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Title: Forest Neighbors - Life Stories of Wild Animals
Author: Hulbert, William Davenport, 1868-1913
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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          _"And the Northern Lights come down,
             To dance with the houseless snow;
           And God, Who clears the grounding berg,
             And steers the grinding floe,
           He hears the cry of the little kit-fox,
             And the lemming, on the snow."_


[Illustration: _The Beaver Lumbering._]


Life Stories of Wild Animals




Doubleday, Page & Co.
Garden City
New York

Copyright, 1900, 1901, and 1902, by
the S. S. Mcclure Co.

Copyright, 1902, by
Doubleday, Page & Co.

          _To my Sister_



   INTRODUCTION                               xi

   THE BIOGRAPHY OF A BEAVER                   1

   THE KING OF THE TROUT STREAM               41



   THE ADVENTURES OF A LOON                  163



   The Beaver Lumbering      _Frontispiece_


   "On the grass in the warm, quiet sunshine of
       an autumn afternoon"                             6

   Building the Dam                                    22

   Nesting Grounds                                     62

   "He tried jumping out of the water"                 72

   "The hole was suddenly darkened, and a round,
       hairy face looked in"                          100

   "He was a very presentable young lynx"             110

   "They both stood still and looked at each other"   120

   "High up in the top of a tall hemlock"             132

   "He quickly made his way to the beach"             148

   "He went under as simply as you would step out
       of bed"                                        166

   "She herself was a rarely beautiful sight"         170

   "The old earth sliding southward fifty miles
       an hour"                                       180

   "He was a baby to be proud of"                     202

   "The buck was nearing the prime of life"           226

   "Wherever they went they were always struggling
       and fighting"                                  230


_Some thirty years ago, while out on one of his landlooking trips in
the woods of Northern Michigan, my father came upon a little lake which
seemed to him the loveliest that he had ever seen, though he had visited
many in the course of his explorations. The wild ponds are very apt to
be shallow and muddy, with low, marshy shores; but this one was deep and
clear, and its high banks were clothed with a splendid growth of beech,
maple and birch. Tall elms stood guard along the water's edge, and here
and there the hardwood forest was broken by dark hemlock groves, and
groups of lordly pine-trees, lifting their great green heads high above
their deciduous neighbors. Only in one place, around the extreme eastern
end, the ground was flat and wet; and there the tamarack swamp showed
golden yellow in October, and light, delicate green in late spring. Wild
morning-glories grew on the grassy point that put out from the northern
shore, and in the bays the white water-lilies were blossoming. Nearly
two miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, it lay basking and
shimmering in the sunshine, a big, broad, beautiful sheet of water set
down in the very heart of the woods._

_There were no settlers anywhere near, nor even any Indians, yet there
was no lack of inhabitants. Bears and wolves and a host of smaller
animals were to be found, and along the shores were runways that had
been worn deep in the soil by the tread of generation after generation
of dainty little cloven hoofs. I suppose that some of those paths have
been used by the deer for hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of years._

_The lands around the entire lake were offered for sale by the United
States Government at the ridiculously low price which Uncle Sam has
asked for most of his possessions; and with the help of some friends my
father bought the whole shore. During the years which followed he was
occupied in various ways, and some of the best recollections of my
boyhood are of the days and the nights which I spent with him on his
fishing-tug, steaming about the Straits of Mackinac and the northern
part of Lake Huron. But he could not forget the Glimmerglass, that
little wild lake up in the woods. He had fallen in love with it at first
sight, and at last he took his family and went there to live._

_Human neighbors were scarce around the lake, and perhaps that was one
reason why we took such a lively interest in the other residents--those
who were there ahead of us. "Him and me's chums," my small sister said
of the red-squirrel that hung around the log-barn. And some of the
animals seemed to take a very lively interest in us. The chipmunks came
into the house occasionally, on foraging expeditions; and so, I regret
to say, did the skunks. There was a woodchuck who used to come to the
back door, looking for scraps, and who learned to sit bolt upright and
hold a pancake in his fore paws while he nibbled at it, without being in
the least disturbed by the presence and the comments of half a dozen
spectators. The porcupines became a never-ending nuisance, for they made
almost nightly visits to the woodshed. To kill them was of little use,
for the next night--or perhaps before morning--there were others to take
their places. Once in a while one of them would climb up onto the roof
of the house; and between his teeth and his feet and the rattling of his
quills on the shingles, the racket that he made was out of all
proportion to his size._

          It is sweet to lie at evening in your little trundle-bed,
          And to listen to a porky gnawing shingles overhead;
            Porky, porky, porky, porky;
            Gnawing shingles overhead.

_The wolves had been pretty nearly exterminated since my father's first
visit to the lake, and we saw little or nothing of them. The bears
seemed to be more numerous, but they were very shy and retiring. We
found their tracks more often than we came upon the animals themselves.
Some of the cat tribe remained, and occasionally placed themselves in
evidence. My brother came in one day from a long tramp on snow-shoes,
and told how he had met one of them standing guard over the remains of a
deer, and how the lynx had held him up and made him go around. Beavers
were getting scarce, though a few were still left on the more secluded
streams. Deer, on the contrary, were very plentiful. Many a time they
invaded our garden-patch and helped themselves to our fresh vegetables._

_One August afternoon a flock of eight young partridges, of that
spring's hatching, coolly marched out of the woods and into the
clearing, as if they were bent on investigating their new neighbors.
Partridges appear to be subject to occasional fits of stupidity, and to
temporary (or possibly permanent) loss of common-sense; but it may be
that in this case the birds were too young and inexperienced to realize
what they were doing. Or perhaps they knew that it was Sunday, and that
the rules of the household forbade shooting on that day. If so, their
confidence was sadly misplaced. We didn't shoot them, but we did
surround them, and by working carefully and cautiously we "shooed" them
into an empty log-house. And the next day we had them for dinner._

_Around the shores of the Glimmerglass a few loons and wild-ducks
usually nested, and in the autumn the large flocks from the Far North
often stopped there for short visits, on their way south for the winter.
They were more sociable than you would suppose--or at least the loons
were--and the same small girl who had made friends with the red-squirrel
learned to talk to the big birds._

_Down in the water the herring and a large species of salmon trout made
their homes, and probably enjoyed themselves till they met with the
gill-net and the trolling-hook. But herring and salmon trout did not
satisfy us; we wanted brook trout, too. And so one day a shipment of
babies arrived from the hatchery at Sault Ste. Marie, and thus we first
became acquainted with the habits of infant fishes, and learned
something of their needs and the methods of their foster-parents._

_One after another our neighbors introduced themselves, each in his own
way. And they were good neighbors, all of them. Even the porcupines and
the skunks were interesting--in their peculiar fashion--and I wish there
were none worse than they in the city's slums._

_I have said good-by to the Glimmerglass, and it may be that I shall
never again make my home by its shores. But the life of the woods goes
on, and will still go on as long as man will let it. I suppose that,
even as I write, the bears are "holeing up" for the winter, and the deer
are growing anxious because the snow is covering the best of their food,
and they of the cat tribe are getting down to business, and hunting in
deadly earnest. The loons and the ducks have pulled out for the Gulf of
Mexico, and the squirrels are glad that they have such a goodly store of
nuts laid up for the next four months. The beavers have retired to their
lodges--that is, if Charley Roop and his fellows have left any of them
alive. The partridges--well, the partridges will just have to get along
the best way they can. I guess they'll pull through somehow. The
porcupines are all right, as you will presently see if you read this
book. They don't have to worry. Down in the bed of the trout stream the
trout eggs are getting ready--getting ready. And out on the lake itself
the frost is at work, and the ice-sheet is forming, and under that cold,
white lid the Glimmerglass will wait till another year brings round
another spring-time--the spring-time that will surely come to all of us
if only we hold on long enough._

_Chicago, December, 1901._


A BROAD, flat tail came down on the water with a whack that sent the
echoes flying back and forth across the pond, and its owner ducked his
head, arched his back, and dived to the bottom. It was a very curious
tail, for besides being so oddly paddle-shaped it was covered with what
looked like scales, but were really sections and indentations of hard,
horny, blackish-gray skin. Except its owner's relations, there was no
one else in all the animal kingdom who had one like it. But the
strangest thing about it was the many different ways in which he used
it. Just now it was his rudder--and a very good rudder, too.

In a moment his little brown head reappeared, and he and his brothers
and sisters went chasing each other round and round the pond, ducking
and diving and splashing, raising such a commotion that they sent the
ripples washing all along the grassy shores, and having the jolliest
kind of a time. It isn't the usual thing for young beavers to be out in
broad daylight, but all this happened in the good old days before the
railways came, when northern Michigan was less infested with men than
it is now.

When the youngsters wanted a change they climbed up onto a log, and
nudged and hunched each other, poking their noses into one another's fat
little sides, and each trying to shove his brother or sister back into
the water. By and by they scrambled out on the bank, and then, when
their fur had dripped a little, they set to work to comb it. Up they sat
on their hind legs and tails--the tail was a stool now, you see--and
scratched their heads and shoulders with the long brown claws of their
small, black, hairy hands. Then the hind feet came up one at a time, and
combed and stroked their sides till the moisture was gone and the fur
was soft and smooth and glossy as velvet. After that they had to have
another romp. They were not half as graceful on land as they had been in
the water. In fact they were not graceful at all, and the way they stood
around on their hind legs, and shuffled, and pranced, and wheeled like
baby hippopotami, and slapped the ground with their tails, was one of
the funniest sights in the heart of the woods. And the funniest and
liveliest of them all was the one who owned that tail--the tail which,
when I last saw it, was lying on the ground in front of Charlie Roop's
shack. He was the one whom I shall call the Beaver--with a big B.

But even young beavers will sometimes grow tired of play, and at last
they all lay down on the grass in the warm, quiet sunshine of the autumn
afternoon. The wind had gone to sleep, the pond glittered like steel in
its bed of grassy beaver-meadow, the friendly woods stood guard all
around, the enemy was far away, and it was a very good time for five
furry little babies to take a nap.

The city in which the tail first made its appearance was a very ancient
one, and may have been the oldest town on the North American continent.
Nobody knows when the first stick was laid in the dam that changed a
small natural pond into a large artificial one, and thus opened the way
for further municipal improvements; but it was probably centuries ago,
and for all we can tell it may have been thousands of years back in the
past. Generation after generation of beavers had worked on that dam,
building it a little higher and a little higher, a little longer and a
little longer, year after year; and raising their lodges as the pond
rose around them. Theirs was a maritime city, for most of its streets
were of water, like those of Venice; rich cargoes of food-stuffs came
floating to its very doors, and they themselves were navigators from
their earliest youth, and took to the water as naturally as ducks or
Englishmen. They were lumbermen, too, and when the timber was all cut
from along the shores of the pond they dug canals across the low, level,
marshy ground, back to the higher land where the birch and the poplar
still grew, and floated the branches and the smaller logs down the
artificial water-ways. And there were land roads, as well as canals, for
here and there narrow trails crossed the swamp, showing where
generations of busy workers had passed back and forth between the felled
tree and the water's edge. Streets, canals, public works, dwellings,
commerce, lumbering, rich stores laid up for the winter--what more do
you want to constitute a city, even if the houses are few in number, and
the population somewhat smaller than that of London or New York?

[Illustration: "_On the grass in the warm, quiet sunshine of an autumn

There was a time, not very long before the Beaver was born, when for a
few years the city was deserted. The trappers had swept through the
country, and the citizens' skulls had been hung up on the bushes, while
their skins went to the great London fur market. Few were left alive,
and those few were driven from their homes and scattered through the
woods. The trappers decided that the ground was worked out, and most of
them pushed on to the north and west in search of regions not yet
depopulated. Then, one by one, the beavers came back to their old
haunts. The broken dam was repaired; new lodges were built, and new
beavers born in them; and again the ancient town was alive with the play
of the babies and the labors of the civil engineers. Not as populous,
perhaps, as it had once been, but alive, and busy, and happy. And so it
was when our Beaver came into the world.

The first year of his life was an easy one, especially the winter, when
there was little for anyone to do except to eat, to sleep, and now and
then to fish for the roots of the yellow water-lily in the soft mud at
the bottom of the pond. During that season he probably accomplished more
than his parents did, for if he could not toil he could at least grow.
Of course they may have been growing, too, but it was less noticeable in
them than in him. Not only was he increasing in size and weight, but he
was storing up strength and strenuousness for the work that lay before
him. It would take much muscle to force those long yellow teeth of his
through the hard, tough flesh of the maple or the birch or the poplar.
It would take vigor and push and enterprise to roll the heavy billets
of wood over the grass-tufts to the edge of the water. And, most of all,
it would take strength and nerve and determination to tear himself away
from a steel trap and leave a foot behind. So it was well for the
youngster that for a time he had nothing to do but grow.

Spring came at last, and many of the male beavers prepared to leave home
for a while. The ladies seemed to prefer not to be bothered by the
presence of men-folk during the earliest infancy of the children; so the
men, probably nothing loath, took advantage of the opportunity to see
something of the world, wandering by night up and down the streams, and
hiding by day in burrows under the banks. For a time they enjoyed it,
but as the summer dragged by they came straggling home one after
another. The new babies who had arrived in their absence had passed the
most troublesome age, and it was time to begin work again. The dam and
the lodges needed repairs, and there was much food to be gathered and
laid up for the coming winter.

Now, on a dark autumn night, behold the young Beaver toiling with might
and main. His parents have felled a tree, and it is his business to help
them cut up the best portions and carry them home. He gnaws off a small
branch, seizes the butt end between his teeth, swings it over his
shoulder, and makes for the water, keeping his head twisted around to
the right or left so that the end of the branch may trail on the ground
behind him. Sometimes he even rises on his hind legs, and walks almost
upright, with his broad, strong tail for a prop to keep him from tipping
over backward if his load happens to catch on something. Arrived at the
canal or at the edge of the pond, he jumps in and swims for town, still
carrying the branch over his shoulder, and finally leaves it on the
growing pile in front of his father's lodge. Or perhaps the stick is too
large and too heavy to be carried in such a way. In that case it must be
cut into short billets and rolled, as a cant-hook man rolls a log down a
skidway. Only the Beaver has no cant-hook to help him, and no skidway,
either. All he can do is to push with all his might, and there are so
many, many grass-tufts and little hillocks in the way! And sometimes the
billet rolls down into a hollow, and then it is very hard to get it out
again. He works like a beaver, and pushes and shoves and toils with
tremendous energy, but I am afraid that more than one choice stick never
reaches the water.

These were his first tasks. Later on he learned to fell trees himself.
Standing up on his hind legs and tail, with his hands braced against the
trunk, he would hold his head sidewise, open his mouth wide, set his
teeth against the bark, and bring his jaws together with a savage nip
that left a deep gash in the side of the tree. A second nip deepened the
gash, and gave it more of a downward slant, and two or three more
carried it still farther into the tough wood. Then he would choose a new
spot a little farther down, and start a second gash, which was made to
slant up toward the first. And when he thought that they were both deep
enough he would set his teeth firmly in the wood between them, and pull
and jerk and twist at it until he had wrenched out a chip--a chip
perhaps two inches long, and from an eighth to a quarter of an inch
thick. He would make bigger ones when he grew to be bigger himself, but
you mustn't expect too much at first. Chip after chip was torn out in
this way, and gradually he would work around the tree until he had
completely encircled it. Then the groove was made deeper, and after a
while it would have to be broadened so that he could get his head
farther into it. He seemed to think it was of immense importance to get
the job done as quickly as possible, for he worked away with tremendous
energy and eagerness, as if felling that tree was the only thing in the
world that was worth doing. Once in a while he would pause for a moment
to feel of it with his hands, and to glance up at the top to see whether
it was getting ready to fall, and several times he stopped long enough
to take a refreshing dip in the pond; but he always hurried back, and
pitched in again harder than ever. In fact, he sometimes went at it so
impetuously that he slipped and rolled over on his back. Little by
little he dug away the tree's flesh until there was nothing left but its
heart, and at last it began to crack and rend. The Beaver jumped aside
to get out of the way, and hundreds and hundreds of small, tender
branches, and delicious little twigs and buds came crashing down where
he could cut them off and eat them or carry them away at his leisure.

And so the citizens labored, and their labor brought its rich reward,
and everybody was busy and contented, and life was decidedly worth

But one black November night our hero's father, the wisest old beaver in
all the town, went out to his work and never came home again. A trapper
had found the rebuilt city--a scientific trapper who had studied his
profession for years, and who knew just how to go to work. He kept away
from the lodges as long as he could, so as not to frighten anyone; and
before he set a single trap he looked the ground over very carefully,
located the different trails that ran back from the water's edge toward
the timber, visited the stumps of the felled trees, and paid particular
attention to the tooth-marks on the chips. No two beavers leave marks
that are exactly alike. The teeth of one are flatter or rounder than
those of another, while a third has large or small nicks in the edges of
his yellow chisels; and each tooth leaves its own peculiar signature
behind it. By noting all these things the trapper concluded that a
particular runway in the wet, grassy margin of the pond was the one by
which a certain old beaver always left the water in going to his night's
labor. That beaver, he decided, would best be the first one taken, for
he was probably the head of a family, and an elderly person of much
wisdom and experience; and if one of his children should be caught first
he might become alarmed, and take the lead in a general exodus.

So the trapper set a heavy double-spring trap in the edge of the water
at the foot of the runway, and covered it with a thin sheet of moss.
And that night, as the old beaver came swimming up to the shore, he put
his foot down where he shouldn't, and two steel jaws flew up and clasped
him around the thigh. He had felt that grip before. Was not half of his
right hand gone, and three toes from his left hind foot? But this was a
far more serious matter than either of those adventures. It was not a
hand that was caught this time, nor yet a toe, or toes. It was his right
hind leg, well up toward his body, and the strongest beaver that ever
lived could not have pulled himself free. Now when a beaver is
frightened, he of course makes for deep water. There, he thinks, no
enemy can follow him; and, what is more, it is the highway to his lodge,
and to the burrow that he has hollowed in the bank for a refuge in case
his house should be attacked. So this beaver turned and jumped back into
the water the way he had come; but, alas! he took his enemy with him.
The heavy trap dragged him to the bottom like a stone, and the short
chain fastened to a stake kept him from going very far toward home. For
a few minutes he struggled with all his might, and the soft black mud
rose about him in inky clouds. Then he quieted down and lay very, very
still; and the next day the trapper came along and pulled him out by
the chain.

Something else happened the same night. Another wise old beaver, the
head man of another lodge, was killed by a falling tree. He ought to
have known better than to let such a thing happen. I really don't see
how he could have been so careless. But the best of us will make
mistakes at times, and any pitcher may go once too often to the well. I
suppose that he had felled hundreds of trees and bushes, big and little,
in the course of his life, and he had never yet met with an accident;
but this time he thought he would take one more bite after the tree had
really begun to fall. So he thrust his head again into the narrowing
notch, and the wooden jaws closed upon him with a nip that was worse
than his own. He tried to draw back, but it was too late, his skull
crashed in, and his life went out like a candle.

And so, in a few hours, the city lost two of its best citizens--the very
two whom it could least afford to lose. If they had been spared they
might, perhaps, have known enough to scent the coming danger, and to
lead their families and neighbors away from the doomed town, deeper into
the heart of the wilderness. As it was, the trapper had things all his
own way, and by working carefully and cautiously he added skin after
skin to his store of beaver-pelts. I haven't time to tell you of all the
different ways in which he set his traps, nor can we stop to talk of the
various baits that he used, from castoreum to fresh sticks of birch or
willow, or of those other traps, still more artfully arranged, which had
no bait at all, but were cunningly hidden where the poor beavers would
be almost certain to step into them before they saw them. After all, it
was his awful success that mattered, rather than the way in which he
achieved it. Our friend's mother was one of the next to go, and the way
his brothers and sisters disappeared one after another was a thing to
break one's heart.

One night the Beaver himself came swimming down the pond, homeward
bound, and as he dived and approached the submarine entrance of the
lodge he noticed some stakes driven into the mud--stakes that had never
been there before. They seemed to form two rows, one on each side of his
course, but as there was room enough for him to pass between them he
swam straight ahead without stopping. His hands had no webs between the
fingers, and were of little use in swimming, so he had folded them back
against his body; but his big feet were working like the wheels of a
twin-screw steamer, and he was forging along at a great rate. Suddenly,
half-way down the lines of stakes, his breast touched the pan of a steel
trap, and the jaws flew up quick as a wink and strong as a vise.
Fortunately there was nothing that they could take hold of. They struck
him so hard that they lifted him bodily upward, but they caught only a
few hairs.

Even a scientific trapper may sometimes make mistakes, and when this one
came around to visit his trap, and found it sprung but empty, he thought
that the beavers must have learned its secret and sprung it on purpose.
There was no use, he decided, in trying to catch such intelligent
animals in their own doorway, and he took the trap up and set it in a
more out-of-the-way place. And so one source of danger was removed, just
because the Beaver was lucky enough to touch the pan with his breast
instead of with a foot.

A week later he was really caught by his right hand, and met with one of
the most thrilling adventures of his life. Oh, but that was a glorious
night! Dark as a pocket, no wind, thick black clouds overhead, and the
rain coming down in a steady, steady drizzles--just the kind of a night
that the beavers love, when the friendly darkness shuts their little
city in from all the rest of the world, and when they feel safe and
secure. Then, how the long yellow teeth gouge and tear at the tough
wood, how the trees come tumbling down, and how the branches and the
little logs come hurrying in to augment the winter food-piles! Often of
late the Beaver had noticed an unpleasant odor along the shores, an odor
that frightened him and made him very uneasy, but to-night the rain had
washed it all away, and the woods smelled as sweet and clean as if God
had just made them over new. And on this night, of all others, the
Beaver put his hand squarely into a steel trap.

He was in a shallow portion of the pond, and the chain was too short for
him to reach water deep enough to drown him; but now a new danger
appeared, for there on the low, mossy bank was an otter, glaring at him
through the darkness. Beaver-meat makes a very acceptable meal for an
otter, and the Beaver knew it. And he knew, also, how utterly helpless
he was, either to fly or to resist, with that heavy trap on his arm, and
its chain binding him to the stake. His heart sank like lead, and he
trembled from his nose to the end of his tail, and whimpered and cried
like a baby. But, strange to say, it was the trapper who saved him,
though, of course, it was done quite unintentionally. As the otter
advanced to the attack there came a sudden sharp click, and in another
second he too was struggling for dear life. Two traps had been set in
the shallow water. The Beaver had found one, and the otter the other.

The full story of that night, with all its details of fear and suffering
and pain, will never be written; and probably it is as well that it
should not be. But I can give you a few of the facts, if you care to
hear them. The Beaver soon found that he was out of the otter's reach,
and with his fears relieved on that point he set to work to free himself
from the trap. Round and round he twisted, till there came a little
snap, and the bone of his arm broke short off in the steel jaws. Then
for a long, long time he pulled and pulled with all his might, and at
last the tough skin was rent apart, and the muscles and sinews were torn
out by the roots. His right hand was gone, and he was so weak and faint
that it seemed as if all the strength and life of his whole body had
gone with it. No matter. He was free, and he swam away to the nearest
burrow and lay down to rest. The otter tried to do the same, but he was
caught by the thick of his thigh, and his case was a hopeless one. Next
day the trapper found him alive, but very meek and quiet, worn out with
fear and useless struggles. In the other trap were a beaver's hand and
some long shreds of flesh and sinew that must once have reached well up
into the shoulder.

We shall have to hurry over the events of the next winter--the last
winter in the city's history. By the time the Beaver's wound was
healed--Nature was good to him, and the skin soon grew over the torn
stump--the pond was covered with ice. The beavers, only half as numerous
as they had been a few weeks before, kept close in their lodges and
burrows, and for a time they lived in peace and quiet, and their numbers
suffered no further diminution. Then the trapper took to setting his
traps through the ice, and before long matters were worse than ever. By
spring the few beavers that remained were so thoroughly frightened that
the ancient town was again abandoned--this time forever. The lodges fell
to ruins, the burrows caved in, the dam gave way, the pond and canals
were drained, and that was the end of the city.

Yet not quite the end, after all. The beavers have vanished from their
old habitation, but their work remains in the broad meadows cleared of
timber by their teeth, and covered with rich black soil by the
inundations from their dam. There is an Indian legend which says that
after the Creator separated the land from the water He employed gigantic
beavers to smooth it down and prepare it for the abode of men. However
that may be, the farmers of generations to come will have reason to rise
up and bless those busy little citizens--but I don't suppose they will
ever do it.

One city was gone, but there were two that could claim the honor of
being our Beaver's home at different periods of his life. The first, as
we have already seen, was ancient and historic. The second was
brand-new. Let us see how it had its beginning. The Beaver got married
about the time he left his old home; and this, by the way, is a very
good thing to do when you want to start a new town. Except for his
missing hand, his wife was so like him that it would have puzzled you to
tell which was which. I think it is very likely that she was his twin
sister, but of course that's none of our business. Do you want to know
what they looked like? They measured about three feet six inches from
tip of nose to tip of tail, and they weighed perhaps thirty pounds
apiece. Their bodies were heavy and clumsy, and were covered with thick,
soft, grayish under-fur, which in turn was overlaid with longer hairs of
a glistening chestnut-brown, making a coat that was thoroughly
water-proof as well as very beautiful. Their heads were somewhat like
those of gigantic rats, with small, light-brown eyes, little round ears
covered with hair, and long orange-colored incisors looking out from
between parted lips. One portrait will answer for both of them.

They wandered about for some time, looking for a suitable location, and
examining several spots along the beds of various little rivers, none of
which seemed to be just right. But at last they found, in the very heart
of the wilderness, a place where a shallow stream ran over a hard stony
bottom, and here they set to work. It was a very desirable situation in
every respect. At one side stood a large tree, so close that it could
probably be used as a buttress for the dam when the latter was
sufficiently lengthened to reach it; while above the shallow the ground
was low and flat on both sides for some distance back from the banks, so
that the pond would have plenty of room to spread out. If they could
have spoken they would probably have said that the place was a dam site
better than any other they had seen.

[Illustration: _Building the Dam._]

Alder bushes laid lengthwise of the current were the first materials
used, and for a time the water filtered through them with hardly a
pause. Then the beavers began laying mud and stones and moss on this
brush foundation, scooping them up with their hands, and holding them
under their chins as they waddled or swam to the dam. The Beaver himself
was not very good at this sort of work, for his right hand was gone, as
we know, and it was not easy for him to carry things; but he did the
best he could, and together they accomplished a great deal. The mud and
the grass and such-like materials were deposited mainly on the upper
face of the dam, where the pressure of the water only sufficed to drive
them tighter in among the brush; and thus, little by little, a smooth
bank of earth was presented to the current, backed up on the lower side
by a tangle of sticks and poles. Its top was very level and straight,
and along its whole length the water trickled over in a succession of
tiny rills. This was important, for if all the overflow had been in one
place the stream might have been so strong and rapid as to eat into
the dam, and perhaps carry away the whole structure.

The first year the beavers did not try to raise the stream more than a
foot above its original level. There was much other work to be done--a
house to be built, and food to be laid in for the winter--and if they
spent too much time on the dam they might freeze or starve before
spring. A few rods up-stream was a grassy point which the rising waters
had transformed into an island, and here they built their lodge, a
hollow mound of sticks and mud, with a small, cave-like chamber in the
centre, from which two tunnels led out under the pond--"angles," the
trappers call them. The walls were masses of earth and wood and stones,
so thick and solid that even a man with an axe would have found it
difficult to penetrate them. Only at the very apex of the mound there
was no mud, nothing but tangled sticks through which a breath of fresh
air found its way now and then. In spite of this feeble attempt at
ventilation I am obliged to admit that the atmosphere of the lodge was
often a good deal like that of the Black Hole of Calcutta, but beavers
are so constituted that they do not need much oxygen, and they did not
seem to mind it. In all other respects the house was neat and clean.
The floor was only two or three inches above the level of the water in
the angles, and would naturally have been a bed of mud; but they mixed
little twigs with it, and stamped and pounded it down till it was hard
and smooth. I think likely the Beaver's tail had something to do with
this part of the work, as well as with finishing off the dam, for he was
fond of slapping things with it, and it was just the right shape for
such use. In fact, I fear that if it had not been for the tail, and for
other tails like it, neither of the cities would ever have been as
complete as they were. With the ends of projecting sticks cut off to
leave the walls even and regular, and with long grass carried in to make
the beds, the lodge was finished and ready.

And now you might have seen the beavers coming home to rest after a
night's labor at felling timber--swimming across the pond toward the
island, with only the tops of their two little heads showing above the
water. In front of the lodge each tail-rudder gives a slap and a twist,
and they dive for the submarine door of one of the angles. In another
second they are swimming along the dark, narrow tunnel, making the water
surge around them. Suddenly the roof of the passage rises, and their
heads pop up into the air. A yard or two farther, and they enter the
chamber of the lodge, with its level floor and its low, arched roof. And
there in the darkness they lie down on their grass beds and go to sleep.
It is good to have a home of your own where you may take your ease when
the night's work is done.

Near the upper end of the pond, where the bank was higher, they dug a
long burrow, running back ten or fifteen feet into the ground. This was
to be the last resort if, by any possibility, the lodge should ever be
invaded. It was a weary task, digging that burrow, for its mouth was
deep under the water, and every few minutes they had to stop work and
come to the surface for breath. Night after night they scooped and
shovelled, rushing the job as fast as they knew how, but making pretty
slow progress in spite of all their efforts. It was done at last,
however, and they felt easier in their minds when they knew that it was
ready for use in case of necessity. From its mouth in the depths of the
pond it sloped gradually upward to a dry chamber under the roots of a
large birch; and here, where a few tiny holes were not likely to be
noticed from the outside, two or three small openings, almost hidden by
the moss and dead leaves, let in the air and an occasional ray of
light. The big tree made a solid roof overhead, and the chamber was
large enough, with a little crowding, to accommodate a whole family of

There was only one other heavy task, and that was the gathering of the
wood, which, with its bark, was to serve as food through the winter.
This too was finally finished, and the very last things that the beavers
did that fall were to put another coat of mud on the outside of the
lodge, and to see that the dam was in the best possible condition. No
repairing could be done after the ice made; and if the dam should give
way at any time during the winter, the pond would be drained, and the
entrances of the lodge and the burrow would be thrown open to any
prowling marauders that might happen to pass that way. So it was
imperative to have things in good order before cold weather came on.

There came a quiet, windless day, when the sky was gray, and when the
big snow-flakes came floating lazily down, some to lose themselves in
the black water, and some to robe the woods and the shores in white. At
nightfall the clouds broke up, the stars shone forth, and the air grew
odder and keener till long crystal spears shot out across the pond, and
before morning a sheet of glass had spread from shore to shore. I do not
think it was unwelcome. The beavers were shut in for the winter, or
could only go abroad with considerable difficulty, but they had each
other, and there was a little world of their own down under the ice and
snow. The chamber of the lodge was home, and just outside was their food
storehouse--the big pile of wood which it had cost so much labor to
gather. One of the entrances was shorter and straighter than the other,
and through this they used to bring in sticks from the heap, and lay
them on the floor between the beds, where they could devour the bark at
their leisure. If they grew restless, and wanted to go farther afield,
there was the bottom of the pond to be explored, and the big luscious
lily-roots to be dug up for a change of diet. It was a peaceful time, a
time of rest from the labors of the past year, and of growing fat and
strong for those of the year to come. We have much goods laid up for
many months; let us eat, drink, and be merry, and hope that the trappers
will not come to-morrow.

The babies came in May, and I suppose that the young father and mother
were almost as proud and happy as some of you who are in similar
circumstances. The Beaver did not wander very far from home that spring
and summer, nor was he away very long at a time.

There were five of the children, and they were very pretty--about as
large as rats, and covered with thick, soft, silky, reddish-brown fur,
but without any of the longer, coarser, chestnut-colored hairs that
formed their parents' outer coats. They were very playful, too, as the
father and mother had been in their own youthful days. For a while they
had to be nursed, like other babies; but by and by the old beavers began
to bring in little twigs for them, about the size of lead-pencils; and
if you had been there, and your eyes had been sharp enough to pierce the
gloom, you might have seen the youngsters exercising their brand new
teeth, and learning to sit up and hold sticks in their baby hands while
they ate the bark. And wouldn't you have liked to be present on the
night when they first went swimming down the long, dark tunnel; and,
rising to the surface, looked around on their world of woods and
water--on the quiet pond, with its glassy smoothness broken only by
their own ripples; on the tall trees, lifting their fingers toward the
sky; and on the stars, marching silently across the heavens, and looking
down with still, unwinking eyes on another family of babies that had
come to live and love and be happy for a little while on God's earth?

One of the children was killed by an otter before the summer was over,
but I am glad to say that the other four grew up and were a credit to
their parents.

The babies were not the only addition to the new city during that year,
for about mid-summer another pair of beavers came and built a lodge near
the upper end of the pond. It was a busy season for everybody--for our
old friends as well as for the new-comers. The food-sticks which had
been peeled off their bark during the winter furnished a good supply of
construction material, and the dam was built up several inches higher,
and was lengthened to the buttress-tree on one side, and for a distance
of two or three rods on the other, so as to keep the water from flowing
around the ends. As the water-level rose it became necessary to build up
the floor of the lodge in order to keep it from being flooded; and that,
in turn, necessitated raising the roof by the simple process of
hollowing it out from within and adding more material on the outside. In
the same way the lodge was made both longer and broader, to accommodate
the growing family and the still further increase that was to be
expected the following spring. More burrows were dug in the shore of
the pond--you can't have too many of them--and a much larger stock of
food wood was gathered, for there were six mouths, instead of two, to be
fed through the coming winter. The father and mother worked very hard,
and even the babies helped with the lighter tasks, such as carrying home
small branches, and mending little leaks in the dam. The second pair of
beavers was also busy with lodge and burrow and storehouse, and so the
days slipped by very rapidly.

Only once that year did a man come to town, and then he did not do
anything very dreadful. He was not a trapper, he was only an amateur
naturalist who wanted to see the beavers at their work, and who thought
he was smart enough to catch them at it. His plan was simple enough; he
made a breach in the dam one night, and then climbed a tree and waited
for them to come and mend it. It was bright moonlight, and he thought he
would see the whole thing and learn some wonderful secrets.

The Beaver was at work in the woods not very far away, and presently he
came down to the edge of the pond, rolling a heavy birch cutting before
him. He noticed at once that the water was falling, and he started
straight for the dam to see what was the matter. The amateur naturalist
saw him coming, a dark speck moving swiftly down the pond, with a long
V-shaped ripple spreading out behind him like the flanks of a flock of
wild geese. But the beaver was doing some thinking while he swam. He had
never before known the water to fall so suddenly and rapidly; there must
be a very bad break in the dam. How could it have happened? It looked
suspicious. It looked very suspicious indeed; and just before he reached
the dam he stopped to reconnoitre, and at once caught sight of the
naturalist up in the tree. His tail rose in the air and came down with
the loudest whack that had ever echoed across the pond, a stroke that
sent the spray flying in every direction, and that might have been heard
three-quarters of a mile away. His wife heard it, and paused in her work
of felling a tree; the children heard it, and the neighbors heard it;
and they all knew it meant business. The Beaver dived like a loon and
swam for dear life, and he did not come to the surface again till he had
reached the farther end of the pond and was out of sight behind a grassy
point. There he stayed, now and then striking the water with his tail
as a signal that the danger was not yet over. It isn't every animal that
can use his caudal appendage as a stool, as a rudder, as a third hind
leg, as a trowel for smoothing the floor of his house, and as a tocsin
for alarming his fellow-citizens.

The naturalist roosted in the tree till his teeth were chattering and he
was fairly blue with cold, and then he scrambled down and went back to
his camp, where he had a violent chill. The next night it rained, and as
he did not want to get wet there was nothing to do but stay in his tent.
When he visited the pond again the dam had been repaired and the water
was up to its usual level. He decided that watching beavers wasn't very
interesting, hardly worth the trouble it cost; and he guessed he knew
enough about them, anyhow. So the next day he packed up his camping
outfit and went home.

In the following year the population was increased to eighteen, for six
more babies arrived in our Beaver's lodge, and four in his neighbors'.
In another twelvemonth the first four were old enough to build lodges
and found homes of their own; and so the city grew, and our Beaver and
his wife were the original inhabitants, the first settlers, the most
looked-up-to of all the citizens. You are not to suppose, however, that
the Beaver was mayor of the town. There was no city government. The
family was the unit, and each household was a law unto itself. But that
did not keep him from being the oldest, the wisest, the most knowing of
all the beavers in the community, just as his father had been before him
in another town.

I don't believe you care to hear all about the years that followed. They
were years of peace and growth, of marriages and homebuilding, of many
births and a few deaths, of winter rest and summer labor, and of quiet
domestic happiness. There was little excitement, and, best of all, there
were no trappers. The time came when the Beaver might well say, as he
looked around on the community which he and his wife had founded, that
he was a citizen of no mean city.

But this could not last. A great calamity was coming--a calamity beside
which the slow destruction of the former town would seem tame and

One bright February day the Beaver and his wife left their lodge to look
for lily-roots. They had found a big fat one and were just about to
begin their feast, when they heard foot-steps on the ice over their
heads, and the voices of several men talking eagerly. They made for the
nearest burrow as fast as they could go, and stayed there the rest of
the day, and when they returned to their lodge they found--but I'm going
too fast.

The men were Indians and half-breeds, and they were in high feather over
their discovery. Around this pond there must be enough beaver-skins to
keep them in groceries and tobacco and whiskey for a long time to come.
But to find a city is one thing, and to get hold of its inhabitants is
another and a very different one. One of the Indians was an elderly man
who in the old days had trapped beaver in Canada for the Hudson Bay
Company, and he assumed the direction of the work. First of all they
chopped holes in the ice and drove a line of stakes across the stream
just above the pond, so that no one might escape in that direction.
Then, by pounding on the ice, and cutting more holes in it here and
there, they found the entrances to all the lodges and most of the
burrows, and closed them also with stakes driven into the bottom.
Fortunately they did not find the burrow where our Beaver and his wife
had taken refuge. They were about to break open the roofs of the lodges
when the old man proposed that they should play a trick on one of the
beaver families--a trick which his father had taught him when he was a
boy, and when the beavers were many in the woods around Lake Superior.
He described it with enthusiasm, and his companions agreed that it would
be great fun. For a time there was much chopping of ice and driving of
stakes, and then all was quiet again.

By and by one of our Beaver's children began to feel hungry, and as his
father and mother had not come home he decided to go out to the
wood-pile and get something to eat. So he took a header from his bed
into the water, and swam down the angle. The door had been unbarred
again, and he passed out without difficulty, but when he reached the
pile he found it surrounded by a fence made of stakes set so close
together that he could not pass between them. He swam clear around it,
and at last found one gap just wide enough to admit his body. He passed
in, and as he did so his back grazed a small twig which had been thrust
down through a hole in the ice, and the watching Indians saw it move,
and knew that a beaver had entered the trap. He picked out a nice stick
of convenient size, and started to return to the lodge. But where was
that gap in the fence? This was the place, he was sure. Here were two
stakes between which he had certainly passed as he came in, but now
another stood squarely between them, and the gate was barred. He swam
all round the wood-pile, looking for a way out, and poking his little
brown nose between the stakes, but there was no escape, and when he came
back to the entrance and found it still closed his last hope died, and
he gave up in despair. His heart and lungs and all his circulatory
apparatus had been so designed by the Great Architect that he might live
for many minutes under water, but they could not keep him alive
indefinitely. Overhead was the ice, and all around was that cruel fence.
Only a rod away was home, where his brothers and sisters were waiting
for him, and where there was air to breathe and life to live--but he
could not reach it. You have all read or heard how a drowning man feels,
and I suppose it is much the same with a drowning beaver. They say it is
an easy death.

By and by a hooked stick came down through a hole in the ice and drew
him out, the gate was unbarred, the twig was replaced, and the Indians
waited for another hungry little beaver to come for his dinner. That's
enough. You know now what the parents found when they came home--or
rather what they didn't find.

It would have taken too long to dispose of the whole city in this way,
so the Indians finally broke the dam and let the water out of the pond,
and then they tore open the lodges and all the burrows they could find,
and the inhabitants were put to the--not the sword, but the axe and the
club. Of all those who had been so happy and prosperous, the old Beaver
and his wife were the only ones who escaped; and their lives were spared
only because the Indians failed to find their hiding-place.

That was the end of the second city, but it was not quite the end of the
beavers. A few miles up-stream they dug a short burrow in the bank and
tried to make a new home. In May another baby came, but only one, and it
was dead before it was born. Next day the mother died too, and the
Beaver left the burrow and went out into the world alone. I really think
his heart was broken, though it continued to beat for several months

Just northeast of the Glimmerglass there lies a long, narrow pond, whose
shores are very low and swampy, and whose waters drain into the larger
lake through a short stream only a few rods in length. Hundreds,
perhaps thousands, of years ago the narrow strip of land that separates
them may possibly have been a beaver-dam, but to-day it is hard to tell
it from one of Nature's own formations. In the course of his lonely
wanderings the Beaver reached this pond, and here he established himself
to spend his last few weeks. He was aging rapidly. Such a little while
ago he had seemed in the very prime of life, and had been one of the
handsomest beavers in the woods, with fur of the thickest and softest
and silkiest, and a weight of probably sixty pounds. Now he was thin and
lean, his hair was falling out, his teeth were losing their sharp edges
and becoming blunt and almost useless, and even his flat tail was
growing thicker and more rounded, and its whack was not as startling as
of old when he brought it down with all his might on the surface of the

Yet even now the old instinct flamed up and burned feebly for a little
while. Or shall we say the old love of work, and of using the powers and
faculties that God had given him? Why should the thing that is called
genius in a man be set down as instinct when we see it on a somewhat
smaller scale in an animal? Whatever it was, the ruling passion was
still strong. All his life he had been a civil engineer; and now, one
dark, rainy autumn night, he left his shallow burrow, swam down the pond
to its outlet, and began to build a dam. The next day, pushing up the
shallow stream in my dug-out canoe, I saw the alder-cuttings lying in
its bed, with the marks of his dull teeth on their butts. God knows why
he did it, or what he was thinking about as he cut those bushes and
dragged them into the water. I don't; but sometimes I wonder if a wild
dream of a new lodge, a new mate, a new home, and a new city was
flitting through his poor, befogged old brain.

It was only a few nights later that he put his foot into Charlie Roop's
beaver-trap, jumped for deep water, and was drowned like his father
before him. Charlie afterward showed me the pelt, which he had stretched
on a hoop made of a little birch sapling. It was not a very good pelt,
for, as I said, the Beaver had been losing his hair, but Charlie thought
he might get a dollar or two for it. Whether he needed the dollar more
than the Beaver needed his skin was a question which it seemed quite
useless to discuss.

As we left the shack I noticed the tail lying on the ground just outside
the door.

"Why don't you eat it?" I asked. "Don't you know that a beaver's tail is
supposed to be one of the finest delicacies in the woods?"

"Huh!" said Charlie. "I'd rather have salt pork."


IT was winter, and the trout stream ran low in its banks, hidden from
the sky by a thick shell of ice and snow, and not seeing the sun for a
season. But the trout stream was used to that, and it slipped along in
the darkness, undismayed and not one whit disheartened; talking to
itself in low, murmuring tones, and dreaming of the time when spring
would come back and all the rivers would be full.

Mingled with its waters, and borne onward and downward by the ceaseless
flow of its current, went multitudes of the tiniest air-bubbles, most of
them too small ever to be seen by a human eye, yet large enough to be
the very breath of life to thousands and thousands of creatures. Some of
them found their way to the gills of the brook trout, and some to the
minnows, and the herrings, and the suckers, and the star-gazers; some
fed the little crustacea, and the insect larvæ, and the other tiny water
animals that make up the lower classes of society; and some passed
undetained down the river and out into Lake Superior. But there were
others that worked down into the gravel of the riverbed; and there, in
the nooks and crannies between the pebbles, they found a vast number of
little balls of yellow-brown jelly, about as large as small peas, which
seemed to be in need of their kindly ministrations. And the air-bubbles
touched the trout eggs gently and lovingly, and in some mysterious and
wonderful way their oxygen passed in through the pores of the shells,
and the embryos within were quickened and stirred to a new vigor and a
more rapid growth.

Not all of the eggs were alive. Some had been crushed between the
stones; some were buried in sediment, which had choked the pores and
kept away the friendly oxygen until they smothered; and some had never
really lived at all. But one danger they had been spared, for there were
no saw-mills on the stream to send a flood of fungus-breeding sawdust
down with the current. And in spite of all the misfortunes and disasters
to which trout eggs are liable, a goodly number of them were doing quite
as well as could be expected. I suppose one could hardly say that they
were being incubated, for, according to the dictionaries, to incubate is
to sit upon, and certainly there was no one sitting on them. Their
mothers had not come near them since the day they were laid. But the
gravel hid them from the eyes of egg-eating fishes and musk-rats; the
water kept them cold, but not too cold; the fresh oxygen came and
encouraged them if ever they grew tired and dull, and so the good work
went on.

Through each thin, leathery, semi-transparent shell you could have seen,
if you had examined it closely, a pair of bright, beady eyes, and a dark
little thread of a backbone that was always curled up like a horseshoe
because there wasn't room for it to lie straight. But along the outside
of the curve of each spinal column a set of the tiniest and daintiest
muscles was getting ready for a long pull, and a strong pull, and a pull
all together. And one day, late in the winter, when the woods were just
beginning to think about spring, the muscles in one particular egg
tugged with all their little might, the backbone straightened with a
great effort, the shell was ripped open, and the tail of a brand-new
brook trout thrust itself out into the water and wiggled pathetically.

But his head and shoulders were still inside, and for a while it looked
as if he would never get them free. His tail was shaped somewhat like a
paddle set on edge, for a long, narrow fin ran from the middle of his
back clear around the end of it and forward again on the under side of
his body, and with this for an oar he struggled and writhed and
squirmed, and went bumping blindly about among the pebbles like a kitten
with its head in the cream pitcher. And at last, with the most vigorous
squirm and wriggle of all, he backed clear of the shell in which he had
lain for so many weeks and months, and, weak and weary from his
exertions, lay down on a stone to rest.

He had to lie on his side, for attached to his breast was a large,
round, transparent sac which looked very much like the egg out of which
he had just come. In fact it really was the egg, or at least a portion
of it, for it held a large part of what had been the yolk. If you could
have examined him with a microscope you would have seen a most strange
and beautiful thing. His little body was so delicate and transparent
that one could see the arteries pulsing and throbbing in time with the
beating of his heart, and some of those arteries found their way into
the food-sac, where they kept branching and dividing, and growing
smaller and more numerous. And in the very smallest of the tiny tubes a
wonderful process was going on--as wonderful as the way in which the
oxygen fed the embryos through the shell. Somehow, by life's marvellous
alchemy, the blood was laying hold of the material of the yolk, turning
it into more blood, and carrying it away to be used in building up bone
and muscle everywhere from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail.
You might not have detected the actual transformation, but you could
have seen the beating of the engine, and the throbbing rush of the
little red rivers, all toiling with might and main to make a big, strong
trout out of this weak and diminutive baby. And you could have seen the
corpuscles hurrying along so thick and fast that at times they blocked
up the passages, and the current was checked till the heart could bring
enough pressure to bear to burst the dam and send them rushing on again.
For the corpuscles of a trout's blood are considerably larger than those
of most fishes, and they sometimes get "hung up," like a drive of logs
sent down a stream hardly large enough to float it.

With a full haversack to be drawn upon in such a convenient manner the
Troutlet was not obliged to take food through his mouth or to think
about hustling around in search of a living. This was very fortunate,
for the stream was full of hungry beasts of prey who would be very
likely to gobble him up quick the first time he went abroad; and,
besides, his frail little body was still so weak and delicate that he
could not bear the light of day. So, instead of swimming away to seek
his fortune, he simply dived down deeper into the gravel, and stayed
there. For some weeks he led a very quiet life among the pebbles, and
the only mishap that befell him during that time was the direct result
of his retiring disposition. In his anxiety to get as far away from the
world as possible he one day wedged himself into a cranny so narrow that
he couldn't get out again. He couldn't even breathe, for his gill-covers
were squeezed down against the sides of his head as if he were in a
vise. A trout's method of respiration is to open his mouth and fill it
with water, and then to close it again and force the water out through
his gills, between his cheeks and his shoulders, about where his neck
would be if he had one. It's very simple when you once know how, but you
can't do it with your gill-covers clamped down. His tail wiggled more
pathetically than ever, and did its level best to pull him out, but
without success. He was wedged in so tightly that he couldn't move, and
he was fast smothering, like a baby that has rolled over on its face
upon the pillow. But at the last moment, when his struggles had grown
feebler and feebler until they had almost ceased, something stirred up
the gravel around him and set him free. He never knew what did it.
Perhaps a deer or a bear waded through the stream; or a saw-log may have
grounded for a moment in the shallow; or possibly it was only the
current, for by this time most of the snow had melted, and the little
river was working night and day to carry the water out of the woods. But
whatever it was, he was saved.

He stayed in the gravel nearly a month, but his yolk-sac was gradually
shrinking, and after a time it drew itself up into a little cleft in his
breast and almost disappeared. There was nothing left of it but a little
amber-colored bead, and it could no longer supply food enough for his
growing body. There were times when he felt decidedly hungry. And other
changes had come while he lay and waited in the gravel. The embryonic
fin which had made his tail so like a paddle was gone, the true dorsal
and caudal and anal fins had taken their proper shape, and he looked a
little less like a tadpole and a little more like a fish. He was
stronger than he had been at first, and he was losing his dread of the
sunlight; and so at last he left the gravel-bed, to seek his rightful
place in the world of moving, murmuring waters.

He was rather weak and listless at first, and quite given to resting in
the shallows and back water, and taking things as easily as possible.
But that was to be expected for a time, and he was much better off than
some of the other trout babies. He saw one that had two heads and only
one body, and another with two heads and two bodies joined together at
the tail. Still others there were who had never been strong enough to
straighten their backbones, and who had lain in the egg till the shell
wore thin and let them out head first, which is not at all the proper
way for a trout to hatch. Even now they still retained the horseshoe
curve, and could never swim straight ahead, but only spin round and
round like whirligigs. These cripples and weaklings seemed to have got
on pretty well as long as their food-sacs lasted, but now that they had
to make their own living they were at a serious disadvantage. They all
disappeared after a day or two, and our friend never saw them again.
They couldn't stand the real struggle of life.

Many a strong, healthy baby disappeared at the same time, and if there
had not been so many of them it is not likely that any would have
survived the first few days and weeks. Even as it was, I doubt if more
than one fish out of each thousand eggs ever lived to grow up. It is not
difficult to guess where they went. Our Trout had hardly emerged from
his hiding-place in the gravel when a queer, ugly, big-headed little
fish darted at him from under a stone, with his jaws open and an awful
cavity yawning behind them. The Troutlet dodged between a couple of
pebbles and escaped, but another youngster just beyond him was caught
and swallowed alive. That was his first meeting with the star-gazer, who
kills more babies than ever Herod did. Then there were minnows, and
herrings, and lizards, and frogs, and weasels, and water-snakes, and
other butchers of all sorts and sizes, too numerous to mention. And
perhaps the worst of all were the older trout, who never seemed to have
the least compunction about eating their small relations, and who were
so nimble and lively that it was almost impossible to keep out of their
way. Our friend spent most of his time in the shallow water near the
banks, where larger fishes were not so likely to follow him, but even
there he had many narrow escapes and was obliged to keep himself hidden
as much as possible under chips and dead leaves, and behind stones.

Often he found himself in great peril when he least suspected it. Once
he lay for some time in the edge of a dark forest of water-weeds, only
an inch from a lumpish, stupid-looking creature, half covered with mud,
that was clinging to one of the stems. The animal appeared so dull and
unintelligent that the young Trout paid little attention to him until
another baby came up and approached a trifle closer. Then, quick as a
flash, the creature shot out an arm nearly three-quarters of an inch
long, bearing on its end two horrible things which were not exactly
claws, nor fingers, nor teeth, but which partook of the nature of all
three, and which came together on the infant's soft, helpless little
body like a pair of tongs or the jaws of a steel trap, and drew him in
to where the real jaws were waiting to make mince-meat of him. Our
friend fled so precipitately that he did not see the end of the tragedy,
but neither did he ever see that baby again. Before the summer had
passed, the dull, lumpish-looking creature had become a magnificent
insect, with long, gauzy wings, clad in glittering mail, and known to
everybody as a dragon-fly, but I doubt if any of his performances in the
upper air were ever half as dragon-like as the deeds of darkness that he
did when he was an ugly, shapeless larva down under the water.

Fortunately, not all the larvæ in the stream were thus to be feared.
Many were so small that the Troutlet could eat them, instead of letting
them eat him; and nowhere were they more plentiful than in this same
forest of water-weeds. His first taste of food was a great experience,
and gave him some entirely new ideas of life. One day he was lying with
his head up-stream, as was his usual habit, when a particularly fat,
plump little larva, torn from his home by the remorseless river, came
drifting down with the current. He looked very tempting, and our friend
sallied out from under a stick and caught him on the fly, just as he had
seen the star-gazer catch his own brother. The funny little creature
wriggled deliciously on his tongue, and he held him between his jaws for
a moment in a kind of ecstasy; but he couldn't quite make up his mind to
swallow him, and presently he spat him out again and went back to the
shadow of his stick to rest and think about it. It was the first time in
his life that he had ever done such a thing, and he felt rather
overwhelmed, but an hour or two later he tried it again, and this time
the living morsel did not stop in his mouth, but went straight on down.

It was really something more than a new experience--this first mouthful
of food--for it marked a turning-point in his career. Up to this time he
had lived entirely on the provisions which his parents had left him, but
henceforth he was independent and could take care of himself. He was no
longer an embryo; he was a real fish, a genuine _Salvelinus fontinalis_,
as carnivorous as the biggest and fiercest of all his relations. The
cleft in his breast might close up now, and the last remnant of his
yolk-sac vanish forever. He was done with it. He had graduated from the
nursery, and had found his place on the battle-field of life.

It must be admitted, however, that he did not look much like a mature
trout, even now. He was less than three-quarters of an inch long, and
his big head, bulging eyes, and capacious mouth were out of all
proportion to his small and feeble body. But time and food were all
that was needed to set these matters right; and now that he had learned
how, he set to work and did his level best. I should be afraid to guess
how many tiny water-creatures, insects and larvæ and crustaceæ, found
their way down his throat, but it is pretty safe to say that he often
ate more than his own weight in a single day. And so he grew in size and
strength and symmetry, and from being a quiet, languid baby, always
hiding in dark corners, and attending strictly to his own affairs, he
became one of the liveliest and most inquisitive little fishes in all
the stream. To a certain extent he developed a fondness for travelling,
and in company with other troutlets of his own age and size he often
journeyed from place to place in search of new surroundings and new
things to eat. In fly-time he found a bountiful food-supply in the
mosquitoes and black-flies that swarmed over the stream, and it was fun
to see him leap from the water, catch one of them in his mouth, and drop
back with a triumphant little splash. It wasn't really very considerate
in him to prey on those biting, stinging flies, for in after years they
would be his best defenders against anglers and fishermen, but
consideration doesn't seem to be one of the strong points in a brook
trout's character.

It would take too long to tell of all his youthful doings during the
next year, and of all his narrow escapes, and the many tight places that
he got into and out of. It was a wonder that he ever pulled through at
all, but I suppose it is necessary that a few trout should grow up, for,
if they didn't, who would there be to eat the little ones?

Once a kingfisher dived for him, missed him by a hair's-breadth, and
flew back, scolding and chattering, to his perch on an old stub that
leaned far out over the water. And once he had a horrible vision of an
immense loon close behind him, with long neck stretched out, and huge
bill just ready to make the fatal grab. He dodged and got away, but it
frightened him about as badly as anything can frighten a creature with
no more nerves than a fish. And many other such adventures he had--too
many to enumerate. However, I don't think they ever troubled him very
much except for the moment. He grew more wary, no doubt, but he didn't
do much worrying. Somehow or other he always escaped by the skin of his
teeth, and the next spring he was swallowing the new crop of young fry
with as little concern as his older relations had shown in trying to
swallow him. So far he seemed to be one of the few who are foreordained
to eat and not be eaten, though it was more than likely that in the end
he, too, would die a violent death.

When he was about a year and a half old he noticed that all the larger
trout in the stream were gathering in places where the water was
shallow, the bottom pebbly, and the current rapid; and that they acted
as if they thought they had very important business on hand. He wanted
to do as the others did, and so it happened that he went back again to
the gravelly shallow where the air-bubbles had first found him. By this
time he was about as large as your finger, or possibly a trifle larger,
and he had all the bumptiousness of youth and was somewhat given to
pushing himself in where he wasn't wanted.

The male trout were the first to arrive, and they promptly set to work
to prepare nests for their mates, who were expected a little later. It
was a simple process. All they did was to shove the gravel aside with
their noses and fins and tails, and then fan the sediment away until
they had made nice, clean little hollows in the bed of the stream; but
there was a good deal of excitement and jealousy over it, and every
little while they had to stop and have a scrap. The biggest and
strongest always wanted the best places, and if they happened to take a
fancy for a location occupied by a smaller and weaker fish, they drove
him out without ceremony and took possession by right of the conqueror.
For the most part their fighting seemed rather tame, for they did little
more than butt each other in the ribs with their noses, but once in a
while they really got their dander up and bit quite savagely. And when
the lady trout came to inspect the nests that had been prepared for
them, then times were livelier than ever, and the jealousy and rivalry
ran very high, indeed.

Of course our Trout was too young to bear a very prominent part in these
proceedings, but he and some companions of about his own age skirmished
around the edges of the nesting grounds, and seemed to take a wicked
delight in teasing the old males and running away just in time to escape
punishment. And when the nests began to be put to practical use, the
yearlings were very much in evidence. Strictly fresh eggs are as good
eating down under the water as they are on land, and, partly on this
account, and partly because direct sunshine is considered very injurious
to them, the mothers always covered them with gravel as quickly as
possible. But in spite of the best of care the current was constantly
catching some of them and sweeping them away, and our young friend would
creep up as near as he dared, and whenever one of the yellow-brown balls
came his way he would gobble it down with as little remorse as he had
felt for his first larva. Now and then an irate father would turn upon
him fiercely and chase him off, but in a few minutes he would be back
again, watching for eggs as eagerly as ever. Once, indeed, he had a
rather close call, for the biggest old male in all the stream came after
him with mouth open as if he would swallow him whole, as he could very
easily have done. Our friend was almost caught when the big fellow
happened to glance back and saw another trout coming to visit his wife,
and promptly abandoned the chase and went home to see about it.

A year later our Trout went again to the gravelly shallow, and this
time, being six inches long and about thirty months old, he decided to
make a nest of his own. He did so, and had just induced a most beautiful
young fish of the other sex to come and examine it, with a view to
matrimony, when that same big bully appeared on the scene, promptly
turned him out of house and home, and began courting the beautiful young
creature himself. It was very exasperating, not to say humiliating, but
it was the sort of thing that one must expect when one is only a

The next year he had better luck. As another summer passed away, and the
cooler weather came on, he arrayed himself in his wedding finery, and it
almost seemed as if he had stolen some of the colors of the swamp
maples, in their gay fall dress, and was using them to deck himself out
and make a brave display. In later years he was larger and heavier, but
I don't think he was ever much handsomer than he was in that fourth
autumn of his life. His back was a dark, dusky, olive-green, with
mottlings that were still darker and duskier. His sides were lighter--in
some places almost golden yellow; and scattered irregularly over them
were the small, bright carmine spots that gave him one of his _aliases_,
the "Speckled Trout." Beneath he was usually of a pale cream color, but
now that he had put on his best clothes his vest was bright orange, and
some of his fins were variegated with red and white, while others were a
fiery yellow. He was covered all over with a suit of armor made of
thousands and thousands of tiny scales, so small and fine that the eye
could hardly separate them, and from the bony shoulder-girdle just
behind his gills a raised line, dark and slightly waving, ran back to
his tail, like the sheer-line of a ship. There were other fishes that
were more slender and more finely modelled than he, and possibly more
graceful, but in him there was something besides beauty--something that
told of power and speed and doggedness. He was like a man-o'-war dressed
out in all her bunting for some great gala occasion, but still showing
her grim, heavy outlines beneath her decorations. His broad mouth opened
clear back under his eyes, and was armed with rows of backward-pointing
teeth, so sharp and strong that when they once fastened themselves upon
a smaller fish they never let him go again. The only way out from
between those jaws was down his throat. His eyes were large and bright,
and were set well apart; and the bulge of his forehead between them
hinted at more brains than are allotted to some of the people of the
stream. Altogether, he was a most gallant and knightly little fish, and
it would certainly have been a pity if he hadn't found a mate.

[Illustration: _Nesting Grounds._]

And now he started the third time for the gravelly shallow, and
travelled as he had never travelled before in all his life. Streams are
made to swim against--every brook trout knows that--and the faster they
run, the greater is the joy of breasting them. The higher the
water-fall, the prouder do you feel when you find you can leap it. And
our friend was in a mood for swimming, and for swimming with all his
might. Never had he felt so strong and vigorous and so full of life and
energy, and he made his fins and his tail go like the oars of a
racing-shell. Now he was working up the swift current of a long rapid
like a bird in the teeth of the wind. Now he was gathering all his
strength for the great leap to the top of the water-fall. And now,
perhaps, he rested for a little while in a quiet pool, and presently
went hurrying on again, diving under logs and fallen trees, swinging
round the curves, darting up the still places where the water lay
a-dreaming, and wriggling over shallow bars where it was not half deep
enough to cover him; until at last he reached the old familiar place
where so many generations of brook trout had first seen the light of day
and felt the cold touch of the snow-water.

As before, he and the other males arrived at the nesting grounds some
days in advance of their mates, and spent the intervening time in
scooping hollows in the gravel and quarrelling among themselves. Two or
three times he was driven from a choice location by someone who was
bigger than he, but he always managed in some way to regain it, or else
stole another from a smaller fish; and when the ladies finally appeared
he had a fine large nest in a pleasant situation a little apart from
those of his rivals. But for some reason the first candidates who came
to look at it declined to stay. Perhaps they were not quite ready to
settle down, or perhaps they were merely disposed to insist on the
feminine privilege of changing their minds. But finally there came one
who seemed to be quite satisfied, and with whom the Trout himself had
every reason to be pleased.

She was not a native of the stream, but of one of the hatcheries of the
Michigan Fish Commission; and while he was lying in the gravel she was
one of a vast company inhabiting a number of black wooden troughs that
stood in a large, pleasant room filled with the sound of running water.
Here there were no yearlings nor musk-rats nor saw-bill ducks looking
for fresh eggs, nor any dragons nor star-gazers lying in wait for the
young fry. Instead there were nice, kind men, who kept the hatching
troughs clean and the water at the right temperature, and who gently
stirred up the troutlets with a long goose-feather whenever too many of
them crowded together in one corner, trying to get away from the hateful
light. Under this sort of treatment most of the thirty million babies in
the hatchery lived and thrived. Only a few thousands of them were brook
trout, but among those thousands one of the smartest and most precocious
was the one in whom we are just now most interested. She was always
first into the dark corners, as long as dark corners seemed desirable;
and later, when they began to come up into the light and partake of the
pulverized beef-liver which their attendants offered them, there was no
better swimmer or more voracious feeder than she. All this was
especially fortunate because there was a very hard and trying experience
before her--one in which she would have need of all her strength and
vitality, and in which her chances of life would be very small, indeed.
It came with planting time, when she and a host of her companions were
whisked through a rubber tube and deposited in a big can made of
galvanized iron, in which they were borne away to the trout stream. The
journey was a long one, they were pretty badly cramped for room, and
before they reached their destination the supply of oxygen in the water
became exhausted. The baby trout began to think they had blown out the
gas, and they all crowded to the surface, where, if anywhere, the minute
bubbles that keep one alive are to be found. They gulped down great
mouthfuls of water and forced it out through their gills as fast as ever
they could, but, somehow, all the life seemed to be gone out of it, and
it did them no good whatever. Pretty soon a few turned over on their
backs and died, and every last one of them would have suffocated if the
man who had charge of the party hadn't noticed what was going on and
come to the rescue. Picking up a dipperful of water and troutlets, and
holding it high in the air, he poured it back into the can with much
dashing and splashing. Hundreds and hundreds of tiny bubbles were caught
in the rush and carried down to the bottom, and so the oxygen came back
again to the tired gills, and the danger was over.

The emigrants reached the trout stream at last, and one would have
supposed that their troubles were ended. In reality the chapter of
trials and tribulations had only just begun, for the same fishes and
frogs and lizards that had so persecuted our friend and his brothers and
sisters were on hand to welcome the new arrivals, and very few escaped.
And so, in spite of its quiet beginnings in the peaceful surroundings
of the hatchery, this young lady trout's life proved quite as exciting
and adventurous as our friend's, and it is possible that the good care
which she received during her early infancy really served to make things
all the harder for her when she came to be thrown entirely on her own
resources. The mere change in the temperature of the water when she was
turned out of the can was quite a shock to her nervous system; and,
whereas most trout are somewhat acquainted with the dangers and
hardships of the stream, almost from the time they rip their shells
open, she did not even know that there was such a place until she was
set down in it and told to shift for herself.

However, by dint of strength, speed, agility, and good judgment in
selecting hiding-places--and also, in all probability, by a run of
remarkably good luck--she made her way unharmed through all the perils
of babyhood and early youth, and now she was one of the most beautiful
little three-year-old pirates that ever swooped down upon a helpless

As she and our friend swam side by side, her nose and the end of her
tail were exactly even with his. Her colors were the same that he had
worn before he put on his wedding garments, and if you had seen them
together in the early summer I don't believe you could ever have told
them apart. They were a well-matched pair, more evenly mated, probably,
than is usual in fish marriages.

But they were not to be allowed to set up housekeeping together without
fighting for the privilege. Hardly had she finished inspecting the nest,
and made up her mind that it would answer, and that he was, on the
whole, quite eligible as a husband, when a third trout appeared and
attempted to do as the big bully had done the year before. This time,
however, our young friend's blood was up, and, though the enemy was
considerably larger than he, he was ready to strike for his altars and
his fires. He made a quick rush, like a torpedo-boat attacking a
man-of-war, and hit the intruder amidships, ramming him with all his
might. Then the enemy made as sudden a turn, and gave our Trout a poke
in the ribs, and for a few minutes they dodged back and forth, and round
and round, and over and under each other, each getting in a punch
whenever he had a chance. So far it seemed only a trial of strength and
speed and dexterity, and if our Trout was not quite as large and
powerful as the other, yet he proved himself the quicker and the more
agile and lively. But before it was over he did more than that, for,
suddenly ranging up on the enemy's starboard quarter, he opened his
mouth, and the sharp teeth of his lower jaw tore a row of bright scales
from his adversary's side, and left a long, deep gash behind. That
settled it. The big fellow lit out as fast as he could go, and our Trout
was left in undisputed possession.

The nesting season cannot last forever, and by and by, when the days
were very short and the nights were very long, when the stars were
bright, and when each sunrise found the hoar-frost lying thick and heavy
on the dead and fallen leaves, the last trout went in search of better
feeding grounds, and again the gravelly shallow seemed deserted. But it
was only seeming. There were no eggs in sight--the frogs, the rats, the
ducks, and the yearlings had taken care of that, and I am very much
afraid that our friend may have eaten a few himself, on the sly, when
his wife wasn't looking--but hidden away among the pebbles there were
thousands, and the old, old miracle was being re-enacted, and multitudes
of little live creatures were getting ready for the time when something
should tell them to tear their shells open and come out into the world.

One of the Trout's most remarkable adventures, and the one which
probably taught him more than any other, came during the hot weather of
the following summer. The stream had grown rather too warm for comfort,
and lately he had got into the habit of frequenting certain deep, quiet
pools where icy springs bubbled out of the banks and imparted a very
grateful coolness to the slow current. It was delightful to spend a long
July afternoon in the wash below one of these fountains, having a lazy,
pleasant time, and enjoying the touch of the cold water as it went
sliding along his body from nose to tail. One sunshiny day, as he lay in
his favorite spring-hole, thinking about nothing in particular, and just
working his fins enough to keep from drifting down stream, a fly lit on
the surface just over his head--a bright, gayly colored fly of a species
which was entirely new to him, but which looked as if it must be very
finely flavored. As it happened, there had been several days of very
warm, sultry weather, and even the fish had grown sullen and lazy, but
this afternoon the wind had whipped around to the north, straight off
Lake Superior, and all the animals in the Great Tahquamenon Swamp felt
as if they had been made over new. How the brook trout could have known
of it so quickly, down under the water, is a mystery; but our friend
seemed to wake up all of a sudden, and to realize that he hadn't been
eating as much as usual, and that he was hungry. He made a dash at the
fly and seized it, but he had no sooner got it between his lips than he
spat it out again. There was something wrong with it. Instead of being
soft and juicy and luscious, as all flies ought to be, it was stiff, and
dry, and hard, and it had a long, crooked stinger that was different
from anything belonging to any other fly that he had ever tasted. It
disappeared as suddenly as it had come, and the Trout sank back to the
bottom of the pool.

But presently three more flies came down together, and lit in a row, one
behind another. They were different from the first, and he decided to
try again. He chose the foremost of the three, and found it quite as
ill-tasting as the other had been; but this time he didn't spit it out,
for the stinger was a little too quick for him, and before he could let
go it was fast in his lip. For the next few minutes he tore around the
pool as if he was crazy, frightening some of the smaller fishes almost
out of their wits, and sending them rushing up-stream in a panic. He
himself had more than once been badly scared by seeing other trout do
just what he was doing, but he had never realized what it all meant. Now
he understood.

The first thing he did was to go shooting along the surface for several
feet, throwing his head from side to side as he went, and doing his best
to shake that horrible fly out of his mouth. But it wouldn't shake, so
he tried jumping out of the water and striking at the line with his
tail. That wasn't any better, and next he rushed off up the stream as
hard as he could go. But the line kept pulling him round to the left
with gentle but irresistible force, and before he knew it he was back in
the pool again. Wherever he went, and whatever he did, it was always
pulling, pulling, pulling--not hard enough to tear the hook away, but
just enough to keep him from getting an inch of slack. If there had been
any chance to jerk he would probably have got loose in short order. He
rushed around the pool so hard that he soon grew weary, and presently he
sank to the bottom, hoping to lie still for a few minutes, and rest, and
perhaps think of some new way of escape. But even there that steady
tugging never ceased. It seemed as if it would pull his jaw out of his
head if he didn't yield, and before long he let himself be drawn up
again to the surface. Once he was so close to the shore that the angler
made a thrust at him with the landing-net, and just grazed his side. It
frightened him worse than ever, and he raced away again so fast that the
reel sang, and the line swished through the water like a knife.

[Illustration: "_He tried jumping out of the water._"]

The other two flies were trailing behind, and the short line that held
them was constantly catching on his fins and twisting itself around his
tail in a way that annoyed him greatly. He almost thought he could get
away if they were not there to hinder him. And yet, as it finally turned
out, it was one of those flies that saved his life. He was coming slowly
back from that last unsuccessful rush for liberty, fighting for every
inch, and only yielding to a strength a thousand times greater than his
own, when the trailer caught on a sunken log and held fast. Instantly
the strain on his mouth relaxed. The angler was no longer pulling on
him, but on the log. He could jerk now, and he immediately began to
twitch his head this way and that, backward and forward, right and
left, tearing the hole in his lip a little larger at every yank,
until the hook came away and he was free.

It was a painful experience, and he carried the scar as long as he
lived, but the lesson he learned was worth all it cost. I won't say that
he never touched bait again, but he was much more cautious, and no other
artificial fly ever stung him as badly as that one.

The years went by, and the Trout increased in size and strength and
wisdom, as a trout should. One after another his rivals went away to the
happy hunting-grounds, most of them losing their lives because they
could not resist the temptation to taste a made-up fly, or to swallow a
luscious angle-worm festooned on a dainty little steel hook; and the
number of fish who dared dispute his right to do whatever he pleased
grew beautifully less. And at last there was only one trout left in all
the stream who was larger and stronger than he. That was the same big
fellow who had come so near swallowing him on the occasion of his first
visit to the nesting-grounds; and the way the fierce, solemn old brute
finally departed this life deserves a paragraph all to itself.

It happened one morning in early spring, just after the ice had gone
out. Our friend was still a trifle sleepy and lazy after the long, dull
winter, though he had an eye open, as always, for anything particularly
good to eat. I doubt if he would have jumped at any kind of a fly, for
it was not the right time of year for flies, and he did not believe in
eating them out of season; but almost anything else was welcome. He was
faring very well that morning, as it chanced, for the stream was running
high, and many a delicious grub and earthworm had been swept into it by
the melting snow. And presently, what should come drifting down with the
current but a poor little field-mouse, struggling desperately in a vain
effort to swim back to the shore. Once before our friend had swallowed a
mouse whole, just as you would take an oyster from the half-shell, and
he knew that they were very nice, indeed. He made a rush for the unlucky
little animal, and in another second he would have had him; but just
then the big bully came swaggering up with an air which seemed to say:
"That's my meat. You get out of this!"

Our friend obeyed, the big fellow gave a leap and seized the mouse, and
then--his time had come. He fought bravely, but he was fairly hooked,
and in a few minutes he lay out on the bank, gasping for breath,
flopping wildly about, and fouling his beautiful sides with sand and
dirt. If he had understood English he might have overheard an argument
which immediately took place between the angler and a girl, and which
began something like this:

"There!" in a triumphant tone; "who says mice aren't good bait? This is
the biggest trout that's been caught in this stream for years."

"Oh, George, don't kill him! He's so pretty! Put him back in the water."

"Put him back in the water? Well, I should say not! What do you take me

Evidently the girl took him for one who could be easily influenced by
the right person, for she kept up the argument, and in the end she won
her case. The trout was tossed back into the stream, where he gave
himself a shake or two, to get rid of the sand, and then swam away,
apparently as well as ever. But girls don't always know what is good for
trout. It would really have been kinder if the angler had hit him over
the head with the butt of his fishing-rod, and then carried him home and
put him in the frying-pan. In his struggles a part of the mucus had been
rubbed from his body, and that always means trouble for a fish. A few
days later our friend met him again, and noticed that a curious growth
had appeared on his back and sides--a growth which bore a faint
resemblance to the bloom on a peach, and which had taken the exact shape
of the prints of the angler's fingers. The fungus had got him. He was
dying, slowly but surely, and within a week he turned over on his back
and drifted away down the stream. A black bear found him whirling round
and round in a little eddy under the bank, and that was the end of him.

And so our friend became the King of the Trout Stream.

You are not to suppose, however, that he paid very much attention to his
subjects, or that he was particularly fond of having them about him and
giving them orders. On the contrary, he had become very hermit-like in
his habits. In his youth he had been fond of society, and he and his
companions had often roamed the stream in little schools and bands, but
of late years his tastes seemed to have undergone a change, and he kept
to himself and lurked in the shady, sunless places till his skin grew
darker and darker, and he more and more resembled the shadows in which
he lived. His great delight was to watch from the depths of some
cave-like hollow under an overhanging bank until a star-gazer, or a
herring, or a minnow, or some other baby-eater came in sight, and then
to rush out and swallow him head first. He took ample revenge on all
those pesky little fishes for all that they had done and tried to do to
him and his brethren in the early days. The truth is that every brook
trout is an Ishmaelite. The hand of every creature is against him, from
that of the dragon-fly larva to that of the man with the latest
invention in the way of patent fishing-tackle. It is no wonder if he
turns the tables on his enemies whenever he has a chance, or even if he
sometimes goes so far, in his general ruthlessness, as to eat his own

Yet, in spite of our friend's moroseness and solitary habits, there were
certain times and seasons when he did come more or less in contact with
his inferiors. In late spring and early summer he liked to sport for a
while in the swift rapids--perhaps to stretch his muscles after the
dull, quiet life of the winter-time, or possibly to free himself from
certain little insects which sometimes fastened themselves to his body,
and which, for lack of hands, it was rather difficult to get rid of.
Here he often met some of his subjects, and later, when the hot weather
came on, they all went to the spring-holes which formed their summer
resorts. And at such times he never hesitated to take advantage of his
superior size and strength. He always picked out the coolest and most
comfortable places in the pools, and helped himself to the choicest
morsels of food; and the others took what was left, without question.
And when the summer was gone, and the water grew cold and invigorating,
and once more he put on his wedding-garment and hurried away to the
gravelly shallows, how different was his conduct from what it had been
when he was a yearling! Then he was only a hanger-on; now he selected
his nest and his mate to suit himself; and nobody ever dared to
interfere. Whether he ever again chose that beautiful little fish from
the hatchery, whom he had been so fond of when he was a three-year-old,
is a question which I would rather not try to answer. Among all the
vicissitudes, dangers, and rivalries of life in a trout stream, a
permanent marriage seems to be almost an impossibility; and I fear that
the affections of a fish are not remarkable for depth or constancy.

The Trout had altered in many ways besides his relations to his
fellows. The curving lines of his body were not quite as graceful as
they had once been, and sometimes he wore a rather lean and dilapidated
look, especially in the six months from November to May. His tail was
not as handsomely forked as when he was young, but was nearly square
across the end, and was beginning to be a little frayed at the corners.
His lower jaw had grown out beyond the upper, and its extremity was
turned up in a wicked-looking hook which was almost a disfigurement, but
which he often found very useful in hustling a younger trout out of the
way. Even his complexion had grown darker, as we have already seen.
Altogether he was less prepossessing than of old, but of a much more
formidable appearance, and the very look of him was enough to scare a
minnow out of a year's growth.

But, notwithstanding all changes, the two great interests of his
every-day life continued to be just what they had always been--namely,
to get enough to eat, and to keep out of the way of his enemies; for
enemies he still had, and would have as long as he lived. The
fly-fishermen, with their feather-weight rods and their scientific
tackle, came every spring and summer; and only the wisdom born of
experience kept him from falling into their hands. Several times he met
with an otter, and had to run for his life. Once, a black bear, fishing
for suckers, came near catching a brook trout. And perhaps the very
closest of all his close calls came one day when some river-drivers
exploded a stick of dynamite in the water to break up a log-jam. The
trout was some distance up the stream at the time, but the concussion
stunned him so that he floated at the surface, wrong side up, for
several minutes before his senses gradually came back. That is a fish's
way of fainting.

His luck stayed by him, however, and none of these things ever did him
any serious harm. His reign proved a long one, and as the years went by
he came to exercise a more and more autocratic sway over the smaller
fry. For in spite of his age he was still growing. A trout has an
advantage over a land animal in this, that he is not obliged to use any
of his food as fuel for keeping himself warm. He can't keep warm
anyhow--not as long as he lives in the water--and so he doesn't try, but
devotes everything he eats to enlarging his body and repairing wear and
tear. If nothing happens to put a stop to the process, he seems to be
able to keep it up almost indefinitely. But the size of the stream in
which he lives appears to limit him to a certain extent. Probably the
largest trout stream in the world is the Nepigon, and they say that
seventeen-pounders were caught there in the early days. Our friend's
native river was a rather small one. In the course of time, however, he
attained a weight of very nearly three pounds, and I doubt if he would
ever have been much larger. Perhaps it was fitting that his reign should
end there.

But it seems a great pity that it could not have ended in a more
imposing manner. The last act of the drama was so inglorious that I am
almost ashamed to tell it. He was the King of the Trout Stream; over and
over he had run Fate's gauntlet, and escaped with his body unharmed and
his wits sharper than ever; he knew the wiles of the fly-fishermen
better than any other trout in the river; and yet, alas! he fell a
victim to a little Indian boy with a piece of edging for a rod, coarse
string for a line, and salt pork for bait.

I'm sure it wouldn't have happened if he had stayed at home; but one
spring he took it into his head to go on an exploring expedition out
into Lake Superior. I understand that his cousins in the streams of
eastern Canada sometimes visit salt water in somewhat the same manner,
and that they thereupon lose the bright trimmings of their coats and
become a plain silver-gray. Superior did not affect our friend in that
way, but something worse happened to him--he lost his common-sense.
Perhaps his interest in his new surroundings was so great that he forgot
the lessons of wisdom and experience which it had cost him so much to

In the course of his wanderings he came to where a school of perch were
loafing in the shadow of a wharf; and just as he pushed his way in among
them, that little white piece of fat pork sank slowly down through the
green water. It was something new to the trout; he didn't quite know
what to make of it. But the perch seemed to think it was good, and they
would be sure to eat it if he didn't; and so, although the string was in
plain sight and ought to have been a sufficient warning, he exercised
his royal prerogative, shouldered those yellow-barred plebeians out of
the way, and took the tid-bit for himself. It is too humiliating; let us
draw a veil over that closing scene.

The King of the Trout Stream had gone the way of his fathers, and
another reigned in his stead.


THE Canada lynx came down the runway that follows the high bank along
the northern shore of the Glimmerglass, his keen, silvery eyes watching
the woods for foe or prey, and his big feet padding softly on the dead
leaves. He was old, was the Canada lynx, and he had grown very tall and
gaunt, but this afternoon his years sat lightly on him. And in a moment
more they had vanished entirely, and he was as young as ever he was in
his life, for, as he stepped cautiously around a little spruce, he came
upon another lynx, nearly as tall as he, and quite as handsome in her
early winter coat. They both stopped short and stared. And no wonder.
Each of them was decidedly worth looking at, especially if the one who
did the looking happened to be another lynx of the opposite sex.

He was some twenty-odd inches in height and about three and a half feet
in length, and had a most villanous cast of countenance, a very
wicked-looking set of teeth, and claws that were two inches long and so
heavy and strong and sharp that you could sometimes hear them crunch
into the bark when he climbed a tree. His long hind legs, heavy
buttocks, thick fore-limbs, and big, clumsy-looking paws told of a
magnificent set of muscles pulling and sliding and hauling under his
cloak. She was nearly as large as he, and very much like him in general
appearance. Both of them wore long, thick fur, of a lustrous steel-gray
color, with paler shades underneath, and darker trimmings along their
back-bones and up and down their legs. Their paws were big and broad and
furry, their tails were stubby and short, and they wore heavy, grizzled
whiskers on the sides of their jaws and mustachios under their noses,
while from the tips of their ears rose tassels of stiff, dark hairs that
had an uncommonly jaunty effect. Altogether they looked very fierce and
imposing and war-like--perhaps rather more so than was justified by
their actual prowess. So it was not surprising that they took to each
other. Perhaps he wasn't really quite as heroic as he appeared, but
that's not uncommon among other lovers besides those belonging to the
lynx tribe, and what difference did it make, anyhow, as long as she
didn't know it?

That winter was a hard one. The cold was intense, the snow was very
deep, and the storms came often. Spruce hens and partridges were scarce,
even rabbits were hard to find, and sometimes it seemed to the two
lynxes as if they were the only animals left in the woods. Except the
deer. There were always plenty of deer down in the cedar swamp, and
their tracks were as plain as a lumberman's logging road. But although
the lynxes sometimes killed and ate young fawns in the summertime, they
seldom tasted venison in the winter. It was well for them that they had
each other, for when one failed in the hunt the other sometimes
succeeded, yet I cannot help thinking that the old male, especially,
might perhaps have been of more use to his mate if he had not confined
his hunting so entirely to the smaller animals. More than once he sat on
a branch of a tree and watched a buck or doe go by, and his claws
twitched and his eyes blazed, and he fairly trembled with eagerness and
excitement as he saw the big gray creature pass, all unconscious,
beneath his perch. Splendidly armed as he was, it would seem as though
he must have succeeded if only he had jumped and risked a tussle. But he
never tried it. I suppose he was afraid. And yet--such were the
contradictions of his nature--one dark night he trotted half a mile
after a shanty-boy who was going home with a haunch of venison over his
shoulder, and was just gathering himself for a spring, intending to leap
on him from behind, when another man appeared. Two against one was not
fair, he thought, and he gave it up and beat a retreat without either of
them seeing him. They found his footprints the next morning in their
snow-shoe tracks, and wondered how far behind them he had been. I don't
know whether it was a vein of real courage that nerved him up to doing
such a foolhardy thing as to follow a man with the intention of
attacking him, or whether it was simply a case of recklessness. The
probability is, however, that he was hungrier than usual, and that the
smell of the warm blood made him forget everything else. Anyhow, he had
a pretty close call, for the shanty-boy had a revolver in his pocket.

Aside from any question of heroism, I am afraid that he was not really
as wise and discriminating as he looked. I have an idea that when Nature
manufactured him she thought he did not need as much wisdom or as many
wits as some of the other people of the woods, inasmuch as he was larger
and stronger and better armed than most of them. Except possibly the
bear, who was altogether too easy-going to molest him, there was not
one of the animals that could thrash him, and they all knew it and let
him alone. You can often manage very well without brains if only you
have the necessary teeth and muscle and claws; and the old lynx had
them, without a doubt. But I fear that Nature, in adapting a wild animal
to his environment, now and then forgets to allow for the human element
in the problem. Brains are a good thing to have, after all. Even to a
lynx the time is pretty sure to come, sooner or later, when he needs
them in his business. Your fellow-citizens of the woods may treat you
with all due respect, but the trapper won't, and he'll get you if you
don't watch out.

One day he found some more snow-shoe tracks, just like those that the
shanty-boy had left, and instead of running away, as he ought to have
done, and as most of the animals would have had sense enough to do, he
followed them up to see where they led. He wasn't particularly hungry
that day, and there was absolutely no excuse for what he did. It
certainly wasn't bravery that inspired him, for he had not the least
idea of attacking anyone. It was simply a case of foolish curiosity. He
followed the trail a long way, not walking directly in it, but keeping
just a little to one side, wallowing heavily as he went, for a foot and
a half of light, fluffy snow had fallen the day before, and the walking
was very bad. Presently he caught sight of a little piece of scarlet
cloth fastened to a stick that stood upright in a drift. It ought to
have been another warning to him, but it only roused his curiosity to a
still higher pitch, as the trapper knew it would. He sat down in the
snow and considered. The thing didn't really look as if it were good to
eat, and yet it might be. The only way to find out would be to go up to
it and taste it. But, eatable or not, such a bright bit of color was
certainly very attractive to the eye. You would think so yourself if you
hadn't seen anything scarlet since last summer's wild-flowers faded.
Finally, he got up and walked slowly toward it, and the first thing he
knew a steel trap had him by the right foreleg.

The way of the foolish is sometimes as hard as that of the transgressor.
For a few minutes he was the very maddest cat in all the Great
Tahquamenon Swamp, and he yelled and howled and caterwauled at the top
of his voice, and jumped and tore around as if he was crazy. But, of
course, that sort of thing did him no good, and after a while he quieted
down and took things a little more calmly. Instead of being made fast
to a tree, the trap was bound by a short chain to a heavy wooden clog,
and he found that by pulling with all his might he could drag it at a
snail's pace through the snow. So off he went on three legs, hauling the
trap and clog by the fourth, with the blood oozing out around the steel
jaws and leaving a line of bright crimson stains behind him. The strain
on his foot hurt him cruelly, but a great fear was in his heart, and he
knew that he must go away or die. So he pushed on, hour after hour,
stopping now and then to rest for a few minutes in a thicket of cedar or
hemlock, but soon gathering his strength for another effort. How he
growled and snarled with rage and pain, and how his great eyes flamed as
he looked ahead to see what was before him, or back along his trail to
know if the trapper was coming!

It was a terrible journey that he made that night, and the hours dragged
by slow as his pace and heavy as his clog. He was heading toward the
hollow tree by the Glimmerglass that he and his mate called home, but he
had not made more than half the distance, and his strength was nearly
gone. Half-way between midnight and dawn he reached the edge of a steep
and narrow gully that lay straight across his path. The moon had risen
some time before, and the white slopes gleamed and shone in the frosty
light, all the whiter by contrast with the few bushes and trees that
were scattered up and down the little valley. The lynx stood on the
brink and studied the proposition before him. It would be hard, hard
work to climb the farther side, dragging that heavy clog, but at least
it ought to be easy going down. He scrambled over the edge, hauling the
clog after him till it began to roll of its own accord. The chain
slackened, and he leaped forward. It was good to be able to jump again.
But he jumped too far, or tried to, and the chain tightened with a jerk
that brought him down head-first in the snow. Before he could recover
himself the clog shot past him, and the chain jerked again and sent him
heels over head. And then cat, trap, and clog all went rolling over and
over down the slope, and landed in a heap at the bottom. All the breath
and the spirit were knocked out of him, and for a long time he could do
nothing but lie still in the snow, trembling with weakness and pain, and
moaning miserably. It must have been half an hour before he could pull
himself together again, and then, just as he was about to begin the
climb up the far side of the gully, he suddenly discovered that he was
no longer alone. Off to the left, among some thick bushes, he saw the
lurking form of a timber-wolf. He looked to the right, and there was
another. Behind him was a third, and he thought he saw several others
still farther away, slinking from bush to bush, and gradually drawing
nearer. Ordinarily they would hardly have dreamed of tackling him, and,
if they had mustered up sufficient courage to attempt to overpower him
by mere force of numbers, he would simply have climbed a tree and
laughed at them. But now it was different.

The lynx cowered down in the snow and seemed to shrink to half his
normal size; and then, as all the horror and the hopelessness of it came
over him, he lifted up his voice in such a cry of abject fear, such a
wail of utter agony and despair, as even the Great Tahquamenon Swamp had
very seldom heard. I suppose that he had killed and eaten hundreds of
smaller animals in his time, but I doubt if any of his victims ever
suffered as he did. Most of them were taken unawares, and were killed
and eaten almost before they knew what was coming; but he had to lie
still and see his enemies slowly closing in upon him, knowing all the
time that he could not fight to any advantage, and that to fly was
utterly impossible. But when the last moment arrived he must have braced
up and given a good account of himself. At least that was what the
trapper decided when he came a few hours later to look for his trap. The
lynx was gone--not even a broken bone of him was left--but there in the
trodden and blood-stained snow was the record of an awful struggle.
There must have been something heroic about him, after all.

For the rest of the winter his widow had to hunt alone. This was not
such a great hardship in itself, for they had frequently gone out
separately on their marauding expeditions--more often, perhaps, than
they had gone together. But now there was never anyone to curl up beside
her in the hollow tree and help her keep warm, or to share his kill with
her when her own was unsuccessful. And when the spring should come and
bring her a family of kittens, she would have to take on her own
shoulders the whole burden of parental responsibility. Or, rather, the
burden was already there, for if she did not find enough meat to keep
herself in good health the babies would be weak and wizened and
unpromising, with small chance of growing up to be a credit to her or a
satisfaction to themselves. So she hunted night and day, and, on the
whole, with very good results. To tell the truth, I think she was rather
more skilful in the chase than her mate had been, and this seems to be a
not uncommon state of things in cat families. Perhaps feminine fineness
of instinct and lightness of tread are better adapted to the still-hunt
than the greater clumsiness and awkwardness of masculinity. Or, is there
something deeper than that? Has something whispered to these savage
mothers that on their success depends more than their own lives, and
that it is their sacred duty to kill, kill, kill? However that may be,
she proved herself a mighty huntress before the Lord. Her eye was keen,
and her foot was sure, and she made terrible havoc among the rabbits and

And yet there were times when even she was hungry and tired and
disheartened. Once, on a clear, keen, cold winter night when all the
great white world seemed frozen to death, she serenaded a land-looker
who had made his bed in a deserted lumber-camp and was trying to sleep.
She had eaten almost nothing for several days, and she knew that her
strength was ebbing. That very evening she had fallen short in a flying
leap at a rabbit, and had seen him dive head-first into his burrow,
safe by the merest fraction of an inch. She had fairly screeched with
rage and disappointment, and as the hours went by and she found no other
game, she grew so blue and discouraged that she really couldn't contain
herself any longer. Perhaps it did her good to have a cry. For two hours
the land-looker lay in his bunk and listened to a wailing that made his
heart fairly sink within him. Now it was a piercing scream, now it was a
sob, and now it died away in a low moan, only to rise again, wilder and
more agonized than ever. He knew without a doubt that it was only some
kind of a cat--knew it just as well as he knew that his compass needle
pointed north. Yet there had been times in his land-looking experience
when he had been ready to swear that the needle was pointing
south-southeast; and to-night, in spite of his certain knowledge that
the voice he heard was that of a lynx or a wild-cat or cougar, he
couldn't help being almost dead sure that it came from a woman in
distress, there was in it such a note of human anguish and despair.
Twice he got half-way out of bed to go to her assistance, and then lay
down again and called himself a fool. At last he could stand it no
longer, and taking a burning brand from the broken stove that stood in
the centre of the room, he went to the door and looked out. The great
arc-light of the moon had checkered the snow-crust with inky shadows,
and patches of dazzling white. The cold air struck him like needles, and
he said to himself that it was no wonder that either a cat or a woman
should cry if she had to stay out in the snow on such a night. The
moaning and wailing ceased as he opened the door, but now two round
spots of flame shone out of a black shadow and stared at him
unwinkingly. The lynx's pupils were wide open, and the golden-yellow
tapeta in the backs of her eyeballs were glowing like incandescent
lamps. It was no woman. No human eyes could ever shine like that. The
land-looker threw the brand with all his might; an ugly snarl came from
the shadow, and he saw a big gray animal go tearing away across the
hard, smooth crust in a curious kind of gallop, taking three or four
yards at a bound, coming down on all four feet at once, and spring
forward again as if she was made of rubber. He shut the door and went
back to bed.

That was the end of the concert, and, as it turned out, it was also the
end of the lynx's troubles, at least for the time being. Half an hour
later, as she was loping along in the moonlight, she thought she heard a
faint sound from beneath her feet. She stood still to listen, and the
next minute she was sure. During the last heavy snow-storm three
partridges had dived into a drift for shelter from the wind and the
cold, and such a thick, hard crust had formed over their heads that they
had not been able to get out again. She resurrected them in short order
and reinterred them after a fashion of her own, and then she went home
to her hollow tree and slept the sleep of those who have done what
Nature tells them to, and whose consciences are clear and whose stomachs

That was her nearest approach to starvation. She never was quite so
hungry again, and in the early spring she had a great piece of luck. Not
very far from her hollow tree she met a buck that had been mortally
wounded by a hunter. He had had strength enough to run away, and to
throw his pursuer off his track, but there was very little fight left in
him. In such a case as this she was quite ready to attack, and it did
not take her long to finish him. Probably it was a merciful release, for
he had suffered greatly in the last few days. Fortunately no wolves or
other large animals found him, and he gave her meat till after the
kittens had come and she had begun to grow well and strong again.

The kittens were a great success--two of the finest she had ever had,
and she had had many. But at first, of course, they were rather
insignificant-looking--just two little balls of reddish-brown fur that
turned over once in a while and mewed for their dinner. Some of the
scientific men say that a new-born baby has no mind, but only a blank
something that appears to be capable of receiving and retaining
impressions, and that may in certain cases have tendencies. There is
reason for thinking that the baby lynxes had tendencies. But imagine, if
you can, what their first impressions were like. And remember that they
were blind, and that if their ears heard sounds they certainly did not
comprehend them. Sometimes they were cold and hungry and lonesome, and
that was an impression of the wrong sort. They did not know what the
trouble was, but something was the matter, that was certain, and they
cried about it, like other babies. Then would come a great, warm,
comforting presence, and all would be right again; and that was a very
pleasant impression, indeed. I don't suppose they knew exactly what had
been done to them. Probably they were not definitely aware that their
empty stomachs had been filled, or that their shrinking, shivering
little bodies were snuggled down in somebody's thick fur coat, or that
somebody's warm red tongue was licking and stroking and caressing them.
Much less could they have known how that big, strong, comforting
somebody came to be there, or how many harmless and guiltless little
lives had been snuffed out to give her life and to enable her to give it
to them. But they knew that all was well with them, and that everything
was just as it should be--and they took another nap.

[Illustration: "_The hole was suddenly darkened, and a round, hairy face
looked in._"]

By and by they began to look about for impressions, and were no longer
content with lying still and taking only what came to them. They seemed
to acquire a mental appetite for impressions that was almost as ravenous
as their stomachs' appetite for milk, and their weak little legs were
forced to lift their squat little bodies and carry them on exploring
expeditions around the inside of the hollow tree, where they bumped
their heads against the walls, and stumbled and fell down over the
inequalities of the floor. They got a good many impressions during these
excursions, and some of them were mental and some were physical. And
sometimes they explored their mother, and went scrambling and
sprawling all over her, probably getting about as well acquainted with
her as it is possible to be with a person whom one has never seen. For
their eyes were still closed, and they must have known her only as a
big, kind, loving, furry thing, that fed them, and warmed them, and
licked them, and made them feel good, and yet was almost as vague and
indefinite as something in a dream. But the hour came at last when for
the first time they saw the light of day shining in through the hole in
the side of their tree. And while they were looking at it--and probably
blinking at it--a footstep sounded outside, the hole was suddenly
darkened, and a round, hairy face looked in--a face with big, unwinking
eyes, pointed, tufted ears, and a thick whisker brushed back from under
its chin. Do you suppose they recognized their mother? I don't believe
they did. But when she jumped in beside them, then they knew her, and
the impression they gained that day was one of the most wonderful of

In looks, these kittens of the woods were not so very different from
those of the backyard, except that they were bigger and perhaps a little
clumsier, and that their paws were very large, and their tails very
short and stubby. They grew stronger as the days went on, and their
legs did not wobble quite so much when they went travelling around the
inside of the tree. And they learned to use their ears as well as their
eyes. They knew what their mother's step meant at the entrance, and they
liked to hear her purr.

Other sounds there were which they did not understand so well, and to
most of which they gave little heed--the scream of the rabbit when the
big gray cat leaps on him from behind a bush; the scolding of the red
squirrel, disturbed and angry at the sight, and fearful that he may be
the next victim; the bark of the fox; the rasping of the porcupine's
teeth; and oftenest of all the pleasant rustling and whispering of the
trees, for by this time the sun and the south wind had come back and
done their work, and the voice of the leaves was heard in the land. All
these noises of the woods, and many others besides, came to them from
outside the walls of the tree, from a vast, mysterious region of which
as yet they knew nothing except that their mother often went there. She
was beginning to think that they were big enough and old enough to learn
something more about it, and so one day she led them out of the hole,
and they saw the sunshine, and the blue of the sky, and the green of
the trees, and the whiteness of the sailing clouds, and the beauty of
the Glimmerglass. But I don't think they appreciated the wonder and the
glory of it all, or paid as much attention to it as they ought. They
were too much interested in making their legs work properly, for their
knees were still rather weak, and were apt to give out all of a sudden,
and to let a fellow sit down when he didn't want to. And the dry leaves
and little sticks kept sliding around under one's feet so that one never
knew what was going to happen next. It was very different from the
hollow tree, and they were glad when their mother picked them up one at
a time by the back of the neck, carried them home, gave them their
supper, and told them to lie still and take a nap while she went after
another rabbit.

But they had really done very well, considering that it was their first
day out. One of them in particular was very smart and precocious, and
she had taken much pleasure in watching the independent way in which he
went staggering about, looking for impressions. And the other was not
far behind him. Her long hours of still-hunting had brought their rich
reward, and her babies were all that she could ask.

She was in the habit of occasionally bringing something home for them to
play with--a wood-mouse, perhaps, or a squirrel, or a partridge, or even
a larger animal; and they played with it with a vengeance, shaking and
worrying it, and spitting and growling and snarling over it in the most
approved fashion. And you should have seen them the first time they saw
their mother catch a rabbit. They did not try to help her, for she had
told them not to, but they watched her as if it was a matter of life and
death--as, indeed, it was, but not to them. The rabbit was nibbling some
tender young sprouts. The old lynx crept up behind him very quietly and
stealthily, and the kittens' eyes stuck out farther and farther as they
saw her gradually work up within leaping distance. They nearly jumped
out of their skins with excitement when at last she gave a bound and
landed with both forepaws on the middle of his back. And when the rabbit
screamed out in his fright and pain, they could not contain themselves
any longer, but rushed in and helped finish him. They seemed to
understand the game as perfectly as if they had been practising it for
years. I suppose that was where their tendencies came in.

A few days later they had another experience--or at least one of them
did. Their mother happened to see two little wood-mice run under a
small, half-decayed log, and she put her forefeet against it and rolled
it half-way over; and then, while she held it there, the larger
Kitten--the one who had made the better record the day they first left
the den--thrust his paw under and grabbed one of them. The other mouse
got away, but I don't think the Kitten cared very much. He had made his
first kill, and that was glory enough for one day.

From wood-mice the kittens progressed to chipmunks, and from them to
larger game. With use and exercise their soft baby muscles grew hard and
strong, and it was not long before they were able to follow the old lynx
almost anywhere, to the tops of the tallest trees, over the roughest
ground, and through the densest thickets. And they learned other things
besides how to walk and climb and hunt. Their mother was a good teacher
and a rather rigid disciplinarian, and very early in life they were
taught that they must obey promptly and without question, and that on
certain occasions it was absolutely necessary to keep perfectly still
and not make the slightest sound. For instance, there was the time when
the whole family lay sprawled out on a limb of a tree, fifteen or
twenty feet up from the ground, and watched the land-looker go by with
his half-axe over his shoulder, his compass in his hand, and a note-book
sticking out of his pocket. They were so motionless, and the grayish
color of their fur matched so well with the bark of the tree, that he
never saw them, although for a moment they were right over his head, and
could have leaped to his shoulders as easily as not.

In short, the kittens were learning to take care of themselves, and it
was well that they were, for one day their mother was taken from them in
a strange, sad way, and there was nothing they could do but cry, and try
to follow her, and at last see her pass out of sight, still looking back
and calling to them pitifully. It was the river that carried her off,
and it was a floating saw-log that she rode upon, an unwilling
passenger. The trouble began with a steel trap, just as it did in their
father's case. Traps are not nearly as much to be feared in summer or
early fall as in winter, for the simple reason that one's fur is not as
valuable in warm weather as in cold. The lynx's, for instance, was
considerably shorter and thinner than it had been in the preceding
December, when she and her mate first met, and it had taken on a
reddish tinge, as if the steel had begun to rust a trifle. But the
killing machines are to be found occasionally at all seasons of the
year, and somebody had set this one down by the edge of the water--not
the Glimmerglass, but a branch of the Tahquamenon River--and had chained
it to a log that had been hung up in last spring's drive. When she first
felt its grip on her leg she yelled and tore around just as her mate had
done, while the kittens looked on in wonder and amazement. They had seen
their mother in many moods, but never in one like this. But by and by
she grew weary, and a little later it began to rain. She was soon
soaking wet, and as the hours dragged on every ounce of courage and
gumption seemed to ooze out of her. If the trapper had come then he
would have found her very meek and limp. Possibly she would have been
ready to fight him for her children's sakes, but nothing else could have
nerved her to it. But she was not put to any such test; the trapper did
not come.

It rained very hard, and it rained very long. In fact it had been
raining most of the time for two or three days before the lynx found the
trap, and in a few more hours the Great Tahquamenon Swamp was as full
of water as a soaked sponge, and the river was rising rapidly. The lynx
was soon lying in a puddle, and to get out of it she climbed upon the
log and stretched herself out on the wet, brown bark. Still the river
rose, and by and by the log began to stir in its bed, as if it were
thinking of renewing its voyage. At last, when she had been there nearly
twenty-four hours, and was faint with hunger, as well as cold and wet,
it quietly swung out into the current and drifted away down the stream.
She was an excellent swimmer, and she promptly jumped overboard and
tried to reach the shore, but of course the chain put a stop to that.
Weakened by fasting, and borne down by the weight of the trap, she came
very near drowning before she could scramble up again over the end of
the log and seat herself amidships.

The kittens were foraging among the bushes, but she called to them in a
tone which told them plainly enough that some new trouble had befallen
her, and they hurried down to the water's edge, and stood there, mewing
piteously. She implored them to follow her, and after much persuasion
the bigger and bolder of the two plunged bravely in. But he didn't get
very far. It was very cold and very wet, and he wasn't used to
swimming. Besides, the water got into his nose and made him sneeze,
which distracted his attention so that for a moment he forgot all about
his mother, and just turned around and hustled back to the shore as fast
as he could go. After that he, contented himself with following along
the bank and keeping as near her as he could. Once the log drifted in so
close that she thought she could jump ashore, and the Kitten watched
eagerly as she gathered herself for the spring. But the chain was too
short, and she fell into the water. Her forepaw just grazed the
grass-tuft where the Kitten was standing, and for an instant she felt
the blades slipping between her toes; but the next moment she was
swimming for the log again, and the Kitten was mewing his sympathy at
the top of his voice.

They journeyed on for nearly an hour longer, she on her prison-ship, and
he on land; and then, before either of them knew just what had happened,
the little tributary had emptied itself into the main stream of the
Tahquamenon, and they suddenly realized that they were much farther
apart than they had been at any time before. This new river was several
times as broad as the one on which the voyage had begun, and the wind
was steadily carrying her away from the shore, while the current bore
her resistlessly on in its long, slow voyage to Lake Superior. She was
still calling to him, but her voice was growing fainter and fainter in
the distance, and so, at last, she passed out of his sight and hearing

[Illustration: "_He was a very presentable young lynx._"]

And then, for the first time, he missed his brother. The other kitten
had always been a trifle the slower of the two, and in some way he had
dropped behind. Our friend was alone in the world.

But the same river that had carried his mother away brought him a little
comfort in his desolation, for down by the water's edge, cast up on the
sand by a circling eddy, he found a dead sucker. He ate it with relish,
and felt better in spite of himself. It made a very large meal for a
lynx of his size, and by the time he had finished it he began to be
drowsy, so he picked out the driest spot he could find, under the thick
branches of a large hemlock, and curled himself up on the brown needles
and went to sleep.

The next day he had to hustle for a living, and the next it was the
same, and the next, and the next. As the weeks and the months went by
there was every indication that life would be little else than one long
hustle--or perhaps a short one--and in spite of all he could do there
were times when he was very near the end of the chapter. But his
mother's lessons stood him in good stead, and he was exceedingly well
armed for the chase. It would have been hard to find in all the woods
any teeth better adapted than his to the work of pulling a
fellow-creature to pieces. In front, on both the upper and lower jaws,
were the chisel-shaped incisors. Flanking them were the canines, very
long and slender, and very sharply pointed, thrusting themselves into
the meat like the tines of a carving-fork, and tearing it away in great
shreds. And back of the canines were other teeth that were still larger,
but shorter and broader, and shaped more like notched knife-blades.
Those of the lower jaw worked inside those of the upper, like shears,
and they were very handy for cutting the large chunks into pieces small
enough to go down his throat. By the time he got through with a
partridge there was not much left of it but a puddle of brown feathers.
His claws, too, were very long and white, and very wickedly curved; and
before starting out on a hunt he would often get up on his hind legs
and sharpen those of his forefeet on a tree-trunk, just as your
house-cat sharpens hers on the leg of the kitchen-table. When he wasn't
using them he kept them hidden between his toes, so that they would not
be constantly catching and breaking on roots and things; but all he had
to do when he wanted them was to pull certain muscles, and out they
came, ready to scratch and tear to his heart's content. They were not by
any means full grown as yet, but they bade fair to equal his father's
some day. He was warmly and comfortably clothed, of course, and along
his sides and flanks the hair hung especially thick and long, to protect
his body when he was obliged to wade through light, fluffy snow. When
there was a crust he didn't need it, for his paws were so big and broad
and hairy that at such times they bore him up almost as well as if they
had been two pairs of snow-shoes.

But, well armed, well clad, and well shod though he was, it was
fortunate for the Kitten that his first winter was a mild one--mild,
that is, for the Glimmerglass country. Otherwise things might have gone
very hard with him, and they were none too easy as it was. There were
days when he was even hungrier than his mother had been the night she
serenaded the land-looker, and it was on one of these occasions that he
found a porcupine in a tree and tried to make a meal of him. That was a
memorable experience. The porky was sitting in a crotch, doing nothing
in particular, and when the Kitten approached he simply put his nose
down and his quills up. The Kitten spat at him contemptuously, but
without any apparent effect. Then he put out a big forepaw and tapped
him lightly on the forehead. The porcupine flipped his tail, and the
Kitten jumped back, and spat and hissed harder than ever. He didn't
quite know what to make of this singular-looking creature, but he was
young and rash, besides being awfully, awfully hungry, and in another
minute he pitched in.

The next thing they knew, the porcupine had dropped to the ground, where
he lit in a snow-bank, and presently picked himself up and waddled off
to another tree, while the Kitten--well, the Kitten just sat in the
crotch and cried as hard as ever he could cry. There were quills in his
nose, and quills in his side, and quills in both his forepaws; and every
motion was agony. He himself never knew exactly how he got rid of them
all, so of course I can't tell you. A few of those that were caught only
by their very tips may possibly have dropped out, but it is probable
that most of them broke off and left their points to work deeper and
deeper into the flesh until the skin finally closed over them and they
disappeared. I have no doubt that pieces of those quills are still
wandering about in various parts of his anatomy, like the quart of lead
that "Little Bobs" carries around with him, according to Mr. Kipling. It
was weeks before he ceased to feel the pain of them.

For several days after this mishap it was impossible for him to hunt,
and he would certainly have starved to death if it had not been for a
cougar who providentially came to the Glimmerglass on a short visit. The
Kitten found his tracks in the snow the very next day, and cautiously
followed them up, limping as he went, to see what the big fellow had
been doing. For a mile or more the large, round, shapeless
footprints--very much like his own, but on a bigger scale--were spaced
so regularly that it was evident the cougar had been simply walking
along at a very leisurely gait, with nothing to disturb his frame of
mind. But after a while the record showed a remarkable change. The
footprints were only a few inches apart, and his cougarship had carried
himself so low that his body had dragged in the snow and left a deep
furrow behind. The Kitten knew what that meant. He had been there
himself, though not after the same kind of prey. And then the trail
stopped entirely, and for a space the snow lay fresh and virgin and
untrodden. But twenty feet away was the spot where the cougar had come
down on all-fours, only to leap forward again like a ricochetting
cannon-ball; and twenty-five feet farther lay the greater part of the
carcass of a deer.

The Kitten stuffed himself as full as he could hold, and then climbed a
tree and watched. About midnight the cougar appeared, and after he had
eaten his fill and gone away again the Kitten slipped down and ate some
more. He was making up for lost time. For four successive nights the
cougar came and feasted on venison, but after that the Kitten never saw
him or heard of him again. There was still a goodly quantity of meat
left, and it seems somewhat curious that he did not return for it, but
he was a stranger in those parts, and it is probable that he went back
to his old haunts, up toward Whitefish Point, perhaps, or the Grand
Sable. Anyhow, it was very nice for the Kitten, for that deer kept him
in provisions until he was able to take up hunting once more.

He had one rather exciting experience during this period. One day, just
as he was finishing a very enjoyable meal of venison tenderloin, he
heard the tramp of snow-shoes on the crust, and in a moment more that
same land-looker came pacing down a section line and halted squarely in
front of him. Now there are trappers who say that a Canada lynx is a
fool and a coward, that he will run from a small dog, and that he makes
his living entirely by preying on animals that are weaker and more
poorly armed than he. I admit, of course, that the majority of lynxes do
not go ramming around the woods with chips on their shoulders, looking
for hunters armed with bowie-knives and repeating rifles. You wouldn't,
either--not as long as there were rabbits to be had for the stalking.
But on this occasion the Kitten's conduct certainly savored of
recklessness, if not of real bravery. Being entirely unacquainted with
the land-looking profession, he naturally supposed that the man had come
for his deer. And he didn't propose to let him have it. He considered
that that venison belonged to him, and he took his stand on the carcass,
laid his ears back, showed his white teeth, made his eyes blaze, and
spit and growled and snarled defiantly. The land-looker didn't quite
know what to do. His section line lay straight across the deer's body,
and he did not want to leave it for fear of confusing his reckoning, but
the Kitten, though only half grown, looked uncommonly business-like. He
had no gun, nor even a revolver, for he was hunting for pine, not fresh
meat. He had left his half-axe in camp, and when he felt in his pocket
for his jack-knife it was not there. Then he looked about for a club. He
had been told that lynxes always had very thin skulls, and that a light
blow on the back of the head was enough to kill the biggest and fiercest
of them, let alone a kitten. But he couldn't even find a stick that
would answer his purpose.

"Well," he said, when they had stared at each other a minute or two
longer without coming to any understanding, "I suppose if you won't turn
out for me, I'll have to turn out for you"; and he made a careful
circuit at a respectful distance, picked up his line again, and went on
his way.

The winter dragged on very slowly, with many ups and downs, but it was
gone at last. Summer was easier, if only because he was not obliged to
use up any of his vitality in keeping warm. Sometimes, indeed, he was
really too warm for comfort, so he presently changed his coat and put
on a thinner one. People like to talk about the coolness of the deep
woods, but the truth is that there isn't any place much hotter and
stuffier than a dense growth of timber, where the wind never comes, and
where the air is heavy and still. And then there are the windfalls and
the old burnings, where the sun beats fiercely down among the fallen
trees till the blackened soil is hot as a city pavement, and where dead
trunks and half-burned logs lie thrown together in the wildest
confusion--places which are almost impassable for men, and which even
the land-lookers avoid whenever they can, but which a cat will thread as
readily as the locomotive follows the rails. These were the localities
which the Kitten was most fond of frequenting, and here his youth
slipped rapidly away. He was fast becoming an adult lynx.

The summer passed, and half the autumn; the first snow came and went,
and again the Kitten put on his winter coat of gray, with the white
underneath, and the dark trimmings up and down his legs and along his
back. What with his mustachios, and his whiskers, and the tassels on his
ears, he was a very presentable young lynx. It would be many years
before he could hope to be as large and powerful as his father, but,
nevertheless, he was making remarkably good progress. And the time was
at hand when he would need both his good looks and his muscle.

Since his mother had left him he had seen only two or three lynxes, and
those were all much older and larger than he, and not well suited to be
his companions. But history repeats itself. One Indian-summer afternoon
he was tramping along the northern bank of the Glimmerglass, just as his
father had done two years before, and as he rounded a bend in the path
he came face to face with someone who was enough like him to have been
his twin sister. And they did as his parents had done, stood still for a
minute or two and looked at each other as if they had just found out
what they were made for. After all, life is something more than hustling
for a living, even in the woods.

But just then something else happened, and another ruling passion came
into play--the old instinct of the chase, which neither of them could
very long forget. A faint "Quack, quack, quack," came up from the lake,
and they crept to the edge of the bank, side by side, and looked down.
Above them the trees stood dreamily motionless in the mellow sunshine.
Below was a steep slope of ten or fifteen feet; beyond it a tiny strip
of sandy beach, and then the quiet water. A squadron of ducks, on their
way from the Arctic Circle to the Gulf, had taken stop-over checks for
the Glimmerglass; and now they came loitering along through the dead
bulrushes, murmuring gently, in soft, mild voices, of delicious minnows
and snails, and pausing a moment now and then to put their heads under
and dabble in the mud for some particularly choice morsel. The lynxes
crouched and waited, while their stubby tails twitched nervously, their
long, narrow pupils grew still narrower, and their paws fumbled about
among the dry pine-needles, feeling for the very best footing for the
flying leap. The ducks came on, still prattling pleasantly over their
own private affairs. Closer and closer they swam, without a thought of
death waiting for them at the top of the bank, and suddenly four
splendid sets of muscles jerked like bowstrings, four long hind-legs
straightened with a mighty thrust and shove, and two big gray creatures
shot out from the brink and came sailing down through the air with their
heads up, their tails on end, their eyes blazing, and their forepaws
stretched out to grab the nearest unhappy duck. The flock broke up with
frightened cries and a wonderful whirring of wings, and in a moment
more they were far away and going like the very wind.

[Illustration: "_They both stood still and looked at each other._"]

But two of its members stayed behind, and presently the lynxes waded out
on the beach and sat down to eat their supper together. They talked as
much over that meal as the ducks had over theirs, but the lynx language
is very different from that of the water-fowl. Instead of soft, gentle
murmurings there were low growls and snarls as the long, white claws and
teeth tore the warm red flesh from the bones. It could hardly have been
a pleasant conversation to anyone but themselves, but I suppose they
enjoyed it as much as the choicest repartee. In truth they had good
reason to be satisfied and contented with themselves and each other, and
with what they had just done, for not every flying leap is so
successful, and not every duck is as plump and juicy as the two that
they were discussing. So they talked on in angry, threatening tones,
that sounded like quarrelling, but that really meant only a fierce,
savage kind of pleasure; and when the meal was ended, and the very last
shred of duck-flesh had disappeared, they washed their faces, and
purred, and lay still a while to visit and get acquainted.

There were many other meetings during the weeks that followed--some
under as pleasant circumstances as the first, and some not. Perhaps the
best were those of the clear, sharp days of early winter, when the sky
was blue, and the sunshine was bright, and a thin carpet of fine, dry
snow covered the floor of the forest. It was cold, of course; but they
were young and strong and healthy, and their fur was thick and warm,
like the garments of a Canadian girl. The keen air set the live blood
leaping and dancing, and they frisked and frolicked, and romped and
played, and rolled each other over and over in the snow, and were as
wildly and deliciously happy as it is ever given to two animals to be.

It was too good to last long without some kind of an interruption, and
one glorious winter evening, when the full moon was flooding the woods
with the white light that brings a touch of madness, a third young lynx
came upon the scene. And then there was trouble. The Kitten's new friend
sat back in the bushes and looked on, while he and his rival squatted
face to face in the snow and sassed each other to the utmost limits of
the lynx vocabulary, their voices rising and falling in a hideous duet,
and their eyes gleaming and glowing with a pale, yellow-green fire.
Presently there was a rush, and the fur began to fly. The snow flew,
too; and the woods rang and rang again with yelling and caterwauling,
and spitting and swearing, and all manner of abuse. The rabbits heard
it, and trembled; and the partridges, down in the cedar swamp, glanced
furtively over their shoulders and were glad it was no nearer. They bit
and scratched and clawed like two little devils, and the onlooker in the
bushes must have felt a thrill of pride over the strenuous way in which
they strove for her favors. First one was on top, and then the other.
Now our Kitten had his rival by the ears, and now by the tail. One
minute heads, legs, and bodies were all mixed up in such a snarl that it
seemed as if they could never be untangled, and the next they backed off
just long enough to catch their breath, and then flew at each other's
throats more savagely than ever. It was really more difficult than you
would suppose for either of them to get a good hold of the other, partly
because their fur was so thick, and partly because Nature had purposely
made their skins very loose, with an eye to just such performances as
this. But they managed to do a good deal of damage, nevertheless; and in
the end the pretender was thoroughly whipped, and fled away in disgrace
down the long, snowy aisles of the forest, howling as he went, while
the Kitten turned slowly and painfully to the one who was at the bottom
of all this unpleasantness. His ears were slit; one eye was shut, and
the lid of the other hung very low; he limped badly with his right
hind-leg, and many were the wounds and scratches along his breast and
sides. But he didn't care. He had won his spurs.

The story of the Kitten is told, for he was a kitten no longer.


HE wasn't handsome--the original owner of this quill--and I can't say
that he was very smart. He was only a slow-witted, homely old porky who
once lived by the Glimmerglass. But in spite of his slow wits and his
homeliness a great many things happened to him in the course of his

He was born in a hollow hemlock log, on a wild April morning, when the
north wind was whipping the lake with snow, and when winter seemed to
have come back for a season. The Glimmerglass was neither glimmering nor
glassy that morning, but he and his mother were snug and warm in their
wooden nest, and they cared little for the storm that was raging

It has been said by some that porcupines lay eggs, the hard, smooth
shells of which are furnished by a kind and thoughtful Providence for
the protection of the mothers from their prickly offspring until the
latter have fairly begun their independent existence. Other people say
that two babies invariably arrive at once, and that one of them is
always dead before it is born. But when my Porcupine discovered America
he had neither a shell on his back nor a dead twin brother by his side.
Neither was he prickly. He was covered all over with soft, furry,
dark-brown hair. If you had searched carefully along the middle of his
back you might possibly have found the points of the first quills, just
peeping through the skin; but as yet the thick fur hid them from sight
and touch unless you knew just where and how to look for them.

He was a very large baby, larger even than a new-born bear cub, and no
doubt his mother felt a justifiable pride in his size and his general
peartness. She was certainly very careful of him and very anxious for
his safety, for she kept him out of sight, and no one ever saw him
during those first days and weeks of his babyhood. She did not propose
to have any lynxes or wild-cats or other ill-disposed neighbors fondling
him until his quills were grown. After that they might give him as many
love-pats as they pleased.

He grew rapidly, as all porcupine babies do. Long hairs, tipped with
yellowish-white, came out through the dense fur, and by and by the
quills began to show. His teeth were lengthening, too, as his mother
very well knew, and between the sharp things in his mouth and those on
his back and sides he was fast becoming a very formidable nursling.
Before he was two months old she was forced to wean him, but by that
time he was quite able to travel down to the beach and feast on the
tender lily-pads and arrow-head leaves that grew in the shallow water,
within easy reach from fallen and half-submerged tree-trunks.

One June day, as he and his mother were fishing for lily-pads, each of
them out on the end of a big log, a boy came down the steep bank that
rose almost from the water's edge. He wasn't a very attractive boy. His
clothes were dirty and torn--and so was his face. His hat was gone, and
his hair had not seen a comb for weeks. The mosquitoes and black-flies
and no-see-'ems had bitten him until his skin was covered with blotches
and his eyelids were so swollen that he could hardly see. And worst of
all, he looked as if he were dying of starvation. There was almost
nothing left of him but skin and bones, and his clothing hung upon him
as it would on a framework of sticks. If the Porcupine could have
philosophized about it he would probably have said that this was the
wrong time of year for starving; and from his point of view he would
have been right. June, in the woods, is the season of plenty for
everybody but man. Man thinks he must have wheat-flour, and that doesn't
grow on pines or maple-trees, nor yet in the tamarack swamp. But was
there any wild, fierce glare in the boy's eyes, such a light of hunger
as the story-books tell us is to be seen in the eyes of the wolf and the
lynx when they have not eaten for days and days, and when the snow lies
deep in the forest, and famine comes stalking through the trees? I don't
think so. He was too weak and miserable to do any glaring, and his
stomach was aching so hard from eating green gooseberries that he could
scarcely think of anything else.

But his face brightened a very little when he saw the old she-porcupine,
and he picked up a heavy stick and waded out beside her log. She clacked
her teeth together angrily as he approached; but he paid no attention,
so she drew herself into a ball, with her head down and her nose covered
by her forepaws. Reaching across her back and down on each side was a
belt or girdle of quills, the largest and heaviest on her whole body,
which could be erected at will, and now they stood as straight as young
spruce-trees. Their tips were dark-brown, but the rest of their length
was nearly white, and when you looked at her from behind she seemed to
have a pointed white ruffle, edged with black, tied around the middle of
her body. But the boy wasn't thinking about ruffles, and he didn't care
what she did with her quills. He gave her such a thrust with his stick
that she had to grab at the log with both hands to keep from being
shoved into the water. That left her nose unprotected, and he brought
the stick down across it once, twice, three times. Then he picked her up
by one foot, very gingerly, and carried her off; and our Porky never saw
his mother again.

Perhaps we had best follow her up and see what finally became of her.
Half a mile from the scene of the murder the boy came upon a woman and a
little girl. I sha'n't try to describe them, except to say that they
were even worse off than he. Perhaps you read in the papers, some years
ago, about the woman and the two children who were lost for several
weeks in the woods of northern Michigan.

"I've got a porky," said the boy.

[Illustration: "_High up in the top of a tall hemlock._"]

He dropped his burden on the ground, and they all stood around and
looked at it. They were hungry--oh, so hungry!--but for some reason they
did not seem very eager to begin. An old porcupine with her clothes on
is not the most attractive of feasts, and they had no knife with which
to skin her, no salt to season the meat, no fire to cook it, and no
matches with which to start one. Rubbing two sticks together is a very
good way of starting a fire when you are in a book, but it doesn't work
very well in the Great Tahquamenon Swamp. And yet, somehow or other--I
don't know how, and I don't want to--they ate that porcupine. And it did
them good. When the searchers found them, a week or two later, the woman
and the boy were dead, but the little girl was still alive, and for all
I know she is living to this day.

Let us return to the Glimmerglass. The young Porcupine ought to have
mourned deeply for his mother, but I grieve to say that he did nothing
of the kind. I doubt if he was even very lonesome. His brain was
smaller, smoother, and less corrugated than yours is supposed to be; its
wrinkles were few and not very deep; and it may be that the bump of
filial affection was quite polished, or even that there wasn't any such
bump at all. Anyhow, he got along very well without her, dispensing with
her much more easily than the woman and the boy and girl could have.
He watched stolidly while the boy killed her and carried her off, and a
little later he was eating lily-pads again.

As far as his future prospects were concerned, he had little reason for
worrying. He knew pretty well how to take care of himself, for that is a
kind of knowledge which comes early to young porcupines. Really, there
wasn't much to learn. His quills would protect him from most of his
enemies, if not from all of them; and, what was still better, he need
never suffer from a scarcity of food. Of all the animals in the woods
the porcupine is probably the safest from starvation, for he can eat
anything from the soft green leaves of the water-plants to the bark and
the small twigs of the tallest hemlock. Summer and winter, his
storehouse is always full. The young lions may lack, and suffer hunger,
and seek their meat from God; but the young porky has only to climb a
tree and set his teeth at work. All the woods are his huckleberry.

And, by the way, our Porcupine's teeth were a great institution,
especially the front ones, and were well worthy of a somewhat detailed
description. They were long and sharp and yellow, and there were two in
the upper jaw and two in the lower, with a wide gap on each side between
them and the molars. They kept right on growing as long as he lived, and
there is no telling how far they would have gone if there had been
nothing to stop them. Fortunately, he did a great deal of eating and
chewing, and the constant friction kept them worn down, and at the same
time served to sharpen them. Like a beaver's, they were formed of thin
shells of hard enamel in front, backed up by softer pulp behind; and of
course the soft parts wore away first, and left the enamel projecting in
sharp, chisel-like edges that could gnaw crumbs from a hickory

The next few months were pleasant ones, with plenty to eat, and nothing
to do but keep his jaws going. By and by the leaves began to fall, and
whenever the Porky walked abroad they rustled around him like silk
skirts going down the aisle of a church. A little later the beechnuts
came down from the sky, and he feasted more luxuriously than ever. His
four yellow chisels tore the brown shells open, his molars ground the
sweet kernels into meal, and he ate and ate till his short legs could
hardly keep his fat little belly off the ground.

Then came the first light snow, and his feet left tracks which bore a
faint resemblance to a baby's--that is, if your imagination was
sufficiently vigorous. The snow grew deeper and deeper, and after a
while he had to fairly plough his way from the hollow log to the tree
where he took his meals. It was hard work, for his clumsy legs were not
made for wading, and at every step he had to lift and drag himself
forward, and then let his body drop while he shifted his feet. A
porcupine's feet will not go of themselves, the way other animals' do.
They have to be picked up one at a time and lifted forward as far as
they can reach--not very far at the best, for they are fastened to the
ends of very short legs. It almost seems as if he could run faster if he
could drop them off and leave them behind. One evening, when the snow
was beginning to freeze again after a thawing day, he lay down to rest
for a few minutes; and when he started on, some of his quills were fast
in the hardening crust and had to be left behind. But no matter how
difficult the walk might be, there was always a good square meal at the
end of it, and he pushed valiantly on till he reached his dinner-table.

Sometimes he stayed in the same tree for several days at a time,
quenching his thirst with snow, and sleeping in a crotch.

He was not by any means the only porcupine in the woods around the
Glimmerglass, although weeks sometimes passed without his seeing any of
his relations. At other times there were from one to half a dozen
porkies in the trees close by, and when they happened to feel like it
they would call back and forth to each other in queer, harsh, and often
querulous voices.

One afternoon, when he and another porcupine were occupying trees next
each other, two land-lookers came along and camped for the night between
them. Earlier in the day the men had crossed the trail of a pack of
wolves, and they talked of it as they cut their firewood, and, with all
the skill of the _voyageurs_ of old, cooked their scanty supper, and
made their bed of balsam boughs. The half-breed was much afraid that
they would have visitors before morning, but the white man only laughed
at the idea.

The meal was hardly finished when they lay down between their
blankets--the white man to sleep, and the half-breed to listen, listen,
listen for the coming of the wolves. Beyond the camp-fire's little
circle of ruddy light, vague shadows moved mysteriously, as if living
things were prowling about among the trees and only waiting for him to
fall asleep. Yet there was no wolf-howl to be heard, nor anything else
to break the silence of the winter night, save possibly the dropping of
a dead branch, or the splitting open of a tree-trunk, torn apart by the
frost. And by and by, in spite of himself, the half-breed's eyelids
began to droop.

But somebody else was awake--awake, and tempted with a great temptation.
The porcupine--not ours, but the other one--had caught the fragrance of
coffee and bacon. Here were new odors--different from anything that had
ever before tickled his nostrils--strange, but indescribably delicious.
He waited till the land-lookers were snoring, and then he started down
the tree. Half-way to the ground he encountered the cloud of smoke that
rose from the camp-fire. Here was another new odor, but with nothing
pleasant about it. It stung his nostrils and made his eyes smart, and he
scrambled up again as fast as he could go, his claws and quills rattling
on the bark. The half-breed woke with a start. He had heard
something--he was sure he had--the wolves were coming, and he gave the
white man a punch in the ribs.

"Wake up, wake up, m'shoor!" he whispered, excitedly. "The wolves are
coming. I can hear them on the snow."

The white man was up in a twinkling, but by that time the porcupine hod
settled himself in a crotch, out of reach of the smoke, and the woods
were silent again. The two listened with all their ears, but there was
not a sound to be heard.

"You must have been dreaming, Louis."

The half-breed insisted that he had really heard the patter of the
wolves' feet on the snow-crust, but the timber cruiser laughed at him,
and lay down to sleep again. An hour later the performance was repeated,
and this time the white man was angry.

"Don't you wake me up again, Louis. You're so rattled you don't know
what you're doing."

Louis was silenced, but not convinced, and he did not let himself go to
sleep again. The fire was dying down, and little by little the
smoke-cloud grew thinner and thinner until it disappeared entirely. Then
the half-breed heard the same sound once more, but from the tree
overhead, and not from across the snow. He waited and watched, and
presently a dark-brown animal, two or three feet in length and about
the shape of an egg, came scrambling cautiously down the trunk. The
porky reached the ground in safety, and searched among the tin plates
and the knives and forks until he found a piece of bacon rind; but he
got just one taste of it, and then Louis hit him over the head with a
club. Next morning the land-lookers had porcupine soup for breakfast,
and they told me afterward that it was very good indeed.

Our Porky had seen it all. He waited till the men had tramped away
through the woods, with their packs on their backs and their snow-shoes
on their feet, and then he, too, came down from his tree on a tour of
investigation. His friend's skin lay on the snow not very far away--if
you had pulled the quills and the longer hairs out of it, it would have
made the pelt which the old fur-traders sometimes sold under the name of
"spring beaver"--but he paid no attention to it. The bacon rind was what
interested him most, and he chewed and gnawed at it with a relish that
an epicure might have envied. It was the first time in all his
gluttonous little life that he had ever tasted the flavor of salt or
wood-smoke; and neither lily-pads, nor beechnuts, nor berries, nor
anything else in all the woods could compare with it. Life was worth
living, if only for this one experience; and it may be that he stowed a
dim memory of it away in some dark corner of his brain, and hoped that
fortune would some day be good to him and send him another rind.

The long, long winter dragged slowly on, the snow piled up higher and
deeper, and the cold grew sharper and keener. Night after night the
pitiless stars seemed sucking every last bit of warmth out of the old
earth and leaving it dead and frozen forever. Those were the nights when
the rabbits came out of their burrows and stamped up and down their
runways for hours at a time, trying by exercise to keep from freezing to
death, and when the deer dared not lie down to sleep. And hunger came
with the cold and the deep snow. The buck and the doe had to live on
hemlock twigs till they grew thin and poor. The partridges were buried
in the drifting snow, and starved to death. The lynxes and the wild-cats
hunted and hunted and hunted, and found no prey; and it was well for the
bears and the woodchucks that they could sleep all winter and did not
need food. Only the Porcupine had plenty and to spare. Starvation had no
terrors for him.

But the hunger of another may mean danger for us, as the Porcupine
discovered. In ordinary times most of the animals let him severely
alone. They knew better than to tackle such a living pin-cushion as he;
and if any of them ever did try it, one touch was generally enough. But
when you are ready to perish with hunger, you will take risks which at
other times you would not even think about; and so it happened that one
February afternoon, as the Porky was trundling himself deliberately over
the snow-crust, a fierce-looking animal with dark fur, bushy tail, and
pointed nose sprang at him from behind a tree and tried to catch him by
the throat, where the quills did not grow, and there was nothing but
soft, warm fur. The Porcupine knew just what to do in such a case, and
he promptly made himself into a prickly ball, very much as his mother
had done seven or eight months before, with his face down, and his
quills sticking out defiantly. But this time his scheme of defence did
not work as well as usual, for the sharp little nose dug into the snow
and wriggled its way closer and closer to where the jugular vein was
waiting to be tapped. That fisher must have understood his business, for
he had chosen the one and only way by which a porcupine may be
successfully attacked. For once in his life our friend was really
scared. Another inch, and the fisher would have won the game, but he was
in such a hurry that he grew careless and reckless, and did not notice
that he had wheeled half-way round, and that his hind-quarters were
alongside the Porcupine's. Now, sluggish and slow though a porky may be,
there is one of his members that is as quick as a steel trap, and that
is his tail. Something hit the fisher a whack on his flank, and he gave
a cry of pain and fury, and jumped back with half a dozen spears
sticking in his flesh. He must have quite lost his head during the next
few seconds, for before he knew it his face also had come within reach
of that terrible tail and its quick, vicious jerks. That ended the
battle, and he fled away across the snow, almost mad with the agony in
his nose, his eyes, his forehead, and his left flank. As for the Porky,
he made for the nearest tree as fast as he could go, hardly trusting in
his great deliverance. And I don't believe there is any sight in all the
Great Tahquamenon Swamp much funnier than a porky in a hurry--a porky
who has really made up his mind that he is in danger and must hustle for
dear life. He is the very personification of haste and a desire to go
somewhere quick, and he picks his feet up and puts them down again as
fast as ever he can; and yet, no matter how hard he works, his legs are
so short and his body so fat that he can't begin to travel as fast as he
wants to.

Another day the lynx tried it, and fared even worse than the fisher--not
the Canada lynx, with whom we are already somewhat acquainted, but the
bay lynx. The fisher had had some sense, and would probably have
succeeded if he had been a little more careful, but the lynx was a fool.
He didn't know the very first thing about the proper way to hunt
porcupines, and he ought never to have tried it at all, but he was
literally starving, and the temptation was too much for him. Here was
something alive, something that had warm red blood in its veins and a
good thick layer of flesh over its bones, and that was too slow to get
away from him; and he sailed right in, tooth and claw, regardless of the
consequences. Immediately he forgot all about the Porcupine, and his own
hunger, and everything else but the terrible pain in his face and his
forepaws. He made the woods fairly ring with his howls, and he jumped up
and down on the snow-crust, rubbing his head with his paws, and driving
the little barbed spears deeper and deeper into the flesh. And then,
all of a sudden, he ceased his leaping and bounding and howling, and
dropped on the snow in a limp, lifeless heap, dead as last summer's
lily-pads. One of the quills had driven straight through his left eye
and into his brain. Was it any wonder if in time the Porcupine came to
think himself invulnerable?

Even a northern Michigan winter has its ending, and at last there came
an evening when all the porcupines in the woods around the Glimmerglass
were calling to each other from one tree to another. They couldn't help
it. There was something in the air that stirred them to a vague
restlessness and uneasiness, and our own particular Porky sat up in the
top of a tall hemlock and sang. Not like Jenny Lind, nor like a thrush
or a nightingale, but his harsh voice went squealing up and down the
scale in a way that was all his own, without time or rhythm or melody,
in the wildest, strangest music that ever woke the silent woods. I don't
believe that he himself quite knew what he meant or why he did it.
Certainly no one else could have told, unless some wandering Indian or
trapper may have heard the queer voices and prophesied that a thaw was

The thaw arrived next day, and it proved to be the beginning of spring.
The summer followed as fast as it could, and again the lily-pads were
green and succulent in the shallow water along the edge of the
Glimmerglass, and again the Porcupine wandered down to the beach to feed
upon them, discarding for a time his winter diet of bark and twigs. Why
should one live on rye-bread when one can have cake and ice-cream?

And there among the bulrushes, one bright June morning, he had a fight
with one of his own kind. Just as he was approaching his favorite log,
two other porcupines appeared, coming from different directions, one a
male, and the other a female. They all scrambled out upon the log, one
after another, but it soon became evident that three was a crowd. Our
Porky and the other bachelor could not agree at all. They both wanted
the same place and the same lily-pads, and in a little while they were
pushing and shoving and growling and snarling with all their might, each
doing his best to drive the other off the log and into the water. They
did not bite--perhaps they had agreed that teeth like theirs were too
cruel to be used in civilized warfare--but they struggled and chattered
and swore at each other, and made all sorts of queer noises while they
fought their funny little battle--all the funnier because each of them
had to look out for the other's quills. If either had happened to push
the wrong way, they might both have been in serious trouble. It did not
last long. Our Porky was the stronger, and his rival was driven backward
little by little till he lost his hold completely and slipped into the
lake. He came to the surface at once, and quickly swam to the shore,
where he chattered angrily for a few minutes, and then, like the
sensible bachelor that he was, wandered off up the beach in search of
other worlds more easily conquered. There was peace on our Porky's log,
and the lily-pads that grew beside it had never been as fresh and juicy
as they were that morning.

Two months later, on a hot August afternoon, I was paddling along the
edge of the Glimmerglass in company with a friend of mine, each of us in
a small dug-out canoe, when we found the Porky asleep in the sunshine.
He was lying on the nearly horizontal trunk of a tree whose roots had
been undermined by the waves till it leaned far out over the lake,
hardly a foot from the water.

My friend, by the way, is the foreman of a lumber-camp. He has served in
the British army, has hunted whales off the coast of Greenland, married
a wife in Grand Rapids, and run a street-car in Chicago; and now he is
snaking logs out of the Michigan woods. He is quite a chunk of a man,
tall and decidedly well set up, and it would take a pretty good
prize-fighter to whip him, but he learned that day that a porcupine at
close quarters is worse than a trained pugilist.

"Look at that porky," he called to me. "I'm going to ram the canoe into
the tree and knock him off into the water. Just you watch, and you'll
see some fun."

I was somewhat uncertain whether the joke would ultimately be on the
Porcupine or the man, but it was pretty sure to be worth seeing, one way
or the other, so I laid my paddle down and awaited developments. Bang!
went the nose of the dug-out against the tree, and the Porcupine
dropped, but not into the water. He landed in the bow of the canoe, and
the horrified look on my friend's face was a delight to see. The Porky
was wide awake by this time, for I could hear his teeth clacking as he
advanced to the attack.

"Great Scott! He's coming straight at me!"

The Porcupine was certainly game. I saw the paddle rise in the air and
come down with a tremendous whack, but it seemed to have little effect.
The Porky's coat of quills and hair was so thick that a blow on the back
did not trouble him much. If my friend could have hit him across the
nose it would have ended the matter then and there, but the canoe was
too narrow and its sides too high for a crosswise stroke. He tried
thrusting, but that was no better. When a good-sized porcupine has
really made up his mind to go somewhere he may be slow, but it takes
more than a punch with the end of a stick to stop him; and this Porky
had fully determined to go aft and get acquainted with the foreman.

[Illustration: "_He quickly made his way to the beach._"]

My friend couldn't even kick, for he was kneeling on the bottom of the
dug-out, with his feet behind him, and if he tried to stand up he would
probably capsize.

"Say, Hulbert, what am I going to do?"

I didn't give him any advice, for my sympathies were largely with the
Porcupine. Besides, I hadn't any advice to give. Just then the canoe
drifted around so that I could look into it, and I beheld the Porcupine
bearing down on my helpless friend like Birnam Wood on its way to
Dunsinane, his ruffle of quills erect, fire in his little black eyes,
and a thirst for vengeance in his whole aspect. My friend made one or
two final and ineffectual jabs at him, and then gave it up.

"It's no use!" he called; "I'll have to tip over!" and the next second
the canoe was upside down and both belligerents were in the water. The
Porcupine floated high--I suppose his hollow quills helped to keep him
up--and he proved a much better swimmer than I had expected, for he
quickly made his way to the beach and disappeared in the woods, still
chattering disrespectfully. My friend waded ashore, righted his canoe,
and we resumed our journey. I don't think I'll tell you what he said. He
got over it after a while, and in the end he probably enjoyed his joke
more than if it had turned out as he had intended.

The summer followed the winter into the past, and the Moon of Falling
Leaves came round again. The Porcupine was not alone. Another porky was
with him, and the two seemed very good friends. In fact, his companion
was the very same lady porcupine who had stood by while he fought the
battle of the log and the lily-pads, though I do not suppose that they
had been keeping company all those months, and I am by no means certain
that they remembered that eventful morning at all. Let us hope they
did, for the sake of the story. Who knows how much or how little of love
was stirring the slow currents of their sluggish natures--of such love
as binds the dove or the eagle to his mate, or of such steadfast
affection as the Beaver and his wife seem to have felt for each other?
Not much, perhaps; yet they climbed the same tree, ate from the same
branch, and drank at the same spring; and the next April there was
another arrival in the old hollow log--twins, this time, and both of
them alive.

But the Porcupine never saw his children, for a wandering fit seized
him, and he left the Glimmerglass before they were born. Two or three
miles away was a little clearing where a mossback lived. A railway
crossed one edge of it, between the hill and the swamp, and five miles
away was a junction, where locomotives were constantly moving about,
backing, hauling, and making up their trains. As the mossback lay awake
in the long, quiet, windless winter nights, he often heard them puffing
and snorting, now with slow, heavy coughs, and now quick and sharp and
rapid. One night when he was half asleep he heard something that said,
"chew-chew-chew-chew-chew-chew," like an engine that has its train
moving and is just beginning to get up speed. At first he paid no
attention to it. But the noise suddenly stopped short, and after a pause
of a few seconds it began again at exactly the same speed; stopped
again, and began a third time. And so it went on, chewing and pausing,
chewing and pausing, with always just so many chews to the second, and
just so many seconds to each rest. No locomotive ever puffed like that.
The mossback was wide awake now, and he muttered something about
"another of those pesky porkies." He had killed the last one that came
around the house, and had wanted his wife to cook it for dinner and see
how it tasted, but she wouldn't. She said that the very sight of it was
enough for her, and more than enough; and that it was all she could do
to eat pork and potatoes after looking at it.

He turned over and tried to go to sleep again, but without success. That
steady "chew-chew-chew" was enough to keep a woodchuck awake, and at
last he got up and went to the door. The moonlight on the snow was
almost as bright as day, and there was the Porcupine, leaning against
the side of the barn, and busily rasping the wood from around the head
of a rusty nail. The mossback threw a stick of stove-wood at him, and
he lumbered clumsily away across the snow. But twenty minutes later he
was back again, and this time he marched straight into the open shed at
the back of the house, and began operations on a wash-tub, whose mingled
flavor of soap and humanity struck him as being very delicious. Again
the mossback appeared in the doorway, shivering a little in his

The Porcupine was at the foot of the steps. He had stopped chewing when
the door opened, and now he lifted his forepaws and sat half-erect, his
yellow teeth showing between his parted lips, and his little eyes
staring at the lamp which the mossback carried. The quills slanted back
from all around his diminutive face, and even from between his
eyes--short at first, but growing longer toward his shoulders and back.
Long whitish bristles were mingled with them, and the mossback could not
help thinking of a little old, old man, with hair that was grizzly-gray,
and a face that was half-stupid and half-sad and wistful. He was not yet
two years of age, but I believe that a porcupine is born old. Some of
the Indians say that he is ashamed of his homely looks, and that that is
the reason why, by day, he walks so slowly, with hanging head and
downcast eyes; but at night, they say, when the friendly darkness hides
his ugliness, he lifts his head and runs like a dog. In spite of the
hour and the cheering influence of the wash-tub, our Porky seemed even
more low-spirited than usual. Perhaps the lamplight had suddenly
reminded him of his personal appearance. At any rate he looked so
lonesome and forlorn that the mossback felt a little thrill of pity for
him, and decided not to kill him after all, but to drive him away again.
He started down the steps with his lamp in one hand and a stick of wood
in the other, and then--he never knew how it happened, but in some way
he stumbled and fell. Never in all his life, not even when his wildest
nightmare came and sat on him in the wee, sma' hours, had he come so
near screaming out in terror as he did at that moment. He thought he was
going to sit down on the Porcupine. Fortunately for both of them, but
especially for the man, he missed him by barely half an inch, and the
Porky scuttled away as fast as his legs could carry him.

In spite of this unfriendly reception, the Porcupine hung around the
edges of the clearing for several months, and enjoyed many a meal such
as seldom falls to the lot of the woods-people. One night he found an
empty pork-barrel out behind the barn, its staves fairly saturated with
salt, and hour after hour he scraped away upon it, perfectly content.
Another time, to his great satisfaction, he discovered a large piece of
bacon rind among some scraps that the mossback's wife had thrown away.
Later he invaded the sugar-bush by night, gnawing deep notches in the
edges of the sap buckets and barrels, and helping himself to the sirup
in the big boiling-pan.

Life was not all feasting, however. There was a dog who attacked him two
or three times, but who finally learned to keep away and mind his own
business. Once, when he had ventured a little too close to the house,
and was making an unusual racket with his teeth, the mossback came to
the door and fired a shotgun at him, cutting off several of his quills.
And still another night, late in the spring, when he was prowling around
the barn, a bull calf came and smelled him. Next morning the mossback
and his boys threw that calf down on the ground and tied his feet to a
stump, and three of them sat on him while a fourth pulled the quills
from his nose with a pair of pincers. You should have heard him grunt.

Then came the greatest adventure of all. Down beside the railway was a
small platform on which supplies for the lumber-camps were sometimes
unloaded from the trains. Brine and molasses and various other
delectable things had leaked out of the barrels and kegs and boxes, and
the Porcupine discovered that the planks were very nicely seasoned and
flavored. He visited them once too often, for one summer evening, as he
was gnawing away at the site of an ancient puddle of molasses, the
accommodation train rolled in and came to a halt. He tried to hide
behind a stump, but the trainmen caught sight of him, and before he knew
it they had shoved him into an empty box and hoisted him into the
baggage-car. They turned him loose among the passengers on the station
platform at Sault Ste. Marie, and his arrival created a sensation.

When the first excitement had subsided, all the girls in the crowd
declared that they must have some quills for souvenirs, and all the
young men set to work to procure them, hoping to distinguish themselves
by proving their superiority in strength and courage over this poor
little twenty-pound beast just out of the woods. Most of them succeeded
in getting some quills, and also in acquiring some painful
experience--especially the one who attempted to lift the Porcupine by
the tail, and who learned that that interesting member is the very
hottest and liveliest portion of the animal's anatomy. They finally
discovered that the best way to get quills from a live porcupine is to
hit him with a piece of board. The sharp points penetrate the wood and
stick there, the other ends come loose from his skin, and there you have
them. Our friend lost most of his armor that day, and it was a good
thing for him that departed quills, like clipped hair, will renew
themselves in the course of time.

One of the brakemen carried him home, and he spent the next few months
in the enjoyment of city life. Whether he found much pleasure in it is,
perhaps, a question, but I am rather inclined to think that he did. He
had plenty to eat, and he learned that apples are very good indeed, and
that the best way to partake of them is to sit up on your haunches and
hold them between your forepaws. He also learned that men are not always
to be regarded as enemies, for his owner and his owner's children were
good to him and soon won his confidence. But, after all, the city was
not home, and the woods were; so he employed some of his spare time in
gnawing a hole through the wall in a dark corner of the shed where he
was confined, and one night he scrambled out and hid himself in an empty
barn. A day or two later he was in the forest again.

The remaining years of his life were spent on the banks of St. Mary's
River, and for the most part they were years of quietness and
contentment. He was far from his early home, but the bark of a birch or
a maple or a hemlock is much the same on St. Mary's as by the
Glimmerglass. He grew bigger and fatter as time went on, and some weeks
before he died he must have weighed thirty or forty pounds.

Once in a while there was a little dash of excitement to keep life from
becoming too monotonous--if too much monotony is possible in a
porcupine's existence. One night he scrambled up the steps of a little
summer cottage close to the edge of the river, and, finding the door
unlatched, he pushed it open and walked in. It proved to be a cottage
full of girls, and they stood around on chairs and the tops of
wash-stands, bombarded him with curling-irons, poked feebly with
bed-slats, and shrieked with laughter till the farmers over on the
Canadian shore turned in their beds and wondered what could be happening
on Uncle Sam's side of the river. The worst of it was that in his
travels around the room he had come up behind the door and pushed it
shut, and it was some time before even the red-haired girl could muster
up sufficient courage to climb down from her perch and open it again.

At another time an Indian robbed him of the longest and best of his
quills--nearly five inches in length some of them--and carried them off
to be used in ornamenting birch-bark baskets. And on still another
occasion he narrowly escaped death at the hands of an irate canoe-man,
in the side of whose Rob Roy he had gnawed a great hole.

The end came at last, and it was the saddest, hardest, strangest fate
that can ever come to a wild creature of the woods. He--who had never
known hunger in all his life, who was almost the only animal in the
forest who had never looked famine in the eye, whose table was spread
with good things from January to December, and whose storehouse was full
from Lake Huron to the Pictured Rocks--he of all others, was condemned
to die of starvation in the midst of plenty. The Ancient Mariner, with
water all around him and not a drop to drink, was no worse off than our
Porcupine; and the Mariner finally escaped, but the Porky didn't.

One of the summer tourists who wandered up into the north woods that
year had carried with him a little rifle, more of a toy than a weapon,
a thing that a sportsman would hardly have condescended to laugh at. And
one afternoon, by ill luck, he caught sight of the Porcupine high up in
the top of a tall tree. It was his first chance at a genuine wild beast,
and he fired away all his cartridges as fast as he could load them into
his gun. He thought that every shot missed, and he was very much ashamed
of his marksmanship. But he was mistaken. The very last bullet broke one
of the Porcupine's lower front teeth, and hurt him terribly. It jarred
him to the very end of his tail, and his head felt as if it was being
smashed to bits. For a minute or two the strength all went out of him,
and if he had not been lying in a safe, comfortable crotch he would have
fallen to the ground.

The pain and the shock passed away after a while, but when supper-time
came--and it was almost always supper-time with the Porcupine--his left
lower incisor was missing. The right one was uninjured, however, and for
a while he got on pretty well, merely having to spend a little more time
than usual over his meals. But that was only the beginning of trouble.
The stump of the broken tooth was still there and still growing, and it
was soon as long as ever, but in the meantime its fellow in the upper
jaw had grown out beyond its normal length, and the two did not meet
properly. Instead of coming together edge to edge, as they should have
done, each wearing the other down and keeping it from reaching out too
far, each one now pushed the other aside, and still they kept on
growing, growing, growing. Worst of all, in a short time they had begun
to crowd his jaws apart so that he could hardly use his right-hand
teeth, and they too were soon out of shape. The evil days had come, and
the sound of the grinding was low. Little by little his mouth was forced
open wider and wider, and the food that passed his lips grew less and
less. His teeth, that had all his life been his best tools and his most
faithful servants, had turned against him in his old age, and were
killing him by inches. Let us not linger over those days.

He was spared the very last and worst pangs--for that, at least, we may
be thankful. On the last day of his life he sat under a beech-tree, weak
and weary and faint. He could not remember when he had eaten. His coat
of hair and quills was as thick and bushy as ever, and outwardly he had
hardly changed at all, but under his skin there was little left but
bones. And as he sat there and wished that he was dead--if such a wish
can ever come to a wild animal--the Angel of Mercy came, in the shape
of a man with a revolver in his pistol pocket--a man who liked to kill

"A porky!" he said. "Guess I'll shoot him, just for fun."

The Porcupine saw him coming and knew the danger; and for a moment the
old love of life came back as strong as ever, and he gathered his feeble
strength for one last effort, and started up the tree. He was perhaps
six feet from the ground when the first report came.

"Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!" Four shots, as fast as the self-cocking
revolver could pour the lead into his body. The Porky stopped climbing.
For an instant he hung motionless on the side of the tree, and then his
forepaws let go, and he swayed backward and fell to the ground. And that
was the end of the Porcupine.


HIS name was Mahng, and the story which I am about to relate is the
story of his matrimonial career--or at least of a portion of it.

One snowy autumn night, three years ago, he was swimming on the
Glimmerglass in company with his first wife--one of the first, that is.
There may possibly have been others before her, but if so I wasn't
acquainted with them. It was a fine evening--especially for loons. There
was no wind, and the big, soft flakes came floating lazily down to lose
themselves in the quiet lake. The sky, the woods, and the shores were
all blotted out; and the loons reigned alone, king and queen of a dim
little world of leaden water and falling snow. And right royally they
swam their kingdom, with an air as if they thought God had made the
Glimmerglass for their especial benefit. Perhaps He had.

[Illustration: "_He went under as simply as you would step out of

It was very, very lonely, but they liked it all the better for that. At
times they even lost sight of each other for a little while, as one
dived in search of a herring or a young salmon trout. I wish we could
have followed Mahng down under the water and watched him at his hunting.
He didn't dive as you do, with a jump and a plunge and a splash. He
merely drew his head back a little and then thrust it forward and
downward, and went under as simply and easily as you would step out of
bed, and with a good deal more dignity. It was his feet that did it, of
course. They were not good for much for walking, but they were the real
thing when it came to swimming or diving. They were large and broad and
strongly webbed, and the short stout legs which carried them were
flattened and compressed that they might slip edgewise through the
water, like a feathered oar-blade. The muscles which worked them were
very powerful, and they kicked backward with so much vigor that two
little jets of spray were often tossed up in his wake as he went under,
like the splash from a steamer's paddles. And he had a rudder, too, for
in the after part of his body there were two muscles just like
tiller-ropes, fastened to his tail in such a way that they could twist
it to either side, and steer him to port or starboard as occasion
demanded. With his long neck stretched far out in front, his wings
pressed tightly against his sides, and his legs and feet working as
if they went by steam, he shot through the water like a submarine
torpedo-boat. "The Herdsman of the Deep," the Scottish Highlanders used
to say, when in winter a loon came to visit their lochs and fiords.
Swift and strong and terrible, he ranged the depths of the Glimmerglass,
seeking what he might devour; and perhaps you can imagine how hastily
the poor little fishes took their departure whenever they saw him coming
their way. Sometimes they were not quite quick enough, and then his long
bill closed upon them, and he swallowed them whole without even waiting
to rise to the surface.

The chase thus brought to a successful conclusion, or perhaps the supply
of air in his lungs giving out, he returned to the upper world, and
again his voice rang out through the darkness and the falling snow. Then
his wife would answer him from somewhere away off across the lake, and
they would call back and forth to each other with many a laugh and
shout, or, drawing closer and closer together, they would cruise the
Glimmerglass side by side, with the big flakes dropping gently on their
backs and folded wings, and the ripples spreading out on either hand
like the swell from the bow of a ship.

Once Mahng stayed down a little longer than usual, and when he came up
he heard his wife calling him in an excited tone, as if something had
happened to her. He hurried toward her, and presently he saw a light
shining dimly through the throng of moving snow-flakes, and growing
brighter and brighter as he approached until it was fairly dazzling. As
he drew nearer still he caught sight of his wife sitting on the water
squarely in front of that light, and watching it with all her eyes. She
was not calling now. She had forgotten Mahng, she had forgotten to
paddle, she had forgotten everything, in her wonder at this strange,
beautiful thing, the like of which had never before been seen upon the
Glimmerglass. She herself was a rarely beautiful sight--if she had only
known it--with the dark water rippling gently against her bosom, her big
black head thrust forward, and the feathers of her throat and breast
glistening in the glare of the headlight, white as the snow that was
falling around her.

All this Mahng saw. What he did not see, because his eyes were dazzled,
was a boat in the shadow behind the light, and a rifle-barrel pointing
straight at his wife's breast. There was a blinding flash, a sharp,
crashing report, and a cloud of smoke; and Mahng dived as quick as a
wink. But his wife would never dive again. The bullet had gone tearing
through her body, and she lay stretched out on the water, perfectly
motionless, and apparently dead. And then, just as Mahng came to the
surface a hundred yards away, and just as my partner put out his hand to
pick her up, she lifted her head and gave a last wild cry. Mahng heard
it and answered, but he was too far away to see what happened. He dared
not return till the light had disappeared, and by that time she was
gone. She had straggled violently for a moment, and had struck savagely
at the hunter's hand, and then she had as suddenly collapsed, the water
turned red, and her eyes closed forever. Did you know that among all
God's creatures the birds are the only ones whose eyes close naturally
in death? Even among men it is not so, for when our friends die we lay
our hands reverently upon their faces, and weight their stiff lids with
gold. But for the bird, Nature herself performs the last kindly office,
and as the light fades out from the empty windows of the soul, the
curtain falls of its own accord.

[Illustration: "_She herself was a rarely beautiful sight._"]

During the next two or three days Mahng's voice was frequently to be
heard, apparently calling his wife. Sometimes it was a mournful,
long-drawn cry--"Hoo-WOOOO-ooo"--that might have been heard a mile
away--a cry that seemed the very essence of loneliness, and that went
right down where you lived and made you feel like a murderer. And
sometimes he broke into a wild peal of laughter, as if he hoped that
that might better serve to call her back to him.

His children had gone south some time before. They had seemed anxious to
see the world. Perhaps, too, they had dreaded the approach of colder
weather more than the older birds, who had become somewhat seasoned by
previous autumns. Anyhow, they had taken the long trail toward the Gulf
of Mexico, and now that his wife was gone Mahng was entirely alone. At
last he seemed to make up his mind that he might as well follow them,
and one afternoon, as he was swimming aimlessly about, I saw him
suddenly dash forward, working his wings with all their might, beating
the water at every stroke, and throwing spray like a side-wheeler.
Slowly--for his body was heavy, and his wings were rather small for his
size--slowly he lifted himself from the water, all the time rushing
forward faster and faster. He couldn't have made it if he hadn't had
plenty of sea-room, but by swinging round and round in long, wide
circles he managed to rise little by little till at last he was clear of
the tree-tops. He passed right over my head as he stood away to the
south--his long neck stretched far out in front, his feet pointing
straight back beyond the end of his short tail, and his wings beating
the air with tremendous energy. How they did whizz! He made almost as
much noise as a train of cars. He laughed as he went by, and you would
have said that he was in high spirits; but before he disappeared that
lonely, long-drawn cry came back once more--"Hoo-WOOOO-ooo."

In the course of his winter wanderings through the South he happened to
alight one day on a certain wild pond down in Mississippi, and there he
found another loon--a widow whose former husband had lost his life the
previous summer under rather peculiar circumstances.

Beside a small lake in Minnesota there lives an old Dutchman who catches
fish with empty bottles. On any calm, still day you may see a lot of
them floating upright in the water, all tightly corked, and each with
the end of a fishing-line tied around its neck. They seem very decorous
and well-behaved, but let a fish take one of the hooks and begin to
pull, and immediately that particular bottle turns wrong end up, and
acts as if it had taken a drop too much of its own original contents.
Then the Dutchman paddles out in his little scow, and perhaps by the
time he has hauled in his fish and re-baited the hook another bottle is
excitedly standing on its head. But never before nor since have any of
them behaved as wildly as the one that a loon got hold of.

The loon--not Mahng, you understand, but the first husband of his new
acquaintance--had dived in search of his dinner, and the first thing he
saw that looked as if it might be good to eat was the bait on one of the
Dutchman's hooks. He swallowed it, of course, and for the next five
minutes he went charging up and down that pond at a great rate, followed
by a green glass monster with the name of a millionnaire brewer blown in
its side. Sometimes he was on the surface, and sometimes he was under
it; but wherever he went that horrible thing was close behind him,
pulling so hard that the sharp cord cut the corners of his mouth till it
bled. Once or twice he tried to fly, but the line caught his wing and
brought him down again. When he dived, it tangled itself around his legs
and clogged the machinery; and when he tried to shout, the hook in his
throat would not let him do anything more than cough. The Dutchman got
him at last, and eventually Mahng got his widow, as you shall see.

She had her children to take care of, and for a time she was very busy,
but after a few weeks they flew away to the south, as Mahng's had done,
and she was free to go where she liked and do what she pleased. For a
while she stayed where she was, like a sensible person. Minnesota suited
her very well, and she was in no hurry to leave. But, of course, she
could not stay on indefinitely, for some frosty night the lake would
freeze over, and then she could neither dive for fish nor rise upon the
wing. A loon on ice is about as helpless as an oyster. And so at last
she, too, went south. She travelled by easy stages, and had a pleasant
journey, with many a stop, and many a feast in the lakes and rivers
along the route. I should like to know, just out of curiosity, how many
fish found their way down her capacious gullet during that pilgrimage
through Illinois and Kentucky and Tennessee.

Well, no matter about that. The Mississippi pond was in sight, and she
was just slanting down toward the water, when a hunter fired at her from
behind a clump of trees. His aim was all too true, and she fell headlong
to the ground, with a broken wing dangling helplessly at her side.

Now, as you probably know, a loon isn't built for running. There is an
old story, one which certainly has the appearance of truth, to the
effect that when Nature manufactured the first of these birds she forgot
to give him any legs at all, and that he had started off on the wing
before she noticed her mistake. Then she picked up the first pair that
came to hand and threw them after him. Unfortunately they were a misfit,
and, what was, perhaps, still worse, they struck his body in the wrong
place. They were so very short and so very far aft that, although he
could stand nearly as straight as a man, it was almost impossible for
him to move about on them. When he had to travel on land, which he
always avoided as far as he could, he generally shoved himself along on
his breast, and often used his wings and his bill to help himself
forward. All his descendants are just like him, so you can see that the
widow's chances were pretty small, with the hunter bursting out of the
bushes, and a broad strip of beach between her and the friendly pond.

But she was a person of resource and energy, and in this great emergency
she literally rose to the occasion, and did something that she had
never done before in all her life, and probably will never do again. The
astonished hunter saw her lift herself until she stood nearly upright,
and then actually _run_ across the beach toward the water. She was
leaning forward a trifle, her long neck was stretched out, her two short
legs were trotting as fast as they could go, and her one good wing was
wildly waving in a frantic endeavor to get on. It was a sight that very
few people have ever seen, and it would have been comical if it hadn't
been a matter of life and death. The hunter was hard after her, and his
legs were a yard long, while hers were only a few inches, so it was not
surprising that he caught her just as she reached the margin. She
wriggled out of his grasp and dashed on through the shallow water, and
he followed close behind. In a moment he stooped and made another grab
at her, and this time he got his arms around her body and pinned her
wings down against her sides. But he had waded out a little too far, and
had reached the place where the bottom suddenly shelves off from fifteen
inches to seventy-two. His foot slipped, and in another moment he was
splashing wildly about in the water, and the loon was free.

A broken wing is not necessarily as serious a matter as you might
suppose. The cold water kept the inflammation down, and it seemed as if
all the vital forces of her strong, healthy body set to work at once to
repair the damage. If any comparative anatomist ever gets hold of the
widow and dissects her, he will find a curious swelling in the principal
bone of her left wing, like a plumber's join in a lead pipe, and he will
know what it means. It is the place where Nature soldered the broken
pieces together. And it was while Nature was engaged in this soldering
operation that Mahng arrived and began to cultivate the widow's

          "_In the spring a fuller crimson
                      comes upon the robin's breast,_"

and in the spring the loon puts on his wedding-garment, and his fancy,
like the young man's, "lightly turns to thoughts of love."

But speaking of Mahng's wedding-garment reminds me that I haven't told
you about his winter dress. His back and wings were very dark-brown, and
his breast and under-parts were white. His head and the upper portion of
his neck were black; his bill was black, or blackish, and so were his
feet. His coat was very thick and warm, and his legs were feathered
right down to the heel-joint. More than five feet his wings stretched
from tip to tip, and he weighed at least twelve pounds, and would be
still larger before he died.

As to his nuptial finery, its groundwork was much the same, but its
trimmings were different and were very elegant. White spots appeared all
over his back and the upper surfaces of his wings, some of them round,
and some square. They were not thrown on carelessly, but were arranged
in gracefully curving lines, and they quite changed his appearance,
especially if one were as near him as one is supposed to be during a
courting. His spring neckwear, too, was in exceedingly good taste, for
he put on a sort of collar of very narrow vertical stripes, contrasting
beautifully with the black around and between them. Higher up on his
neck and head the deep black feathers gleamed and shone in the sunlight
with brilliant irridescent tints of green and violet. He was a very
handsome bird.

And now everything was going north. The sun was going north, the wind
was going north, the birds were going, and summer herself was sweeping
up from the tropics as fast as ever she could travel. Mahng was getting
very restless. A dozen times a day he would spread his wings and beat
the air furiously, dashing the spray in every direction, and almost
lifting his heavy body out of the water. But the time was not yet come,
and presently he would fold his pinions and go back to his courting.

Do you think he was very inconstant? Do you blame him for not being more
faithful to the memory of the bird who was shot at his side only a few
months before? Don't be too hard on him. What can a loon do when the
springtime calls and the wind blows fresh and strong, when the new
strong wine of life is coursing madly through his veins, and when his
dreams are all of the vernal flight to the lonely northland, where the
water is cold and the fish are good, and where there are such delightful
nesting-places around the marshy ponds?

But how did his new friend feel about it? Would she go with him? Ah!
Wouldn't she? Had not she, too, put on a wedding-garment just like his?
And what was she there for, anyhow, if not to be wooed, and to find a
mate, and to fly away with him a thousand miles to the north, and there,
beside some lonely little lake, brood over her eggs and her young? Her
wing was gaining strength all the time, and at last she was ready. You
should have heard them laugh when the great day came and they pulled out
for Michigan--Mahng a little in the lead, as became the larger and
stronger, and his new wife close behind. There had been nearly a week of
cooler weather just before the start, which had delayed them a little,
but now the south wind was blowing again, and over and over it seemed to

          "_And we go, go, go away from here!
            On the other side the world we're overdue!
               'Send the road lies clear before you
                When the old Spring-fret comes o'er you,
            And the Red Gods call for you._"

And the road was clear, and they went. Up, and up, and up; higher and
higher, till straight ahead, stretching away to the very edge of the
world, lay league after league of sunshine and air, only waiting the
stroke of their wings. Now steady, steady! Beat, beat, beat! And the old
earth sliding southward fifty miles an hour! No soaring--their wings
were too short for that sort of work--and no quick wheeling to right or
left, but hurtling on with whizzing pinions and eager eyes, straight
toward the goal. Was it any wonder that they were happy, and that
joyful shouts and wild peals of laughter came ringing down from the sky
to tell us poor earthbound men and women that somewhere up in the blue,
beyond the reach of our short-sighted eyes, the loons were hurrying

[Illustration: "_The old earth sliding southward fifty miles an hour._"]

Over the fresh fields, green with the young wheat; over the winding
rivers and the smiling lakes; over the--shut your eyes, and dream a
little while, and see if you can imagine what it was like. Does it make
you wish you were a loon yourself? Never mind; some day, perhaps, we too
shall take our wedding-journeys in the air; not on feathered pinions,
but with throbbing engines and whizzing wheels, and with all the power
of steam or electricity to lift us and bear us onward. We shall skim the
prairies and leap the mountains, and roam over the ocean like the
wandering albatross. To-day we shall breathe the warm, spicy breath of
the tropic islands, and to-morrow we shall sight the white gleam of the
polar ice-pack. When the storm gathers we shall mount above it, and
looking down we shall see the lightning leap from cloud to cloud, and
the rattling thunder will come upward, not downward, to our ears. When
the world below is steeped in the shadows of coming night, we shall
still watch the sunset trailing its glories over the western woods
and mountains; and when morning breaks we shall be the first to welcome
the sunrise as it comes rushing up from the east a thousand miles an
hour. The wind of the upper heavens will be pure and keen and strong,
and not even a sleigh-ride on a winter's night can set the live blood
dancing as it will dance and tingle up there above the clouds. And
riding on the air, alone with the roaring engines that have become for
the time a part of ourselves, we shall know at last what our earth is
really like, for we shall see it as the loons see it--yes, as God and
His angels see it--this old earth, on which we have lived for so many
thousand years, and yet have never seen.

But, after all, the upper heavens will not be home; and some day, as we
shoot northward, or southward, or eastward, or westward, we shall see
beneath us the spot that is to be for us the best and dearest place in
all the world, and dropping down out of the blue we shall find something
that is even better than riding on the wings of the wind. That was what
happened to Mahng and his wife, for one spring evening, as they came
rushing over the pine-tops and the maples and birches, they saw the
Glimmerglass just ahead. The water lay like polished steel in the fading
light, and the brown ranks of the still leafless trees stood dark and
silent around the shores. It was very quiet, and very, very lonely; and
the lake and the woods seemed waiting and watching for something. And
into that stillness and silence the loons came with shouting and
laughter, sweeping down on a long slant, and hitting the water with a
splash. The echoes awoke and the Glimmerglass was alive, and summer had
come to the northland.

They chose a place where the shore was low and marshy, and there, only
two or three yards from the water's edge, they built a rude nest of
grass and weeds and lily-pads. Two large greenish eggs, blotched with
dark-brown, lay in its hollow; and the wife sat upon them week after
week, and covered them with the warm feathers of her broad, white
breast. Once in a while she left them long enough to stretch her wings
in a short flight, or to dive in search of a fish, but she was never
gone very long. It was a weary vigil that she kept, but she sat there in
daylight and darkness, through sunshine and storm, till at last the day
came when there were four loons instead of two at the Glimmerglass.

The chicks were very smart and active, and they took to the water almost
as soon as they were out of the shell, swimming and diving as if they
had been accustomed to it for weeks instead of hours. In some ways,
however, they required a good deal of care. For one thing, their little
stomachs were not quite equal to the task of assimilating raw fish, and
the parents had to swallow all their food for them, keep it down till it
was partly digested, and then pass it up again to the hungry children.
It made a good deal of delay, and it must have been very unpleasant, but
it seemed to be the only practicable way of dealing with the situation.
I am glad to say that it did not last very long, for by the time they
were two weeks old the young loons were able to take their fish and
reptiles and insects at first hand.

When they first arrived the chicks were covered all over with stiff
down, of a dark, sooty gray on their backs, and white underneath. But
this did not last long, either. The first feathers soon appeared, and
multiplied rapidly. I can't say that the young birds were particularly
handsome, for even when their plumage was complete it was much quieter
and duller of hue than their parents'. But they were fat and plump, and
I think they thoroughly enjoyed life, especially before they discovered
that there were enemies as well as friends in the world. That was a kind
of knowledge that could not be avoided very long, however. They soon
learned that men, and certain other animals such as hawks and skunks,
were to be carefully shunned; and you should have seen them run on the
water whenever a suspicious-looking character hove in sight. Their wings
were not yet large enough for flying, but they flapped them with all
their might, and scampered across the Glimmerglass so fast that their
little legs fairly twinkled, and they actually left a furrow in the
water behind them. But the bottom of the lake was really the safest
refuge, and if a boat or a canoe pressed them too closely they would
usually dive below the surface, while the older birds tried to lure the
enemy off in some other direction by calling and shouting and making all
sorts of demonstrations.

Generally these tactics were successful, but not always. Once some boys
cornered the whole family in a small, shallow bay, where the water was
not deep enough for diving; and before they could escape one of the
youngsters was driven up onto the beach. He tried to hide behind a log,
but he was captured and earned off, and I wish I had time to tell you
of all the things that happened to him before he was finally killed and
eaten by a dog. It was pretty tough on the old birds, as well as on him,
but they still had one chick left, and you can't expect to raise _all_
your children as long as bigger people are so fond of kidnapping and
killing them.

Not all the people who came to see them were bent on mischief, however.
There was a party of girls and boys, for instance, who camped beside the
Glimmerglass for a few weeks, and who liked to follow them around the
lake in a row-boat and imitate their voices, just for the fun of making
them talk back. One girl in particular became so accomplished in the
loon language that Mahng would often get very much excited as he
conversed with her, and would sometimes let the boat creep nearer and
nearer until they were only a few rods apart. And then, all of a sudden,
he would duck his head and go under, perhaps in the very middle of a
laugh. The siren was getting a little too close. Her intentions might
possibly be all right, but it was just as well to be on the safe side.

The summer was nearly gone, and now Mahng did something which I fear you
will strongly disapprove. I didn't want to tell you about it, but I
suppose I must. Two or three male loons passed over the Glimmerglass
one afternoon, calling and shouting as they went, and he flew up and
joined them, and came back no more that summer. It looked like a clear
case of desertion, but we must remember that he had stood by his wife
all through the trying period of the spring and early summer, and that
the time was at hand when the one chick that was left would go out into
the world to paddle his own canoe, and when she would no longer need his
help in caring for a family of young children. But you think he might
have stayed with her, anyhow? Well, so do I; I'm sorry he didn't. They
say that his cousins, the Red-throated Loons, marry for life, and live
together from the wedding-day till death, and I don't see why he
couldn't have done as well as they. But it doesn't seem to be the custom
among the Great Northern Divers. Mahng was only following the usual
practice of his kind, and if his first wife had not been shot it is
likely that they would have separated before they had gone very far
south. And yet it does not follow that the marriage was not a
love-match. If you had seen them at their housekeeping I think you would
have pronounced him a very good husband and father. Perhaps the conjugal
happiness of the spring and early summer was all the better for a taste
of solitude during the rest of the year.

As I said, the time was near when the chick would strike out for
himself. He soon left his mother, and a little later she too started for
the Gulf of Mexico. Summer was over, and the Glimmerglass was lonelier
than ever.

Mahng came back next spring, and of course he brought a wife with him.
But was she the same wife who had helped him make the Glimmerglass ring
with his shouting twelve months before? Well, I--I don't quite know. She
looked very much like her, and I certainly hope she was the same bird. I
should like to believe that they had been reunited somewhere down in
Texas or Mississippi or Louisiana, and that they had come back together
for another season of parental cares and joys. But when I consider the
difficulties in the way I cannot help feeling doubtful about it. The two
birds had gone south at different times and perhaps by different routes.
Before they reached the lower Mississippi Valley they may have been
hundreds of miles apart. Was it to be reasonably expected that Mahng,
when he was ready to return, would search every pond and stream from
the Cumberland to the Gulf? And is it likely that, even if he had tried
for weeks and weeks, he could ever have found his wife of the previous
summer? His flight was swift and his sight keen, and his clarion voice
rang far and wide over the marshes; but it is no joke to find one
particular bird in a region covering half a dozen States. If they had
arranged to come north separately, and meet at the Glimmerglass, there
would not have been so many difficulties in the way, but they didn't do
that. Anyhow, Mahng brought a wife home. That much, at least, is
established. They set to work at once to build a nest and make ready for
some new babies; but, alas! there was little parental happiness or
responsibility in store for them that year.

If you had been there you might have seen them swimming out from shore
one bright, beautiful spring morning, when the sun had just risen, and
the woods and waters lay calm and peaceful in the golden light, fairer
than words can tell. They were after their breakfast, and presently they
dived to see what was to be had. The light is dim down there in the
depths of the Glimmerglass, the weeds are long and slimy, and the mud of
the bottom is black and loathsome. But what does that matter? One can
go back whenever one pleases. A few quick, powerful strokes will take
you up into the open air, and you can see the woods and the sky. Aha!
There is a herring, his scales shining like silver in the faint green
light that comes down through the water. And there is a small salmon
trout, with his gray-brown back and his golden sides. A fish for each of

The loons darted forward at full speed; but the two fish made no effort
to escape, and did not even wriggle when the long, sharp bills closed
upon them. They were dead, choked to death by the fine threads of a
gill-net. And now those same threads laid hold of the loons themselves,
and a fearful struggle began.

Mahng and his wife did not always keep their wings folded when they were
under water. Sometimes they used them almost as they did in flying, and
just now they had need of every muscle in their bodies. How their
pinions lashed the water, and how their legs kicked and their long necks
writhed, and how the soft mud rose in clouds and shut out the dim light!
But the harder they fought the more tightly did the net grapple them,
winding itself round and round their bodies, and soon lashing their
wings down against their sides. Expert divers though they were, the
loons were drowning. There was a ringing in their ears and a roaring in
their heads, and the very last atoms of oxygen in their lungs were
almost gone. Death was drawing very near, and the bright, sunshiny world
where they had been so happy a moment before, the world to which they
had thought they could return so quickly and easily, seemed a thousand
miles away. One last effort, one final struggle, and if that failed
there would be nothing more to do but go to sleep forever.

Fortunately for Mahng, his part of the net had been mildewed, and much
of the strength had gone out of the linen threads. He was writhing and
twisting with all his might, and suddenly he felt something give. One of
the rotten meshes had torn apart. He worked with redoubled energy, and
in a moment another thread gave way, and then another, and another. A
second more and he was free. Quick, now, before the last spark goes out!
With beating wings and churning paddles he fairly flew up through the
green water toward the light, and on a sudden he shot out into the air,
panting and gasping, and staring wildly around at the blue sky, and the
quiet woods, and the smiling Glimmerglass. And how royally beautiful
was the sunshine, and how sweet was the breath of life!

But his mate was not with him, and a few hours later the fisherman found
in his net the lifeless body of a drowned loon.

Mahng went north. He had thought that his spring flight was over and
that he would go no farther, but now the Glimmerglass was no longer
home, and he spread his wings once more and took his way toward the
Arctic Circle. Over the hills, crowded with maple and beech and birch;
over the Great Tahquamenon Swamp, with its cranberry marshes, its
tangles of spruce and cedar, and its thin, scattered ranks of tamarack;
over the sandy ridges where the pine-trees stand tall and stately, and
out on Lake Superior. The water was blue, and the sunshine was bright;
the wind was fresh and cool, and the billows rolled and tumbled as if
they were alive and were having a good time together. Together--that's
the word. They were together, but Mahng was alone; and he wasn't having
a good time at all. He wanted a home, and a nest, and some young ones,
but he didn't find them that year, though he went clear to Hudson Bay,
and looked everywhere for a mate. There were loons, plenty of them, but
they had already paired and set up housekeeping, and he found no one who
was in a position to halve his sorrows and double his joys.

Something attracted his attention one afternoon when he was swimming on
a little lake far up in the Canadian wilderness--a small red object that
kept appearing and disappearing in a very mysterious fashion among the
bushes that lined the beach. Mahng's bump of curiosity was large and
well developed, and he gave one of his best laughs and paddled slowly in
toward the shore. I think he had a faint and utterly unreasonable hope
that it might prove to be what he was looking and longing for, though he
knew very well that no female loon of his species ever had red
feathers--nor a male, either, for that matter. It was a most absurd
idea, and his dreams, if he really had them, were cut short by the
report of a shotgun. A little cloud of smoke floated up through the
bushes, and a charge of heavy shot peppered the water all around him.
But if Mahng was curious he was also quick to take a hint. He had heard
the click of the gun-lock, and before the leaden hail could reach him he
was under water. His tail feathers suffered a little, but otherwise he
was uninjured, and he did not come to the surface again till he was far
away from that deceitful red handkerchief.

The summer was an entire failure, and after a while Mahng gave it up in
despair, and started south much earlier than usual. At the Straits of
Mackinac he had another narrow escape, for he came very near killing
himself by dashing head first against the lantern of a lighthouse, whose
brilliant beams, a thousand times brighter than the light which had
lured his first wife to her death, had first attracted and then dazzled
and dazed him. Fortunately he swerved a trifle at the last moment, and
though he brushed against an iron railing, lost his balance, and fell
into the water, there were no bones broken and no serious damage done.

The southland, as everybody knows, is the only proper place for a loon
courtship. There, I am pleased to say, Mahng found a new wife, and in
due time he brought her up to the Glimmerglass. That was only last
spring, and there is but one more incident for me to relate. This summer
has been a happy and prosperous one, but there was a time when it seemed
likely to end in disaster before it had fairly begun.

Just northeast of the Glimmerglass there lies a long, narrow, shallow
pond. I believe I mentioned it when I was telling you about the Beaver.
One afternoon Mahng had flown across to this pond, and as he was
swimming along close to the shore he put his foot into a beaver-trap,
and sprung it. Of course he did his best to get away, but the only
result of his struggling was to work the trap out into deeper and deeper
water until he was almost submerged. He made things almost boil with the
fierce beating of his wings, but it was no use; he might better have
saved his strength. He quieted down at last and lay very still, with
only his head and neck out of water, and there he waited two mortal
hours for something to happen.

Meanwhile his wife sat quietly on her eggs--there were three of them
this year--and drowsed away the warm spring afternoon. By and by she
heard a tramping as of heavy feet approaching, and glancing between the
tall grasses she saw, not a bear nor a deer, but something far worse--a
man. She waited till he was within a few yards, and then she jumped up,
scuttled down to the water as fast as she could go, and dived as if she
was made of lead. The trapper glanced after her with a chuckle.

"Seems pretty badly scared," he said to himself, but his voice was not
unkindly. His smile faded as he stood a moment beside the nest, looking
at the eggs, and thinking of what would some day come forth from them.
He was a solitary old fellow, with never a wife nor a child, nor a
relation of any kind. His life in the woods was just what he had chosen
for himself, and he would not have exchanged it for anything else in the
world; but sometimes the loneliness of it came over him, and he wished
that he had somebody to talk to. And now, looking at those eggs, and
thinking of the fledglings that were coming to the loons, he wondered
how it would seem if he had some children of his own. Pretty soon he
glanced out on the lake again, and saw Mahng's wife sitting quietly on
the water, just out of range.

"Hope she won't stay away till they get cold," he thought, and went on
his way across the swamp. The loon watched him till he passed out of
sight, and then she swam in to the beach and pushed herself up her
narrow runway to her old place. The eggs were still warm.

Half an hour later the trapper stepped out of the bushes beside the
pond, and caught sight of Mahng's head sticking out of the water. He
was considerably astonished, but he promptly laid hold of the chain and
drew bird, trap, and all up onto the bank, and then he sat down on a log
and laughed till the echoes went flying back and forth across the pond.
Plastered with mud, dripping wet, and with his left leg fast in the big
steel killing-machine, Mahng was certainly a comical sight. All the
fight was soaked out of him, and he lay prone upon the ground and waited
for the trapper to do what he pleased. But the trapper did nothing--only
sat on his log, and presently forgot to laugh. He was thinking of the
sitting loon whom he had disturbed a little while before. This was
probably her mate, and again there came over him a vague feeling that
life had been very good to these birds, and had given them something
which he, the man, had missed. He was growing old. A few more seasons
and there would be one trapper less in the Great Tahquamenon Swamp; and
he would die without--well, what was the use of talking or thinking
about it? But the loons would hatch their young, and care for them and
protect them until they were ready to go out into the world, and then
they would send them away to the south. A few weeks later they would
follow, and next spring they would come back and do it all over again.
That is--they would if he didn't kill them.

He rose from his log, smiling again at the abject look with which Mahng
watched him, and putting one foot on each of the two heavy steel
springs, he threw his weight upon them and crushed them down. Mahng felt
the jaws relax, and suddenly he knew that he was free. The strength came
back with a rush to his weary limbs, and he sprang up, scrambled down
the bank and into the water, and was gone. A few minutes later he
reappeared far down the pond, and rising on the wing he flew away with a
laugh toward the Glimmerglass.


I DON'T know that he was a record-breaker, but he was certainly much
larger and more powerful than the average buck, and he was decidedly
good-looking, even for a deer. There were one or two slight
blemishes--to be described later--in his physical make-up; but they were
not very serious, and except for them he was very handsome and
well-formed. I can't give you the whole story of his life, for that
would take several books, but I shall try to tell you how he became the
biggest buck and the best fighter of his day and generation in the woods
around the Glimmerglass. He was unusually favored by Providence, for
besides being so large and strong he was given a weapon such as very few
full-grown Michigan bucks have ever possessed.

He had a good start in life, and it is really no wonder that he
distanced all his relations. In the first place, he arrived in the woods
a little earlier in the year than deer babies usually do. This was
important, for it lengthened his first summer, and gave more opportunity
for growth before the return of cold weather. If the winter had
lingered, or if there had been late frosts or snow-storms, his early
advent might have been anything but a blessing; but the spring proved a
mild one, and there was plenty of good growing weather for fawns. Then,
too, his mother as in the very prime of life, and for the time being he
was her only child. If there had been twins, as there were the year
before, he would, of course, have had to share her milk with a brother
or sister; but as it was he enjoyed all the benefits of a natural
monopoly, and he grew and prospered accordingly, and was a baby to be
proud of.

[Illustration: "_He was a baby to be proud of._"]

And his mother took good care of him, and never tried to show him off
before the other people of the woods. She knew that it was far safer and
wiser to keep him concealed as long as possible, and not let anyone know
that she had him. So instead of letting him wander with her through the
woods when she went in search of food, she generally left him hidden in
a thicket or behind a bush or a fallen tree. There he spent many a long,
lonely hour, idly watching the waving branches and the moving shadows,
and perhaps thinking dim, formless, wordless baby thoughts, or looking
at nothing and thinking of nothing, but just sleeping the quiet sleep
of infancy, and living, and growing, and getting ready for hard times.

At first the Fawn knew no difference between friends and enemies, but
the instinct of the hunted soon awoke and told him when to be afraid. If
a hostile animal came by while the doe was gone, he would crouch low,
with his nose to the ground and his big ears laid back on his neck; or
if pressed too closely he would jump up and hurry away to some better
cover, with leaps and bounds so light and airy that they seemed the very
music of motion. But that did not happen very often. His hiding-places
were well chosen, and he usually lay still till his mother came back.

When she thought he was large enough, and strong and swift enough, she
let him travel with her; and then he became acquainted with several new
kinds of forest--with the dark hemlock groves, and the dense cedar
swamps; with the open tamarack, where the trees stand wide apart, and
between them the great purple-and-white lady's-slippers bloom; with the
cranberry marshes, where pitcher-plants live, and white-plumed grasses
nod in the breeze; with sandy ridges where the pine-trees purr with
pleasure when the wind strokes them; with the broad, beautiful
Glimmerglass, laughing and shimmering in the sunshine, and with all the
sights and the sounds of that wonderful world where he was to spend the
years of his deerhood.

They were a very silent pair. When his breakfast was ready she would
sometimes call him with a low murmuring, and he would answer her with a
little bleat; but those were almost the only sounds that were ever heard
from them, except the rustling of the dry leaves around their feet. Yet
they understood each other perfectly, and they were very happy together.
There was little need of speech, for all they had to do the livelong day
was to wander about while the doe picked up her food, and then, when she
had eaten her fill, to lie down in some sheltered place, and there rest
and chew the cud till it was time to move again.

Life wasn't all sunshine, of course. There were plenty of hard things
for the baby Buck to put up with, and perhaps the worst were the
mosquitoes and the black-flies and "no-see-'ems" that swarmed in the
woods and swamps through the month of June. They got into his mouth and
into his nose; they gathered in circles around his eyes; and they
snuggled cosily down between the short hairs of his pretty, spotted
coat, and sucked the blood out of him till it seemed as if he would
soon go dry. For a while they were almost unbearable, but I suppose the
woods-people get somewhat hardened to them. Otherwise I should think our
friends would have been driven mad, for there was never any respite from
their attacks, except possibly a very stormy day, or a bath in the lake,
or a saunter on the shore.

At the eastern end of the Glimmerglass there is a broad strip of sand
beach, where, if there happens to be a breeze from the water, one can
walk and be quite free from the flies; though in calm weather, or with
an offshore wind, it is not much better than the woods. There, during
fly-time, the doe and her baby were often to be found; and to see him
promenading up and down the hard sand, with his mother looking on, was
one of the prettiest sights in all the wilderness. The ground-color of
his coat was a bright bay red, somewhat like that of his mother's summer
clothing; but deeper and richer and handsomer, and with pure white spots
arranged in irregular rows all along his neck and back and sides. He was
so sleek and polished that he fairly glistened in the sunshine, like a
well-groomed horse; his great dark eyes were brighter than a girl's at
her first ball; and his ears were almost as big as a mule's, and a
million times as pretty. But best and most beautiful of all was the
marvellous life and grace and spirit of his every pose and motion. When
he walked, his head and neck were thrust forward and drawn back again at
every step with the daintiest gesture imaginable; and his tiny pointed
hoofs touched the ground so lightly, and were away again so quickly,
that you hardly knew what they had done. If anything startled him, he
stamped with his forefoot on the hard sand, and tossed his head in the
air with an expression that was not fear, but alertness, and even
defiance. And when he leaped and ran--but there's no use in trying to
describe that.

By the middle of July most of the flies were gone, and the deer could
travel where they pleased without being eaten alive. And then, almost
before they knew what had happened, the summer was gone, too, and the
autumn had come. The Fawn's white spots disappeared, and both he and his
mother put off their thin red summer clothing and donned the blue coat
of fall, which would by and by fade into the gray of winter--a garment
made of longer, coarser hairs, which were so thick that they had to
stand on end because there wasn't room for them to lie down, and which
made such a warm covering that one who wore it could sleep all night in
the snow, and rise in the morning dry and comfortable.

The Fawn had thriven wonderfully. Already the budding antlers were
pushing through the skin on the top of his head, which alone is pretty
good proof that he was a remarkable baby. But, of course, the infancy of
a wild animal is always much shorter than that of a human child. It is
well that this is so, for if the period of weakness and helplessness was
not shortened for them, there would probably be very few who would ever
survive its dangers and reach maturity. The Fawn was weaned early in the
autumn; though he still ran with his mother, and she showed him what
herbs and leaves were pleasantest to the taste and best for building up
bone and muscle, and where the beechnuts were most plentiful. The mast
was good that fall, which isn't always the case, and that was another
lucky star in young Buck's horoscope. So much depends on having plenty
to eat the first year.

And now the doe was thriving as well as her son. Through the summer she
had been thin and poor, for the Fawn had fed on her life and strength,
and the best of all that came to her she had given to him; but the
strain was over at last, and there were granted her a few weeks in
which to prepare for the season of cold and storm and scanty food. She
made the best of them, and in an amazingly short time she was rolling

Everything was lovely and the goose hung high, when all of a sudden the
peace and quiet of their every-day lives were rudely broken. The hunting
season had come, and half-a-dozen farmers from lower Michigan had camped
beside the Glimmerglass. They were not really very formidable. If one
wants to kill deer, one should learn to shoot straight and to get around
in the woods without making quite as much noise as a locomotive. But
their racket was intolerable, and after a day or two the doe and the
Fawn left home and spent the next three or four weeks near a secluded
little pond several miles away to the southeast.

By the first of December these troublous times were over, and they had
returned to their old haunts in the beech and maple woods, where they
picked up a rather scanty living by scraping the light snow away with
their forefeet in search of the savory nuts. But before Christmas there
came a storm which covered the ground so deeply that they could no
longer dig out enough food to keep them from going hungry; and they
were forced to leave the high lands and make their way to the evergreen
swamps around the head-waters of the Tahquamenon. There they lived on
twigs of balsam and hemlock and spruce, with now and then a mouthful of
moss or a nutritious lichen. Little by little the fat on their ribs
disappeared, they grew lank and lean again, and the bones showed more
and more plainly through their heavy winter coats. If one of those
November hunters had succeeded in setting his teeth in their flesh he
would have found that it had a very pleasant, nutty flavor, but in
February it would have tasted decidedly of hemlock. Yet they were strong
and healthy, in spite of their boniness, and of course you can't expect
to be very fat in winter.

There were worse things than hunger. One afternoon they were following a
big buck down a runway--all three of them minding their own business and
behaving in a very orderly and peaceable manner--when a shanty-boy
stepped out from behind a big birch just ahead of them, and said, "Aah!"
very derisively and insultingly. The wind was blowing from them to him,
and they hadn't had the least idea that he was there until they were
within three rods of his tree. The buck was so startled that for an
instant he simply stood still and stared, which was exactly what the
shanty-boy had expected him to do. He had stopped so suddenly that his
forefeet were thrust forward into the snow, and he was leaning backward
a trifle. His head was up, his eyes were almost popping out of their
sockets, and there was such a look of astonishment on his face that the
man laughed as he raised his gun and took aim. In a second the deer had
wheeled and was in the air, but a bullet broke his back just as he left
the ground, and he came tumbling down again in a shapeless heap. His
spinal cord was cut, and half his body was dead; but he would not give
up even then, and he half rose on his forefeet and tried to drag himself
away. The shanty-boy stepped to his side with a knife in his hand, the
deer gave one loud bleat of fear and pain, and then it was all over.

But by that time the doe and the Fawn were far down the runway--out of
sight, and out of danger. Next day they passed that way again, and saw a
Canada lynx standing where the buck had fallen, licking his chops as if
he had just finished a good meal. It is hard work carrying a deer
through the woods, and the shanty-boy had lightened his load as much as
possible. Lynxes are not nice. The mother and son pulled their freight
as fast as they could travel.

When the world turned green again they went back to the Glimmerglass,
but they had not been there long before the young Buck had his nose put
out of joint by the arrival of two new babies. Thenceforth his mother
had all she could do to take care of them, without paying any further
attention to him. The days of his fawnhood were over, and it was time
for him to strike out into the world and make his own living.

However, I don't think he was very lonesome. There were plenty of other
deer in the woods, and though he did not associate with any of them as
he had with his mother, yet he may have enjoyed meeting them
occasionally in his travels. And there was ever so much to do and to
think about. Eating took up a good deal of time, for he was very active
and was still growing, and his strong young body was constantly calling
for more food. And it wasn't enough merely to find the food and swallow
it, for no sooner was his stomach full than he had to lie down and chew
the cud for an hour or so. And, of course, the black-flies and
mosquitoes and "no-see-'ems" helped to make things interesting, just as
they had the year before. Strictly speaking, it is impossible to be
lonely in the woods during fly-time. He changed his clothes, too, and
put on a much handsomer dress, though I doubt if he took as much
interest in that operation as most of us would. The change contributed
greatly to his comfort, for his light summer garment was much better
adapted to warm weather than his winter coat, but it did not require any
conscious effort on his part. On hot days he sometimes waded out into
the lake in search of lily-pads, and the touch of the cool water was
very grateful. Occasionally he would take a long swim, and once or twice
he paddled clear across the Glimmerglass, from one shore to the other.

And it was during this summer that he raised his first real antlers.
Those of the previous autumn had been nothing but two little buds of
bone, but these were pointed spikes, several inches in length, standing
straight up from the top of his head without a fork or a branch or a
curve. They did not add very much to his good looks, and, of course,
they dropped off early in the following winter, but they were the
forerunners of the beautiful branching antlers of his later years, and
if he thought about them at all they were probably as welcome as a
boy's first mustache.

Late in the following autumn an event occurred which left its mark on
him for the rest of his life. One night he wandered into a part of the
woods where some lumbermen had been working during the day. On the
ground where they had eaten their lunch he found some baked beans and a
piece of dried apple-pie, and he ate them greedily and was glad that he
had come. But he found something else, too. One of the road-monkeys had
carelessly left his axe in the snow with the edge turned up. The Buck
stepped on it, and it slipped in between the two halves of his cloven
hoof, and cut deep into his foot. The wound healed in the course of
time, but from that night the toes--they were those of his left hind
foot--were spread far apart, instead of lying close together as they
should have done. Sticks and roots sometimes caught between them in a
way that was very annoying, and his track was different from that of any
other deer in the woods, which was not a thing to be desired. He was not
crippled, however, for he could still leap almost, if not quite, as far
as ever, and run almost as fast.

He continued to grow and prosper, and the next summer he raised a pair
of forked antlers with two tines each.

And now he is well started down the runway of life, and we must leave
him to travel by himself for two or three years. He ranged the woods far
and near, and came to know them as a man knows his own house; but no
matter what places he visited, the old haunts that his mother had shown
him were the best of all, as the deer have learned by the experience of
generation after generation. He always came back again to the
Glimmerglass, and as the seasons went by I often saw his broad,
spreading hoof-print on the sandy beach where they two had so often
walked in that first summer. He evidently had plenty of company, and was
probably enjoying life, for all around were other foot-prints that were
narrow and delicately pointed, as a deer's should be. Some of them, of
course, were his own, left by his three perfect feet; but others were
those of his friends and acquaintances, and it is quite possible that
some of the tiniest and daintiest were made by his children.

That beach is a delightful place for a promenade on a summer night, and
besides the deer-tracks one can sometimes find there the trails of the
waddling porcupines, the broad, heavy print left by a black bear as he
goes shambling by, and the handwriting of many another of the
woods-people. Strange and interesting scenes must often be enacted on
the smooth, hard sand that lies between the woods and the water, and it
is a pity that the show always comes to a sudden close if any would-be
spectators appear, and that we never see anything but the foot-prints of
the performers.

With each recurring hunting season the Buck and the other deer that made
their homes around the Glimmerglass were driven away for a time. A few
stayed, or at least remained as near as they dared; but compared with
summer the neighborhood was almost depopulated. And in his fourth year,
in spite of all his efforts to keep out of harm's way, the Buck came
very near losing his life at the hands of a man who had really learned
how to hunt--not one of the farmers who went ramming about the woods,
shooting at everything in sight, and making noise enough to startle even
the porcupines.

One afternoon, late in the autumn, the judge left his court-room in
Detroit and started for his house. He bought an evening paper as he
boarded the street-car; and, as Fate would have it, the first thing that
met his eye as he unfolded it was the forecast for upper Michigan:
"Colder; slight snow-fall; light northerly winds." The judge folded the
paper again and put it in his pocket, and all the rest of the way home
he was dreaming of things that he had seen before--of the white and
silent woods, of deer-tracks in the inch-deep snow, of the long
still-hunt under dripping branches and gray November skies, of a huge
buck feeding unconcernedly beneath the beech-trees, of nutty venison
steaks broiling on the coals, and, finally, of another pair of antlers
for his dining-room. Court had adjourned for three days, and that night
he took the train for the north. And while he travelled, the snow came
down softly and silently, melting at first as fast as it fell, and then,
as the cold grew sharper, clothing the woods in a thin, white robe, the
first gift of the coming winter.

Next day the Buck was lying behind a fallen tree, chewing his cud, when
the breeze brought him a whiff of an unpleasant human odor. He jumped up
and hurried away, and the judge heard him crash through the bushes, and
searched until he had found his trail. An hour later, as the Buck was
nosing for beechnuts in the snow, a rifle cracked and a bullet went
zipping by and carried off the very tip of his left antler. He dropped
his white flag and was off like a shot.

Chase a wounded deer, and he will run for miles; leave him alone, and if
he is badly hurt he will soon lie down. The chances are that he will
never get up again. The judge knew that the Buck was hit, for he had
seen his tail come down. But was he hit hard? There was no blood on the
trail, and the judge decided to follow.

The Buck hurried on, but before long his leaps began to grow shorter.
After a mile or so he stopped, looked back, and listened. The woods were
very, very still, and for all that he could see or hear there was not
the least sign of danger. Yet he was afraid, and in a few minutes he
pushed on again, though not as rapidly as before. As the short afternoon
wore away he travelled still more slowly, and his stops were longer and
more frequent. And at last, just before sunset, as he stood and watched
for the enemy who might or might not be on his trail, he heard a twig
snap, and saw a dark form slip behind a tree. This time he ran as he had
never run before in all his life.

The judge spent the night at the nearest lumber-camp, and the next
morning he was out again as soon as he could see, following his own
trail back to where he had left that of the Buck. On the way he crossed
the tracks of two other deer, but they had no temptations for him. He
wanted to solve the mystery of that spreading hoof-print, and to make
sure that his shot had not been a clean miss. And now began a day which
was without precedent in the Buck's whole history. Those woods are not
the best in the world for a deer who has to play hide-and-seek with a
man, for there are few bare ridges or half-wooded slopes from which he
can look back to see if anyone is following him. Even the glades and the
open cranberry swamps are small and infrequent. An almost unbroken
forest sweeps away in every direction, and everywhere there is cover for
the still-hunter. And when the ground is carpeted with snow an inch and
a half deep, as it was then, and at every step a deer must leave behind
him a trail as plain as a turnpike road, then it is not strange if he
feels that he has run up against a decidedly tough proposition. Eyes,
ears, and nose are all on the alert, and all doing their level best, but
what eye can penetrate the cedar swamp beyond a few yards; or what ear
can always catch the tread of a moccasin on the moss and the snow before
it comes within rifle range; or what nose, no matter how delicate, can
detect anything but what happens to lie in its owner's path, or what the
wind chooses to bring it? Many a foe had crossed the Buck's trail in the
course of his life; but none had ever followed him like this--silently
and relentlessly--slowly, but without a moment's pause. A few leaps were
always enough to put the judge out of sight, and half an hour's run left
him far behind; but in a little while he was there again, creeping
cautiously through the undergrowth, and peering this way and that for a
glimpse of a plump, round, blue-gray body. Once he fired before the deer
knew that he was at hand, and if a hanging twig had not turned the
bullet a trifle from its course, the still-hunt would have ended then
and there.

But late in the afternoon the Buck thought that he had really shaken his
pursuer off, and the judge was beginning to think so, too. They had not
seen each other for two or three hours, the day was nearly over, and
there were signs of a change in the weather. If the Buck could hold out
till nightfall, and then the snow should melt before morning, he would
be comparatively safe.

In his fear of the enemy lurking in the rear, he had forgotten all other
dangers; and without quite realizing what he was doing he had come back
to the Glimmerglass, and was tramping once more up and down the old
familiar runways. Presently he came upon a huge maple, lying prostrate
on the ground. He walked around its great bushy head and down toward its
foot; and there he found a broad, saucer-shaped hollow, left when the
tree was torn up by the roots in some wild gale. On one side rose a mass
of earth, straight as a stone wall and four or five feet in height; and
against its foot lay one of the most tempting beds of dead leaves that
he had ever seen, free from snow, dry as a whistle, soft and downy. The
sight of it was too much for him. He was very weary, his limbs fairly
ached with fatigue, and for the last hour his spread hoof had given him
a good deal of pain. His enemy was nowhere in sight, and in spite of his
misgivings he sank down on the couch with a sigh of comfort, and began
to chew his cud.

The judge was about ready to give up for the night when he, too, came
upon that fallen maple. He saw the wall of earth and twisted roots, with
the deer-tracks leading toward it; and slowly, softly, silently, he
crept down toward the Buck's shelter.

There was no wind that evening, and the woods seemed perfectly still;
but now, unnoticed by the judge, a faint, faint puff came wandering
among the trees, as if on purpose to warn the deer of his danger.
Suddenly he started, sniffed the air, and was up and away like a
race-horse--not leaping nor bounding now, but running low, with his head
down, and his antlers laid back on his neck. If he had been in the cedar
swamp he would have escaped unhurt, but up in the hardwood the trees do
not stand so close, and one can see a little farther. The judge fired
before he could get out of sight, and he dropped with three ribs broken
and a bullet lodged behind his right shoulder. He was up again in an
instant, but there were blood-stains on the snow where he had lain, and
this time the judge did not follow. Instead of giving chase he went
straight back to the lumber-camp, feeling almost as sure of that new
pair of antlers as if he had carried them with him.

The Buck ran a little way, with his flag lowered and the blood spurting,
and then he lay down to rest, just as the judge knew he would. The
bleeding soon stopped, but it left him very weak and tired, and that
night was the most miserable he had ever known. The darkness settled
down thick and black over the woods, the wind began to blow, and by and
by the rain commenced to fall--first a drizzle, and then a steady pour.
Cold and wet, wounded and tired and hungry, the Buck was about as
wretched as it is possible for a mortal to be. And yet that rain was the
one and only thing that could save him. Under its melting touch the snow
began to disappear, and before morning the ground was bare again. Even
the blood-stains were washed away. It would take a better nose than the
judge's to track him now.

Yet the danger was not over, by any means. The judge knew very nearly
where to look for him, and could probably find him if he did not get up
and move on. And to move on, or even to rise to his feet, seemed utterly
impossible. The least motion sent the most exquisite pain shooting
through his whole body, and I believe he would have died where he lay,
either at the hands of the judge or from exhaustion, if another man
hadn't come along. The judge would have advanced slowly and quietly, and
the deer might never have known he was coming till a rifle bullet hit
him; but this man's errand must have been a different one, for he came
striding noisily through the trees and bushes and over the dead leaves,
whistling "I Want Yer, Ma Honey," at the top of his whistle. If you are
obliged to be out in the woods during the hunting season, and don't care
to kill anything, it is always best to make as much noise as you can.
There is less danger that some other fool will take you for a deer and
shoot you dead. The Buck heard him, of course, and tried to rise, only
to sink back with a groan. He couldn't do it, or at least he thought he
couldn't. But when the man came around a little balsam only two rods
away, then his panic got the better of his pain, and he jumped up and
made off at a clumsy, limping run. Every joint seemed on fire, and he
ached from the top of his head to the toes of that poor left hind-foot.
But after the first plunge it was not quite so bad. The motion took some
of the stiffness out of his limbs, and by the time the judge arrived he
was a mile away and was thinking about breakfast.

We must do the sportsman the justice of saying that his remorse was very
keen when he stepped aboard the train that night, bound for Detroit. He
had wounded a deer and had let it get away from him, to suffer, and
probably to die a painful, lingering death. The whole day--the last of
the hunting season and of his court recess--had been spent in an
unavailing search; not merely because he wanted some venison and a pair
of antlers to carry home with him, but because he wanted to put the Buck
out of his misery. He had failed everywhere, and he felt sorry and
ashamed, and wished he had stayed at home. But, as it happened, the Buck
did not want to be put out of his misery. Just as the judge took the
train he was lying down for the night. He would be stiff when he rose
again, but not as stiff as he had been that morning. He would be weak
and tired, but he would still be able to travel and find food. He would
lose his plumpness and roundness, no doubt, and lose them very rapidly.
The winter would probably be a hard one, with such a misfortune as this
at its very beginning. But no matter, it would pass. He wasn't the first
Buck who had had his ribs smashed by an injection of lead and had lived
to tell the tale.

The next year it was his antlers that got him into trouble--his antlers
and his quarrelsomeness. Two round, black, velvet-covered knobs had
appeared in spring on the top of his head, and had pushed up higher and
higher till they formed cylindrical columns, each one leaning outward
and a little backward. They were hot as fever with the blood that was
rushing through them, building up the living masonry; and at the upper
ends, where the work was newest, they were soft and spongy, and very
sensitive, so that the least touch was enough to give pain. Longer and
longer they grew, and harder and harder; by and by curving forward and
inward; and one after another the tines appeared. And at last, in the
early autumn, the tall towers of bone were complete, the blood ceased to
course through them, and the Buck rubbed them against the tree-trunks
until the velvety skin was all worn off, and they were left smooth and
brown and polished. They were a handsome pair, spreading and branching
very gracefully over his forehead, and bearing four tines to each beam.
It is a mistake to suppose, as so many people do, that the number of
tines on each antler invariably corresponds to the number of years that
its owner has lived; but it very often does, especially before he has
passed the prime of life.

No sooner were the antlers finished than the Buck began to grow fat. He
had been eating heartily for months, but he hadn't been able to put much
flesh on his ribs as long as he had that big, bony growth to feed. Bucks
and does are alike in this, that for both of them the summer is a season
of plenty, but not of growing plump and round and strong. The
difference between them is that the does give their strength and
vitality to the children they are nursing, while the bucks pile theirs
up on their own foreheads.

[Illustration: "_The buck was nearing the prime of life._"]

And there was another change which came with the autumn. Through the
summer he had been quiet and gentle, and had attended very strictly to
his own affairs; but now the life and vigor and vitality which for weeks
and months had been pouring into that tall, beautiful structure on his
forehead were all surging like a tide through his whole body; and he
became very passionate and excitable, and spent much time in rushing
about the woods in search of other deer, fighting those of his own sex,
and making love to the does. The year was at its high-water mark, and
the Buck was nearing his prime. Food was plenty; everywhere the
beechnuts were dropping on the dry leaves; the autumn sunshine was warm
and mellow; the woods were gay with scarlet and gold and brown, and the
very taste of the air was enough to make one happy. Was it any wonder if
he sometimes felt as if he would like to fight every other buck in
Michigan, and all of them at once?

One afternoon in October he fought a battle with another buck who was
very nearly his match in size and strength--a battle that came near
being the end of both of them. There was a doe just vanishing among the
bushes when the fuss began, and the question at issue was which should
follow her and which shouldn't. It would be easy enough to find her,
for, metaphorically speaking, "her feet had touched the meadows, and
left the daisies rosy." Wherever she went, a faint, faint fragrance
clung to the dead leaves, far too delicate for a human nose to detect,
yet quite strong enough for a buck to follow. But the trail wasn't broad
enough for two, and the first thing to be done was to have a scrap and
see which was the better and more deserving deer. And, as it turned out,
the scent grew cold again, and the doe never heard that eager patter of
hoofs hurrying down the runway behind her.

The bucks came together like two battering-rams, with a great clatter
and clash of antlers, but after the first shock the fight seemed little
more than a pushing-match. Each one was constantly trying to catch the
other off his guard and thrust a point into his flesh, but they never
succeeded. A pair of widely branching antlers is as useful in warding
off blows as in delivering them. Such a perfect shield does it make,
when properly handled, that at the end of half an hour neither of the
bucks was suffering from anything but fatigue, and the issue was as far
as ever from being settled. There was foam on their lips, and sweat on
their sides; their mouths were open, and their breath came in gasps;
every muscle was working its hardest, pushing and shoving and guarding;
and they drove each other backward and forward through the bushes, and
ploughed up the ground, and scattered the dry leaves in their struggles;
and yet there was not a scratch on either shapely body.

Finally, they backed off and rushed together again with such violence
that our Buck's antlers were forced apart just a trifle, and his enemy's
slipped in between them. There was a little snap as they sprang back
into position, and the mischief was done. The two foes were locked
together in an embrace which death itself could not loosen.

The next few weeks were worse than a nightmare. If one went forward, the
other had to go backward; and neither could go anywhere or do anything
without getting the consent of the other or else carrying him along by
main force. Many things could not be done at all--not even when both
were willing and anxious to do them. They could not run or leap. They
could not see, except out of the corners of their eyes. They would never
again toss those beautiful antlers in the air, for they had come
together with their heads held low, and in that position they must
remain. They could not even lie down without twisting their necks till
they ached as if they were breaking. With their noses to the ground, and
with anger and misery in their hearts, they pushed and hauled each other
this way and that through the woods. And wherever they went, they were
always struggling and fighting and striving for every mouthful of food
that came within reach. It was little enough that they found at the
best, and it would have been better for both of them if they could have
agreed to divide it evenly, but of course that would have been asking
too much of deer nature. Each took all he could get, and at first they
were so evenly matched that each secured somewhere near his fair share.
They spied a beechnut on the ground, or a bit of lichen, or a tender
twig; and together they made a dive for it. Two noses were thrust
forward--no, not forward, sidewise--and two mouths were open to grasp
the precious morsel which would enable its possessor to keep up the
fight a little longer. Sometimes one got it, and sometimes the other;
but from the very beginning our Buck was a shade the stronger, and his
superiority grew with every mouthful that he managed to wrest from his
fellow-prisoner. Both of them were losing flesh rapidly, but he kept his
longer than the other. And at last they reached the point where, by
reason of his greater strength, he got everything and the other nothing,
and then the end was near. It would have come long before if both had
not been in prime condition on the day of the battle.

[Illustration: "_Wherever they went they were always struggling and

One dark, stormy night the two deer were stumbling and floundering over
roots and bushes, trying to find their way down to the beach for a
drink. Both of them were pretty well used up; and one was so weak that
he could hardly stand, and could only walk by leaning heavily on the
head and antlers of the other, who supported him because he was obliged
to, and not out of friendliness. They were within a few rods of the
beach when he whose strength was least stepped into a hole and fell, and
his leg-bone snapped like a dry twig. He struggled and tried to rise;
but his story was told, and before morning he was dead. For once our
Buck's instinct of self-preservation had carried him too far. He had
taken all the food for himself, and had starved his enemy; and now he
was bound face to face to a corpse.

Well, we won't talk about that. He stayed there twenty-four hours, and
there would soon have been two dead bucks instead of one if something
had not happened which he did not in the least expect--something which
seemed like a blessed miracle, yet which was really the simplest and
most natural thing in the world. A buck has no fixed time for the
casting of his antlers. It usually occurs during the first half of the
winter, but it has been known to take place as early as November and as
late as April. The second night passed, and as it began to grow light
again our friend lifted himself on his knees and his hind-legs, and
wrestled mightily with his horrible bed-fellow; and suddenly his left
antler came loose from his head. The right one was still fast, but it
was easily disengaged from the tangle of branching horns, and in a
moment he stood erect. The blood was running down his face from the
pedicel where the antler had stood, and he was so weak and dizzy that
his legs could hardly carry him, and so thin and wasted that he seemed
the mere shadow of his former self. But he was free, and that long,
horrible dream was over at last.

He tried to walk toward the lake, but fell before he had taken
half-a-dozen steps; and for an hour he lay still and rested. It was like
a taste of heaven, just to be able to hold his neck straight. The sun
had risen by the time he was ready to try it again, and through the
trees he saw the shimmer and sparkle of the Glimmerglass. He heard the
wind talking to itself in the branches overhead, and the splashing of
the ripples on the beach; and he staggered down to the margin and drank
long and deep.

That December was a mild one. The first light snow had already come and
gone, and the next two weeks were bright and sunshiny. The Buck ate as
he had never eaten before, and it was astonishing to see how rapidly he
picked up, and how much he gained before Christmas. His good luck seemed
to follow him month after month, for the winter was comparatively open,
the snow was not as deep as usual, and the spring came early. By that
time the ill effects of his terrible experience had almost entirely
disappeared, and he was in nearly as good condition as is usual with the
deer at that season of the year--which, of course, isn't really saying
very much.

Again, Nature's table was spread with good things, and again he set to
work to build a pair of antlers--a pair that should be larger and
handsomer than any that had gone before. But as the summer lengthened it
became evident that there was something wrong with those antlers, or at
least with one of them. One seemed to be quite perfect. It was
considerably longer than those of last year, its curve was just right,
and it had five tines, which was the correct number and all that he
could have asked. But the other, the left, was nothing but a straight,
pointed spike, perhaps eight inches in length, shaped almost exactly
like those of his first pair. The Buck never knew the reason for this
deformity, and I'm not at all certain about it myself, though I have a
theory. One stormy day in the early summer, a falling branch, torn from
a tree-top by the wind, had struck squarely on that growing antler, then
only a few inches long. It hurt him so that for a moment he was fairly
blind and dizzy, and it is quite possible that the soft, half-formed
bone was so injured that it could never reach its full development.
Anyhow, it made him a rather queer-looking buck, with one perfect antler
and one spike. But in everything else--except his spread hoof--he was
without spot or blemish. He had well fulfilled the promise of his youth,
and he was big and strong and beautiful. Something he had lost, no
doubt, of the grace and daintiness of his baby days; but he had also
gained much--gained in stateliness and dignity, as well as in size and
weight and strength. And even that spike antler was not without its
advantages, as he learned a little later.

As the autumn came round he was just as excitable and passionate, just
as ready for fighting or love-making, as ever, and not one whit subdued
by the disaster of the year before. And so one day he had another battle
with another buck, while another doe--or perhaps the same one--made off
through the trees and left a fragrant trail behind her. He and his
adversary went at each other in the usual way, and for some time it
seemed unlikely that either of them could ever do anything more than
tire the other out by hard pushing. There was little danger that their
antlers would get locked this time, with one pair so badly mismated; and
it bade fair to be a very ordinary, every-day sort of a fight. But by
and by our Buck saw his opportunity. The enemy exposed his left side, in
an unguarded moment, and before he could recover himself that deformed
antler had dealt him a terrible thrust. If the force of the blow had
been divided among five tines it would probably have had but little
effect, but the single straight spike was as good as a sword or a
bayonet, and it won the day. The deer with the perfect antlers was not
only vanquished, but killed; and the victor was off on the trail of the

And so our friend became the champion of the Glimmerglass, and in all
the woods there was not a buck that could stand against him.

But his brother deer were not his only enemies. With the opening of the
hunting season those farmers from lower Michigan came again, and day
after day they beat the woods in search of game. This time, however, the
Buck did not leave, or at least he did not go very far. For the last
month he had been fighting everyone who would fight back, and perhaps
his many easy victories had made him reckless. At any rate he was bolder
than usual, and all through the season he stayed within a few miles of
the Glimmerglass.

The farmers had decidedly poor luck, and after hunting for two or three
weeks without a single taste of venison they began to feel desperate.
Finally, they secured the help of a trapper who owned a big English
foxhound. Hunting with dogs was against the law, and at home they
claimed to be very law-abiding citizens, but they had to have a deer, no
matter what happened.

The morning after the hound's arrival he got onto the trail of a doe and
followed it for hours, until, as a last resort, she made for the
Glimmerglass, jumped into the water, and started to swim across to the
farther shore. The dog's work was done, and he stood on the bank and
watched her go. For a few minutes she thought that she was out of
danger, and that the friendly Glimmerglass had saved her; but presently
she heard a sound of oars, and turning half-way round she lifted her
head and shoulders out of the water, and saw a row-boat and three men
bearing down upon her. A look of horror came into her face as she sank
back, and her heart almost broke with despair; but she was game, and she
struck out with all her might. Her legs tore the water frantically, the
straining muscles stood out like ropes on her sides and flanks and
shoulders, and she almost threw herself from the water. But it was no
use, the row-boat was gaining.

The farmers fired at her again and again, but they were too wildly
excited to hit anything until finally the trapper pulled up alongside
her and threw a noose over her head. And then, while she lay on her side
in the water, with the rope around her neck, kicking and struggling in
a blind agony of despair, one of the farmers shot her dead at a range of
something less than ten feet. When he went home he bragged that he was
the only one of the party who had killed a deer, but he never told just
how the thing was done.

That is the kind of fate that you are very likely to meet if you are a
deer. But vengeance came on the morrow, for that day it was the Buck's
turn to be chased by that horrible fog-horn on four legs. Hour after
hour he heard the hound's dreadful baying behind him as he raced through
the woods, and at last he, too, started for the water, just as the doe
had done. But he never reached it, or at least not on that trip. He was
within a few rods of the beach when his spread hoof caught on a root and
threw him, and the hound was so close behind that they both went down in
a heap. They sprang to their feet at the same instant, and stood for a
second glaring at each other. The dog had not meant to fight, only to
drive the other into the water, where the hunters would take care of
him; but he was game, and he made a spring at the deer's throat. The
Buck drew back his forefoot, with its sharp, pointed hoof, and met the
enemy with a thrust like that of a Roman soldier's short-sword; and the
hound went down with his shoulder broken and a great gash in his side.
And then, with a sudden twist and turn of his head, the Buck caught him
on the point of that terrible spike antler, ripped his body open, and
tossed him in the air.

The worst enemy was disposed of. But that wasn't all. The man who killed
the doe was waiting on the beach and had heard the scuffle, and now he
came creeping quietly through the bushes to see what was going on. The
Buck was still trampling the body of the dog, and noticed nothing till a
rifle bullet grazed his right flank, inflicting just enough of a wound
to make him still more furious. He faced around and stood for a moment
staring at this new enemy; and then he did something which very few wild
deer have ever done. Probably he would not have done it himself if he
had not been half crazy with rage and excitement, and much emboldened by
his easy victory over the hound. He put his head down and his antlers
forward, and charged on a man!

The farmer was jerking frantically at the lever of his repeating rifle,
but a cartridge had stuck in the magazine, and he couldn't make it work.
The hound's fate had shown him what that spike antler could do; and
when he saw it bearing down on him at full tilt he dropped his gun and
ran for his life to his dug-out canoe. He reached it just in time. I
almost wish he hadn't.

One more adventure the Buck had that fall. Providence, or Fate, or
someone took a hand in affairs, and rid the Glimmerglass of all hunters,
not for that season alone, but for many years to come. One night, down
beside a spring in the cedar swamp, the Buck found a half-decayed log on
which a bag of salt had been emptied. He stayed there for an hour or
two, alternately licking the salt and drinking the cold water, and it
was as good as an ice-cream soda. The next night he returned for another
debauch; but in the meantime two other visitors had been there, and both
had seen his tracks and knew that he would come again. As he neared the
spring, treading noiselessly on the soft moss, he heard two little
clicks, and stopped short to see what they meant. Both were quick and
sharp, and both had come at exactly the same instant; yet they were not
quite alike, for one had come from the shutter of a camera, and one from
the lock of a rifle. Across the salt-lick a photographer and a hunter
were facing each other in the darkness, and each saw the gleam of the
other's eyes and took him for a deer. So close together were the two
clicks that neither man heard the sound of the other's weapon, and both
were ready to fire--each in his own way.

The Buck stood and watched, and suddenly there came two bursts of
flame--one of them so big and bright that it lit the woods like
sheet-lightning. Two triggers had been touched at the same instant, and
each did its work well. The flash-light printed on the sensitive plate a
picture of a hunter in the act of firing, and the rifle sent a bullet
straight through the photographer's forehead. The Buck saw it all as in
a dream--the white flame of the magnesium powder; the rifle, belching
out its fire and smoke; the camera, silent and harmless, but working
just as surely; the two men, each straining his eyes for a sight of his
game; the water gleaming in the fierce light, and the dark ranks of the
cedars all around. And then, in the tenth of a second, it was all over,
and the Buck was bumping against trees, and stumbling and floundering
over roots, in his dazed haste to get away from this terrifying mystery.
He heard one horrified shout from the hunter, but nothing from the
photographer--and the woods were silent again.

That was the end of the hunting season at the Glimmerglass. With the
hunter's trial for manslaughter, we and the Buck are not concerned; and
there is nothing more to tell except that the next year the owners of
the lands around the lake gave warning that all trespassers would be
prosecuted. They wanted no more such tragedies on their property.

And so the Buck and his sweethearts and his rivals lived in peace,
except that the rivals still quarrelled among themselves, as Nature
meant them to. The Buck had reached his prime, but you are not to
suppose that he began to age immediately afterward. It was long before
his eye was dimmed or his natural force abated; and as the years went
by, with their summers of lily-pads and tender young browse, and their
autumns of beechnuts and fighting and love-making, the broad cloven
track of his split foot was often to be found in the hard, smooth sand
of the beach. Perhaps it is there now. I wish I could go and see.




       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Duplicate titles were removed.

Page 51, "weasles" changed to "weasels" (frogs, and weasels)

Page 156, "fore-paws" changed to "forepaws" to match rest of usage
(forepaws. He also)

Page 165, "blottod" changed to "blotted" (were all blotted out)

Page 229, "where-ever" changed to "wherever" It was orginally split over
two lines. (woods. And wherever)

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