed up they would manage to get entangled amid the brush. If I stumbled and fell, the confounded things would come like a goose-yoke athwart my neck, pinniug me down.

As I proceeded the mud grew deeper, the roots farther apart, and the blazed trees less frequent. Never before did I so truly realize the aspiration of the old hymn,

“Oh! had I the wings of a dovel” . At last I reached what seemed impossible to pass, — an oozy slough, crossed here and there by cedar roots, smooth and slippery, lay before me. From a high stump which I had climbed upon I gave a desperate leap. I struck where I expected, and a little farther. The weight of the basket, which was now something over two hundred pounds, was too much for me to check at once. It pressed me forward. I recovered myself, and the abomi. nable oars carried me as far the other way. The moccasins of wet leather began to slip along the roots. They began to slip very often and at bad times. I found it necessary to change my position suddenly. I changed it. It wasn't a perfect success. I tried again. It seemed necessary to keep on trying.

I suspect I did not effect the changes very steadily, for the trout began to jump about in the pail and flv out into the mud. The gridiron got uneasy, and played against my side like a steam flapper. In fact, the whole baggage seemed endowed with supernatural powers of motion. The excitement was contagious. In a moment every article was jumping about like mad. I, in the meantime continued to dance a hornpipe on the slippery roots.

Now, I am conscientiously opposed to dancing. I never danced. I didn't want to learn. I felt it was wicked for me to be hopping around on that root so. What an example, I thought, if John should see me. What would my wife say? What would my deacons say? I tried to stop. I couldn't. I had an astonishing dislike to sit down. I thought I would dance there forever, rather than sit down,-deacons or no deacons.

The basket now weighed any imaginable number of pounds. The trout were leaping about my head as if in their native element. The gridiron was in such rapid motion that it was impossible to distinguish the bars. There was, apparently, a whole litter of pigs in the porkbag. I could not stand it longer. I concluded to rest awhile; I wanted to do the thing gracefully. I looked around for a soft spot, and seeing one just behind me, I checked myself. My feet flew out from under me. They appeared to be unusually light. I don't remember that I ever sat down quicker. The motion was very decided. The only difficulty I observed was that the seat I had gracefully settled into had no bottom.

The position of things was extremely picturesque. The oars were astride my neck, as usual. The trout pail was bottom up, and the contents lying about almost anywhere. The boots were hanging on a dry limb overhead. A capital idea. I thought of it as I was in the act of sitting down. One piece of pork lay at my feet, and another was sticking up, some ten feet off in the mud. It looked very queer, slightly out of place. With the same motion with which I hung my boots on a limb, as I seated myself, I stuck my rifle carefully into the mud, muzzle downward. I never saw a gun in that position before. It struck me as being a good thing. There was no danger of its falling over and breaking the stock. The first thing I did was to pass the gridiron under me. When that feat had been accomplished I felt more composed. It's pleasant for a man in the position I was in to feel that

how Te I should in forcing herero

he has something under him. Even a chip or a small stump would have felt comfortable. As I sat thinking how many uses a gridiron could be put to, and estimating where I should then have been if I hadn't got it under me, I heard John forcing his way with the boat on his back through the thick undergrowth.

“It won't do to let John see me in this position,” I said ; and so, with a mighty effort, I disengaged myself from the pack, flung off the blanket from around my neck, and seizing hold of a spruce limb, which I could fortunately reach, drew myself slowly up. I had just time to jerk the rifle out of the mud, and fish up about half of the trout, when John came struggling along.

“John,” said I, leaning unconcernedly against a tree, as if nothing had happened, —" John, put down the boat; here's a splendid spot to rest.”

“Well, Mr. Murray,"queried John, as he emerged from under the boat,“ how are you getting along?"

“ Capitally!" said I; "the carry is very level when you once get down to it. I felt a little out of breath, and thought I would wait for you a few moments.”

“What's your boots doing up there in that tree ?” exclaimed John, as he pointed up to where they hung dangling from the limb, about fifteen feet above our heads.

“ Boots doing !” said I, “why, they're hanging there, don't you see? You didn't suppose I'd drop them into this mud, did you ?”

“Why, no,” replied John," I don't suppose you would. But how about this ?” continued he, as he stooped down and pulled a big trout, tail foremost, out of the soft muck; “how did that trout come there ?”.

“ It must have got out of the pail somehow," I responded. “I thought I heard something drop just as I sat down.”

Sling from ohn, as hboots do

“What on earth is that, out there?” exclaimed John, pointing to a piece of pork, one end of which was sticking about four inches out of the water; “is that

[ocr errors]

"Well, the fact is, John,” returned I, speaking with the utmost gravity, and in a tone intended to suggest a mystery,—"the fact is, John, I don't quite understand it. This carry seems to be all covered over with pork. I wouldn't be surprised to find a piece anywhere. There is another junk, now," I exclaimed, as I plunged my moccasin into the mud and kicked a two-pound bit toward him; “it's lying all round here loose.”

I thought John would split with laughter, but my time came, for as in one of his paroxysms he turned partly around, I saw that his back was covered with mud clear up to his hat.

"Do you always sit down on your coat, John," I in. quired, “when you cross a carry like this ?”

“Come, come,” rejoined he, ceasing to laugh from very exhaustion, “take a knife or tin plate and scrape the muck from my back. I always tell my wife to make my clothes a ground color, but the color is laid on a little too thick this time, any way.”

“John,” said I, after having scraped him down, “take the paddle and spear my boots off from that limb up there, while I tread out this pork.”

Weary and hot, we reached at length the margin of the swamp, and our feet stood once more upon solid ground.-W. H. H. MURRAY.

« ZurückWeiter »