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Title: Wood Folk at School
Author: Long, William Joseph, 1866-1952
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Wood Folk at School_

[Illustration]

[Illustration: "THERE AT A TURN IN THE PATH, NOT TEN YARDS AHEAD, STOOD
A HUGE BEAR."]



WOOD FOLK AT SCHOOL

BY

WILLIAM J. LONG

_WOOD FOLK SERIES
BOOK FOUR_

GINN & COMPANY
BOSTON · NEW YORK · CHICAGO · LONDON


ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL

COPYRIGHT, 1902, 1903
BY WILLIAM J. LONG

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


The Athenæum Press
GINN & COMPANY · CAMBRIDGE · MASSACHUSETTS



PREFACE


It may surprise many, whose knowledge of wild animals is gained from
rare, fleeting glimpses of frightened hoof or wing in the woods, to
consider that there can be such a thing as a school for the Wood Folk;
or that instruction has any place in the life of the wild things.
Nevertheless it is probably true that education among the higher order
of animals has its distinct place and value. Their knowledge, however
simple, is still the result of three factors: instinct, training, and
experience. Instinct only begins the work; the mother's training
develops and supplements the instinct; and contact with the world, with
its sudden dangers and unknown forces, finishes the process.

For many years the writer has been watching animals and recording his
observations with the idea of determining, if possible, which of these
three is the governing factor in the animal's life. Some of the results
of this study were published last year in a book called "School of the
Woods," which consisted of certain studies of animals from life, and
certain theories in the form of essays to account for what the writer's
eyes had seen and his own ears heard in the great wilderness among the
animals.

A school reader is no place for theories; therefore that part of the
book is not given here. The animal studies alone are reproduced in
answer to the requests from many teachers that these be added to the
Wood Folk books. From these the reader can form his own conclusions as
to the relative importance of instinct and training, if he will. But
there is another and a better way open: watch the purple martins for a
few days when the young birds first leave the house; find a crow's nest,
and watch secretly while the old birds are teaching their little ones to
fly; follow a fox, or any other wild mother-animal, patiently as she
leaves the den and leads the cubs out into the world of unknown sights
and sounds and smells,--and you will learn more in a week of what
education means to the animals than anybody's theories can ever teach
you.

These are largely studies of individual animals and birds. They do not
attempt to give the habits of a class or species, for the animals of the
same class are alike only in a general way; they differ in interest and
intelligence quite as widely as men and women of the same class, if you
but watch them closely enough. The names here given are those of the
Milicete Indians, as nearly as I can remember them; and the incidents
have all passed under my own-eyes and were recorded in the woods, from
my tent or canoe, just as I saw them.

WILLIAM J. LONG.

STAMFORD, CONN., March, 1903.



CONTENTS


                               PAGE
WHAT THE FAWNS MUST KNOW         1

A CRY IN THE NIGHT              11

ISMAQUES THE FISHHAWK           31

A SCHOOL FOR LITTLE FISHERMEN   48

WHEN YOU MEET A BEAR            58

QUOSKH THE KEEN EYED            75

UNK WUNK THE PORCUPINE         111

A LAZY FELLOW'S FUN            124

THE PARTRIDGES' ROLL CALL      134

UMQUENAWIS THE MIGHTY          151

AT THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET    175

GLOSSARY OF INDIAN NAMES       187



FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS


"THERE AT A TURN IN THE PATH, NOT TEN YARDS AHEAD,
  STOOD A HUGE BEAR"                                    _Frontispiece_

                                                         FACING PAGE
"THE WHITE FLAG SHOWING LIKE A BEACON LIGHT AS SHE
  JUMPED AWAY"                                                    9

"HER EYES ALL ABLAZE WITH THE WONDER OF THE LIGHT"               24

"PRESENTLY THEY BEGAN TO SWOOP FIERCELY AT SOME ANIMAL"          43

"GRIPPING HIS FISH AND _pip-pipping_ HIS EXULTATION"             53

"A DOZEN TIMES THE FISHER JUMPED, FILLING THE AIR WITH
  FEATHERS"                                                     104

"BOTHERS AND IRRITATES THE PORCUPINE BY FLIPPING EARTH AT HIM"  118

"THEY WOULD TURN THEIR HEADS AND LISTEN INTENTLY"               145

"PLUNGING LIKE A GREAT ENGINE THROUGH UNDERBRUSH AND OVER
  WINDFALLS"                                                    152

"A MIGHTY SPRING OF HIS CROUCHING HAUNCHES FINISHED THE WORK"   183



What the Fawns Must Know

[Illustration]


To this day it is hard to understand how any eyes could have found them,
they were so perfectly hidden. I was following a little brook, which led
me by its singing to a deep dingle in the very heart of the big woods. A
great fallen tree lay across my path and made a bridge over the stream.
Now, bridges are for crossing; that is plain to even the least of the
wood folk; so I sat down on the mossy trunk to see who my neighbors
might be, and what little feet were passing on the King's highway.

Here, beside me, are claw marks in the moldy bark. Only a bear could
leave that deep, strong imprint. And see! there is where the moss
slipped and broke beneath his weight. A restless tramp is Mooween, who
scatters his records over forty miles of hillside on a summer day, when
his lazy mood happens to leave him for a season. Here, on the other
side, are the bronze-green petals of a spruce cone, chips from a
squirrel's workshop, scattered as if Meeko had brushed them hastily from
his yellow apron when he rushed out to see Mooween as he passed. There,
beyond, is a mink sign, plain as daylight, where Cheokhes sat down a
little while after his breakfast of frogs. And here, clinging to a stub,
touching my elbow as I sit with heels dangling idly over the lazy brook,
is a crinkly yellow hair, which tells me that Eleemos the Sly One, as
Simmo calls him, hates to wet his feet and so uses a fallen tree or a
stone in the brook for a bridge, like his brother fox of the
settlements.

Just in front of me was another fallen tree, lying alongside the stream
in such a way that no animal more dangerous than a roving mink would
ever think of using it. Under its roots, away from the brook, was a
hidden and roomy little house with hemlock tips drooping over its
doorway for a curtain. "A pretty place for a den," I thought; "for no
one could ever find you there." Then, as if to contradict me, a stray
sunbeam found the spot and sent curious bright glintings of sheen and
shadow dancing and playing under the fallen roots and trunk.
"Beautiful!" I cried, as the light fell on the brown mold and flecked it
with white and yellow. The sunbeam went away again, but seemed to leave
its brightness behind it; for there were still the gold-brown mold
under the roots and the flecks of white and yellow. I stooped down to
see it better; I reached in my hand--then the brown mold changed
suddenly to softest fur; the glintings of white and yellow were the
dappled sides of two little fawns, lying there very still and
frightened, just where their mother had hidden them when she went away.

They were but a few days old when I found them. Each had on his little
Joseph's coat; and each, I think, must have had also a magic cloak
somewhere about him; for he had only to lie down anywhere to become
invisible. The curious markings, like the play of light and shadow
through the leaves, hid the little owners perfectly so long as they held
themselves still and let the sunbeams dance over them. Their beautiful
heads were a study for an artist,--delicate, graceful, exquisitely
colored. And their great soft eyes had a questioning innocence, as they
met yours, which went straight to your heart and made you claim the
beautiful creatures for your own instantly. Indeed, there is nothing in
all the woods that so takes your heart by storm as the face of a little
fawn.

They were timid at first, lying close without motion of any kind. The
instinct of obedience--the first and strongest instinct of every
creature born into this world--kept them loyal to the mother's command
to stay where they were and be still till she came back. So even after
the hemlock curtain was brushed aside, and my eyes saw and my hand
touched them, they kept their heads flat to the ground and pretended
that they were only parts of the brown forest floor, and that the spots
on their bright coats were but flecks of summer sunshine.

I felt then that I was an intruder; that I ought to go straight away and
leave them; but the little things were too beautiful, lying there in
their wonderful old den, with fear and wonder and questionings dancing
in their soft eyes as they turned them back at me like a mischievous
child playing peekaboo. It is a tribute to our higher nature that one
cannot see a beautiful thing anywhere without wanting to draw near, to
see, to touch, to possess it. And here was beauty such as one rarely
finds, and, though I was an intruder, I could not go away.

The hand that touched the little wild things brought no sense of danger
with it. It searched out the spots behind their velvet ears where they
love to be rubbed; it wandered down over their backs with a little wavy
caress in its motion; it curled its palm up softly under their moist
muzzles and brought their tongues out instantly for the faint suggestion
of salt that was in it. Suddenly their heads came up. All deception was
over now. They had forgotten their hiding, their first lesson; they
turned and looked at me full with their great, innocent, questioning
eyes. It was wonderful; I was undone. One must give his life, if need
be, to defend the little things after they had looked at him just once
like that.

When I rose at last, after petting them to my heart's content, they
staggered up to their feet and came out of their house. Their mother had
told them to stay; but here was another big, kind animal, evidently,
whom they might safely trust. "Take the gifts the gods provide thee" was
the thought in their little heads; and the salty taste in their tongues'
ends, when they licked my hand, was the nicest thing they had ever
known. As I turned away they ran after me, with a plaintive little cry
to bring me back. When I stopped they came close, nestling against me,
one on either side, and lifted their heads to be petted and rubbed
again.

Standing so, all eagerness and wonder, they were a perfect study in
first impressions of the world. Their ears had already caught the deer
trick of twitching nervously and making trumpets at every sound. A leaf
rustled, a twig broke, the brook's song swelled as a floating stick
jammed in the current, and instantly the fawns were all alert. Eyes,
ears, noses questioned the phenomenon. Then they would raise their eyes
slowly to mine. "This is a wonderful world. This big wood is full of
music. We know so little; please tell us all about it,"--that is what
the beautiful eyes were saying as they lifted up to mine, full of
innocence and delight at the joy of living. Then the hands that rested
fondly, one on either soft neck, moved down from their ears with a
caressing sweep and brought up under their moist muzzles. Instantly the
wood and its music vanished; the questions ran away out of their eyes.
Their eager tongues were out, and all the unknown sounds were forgotten
in the new sensation of lapping a man's palm, which had a wonderful
taste hidden somewhere under its friendly roughnesses. They were still
licking my hands, nestling close against me, when a twig snapped faintly
far behind us.

Now, twig snapping is the great index to all that passes in the
wilderness. Curiously enough, no two animals can break even a twig under
their feet and give the same warning. The _crack_ under a bear's foot,
except when he is stalking his game, is heavy and heedless. The hoof of
a moose crushes a twig, and chokes the sound of it before it can tell
its message fairly. When a twig speaks under a deer in his passage
through the woods, the sound is sharp, dainty, alert. It suggests the
_plop_ of a raindrop into the lake. And the sound behind us now could
not be mistaken. The mother of my little innocents was coming.

I hated to frighten her, and through her to destroy their new
confidence; so I hurried back to the den, the little ones running close
by my side. Ere I was halfway, a twig snapped sharply again; there was a
swift rustle in the underbrush, and a doe sprang out with a low bleat as
she saw the home log.

At sight of me she stopped short, trembling violently, her ears pointing
forward like two accusing fingers, an awful fear in her soft eyes as she
saw her little ones with her archenemy between them, his hands resting
on their innocent necks. Her body swayed away, every muscle tense for
the jump; but her feet seemed rooted to the spot. Slowly she swayed back
to her balance, her eyes holding mine; then away again as the danger
scent poured into her nose. But still the feet stayed. She could not
move; could not believe. Then, as I waited quietly and tried to make my
eyes say all sorts of friendly things, the harsh, throaty _K-a-a-a-h!
k-a-a-a-h!_ the danger cry of the deer, burst like a trumpet blast
through the woods, and she leaped back to cover.

At the sound the little ones jumped as if stung, and plunged into the
brush in the opposite direction. But the strange place frightened them;
the hoarse cry that went crashing through the startled woods filled them
with nameless dread. In a moment they were back again, nestling close
against me, growing quiet as the hands stroked their sides without
tremor or hurry.

Around us, out of sight, ran the fear-haunted mother, calling, calling;
now showing her head, with the terror deep in her eyes; now dashing
away, with her white flag up, to show her little ones the way they must
take. But the fawns gave no heed after the first alarm. They felt the
change; their ears were twitching nervously, and their eyes, which had
not yet grown quick enough to measure distances and find their mother in
her hiding, were full of strange terror as they questioned mine. Still,
under the alarm, they felt the kindness which the poor mother,
dog-driven and waylaid by guns, had never known. Therefore they stayed,
with a deep wisdom beyond all her cunning, where they knew they were
safe.

I led them slowly back to their hiding place, gave them a last lick at
my hands, and pushed them gently under the hemlock curtain. When they
tried to come out I pushed them back again. "Stay there, and mind your
mother; stay there, and follow your mother," I kept whispering. And to
this day I have a half belief that they understood, not the word but
the feeling behind it; for they grew quiet after a time and looked out
with wide-open, wondering eyes. Then I dodged out of sight, jumped the
fallen log to throw them off the scent should they come out, crossed the
brook, and glided out of sight into the underbrush. Once safely out of
hearing I headed straight for the open, a few yards away, where the
blasted stems of the burned hillside showed faintly through the green of
the big woods, and climbed, and looked, and changed my position, till at
last I could see the fallen tree under whose roots my little innocents
were hiding.

The hoarse danger cry had ceased; the woods were all still again. A
movement in the underbrush, and I saw the doe glide out beyond the brook
and stand looking, listening. She bleated softly; the hemlock curtain
was thrust aside, and the little ones came out. At sight of them she
leaped forward, a great gladness showing eloquently in every line of her
graceful body, rushed up to them, dropped her head and ran her keen nose
over them, ears to tail and down their sides and back again, to be sure
that they were her own little ones and were not harmed. All the while
the fawns nestled close to her, as they had done a moment before to me,
and lifted their heads to touch her sides with their noses, and ask in
their own dumb way what it was all about, and why she had run away.

[Illustration: "THE WHITE FLAG SHOWING LIKE A BEACON LIGHT AS SHE JUMPED
AWAY"]

Then, as the smell of the man came to her from the tainted underbrush,
the absolute necessity of teaching them their neglected second lesson
before another danger should find them swept over her in a flood. She
sprang aside with a great bound, and the hoarse _K-a-a-a-h! k-a-a-a-h!_
crashed through the woods again. Her tail was straight up, the white
flag showing like a beacon light as she jumped away. Behind her the
fawns stood startled a moment, trembling with a new wonder. Then their
flags went up too, and they wabbled away on slender legs through the
tangles and over the rough places of the wood, bravely following their
leader. And I, watching from my hiding, with a vague regret that they
could never again be mine, not even for a moment, saw only the crinkling
lines of underbrush and here and there the flash of a little white flag.
So they went up the hill and out of sight.

First, lie still; and second, follow the white flag. When I saw them
again it needed no danger cry of the mother to remind them of these two
things that every fawn must know who would live to grow up in the big
woods.

[Illustration]



A Cry in the Night

[Illustration]


This is the rest of the story, just as I saw it, of the little fawns
that I found under the mossy log by the brook. There were two of them,
you remember; and though they looked alike at first glance, I soon found
out that there is just as much difference in fawns as there is in folks.
Eyes, faces, dispositions, characters,--in all things they were as
unlike as the virgins of the parable. One of them was wise, and the
other was very foolish. The one was a follower, a learner; he never
forgot his second lesson, to follow the white flag. The other followed
from the first only his own willful head and feet, and discovered too
late that obedience is life. Until the bear found him, I have no doubt
he was thinking, in his own dumb, foolish way, that obedience is only
for the weak and ignorant, and that government is only an unfair
advantage which all the wilderness mothers take to keep little wild
things from doing as they please.

The wise old mother took them both away when she knew I had found them,
and hid them in a deeper solitude of the big woods, nearer the lake,
where she could the sooner reach them from her feeding grounds. For days
after the wonderful discovery I used to go in the early morning or the
late afternoon, while mother deer are away feeding along the
watercourses, and search the dingle from one end to the other, hoping to
find the little ones again and win their confidence. But they were not
there; and I took to watching instead a family of mink that lived in a
den under a root, and a big owl that always slept in the same hemlock.
Then, one day when a flock of partridges led me out of the wild berry
bushes into a cool green island of the burned lands, I ran plump upon
the deer and her fawns lying all together under a fallen treetop, dozing
away the heat of the day.

They did not see me, but were only scared into action as a branch, upon
which I stood looking for my partridges, gave way beneath my feet and
let me down with a great crash under the fallen tree. There, looking
out, I could see them perfectly, while Kookooskoos himself could hardly
have seen me. At the first crack they all jumped like Jack-in-a-box
when you touch his spring. The mother put up her white flag--which is
the snowy underside of her useful tail, and shows like a beacon by day
or night--and bounded away with a hoarse _Ka-a-a-a-h!_ of warning. One
of the little ones followed her on the instant, jumping squarely in his
mother's tracks, his own little white flag flying to guide any that
might come after him. But the second fawn ran off at a tangent, and
stopped in a moment to stare and whistle and stamp his tiny foot in an
odd mixture of curiosity and defiance. The mother had to circle back
twice before he followed her, at last, unwillingly. As she stole back
each time, her tail was down and wiggling nervously--which is the sure
sign, when you see it, that some scent of you is floating off through
the woods and telling its warning into the deer's keen nostrils. But
when she jumped away the white flag was straight up, flashing in the
very face of her foolish fawn, telling him as plain as any language what
sign he must follow if he would escape danger and avoid breaking his
legs in the tangled underbrush.

I did not understand till long afterwards, when I had watched the fawns
many times, how important is this latter suggestion. One who follows a
frightened deer and sees or hears him go bounding off at breakneck pace
over loose rocks and broken trees and tangled underbrush; rising swift
on one side of a windfall without knowing what lies on the other side
till he is already falling; driving like an arrow over ground where you
must follow like a snail, lest you wrench a foot or break an
ankle,--finds himself asking with unanswered wonder how any deer can
live half a season in the wilderness without breaking all his legs. And
when you run upon a deer at night and hear him go smashing off in the
darkness at the same reckless speed, over a tangled blow-down, perhaps,
through which you can barely force your way by daylight, then you
realize suddenly that the most wonderful part of a deer's education
shows itself, not in keen eyes or trumpet ears, or in his finely trained
nose, more sensitive a hundred times than any barometer, but in his
forgotten feet, which seem to have eyes and nerves and brains packed
into their hard shells instead of the senseless matter you see there.

Watch the doe yonder as she bounds away, wigwagging her heedless little
one to follow. She is thinking only of him; and now you see her feet
free to take care of themselves. As she rises over the big windfall,
they hang from the ankle joints, limp as a glove out of which the hand
has been drawn, yet seeming to wait and watch. One hoof touches a twig;
like lightning it spreads and drops, after running for the smallest
fraction of a second along the obstacle to know whether to relax or
stiffen, or rise or fall to meet it. Just before she strikes the ground
on the down plunge, see the wonderful hind hoofs sweep themselves
forward, surveying the ground by touch, and bracing themselves, in a
fraction of time so small that the eye cannot follow, for the shock of
what lies beneath them, whether rock or rotten wood or yielding moss.
The fore feet have followed the quick eyes above, and shoot straight and
sure to their landing; but the hind hoofs must find the spot for
themselves as they come down and, almost ere they find it, brace
themselves again for the push of the mighty muscles above.

Once only I found where a fawn with untrained feet had broken its leg;
and once I heard of a wounded buck, driven to death by dogs, that had
fallen in the same way never to rise again. Those were rare cases. The
marvel is that it does not happen to every deer that fear drives through
the wilderness.

And that is another reason why the fawns must learn to obey a wiser head
than their own. Till their little feet are educated, the mother must
choose the way for them; and a wise fawn will jump squarely in her
tracks. That explains also why deer, even after they are full grown,
will often walk in single file, a half-dozen of them sometimes following
a wise leader, stepping in his tracks and leaving but a single trail. It
is partly, perhaps, to fool their old enemy, the wolf, and their new
enemy, the man, by hiding the weakling's trail in the stride and hoof
mark of a big buck; but it shows also the old habit, and the training
which begins when the fawns first learn to follow the flag.

After that second discovery I used to go in the afternoon to a point on
the lake nearest the fawns' hiding place, and wait in my canoe for the
mother to come out and show me where she had left her little ones. As
they grew, and the drain upon her increased from their feeding, she
seemed always half starved. Waiting in my canoe I would hear the crackle
of brush, as she trotted straight down to the lake almost heedlessly,
and see her plunge through the fringe of bushes that bordered the water.
With scarcely a look or a sniff to be sure the coast was clear, she
would jump for the lily pads. Sometimes the canoe was in plain sight;
but she gave no heed as she tore up the juicy buds and stems, and
swallowed them with the appetite of a famished wolf. Then I would paddle
away and, taking my direction from her trail as she came, hunt
diligently for the fawns until I found them.

This last happened only two or three times. The little ones were already
wild; they had forgotten all about our first meeting, and when I showed
myself, or cracked a twig too near them, they would promptly bolt into
the brush. One always ran straight away, his white flag flying to show
that he remembered his lesson; the other went off zigzag, stopping at
every angle of his run to look back and question me with his eyes and
ears.

There was only one way in which such disobedience could end. I saw it
plainly enough one afternoon, when, had I been one of the fierce
prowlers of the wilderness, the little fellow's history would have
stopped short under the paw of Upweekis, the shadowy lynx of the burned
lands. It was late afternoon when I came over a ridge, following a deer
path on my way to the lake, and looked down into a long narrow valley
filled with berry bushes, and with a few fire-blasted trees standing
here and there to point out the perfect loneliness and desolation of the
place.

Just below me a deer was feeding hungrily, only her hind quarters
showing out of the underbrush. I watched her awhile, then dropped on all
fours and began to creep towards her, to see how near I could get and
what new trait I might discover. But at the first motion (I had stood at
first like an old stump on the ridge) a fawn that had evidently been
watching me all the time from his hiding sprang into sight with a sharp
whistle of warning. The doe threw up her head, looking straight at me as
if she had understood more from the signal than I had thought possible.
There was not an instant's hesitation or searching. Her eyes went direct
to me, as if the fawn's cry had said: "Behind you, mother, in the path
by the second gray rock!" Then she jumped away, shooting up the opposite
hill over roots and rocks as if thrown by steel springs, blowing
hoarsely at every jump, and followed in splendid style by her watchful
little one.

At the first snort of danger there was a rush in the underbrush near
where she had stood, and a second fawn sprang into sight. I knew him
instantly--the heedless one--and knew also that he had neglected too
long the matter of following the flag. He was confused, frightened,
chuckle-headed now; he came darting up the deer path in the wrong
direction, straight towards me, to within two jumps, before he noticed
the man kneeling in the path before him and watching him quietly.

At the startling discovery he stopped short, seeming to shrink smaller
and smaller before my eyes. Then he edged sidewise to a great stump, hid
himself among the roots, and stood stock-still,--a beautiful picture of
innocence and curiosity, framed in the rough brown roots of the spruce
stump. It was his first teaching, to hide and be still. Just as he
needed it most, he had forgotten absolutely the second lesson.

We watched each other full five minutes without moving an eyelash. Then
his first lesson ebbed away. He sidled out into the path again, came
towards me two dainty, halting steps, and stamped prettily with his left
fore foot. He was a young buck, and had that trick of stamping without
any instruction. It is an old, old ruse to make you move, to startle you
by the sound and threatening motion into showing who you are and what
are your intentions.

But still the man did not move; the fawn grew frightened at his own
boldness and ran away down the path. Far up the opposite hill I heard
the mother calling him. But he heeded not; he wanted to find out things
for himself. There he was in the path again, watching me. I took out my
handkerchief and waved it gently; at which great marvel he trotted back,
stopping anon to look and stamp his little foot, to show me that he was
not afraid.

"Brave little chap, I like you," I thought, my heart going out to him as
he stood there with his soft eyes and beautiful face, stamping his
little foot. "But what," my thoughts went on, "had happened to you ere
now, had a bear or lucivee lifted his head over the ridge? Next month,
alas! the law will be off; then there will be hunters in these woods,
some of whom leave their hearts, with their wives and children, behind
them. You can't trust them, believe me, little chap. Your mother is
right; you can't trust them."

The night was coming swiftly. The mother's call, growing ever more
anxious, more insistent, swept over the darkening hillside. "Perhaps," I
thought, with sudden twinges and alarms of conscience, "perhaps I set
you all wrong, little chap, in giving you the taste of salt that day,
and teaching you to trust things that meet you in the wilderness." That
is generally the way when we meddle with Mother Nature, who has her own
good reasons for doing things as she does. "But no! there were two of
you under the old log that day; and the other,--he's up there with his
mother now, where you ought to be,--he knows that old laws are safer
than new thoughts, especially new thoughts in the heads of foolish
youngsters. You are all wrong, little chap, for all your pretty
curiosity, and the stamp of your little foot that quite wins my heart.
Perhaps I am to blame, after all; anyway, I'll teach you better now."

At the thought I picked up a large stone and sent it crashing, jumping,
tearing down the hillside straight at him. All his bravado vanished
like a wink. Up went his flag, and away he went over the logs and rocks
of the great hillside; where presently I heard his mother running in a
great circle till she found him with her nose, thanks to the wood wires
and the wind's message, and led him away out of danger.

One who lives for a few weeks in the wilderness, with eyes and ears
open, soon finds that, instead of the lawlessness and blind chance which
seem to hold sway there, he lives in the midst of law and order--an
order of things much older than that to which he is accustomed, with
which it is not well to interfere. I was uneasy, following the little
deer path through the twilight stillness; and my uneasiness was not
decreased when I found on a log, within fifty yards of the spot where
the fawn first appeared, the signs of a big lucivee, with plenty of
fawn's hair and fine-cracked bones to tell me what he had eaten for his
midnight dinner.

       *       *       *       *       *

Down at the lower end of the same deer path, where it stopped at the
lake to let the wild things drink, was a little brook. Outside the mouth
of this brook, among the rocks, was a deep pool; and in the pool lived
some big trout. I was there one night, some two weeks later, trying to
catch some of the big trout for my next breakfast.

Those were wise fish. It was of no use to angle for them by day any
more. They knew all the flies in my book; could tell the new Jenny Lind
from the old Bumble Bee before it struck the water; and seemed to know
perfectly, both by instinct and experience, that they were all frauds,
which might as well be called Jenny Bee and Bumble Lind for any sweet
reasonableness that was in them. Besides all this, the water was warm;
the trout were logy and would not rise.

By night, however, the case was different. A few of the trout would
leave the pool and prowl along the shores in shallow water to see what
tidbits the darkness might bring, in the shape of night bugs and
careless piping frogs and sleepy minnows. Then, if you built a fire on
the beach and cast a white-winged fly across the path of the firelight,
you would sometimes get a big one.

It was fascinating sport always, whether the trout were rising or not.
One had to fish with his ears, and keep most of his wits in his hand,
ready to strike quick and hard when the moment came, after an hour of
casting. Half the time you would not see your fish at all, but only hear
the savage plunge as he swirled down with your fly. At other times, as
you struck sharply at the plunge, your fly would come back to you, or
tangle itself up in unseen snags; and far out, where the verge of the
firelight rippled away into darkness, you would see a sharp wave-wedge
shooting away, which told you that your trout was only a musquash.
Swimming quietly by, he had seen you and your fire, and slapped his tail
down hard on the water to make you jump. That is a way Musquash has in
the night, so that he can make up his mind what queer thing you are and
what you are doing.

All the while, as you fish, the great dark woods stand close about you,
silent, listening. The air is full of scents and odors that steal abroad
only by night, while the air is dew-laden. Strange cries, calls,
squeaks, rustlings run along the hillside, or float in from the water,
or drop down from the air overhead, to make you guess and wonder what
wood folk are abroad at such unseemly hours, and what they are about. So
that it is good to fish by night, as well as by day, and go home with
heart and head full, even though your creel be empty.

I was standing very still by my fire, waiting for a big trout that had
risen and missed my fly to regain his confidence, when I heard cautious
rustlings in the brush behind me. I turned instantly, and there were two
great glowing spots, the eyes of a deer, flashing out of the dark
woods. A swift rustle, and two more coals glow lower down, flashing and
scintillating with strange colors; and then two more; and I know that
the doe and her fawns are there, stopped and fascinated on their way to
drink by the great wonder of the light, and by the witchery of the
dancing shadows that rush up at timid wild things, as if to frighten
them, but only jump over them and back again, as if inviting them to
join the silent play.

I knelt down quietly beside my fire, slipping on a great roll of birch
bark which blazed up brightly, filling the woods with light. There,
under a spruce, where a dark shadow had been a moment agone, stood the
mother, her eyes all ablaze with the wonder of the light; now staring
steadfastly into the fire; now starting nervously, with low questioning
snorts, as a troop of shadows ran up to play hop-scotch with the little
ones, which stood close behind her, one on either side.

A moment only it lasted. Then one fawn--I knew the heedless one, even in
the firelight, by his face and by his bright-dappled Joseph's coat--came
straight towards me, stopping to stare with flashing eyes when the fire
jumped up, and then to stamp his little foot at the shadows to show them
that he was not afraid.

[Illustration: "HER EYES ALL ABLAZE WITH THE WONDER OF THE LIGHT"]

The mother called him anxiously; but still he came on, stamping
prettily. She grew uneasy, trotting back and forth in a half circle,
warning, calling, pleading. Then, as he came between her and the fire,
and his little shadow stretched away up the hill where she was, showing
how far away he was from her and how near the light, she broke away from
its fascination with an immense effort: _Ka-a-a-h! ka-a-a-h!_ the hoarse
cry rang through the startled woods like a pistol shot; and she bounded
away, her white flag shining like a wave crest in the night to guide her
little ones.

The second fawn followed her instantly; but the heedless one barely
swung his head to see where she was going, and then came on towards the
light, staring and stamping in foolish wonder.

I watched him a little while, fascinated myself by his beauty, his
dainty motions, his soft ears with a bright oval of light about them,
his wonderful eyes glowing like burning rainbows kindled by the
firelight. Far behind him the mother's cry ran back and forth along the
hillside. Suddenly it changed; a danger note leaped into it; and again I
heard the call to follow and the crash of brush as she leaped away. I
remembered the lynx and the sad little history written on the log above.
As the quickest way of saving the foolish youngster, I kicked my fire
to pieces and walked out towards him. Then, as the wonder vanished in
darkness and the scent of the man poured up to him on the lake's breath,
the little fellow bounded away--alas! straight up the deer path, at
right angles to the course his mother had taken a moment before.

Five minutes later I heard the mother calling a strange note in the
direction he had taken, and went up the deer path very quietly to
investigate. At the top of the ridge, where the path dropped away into a
dark narrow valley with dense underbrush on either side, I heard the
fawn answering her, below me among the big trees, and knew instantly
that something had happened. He called continuously, a plaintive cry of
distress, in the black darkness of the spruces. The mother ran around
him in a great circle, calling him to come; while he lay helpless in the
same spot, telling her he could not, and that she must come to him. So
the cries went back and forth in the listening night,--_Hoo-wuh_, "come
here." _Bla-a-a, blr-r-t,_ "I can't; come here." _Ka-a-a-h, ka-a-a-h!_
"danger, follow!"--and then the crash of brush as she rushed away
followed by the second fawn, whom she must save, though she abandoned
the heedless one to prowlers of the night.

It was clear enough what had happened. The cries of the wilderness all
have their meaning, if one but knows how to interpret them. Running
through the dark woods his untrained feet had missed their landing, and
he lay now under some rough windfall, with a broken leg to remind him of
the lesson he had neglected so long.

I was stealing along towards him, feeling my way among the trees in the
darkness, stopping every moment to listen to his cry to guide me, when a
heavy rustle came creeping down the hill and passed close before me.
Something, perhaps, in the sound--a heavy, though almost noiseless
onward push which only one creature in the woods can possibly
make--something, perhaps, in a faint new odor in the moist air told me
instantly that keener ears than mine had heard the cry; that Mooween the
bear had left his blueberry patch, and was stalking the heedless fawn,
whom he knew, by the hearing of his ears, to have become separated from
his watchful mother in the darkness.

I regained the path silently--though Mooween heeds nothing when his game
is afoot--and ran back to the canoe for my rifle. Ordinarily a bear is
timid as a rabbit; but I had never met one so late at night before, and
knew not how he would act should I take his game away. Besides, there
is everything in the feeling with which one approaches an animal. If one
comes timidly, doubtfully, the animal knows it; and if one comes swift,
silent, resolute, with his power gripped tight, and the hammer back, and
a forefinger resting lightly on the trigger guard, the animal knows it
too, you may depend. Anyway, they always act as if they knew; and you
may safely follow the rule that, whatever your feeling is, whether fear
or doubt or confidence, the large and dangerous animals will sense it
instantly and adopt the opposite feeling for their rule of action. That
is the way I have always found it in the wilderness. I met a bear once
on a narrow path--but I must tell about that elsewhere.

The cries had ceased; the woods were all dark and silent when I came
back. I went as swiftly as possible--without heed or caution; for
whatever crackling I made the bear would attribute to the desperate
mother--to the spot where I had turned back. Thence I went on
cautiously, taking my bearings from one great tree on the ridge that
lifted its bulk against the sky; slower and slower, till, just this side
a great windfall, a twig cracked sharply under my foot. It was answered
instantly by a grunt and a jump beyond the windfall--and then the
crashing rush of a bear up the hill, carrying something that caught and
swished loudly on the bushes as it passed, till the sounds vanished in a
faint rustle far away, and the woods were still again.

All night long, from my tent over beyond an arm of the big lake, I heard
the mother calling at intervals. She seemed to be running back and forth
along the ridge, above where the tragedy had occurred. Her nose told her
of the bear and the man; but what awful thing they were doing with her
little one she knew not. Fear and questioning were in the calls that
floated down the ridge and across the water to my little tent.

At daylight I went back to the spot. I found without trouble where the
fawn had fallen; the moss told mutely of his struggle; and a stain or
two showed where Mooween grabbed him. The rest was a plain trail of
crushed moss and bent grass and stained leaves, and a tuft of soft hair
here and there on the jagged ends of knots in the old windfalls. So the
trail hurried up the hill into a wild, rough country where it was of no
use to follow.

As I climbed the last ridge on my way back to the lake, I heard
rustlings in the underbrush, and then the unmistakable crack of a twig
under a deer's foot. The mother had winded me; she was now following
and circling down wind to find out whether her lost fawn were with me.
As yet she knew not what had happened. The bear had frightened her into
extra care of the one fawn of whom she was sure. The other had simply
vanished into the silence and mystery of the great woods.

Where the path turned downward, in sight of the lake, I saw her for a
moment plainly, standing half hid in the underbrush, looking intently at
my old canoe. She saw me at the same instant and bounded away,
quartering up the hill in my direction. Near a thicket of evergreen that
I had just passed, she sounded her hoarse _K-a-a-h, k-a-a-h!_ and threw
up her flag. There was a rush within the thicket; a sharp _K-a-a-h!_
answered hers. Then the second fawn burst out of the cover where she had
hidden him, and darted along the ridge after her, jumping like a big red
fox from rock to rock, rising like a hawk over the windfalls, hitting
her tracks wherever he could, and keeping his little nose hard down to
his one needful lesson of following the white flag.

[Illustration]



ISMAQUES, THE FISHHAWK

[Illustration]


_Whit, whit, ch'wee? Whit, whit, whit, ch'weeeeee!_ over my head went
the shrill whistling, the hunting cry of Ismaques. Looking up from my
fishing I could see the broad wings sweeping over me, and catch the
bright gleam of his eye as he looked down into my canoe, or behind me at
the cold place among the rocks, to see if I were catching anything.
Then, as he noted the pile of fish,--a blanket of silver on the black
rocks, where I was stowing away chub for bear bait,--he would drop lower
in amazement to see how I did it. When the trout were not rising, and
his keen glance saw no gleam of red and gold in my canoe, he would
circle off with a cheery _K'weee!_ the good-luck call of a brother
fisherman. For there is no envy nor malice nor any uncharitableness in
Ismaques. He lives in harmony with the world, and seems glad when you
land a big one, even though he be hungry himself, and the clamor from
his nest, where his little ones are crying, be too keen for his heart's
content.

What is there in going a-fishing, I wonder, that seems to change even
the leopard's spots, and that puts a new heart into the man who hies him
away to the brook when buds are swelling? There is Keeonekh the otter.
Before he turned fisherman he was probably fierce, cruel, bloodthirsty,
with a vile smell about him, like all the other weasels. Now he lives at
peace with all the world and is clean, gentle, playful as a kitten and
faithful as a dog when you make a pet of him. And there is Ismaques the
fishhawk. Before he turned fisherman he was probably hated, like every
other hawk, for his fierceness and his bandit ways. The shadow of his
wings was the signal for hiding to all the timid ones. Jay and crow
cried _Thief! thief!_ and kingbird sounded his war cry and rushed out to
battle. Now the little birds build their nests among the sticks of his
great house, and the shadow of his wings is a sure protection. For owl
and hawk and wild-cat have learned long since the wisdom of keeping well
away from Ismaques' dwelling.

Not only the birds, but men also, feel the change in Ismaques'
disposition. I hardly know a hunter who will not go out of his way for a
shot at a hawk; but they send a hearty good-luck after this winged
fisherman of the same fierce family, even though they see him rising
heavily out of the very pool where the big trout live, and where they
expect to cast their flies at sundown. Along the southern New England
shores his coming--regular as the calendar itself--is hailed with
delight by the fishermen. One state, at least, where he is most
abundant, protects him by law; and even our Puritan forefathers, who
seem to have neither made nor obeyed any game laws, looked upon him with
a kindly eye, and made him an exception to the general license for
killing. To their credit, be it known, they once "publikly reeprimanded"
one Master Eliphalet Bodman, a son of Belial evidently, for violently,
with powder and shot, doing away with one fishhawk, and wickedly
destroying the nest and eggs of another.

Whether this last were also done violently, with powder and shot, by
blowing the nest to pieces with an old gun, or in simple boy-fashion by
shinning up the tree, the quaint old town record does not tell. But all
this goes to show that our ancestors of the coast were kindly people at
heart; that they looked upon this brave, simple fisherman, who built his
nest by their doors, much as the German village people look upon the
stork that builds upon their chimneys, and regarded his coming as an
omen of good luck and plenty to the fisher folk.

Far back in the wilderness, where Ismaques builds his nest and goes
a-fishing just as his ancestors did a thousand years ago, one finds the
same honest bird, unspoiled alike by plenty or poverty, that excited our
boyish imagination and won the friendly regard of our ancestors of the
coast. Opposite my camp on the lake, where I tarried long one summer,
charmed by the beauty of the place and the good fishing, a pair of
fishhawks had built their nest in the top of a great spruce on the
mountain side. It was this pair of birds that came daily to circle over
my canoe, or over the rocks where I fished for chub, to see how I fared,
and to send back a cheery _Ch'wee! chip, ch'weeee!_ "good luck and good
fishing," as they wheeled away. It would take a good deal of argument
now to convince me that they did not at last recognize me as a
fellow-fisherman, and were not honestly interested in my methods and
success.

At first I went to the nest, not so much to study the fishhawks as to
catch fleeting glimpses of a shy, wild life of the woods, which is
hidden from most eyes. The fishing was good, and both birds were expert
fishermen. While the young were growing there was always an abundance in
the big nest on the spruce top. The overflow of this abundance, in the
shape of heads, bones and unwanted remnants, was cast over the sides of
the nest and furnished savory pickings for a score of hungry prowlers.
Mink came over from frog hunting in the brook, drawn by the good smell
in the air. Skunks lumbered down from the hill, with a curious, hollow,
bumping sound to announce their coming. Weasels, and one grizzly old
pine marten, too slow or rheumatic for successful tree hunting, glided
out of the underbrush and helped themselves without asking leave.
Wild-cats quarreled like fiends over the pickings; more than once I
heard them there screeching in the night. And one late afternoon, as I
lingered in my hiding among the rocks while the shadows deepened, a big
lucivee stole out of the bushes, as if ashamed of himself, and took to
nosing daintily among the fish bones.

It was his first appearance, evidently. He did not know that the feast
was free, but thought all the while that he was stealing somebody's
catch. One could see it all in his attitudes, his starts and listenings,
his low growlings to himself. He was bigger than anybody else there, and
had no cause to be afraid; but there is a tremendous respect among all
animals for the chase law and the rights of others; and the big cat felt
it. He was hungry for fish; but, big as he was, his every movement
showed that he was ready to take to his heels before the first little
creature that should rise up and screech in his face: "This is mine!"
Later, when he grew accustomed to things and the fishhawks' generosity
in providing a feast for all who might come in from the wilderness
byways and hedges, he would come in boldly enough and claim his own; but
now, moving stealthily about, halting and listening timidly, he
furnished a study in animal rights that repaid in itself all the long
hours of watching.

But the hawks themselves were more interesting than their unbidden
guests. Ismaques, honest fellow that he is, mates for life, and comes
back to the same nest year after year. The only exception to this rule
that I know is in the case of a fishhawk, whom I knew well as a boy, and
who lost his mate one summer by an accident. The accident came from a
gun in the hands of an unthinking sportsman. The grief of Ismaques was
evident, even to the unthinking. One could hear it in the lonely,
questioning cry that he sent out over the still summer woods; and see it
in the sweep of his wings as he went far afield to other ponds, not to
fish, for Ismaques never fishes on his neighbor's preserves, but to
search for his lost mate. For weeks he lingered in the old haunts,
calling and searching everywhere; but at last the loneliness and the
memories were too much for him. He left the place long before the time
of migration had come; and the next spring a strange couple came to the
spot, repaired the old nest, and went fishing in the pond. Ordinarily
the birds respect each other's fishing grounds, and especially the old
nests; but this pair came and took possession without hesitation, as if
they had some understanding with the former owner, who never came back
again.

The old spruce on the mountain side had been occupied many years by my
fishing friends. As is usually the case, it had given up its life to its
bird masters. The oil from their frequent feastings had soaked into the
bark, following down and down, checking the sap's rising, till at last
it grew discouraged and ceased to climb. Then the tree died and gave up
its branches, one by one, to repair the nest above. The jagged, broken
ends showed everywhere how they had been broken off to supply the hawks'
necessities.

There is a curious bit of building lore suggested by these broken
branches, that one may learn for himself any springtime by watching the
birds at their nest building. Large sticks are required for a
foundation. The ground is strewed with such; but Ismaques never comes
down to the ground if he can avoid it. Even when he drops an unusually
heavy fish, in his flight above the trees, he looks after it
regretfully, but never follows. He may be hungry, but he will not set
his huge hooked talons on the earth. He cannot walk, and loses all his
power there. So he goes off and fishes patiently, hours long, to replace
his lost catch.

When he needs sticks for his nest, he searches out a tree and breaks off
the dead branches by his weight. If the stick be stubborn, he rises far
above it and drops like a cannon ball, gripping it in his claws and
snapping it short off at the same instant by the force of his blow.
Twice I have been guided to where Ismaques and his mate were collecting
material by reports like pistol shots ringing through the wood, as the
great birds fell upon the dead branches and snapped them off. Once, when
he came down too hard, I saw him fall almost to the ground, flapping
lustily, before he found his wings and sailed away with his four-foot
stick triumphantly.

There is another curious bit of bird lore that I discovered here in the
autumn, when, much later than usual, I came back through the lake.
Ismaques, when he goes away for the long winter at the South, does not
leave his house to the mercy of the winter storms until he has first
repaired it. Large fresh sticks are wedged in firmly across the top of
the nest; doubtful ones are pulled out and carefully replaced, and the
whole structure made shipshape for stormy weather. This careful repair,
together with the fact that the nest is always well soaked in oil, which
preserves it from the rain, saves a deal of trouble for Ismaques. He
builds for life and knows, when he goes away in the fall, that, barring
untoward accidents, his house will be waiting for him with the quiet
welcome of old associations when he comes back in the spring. Whether
this is a habit of all ospreys, or only of the two on Big Squatuk
Lake--who were very wise birds in other ways--I am unable to say.

What becomes of the young birds is also, to me, a mystery. The home ties
are very strong, and the little ones stay with the parents much longer
than most other birds do; but when the spring comes you will see only
the old birds at the home nest. The young come back to the same general
neighborhood, I think; but where the lake is small they never build nor
trespass on the same waters. As with the kingfishers and sheldrakes,
each pair of birds seem to have their own pond or portion; but by what
old law of the waters they find and stake their claim is yet to be
discovered.

There were two little ones in the nest when I first found it; and I used
to watch them in the intervals when nothing was stirring in the
underbrush near my hiding place. They were happy, whistling, little
fellows, well fed and contented with the world. At times they would
stand for hours on the edge of the nest, looking down over the slanting
tree-tops to the lake, finding the great rustling green world, and the
passing birds, and the glinting of light on the sparkling water, and the
hazy blue of the distant mountains marvelously interesting, if one could
judge from their attitude and their pipings. Then a pair of broad wings
would sweep into sight, and they would stretch their wings wide and
break into eager whistlings,--_Pip, pip, ch'wee? chip, ch'weeeeee?_ "did
you get him? is he a big one, mother?" And they would stand tiptoeing
gingerly about the edge of the great nest, stretching their necks
eagerly for a first glimpse of the catch.

At times only one of the old birds would go a-fishing, while the other
watched the nest. But when luck was poor both birds would seek the lake.
At such times the mother bird, larger and stronger than the male, would
fish along the shore, within sight and hearing of her little ones. The
male, meanwhile, would go sweeping down the lake to the trout pools at
the outlet, where the big chub lived, in search of better fishing
grounds. If the wind were strong, you would see a curious bit of sea
lore as he came back with his fish. He would never fly straight against
the wind, but tack back and forth, as if he had learned the trick from
watching the sailor fishermen of the coast beating back into harbor.
And, watching him through your glass, you would see that he always
carried his fish endwise and head first, so as to present the least
possible resistance to the breeze.

While the young were being fed, you were certain to gain new respect for
Ismaques by seeing how well he brought up his little ones. If the fish
were large, it was torn into shreds and given piecemeal to the young,
each of whom waited for his turn with exemplary patience. There was no
crowding or pushing for the first and biggest bite, such as you see in a
nest of robins. If the fish were small, it was given entire to one of
the young, who worried it down as best he could, while the mother bird
swept back to the lake for another. The second nestling stood on the
edge of the nest meanwhile, whistling good luck and waiting his turn,
without a thought, apparently, of seizing a share from his mate beside
him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just under the hawks a pair of jays had built their nest among the
sticks of Ismaques' dwelling, and raised their young on the abundant
crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. It was curious and
intensely interesting to watch the change which seemed to be going on
in the jays' disposition by reason of the unusual friendship. Deedeeaskh
the jay has not a friend among the wood folk. They all know he is a
thief and a meddler, and hunt him away without mercy if they find him
near their nests. But the great fishhawks welcomed him, trusted him; and
he responded nobly to the unusual confidence. He never tried to steal
from the young, not even when the mother bird was away, but contented
himself with picking up the stray bits that they had left. And he more
than repaid Ismaques by the sharp watch which he kept over the nest, and
indeed over all the mountain side. Nothing passes in the woods without
the jay's knowledge; and here he seemed, for all the world, like a
watchful terrier, knowing that he had only to bark to bring a power of
wing and claw sufficient to repel any danger. When prowlers came down
from the mountain to feast on the heads and bones scattered about the
foot of the tree, Deedeeaskh dropped down among them and went dodging
about, whistling his insatiable curiosity. So long as they took only
what was their own, he made no fuss about it; but he was there to watch,
and he let them know sharply their mistake, if they showed any desire to
cast evil eyes at the nest above.

[Illustration: "PRESENTLY THEY BEGAN TO SWOOP FIERCELY AT SOME ANIMAL"]

Once, as my canoe was gliding along the shore, I heard the jays'
unmistakable cry of danger. The fishhawks were wheeling in great circles
over the lake, watching for the glint of fish near the surface, when the
cry came, and they darted away for the nest. Pushing out into the lake,
I saw them sweeping above the tree-tops in swift circles, uttering
short, sharp cries of anger. Presently they began to swoop fiercely at
some animal--a fisher, probably--that was climbing the tree below. I
stole up to see what it was; but ere I reached the place they had driven
the intruder away. I heard one of the jays far off in the woods,
following the robber and screaming to let the fishhawks know just where
he was. The other jay sat close by her own little ones, cowering under
the shadow of the great dark wings above. And presently Deedeeaskh came
back, bubbling over with the excitement, whistling to them in his own
way that he had followed the rascal clear to his den, and would keep a
sharp watch over him in future.

When a big hawk came near, or when, on dark afternoons, a young owl took
to hunting in the neighborhood, the jays sounded the alarm, and the
fishhawks swept up from the lake on the instant. Whether Deedeeaskh were
more concerned for his own young than for the young fishhawks I have no
means of knowing. The fishermen's actions at such times showed a
curious mixture of fear and defiance. The mother would sit on the nest
while Ismaques circled over it, both birds uttering a shrill, whistling
challenge. But they never attacked the feathered robbers, as they had
done with the fisher, and, so far as I could see, there was no need.
Kookooskoos the owl and Hawahak the hawk might be very hungry; but the
sight of those great wings circling over the nest and the shrill cry of
defiance in their ears sent them hurriedly away to other hunting
grounds.

There was only one enemy that ever seriously troubled the fishhawks; and
he did it in as decent a sort of way as was possible under the
circumstances. That was Cheplahgan the eagle. When he was hungry and had
found nothing himself, and his two eaglets, far away in their nest on
the mountain, needed a bite of fish to vary their diet, he would set his
wings to the breeze and mount up till he could see both ospreys at their
fishing. There, sailing in slow circles, he would watch for hours till
he saw Ismaques catch a big fish, when he would drop like a bolt and
hold him up at the point of his talons, like any other highwayman. It
was of no use trying to escape. Sometimes Ismaques would attempt it, but
the great dark wings would whirl around him and strike down a sharp and
unmistakable warning. It always ended the same way. Ismaques, being
wise, would drop his fish, and the eagle would swoop down after it,
often seizing it ere it reached the water. But he never injured the
fishhawks, and he never disturbed the nest. So they got along well
enough together. Cheplahgan had a bite of fish now and then in his own
high-handed way; and honest Ismaques, who never went long hungry, made
the best of a bad situation. Which shows that fishing has also taught
him patience, and a wise philosophy of living.

The jays took no part in these struggles. Occasionally they cried out a
sharp warning as Cheplahgan came plunging down out of the blue, over the
head of Ismaques; but they seemed to know perfectly how the unequal
contest must end, and they always had a deal of jabber among themselves
over it, the meaning of which I could never make out.

As for myself, I am sure that Deedeeaskh could never make up his mind
what to think of me. At first, when I came, he would cry out a danger
note that brought the fishhawks circling over their nest, looking down
into the underbrush with wild yellow eyes to see what danger threatened.
But after I had hidden myself away a few times, and made no motion to
disturb either the nest or the hungry prowlers that came to feast on
the fishhawks' bounty, Deedeeaskh set me down as an idle, harmless
creature who would, nevertheless, bear watching. He never got over his
curiosity to know what brought me there. Sometimes, when I thought him
far away, I would find him suddenly on a branch just over my head,
looking down at me intently. When I went away he would follow me,
whistling, to my canoe; but he never called the fishhawks again, unless
some unusual action of mine aroused his suspicion; and after one look
they would circle away, as if they knew they had nothing to fear. They
had seen me fishing so often that they thought they understood me,
undoubtedly.

There was one curious habit of these birds that I had never noticed
before. Occasionally, when the weather threatened a change, or when the
birds and their little ones had fed full, Ismaques would mount up to an
enormous altitude, where he would sail about in slow circles, his broad
vans steady to the breeze, as if he were an ordinary hen hawk, enjoying
himself and contemplating the world from an indifferent distance.
Suddenly, with one clear, sharp whistle to announce his intention,
he would drop like a plummet for a thousand feet, catch himself in
mid-air, and zigzag down to the nest in the spruce top, whirling,
diving, tumbling, and crying aloud the while in wild, ecstatic
exclamations,--just as a woodcock comes whirling, plunging, twittering
down from a height to his brown mate in the alders below. Then Ismaques
would mount up again and repeat his dizzy plunge, while his larger mate
stood quiet in the spruce top, and the little fishhawks tiptoed about
the edge of the nest, _pip-pipping_ their wonder and delight at their
own papa's dazzling performance.

This is undoubtedly one of Ismaques' springtime habits, by which he
tries to win an admiring look from the keen yellow eyes of his mate; but
I noticed him using it more frequently as the little fishhawks' wings
spread to a wonderful length, and he was trying, with his mate, by every
gentle means to induce them to leave the nest. And I have
wondered--without being able at all to prove my theory--whether he were
not trying in this remarkable way to make his little ones want to fly by
showing them how wonderful a thing flying could be made to be.

[Illustration]



A School for Little Fishermen

[Illustration]


There came a day when, as I sat fishing among the rocks, the cry of the
mother osprey changed as she came sweeping up to my fishing
grounds,--_Chip, ch'wee! Chip, chip, ch'weeeee?_ That was the
fisherman's hail plainly enough; but there was another note in it, a
look-here cry of triumph and satisfaction. Before I could turn my head,
for a fish was nibbling, there came other sounds behind it,--_Pip, pip,
pip, ch'weee! pip, ch'wee! pip, ch'weeee!_ a curious medley, a hail of
good-luck cries; and I knew without turning that two other fishermen had
come to join the brotherhood.

The mother bird--one can tell her instantly by her greater size and
darker breast markings--veered in as I turned to greet the newcomers,
and came directly over my head, her two little ones flapping lustily
behind her. Two days before, when I went down to another lake on an
excursion after bigger trout, the young fishhawks were still standing
on the nest, turning a deaf ear to all the old birds' assurances that
the time had come to use their big wings. The last glimpse I had of them
through my glass showed me the mother bird in one tree, the father in
another, each holding a fish, which they were showing the young across a
tantalizing short stretch of empty air, telling the young in fishhawk
language to come across and get it; while the young birds, on their
part, stretched wings and necks hungrily and tried to whistle the fish
over to them, as one would call a dog across the street.

In the short interval that I was absent mother wiles and mother patience
had done their good work. The young were already flying well. Now they
were out for their first lesson in fishing, evidently; and I stopped
fishing myself, letting my bait sink into the mud--where an eel
presently tangled my hooks into an old root--to see how it was done. For
fishing is not an instinct with Ismaques, but a simple matter of
training. As with young otters, they know only from daily experience
that fish, and not grouse and rabbits, are their legitimate food. Left
to themselves, especially if one should bring them up on flesh and then
turn them loose, they would go straight back to the old hawk habit of
hunting the woods, which is much easier. To catch fish, therefore, they
must be taught from the first day they leave the nest. And it is a
fascinating experience for any man to watch the way they go about it.

The young ospreys flew heavily in short irregular circles, scanning the
water with their inexperienced eyes for their first strike. Over them
wheeled the mother bird on broad, even wings, whistling directions to
the young neophytes, who would presently be initiated into the old sweet
mysteries of going a-fishing. Fish were plenty enough; but that means
nothing to a fishhawk, who must see his game reasonably near the surface
before making his swoop. There was a good jump on the lake, and the sun
shone brightly into it. Between the glare and the motion on the surface
the young fishermen were having a hard time of it. Their eyes were not
yet quick enough to tell them when to swoop. At every gleam of silver in
the depths below they would stop short and cry out: _Pip!_ "there he
is!" _Pip, pip!_ "here goes!" like a boy with his first nibble. But a
short, clear whistle from the mother stopped them ere they had begun to
fall; and they would flap up to her, protesting eagerly that they could
catch that fellow, sure, if she would only let them try.

As they wheeled in over me on their way down the lake, one of the
youngsters caught the gleam of my pile of chub among the rocks. _Pip,
ch'weee!_ he whistled, and down they came, both of them, like rockets.
They were hungry; here at hand were fish galore; and they had not
noticed me at all, sitting very still among the rocks. _Pip, pip, pip,
hurrah!_ they piped as they came down.

But the mother bird, who had noted me and my pile of fish the first
thing as she rounded the point, swept in swiftly with a curious,
half-angry, half-anxious chiding that I had never heard from her
before,--_Chip, chip, chip! Chip! Chip!_--growing sharper and shriller
at each repetition, till they heeded it and swerved aside. As I looked
up they were just over my head, looking down at me now with eager,
wondering eyes. Then they were led aside in a wide circle and talked to
with wise, quiet whistlings before they were sent back to their fishing
again.

And now as they sweep round and round over the edge of a shoal, one of
the little fellows sees a fish and drops lower to follow it. The mother
sees it too; notes that the fish is slanting up to the surface, and
wisely lets the young fisherman alone. He is too near the water now; the
glare and the dancing waves bother him; he loses his gleam of silver in
the flash of a whitecap. Mother bird mounts higher, and whistles him up
where he can see better. But there is the fish again, and the youngster,
hungry and heedless, sets his wings for a swoop. _Chip, chip!_ "wait,
he's going down," cautions the mother; but the little fellow, too
hungry to wait, shoots down like an arrow. He is a yard above the
surface when a big whitecap jumps up at him and frightens him. He
hesitates, swerves, flaps lustily to save himself. Then under the
whitecap is a gleam of silver again. Down he goes on the instant,--_ugh!
boo!_--like a boy taking his first dive. He is out of sight for a full
moment, while two waves race over him, and I hold my breath waiting for
him to come up. Then he bursts out, sputtering and shaking himself, and
of course without his fish.

As he rises heavily the mother, who has been circling over him whistling
advice and comfort, stops short with a single blow of her pinions
against the air. She has seen the same fish, watched him shoot away
under the plunge of her little one, and now sees him glancing up to the
edge of the shoal where the minnows are playing. She knows that the
young pupils are growing discouraged, and that the time has come to
hearten them. _Chip, chip!_--"watch, I'll show you," she
whistles--_Cheeeep!_ with a sharp up-slide at the end, which I soon grow
to recognize as the signal to strike. At the cry she sets her wings and
shoots downward with strong, even plunge, strikes a wave squarely as it
rises, passes under it, and is out on the other side gripping a big
chub. The little ones follow her, whistling their delight, and
telling her that perhaps now they will go back to the nest and take a
look at the fish before they go on with their fishing. Which means, of
course, that they will eat it and go to sleep perfectly satisfied with
the good fun of fishing; and then lessons are over for the day.

[Illustration: "GRIPPING HIS FISH AND _PIP-PIPPING_ HIS EXULTATION"]

The mother, however, has other thoughts in her wise head. She knows that
the little ones are not yet tired, only hungry; and that there is much
to teach them before the chub stop shoaling and fishhawks must be off to
the coast. She knows also that they have thus far missed the two things
she brought them out to learn: to take a fish always as he comes up; and
to hit a wave always on the front side, under the crest. Gripping her
fish tightly, she bends in her slow flight and paralyzes it by a single
blow in the spine from her hooked beak. Then she drops it back into the
whitecaps, where, jumping to the top of my rock, I can see it
occasionally struggling near the surface.

_Cheeeep!_ "try it now," she whistles.

_Pip, pip!_ "here goes!" cries the little one who failed before; and
down he drops, _souse!_ going clear under in his impatient hunger,
forgetting precept and example and past experience.

Again the waves race over him; but there is a satisfied note in the
mother's whistle which tells me that she sees him, and that he is doing
well. In a moment he is out again with a great rush and sputter,
gripping his fish and _pip-pipping_ his exultation. Away he goes in low
heavy flight to the nest. The mother circles over him a moment to be
sure he is not overloaded; then she goes back with the other neophyte
and ranges back and forth over the shoal's edge.

It is clear now to even my eyes that there is a vast difference in the
characters of young fishhawks. The first was eager, headstrong,
impatient; the second is calmer, stronger, more obedient. He watches the
mother; he heeds her signals. Five minutes later he makes a clean,
beautiful swoop and comes up with his fish. The mother whistles her
praise as she drops beside him. My eyes follow them as, gossiping like
two old cronies, they wing their slow way over the dancing whitecaps and
climb the slanting tree-tops to the nest.

The day's lessons are over now, and I go back to my bait-catching with a
new admiration for these winged members of the brotherhood. Perhaps
there is also a bit of envy or regret in my meditation as I tie on a new
hook to replace the one that an uneasy eel is trying to rid himself of,
down in the mud. If I had only had some one to teach me like that, I
should certainly now be a better fisherman.

Next day, when the mother came up the lake to the shoal with her two
little ones, there was a surprise awaiting them. For half an hour I had
been watching from the point to anticipate their coming. There were some
things that puzzled me, and that puzzle me still, in Ismaques' fishing.
If he caught his fish in his mouth, after the methods of loon and otter,
I could understand it better. But to catch a fish--whose dart is like
lightning--under the water with his feet, when, after his plunge, he can
see neither his fish nor his feet, must require some puzzling
calculation. And I had set a trap in my head to find out how it is done.

When the fishermen hove into sight, and their eager pipings came faintly
up the lake ahead of them, I paddled hastily out and turned loose a
half-dozen chub in the shallow water. I had kept them alive as long as
possible in a big pail, and they still had life enough to fin about near
the surface. When the fishermen arrived I was sitting among the rocks as
usual, and turned to acknowledge the mother bird's _Ch'wee?_ But my
deep-laid scheme to find out their method accomplished nothing; except,
perhaps, to spoil the day's lesson. They saw my bait on the instant. One
of the youngsters dove headlong without poising, went under, missed his
fish, rose, plunged again. He got him that time and went away
sputtering. The second took his time, came down on a long swift slant,
and got his fish without going under. Almost before the lesson began it
was over. The mother circled about for a few moments in a puzzled sort
of way, watching the young fishermen flapping up the slope to their
nest. Something was wrong. She had fished enough to know that success
means something more than good luck; and this morning success had come
too easily. She wheeled slowly over the shallows, noting the fish there,
where they plainly did not belong, and dropping to examine with
suspicion one big chub that was floating, belly up, on the water. Then
she went under with a rush, where I could not see, came out again with a
fish for herself, and followed her little ones to the nest.

Next day I set the trap again in the same way. But the mother, with her
lesson well laid out before her, remembered yesterday's unearned success
and came over to investigate, leaving her young ones circling along the
farther shore. There were the fish again, in shallow water; and
there--too easy altogether!--were two dead ones floating among the
whitecaps. She wheeled away in a sharp turn, as if she had not seen
anything, whistled her pupils up to her, and went on to other fishing
grounds.

Presently, above the next point, I heard their pipings and the sharp,
up-sliding _Cheeeep!_ which was the mother's signal to swoop. Paddling
up under the point in my canoe, I found them all wheeling and diving
over a shoal, where I knew the fish were smaller and more nimble, and
where there were lily pads for a haven of refuge, whither no hawk could
follow them. Twenty times I saw them swoop only to miss, while the
mother circled above or beside them, whistling advice and encouragement.
And when at last they struck their fish and bore away towards the
mountain, there was an exultation in their lusty wing beats, and in the
whistling cry they sent back to me, which was not there the day before.

The mother followed them at a distance, veering in when near my shoal to
take another look at the fish there. Three were floating now instead of
two; the others--what were left of them--struggled feebly at the
surface. _Chip, ch'weee!_ she whistled disdainfully; "plenty fish here,
but mighty poor fishing." Then she swooped, passed under, came out with
a big chub, and was gone, leaving me only a blinding splash and a
widening circle of laughing, dancing, tantalizing wavelets to tell me
how she catches them.



When You Meet a Bear


There are always two surprises when you meet a bear. You have one, and
he has the other. On your tramps and camps in the big woods you may be
on the lookout for Mooween; you may be eager and even anxious to meet
him; but when you double the point or push into the blueberry patch and,
suddenly, there he is, blocking the path ahead, looking intently into
your eyes to fathom at a glance your intentions, then, I fancy, the
experience is like that of people who have the inquisitive habit of
looking under their beds nightly for a burglar, and at last find him
there, stowed away snugly, just where they always expected him to be.

Mooween, on his part, is always looking for you when once he has learned
that you have moved into his woods. But not from any desire to see you!
He is like a lazy man looking for work, and hoping devoutly that he may
not find it. A bear has very little curiosity--less than any other of
the wood folk. He loves to be alone; and so, when he goes hunting for
you, to find out just where you are, it is always with the creditable
desire to leave you in as large a room as possible, while he himself
goes quietly away into deeper solitudes. As this desire of his is much
stronger than your mere idle curiosity to see something new, you rarely
see Mooween even where he is most at home. And that is but another bit
of the poetic justice which you stumble upon everywhere in the big
woods.

It is more and more evident, I think, that Nature adapts her gifts, not
simply to the necessities, but more largely to the desires, of her
creatures. The force and influence of that intense desire--more intense
because usually each animal has but one--we have not yet learned to
measure. The owl has a silent wing, not simply because he needs it--for
his need is no greater than that of the hawk, who has no silent
wing--but, more probably, because of his whole-hearted desire for
silence as he glides through the silent twilight. And so with the
panther's foot; and so with the deer's eye, and the wolf's nose, whose
one idea of bliss is a good smell; and so with every other strongly
marked gift which the wild things have won from nature, chiefly by
desiring it, in the long years of their development.

This theory may possibly account for some of Mooween's peculiarities.
Nature, who measures her gifts according to the desires of her
creatures, remembers his love of peace and solitude, and endows him
accordingly. He cares little to see you or anybody else; therefore his
eyes are weak--his weakest point, in fact. He desires ardently to avoid
your society and all society but his own; therefore his nose and ears
are marvelously alert to discover your coming. Often, when you think
yourself quite alone in the woods, Mooween is there. The wind has told
your story to his nose; the clatter of your heedless feet long ago
reached his keen ears, and he vanishes at your approach, leaving you to
your noise and inquisitiveness and the other things you like. His gifts
of concealment are so much greater than your powers of detection that he
has absolutely no thought of ever seeing you. His surprise, therefore,
when you do meet unexpectedly is correspondingly greater than yours.

What he will do under the unusual circumstances depends largely, not
upon himself, but upon you. With one exception, his feelings are
probably the reverse of your own. If you are bold, he is timid as a
rabbit; if you are panic-stricken, he knows exactly what to do; if you
are fearful, he has no fear; if you are inquisitive, he is instantly
shy; and, like all other wild creatures, he has an almost uncanny way of
understanding your thought. It is as if, in that intent, penetrating
gaze of his, he saw your soul turned inside out for his inspection. The
only exception is when you meet him without fear or curiosity, with the
desire simply to attend to your own affairs, as if he were a stranger
and an equal. That rare mental attitude he understands perfectly--for is
it not his own?--and he goes his way quietly, as if he had not seen you.

For every chance meeting Mooween seems to have a plan of action ready,
which he applies without a question or an instant's hesitation. Make an
unknown sound behind him as he plods along the shore, and he hurls
himself headlong into the cover of the bushes, as if your voice had
touched a button that released a coiled spring beneath him. Afterwards
he may come back to find out what frightened him. Sit perfectly still,
and he rises on his hind legs for a look and a long sniff to find out
who you are. Jump at him with a yell and a flourish the instant he
appears, and he will hurl chips and dirt back at you as he digs his
toes into the hillside for a better grip and scrambles away whimpering
like a scared puppy.

Once in a way, as you steal through the autumn woods or hurry over the
trail, you will hear sudden loud rustlings and shakings on the hardwood
ridge above you, as if a small cyclone were perched there for a while,
amusing itself among the leaves before blowing on. Then, if you steal up
toward the sound, you will find Mooween standing on a big limb of a
beech tree, grasping the narrowing trunk with his powerful forearms,
tugging and pushing mightily to shake down the ripe beechnuts. The
rattle and dash of the falling fruit are such music to Mooween's ears
that he will not hear the rustle of your approach, nor the twig that
snaps under your careless foot.

If you cry aloud now to your friends, under the hilarious impression
that you have Mooween sure at last, there is another surprise awaiting
you. And that suggests a bit of advice, which is most pertinent: don't
stand under the bear when you cry out. If he is a little fellow, he will
shoot up the tree, faster than ever a jumping jack went up his stick,
and hide in a cluster of leaves, as near the top as he can get. But if
he is a big bear, he will tumble down on you before you know what has
happened. No slow climbing for him; he just lets go and comes down by
gravitation. As Uncle Remus says--who has some keen knowledge of animal
ways under his story-telling humor--"Brer B'ar, he scramble 'bout
half-way down de bee tree, en den he turn eve'ything loose en hit de
groun' _kerbiff_! Look like 't wuz nuff ter jolt de life out'n 'im."

Somehow it never does jolt the life out of him, notwithstanding his
great weight; nor does it interfere in any way with his speed of action,
which is like lightning, the instant he touches the ground. Like the
coon, who can fall from an incredible distance without hurting himself,
Mooween comes down perfectly limp, falling on himself like a great
cushion; but the moment he strikes, all his muscles seem to contract at
once, and he bounds off like a rubber ball into the densest bit of cover
at hand.

Twice have I seen him come down in this way. The first time there were
two cubs, nearly full-grown, in a tree. One went up at our shout; the
other came down with such startling suddenness that the man who stood
ready with his rifle, to shoot the bear, jumped for his life to get out
of the way; and before he had blinked the astonishment out of his eyes
Mooween was gone, leaving only a violent nodding of the ground spruces
to tell what had become of him.

All these plans of ready action in Mooween's head, for the rare
occasions when he meets you unexpectedly, are the result of careful
training by his mother. If you should ever have the good fortune to
watch a mother bear and her cubs when they have no idea that you are
near them, you will note two characteristic things. First, when they are
traveling--and Mooween is the most restless tramp in all the woods--you
will see that the cubs follow the mother closely and imitate her every
action with ludicrous exactness, sniffing where she sniffs, jumping
where she jumps, rising on their hind legs, with forearms hanging
loosely and pointed noses thrust sharp up into the wind, on the instant
that she rises, and then drawing silently away from the shore into the
shelter of the friendly alders when some subtle warning tells the
mother's nose that the coast ahead is not perfectly clear. So they learn
to sift the sounds and smells of the wilderness, and to govern their
actions accordingly. And second, when they are playing you will see that
the mother watches the cubs' every action as keenly as they watched hers
an hour ago. She will sit flat on her haunches, her fore paws planted
between her outstretched hind legs, her great head on one side, noting
every detail of their boxing and wrestling and climbing, as if she had
showed them once how it ought to be done and were watching now to see
how well they remembered their lessons. And now and then one or the
other of the cubs receives a sound cuffing; for which I am unable to
account, except on the theory that he was doing something contrary to
his plain instructions.

It is only when Mooween meets some new object, or some circumstance
entirely outside of his training, that instinct and native wit are set
to work; and then you see for the first time some trace of hesitation on
the part of this self-confident prowler of the big woods. Once I
startled him on the shore, whither he had come to get the fore quarters
of a deer that had been left there. He jumped for cover at the first
alarm without even turning his head, just as he had seen his mother do,
a score of times, when he was a cub. Then he stopped, and for three or
four seconds considered the danger in plain sight--a thing I have never
seen any other bear imitate. He wavered for a moment more, doubtful
whether my canoe were swifter than he and more dangerous. Then satisfied
that, at least, he had a good chance, he jumped back, grabbed the deer,
and dragged it away into the woods.

Another time I met him on a narrow path where he could not pass me and
where he did not want to turn back, for something ahead was calling him
strongly. That short meeting furnished me the best study in bear nature
and bear instinct that I have ever been allowed to make. And, at this
distance, I have small desire to repeat the experience.

It was on the Little Sou'west Mirimichi, a very wild river, in the heart
of the wilderness. Just above my camp, not half a mile away, was a
salmon pool that, so far as I know, had never been fished. One bank of
the river was an almost sheer cliff, against which the current fretted
and hissed in a strong deep rush to the rapids and a great silent pool
far below. There were salmon under the cliff, plenty of them, balancing
themselves against the arrowy run of the current; but, so far as my
flies were concerned, they might as well have been in the Yukon. One
could not fish from the opposite shore--there was no room for a back
cast, and the current was too deep and swift for wading--and on the
shore where the salmon were there was no place to stand. If I had had a
couple of good Indians, I might have dropped down to the head of the
swift water and fished, while they held the canoe with poles braced on
the bottom; but I had no two good Indians, and the one I did have was
unwilling to take the risk. So we went hungry, almost within sight and
sound of the plunge of heavy fish, fresh run from the sea.

One day, in following a porcupine to see where he was going, I found a
narrow path running for a few hundred yards along the side of the cliff,
just over where the salmon loved to lie, and not more than thirty feet
above the swift rush of water. I went there with my rod and, without
attempting to cast, dropped my fly into the current and paid out from my
reel. When the line straightened I raised the rod's tip and set my fly
dancing and skittering across the surface to an eddy behind a great
rock. In a flash I had raised and struck a twenty-five pound fish; and
in another flash he had gone straight downstream in the current, where
from my precarious seat I could not control him. Down he went, leaping
wildly high out of water, in a glorious rush, till all my line buzzed
out of the reel, down to the very knot at the bottom, and the leader
snapped as if it had been made of spider's web.

I reeled in sadly, debating with myself the unanswerable question of how
I should ever have reached down thirty feet to gaff my salmon, had I
played him to a standstill. Then, because human nature is weak, I put on
a stronger, double leader and dropped another fly into the current. I
might not get my salmon; but it was worth the price of fly and leader
just to raise him from the deeps and see his terrific rush downstream,
jumping, jumping, as if the witch of Endor were astride of his tail in
lieu of her broomstick.

A lively young grilse plunged headlong at the second fly and, thanks to
my strong leader, I played him out in the current and led him
listlessly, all the jump and fight gone out of him, to the foot of the
cliff. There was no apparent way to get down; so, taking my line in
hand, I began to lift him bodily up. He came easily enough till his tail
cleared the water; then the wiggling, jerky strain was too much. The fly
pulled out, and he vanished with a final swirl and slap of his broad
tail to tell me how big he was.

Just below me a bowlder lifted its head and shoulders out of the
swirling current. With the canoe line I might easily let myself down to
that rock and make sure of my next fish. Getting back would be harder;
but salmon are worth some trouble; so I left my rod and started back to
camp for the stout rope that lay coiled in the bow of my canoe. It was
late afternoon and I was hurrying along the path, giving chief heed to
my feet in the ticklish walking, with the cliff above and the river
below, when a loud _Hoowuff!_ brought me up with a shock. There at a
turn in the path, not ten yards ahead, stood a huge bear, calling
unmistakable halt, and blocking me in as completely as if the mountain
had toppled over before me.

There was no time to think; the shock and scare were too great. I just
gasped _Hoowuff!_ instinctively, as the bear had shot it out of his deep
lungs a moment before, and stood stock-still, as he was doing. He was
startled as well as I. That was the only thing that I was sure about.

I suppose that in each of our heads at first there was just one thought:
"I'm in a fix; how shall I get out?" And in his training or mine there
was absolutely nothing to suggest an immediate answer. He was anxious,
evidently, to go on. Something, a mate perhaps, must be calling him up
river; else he would have whirled and vanished at the first alarm. But
how far might he presume on the big animal's timidity who stood before
him blocking the way? That was his question, plainly enough. Had I been
a moment sooner, or he a moment later, we would have met squarely at the
turn; he would have clinched with me in sudden blind ferocity, and that
would have been the end of one of us. As it was he saw me coming
heedlessly and, being peaceably inclined, had stopped me with his sharp
_Hoowuff!_ before I should get too near. There was no snarl or growl, no
savageness in his expression; only intense wonder and questioning in the
look which fastened upon my face and seemed to bore its way through, to
find out just what I was thinking.

I met his eyes squarely with mine and held them, which was perhaps the
most sensible thing I could have done; though it was all unconscious on
my part. In the brief moment that followed I did a lot of thinking.
There was no escape, up or down; I must go on or turn back. If I jumped
forward with a yell, as I had done before under different circumstances,
would he not rush at me savagely, as all wild creatures do when
cornered? No, the time for that had passed with the first instant of our
meeting. The bluff would now be too apparent; it must be done without
hesitation, or not at all. On the other hand, if I turned back he would
follow me to the end of the ledge, growing bolder as he came on; and
beyond that it was dangerous walking, where he had all the advantage and
all the knowledge of his ground. Besides, it was late, and I wanted a
salmon for my supper.

I have wondered since how much of this hesitation he understood; and how
he came to the conclusion, which he certainly reached, that I meant him
no harm, but only wanted to get on and was not disposed to give him the
path. All the while I looked at him steadily, until his eyes began to
lose their intentness. My hand slipped back and gripped the handle of my
hunting knife. Some slight confidence came with the feel of the heavy
weapon; though I would certainly have gone over the cliff and taken my
chances in the current, rather than have closed with him, with all his
enormous strength, in that narrow place. Suddenly his eyes wavered from
mine; he swung his head to look down and up; and I knew instantly that I
had won the first move--and the path also, if I could keep my nerve.

I advanced a step or two very quietly, still looking at him steadily.
There was a suggestion of white teeth under his wrinkled chops; but he
turned his head to look back over the way he had come, and presently he
disappeared. It was only for a moment; then his nose and eyes were poked
cautiously by the corner of rock. He was peeking to see if I were still
there. When the nose vanished again I stole forward to the turn and
found him just ahead, looking down the cliff to see if there were any
other way below.

He was uneasy now; a low, whining growl came floating up the path. Then
I sat down on a rock, squarely in his way, and for the first time some
faint suggestion of the humor of the situation gave me a bit of
consolation. I began to talk to him, not humorously, but as if he were a
Scotchman and open only to argument. "You're in a fix, Mooween, a
terrible fix," I kept saying softly; "but if you had only stayed at home
till twilight, as a bear ought to do, we should be happy now, both of
us. You have put me in a fix, too, you see; and now you've just got to
get me out of it. I'm not going back. I don't know the path as well as
you do. Besides, it will be dark soon, and I should probably break my
neck. It's a shame, Mooween, to put any gentleman in such a fix as I am
in this minute, just by your blundering carelessness. Why didn't you
smell me anyway, as any but a fool bear would have done, and take some
other path over the mountain? Why don't you climb that spruce now and
get out of the way?"

I have noticed that all wild animals grow uneasy at the sound of the
human voice, speaking however quietly. There is in it something deep,
unknown, mysterious beyond all their powers of comprehension; and they
go away from it quickly when they can. I have a theory also that all
animals, wild and domestic, understand more of our mental attitude than
we give them credit for; and the theory gains rather than loses strength
whenever I think of Mooween on that narrow pass. I can see him now,
turning, twisting uneasily, and the half-timid look in his eyes as they
met mine furtively, as if ashamed; and again the low, troubled whine
comes floating up the path and mingles with the rush and murmur of the
salmon pool below.

A bear hates to be outdone quite as much as a fox does. If you catch him
in a trap, he seldom growls or fights or resists, as lynx and otter and
almost all other wild creatures do. He has outwitted you and shown his
superiority so often that he is utterly overwhelmed and crushed when you
find him, at last, helpless and outdone. He seems to forget all his
great strength, all his frightful power of teeth and claws. He just lays
his head down between his paws, turns his eyes aside, and refuses to
look at you or to let you see how ashamed he is. That is what you are
chiefly conscious of, nine times out of ten, when you find a bear or a
fox held fast in your trap; and something of that was certainly in
Mooween's look and actions now, as I sat there in his path enjoying his
confusion.

Near him a spruce tree sprang out of the rocks and reached upward to a
ledge far above. Slowly he raised himself against this, but turned to
look at me again sitting quietly in his own path--that he could no
longer consider his--and smiling at his discomfiture as I remember how
ashamed he is to be outdone. Then an electric shock seemed to hoist him
out of the trail. He shot up the tree in a succession of nervous, jerky
jumps, rising with astonishing speed for so huge a creature, smashing
the little branches, ripping the rough bark with his great claws,
sending down a clattering shower of chips and dust behind him, till he
reached the level of the ledge above and sprang out upon it; where he
stopped and looked down to see what I would do next. And there he
stayed, his great head hanging over the edge of the rock, looking at me
intently till I rose and went quietly down the trail.

It was morning when I came back to the salmon pool. Unlike the mossy
forest floor, the hard rock bore no signs to tell me--what I was most
curious to know--whether he came down the tree or found some other way
over the mountain. At the point where I had stood when his deep
_Hoowuff!_ first startled me I left a big salmon, for a taste of which
any bear will go far out of his way. Next morning it was gone; and so it
may be that Mooween, on his next journey, found another and a pleasanter
surprise awaiting him at the turn of the trail.

[Illustration]



Quoskh the Keen Eyed

[Illustration]


Sometimes, at night, as you drift along the shore in your canoe, sifting
the night sounds and smells of the wilderness, when all harsher cries
are hushed and the silence grows tense and musical, like a great
stretched chord over which the wind is thrumming low suggestive
melodies, a sudden rush and flapping in the grasses beside you breaks
noisily into the gamut of half-heard primary tones and rising, vanishing
harmonics. Then, as you listen, and before the silence has again
stretched the chords of her Eolian harp tight enough for the wind's
fingers, another sound, a cry, comes floating down from the
air--_Quoskh? quoskh-quoskh?_ a wild, questioning call, as if the
startled night were asking who you are. It is only a blue heron, wakened
out of his sleep on the shore by your noisy approach, that you thought
was still as the night itself. He circles over your head for a moment,
seeing you perfectly, though you catch never a shadow of his broad
wings; then he vanishes into the vast, dark silence, crying _Quoskh?
quoskh?_ as he goes. And the cry, with its strange, wild interrogation
vanishing away into the outer darkness, has given him his most
fascinating Indian name, Quoskh the Night's Question.

To many, indeed, even to some Indians, he has no other name and no
definite presence. He rarely utters the cry by day--his voice then is a
harsh croak--and you never see him as he utters it out of the solemn
upper darkness; so that there is often a mystery about this voice of the
night, which one never thinks of associating with the quiet, patient,
long-legged fisherman that one may see any summer day along the borders
of lonely lake or stream. A score of times I have been asked by old
campers, "What is that?" as a sharp, questioning _Quoskh-quoskh?_ seemed
to tumble down into the sleeping lake. Yet they knew the great blue
heron perfectly--or thought they did.

Quoskh has other names, however, which describe his attributes and
doings. Sometimes, when fishing alongshore with my Indian at the paddle,
the canoe would push its nose silently around a point, and I would see
the heron's heavy slanting flight already halfway up to the tree-tops,
long before our coming had been suspected by the watchful little mother
sheldrake, or even by the deer feeding close at hand among the lily
pads. Then Simmo, who could never surprise one of the great birds
however silently he paddled, would mutter something which sounded like
_Quoskh K'sobeqh_, Quoskh the Keen Eyed. At other times, when we noticed
him spearing frogs with his long bill, Simmo, who could not endure the
sight of a frog's leg on my fry pan, would speak of him disdainfully in
his own musical language as Quoskh the Frog Eater, for my especial
benefit. Again, if I stopped casting suddenly at the deep trout pool
opposite a grassy shore, to follow with my eyes a tall, gray-blue shadow
on stilts moving dimly alongshore in seven-league-boot strides for the
next bog, where frogs were plenty, Simmo would point with his paddle and
say: "See, Ol' Fader Longlegs go catch-um more frogs for his babies.
Funny kin' babies dat, eat-um bullfrog; don' chu tink so?"

Of all his names--and there were many more that I picked up from
watching him in a summer's outing--"Old Father Longlegs" seemed always
the most appropriate. There is a suggestion of hoary antiquity about
this solemn wader of our lakes and streams. Indeed, of all birds he is
the nearest to those ancient, uncouth monsters which Nature made to
people our earth in its uncouth infancy. Other herons and bitterns have
grown smaller and more graceful, with shorter legs and necks, to suit
our diminishing rivers and our changed landscape. Quoskh is also,
undoubtedly, much smaller than he once was; but still his legs and neck
are disproportionately long, when one thinks of the waters he wades and
the nest he builds; and the tracks he leaves in the mud are startlingly
like those fossilized footprints of giant birds that one finds in the
rocks of the Pliocene era, deep under the earth's surface, to tell what
sort of creatures lived in the vast solitudes before man came to
replenish the earth and subdue it.

Closely associated with this suggestion of antiquity in Quoskh's
demeanor is the opposite suggestion of perpetual youth which he carries
with him. Age has no apparent effect on him whatsoever. He is as old and
young as the earth itself is; he is a March day, with winter and spring
in its sunset and sunrise. Who ever saw a blue heron with his jewel eye
dimmed or his natural force abated? Who ever caught one sleeping, or saw
him tottering weakly on his long legs, as one so often sees our common
wild birds clinging feebly to a branch with their last grip? A Cape Cod
sailor once told me that, far out from land, his schooner had passed a
blue heron lying dead on the sea with outstretched wings. That is the
only heron that I have ever heard of who was found without all his wits
about him. Possibly, if Quoskh ever dies, it may suggest a solution to
the question of what becomes of him. With his last strength he may fly
boldly out to explore that great ocean mystery, along the borders of
which his ancestors for untold centuries lived and moved, back and
forth, back and forth, on their endless, unnecessary migrations,
restless, unsatisfied, wandering, as if the voice of the sea were
calling them whither they dared not follow.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just behind my tent on the big lake, one summer, a faint, woodsy little
trail wandered away into the woods, with endless turnings and twistings,
and without the faintest indication anywhere, till you reached the very
end, whither it intended going. This little trail was always full of
interesting surprises. Red squirrels peeked down at you over the edge of
a limb, chattering volubly and getting into endless mischief along its
borders. Moose birds flitted silently over it on their mysterious
errands. Now a jumping, smashing, crackling rush through the underbrush
halts you suddenly, with quick beating heart, as you climb over one of
the many windfalls across your path. A white flag followed by another
little one, flashing, rising, sinking and rising again over the fallen
timber, tells you that a doe and her fawn were lying behind the
windfall, all unconscious of your quiet approach. Again, at a turn of
the trail, something dark, gray, massive looms before you, blocking the
faint path; and as you stop short and shrink behind the nearest tree, a
huge head and antlers swing toward you, with widespread nostrils and
keen, dilating eyes, and ears like two trumpets pointing straight at
your head--a bull moose, _sh!_

For a long two minutes he stands there motionless, watching the new
creature that he has never seen before; and it will be well for you to
keep perfectly quiet and let him surrender the path when he is so
disposed. Motion on your part may bring him nearer to investigate; and
you can never know at what slight provocation the red danger light will
blaze into his eyes. At last he moves away, quietly at first, turning
often to look and to make trumpets of his ears at you. Then he lays his
great antlers back on his shoulders, sticks his nose far up ahead of
him, and with long, smooth strides lunges away over the windfalls and is
gone.

So every day the little trail had some new surprise for you,--owl, or
hare, or prickly porcupine rattling his quills, like a quiver of arrows,
and proclaiming his Indian name, _Unk-wunk! Unk-wunk!_ as he loafed
along. When you had followed far, and were sure that the loitering trail
had certainly lost itself, it crept at last under a dark hemlock; and
there, through an oval frame of rustling, whispering green, was the
loneliest, loveliest little deer-haunted beaver pond in the world, where
Quoskh lived with his mate and his little ones.

The first time I came down the trail and peeked through the oval frame
of bushes, I saw him; and the very first glimpse made me jump at the
thought of what a wonderful discovery I had made, namely, that little
herons play with dolls, as children do. But I was mistaken. Quoskh had
been catching frogs and hiding them, one by one, as I came along. He
heard me before I knew he was there, and jumped for his last frog, a big
fat one, with which he slanted up heavily on broad vans--with a hump on
his back and a crook in his neck and his long legs trailing below and
behind--towards his nest in the hemlock, beyond the beaver pond. When I
saw him plainly he was just crossing the oval frame through which I
looked. He had gripped the frog across the middle in his long beak, much
as one would hold it with a pair of blunt shears, swelling it out at
either side, like a string tied tight about a pillow. The head and short
arms were forced up at one side, the limp legs dangled down on the
other, looking for all the world like a stuffed rag doll that Quoskh was
carrying home for his babies to play with.

Undoubtedly they liked the frog much better; but my curious thought
about them, in that brief romantic instant, gave me an interest in the
little fellows which was not satisfied till I climbed to the nest, long
afterwards, and saw them, and how they lived.

When I took to studying Quoskh, so as to know him more intimately, I
found a fascinating subject; not simply because of his queer ways, but
also because of his extreme wariness and the difficulties I met in
catching him doing things. Quoskh K'sobeqh was the name that at first
seemed most appropriate, till I had learned his habits and how best to
get the weather of him--which happened only two or three times in the
course of a whole summer.

One morning I went early to the beaver pond and sat down against a gray
stump on the shore, with berry bushes growing to my shoulders all about
me. "Now I shall keep still and see everything that comes," I thought,
"and nothing, not even a blue jay, will see me."

That was almost true. Little birds, that had never seen a man in the
woods before, came for the berries and billed them off within six feet
of my face before they noticed anything unusual. When they did see me
they would turn their heads so as to look at me, first with one eye,
then with the other, and shoot up at last, with a sharp _Burr!_ of their
tiny wings, to a branch over my head. There they would watch me keenly,
for a wink or a minute, according to their curiosity, then swoop down
and whirr their wings loudly in my face, so as to make me move and show
what I was.

Across a little arm of the pond, a stone's throw away, a fine buck came
to the water, put his muzzle into it, then began to fidget uneasily.
Some vague, subtle flavor of me floated across and made him uneasy,
though he knew not what I was. He kept tonguing his nostrils, as a cow
does, so as to moisten them and catch the scent of me better. On my
right, and nearer, a doe was feeding unconcernedly among the lily pads.
A mink ran, hopping and halting, along the shore at my feet, dodging in
and out among roots and rocks. Cheokhes always runs that way. He knows
how glistening black his coat is, how shining a mark he makes for owl
and hawk against the sandy shore; and so he never runs more than five
feet without dodging out of sight; and he always prefers the roots and
rocks that are blackest to travel on.

A kingfisher dropped with his musical _K'plop!_ into the shoal of
minnows that were rippling the water in their play just in front of me.
Farther out, a fishhawk came down heavily, _Souse!_ and rose with a big
chub. And none of these sharp-eyed wood folk saw me or knew that they
were watched. Then a wide, wavy, blue line, like a great Cupid's bow,
came gliding swiftly along the opposite bank of green, and Quoskh hove
into sight for his morning's fishing.

Opposite me, just where the buck had stood, he folded his great wings;
his neck crooked sharply; his long legs, which had been trailed
gracefully behind him in his swift flight, swung under him like two
pendulums as he landed lightly on the muddy shore. He knew his ground
perfectly; knew every stream and frog-haunted bay in the pond as one
knows his own village; yet no amount of familiarity with his
surroundings can ever sing lullaby to Quoskh's watchfulness. The instant
he landed he drew himself up straight, standing almost as tall as a man,
and let his keen glance run along every shore just once. His head, with
its bright yellow eye and long yellow beak glistening in the morning
light, veered and swung over his long neck like a gilded weather-vane on
a steeple. As the vane swung up the shore toward me I held my breath, so
as to be perfectly motionless, thinking I was hidden so well that no eye
could find me at that distance. As it swung past me slowly I chuckled,
thinking that Quoskh was deceived. I forgot altogether that a bird never
sees straight ahead. When his bill had moved some thirty degrees off my
nose, just enough so as to bring his left eye to bear, it stopped
swinging instantly.--He had seen me at the first glance, and knew that I
did not belong there.

For a long moment, while his keen eye seemed to look through and through
me, he never moved a muscle. One could easily have passed over him,
thinking him only one of the gray, wave-washed roots on the shore. Then
he humped himself together, in that indescribably awkward way that all
herons have at the beginning of their flight, slanted heavily up to the
highest tree on the shore, and stopped for a longer period on a dead
branch to look back at me. I had not moved so much as an eyelid;
nevertheless he saw me too plainly to trust me. Again he humped himself,
rose high over the tree-tops and bore away in strong, even, graceful
flight for a lonelier lake, where there was no man to watch or bother
him.

Far from disappointing me, this keenness of Quoskh only whetted my
appetite to know more about him, and especially to watch him, close at
hand, at his fishing. Near the head of the little bay, where frogs were
plenty, I built a screen of boughs under the low thick branches of a
spruce tree, and went away to watch other wood folk.

Next morning he did not come back; nor were there any fresh tracks of
his on the shore. This was my first intimation that Quoskh knows well
the rule of good fishermen, and does not harry a pool or a place too
frequently, however good the fishing. The third morning he came back;
and again the sixth evening; and then the ninth morning, alternating
with great regularity as long as I kept tabs on him. At other times I
would stumble upon him far afield, fishing in other lakes and streams;
or see him winging homeward, high over the woods, from waters far beyond
my ken; but these appearances were too irregular to count in a theory. I
have no doubt, however, that he fished the near-by waters with as great
regularity as he fished the beaver pond, and went wider afield only when
he wanted a bit of variety, or bigger frogs, as all fishermen do; or
when he had poor luck in satisfying the clamorous appetite of his
growing brood.

It was on the sixth afternoon that I had the best chance of studying his
queer ways of fishing. I was sitting in my little blind at the beaver
pond, waiting for a deer, when Quoskh came striding along the shore. He
would swing his weather-vane head till he saw a frog ahead, then stalk
him slowly, deliberately, with immense caution; as if he knew as well as
I how watchful the frogs are at his approach, and how quickly they dive
headlong for cover at the first glint of his stilt-like legs. Nearer and
nearer he would glide, standing motionless as a gray root when he
thought his game was watching him; then on again more cautiously,
bending far forward and drawing his neck back to the angle of greatest
speed and power for a blow. A quick start, a thrust like lightning--then
you would see him shake his frog savagely, beat it upon the nearest
stone or root, glide to a tuft of grass, hide his catch cunningly, and
go on unincumbered for the next stalk, his weather-vane swinging,
swinging in the ceaseless search for frogs, or possible enemies.

If the swirl of a fish among the sedges caught his keen eye, he would
change his tactics, letting his game come to him instead of stalking it,
as he did with the frogs. Whatever his position was, both feet down or
one foot raised for a stride, when the fish appeared, he never changed
it, knowing well that motion would only send his game hurriedly into
deeper water. He would stand sometimes for a half hour on one leg,
letting his head sink slowly down on his shoulders, his neck curled
back, his long sharp bill pointing always straight at the quivering line
which marked the playing fish, his eyes half closed till the right
moment came. Then you would see his long neck shoot down, hear the
splash and, later, the whack of his catch against the nearest root, to
kill it; and watch with curious feelings of sympathy as he hid it in the
grass and covered it over, lest Hawahak the hawk should see, or Cheokhes
the mink smell it, and rob him while he fished.

If he were near his last catch, he would stride back and hide the two
together; if not, he covered it over in the nearest good place and went
on. No danger of his ever forgetting, however numerous the catch!
Whether he counts his frogs and fish, or simply remembers the different
hiding places, I have no means of knowing.

Sometimes, when I surprised him on a muddy shore and he flew away
without taking even one of his tidbits, I would follow his back track
and uncover his hiding places to see what he had caught. Frogs, fish,
pollywogs, mussels, a baby muskrat,--they were all there, each hidden
cunningly under a bit of dried grass and mud. And once I went away and
hid on the opposite shore to see if he would come back. After an hour or
more he appeared, looking first at my tracks, then at all the shore with
greater keenness than usual; then he went straight to three different
hiding places that I had found, and two more that I had not seen, and
flew away to his nest, a fringe of frogs and fish hanging at either side
of his long bill as he went.

He had arranged them on the ground like the spokes of a wheel, as a fox
does, heads all out on either side, and one leg or the tail of each
crossed in a common pile in the middle; so that he could bite down over
the crossed members and carry the greatest number of little frogs and
fish with the least likelihood of dropping any in his flight.

The mussels which he found were invariably, I think, eaten as his own
particular tidbits; for I never saw him attempt to carry them away,
though once I found two or three where he had hidden them. Generally he
could crack their shells easily by blows of his powerful beak, or by
whacking them against a root; and so he had no need (and probably no
knowledge) of the trick, which every gull knows, of mounting up to a
height with some obstinate hardshell and dropping it on a rock to crack
it.

If Quoskh were fishing for his own dinner, instead of for his hungry
nestlings, he adopted different tactics. For them he was a hunter, sly,
silent, crafty, stalking his game by approved still-hunting methods; for
himself he was the true fisherman, quiet, observant, endlessly patient.
He seemed to know that for himself he could afford to take his time and
be comfortable, knowing that all things, especially fish, come to him
who waits long enough; while for his little ones he must hurry, else
their croakings from too long fasting would surely bring hungry,
unwelcome prowlers to the big nest in the hemlock.

Once I saw him fishing in a peculiar way, which reminded me instantly of
the chumming process with which every mackerel fisherman on the coast is
familiar. He caught a pollywog for bait, with which he waded to a deep,
cool place under a shady bank. There he whacked his pollywog into small
bits and tossed them into the water, where the chum speedily brought a
shoal of little fish to feed. Quoskh meanwhile stood in the shadow,
where he would not be noticed, knee-deep in water, his head drawn down
into his shoulders, and a friendly leafy branch bending over him to
screen him from prying eyes. As a fish swam up to his chum he would
spear it like lightning; throw his head back and wriggle it head-first
down his long neck; then settle down to watch for the next one. And
there he stayed, alternately watching and feasting, till he had enough;
when he drew his head farther down into his shoulders, shut his eyes,
and went fast asleep in the cool shadows,--a perfect picture of fishing
indolence and satisfaction.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I went to the nest and hid myself in the underbrush to watch, day
after day, I learned more of Quoskh's fishing and hunting. The nest was
in a great evergreen, in a gloomy swamp,--a villainous place of bogs and
treacherous footing, with here and there a little island of large trees.
On one of these islands a small colony of herons were nesting. During
the day they trailed far afield, scattering widely, each pair to its own
particular fishing grounds; but when the shadows grew long, and night
prowlers stirred abroad, the herons came trailing back again, making
curious, wavy, graceful lines athwart the sunset glow, to croak and be
sociable together, and help each other watch the long night out.

[Illustration]

Quoskh the Watchful--I could tell my great bird's mate by sight or
hearing from all others, either by her greater size or a peculiar double
croak she had--had hidden her nest in the top of a great green hemlock.
Near by, in the high crotch of a dead tree, was another nest, which she
had built, evidently, years before and added to each successive spring,
only to abandon it at last for the evergreen. Both birds used to go to
the old nest freely; and I have wondered since if it were not a bit of
great shrewdness on their part to leave it there in plain sight, where
any prowler might see and climb to it; while the young were securely
hidden, meanwhile, in the top of the near-by hemlock, where they could
see without being seen. Only at a distance could you find the nest. When
under the hemlock, the mass of branches screened it perfectly, and your
attention was wholly taken by the other nest, standing out in bold
relief in the dead tree-top.

Such wisdom, if wisdom it were and not chance, is gained only by
experience. It took at least one brood of young herons, sacrificed to
the appetite of lucivee or fisher, to teach Quoskh the advantage of that
decoy nest to tempt hungry prowlers upon the bare tree hole where she
could have a clear field to spear them with her powerful bill and beat
them down with her great wings before they should discover their
mistake.

By watching the birds through my glass as they came to the young, I
could generally tell what kind of game was afoot for their following.
Once a long snake hung from the mother bird's bill; once it was a bird
of some kind; twice she brought small animals, whose species I could not
make out in the brief moment of alighting on the nest's edge,--all these
besides the regular fare of fish and frogs, of which I took no account.
And then, one day while I lay in my hiding, I saw the mother heron slide
swiftly down from the nest, make a sharp wheel over the lake, and plunge
into the fringe of berry bushes on the shore after some animal that her
keen eyes had caught moving. There was a swift rustling in the bushes, a
blow of her wing to head off a runaway, two or three lightning thrusts
of her javelin beak; then she rose heavily, taking a leveret with her;
and I saw her pulling it to pieces awkwardly on the nest to feed her
hungry little ones.

It was partly to see these little herons, the thought of which had
fascinated me ever since I had seen Quoskh taking home what I thought,
at first glance, was a rag doll for them to play with, and partly to
find out more of Quoskh's hunting habits by seeing what he brought home,
that led me at last to undertake the difficult task of climbing the huge
tree to the nest. One day when the mother had brought home some unknown
small animal--a mink, I thought--I came suddenly out of my hiding and
crossed over to the nest. It had always fascinated me. Under it, at
twilight, I had heard the mother heron croaking softly to her little
ones--a husky lullaby, but sweet enough to them--and then, as I paddled
away, I would see the nest dark against the sunset with Mother Quoskh
standing over it, a tall, graceful silhouette against the glory of
twilight, keeping sentinel watch over her little ones. Now I would solve
the mystery of the high nest by looking into it.

The mother, alarmed by my sudden appearance,--she had no idea that she
had been watched,--shot silently away, hoping I would not notice her
home through the dense screen of branches. I climbed up with difficulty;
but not till I was within ten feet could I make out the mass of sticks
above me. The surroundings were getting filthy and evil-smelling by this
time; for Quoskh teaches the young herons to keep their nest perfectly
clean by throwing all refuse over the sides of the great home. A dozen
times I had watched the mother birds of the colony push their little
ones to the edge of the nest to teach them this rule of cleanliness, so
different from most other birds.

As I hesitated about pushing through the filth-laden branches, something
bright on the edge of the nest caught my attention. It was a young
heron's eye looking down at me over a long bill, watching my approach
with a keenness that was but thinly disguised by the half-drawn eyelids.
I had to go round the tree at this point for a standing on a larger
branch; and when I looked up, there was another eye watching down over
another long bill. So, however I turned, they watched me closely getting
nearer and nearer, till I reached up my hand to touch the nest. Then
there was a harsh croak. Three long necks reached down suddenly over the
edge of the nest on the side where I was; three long bills opened wide
just over my head; and three young herons grew suddenly seasick, as if
they had swallowed ipecac.

[Illustration]

I never saw the inside of that home. At the moment I was in too much of
a hurry to get down and wash in the lake; and after that, so large were
the young birds, so keen and powerful the beaks, that no man or beast
might expect to look over the edge of the nest, with hands or paws
engaged in holding on, and keep his eyes for a single instant. It is
more dangerous to climb for young herons than for young eagles. A heron
always strikes for the eye, and his blow means blindness or death,
unless you watch like a cat and ward it off.

When I saw the young again they were taking their first lessons. A
dismal croaking in the tree-tops attracted me, and I came over
cautiously to see what my herons were doing. The young were standing up
on the big nest, stretching necks and wings, and croaking hungrily;
while the mother stood on a tree-top some distance away, showing them
food and telling them plainly, in heron language, to come and get it.
They tried it after much coaxing and croaking; but their long, awkward
toes missed their hold upon the slender branch on which she was
balancing delicately--just as she expected it to happen. As they fell,
flapping lustily, she shot down ahead of them and led them in a long,
curving slant to an open spot on the shore. There she fed them with the
morsels she held in her beak; brought more food from a tuft of grass
where she had hidden it, near at hand; praised them with gurgling croaks
till they felt some confidence on their awkward legs; then the whole
family started up the shore on their first frogging expedition.

It was intensely interesting for a man who, as a small boy, had often
gone a-frogging himself--to catch big ones for a woodsy corn roast, or
little ones for pickerel bait--to sit now on a bog and watch the little
herons try their luck. Mother Quoskh went ahead cautiously, searching
the lily pads; the young trailed behind her awkwardly, lifting their
feet like a Shanghai rooster and setting them down with a splash to
scare every frog within hearing, exactly where the mother's foot had
rested a moment before. So they went on, the mother's head swinging like
a weather-vane to look far ahead, the little ones stretching their necks
so as to peek by her on either side, full of wonder at the new world,
full of hunger for things that grew there, till a startled young frog
said _K'tung!_ from behind a lily bud, where they did not see him, and
dove headlong into the mud, leaving a long, crinkly, brown trail to tell
exactly how far he had gone.

A frog is like an ostrich. When he sees nothing, because his head is
hidden, he thinks nothing can see him. At the sudden alarm Mother Quoskh
would stretch her neck, watching the frog's flight; then turn her head
so that her long bill pointed directly at the bump on the muddy bottom,
which marked the hiding place of Chigwooltz, and croak softly as a
signal. At the sound one of the young herons would hurry forward
eagerly; follow his mother's bill, which remained motionless, pointing
all the while; twist his head till he saw the frog's back in the mud,
and then lunge at it like lightning. Generally he got his frog, and
through your glass you would see the unfortunate creature wriggling and
kicking his way into Quoskh's yellow beak. If the lunge missed, the
mother's keen eye followed the frog's frantic rush through the mud, with
a longer trail this time behind him, till he hid again; whereupon she
croaked the same youngster up for another try, and then the whole family
moved jerkily along, like a row of boys on stilts, to the next clump of
lily pads.

As the young grew older and stronger on their legs, I noticed the
rudiments, at least, of a curious habit of dancing, which seems to
belong to most of our long-legged wading birds. Sometimes, sitting
quietly in my canoe, I would see the young birds sail down in a long
slant to the shore. Immediately on alighting, before they gave any
thought to frogs or fish or carnal appetite, they would hop up and down,
balancing, swaying, spreading their wings, and hopping again round about
each other, as if bewitched. A few moments of this crazy performance,
and then they would stalk sedately along the shore, as if ashamed of
their ungainly levity; but at any moment the ecstasy might seize them
and they would hop again, as if they simply could not help it. This
occurred generally towards evening, when the birds had fed full and
were ready for play or for stretching their broad wings in preparation
for the long autumn flight.

Watching them, one evening, I remembered suddenly a curious scene that I
had stumbled upon when a boy. I had seen a great blue heron sail
croaking, croaking, into an arm of the big pond where I was catching
bullpouts, and crept down through dense woods to find out what he was
croaking about. Instead of one, I found eight or ten of the great birds
on an open shore, hopping ecstatically through some kind of a crazy
dance. A twig snapped as I crept nearer, and they scattered in instant
flight. It was September, and the instinct to flock and to migrate was
at work among them. When they came together for the first time some dim,
old remembrance of generations long gone by--the shreds of an ancient
instinct, whose meaning we can only guess at--had set them to dancing
wildly; though I doubted at the time whether they understood much what
they were doing.

[Illustration]

Perhaps I was wrong in this. Watching the young birds at their ungainly
hopping, the impulse to dance seemed uncontrollable; yet they were
immensely dignified about it at times; and again they appeared to get
some fun out of it--as much, perhaps, as we do out of some of our
peculiar dances, of which a visiting Chinaman once asked innocently:
"Why don't you let your servants do it for you?"

I have seen little green herons do the same thing in the woods at mating
time; and once, in the Zoölogical Gardens at Antwerp, I saw a
magnificent hopping performance by some giant cranes from Africa. Our
own sand-hill and whooping cranes are notorious dancers; and undoubtedly
it is more or less instinctive with all the tribes of the cranes and
herons, from the least to the greatest. But what the instinct
means--unless, like our own dancing, it is a pure bit of
pleasure-making, as crows play games and loons swim races--nobody can
tell.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the young were fully grown, and while yet they were following the
mother to learn the ways of frogging and fishing, a startling thing
occurred which made me ever afterwards look up to Quoskh with honest
admiration. I was still-fishing in the middle of the big lake, one late
afternoon, when Quoskh and her little ones sailed over the trees from
the beaver pond and lit on a grassy shore. A shallow little brook stole
into the lake there, and Mother Quoskh left her young to frog for
themselves, while she went fishing up the brook under the alders. I was
watching the young herons through my glass when I saw a sudden rush in
the tall grass near them. All three humped themselves, heron fashion, on
the instant. Two got away safely; the other had barely spread his wings
when a black animal leaped out of the grass for his neck and pulled him
down, flapping and croaking desperately.

I pulled up my killick on the instant and paddled over to see what was
going on, and what the creature was that had leaped out of the grass.
Before my paddle had swung a dozen strokes I saw the alders by the brook
open swiftly, and Mother Quoskh sailed out and drove like an arrow
straight at the struggling wing tips, which still flapped spasmodically
above the grass. Almost before her feet had dropped to a solid landing
she struck two fierce, blinding, downward blows of her great wings. Her
neck curved back and shot straight out, driving the keen six-inch bill
before it, quicker than ever a Roman arm drove its javelin. Above the
_lap-lap_ of my canoe I heard a savage cry of pain; the same black
animal leaped up out of the tangled grass, snapping for the neck; and a
desperate battle began, with short gasping croaks and snarls that made
caution unnecessary as I sped over to see who the robber was, and how
Quoskh was faring in the good fight.

The canoe shot up behind a point where, looking over the low bank, I had
the arena directly under my eye. The animal was a fisher--black-cat the
trappers call him--the most savage and powerful fighter of his size in
the whole world, I think. In the instant that I first saw him, quicker
than thought he had hurled himself twice at the towering bird's breast.
Each time he was met by a lightning blow in the face from Quoskh's
stiffened wing. His teeth ground the big quills to pulp; his claws tore
them into shreds; but he got no grip in the feathery mass, and he
slipped, clawing and snarling, into the grass, only to spring again like
a flash. Again the stiff wing blow; but this time his jump was higher;
one claw gripped the shoulder, tore its way through flying feathers to
the bone, while his weight dragged the big bird down. Then Quoskh
shortened her neck in a great curve. Like a snake it glided over the
edge of her own wing for two short, sharp down-thrusts of the deadly
javelin--so quick that my eye caught only the double yellow flash of it.
With a sharp screech the black-cat leaped away and whirled towards me
blindly. One eye was gone; an angry red welt showed just over the
other, telling how narrowly the second thrust had missed its mark.

A shiver ran over me as I remembered how nearly I had once come myself
to the black-cat's condition, and from the same keen weapon. I was a
small boy at the time, following a big, good-natured hunter that I met
in the woods, one day, from pure love of the wilds and for the glory of
carrying the game bag. He shot a great blue heron, which fell with a
broken wing into some soft mud and water grass. Carelessly he sent me to
fetch it, not caring to wet his own feet. As I ran up, the heron lay
resting quietly, his neck drawn back, his long keen bill pointing always
straight at my face. I had never seen so big a bird before, and bent
over him wondering at his long bill, admiring his intensely bright eye.

I did not know then--what I have since learned well--that you can always
tell when the rush or spring or blow of any beast or bird--or of any
man, for that matter--will surely come by watching the eye closely.
There is a fire that blazes in the eye before the blow comes, before
ever a muscle has stirred to do the brain's quick bidding. As I bent
over, fascinated by the keen, bright look of the wounded bird, and
reached down my hand to pick him up, there was a flash deep in the eye,
like the glint of sunshine from a mirror, and I dodged instinctively.
Well for me that I did so. Something shot by my face like lightning,
opening up a long red gash across my left temple from eye-brow to ear.
As I jumped I heard a careless laugh. "Look out, Sonny, he may bite
you--Gosh! what a close call!" And with a white, scared face, as he saw
the ugly wound that the heron's beak had opened, he dragged me away as
if there had been a bear in the water grass.

The black-cat had not yet received punishment enough. He is one of the
largest of the weasel family, and has a double measure of the weasel's
savageness and tenacity. He darted about the heron in a quick, nervous,
jumping circle, looking for an opening behind; while Quoskh lifted her
great torn wings as a shield and turned slowly on the defensive, so as
always to face the danger. A dozen times the fisher jumped, filling the
air with feathers; a dozen times the stiffened wings struck down to
intercept his spring, and every blow was followed by a swift javelin
thrust. Then, as the fisher crouched snarling in the grass, off his
guard for an instant, I saw Mother Quoskh take a sudden step forward,
her first offensive move--just as I had seen her twenty times at the
finish of a frog stalk--and her bill shot down with the whole power
of her long neck behind it. A harsh screech of pain followed the swift
blow; then the fisher wobbled away with blind, uncertain jumps towards
the shelter of the woods.

[Illustration: "A DOZEN TIMES THE FISHER JUMPED, FILLING THE AIR WITH
FEATHERS"]

And now, with her savage enemy in full flight, a fierce, hot anger
seemed to flare within the mother heron, burning out all the previous
cool, calculating defense. Her wings heaved aloft, as the soldiers of
old threw up their shields in the moment of victory; while her whole
frame seemed to swell with power, like a hero whose fight is won. She
darted after the fisher, first on the run, then with heavy wing beats,
till she headed him and with savage blows of pinion and beak drove him
back, seeing nothing, guided only by fear and instinct, towards the
water. For five minutes more she chevied him hither and yon through the
trampled grass, driving him from water to bush and back again, jabbing
him at every turn; till a rustle of leaves invited him, and he dashed
blindly into thick underbrush, where her broad wings could not follow.
Then with marvelous watchfulness she saw me standing near in my canoe;
and without a thought, apparently, for the young heron lying so still in
the grass close beside her, she spread her torn wings and flapped away
heavily in the path of her more fortunate younglings.

I followed the fisher's trail into the woods and found him curled up in
a hollow stump. He made slight resistance as I pulled him out. All his
ferocity was already lulled to sleep in the vague, dreamy numbness which
Nature always sends to her stricken creatures. He suffered nothing,
apparently, though he was fearfully wounded; he just wanted to be let
alone. Both eyes were gone, and there was nothing left for me except to
finish mercifully what little Quoskh had left undone.

[Illustration]

When September came, and family cares were over, the colony beyond the
beaver pond scattered widely, returning each one to the shy, wild,
solitary life that Quoskh likes best. Almost anywhere, in the loneliest
places, I might come upon a solitary heron stalking frogs, or chumming
little fish, or treading the soft mud expectantly, like a clam digger,
to find where the mussels were hidden by means of his long toes; or
just standing still to enjoy the sleepy sunshine till the late afternoon
came, when he likes best to go abroad.

They slept no more on the big nest, standing like sentinels against the
twilight glow and the setting moon; but each one picked out a good spot
on the shore and slept as best he could on one leg, waiting for the
early fishing. It was astonishing how carefully even the young birds
picked out a safe position. By day they would stand like statues in the
shade of a bank or among the tall grasses, where they were almost
invisible by reason of their soft colors, and wait for hours for fish
and frogs to come to them. By night each one picked out a spot on the
clean open shore, off a point, generally, where he could see up and
down, where there was no grass to hide an enemy, and where the bushes on
the bank were far enough away so that he could hear the slight rustle of
leaves before the creature that made it was within springing distance.
And there he would sleep safe through the long night, unless disturbed
by my canoe or by some other prowler. Herons see almost as well by night
as by day, and their ears are keen as a weasel's; so I could never get
near enough to surprise them, however silently I paddled. I would hear
only a startled rush of wings, and then a questioning call as they
sailed over me before winging away to quieter beaches.

If I were jacking, with a light blazing brightly before me in my canoe,
to see what night folk I might surprise on the shore, Quoskh was the
only one for whom my jack had no fascination. Deer and moose, foxes and
wild ducks, frogs and fish,--all seemed equally charmed by the great
wonder of a light shining silently out of the vast darkness. I saw them
all, at different times, and glided almost up to them before timidity
drove them away from the strange bright marvel. But Quoskh was not to be
watched in that way, nor to be caught by any such trick. I would see a
vague form on the far edge of the light's pathway; catch the bright
flash of either eye as he swung his weather-vane head; then the vague
form would slide into the upper darkness. A moment's waiting; then,
above me and behind, where the light did not dazzle his eyes, I would
hear his night cry--with more of anger than of questioning in it--and as
I turned the jack upward I would catch a single glimpse of his broad
wings sailing over the lake. Nor would he ever come back, like the fox
on the bank, for a second look to be quite sure what I was.

When the bright, moonlit nights came, there was uneasiness in Quoskh's
wild breast. The solitary life that he loves best claimed him by day;
but at night the old gregarious instinct drew him again to his fellows.
Once, when drifting over the beaver pond through the delicate witchery
of the moonlight, I heard five or six of the great birds croaking
excitedly at the heronry, which they had deserted weeks before. The
lake, and especially the lonely little pond at the end of the trail, was
lovelier than ever before; but something in the south was calling him
away. I think that Quoskh was also moonstruck, as so many wild creatures
are; for, instead of sleeping quietly on the shore, he spent his time
circling aimlessly over the lake and woods, crying his name aloud, or
calling wildly to his fellows.

At midnight of the day before I broke camp, I was out on the lake for a
last paddle in the moonlight. The night was perfect,--clear, cool,
intensely still. Not a ripple broke the great burnished surface of the
lake; a silver pathway stretched away and away over the bow of my
gliding canoe, leading me on to where the great forest stood, silent,
awake, expectant, and flooded through all its dim, mysterious arches
with marvelous light. The wilderness never sleeps. If it grow silent, it
is to listen. To-night the woods were tense as a waiting fox, watching
to see what new thing would come out of the lake, or what strange
mystery would be born under their own soft shadows.

Quoskh was abroad too, bewitched by the moonlight. I heard him calling
and paddled down. He knew me long before he was anything more to me than
a voice of the night, and swept up to meet me. For the first time after
darkness fell I saw him--just a vague, gray shadow with edges touched
softly with silver light, which whirled once over my canoe and looked
down into it. Then he vanished; and from far over on the edge of the
waiting woods, where the mystery was deepest, came a cry, a challenge, a
riddle, the night's wild question which no man has ever yet
answered--_Quoskh? quoskh?_

[Illustration]



UNK WUNK THE PORCUPINE

[Illustration]


A rustling in the brakes just outside my little tent roused me from a
light slumber. There it was again! the push of some heavy animal trying
to move noiselessly through the tangle close at hand; while from the old
lumber camp in the midst of the clearing a low gnawing sound floated up
through the still night. I sat up quickly to listen; but at the slight
movement all was quiet again. The night prowlers had heard me and were
on their guard.

One need have no fear of things that come round in the night. They are
much shyer than you are, and can see you better; so that, if you blunder
towards them, they mistake your blindness for courage, and take to their
heels promptly. As I stepped out there was a double rush in some bushes
behind my tent, and by the light of a half-moon I caught one glimpse of
a bear and her cub jumping away for the shelter of the woods.

The gnawing still went on behind the old shanty by the river. "Another
cub!" I thought--for I was new to the big woods--and stole down to peek
by the corner of the camp, in whose yard I had pitched my tent the first
night out in the wilderness.

There was an old molasses hogshead lying just beyond the log camp, its
mouth looking black as ink in the moonlight, and the scratching-gnawing
sounds went on steadily within its shadow. "He's inside," I thought with
elation, "scraping off the crusted sugar. Now to catch him!"

I stole round the camp, so as to bring the closed end of the hogshead
between me and the prize, crept up breathlessly, and with a quick jerk
hove the old tub up on end, trapping the creature inside. There was a
thump, a startled scratching and rustling, a violent rocking of the
hogshead, which I tried to hold down; then all was silent in the trap.
"I've got him!" I thought, forgetting all about the old she-bear, and
shouted for Simmo to wake up and bring the ax.

We drove a ring of stakes close about the hogshead, weighted it down
with heavy logs, and turned in to sleep. In the morning, with cooler
judgment, we decided that a bear cub was too troublesome a pet to keep
in a tent; so I stood by with a rifle while Simmo hove off the logs and
cut the stakes, keeping a wary eye on me, meanwhile, to see how far he
might trust his life to my nerve in case the cub should be big and
troublesome; for an Indian takes no chances. A stake fell; the hogshead
toppled over by a push from within; Simmo sprang away with a yell; and
out wobbled a big porcupine, the biggest I ever saw, and tumbled away
straight towards my tent. After him went the Indian, making sweeping
cuts at the stupid thing with his ax, and grunting his derision at my
bear cub.

Halfway to the tent Unk Wunk stumbled across a bit of pork rind, and
stopped to nose it daintily. I caught Simmo's arm and stayed the blow
that would have made an end of my catch. Then, between us, Unk Wunk sat
up on his haunches, took the pork in his fore paws and sucked the salt
out of it, as if he had never a concern and never an enemy in the wide
world. A half hour later he loafed into my tent, where I sat repairing a
favorite salmon fly that some hungry sea-trout had torn to tatters, and
drove me unceremoniously out of my own bailiwick in his search for more
salt.

Such a philosopher, whom no prison can dispossess of his peace of mind,
and whom no danger can deprive of his simple pleasures, deserves more
consideration than the naturalists have ever given him. I resolved on
the spot to study him more carefully. As if to discourage all such
attempts and make himself a target for my rifle, he nearly spoiled my
canoe the next night by gnawing a hole through the bark and ribs for
some suggestion of salt that only his greedy nose could possibly have
found.

Once I found him on the trail, some distance from camp, and, having
nothing better to do, I attempted to drive him home. My intention was to
share hospitality; to give him a bit of bacon, and then study him as I
ate my own dinner. He turned at the first suggestion of being driven,
came straight at my legs, and by a vicious slap of his tail left some of
his quills in me before I could escape. Then I drove him in the opposite
direction, whereupon he turned and bolted past me; and when I arrived at
camp he was busily engaged in gnawing the end from Simmo's ax handle.

However you take him, Unk Wunk is one of the mysteries. He is a
perpetual question scrawled across the forest floor, which nobody
pretends to answer; a problem that grows only more puzzling as you study
to solve it.

Of all the wild creatures he is the only one that has no intelligent
fear of man, and that never learns, either by instinct or experience,
to avoid man's presence. He is everywhere in the wilderness, until he
changes what he would call his mind; and then he is nowhere, and you
cannot find him. He delights in solitude, and cares not for his own
kind; yet now and then you will stumble upon a whole convention of
porcupines at the base of some rocky hill, each one loafing around,
rattling his quills, grunting his name _Unk Wunk! Unk Wunk!_ and doing
nothing else all day long.

You meet him to-day, and he is timid as a rabbit; to-morrow he comes
boldly into your tent and drives you out, if you happen to be caught
without a club handy. He never has anything definite to do, nor any
place to go to; yet stop him at any moment and he will risk his life to
go just a foot farther. Now try to drive or lead him another foot in the
same direction, and he will bolt back, as full of contrariness as two
pigs on a road, and let himself be killed rather than go where he was
heading a moment before. He is perfectly harmless to every creature; yet
he lies still and kills the savage fisher that attacks him, or even the
big Canada lynx, that no other creature in the woods would dare to
tackle.

Above all these puzzling contradictions is the prime question of how
Nature ever produced such a creature, and what she intended doing with
him; for he seems to have no place nor use in the natural economy of
things. Recently the Maine legislature has passed a bill forbidding the
shooting of porcupines, on the curious ground that he is the only wild
animal that can easily be caught and killed without a gun; so that a man
lost in the woods need not starve to death but may feed on porcupine, as
the Indians sometimes do. This is the only suggestion thus far, from a
purely utilitarian standpoint, that Unk Wunk is no mistake, but may have
his uses.

Once, to test the law and to provide for possible future contingencies,
I added Unk Wunk to my bill of fare--a vile, malodorous suffix that
might delight a lover of strong cheese. It is undoubtedly a good law;
but I cannot now imagine any one being grateful for it, unless the stern
alternative were death or porcupine.

The prowlers of the woods would eat him gladly enough, but that they are
sternly forbidden. They cannot even touch him without suffering the
consequences. It would seem as if Nature, when she made this block of
stupidity in a world of wits, provided for him tenderly, as she would
for a half-witted or idiot child. He is the only wild creature for whom
starvation has no terrors. All the forest is his storehouse. Buds and
tender shoots delight him in their season; and when the cold becomes
bitter in its intensity, and the snow packs deep, and all other
creatures grow gaunt and savage in their hunger, Unk Wunk has only to
climb the nearest tree, chisel off the rough, outer shell with his
powerful teeth, and then feed full on the soft inner layer of bark,
which satisfies him perfectly and leaves him as fat as an alderman.

Of hungry beasts Unk Wunk has no fear whatever. Generally they let him
severely alone, knowing that to touch him would be more foolish than to
mouth a sunfish or to bite a Peter-grunter. If, driven by hunger in the
killing March days, they approach him savagely, he simply rolls up and
lies still, protected by an armor that only a steel glove might safely
explore, and that has no joint anywhere visible to the keenest eye.

Now and then some cunning lynx or weasel, wise from experience but
desperate with hunger, throws himself flat on the ground, close by Unk
Wunk, and works his nose cautiously under the terrible bur, searching
for the neck or the underside of the body, where there are no quills.
One grip of the powerful jaws, one taste of blood in the famished throat
of the prowler--and that is the end of both animals. For Unk Wunk has a
weapon that no prowler of the woods ever calculates upon. His broad,
heavy tail is armed with hundreds of barbs, smaller but more deadly than
those on his back; and he swings this weapon with the vicious sweep of
a rattlesnake. It is probably this power of driving his barbs home by a
lightning blow of his tail that has given rise to the curious delusion
that Unk Wunk can shoot his quills at a distance, as if he were filled
with compressed air--which is, of course, a harmless absurdity that
keeps people from meddling with him too closely.

Sometimes, when attacked, Unk Wunk covers his face with this weapon.
More often he sticks his head under a root or into a hollow log, leaving
his tail out ready for action. At the first touch of his enemy the tail
snaps right and left quicker than thought, driving the hostile head and
sides full of the deadly quills, from which there is no escape; for
every effort, every rub and writhe of pain, only drives them deeper and
deeper, till they rest in heart or brain and finish their work.

Mooween the bear is the only one of the wood folk who has learned the
trick of attacking Unk Wunk without injury to himself. If, when very
hungry, he finds a porcupine, he never attacks him directly,--he knows
too well the deadly sting of the barbs for that,--but bothers and
irritates the porcupine by flipping earth at him, until at last Unk Wunk
rolls all his quills outward and lies still. Then Mooween, with immense
caution, slides one paw under him and with a quick flip hurls him
against the nearest tree, and knocks the life out of him.

[Illustration: "BOTHERS AND IRRITATES THE PORCUPINE BY FLIPPING EARTH AT
HIM"]

If he find Unk Wunk in a tree, he will sometimes climb after him and,
standing as near as the upper limbs allow, will push and tug mightily to
shake him off. That is usually a vain attempt; for the creature that
sleeps sound and secure through a gale in the tree-tops has no concern
for the ponderous shakings of a bear. In that case Mooween, if he can
get near enough without risking a fall from too delicate branches, will
wrench off the limb on which Unk Wunk is sleeping and throw it to the
ground. That also is usually a vain proceeding; for before Mooween can
scramble down after his game, Unk Wunk is already up another tree and
sleeping, as if nothing had happened, on another branch.

Other prowlers, with less strength and cunning than Mooween, fare badly
when driven by famine to attack this useless creature of the woods, for
whom Nature nevertheless cares so tenderly. Trappers have told me that
in the late winter, when hunger is sharpest, they sometimes catch a
wild-cat or lynx or fisher in their traps with his mouth and sides full
of porcupine quills, showing to what straits he had been driven for
food. These rare trapped animals are but an indication of many a silent
struggle that only the trees and stars are witnesses of; and the
trapper's deadfall, with its quick, sure blow, is only a merciful ending
to what else had been a long, slow, painful trail, ending at last under
a hemlock tip with the snow for a covering.

Last summer, in a little glade in the wilderness, I found two skeletons,
one of a porcupine, the other of a large lynx, lying side by side. In
the latter three quills lay where the throat had once been; the shaft of
another stood firmly out of an empty eye orbit; a dozen more lay about
in such a way that one could not tell by what path they had entered the
body. It needed no great help of imagination to read the story here of a
starving lynx, too famished to remember caution, and of a dinner that
cost a life.

Once also I saw a curious bit of animal education in connection with Unk
Wunk. Two young owls had begun hunting, under direction of the mother
bird, along the foot of a ridge in the early twilight. From my canoe I
saw one of the young birds swoop downward at something in the bushes on
the shore. An instant later the big mother owl followed with a sharp,
angry _hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!_ of warning. The youngster dropped into the
bushes; but the mother fairly knocked him away from his game in her
fierce rush, and led him away silently into the woods. I went over on
the instant, and found a young porcupine in the bushes where the owl had
swooped, while two more were eating lily stems farther along the shore.

Evidently Kookooskoos, who swoops by instinct at everything that moves,
must be taught by wiser heads the wisdom of letting certain things
severely alone.

That he needs this lesson was clearly shown by an owl that my friend
once shot at twilight. There was a porcupine quill imbedded for nearly
its entire length in his leg. Two more were slowly working their way
into his body; and the shaft of another projected from the corner of his
mouth like a toothpick. Whether he were a young owl and untaught, or
whether, driven by hunger, he had thrown counsel to the winds and
swooped at Unk Wunk, will never be known. That he should attack so large
an animal as the porcupine would seem to indicate that, like the lynx,
hunger had probably driven him beyond all consideration for his mother's
teaching.

Unk Wunk, on his part, knows so very little that it may fairly be
doubted whether he ever had the discipline of the school of the woods.
Whether he rolls himself into a chestnut bur by instinct, as the possum
plays dead, or whether that is a matter of slow learning is yet to be
discovered. Whether his dense stupidity, Which disarms his enemies and
brings him safe out of a hundred dangers where wits would fail, is,
like the possum's blank idiocy, only a mask for the deepest wisdom; or
whether he is quite as stupid as he acts and looks, is also a question.

More and more I incline to the former possibility. He has learned
unconsciously the strength of lying still. A thousand generations of fat
and healthy porcupines have taught him the folly of trouble and rush and
worry in a world that somebody else has planned, and for which somebody
else is plainly responsible. So he makes no effort and lives in profound
peace. But this also leaves you with a question which may take you
overseas to explore Hindu philosophy. Indeed, if you have one question
when you meet Unk Wunk for the first time, you will have twenty after
you have studied him for a season or two. His paragraph in the woods'
journal begins and ends with a question mark, and a dash for what is
left unsaid.

The only indication of deliberate plan and effort that I have ever noted
in Unk Wunk was in regard to teaching two young ones the simple art of
swimming,--which porcupines, by the way, rarely use, and for which there
seems to be no necessity. I was drifting along the shore in my canoe
when I noticed a mother porcupine and two little ones, a prickly pair
indeed, on a log that reached out into the lake. She had brought them
there to make her task of weaning them more easy by giving them a taste
of lily buds. When they had gathered and eaten all the buds and stems
that they could reach, she deliberately pushed both little ones into the
water. When they attempted to scramble back she pushed them off again,
and dropped in beside them and led them to a log farther down the shore,
where there were more lily pads.

The numerous hollow quills floated them high in the water, like so many
corks, and they paddled off with less effort than any other young
animals that I have ever seen in the water. But whether this were a
swimming lesson, or a rude direction to shift and browse for themselves,
is still a question. With the exception of one solitary old genius, who
had an astonishing way of amusing himself and scaring all the other wood
folk, this was the only plain bit of fore-thought and sweet
reasonableness that I have ever found in a porcupine.

[Illustration]



A LAZY FELLOW'S FUN

[Illustration]


A new sound, a purring rustle of leaves, stopped me instantly as I
climbed the beech ridge, one late afternoon, to see what wood folk I
might surprise feeding on the rich mast. _Pr-r-r-r-ush, pr-r-r-r-ush!_ a
curious combination of the rustling of squirrels' feet and the soft,
crackling purr of an eagle's wings, growing nearer, clearer every
instant. I slipped quietly behind the nearest tree to watch and listen.

Something was coming down the hill; but what? It was not an animal
running. No animal that I knew, unless he had gone suddenly crazy, would
ever make such a racket to tell everybody where he was. It was not
squirrels playing, nor grouse scratching among the new-fallen leaves.
Their alternate rustlings and silences are unmistakable. It was not a
bear shaking down the ripe beechnuts--not heavy enough for that, yet too
heavy for the feet of any prowler of the woods to make on his stealthy
hunting. _Pr-r-r-r-ush, swish! thump!_ Something struck the stem of a
bush heavily and brought down a rustling shower of leaves; then out from
under the low branches rolled something that I had never seen before,--a
heavy, grayish ball, as big as a half-bushel basket, so covered over
with leaves that one could not tell what was inside. It was as if some
one had covered a big kettle with glue and sent it rolling down the
hill, picking up dead leaves as it went. So the queer thing tumbled past
my feet, purring, crackling, growing bigger and more ragged every moment
as it gathered up more leaves, till it reached the bottom of a sharp
pitch and lay still.

I stole after it cautiously. Suddenly it moved, unrolled itself. Then
out of the ragged mass came a big porcupine. He shook himself,
stretched, wobbled around a moment, as if his long roll had made him
dizzy; then he meandered aimlessly along the foot of the ridge, his
quills stuck full of dead leaves, looking big and strange enough to
frighten anything that might meet him in the woods.

Here was a new trick, a new problem concerning one of the stupidest of
all the wood folk. When you meet a porcupine and bother him, he usually
rolls himself into a huge pincushion with all its points outward, covers
his face with his thorny tail, and lies still, knowing well that you
cannot touch him anywhere without getting the worst of it. Now had he
been bothered by some animal and rolled himself up where it was so steep
that he lost his balance, and so tumbled unwillingly down the long hill;
or, with his stomach full of sweet beechnuts, had he rolled down lazily
to avoid the trouble of walking; or is Unk Wunk brighter than he looks
to discover the joy of roller coasting and the fun of feeling dizzy
afterwards?

There was nothing on the hill above, no rustle or suggestion of any
hunting animal to answer the question; so I followed Unk Wunk on his
aimless wanderings along the foot of the ridge.

A slight movement far ahead caught my eye, and I saw a hare gliding and
dodging among the brown ferns. He came slowly in our direction, hopping
and halting and wiggling his nose at every bush, till he heard our
approach and rose on his hind legs to listen. He gave a great jump as
Unk Wunk hove into sight, covered all over with the dead leaves that
his barbed quills had picked up on his way downhill, and lay quiet where
he thought the ferns would hide him.

The procession drew nearer. Moktaques, full of curiosity, lifted his
head cautiously out of the ferns and sat up straight on his haunches
again, his paws crossed, his eyes shining in fear and curiosity at the
strange animal rustling along and taking the leaves with him. For a
moment wonder held him as still as the stump beside him; then he bolted
into the bush in a series of high, scared jumps, and I heard him
scurrying crazily in a half circle around us.

[Illustration]

Unk Wunk gave no heed to the interruption, but yew-yawed hither and yon
after his stupid nose. Like every other porcupine that I have followed,
he seemed to have nothing whatever to do, and nowhere in the wide world
to go. He loafed along lazily, too full to eat any of the beechnuts
that he nosed daintily out of the leaves. He tried a bit of bark here
and there, only to spit it out again. Once he started up the hill; but
it was too steep for a lazy fellow with a full stomach. Again he tried
it; but it was not steep enough to roll down afterwards. Suddenly he
turned and came back to see who it was that followed him about.

I kept very quiet, and he brushed two or three times past my legs,
eyeing me sleepily. Then he took to nosing a beechnut from under my
foot, as if I were no more interesting than Alexander was to Diogenes.

I had never made friends with a porcupine,--he is too briery a fellow
for intimacies,--but now with a small stick I began to search him
gently, wondering if, under all that armor of spears and brambles, I
might not find a place where it would please him to be scratched. At the
first touch he rolled himself together, all his spears sticking straight
out on every side, like a huge chestnut bur. One could not touch him
anywhere without being pierced by a dozen barbs. Gradually, however, as
the stick touched him gently and searched out the itching spots under
his armor, he unrolled himself and put his nose under my foot again. He
did not want the beechnut; but he did want to nose it out. Unk Wunk is
like a pig. He has very few things to do besides eating; but when he
does start to go anywhere or do anything he always does it. Then I bent
down to touch him with my hand.

That was a mistake. He felt the difference in the touch instantly. Also
he smelled the salt in my hand, for a taste of which Unk Wunk will put
aside all his laziness and walk a mile, if need be. He tried to grasp
the hand, first with his paws, then with his mouth; but I had too much
fear of his great cutting teeth to let him succeed. Instead I touched
him behind the ears, feeling my way gingerly through the thick tangle of
spines, testing them cautiously to see how easily they would pull out.

The quills were very loosely set in, and every arrowheaded barb was as
sharp as a needle. Anything that pressed against them roughly would
surely be pierced; the spines would pull out of the skin, and work their
way rapidly into the unfortunate hand or paw or nose that touched them.
Each spine was like a South Sea Islander's sword, set for half its
length with shark's teeth. Once in the flesh it would work its own way,
unless pulled out with a firm hand spite of pain and terrible
laceration. No wonder Unk Wunk has no fear or anxiety when he rolls
himself into a ball, protected at every point by such terrible weapons.

The hand moved very cautiously as it went down his side, within reach of
Unk Wunk's one swift weapon. There were thousands of the spines, rough
as a saw's edge, crossing each other in every direction, yet with every
point outward. Unk Wunk was irritated, probably, because he could not
have the salt he wanted. As the hand came within range, his tail snapped
back like lightning. I was watching for the blow, but was not half quick
enough. At the rustling snap, like the voice of a steel trap, I jerked
my hand away. Two of his tail spines came with it; and a dozen more were
in my coat sleeve. I jumped away as he turned, and so escaped the quick
double swing of his tail at my legs. Then he rolled into a chestnut bur
again, and proclaimed mockingly at every point: "Touch me if you dare!"

I pulled the two quills with sharp jerks out of my hand, pushed all the
others through my coat sleeve, and turned to Unk Wunk again, sucking my
wounded hand, which pained me intensely. "All your own fault," I kept
telling myself, to keep from whacking him across the nose, his one
vulnerable point, with my stick.

Unk Wunk, on his part, seemed to have forgotten the incident. He
unrolled himself slowly and loafed along the foot of the ridge, his
quills spreading and rustling as he went, as if there were not such a
thing as an enemy or an inquisitive man in all the woods.

He had an idea in his head by this time and was looking for something.
As I followed close behind him, he would raise himself against a small
tree, survey it solemnly for a moment or two, and go on unsatisfied. A
breeze had come down from the mountain and was swaying all the tree-tops
above him. He would look up steadily at the tossing branches, and then
hurry on to survey the next little tree he met, with paws raised against
the trunk and dull eyes following the motion overhead.

At last he found what he wanted,--two tall saplings growing close
together and rubbing each other as the wind swayed them. He climbed one
of these clumsily, higher and higher, till the slender top bent with his
weight towards the other. Then he reached out to grasp the second top
with his fore paws, hooked his hind claws firmly into the first, and lay
there binding the tree-tops together, while the wind rose and began to
rock him in his strange cradle.

Wider and wilder he swung, now stretched out thin, like a rubber string,
his quills lying hard and flat against his sides as the tree-tops
separated in the wind; now jammed up against himself as they came
together again, pressing him into a flat ring with spines sticking
straight out, like a chestnut bur that has been stepped upon. And there
he swayed for a full hour, till it grew too dark to see him, stretching,
contracting, stretching, contracting, as if he were an accordion and the
wind were playing him. His only note, meanwhile, was an occasional
squealing grunt of satisfaction after some particularly good stretch, or
when the motion changed and both trees rocked together in a wide, wild,
exhilarating swing. Now and then the note was answered, farther down the
ridge, by another porcupine going to sleep in his lofty cradle. A storm
was coming; and Unk Wunk, who is one of the wood's best barometers to
foretell the changing weather, was crying it aloud where all might hear.

So my question was answered unexpectedly. Unk Wunk was out for fun that
afternoon, and had rolled down the hill for the joy of the swift motion
and the dizzy feeling afterwards, as other wood folk do. I have watched
young foxes, whose den was on a steep hill side, rolling down one after
the other, and sometime varying the programme by having one cub roll as
fast as he could, while another capered alongside, snapping and worrying
him in his brain-muddling tumble.

That is all very well for foxes. One expects to find such an idea in
wise little heads. But who taught Unk Wunk to roll downhill and stick
his spines full of dry leaves to scare the wood folk? And when did he
learn to use the tree-tops for his swing and the wind for his motive
power?

Perhaps--since most of what the wood folk know is a matter of learning,
not of instinct--his mother teaches him some things that we have never
yet seen. If so, Unk Wunk has more in his sleepy, stupid head than we
have given him credit for, and there is a very interesting lesson
awaiting him who shall first find and enter the porcupine school.

[Illustration]



The Partridges' Roll Call

[Illustration]


I was fishing, one September afternoon, in the pool at the foot of the
lake, trying in twenty ways, as the dark evergreen shadows lengthened
across the water, to beguile some wary old trout into taking my flies.
They lived there, a score of them, in a dark well among the lily pads,
where a cold spring bubbled up from the bottom; and their moods and
humors were a perpetual source of worry or amusement, according to the
humor of the fisherman himself.

For days at a time they would lie in the deep shade of the lily pads in
stupid or sullen indifference. Then nothing tempted them. Flies, worms,
crickets, redfins, bumblebees,--all at the end of dainty hair leaders,
were drawn with crinkling wavelets over their heads, or dropped gently
beside them; but they only swirled sullenly aside, grouty as King Ahab
when he turned his face to the wall and would eat no bread.

At such times scores of little fish swarmed out of the pads and ran riot
in the pool. Chub, shiners, "punkin-seeds," perch, boiled up at your
flies, or chased each other in savage warfare through the forbidden
water, which seemed to intoxicate them by its cool freshness. You had
only to swing your canoe up near the shadowy edge of the pool and draw
your cast once across the open water to know whether or not you would
eat trout for breakfast. If the small fish chased your flies, then you
might as well go home or study nature; you would certainly get no trout.
But you could never tell when the change would come. With the smallest
occasion sometimes--a coolness in the air, the run of a cat's-paw
breeze, a cloud shadow drifting over--a transformation would sweep over
the speckled Ahabs lying deep under the lily pads. Some blind, unknown
warning would run through the pool before ever a trout had changed his
position. Looking over the side of your canoe you would see the little
fish darting helter-skelter away among the pads, seeking safety in
shallow water, leaving the pool to its tyrant masters. Now is the time
to begin casting; your trout are ready to rise.

A playful mood would often follow the testy humor. The plunge of a
three-pound fish, the slap-dash of a dozen smaller ones would startle
you into nervous casting. But again you might as well spare your
efforts, which only served to acquaint the trout with the best frauds
in your fly book. They would rush at Hackle or Coachman or Silver
Doctor, swirl under it, jump over it, but never take it in. They played
with floating leaves; their wonderful eyes caught the shadow of a
passing mosquito across the silver mirror of their roof, and their broad
tails flung them up to intercept it; but they wanted nothing more than
play or exercise, and they would not touch your flies.

Once in a way there would come a day when your study and patience found
their rich reward. The slish of a line, the flutter of a fly dropping
softly on the farther edge of the pool--and then the shriek of your
reel, buzzing up the quiet hillside, was answered by a loud snort, as
the deer that lived there bounded away in alarm, calling her two fawns
to follow. But you scarcely noticed; your head and hands were too full,
trying to keep the big trout away from the lily pads, where you would
certainly lose him with your light tackle.

On the afternoon of which I write the trout were neither playful nor
sullen. No more were they hungry. The first cast of my midget flies
across the pool brought no answer. That was good; the little fish had
been ordered out, evidently. Larger flies followed; but the big trout
neither played with them nor let them alone. They followed cautiously, a
foot astern, to the near edge of the lily pads, till they saw me and
swirled down again to their cool haunts. They were suspicious clearly;
and with the lower orders, as with men, the best rule in such a case is
to act naturally, with more quietness than usual, and give them time to
get over their suspicion.

As I waited, my flies resting among the pads near the canoe, curious
sounds came floating down the hillside--_Prut, prut, pr-r-r-rt!
Whit-kwit? whit-kwit? Pr-r-rt, pr-r-rt! Ooo-it, ooo-it? Pr-r-reeee_!
this last with a swift burr of wings. And the curious sounds, half
questioning, half muffled in extreme caution, gave a fleeting impression
of gliding in and out among the tangled underbrush. "A flock of
partridges--ruffed grouse," I thought, and turned to listen more
intently.

The shadows had grown long, with a suggestion of coming night; and other
ears than mine had heard the sounds with interest. A swifter shadow fell
on the water, and I looked up quickly to see a big owl sail silently out
from the opposite hill and perch on a blasted stub overlooking the pool.
Kookooskoos had been sleeping in a dark spruce when the sounds waked
him, and he started out instantly, not to hunt--it was still too
bright--but to locate his game and follow silently to the roosting
place, near which he would hide and wait till the twilight fell darkly.
I could see it all in his attitude as he poised forward, swinging his
round head to and fro, like a dog on an air trail, locating the flock
accurately before he should take another flight.

Up on the hillside the eager sounds had stopped for a moment, as if some
strange sixth sense had warned the birds to be silent. The owl was
puzzled; but I dared not move, because he was looking straight over me.
Some faint sound, too faint for my ears, made him turn his head, and on
the instant I reached for the tiny rifle lying before me in the canoe.
Just as he spread his wings to investigate the new sound, the little
rifle spoke, and he tumbled heavily to the shore.

"One robber the less," I was thinking, when the canoe swung slightly on
the water. There was a heavy plunge, a vicious rush of my unheeded line,
and I seized my rod to find myself fast to a big trout, which had been
watching my flies from his hiding among the lily pads till his
suspicions were quieted, and the first slight movement brought him up
with a rush.

Ten minutes later he lay in my canoe, where I could see him plainly to
my heart's content. I was waiting for the pool to grow quiet again, when
a new sound came from the underbrush, a rapid _plop, lop, lop, lop,
lop_, like the sound in a sunken bottle as water pours in and the air
rushes out.

There was a brook near the sounds, a lazy little stream that had lost
itself among the alders and forgotten all its music; and my first
thought was that some animal was standing in the water to drink, and
waking the voice of the brook as the current rippled past his legs. The
canoe glided over to find out what he was, when, in the midst of the
sounds, came the unmistakable _Whit-kwit?_ of partridges--and there they
were, just vanishing glimpses of alert forms and keen eyes gliding among
the tangled alder stems. When near the brook they had changed the soft,
gossipy chatter, by which a flock holds itself together in the wild
tangle of the burned lands, into a curious liquid sound, so like the
gurgling of water by a mossy stone that it would have deceived me
completely, had I not seen the birds. It was as if they tried to remind
the little alder brook of the music it had lost far back among the
hills.

Now I had been straitly charged, on leaving camp, to bring back three
partridges for our Sunday dinner. My own little flock had grown a bit
tired of trout and canned foods; and a taste of young broiled grouse,
which I had recently given them, had left them hungry for more. So I
left the pool and my fishing rod, just as the trout began to rise, to
glide into the alders with my pocket rifle.

There were at least a dozen birds there, full-grown and strong of wing,
that had not yet decided to scatter to the four winds, as had most of
the coveys which one might meet on the burned lands. All summer long,
while berries are plenty, the flocks hold together, finding ten pairs of
quiet eyes much better protection against surprises than one frightened
pair. Each flock is then under the absolute authority of the mother
bird; and one who follows them gets some curious and intensely
interesting glimpses of a partridge's education. If the mother bird is
killed, by owl or hawk or weasel, the flock still holds together, while
berries last, under the leadership of one of their own number, more bold
or cunning than the others. But with the ripening autumn, when the birds
have learned, or think they have learned, all the sights and sounds and
dangers of the wilderness, the covey scatters; partly to cover a wider
range in feeding as food grows scarcer; partly in natural revolt at
maternal authority, which no bird or animal likes to endure after he has
once learned to take care of himself.

I followed the flock rapidly, though cautiously, through an interminable
tangle of alders that bordered the little stream, and learned some
things about them; though they gave me no chance whatever for a rifle
shot. The mother was gone; their leader was a foxy bird, the smallest
of the lot, who kept them moving in dense cover, running, crouching,
hiding, inquisitive about me and watching me, yet keeping themselves
beyond reach of harm. All the while the leader talked to them, a curious
language of cheepings and whistlings; and they answered back with
questions or sharp exclamations as my head appeared in sight for a
moment. Where the cover was densest they waited till I was almost upon
them before they whisked out of sight; and where there was a bit of
opening they whirred up noisily on strong wings, or sailed swiftly away
from a fallen log with the noiseless flight that a grouse knows so well
how to use when the occasion comes.

Already the instinct to scatter was at work among them. During the day
they had probably been feeding separately along the great hillside; but
with lengthening shadows they came together again to face the wilderness
night in the peace and security of the old companionship. And I had
fortunately been quiet enough at my fishing to hear when the leader
began to call them together and they had answered, here and there, from
their feeding.

I gave up following them after a while--they were too quick for me in
the alder tangle--and came out of the swamp to the ridge. There I ran
along a deer path and circled down ahead of them to a thicket of cedar,
where I thought they might pass the night.

Presently I heard them coming--_Whit-kwit? pr-r-r, pr-r-r, prut,
prut!_--and saw five or six of them running rapidly. The little leader
saw me at the same instant and dodged back out of sight. Most of his
flock followed him; but one bird, more inquisitive than the rest, jumped
to a fallen log, drew himself up straight as a string, and eyed me
steadily. The little rifle spoke at his head promptly; and I stowed him
away comfortably, a fine plump bird, in a big pocket of my hunting
shirt.

At the report another partridge, questioning the unknown sound, flew to
a thick spruce, pressed close against the trunk to hide himself, and
stood listening intently. Whether he was waiting to hear the sound
again, or was frightened and listening for the call of the leader, I
could not tell. I fired at his head quickly, and saw him sail down
against the hillside, with a loud thump and a flutter of feathers behind
him to tell me that he was hard hit.

I followed him up the hill, hearing an occasional flutter of wings to
guide my feet, till the sounds vanished into a great tangle of
underbrush and fallen trees. I searched here ten minutes or more in
vain, then listened in the vast silence for a longer period; but the
bird had hidden himself away in some hole or covert where an owl might
pass by without finding him. Reluctantly I turned away toward the swamp.

Close beside me was a fallen log; on my right was another; and the two
had fallen so as to make the sides of a great angle, their tops resting
together against the hill. Between the two were several huge trees
growing among the rocks and underbrush. I climbed upon one of these
fallen trees and moved along it cautiously, some eight or ten feet above
the ground, looking down searchingly for a stray brown feather to guide
me to my lost partridge.

Suddenly the log under my feet began to rock gently. I stopped in
astonishment, looking for the cause of the strange teetering; but there
was nothing on the log beside myself. After a moment I went on again,
looking again for my partridge. Again the log rocked, heavily this time,
almost throwing me off. Then I noticed that the tip of the other log,
which lay balanced across a great rock, was under the tip of my log and
was being pried up by something on the other end. Some animal was there,
and it flashed upon me suddenly that he was heavy enough to lift my
weight with his stout lever. I stole along so as to look behind a great
tree--and there on the other log, not twenty feet away, a big bear was
standing, twisting himself uneasily, trying to decide whether to go on
or go back on his unstable footing.

He discovered me at the instant that my face appeared behind the tree.
Such surprise, such wonder I have seldom seen in an animal's face. For a
long moment he met my eyes steadily with his. Then he began to twist
again, while the logs rocked up and down. Again he looked at the strange
animal on the other log; but the face behind the tree had not moved nor
changed; the eyes looked steadily into his. With a startled movement he
plunged off into the underbrush, and but for a swift grip on a branch
the sudden lurch would have sent me off backward among the rocks. As he
jumped I heard a swift flutter of wings. I followed it timidly, not
knowing where the bear was, and in a moment I had the second partridge
stowed away comfortably with his brother in my hunting shirt.

The rest of the flock had scattered widely by this time. I found one or
two and followed them; but they dodged away into the thick alders, where
I could not find their heads quick enough with my rifle sight. After a
vain, hasty shot or two I went back to my fishing.

Woods and lake were soon quiet again. The trout had stopped rising, in
one of their sudden moods. A vast silence brooded over the place,
unbroken by any buzz of my noisy reel, and the twilight shadows were
growing deeper and longer, when the soft, gliding, questioning chatter
of partridges came floating out of the alders. The leader was there, in
the thickest tangle--I had learned in an hour to recognize his peculiar
_Prut, prut_--and from the hillside and the alder swamp and the big
evergreens his scattered flock were answering; here a _kwit_, and there
a _prut_, and beyond a swift burr of wings, all drawing closer and
closer together.

I had still a third partridge to get for my own hungry flock; so I stole
swiftly back into the alder swamp. There I found a little game path and
crept along it on hands and knees, drawing cautiously near to the
leader's continued calling.

[Illustration: "THEY WOULD TURN THEIR HEADS AND LISTEN INTENTLY"]

In the midst of a thicket of low black alders, surrounded by a perfect
hedge of bushes, I found him at last. He was on the lower end of a
fallen log, gliding rapidly up and down, spreading wings and tail and
budding ruff, as if he were drumming, and sending out his peculiar call
at every pause. Above him, in a long line on the same log, five other
partridges were sitting perfectly quiet, save now and then, when an
answer came to the leader's call, they would turn their heads and listen
intently till the underbrush parted cautiously and another bird flitted
up beside them. Then another call, and from the distant hillside a faint
_kwit-kwit_ and a rush of wings in answer, and another partridge would
shoot in on swift pinions to pull himself up on the log beside his
fellows. The line would open hospitably to let him in; then the row grew
quiet again, as the leader called, turning their heads from side to side
for the faint answers.

There were nine on the log at last. The calling grew louder and louder;
yet for several minutes now no answer came back. The flock grew uneasy;
the leader ran from his log into the brush and back again, calling
loudly, while a low chatter, the first break in their strange silence,
ran back and forth through the family on the log. There were others to
come; but where were they, and why did they tarry? It was growing late;
already an owl had hooted, and the roosting place was still far away.
_Prut, prut, pr-r-r-reee!_ called the leader, and the chatter ceased as
the whole flock listened.

I turned my head to the hillside to listen also for the laggards; but
there was no answer. Save for the cry of a low-flying loon and the snap
of a twig--too sharp and heavy for little feet to make--the woods were
all silent. As I turned to the log again, something warm and heavy
rested against my side. Then I knew; and with the knowledge came a swift
thrill of regret that made me feel guilty and out of place in the
silent woods. The leader was calling, the silent flock were waiting for
two of their number who would never answer the call again.

I lay scarcely ten yards from the log on which the sad little drama went
on in the twilight shadows, while the great silence grew deep and
deeper, as if the wilderness itself were in sympathy and ceased its
cries to listen. Once, at the first glimpse of the group, I had raised
my rifle and covered the head of the largest bird; but curiosity to know
what they were doing held me back. Now a deeper feeling had taken its
place; the rifle slid from my hand and lay unnoticed among the fallen
leaves.

Again the leader called. The flock drew itself up, like a row of
gray-brown statues, every eye bright, every ear listening, till some
vague sense of fear and danger drew them together; and they huddled on
the ground in a close group; all but the leader, who stood above them,
counting them over and over, apparently, and anon sending his cry out
into the darkening woods.

I took one of the birds out of my pocket and began to smooth the rumpled
brown feathers. How beautiful he was, how perfectly adapted in form and
color for the wilderness in which he had lived! And I had taken his
life, the only thing he had. Its beauty and something deeper, which is
the sad mystery of all life, were gone forever. All summer long he had
run about on glad little feet, delighting in nature's abundance, calling
brightly to his fellows as they glided in and out in eager search
through the lights and shadows. Fear on the one hand, absolute obedience
to his mother on the other, had been the two great factors of his life.
Between them he grew strong, keen, alert, knowing perfectly when to run
and when to fly and when to crouch motionless, as danger passed close
with blinded eyes. Then when his strength was perfect, and he glided
alone through the wilderness coverts in watchful self-dependence--a
moment's curiosity, a quick eager glance at the strange animal standing
so still under the cedar, a flash, a noise; and all was over. The call
of the leader went searching, searching through the woods; but he gave
no heed any more.

The hand had grown suddenly very tender as it stroked his feathers. I
had taken his life; I must try to answer for him now. At the thought I
raised my head and gave the clear _whit-kwit_ of a running partridge.
Instantly the leader answered; the flock sprang to the log again and
turned their heads in my direction to listen. Another call, and now the
flock dropped to the ground and lay close, while the leader drew himself
up straight on the log and became part of a dead stub beside him.

Something was wrong in my call; the birds were suspicious, knowing not
what danger had kept their fellows silent so long, and now threatened
them out of the black alders. A moment's intent listening; then the
leader stepped slowly down from his log and came towards me cautiously,
halting, hiding, listening, gliding, swinging far out to one side and
back again in stealthy advance, till he drew himself up abruptly at
sight of my face peering out of the underbrush. For a long two minutes
he never stirred so much as an eyelid. Then he glided swiftly back, with
a faint, puzzled, questioning _kwit-kwit?_ to where his flock were
waiting. A low signal that I could barely hear, a swift movement--then
the flock thundered away in scattered flight into the silent, friendly
woods.

Ten minutes later I was crouched in some thick underbrush looking up
into a great spruce, when I could just make out the leader standing by
an upright branch in sharp silhouette against the glowing west. I had
followed his swift flight, and now lay listening again to his searching
call as it went out through the twilight, calling his little flock to
the roosting tree. From the swamp and the hillside and far down by the
quiet lake they answered, faintly at first, then with clearer call and
the whirr of swift wings as they came in.

But already I had seen and heard enough; too much, indeed, for my peace
of mind. I crept away through the swamp, the eager calls following me
even to my canoe; first a plaint, as if something were lacking to the
placid lake and quiet woods and the soft beauty of twilight; and then a
faint question, always heard in the _kwit_ of a partridge, as if only I
could explain why two eager voices would never again answer to roll call
when the shadows lengthened.

[Illustration]



Umquenawis The Mighty

[Illustration]


Umquenawis the Mighty is lord of the woodlands. None other among the
wood folk is half so great as he; none has senses so keen to detect a
danger, nor powers so terrible to defend himself against it. So he fears
nothing, moving through the big woods like a master; and when you see
him for the first time in the wilderness pushing his stately, silent way
among the giant trees, or plunging like a great engine through
underbrush and over windfalls, his nose up to try the wind, his broad
antlers far back on his mighty shoulders, while the dead tree that
opposes him cracks and crashes down before his rush, and the alders
beat a rattling, snapping tattoo on his branching horns,--when you see
him thus, something within you rises up, like a soldier at salute, and
says: "Milord the Moose!" And though the rifle is in your hand, its
deadly muzzle never rises from the trail.

[Illustration: "PLUNGING LIKE A GREAT ENGINE THROUGH UNDERBRUSH AND OVER
WINDFALLS"]

That great head with its massive crown is too big for any house. Hung
stupidly on a wall, in a room full of bric-a-brac, as you usually see
it, with its shriveled ears that were once living trumpets, its bulging
eyes that were once so small and keen, and its huge muzzle stretched out
of all proportion, it is but misplaced, misshapen ugliness. It has no
more, and scarcely any higher, significance than a scalp on the pole of
a savage's wigwam. Only in the wilderness, with the irresistible push of
his twelve-hundred pound, force-packed body behind it, the crackling
underbrush beneath, and the lofty spruce aisles towering overhead, can
it give the tingling impression of magnificent power which belongs to
Umquenawis the Mighty in his native wilds. There only is his head at
home; and only as you see it there, whether looking out in quiet majesty
from a lonely point over a silent lake, or leading him in his terrific
rush through the startled forest, will your heart ever jump and your
nerves tingle in that swift thrill which stirs the sluggish blood to
your very finger tips, and sends you quietly back to camp with your
soul at peace--well satisfied to leave Umquenawis where he is, rather
than pack him home to your admiring friends in a freight car.

Though Umquenawis be lord of the wilderness, there are two things, and
two things only, which he sometimes fears: the smell of man, and the
spiteful crack of a rifle. For Milord the Moose has been hunted and has
learned fear, which formerly he was stranger to. But when you go deep
into the wilderness, where no hunter has ever gone, and where the bang
of a rifle following the roar of a birch-bark trumpet has never broken
the twilight stillness, there you may find him still, as he was before
fear came; there he will come smashing down the mountain side at your
call, and never circle to wind an enemy; and there, when the mood is on
him, he will send you scrambling up the nearest tree for your life, as a
squirrel goes when the fox is after him. Once, in such a mood, I saw him
charge a little wiry guide, who went up a spruce tree with his snowshoes
on; and never a bear did the trick quicker, spite of the four-foot webs
in which his feet were tangled.

We were pushing upstream, late one afternoon, to the big lake at the
headwaters of a wilderness river. Above the roar of rapids far behind,
and the fret of the current near at hand, the rhythmical _clunk_,
_clunk_ of the poles and the _lap_, _lap_ of my little canoe as she
breasted the ripples were the only sounds that broke the forest
stillness. We were silent, as men always are to whom the woods have
spoken their deepest message, and to whom the next turn of the river may
bring its thrill of unexpected things.

Suddenly, as the bow of our canoe shot round a point, we ran plump upon
a big cow moose crossing the river. At Simmo's grunt of surprise she
stopped short and whirled to face us. And there she stood, one huge
question mark from nose to tail, while the canoe edged in to the lee of
a great rock and hung there quivering, with poles braced firmly on the
bottom.

We were already late for camping, and the lake was still far ahead. I
gave the word at last, after a few minutes' silent watching, and the
canoe shot upward. But the big moose, instead of making off into the
woods, as a well-behaved moose ought to do, splashed straight toward us.
Simmo, in the bow, gave a sweeping flourish of his pole, and we all
yelled in unison; but the moose came on steadily, quietly, bound to find
out what the queer thing was that had just come up river and broken the
solemn stillness.

"Bes' keep still; big moose make-um trouble sometime," muttered Noel
behind me; and we dropped back silently into the lee of the friendly
rock, to watch awhile longer and let the big creature do as she would.

For ten minutes more we tried every kind of threat and persuasion to get
the moose out of the way, ending at last by sending a bullet _zipping_
into the water under her body; but beyond an angry stamp of the foot
there was no response, and no disposition whatever to give us the
stream. Then I bethought me of a trick that I had discovered long before
by accident. Dropping down to the nearest bank, I crept up behind the
moose, hidden in the underbrush, and began to break twigs, softly at
first, then more and more sharply, as if something were coming through
the woods fearlessly. At the first suspicious crack the moose whirled,
hesitated, started nervously across the stream, twitching her nostrils
and wigwagging her big ears to find out what the crackle meant, and
hurrying more and more as the sounds grated harshly upon her sensitive
nerves. Next moment the river was clear and our canoe was breasting the
rippling shallows, while the moose watched us curiously, half hidden in
the alders.

That is a good trick, for occasions. The animals all fear twig snapping.
Only never try it at night, with a bull, in the calling season, as I did
once unintentionally. Then he is apt to mistake you for his tantalizing
mate and come down on you like a tempest, giving you a big scare and a
monkey scramble into the nearest tree before he is satisfied.

Within the next hour I counted seven moose, old and young, from the
canoe; and when we ran ashore at twilight to the camping ground on the
big lake, the tracks of an enormous bull were drawn sharply across our
landing. The water was still trickling into them, showing that he had
just vacated the spot at our approach.

How do I know it was a bull? At this season the bulls travel constantly,
and the points of the hoofs are worn to a clean, even curve. The cows,
which have been living in deep retirement all summer, teaching their
ungainly calves the sounds and smells and lessons of the woods, travel
much less; their hoofs, in consequence, are generally long and pointed
and overgrown.

Two miles above our camp was a little brook, with an alder swale on one
side and a dark, gloomy spruce tangle on the other--an ideal spot for a
moose to keep her little school, I thought, when I discovered the place
a few days later. There were tracks on the shore, plenty of them; and I
knew I had only to watch long enough to see the mother and her calf, and
to catch a glimpse, perhaps, of what no man has ever yet seen clearly;
that is, a moose teaching her little one how to hide his bulk; how to
move noiselessly and undiscovered through underbrush where, one would
think, a fox must make his presence known; how to take a windfall on the
run; how to breast down a young birch or maple tree and keep it under
his body while he feeds on the top,--and a score of other things that
every moose must know before he is fit to take care of himself in the
big woods.

I went there one afternoon in my canoe, grasped a few lily stems to hold
the little craft steady, and snuggled down till only my head showed
above the gunwales, so as to make canoe and man look as much like an
old, wind-blown log as possible. It was getting toward the hour when I
knew the cow would be hungry, but while it was yet too light to bring
her little one to the open shore. After an hour's watching, the cow came
cautiously down the brook. She stopped short at sight of the floating
log; watched it steadily for two or three minutes, wigwagging her ears;
then began to feed greedily on the lily pads that fringed all the shore.
When she went back I followed, guided now by the crack of a twig, now by
a swaying of brush tops, now by the flip of a nervous ear or the push of
a huge dark body, keeping carefully to leeward all the time and making
the big, unconscious creature guide me to where she had hidden her
little one.

Just above me, and a hundred yards in from the shore, a tree had fallen,
its bushy top bending down two small spruces and making a low den, so
dark that an owl could scarcely have seen what was inside. "That's the
spot," I told myself instantly; but the mother passed well above it,
without noting apparently how good a place it was. Fifty yards farther
on she turned and circled back, below the spot, trying the wind with
ears and nose as she came on straight towards me.

"Aha! the old moose trick," I thought, remembering how a hunted moose
never lies down to rest without first circling back for a long distance,
parallel to his trail and to leeward, to find out from a safe distance
whether anything is following him. When he lies down, at last, it will
be close beside his trail, but hidden from it; so that he hears or
smells you as you go by. And when you reach the place, far ahead, where
he turned back he will be miles away, plunging along down wind at a pace
that makes your snowshoe swing like a baby's toddle. So you camp where
he lay down, and pick up the trail in the morning.

When the big cow turned and came striding back I knew that I should find
her little one in the spruce den. But would she not find me, instead,
and drive me out of her bailiwick? You can never be sure what a moose
will do if she finds you near her calf. Generally they run--always, in
fact--but sometimes they run your way. And besides, I had been trying
for years to see a mother moose teaching in her little school. Now I
dropped on all fours and crawled away down wind, so as to get beyond ken
of the mother's inquisitive nose if possible.

She came on steadily, moving with astonishing silence through the
tangle, till she stood where I had been a moment before, when she
started violently and threw her head up into the wind. Some scent of me
was there, clinging faintly to the leaves and the moist earth. For a
moment she stood like a rock, sifting the air in her nose; then, finding
nothing in the wind, she turned slowly in my direction to use her ears
and eyes. I was lying very still behind a mossy log by this time, and
she did not see me. Suddenly she turned and called, a low bleat. There
was an instant stir in the spruce den, an answering bleat, and a moose
calf scrambled out and ran straight to the mother. There was an unvoiced
command to silence that no human sense could understand. The mother put
her great head down to earth--"Smell of that; mark that, and remember,"
she was saying in her own way; and the calf put his little head down
beside hers, and I heard him sniff-sniffing the leaves. Then the mother
swung her head savagely, bunted the little fellow out of his tracks, and
drove him hurriedly ahead of her away from the place--"Get out, hurry,
danger!" was what she was saying now, and emphasizing her teaching with
an occasional bunt from behind that lifted the calf over the hard
places. So they went up the hill, the calf wondering and curious, yet
ever reminded by the hard head at his flank that obedience was his
business just now, the mother turning occasionally to sniff and listen,
till they vanished silently among the dark spruces.

For a week or more I haunted the spot; but though I saw the pair
occasionally, in the woods or on the shore, I learned no more of
Umquenawis' secrets. The moose schools are kept in far-away, shady
dingles beyond reach of inquisitive eyes. Then, one morning at daylight
as my canoe shot round a grassy point, there were the mother and her
calf standing knee-deep among the lily pads. With a yell I drove the
canoe straight at the little one.

Now it takes a young moose or caribou a long time to learn that when
sudden danger threatens he is to follow, not his own frightened head,
but his mother's guiding tail. To young fawns this is practically the
first thing taught by the mothers; but caribou are naturally stupid, or
trustful, or burningly inquisitive, according to their several
dispositions; and moose, with their great strength, are naturally
fearless; so that this needful lesson is slowly learned. If you surprise
a mother moose or caribou with her young at close quarters and rush at
them instantly, with a whoop or two to scatter their wits, the chances
are that the mother will bolt into the brush, where safety lies, and the
calf into the lake or along the shore, where the going is easiest.

Several times I have caught young moose and caribou in this way, either
swimming or stogged in the mud, and after turning them back to shore
have watched the mother's cautious return and her treatment of the lost
one. Once I paddled up beside a young bull moose, half grown, and
grasping the coarse hair on his back had him tow me a hundred yards, to
the next point, while I studied his expression.

As my canoe shot up to the two moose they did exactly what I had
expected; the mother bolted for the woods in mighty, floundering jumps,
mud and water flying merrily about her; while the calf darted along the
shore, got caught in the lily pads, and with a despairing bleat settled
down in the mud of a soft place, up to his back, and turned his head to
see what I was.

I ran my canoe ashore and approached the little fellow quietly, without
hurry or excitement. Nose, eyes, and ears questioned me; and his fear
gradually changed to curiosity as he saw how harmless a thing had
frightened him. He even tried to pull his awkward little legs out of the
mud in my direction. Meanwhile the big mother moose was thrashing around
in the bushes in a terrible swither, calling her calf to come.

I had almost reached the little fellow when the wind brought him the
strong scent that he had learned in the woods a few days before, and he
bleated sharply. There was an answering crash of brush, a pounding of
hoofs that told one unmistakably to look out for his rear, and out of
the bushes burst the mother, her eyes red as a wild pig's, and the long
hair standing straight up along her back in a terrifying bristle. "Stand
not upon the order of your mogging, but mog at once--_eeeunh! unh!_" she
grunted; and I turned otter instantly and took to the lake, diving as
soon as the depth allowed and swimming under water to escape the old
fury's attention. There was little need of fine tactics, however, as I
found out when my head appeared again cautiously. Anything in the way of
an unceremonious retreat of the enemy satisfied her as perfectly as if
she had been a Boer general. She went straight to her calf, thrust her
great head under his belly, hiked him roughly out of the mud, and then
butted him ahead of her into the bushes.

It was stern, rough discipline; but the youngster needed it to teach him
the wisdom of the woods. From a distance I watched the quivering line of
brush tops that marked their course, and then followed softly. When I
found them again, in the twilight of the great spruces, the mother was
licking the sides of her calf, lest he should grow cold too suddenly
after his unwonted bath. All the fury and harshness were gone. Her great
head lowered tenderly over the foolish, ungainly youngster, tonguing
him, caressing him, drying and warming his poor sides, telling him in
mother language that it was all right now, and that next time he would
do better.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were other moose on the lake, all of them as uncertain as the big
cow and her calf. Probably most of them had never seen a man before our
arrival, and it kept one's expectations on tiptoe to know what they
would do when they saw the strange two-legged creature for the first
time. If a moose smelled me before I saw him, he would make off quietly
into the woods, as all wild creatures do, and watch from a safe
distance. But if I stumbled upon him unexpectedly, when the wind brought
no warning to his nostrils, he was fearless, usually, and full of
curiosity.

The worst of them all was the big bull whose tracks were on the shore
when we arrived. He was a morose, ugly old brute, living apart by
himself, with his temper always on edge ready to bully anything that
dared to cross his path or question his lordship. Whether he was an
outcast, grown surly from living too much alone, or whether he bore some
old bullet wound to account for his hostility to man, I could never find
out. Far down the river a hunter had been killed, ten years before, by a
bull moose that he had wounded; and this may have been, as Noel
declared, the same animal, cherishing his resentment with a memory as
merciless as an Indian's.

Before we had found this out I stumbled upon the big bull one afternoon,
and came near paying the penalty of my ignorance. I had been
still-fishing for togue (lake trout), and was on my way back to camp
when, doubling a point, I ran plump upon a bull moose feeding among the
lily pads. My approach had been perfectly silent,--that is the only way
to see things in the woods,--and he was quite unconscious that anybody
but himself was near.

He would plunge his great head under water till only his antler tips
showed, and nose around on the bottom till he found a lily root. With a
heave and a jerk he would drag it out, and stand chewing it endwise
with huge satisfaction, while the muddy water trickled down over his
face. When it was all eaten he would grope under the lily pads for
another root in the same way.

Without thinking much of the possible risk, I began to steal towards
him. While his head was under I would work the canoe along silently,
simply "rolling the paddle" without lifting it from the water. At the
first lift of his antlers I would stop and sit low in the canoe till he
finished his juicy morsel and ducked for more. Then one could slip along
easily again without being discovered.

Two or three times this was repeated successfully, and still the big,
unconscious brute, facing away from me fortunately, had no idea that he
was being watched. His head went under water again--not so deep this
time; but I was too absorbed in the pretty game to notice that he had
found the end of a root above the mud, and that his ears were out of
water. A ripple from the bow of my canoe, or perhaps the faint brush of
a lily leaf against the side, reached him. His head burst out of the
pads unexpectedly; with a snort and a mighty flounder he whirled upon
me; and there he stood quivering, ears, eyes, nose,--everything about
him reaching out to me and shooting questions at my head with an
insistence that demanded instant answer.

I kept quiet, though I was altogether too near the big brute for
comfort, till an unfortunate breeze brushed the bow of my canoe still
nearer to where he stood, threatening now instead of questioning. The
mane on his back began to bristle, and I knew that I had but a small
second in which to act. To get speed I swung the bow of the canoe
outward, instead of backing away. The movement brought me a trifle
nearer, yet gave me a chance to shoot by him. At the first sudden motion
he leaped; the red fire blazed out in his eyes, and he plunged straight
at the canoe--one, two splashing jumps, and the huge velvet antlers were
shaking just over me and the deadly fore foot was raised for a blow.

I rolled over on the instant, startling the brute with a yell as I did
so, and upsetting the canoe between us. There was a splintering crack
behind me as I struck out for deep water. When I turned, at a safe
distance, the bull had driven one sharp hoof through the bottom of the
upturned canoe, and was now trying awkwardly to pull his leg out from
the clinging cedar ribs. He seemed frightened at the queer, dumb thing
that gripped his foot, for he grunted and jumped back and thrashed his
big antlers in excitement; but he was getting madder every minute.

To save the canoe from being pounded to pieces was now the only pressing
business on hand. All other considerations took to the winds in the
thought that, if the bull's fury increased and he leaped upon the canoe,
as he does when he means to kill, one jump would put the frail thing
beyond repair, and we should have to face the dangerous river below in a
spruce bark of our own building. I swam quickly to the shore and
splashed and shouted and then ran away to attract the bull's attention.
He came after me on the instant--_unh! unh! chock, chockety-chock!_ till
he was close enough for discomfort, when I took to water again. The bull
followed, deeper and deeper, till his sides were awash. The bottom was
muddy and he trod gingerly; but there was no fear of his swimming after
me. He knows his limits, and they stop him shoulder deep.

When he would follow no farther I swam to the canoe and tugged it out
into deep water. Umquenawis stood staring now in astonishment at the
sight of this queer man-fish. The red light died out of his eyes for the
first time, and his ears wigwagged like flags in the wind. He made no
effort to follow, but stood as he was, shoulder deep, staring,
wondering, till I landed on the point above, whipped the canoe over, and
spilled the water out of it.

The paddle was still fast to its cord--as it should always be in trying
experiments--and I tossed it into the canoe. The rattle roused
Umquenawis from his wonder, as if he had heard the challenging clack of
antlers on the alder stems. He floundered out in mighty jumps and came
swinging along the shore, _chocking_ and grunting fiercely. He had seen
the man again and knew it was no fish--_Unh! unh! eeeeeunh-unh!_ he
grunted, with a twisting, jerky wriggle of his neck and shoulders at the
last squeal, as if he felt me already beneath his hoofs. But before he
reached the point I had stuffed my flannel shirt into the hole in the
canoe and was safely afloat once more. He followed along the shore till
he heard the sound of voices at camp, when he turned instantly and
vanished in the woods.

A few days later I saw the grumpy old brute again in a curious way. I
was sweeping the lake with my field glasses when I saw what I thought
was a pair of black ducks near a grassy shore. I paddled over, watching
them keenly, till a root seemed to rise out of the water between them.
Before I could get my glasses adjusted again they had disappeared. I
dropped the glasses and paddled faster. They were diving, perhaps--an
unusual thing for black ducks--and I might surprise them. There they
were again; and there again was the old root bobbing up unexpectedly
between them. I whipped my glasses up--the mystery vanished. The two
ducks were the tips of Umquenawis' big antlers; the root that rose
between them was his head, as he came up to breathe.

It was a close, sultry afternoon; the flies and mosquitos were out in
myriads, and Umquenawis had taken a philosophical way of getting rid of
them. He was lying in the water, over a bed of mud, his body completely
submerged. As the swarm of flies that pestered him rose to his head he
would sink it slowly, drowning them off. Through my glass, as I drew
near, I could see a cloud of them hovering above the wavelets, or
covering the exposed antlers. After a few moments there would be a
bubbling grumble down in the mud, as Umquenawis blew the air from his
great lungs. His head would come up lazily to breathe among the popping
bubbles; the flies would settle upon him like a cloud, and he would
disappear again, blinking sleepily as he went down, with an air of
immense satisfaction.

It seemed too bad to disturb such comfort; but I wanted to know more
about the surly old tyrant that had treated me with such scant courtesy;
so I stole near him again, running up when his head disappeared, and
lying quiet whenever he came up to breathe. He saw me at last when I was
quite near, and leaped up with a terrible start. There was fear in his
eyes this time. Here was the man-fish again, the creature that lived on
land or water, and that could approach him so silently that the senses
in which he had always trusted gave him no warning. He stared hard for a
moment; then as the canoe glided rapidly straight towards him without
fear or hesitation he waded out, stopping every instant to turn, and
look, and try the wind, till he reached the fringe of woods beyond the
grasses. There he thrust his nose up ahead of him, laid his big antlers
back on his shoulders, and plowed straight through the tangle like a
great engine, the alders snapping and crashing merrily about him as he
went.

In striking contrast was the next meeting. I was out at midnight,
jacking, and passed close by a point where I had often seen the big
bull's tracks. He was not there, and I closed the jack and went on along
the shore, listening for any wood folk that might be abroad. When I came
back, a few minutes later, there was a suspicious ripple on the point. I
opened the jack, and there was Umquenawis, my big bull, standing out
huge and magnificent against the shadowy background, his eyes glowing
and flashing in fierce wonder at the sudden brightness. He had passed
along the shore within twenty yards of me, through dense underbrush,--as
I found out from his tracks next morning,--yet so silently did he push
his great bulk through the trees, halting, listening, trying the ground
at every step for telltale twigs ere he put his weight down, that I had
heard no sound, though I was listening intently in the dead hush that
was on the lake.

It may have been curiosity, or the uncomfortable sense of being watched
and followed by the man-fish, who neither harmed nor feared him, that
brought Umquenawis at last to our camp to investigate. One day Noel was
washing some clothes of mine in the lake when some subtle warning made
him turn his head. There stood the big bull, half hidden by the dwarf
spruces, watching him intently. On the instant Noel left the duds where
they were and bolted along the shore under the bushes, calling me loudly
to come quick and bring my rifle. When we went back Umquenawis had
trodden the clothes into the mud, and vanished as silently as he came.

The Indians grew insistent at this, telling me of the hunter that had
been killed, claiming now, beyond a doubt, that this was the same bull,
and urging me to kill the ugly brute and rid the woods of a positive
danger. But Umquenawis was already learning the fear of me, and I
thought the lesson might be driven home before the summer was ended. So
it was; but before that time there was almost a tragedy.

One day a timber cruiser--a lonely, silent man with the instincts of an
animal for finding his way in the woods, whose business it is to go over
timber lands to select the best sites for future cutting--came up to
the lake and, not knowing that we were there, pitched by a spring a mile
or two below us. I saw the smoke of his camp fire from the lake, where I
was fishing, and wondered who had come into the great solitude. That was
in the morning. Towards twilight I went down to bid the stranger welcome
and to invite him to share our camp, if he would. I found him stiff and
sore by his fire, eating raw-pork sandwiches with the appetite of a
wolf. Almost at the same glance I saw the ground about a tree torn up,
and the hoof marks of a big bull moose all about.--

"Hello! friend, what's up?" I hailed him.

"Got a rifle?" he demanded, with a rich Irish burr in his voice, paying
no heed to my question. When I nodded he bolted for my canoe, grabbed my
rifle, and ran away into the woods.

"Queer Dick! unbalanced, perhaps, by living too much alone in the
woods," I thought, and took to examining the torn ground and the bull's
tracks to find out for myself what had happened.

But there was no queerness in the frank, kindly face that met mine when
the stranger came out of the bush a half hour later.--

"Th' ould baste! he's had me perrched up in that three there, like a
blackburrd, the last tin hours; an' niver a song in me throat or a bite
in me stomach. He wint just as you came--I thought I could returrn his
compliments wid a bullet," he said, apologetically, as he passed me back
the rifle.

Then, sitting by his fire, he told me his story. He had just lit his
fire that morning, and was taking off his wet stockings to dry them,
when there was a fierce crashing and grunting behind him, and a bull
moose charged out of the bushes like a fury. The cruiser jumped and
dodged; then, as the bull whirled again, he swung himself into a tree
and sat there astride a limb, while the bull grunted and pushed and
hammered the ground below with his sharp hoofs. All day long the moose
had kept up the siege, now drawing off cunningly to hide in the bushes,
now charging out savagely as the timber cruiser made effort to come down
from his uncomfortable perch.

A few minutes before my approach a curious thing happened; which seems
to indicate, as do many other things in the woods, that certain
animals--perhaps all animals, including man--have at times an unknown
sixth sense, for which there is no name and no explanation. I was still
half a mile or more away, hidden by a point and paddling silently
straight into the wind. No possible sight or sound or smell of me could
have reached any known sense of any animal; yet the big brute began to
grow uneasy. He left his stand under the tree and circled nervously
around it, looking, listening, wigwagging his big ears, trying the wind
at every step, and setting his hoofs down as if he trod on dynamite.
Suddenly he turned and vanished silently into the brush. McGarven, the
timber cruiser, who had no idea that there was any man but himself on
the lake, watched the bull with growing wonder and distrust, thinking
him possessed of some evil demon. In his long life in the woods he had
met hundreds of moose, but had never been molested before.

[Illustration]

With the rifle at full cock and his heart hot within him, he had
followed the trail, which stole away, cautiously at first, a long
swinging stride straight towards the mountain.--"Oh, 'tis the quare
baste he is altogether!" he said as he finished his story.



AT THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET

[Illustration]


It was now near the calling season, and the nights grew keen with
excitement. Now and then as I fished, or followed the brooks, or prowled
through the woods in the late afternoon, the sudden bellow of a cow
moose would break upon the stillness, so strange and uncertain in the
thick coverts that I could rarely describe, much less imitate, the
sound, or even tell the direction whence it had come. Under the dusk of
the lake shore I would sometimes come upon a pair of the huge animals,
the cow restless, wary, impatient, the bull now silent as a shadow, now
ripping and rasping the torn velvet from his great antlers among the
alders, and now threatening and browbeating every living thing that
crossed his trail, and even the unoffending bushes, in his testy humor.

One night I went to the landing just below my tent with Simmo and tried
for the first time the long call of the cow moose. He and Noel refused
absolutely to give it, unless I should agree to shoot the ugly old bull
at sight. Several times of late they had seen him near our camp, or had
crossed his deep trail on the nearer shores, and they were growing
superstitious as well as fearful.

There was no answer to our calling for the space of an hour; silence
brooded like a living, watchful thing over sleeping lake and forest, a
silence that grew only deeper and deeper after the last echoes of the
bark trumpet had rolled back on us from the distant mountain. Suddenly
Simmo lowered the horn, just as he had raised it to his lips for a call.

"Moose near!" he whispered.

"How do you know?" I breathed; for I had heard nothing.

"Don' know how; just know," he said sullenly. An Indian hates to be
questioned, as a wild animal hates to be watched. As if in confirmation
of his opinion, there was a startling crash and plunge across the
little bay over against us, and a bull moose leaped the bank into the
lake within fifty yards of where we crouched on the shore.

"Shoot! shoot-um quick!" cried Simmo; and the fear of the old bull was
in his voice.

For answer there came a grunt from the moose--a ridiculously small,
squeaking grunt, like the voice of a penny trumpet--as the huge creature
swung rapidly along the shore in our direction.

"Uh! young bull, lil fool moose," whispered Simmo, and breathed a soft,
questioning _Whooowuh?_ through the bark horn to bring him nearer.

He came close to where we were hidden, then entered the woods and
circled silently about our camp to get our wind. In the morning his
tracks, within five feet of my rear tent pole, showed how little he
cared for the dwelling of man. But though he circled back and forth for
an hour, answering Simmo's low call with his ridiculous little grunt, he
would not show himself again on the open shore.

I stole up after a while to where I had heard the last twig snap under
his hoofs. Simmo held me back, whispering of danger; but there was a
question in my head which has never received a satisfactory answer: Why
does a bull come to a call anyway? It is held generally--and with truth,
I think--that he comes because he thinks the sound is made by a cow
moose. But how his keen ears could mistake such a palpable fraud is the
greatest mystery in the woods. I have heard a score of hunters and
Indians call, all differently, and have sometimes brought a bull into
the open at the wail of my own bark trumpet; but I have never yet
listened to a call that has any resemblance to the bellow of a cow moose
as I have often heard it in the woods. Nor have I ever heard, or ever
met anybody who has heard, a cow moose give forth any sound like the
"long call" which is made by hunters, and which is used successfully to
bring the bull from a distance.

Others claim, and with some reason, that the bull, more fearless and
careless at this season than at other times, comes merely to investigate
the sound, as he and most other wild creatures do with every queer or
unknown thing they hear. The Alaskan Indians stretch a skin into a kind
of tambourine and beat it with a club to call a bull; which sound,
however, might not be unlike one of the many peculiar bellows that I
have heard from cow moose in the wilderness. And I have twice known
bulls to come to the _chuck_ of an ax on a block; which sound, at a
distance, has some resemblance to the peculiar _chock-chocking_ that the
bulls use to call their mates from a distance.

From any point of view the thing has contradictions enough to make one
wary of a too positive opinion. Here at hand was a "lil fool moose" who
knew no fear, and who might, therefore, enlighten me on the obscure
subject. I told Simmo to keep on calling softly at intervals while I
crept up into the woods to watch the effect.

It was all as dark as a pocket beyond the open shore. One had to feel
his way along, and imitate the moose himself in putting his feet down.
Spite of my precaution a bush whispered; a twig cracked. Instantly there
was a swift answering rustle ahead as the bull glided towards me. He had
heard the faint message and was coming to see if it were not his
tantalizing mate, ready to whack her soundly, according to his wont, for
causing him so much worry, and to beat her out ahead of him to the open
where he could watch her closely and prevent any more of her hiding
tricks.

I stood motionless behind a tree, grasping a branch above, ready to
swing up out of reach when the bull charged. A vague black hulk thrust
itself out of the dark woods, close in front of me, and stood still.
Against the faint light, which showed from the lake through the fringe
of trees, the great head and antlers stood out like an upturned root;
but I had never known that a living creature stood there were it not
for a soft, clucking rumble that the bull kept going in his throat,--a
ponderous kind of love note, intended, no doubt, to let his elusive mate
know that he was near.

He took another step in my direction, brushing the leaves softly, a low,
whining grunt telling of his impatience. Two more steps and he must have
discovered me, when fortunately an appealing gurgle and a measured
_plop, plop, plop_--like the feet of a moose falling in shallow
water--sounded from the shore below, where Simmo was concealed.
Instantly the bull turned and glided away, a shadow among the shadows. A
few minutes later I heard him running off in the direction whence he had
first come.

After that the twilight always found him near our camp. He was convinced
that there was a mate hiding somewhere near, and he was bound to find
her. We had only to call a few times from our canoe, or from the shore,
and presently we would hear him coming, blowing his penny trumpet, and
at last see him break out upon the shore with a crashing plunge to waken
all the echoes. Then, one night as we lay alongside a great rock in deep
shadow, watching the puzzled young bull as he ranged along the shore in
the moonlight, Simmo grunted softly to call him nearer. At the sound a
larger bull, that we had not suspected, leaped out of the bushes close
beside us with a sudden terrifying plunge and splashed straight at the
canoe. Only the quickest kind of work saved us. Simmo swung the bow off,
with a startled grunt of his own, and I paddled away, while the bull,
mistaking us in the dim light for the exasperating cow that had been
calling and hiding herself for a week, followed after us into deep
water.

There was no doubt whatever that this moose, at least, had come to what
he thought was the call of a mate. Moonlight is deceptive beyond a few
feet; so when the low grunt sounded in the shadow of the great rock he
was sure he had found the coy creature at last, and broke out of his
concealment resolved to keep her in sight and not to let her get away
again. That is why he swam after us. Had he been investigating some new
sound or possible danger, he would never have left the land, where alone
his great power and his wonderful senses have full play. In the water he
is harmless, as most other wild creatures are.

I paddled cautiously just ahead of him, so near that, looking over my
shoulder, I could see the flash of his eye and the waves crinkling away
before the push of his great nose. After a short swim he grew suspicious
of the queer thing that kept just so far ahead, whether he swam fast or
slow, and turned in towards the shore whining his impatience. I followed
slowly, letting him get some distance ahead, and just as his feet
struck bottom whispered to Simmo for his softest call. At the sound the
bull whirled and plunged after us again recklessly, and I led him across
to where the younger bull was still ranging up and down the shore,
calling imploringly to his phantom mate.

I expected a battle when the two rivals should meet; but they paid
little attention to each other. The common misfortune, or the common
misery, seemed to kill the fierce natural jealousy whose fury I had more
than once been witness of. They had lost all fear by this time; they
ranged up and down the shore, or smashed recklessly through the swamps,
as the elusive smells and echoes called them hither and yon in their
frantic search.

Far up on the mountain side the sharp, challenging grunt of a master
bull broke out of the startled woods in one of the lulls of our exciting
play. Simmo heard and turned in the bow to whisper excitedly: "Nother
bull! Fetch-um Ol' Dev'l this time, sartin." Raising his horn he gave
the long, rolling bellow of a cow moose. A fiercer trumpet call from the
mountain side answered; then the sound was lost in the _crash-crash_ of
the first two bulls, as they broke out upon the shore on opposite sides
of the canoe.

We gave little heed now to the nearer play; our whole attention
was fixed on a hoarse, grunting roar--_Uh, uh, uh! eeeyuh!
r-r-r-runh-unh!_--with a rattling, snapping crash of underbrush for an
accompaniment. The younger bull heard it; listened for a moment, like a
great black statue under the moonlight; then he glided away into the
shadows under the bank. The larger bull heard it, threw up his great
head defiantly, and came swinging along the shore, hurling a savage
challenge back on the echoing woods at every stride.

There was an ominous silence up on the ridge where, a moment before, all
was fierce commotion. Simmo was silent too; the uproar had been
appalling, with the sleeping lake below us, and the vast forest, where
silence dwells at home, stretching up and away on every hand to the sky
line. But the spirit of mischief was tingling all over me as I seized
the horn and gave the low appealing grunt that a cow would have uttered
under the same circumstances. Like a shot the answer was hurled back,
and down came the great bull--smash, crack, _r-r-runh!_ till he burst
like a tempest out on the open shore, where the second bull with a
challenging roar leaped to meet him.

Simmo was begging me to shoot, shoot, telling me excitedly that "Ol'
Dev'l," as he called him, would be more dangerous now than ever, if I
let him get away; but I only drove the canoe in closer to the splashing,
grunting uproar among the shadows under the bank.

[Illustration: "A MIGHTY SPRING OF HIS CROUCHING HAUNCHES FINISHED THE
WORK"]

There was a terrific duel under way when I swung the canoe alongside a
moment later. The bulls crashed together with a shock to break their
heads. Mud and water flew over them; their great antlers clashed and
rang like metal blades as they pushed and tugged, grunting like demons
in the fierce struggle. But the contest was too one-sided to last long.
The big bull that had almost killed me, but in whom I now found myself
taking an almost savage pride, had smashed down from the mountain in a
frightful rage, and with a power that nothing could resist. With a quick
lunge he locked antlers in the grip he wanted; a twist of his massive
neck and shoulders forced the opposing head aside, and a mighty spring
of his crouching haunches finished the work. The second moose went over
with a plunge like a bolt-struck pine. As he rolled up to his feet again
the savage old bull jumped for him and drove the brow antlers into his
flanks. The next moment both bulls had crashed away into the woods, one
swinging off in giant strides through the crackling underbrush for his
life, the other close behind, charging like a battering-ram into his
enemy's rear, grunting like a huge wild boar in his rage and exultation.
So the chase vanished over the ridge into the valley beyond; and silence
stole back, like a Chinese empress, into her disturbed dominions.

From behind a great windfall on the point above, where he had evidently
been watching the battle, the first young bull stole out, and came
halting and listening along the shore to the scene of the conflict. "To
the discreet belong the spoils" was written in every timorous step and
stealthy movement. A low grunt from my horn reassured him; he grew
confident. Now he would find the phantom mate that had occasioned so
much trouble, and run away with her before the conqueror should return
from his chase. He swung along rapidly, rumbling the low call in his
throat. Then up on the ridge sounded again the crackle of brush and the
roar of a challenge. Rage had not made the victor to forget; indeed,
here he was, coming back swiftly for his reward. On the instant all
confidence vanished from the young bull's attitude. He slipped away into
the woods. There was no sound; scarcely a definite motion. A shadow
seemed to glide away into the darker shadows. The underbrush closed
softly behind it, and he was gone.

Next morning at daybreak I found my old bull on the shore, a mile below;
and with him was the great cow that had hunted me away from her little
one. The youngster was well grown and sturdy now, but still he followed
his mother obediently; and the big bull had taken them both under his
protection. I left them there undisturbed, with a thought of the mighty
offspring that shall some day come smashing down from the mountain to
delight the heart of camper or hunter and set his nerves a-tingle, when
the lake shall again be visited and the roar of a bark trumpet roll over
the sleeping lake and the startled woods. Let them kill who will. I have
seen Umquenawis the Mighty as he was before fear came, and am satisfied.

[Illustration]



GLOSSARY OF INDIAN NAMES


+Cheokhes+, _chē-ok-hĕs´_, the mink.

+Cheplahgan+, _chep-lâh´gan_, the bald eagle.

+Ch'geegee-lokh-sis+, _ch'gee-gee´lock-sis_, the chickadee.

+Chigwooltz+, _chig-wooltz´_, the bullfrog.

+Clóte Scarpe+, a legendary hero, like Hiawatha, of the Northern
  Indians. Pronounced variously, Clote Scarpe, Groscap, Gluscap, etc.

+Commoosie+, _com-moo-sie´_, a little shelter, or hut, of boughs and
  bark.

+Deedeeaskh+, _dee-dee´ask_, the blue jay.

+Eleemos+, _el-ee´mos_, the fox.

+Hawahak+, _hâ-wâ-hăk´_, the hawk.

+Hukweem+, _huk-weem´_, the great northern diver, or loon.

+Ismaques+, _iss-mâ-ques´_, the fishhawk.

+Kagax+, _kăg´ăx_, the weasel.

+Kakagos+, _kâ-kâ-gŏs´_, the raven.

+K'dunk+, _k'dunk´_, the toad.

+Keeokuskh+, _kee-o-kusk´_, the muskrat.

+Keeonekh+, _kee´o-nek_, the otter.

+Killooleet+, _kil´loo-leet_, the white-throated sparrow.

+Kookooskoos+, _koo-koo-skoos´_, the great horned owl.

+Koskomenos+, _kŏs´kŏm-e-nŏs´_, the kingfisher.

̤+Kupkawis+, _cup-ka̤´wis_, the barred owl.

+Kwaseekho+, _kwâ-seek´ho_, the sheldrake.

+Lhoks+, _locks_, the panther.

+Malsun+, _măl´sun_, the wolf.

+Meeko+, _meek´ō_, the red squirrel.

+Megaleep+, _meg´â-leep_, the caribou.

+Milicete+, _mil´ĭ-cete_, the name of an Indian tribe; written also
  Malicete.

+Mitches+, _mit´chĕs_, the birch partridge, or ruffed grouse.

+Moktaques+, _mok-tâ´ques_, the hare.

+Mooween+, _moo-ween´_, the black bear.

+Musquash+, _mus´quâsh_, the muskrat.

+Nemox+, _nĕm´ox_, the fisher.

+Pekquam+, _pek-wăm´_, the fisher.

+Quoskh+, _quoskh_, the blue heron.

+Seksagadagee+, _sek´sâ-gā-dâ´gee_, the Canada grouse, or spruce
  partridge.

+Skooktum+, _skook´tum_, the trout.

+Tookhees+, _tôk´hees_, the wood mouse.

+Umquenawis+, _um-que-nâ´wis_, the moose.

+Unk Wunk+, _unk´ wunk_, the porcupine.

+Upweekis+, _up-week´iss_, the Canada lynx.

[Illustration]



ANNOUNCEMENTS


WOOD FOLK SERIES

By WILLIAM J. LONG

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This is another chapter in the shy, wild life of the fields and woods.
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The title of this new book suggests the central thought about which the
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  Wood Folk at School                                     .50      .60
Morley's Little Wanderers                                 .30      .35
Morley's Insect Folk                                      .45      .50
Porter's Stars in Song and Legend                         .50      .55
Roth's First Book of Forestry                             .75      .85
Stickney's Study and Story Nature Readers:
  Earth and Sky, No. I                                    .30      .35
  Earth and Sky, No. II                                   .30      .35
  Pets and Companions                                     .30      .40
  Bird World                                              .60      .70
Strong's All the Year Round.
  Part I, Autumn.
  Part II, Winter.
  Part III, Spring                                   each .30      .35
Weed's Seed-Travellers                                    .25      .30
Weed's Stories of Insect Life:
  First Series                                            .25      .30
  Second Series. (Murtfeldt and Weed)                     .30      .35

GINN & COMPANY PUBLISHERS



TEXT-BOOKS IN ELEMENTARY SCIENCE

                                                       List   Mailing
                                                       price  price
Atkinson's First Studies of Plant Life                 $0.60  $0.70
Ball's Star-Land                                        1.00   1.10
Beal's Seed Dispersal                                    .35    .40
Bergen's Glimpses at the Plant World                     .40    .45
Blaisdell's Child's Book of Health                       .30    .35
Blaisdell's How to Keep Well                             .45    .55
Blaisdell's Our Bodies and How We Live                   .65    .75
Burkett, Stevens, and Hill's Agriculture for Beginners   .75    .80
Frye's Elements of Geography                             .65    .80
Frye's Grammar School Geography                         1.25   1.45
Frye's Child and Nature                                  .80    .88
Frye's Brooks and Brook Basins                           .58    .70
Gould's Mother Nature's Children                         .60    .70
Hall's Our World Reader, No. 1                           .50    .60
Hodge's Nature Study and Life                           1.50   1.65
Holden's The Sciences                                    .50    .60
Newell's Outlines of Lessons in Botany:
  Part I. From Seed to Leaf                              .50    .55
  Part II. Flower and Fruit                              .80    .90
Newell's Reader in Botany:
  Part I. From Seed to Leaf                              .60    .70
  Part II. Flower and Fruit                              .60    .70
Roth's First Book of Forestry                            .75    .85
Shaler's Story of Our Continent                          .75    .85
Weed's Seed-Travellers                                   .25    .30
Weed's Stories of Insect Life:
  First Series                                           .25    .30
  Second Series. (Murtfeldt and Weed)                    .30    .35

GINN & COMPANY Publishers



AGRICULTURE FOR BEGINNERS

By C. W. BURKETT, Professor of Agriculture; F. L. STEVENS, Professor of
Biology; and D. H. HILL, Professor of English in the North Carolina
College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts

12mo. Cloth. 267 pages. Illustrated. List price, 75 cents; mailing
price, 80 cents

No book for common schools in recent years has aroused such widespread
interest and been so universally commended as this little volume. Its
adoption in two great states before its publication, and in still
another state immediately after its appearance, indicates the unusually
high merit of the work.

The authors believe that there is no line of separation between the
science of agriculture and the practical art of agriculture, and that
the subject is eminently teachable. Theory and practice are presented at
one and the same time, so that the pupil is taught the fundamental
principles of farming just as he is taught the fundamental truths of
arithmetic, geography, or grammar.

The work is planned for use in grammar-school classes. It thus presents
the subject to the pupil when his aptitudes are the most rapidly
developing and when he is forming life habits. It will give to him,
therefore, at the vital period of his life a training which will go far
toward making his life work profitable and delightful. The text is
clear, interesting, and teachable. While primarily intended for class
work in the public schools, it will no doubt appeal to all who desire a
knowledge of the simple scientific truths which lie at the foundation of
most farm operations.

The two hundred and eighteen illustrations are unusually excellent and
are particularly effective in illuminating the text. The book is
supplied throughout with practical exercises, simple and interesting
experiments, and helpful suggestions. The Appendix, devoted to spraying
mixtures and fertilizer formulas, the Glossary, in which are explained
unusual and technical words, and the complete Index are important.

In mechanical execution--in the attractive and durable binding, in the
clear, well-printed page, and in the illustrations--the book is easily
superior to any other elementary work on agriculture.

GINN & COMPANY PUBLISHERS


  +--------------------------------------------------------------+
  |                      Transcriber's Note                      |
  |                                                              |
  | The following words were found in both hyphenated and        |
  | unhyphenated forms:                                          |
  |                                                              |
  |   half-way   halfway                                         |
  |   tree-top   treetop                                         |
  |                                                              |
  | Words printed in bold font in the book are surrounded by '+' |
  | signs.                                                       |
  |                                                              |
  | Illustrations have been moved to more appropriate places in  |
  | the text.                                                    |
  +--------------------------------------------------------------+





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