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Title: With Rod and Line in Colorado Waters
Author: France, Lewis B.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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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[Illustration: North-western Colorado.]


                              ROD AND LINE
                            COLORADO WATERS.

   "Wha ever heard o' a gude angler being a bad or indifferent man?"

                          Chain, Hardy & Co.,
                      Booksellers and Publishers.


 Entered according to act of Congress in the year eighteen hundred and
                            eighty-four, by

                          CHAIN, HARDY & CO.,

    in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

                             DAVID ATWOOD,
                        PRINTER AND STEREOTYPER,
                             MADISON, WIS.



               Many Years Ago                           7
               Over the Range                          14
               Fisherman’s Luck                        22
               Agapae                                  31
               Black Lake in 1878                      38
               Egotism and—Rods                        51
               Troublesome                             57
               Meteorological                          64
               Mules                                   71
               Music and Meteorology                   77
               Philosophy                              85
               An Idle Morning at Grand Lake           93
               Camping with Ladies and—the Baby        99
               Boys and Burros                        107
               He’s No Sardine                        124
               Under Difficulties                     131
               His Sermon                             141


         “Poor drudge of the city! how happy he feels
         With the burs on his legs and the grass at his heels;
         No Dodger behind, his bandannas to share;
         No Constable grumbling: ‘You must n’t walk there!’”



                            MANY YEARS AGO.

Forty years ago—a big slice off the long end of one’s life! A broad
river with its low-lying south shore heavily timbered and rich in early
summer verdure; a long bridge with a multitude of low stone piers and
trestle-work at top; in midstream, two miles away, the black hull and
tall masts of a man-o’-war, lying idly; between and beyond, the smooth
bosom of the blue expanse dotted with fishing sloops under
weather-beaten wings, moving lazily hither and yon; to the north, but
invisible save a straggling outer edge of tumble-down houses—a
possibility then—now, “they tell me,” a magnificent city; a decayed
wharf with no signs of life, and draped in tangled sea-weed that came in
with the last tide, the jagged and blackened piles stand brooding over
the solemn stillness like melancholy sentinels sorrowing over a dead
ambition. The ripple of the waves is a melody and the air is fragrant
with a brackish sweetness.

It has been a bright day, and the afternoon shadows are beginning to
lengthen. They suggest to some another day’s work nearly finished,
another week drawing to a close; Saturday night, home and rest. To
others they suggest—well, let that pass. To a little fellow, barefoot,
coatless and with a ragged straw hat, who crawls out from one of the
center piers of the old bridge, these shadows of the closing May day are
ominous, yet his forebodings are not unmixed with the rose-hued pleasure
of a day well spent. He did think of that river below him, twenty-five
feet deep, but that was an attraction. He did think of the very near
future and—but no matter; his thoughts were bright enough as he hauled
up after him a string of perch as long as his precious body, and as a
fit climax to his magnificent catch, an eel at least two and a half feet
long and thick as his captor’s arm. What a struggle he had enjoyed with
that eel before he got it to the top of the pier. His hand-line was a
hopeless snarl; twice he had come within a hair’s-breadth of going
overboard, but the unfortunate eel had succumbed to juvenile activity
and zeal. What ten-year-old could boast comparison, as with the day’s
trophies over his shoulder he plodded his way home? He felt himself an
object of interest and envy to his fellows, and told with condescension,
not arrogance, his experience with that eel.

Success will often take an old boy, let alone a young one, off his feet;
it sometimes leads to indiscretion and results in worse than failure,
and again is the cornerstone of a noble monument. That boy had fished
with success off that pier more than once, but had kept his fishpole and
had left the evidences of his disobedience at a friendly neighbor’s.
This day he marched straight home, fishpole and all. The sable ruler of
the kitchen confirmed, upon sight, the lurking apprehension that would
not down in spite of triumph.

“Ah, honey! Whar’s you bin dis livelong day? Miss Mary’s gwine to give
it to you. We’s been ahuntin’ an’ trapsin’ all ober dis here town, an’
yo’ pa—he was jes’ gwine——.”

But the “ambiguous givings out” of the sable goddess were cut short by
the appearance of Miss Mary in person. She was a stately dame in those
days, with a wealth of dark hair and with brown eyes that had in them,
ah, such a world of love for that barefoot, white-haired urchin. And she
had, too, a quiet way of talking that went right into the little
fellow’s ears and down about his heart and lingered there. No need to
ask him where he had been; she only looked at him and the fish, a
serious, yet a loving look withal, took his hand and led him in to the
head of the family. Court was at once convened.

“What _shall_ we do with this boy?”

He to whom this inquiry was addressed took in the situation at a glance.
The glance was a dark one, but it quickly showed the silver lining.

“Wash him, and give him some clean clothes.”

“But,” she remonstrated, “this will never do; he will be drowned some
day. How often must I forbid you going near the river?”

“I dun’no, mother.”

“What is that round your leg?”

“An eel skin.”

“Why did you tie it there?”

“To keep off cramp.”

“Keep off cramp! What does the boy mean?” There was a look of wonderment
in the brown eyes, and of merriment in the grey. The colored member of
the court volunteered an explanation, and wound up with the prophecy:

“Dat chile’ll neber be drownded, Miss Mary; I tell you so long as he
wear dat eel skin he’ll nebber hab de cramp, an’ he kin swim; you ha’ar
me, Miss Mary. Why, bless yo’ stars, honey, dat chile done swim dat
ribber las’ Saturday, he did; I heerd ’em tellin’ it.”

“Heard who telling it?” broke in the president.

“Why, de chillun, ob cose. Dat Buckingham boy he bantered the chile an’
took his close ober in de skiff, and Mar’s Lou, he done follered, he
did, an’ dat ribber a mile wide.”

The animated and confident manner of Jane did not lessen the anxious,
even horrified, expression in the brown eyes, but the grey were a study
as the owner drew the abashed urchin to him, with the inquiry:

“Is it true, my boy?”

“Yes, father.”

“Go bring me your fishing tackle.”

It was a sorry looking outfit—a fraction of a cane pole, about ten feet
of a common line, and an indifferent hook looped on the end. The hand
line was of better material, but a wreck—a very Gordian knot. They were
dubiously but promptly passed over for inspection.

“Throw these into the stove—and, Jane, you make kindling wood of this

“Oh, father!” The boy’s lips quivered, the eyes filled, but the owner of
the grey eyes gently held back the appealing hand that would have
rescued the precious treasures.

“Hold on, my boy; do not misunderstand; papa will trust you; you shall
have the best tackle in town.”

“Why do you deal with the boy in this way?” remonstrated the mother.

“Why? Because I myself was a boy once, and I don’t want to forget it.”

The grey eyes were the first to close—it is many a long year since—and
the old boy’s fill a little now, as he reverently thinks of that day.

But the boy drifted with the tide, over the Blue Ridge and the
Alleghenies, and twenty odd years ago he anchored in the wilderness,
where Denver now stands, to surprise you folks from down East.

Do we have fishing in the Rocky Mountains? Aye, that we do, and right
royal sport it is.

One day, nineteen years ago this summer, a neighbor came into my cabin
and wanted to know of a young married woman there if she could not spare
her Benedict for, say three days. He was fish hungry, this neighbor; was
going off into the mountains, and wanted company. Of course she could;
was glad to be rid of him. And so early next morning old Charlie was
hitched to the buckboard. At five o’clock that same day there was a tent
pitched in a little valley upon Bear creek, thirty-five miles from home,
with two pairs of blankets, a coffee pot, two tin cups and a frying pan;
not a soul or a habitation within twenty miles of us; a beautiful
mountain stream, clear as crystal, cold as ice, and teeming with trout.
What would you have, money? Why, bless your soul, money was at a
discount; there were acres of it a little way off, only for the digging.

In those days fishing tackle was scarce, and a plum-bush pole and linen
line were the best in the land. Flies were a novelty to me, but my
friend had a dozen or so, some that he had saved over from more
civilized times, and that had got out here by mistake. He divided with
me, told me to fasten one upon the end of my line and “skitter it over
the water.” This was my first and only instruction in trout fishing.
“Skittering” was as novel to me as the fish, but my Professor was a
Cambridge man with glasses, and I did not want him to feel that my
education had been entirely neglected. I took my pole and instruction in
silence, and walked a quarter of a mile up the creek. Pure instinct?
Yes, I walked up stream for the single purpose of fishing down; it came
just as naturally as swimming in deep water. I found a place clear of
bushes for a few rods, where the current swept directly into my shore
and out again, forming an eddy. I thought it a “likely place.” I gave
that plum sapling a swing and landed the fly, in which I had no
confidence whatever, just at the edge of the swirl. It had no sooner
touched the water than I saw a salmon-colored mouth, felt a tug, and the
following second my first trout was flying over my head. I deliberately
put down that pole and walked out to investigate. There was no doubt
about it; there he lay, kicking and gasping his life out on the green
grass, his bright colors more beautiful by the contrast. He was near a
foot long, and I put my hand upon him as gently as though he had been an
immortal first born. It was not a dream. When he was dead I strung him
upon a forked stick, went back to the eddy and caught three others, and
wondered if all the trout in that stream were twins. I had already
become gentler, too, even with the unwieldy plum sapling. I found their
mouths were not made of cast iron nor copper lined. By the time I had
fished down to camp, and with my ten trout, I felt equal to the business
of the morrow. My friend, of course, had better luck, having passed his
novitiate, but he complimented me in saying that I “took to it

Camping out was no novelty, but fresh trout was a revelation, and that
night we had no bad dreams under our canvas. The next evening found us
preparing nearly, what a Yankee would call, two patent pails, of trout
to take home to our friends and neighbors.

And here I am moved to say that ours is a noble fellowship; it is a
gentle craft we cultivate, one that should beget brotherly love and all
things charitable; and if any of you have, as I hope you have, a little
white-haired tot who seems inclined to follow you down stream upon
summer days, do not say nay, but let your prayer be: “Lord, keep my
memory green.”


                            OVER THE RANGE.

Of course it is never agreeable to go camping; it is not convenient to
carry about with one bedsteads, chairs, bureaus, wash-stands, bath-tubs,
and such like plunder deemed essential to comfort. And then again it is
not comfortable to live out doors like a tramp. It is either too hot or
too cold, too dry or too wet,—that is for a certain large class of
human beings. They wonder why one will forego the comforts of our
civilized ways for those of the Ute. But perhaps we may get to the
solution of the problem further on.

It was dusty when our party left Idaho for a fifty-mile drive to Hot
Sulphur Springs. Of course it was dusty; the dust was in the road, in
our eyes and mouths, throats and lungs, just for our discomfort, and the
toll-road companies were never known to keep sprinklers. So we traveled
in a cloud for half an hour, then it began to rain. Of course it did;
the first rain-storm for three weeks; we got damp, then we forgot the
dust, and were doggedly satisfied that if pleasure had not been one of
our objects in going camping it would not have rained. We got to Empire;
it rained till dark, and everybody said the rainy season had begun in
earnest; that it was liable to keep on raining for three weeks to get
even with the “dry spell,” and we went to bed feeling very much
encouraged. There is an exasperating sententiousness about the mountain
weather prophet that prevails nowhere else on the globe, I verily
believe; when he tells you what the weather is, or is going to be, you
must believe him. You dare not even express a hope that he may be
mistaken. But even this gentry, one soon begins to believe, is essential
to comfort; the weather prophet is the means of agreeable
disappointment. Our weather prophet was the most entertaining old liar
that ever contributed to the misery of a tenderfoot or the mortification
of a moss-back. The sun never broke over the eastern hills more
gloriously than on the eventful next morning; he seemed to come up in a
spirit of exultation, as if aware that the prophet at Empire had been
maligning him. But the prophet was not overcome; far from it; the
appearance of the sun was a “weather breeder,” and the cheerful old
atmospheric vaticinator swore that before we could reach the summit of
the range it would and must rain, and snow and hail and freeze and thaw
and blow and the ——. We bade him good morning sadly, and took the road
with a determination to wrest comfort, if necessary, from the worst
“spell of weather” the range could boast.

The rain of the day before was the first element to lend its influence
to the day’s enjoyment; it had sweetened the air, if Colorado mountain
air is ever otherwise; it had laid the dust, and the road was a marvel
of excellence—for a toll road; it had sharpened the fragrance of the
pines, and the wild flowers, lacking in perfume, made amends by such a
wealth of beauty that one became lost in the multitude of bright colors.

We were a happy party that rode up through the Devil’s Gate to encounter
punishment. Leaving the magnificent mass of granite cliffs reaching a
thousand feet high, and wondering if he who should follow next would
experience the same degree of veneration for the mighty pile, we began
the ascent of Berthoud Pass. We did not climb; there is no climbing to
be done, except one escapes over a precipice, and has an ambition to get
back. Strolling leisurely along, the white-capped range would, from time
to time, reveal itself through the green of the pines, while to the left
of us plunged down from the snowy heights the beautiful mountain stream,
here not degraded and a satire on its name. Its banks are fringed with
rich-colored mosses and decked with flowers, and the beautiful firs,
waved by the gentle breeze, seem to be bowing an accompaniment to the
music of the crystal waters at their feet. As we go on, the sharp ridge
of Red Mountain comes into view, guarded on the east by a monster hill,
which none of our ingenious explorers, so generous in giving names, have
condescended to dignify with a title. Its broad base washed by the
rushing torrent, its sides clothed in a mantle of living green away up
to the sharp line which marks the limit of the timber growth, and yet on
and up the eye glances over the granite, with its azure background,
until the vast pile is diademed with a fleecy cloud. It is a noble
mountain, and involuntarily I took off my hat to it, wondering if the
civil engineers, explorers, and the like, had really the monopoly of the
love and veneration for the beautiful. Red Mountain! a carmine-colored
excrescence dignified with a name, and this overtopping evidence of
God’s handiwork, like a giant overlooking a pigmy, without anything to
distinguish it from its surroundings, except its own magnificence. Well,
that is enough.

But at this rate we will never get into that “infernal spell of weather”
we are seeking. Up the gorge on the right, toward the summit, an ominous
cloud begins to creep upon the blue, and we begin to think the prophet
will, after all, command respect, but are doomed to disappointment. As
the black mass rises over the summit we notice a rift in its center,
soon it widens, goes to the right and left, the blue expands, and we are
not deprived of a minute’s sunshine. We look down into the gorge and see
the beautiful stream dancing through the firs, so far below its breadth
is shrunk to a hand-span, looking now like an emerald ribbon flecked
with white, and its rude noise dies into a gentle murmur as a turn in
the road shuts it out from sight. On and up; disappointed about the
storm nearing the summit, reaching out for the snow and the Alpine
primrose, gorgeous in crimson and royal purple; finding the flowers, but
the snow, alas that has been gone this three weeks, except a
dirt-begrimed bushel or so a few rods from the station.

It is high noon, and, for the first time, I stand upon the “backbone of
the continent,” and a good deal of a backbone it is, here only eleven
thousand four hundred and odd feet high. There must have been trouble in
the neighborhood when the continent got its back up to this extent; the
agitation experienced in the framing and signing of the Declaration of
Independence was evidently trifling in comparison. I did not look down
into the Pacific, but saw where the waters start that go that way. Never
having seen any of them before, I took a mouthful, and from my
recollection of those on the Atlantic side I thought I detected a
resemblance. The mercury stood at 55° and we had lunch, taken with a
healthy appetite sharpened by a three miles walk in the pure light air.
Among the grand mountains of the snowy range to the north, I thought I
recognized at least one familiar peak, but there was considerable
difference of opinion in the party, including Gaskill, the only resident
on the summit. This lack of absolute certainty struck me as a little
extraordinary, because everybody is usually filled with correct
information, and a mountaineer by instinct; I sighed for a tenderfoot.

Lunch concluded, we continued on our way. About three miles by the road,
down the western slope, a pretty mountain brook comes tumbling down from
the range, and on the bank, surrounded by wild flowers, I noticed an
oblong heap of stones—the rude monument of an unfortunate Swede who
perished near by early in the spring of the previous year. Frank, our
driver, told us how the ill-fated Norseman had started with a companion
from Billy Cozzens’ at the head of the Park. They carried nothing save
their blankets slung over their shoulders. It was afternoon, and they,
had “struck out” for the summit, but were met by a blinding storm; how
they succeeded in making their way to within a couple of miles of their
destination and safety, when the unfortunate, exhausted and discouraged,
sank down into the huge drifts and to sleep; how the other, stronger and
more resolute, yet powerless to arouse his dying friend, floundered back
to a deserted cabin, built a fire and kept himself from freezing, unable
to procure assistance till the following day. But when the news reached
Cozzens’ there was no lack of quick and experienced effort, though they
felt, those strong hearts, as they labored on and up through the great
masses of snow, that they were going not to the rescue of a life. They
hoped he might have been wise and strong enough to burrow into the
drifts, but they found him with one arm clasping a small dead pine, just
where his companion had left him, covered partly by the white mantle
that had proved his death and his winding sheet. They who loved him best
would not have selected a more inviting spot for his sepulture than did
those strangers.

From this Frank drifted off to an adventure of his own and his cousin
Glenn, on this same range, a few winters before. They were both mere
boys, of sixteen and eighteen, “shoeing it,” each with a light pack, and
determined to make the head of the Park before sundown. With the mercury
rapidly going down with the sun, the lads started cheerfully over the
crust and had got near the spot where the cabin was built, when, by some
accident, one of Frank’s shoes snapped in two, and he plunged into the
drift. The loss of a snow shoe at such a time and place was a mishap
that was by no means trivial. It was simply impossible to go on; to
remain, of course, was almost certain death. The boys set their wits to
work, without shedding any tears. Fortunately, one of them had several
balls of sacking twine, which he had bought and was carrying into the
Park. Upon that slender thread hung the safety of one at least. Frank
laid down on the snow, to get as much surface as possible upon the
treacherous crust, and held on to the end of the string while his cousin
went on till it was all paid out. Then the cousin slipped off the shoes,
tied them to his end, Frank drew them up to himself, get on them, went
on down past his cousin, leaving him an end of the line. When he reached
his limit, he slipped off the shoes in turn, the cousin hauled them up,
and so alternating, they worked their way down to the foot of the range,
where the trail was partly broken.

“You bet, I was glad to see that trail,” he concluded, with a smile that
had something serious in it.

On down the glorious mountain road we make our way at a lively trot,
marking the increase in the volume of the Frazier as the range is left
behind. After descending some four thousand feet or more, we enter upon
an avenue over a mile in length, straight as an engineer can run a line,
and adorned on either side with stately pines, that keep off the heat.
At the other end we discern the comfortable cabin of Cozzens, and as we
emerge from the shelter of the trees the head of the Park is spread out
into a broad valley before us, guarded by low-lying hills, while here
and there against the clear blue sky looms up an occasional snow-capped
peak. Bright colors everywhere—the green of the meadow and the darker
shade of the pine, the silver-lined leaf of the white-trunked aspen, and
flowers countless as the stars, reposing tranquilly under the slanting
rays of the afternoon sun. A picture to defy the skill of the artist,
but to fill him with admiration.

We must remain over night; of course; because the team needs a rest, and
the twenty odd miles to our destination will be an easy day’s drive for
the morrow. And to stop means fresh trout for supper and breakfast, with
nice cream in the coffee, helped out with light bread and sweet butter;
perhaps an elk steak, or a tit-bit from a mule deer cooked to a turn—“a
righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.” Besides the fortieth
parallel is to be crossed, before we reach the Springs, and the
magnificence of that must be reserved for daylight inspection.


                           FISHERMAN’S LUCK.

The distance between Cozzens’ and Hot Sulphur Springs was accomplished
without accident, and in time for dinner. Camp made, the Springs, in
which my comrade, the Doctor, took much interest, were inspected. The
curative properties of the waters have been much talked of and written
about, but not overestimated; they are helpful and invigorating for the
invalid, and a source of gratification, if not a novelty, to the
pleasure seeker. The Indians hold them in great veneration; this of
itself is a recommendation, for, as a rule, the Ute has no liking for
water. The Doctor labored under the impression that I needed a bath; a
hot bath, and said so unequivocally; besides, not to take a bath, even
if the bath took your hide, would be a violation of the sacred rule of
the place, and subject one to the charge of eccentricity. I do not fancy
eccentric people nor enthusiastic folk; beside, every acquaintance I
might meet would be sure to exclaim with marked astonishment: “What!
didn’t take a bath!” The thing would become monotonous. I consented to
take the bath.

The Doctor went ahead like one accustomed to the treatment. It was
night; the place was provided with a single lamp that made the darkness
unearthly; the fumes of the sulphur were strong and suggestive; I looked
down into the steaming pool with the trepidation that must come over a
sinner in the heat of an orthodox revival. The Doctor waded out like a
minister at the ordinance of baptism, and called to me to “come down.” I
said I was coming. I went. The steps were very firm, clean and provided
with a strong rail, but I didn’t hurry. I put one foot in and took it
out right away; when I found it was not raw I put it back, and concluded
as the Doctor was not yet parboiled I might put in the other foot; but I
did not go in a foot at a time, only about an inch. Then I asked the
Doctor what church he belonged to, and started to go out when he said he
was a Methodist. I sat down on the steps, inhaled the sulphur and looked
at him floundering round in that pool like a school of porpoises out at
sea. He told me to try it again. I said I was sleepy and wanted to go to
bed. Then he said it would make my hair grow, and I told him I didn’t
want any hair, that I had had it pulled out on purpose before I was
married. Then he said it would make me fat; I told him I was dieting to
take off superfluous flesh. Then he said he would tell what he
insinuated was generally suspected, that I was afraid of water; I told
him I didn’t care. Finally he swore that if I did not get off that perch
and come down into the bath, he’d destroy the commissaries and refuse to
show me any of the trout-pools in the Park. I was inspired to say I’d
try it again; he had been there five minutes at least and was not
cooked, and if he could stand it that long with his religious training,
I thought I might venture on as many seconds. But I made haste slowly,
got in by degrees and laid down. Then the Doctor got under the “shower
bath,” where the water tumbles, six feet or more in a great stream, into
the pool; he wanted me to try that. But I told him I was very well
satisfied where I was, and that I did not approve of shower baths, any
way; then I went on to explain to him the deleterious effects of too
much bathing, and of shower baths in particular. I talked to him as well
as I could for ten minutes, sitting the while upon the bottom of the
pool with the water up to my chin; but he would not be convinced. I
think the situation and the noise of the water-fall may have detracted
somewhat from the force of my argument. The Doctor said it was time to
get out, but having become warmed up on the subject, I deemed this a
mere evasion, and told him not to hurry; that I could convince him of
the correctness of my theory inside a half hour. He said he had no doubt
of it if I remained where I was for that length of time. He had, to some
extent, won my confidence; by his combined advice and threats he had
enabled me to realize an ideal, and at the same time be in the fashion,
and this not in the days of miracles. When I got out of that bath I felt
as I have heard men say they felt after a hard day’s work. I took my
blankets, laid on the ground and slept the sleep of godliness. Some of
those fellows whose consciences are demoralized had better try this
medicine instead of opium; it is at least a safer narcotic. One can go
to bed with better assurance that in a day or so a servant will not be
peering over the transom and finding a subject for the coroner. It is
more satisfactory, too, in such emergencies, in that it removes the
doubts of friends, if one has any, as well as of the public, as to “the
cause,” and entitles one to Christian burial.

Awakened the next day by that invaluable servant to us all shining in my
face, I reminded the Doctor of his promise concerning the trout pools.
So we were up betimes, had breakfast, the horses saddled, and with
creels capable of fourteen pounds each, and a stock of tackle sufficient
to start a store, we were off across the Grand, and over the hills for
the anticipated pleasure down stream, to a place where the Doctor was
sure no one had been. The horses of tourists and amateur fishermen
usually buck and raise the devil when starting out on such a jaunt, and
I was disappointed that the Doctor’s animal did not bow his back, go up,
and come down stiff-legged. I like to see a horse buck when somebody
else is on him, and I like to hear the man pray, if he is able, when he
feels the ground and glances round to see who is laughing at him. An
even-tempered gentleman like the Doctor would have afforded an enviable
example of Christian fortitude under such circumstances—his horse did
not buck, but led the way over the hills as quietly as a cow going out
to pasture.

We kept away from the river, traveled over high ground, and through an
upland of black sage brush that would rival the mesa between Pueblo and
Cañon. We followed an Indian trail, and followed it so long that I began
to inquire when we were to reach my much coveted destination. The Doctor
called my attention to a belt of timber some distance ahead, and said we
were “going up there.” I asked him if he expected that trout roosted
like sage hens, and informed him that if such had been his experience,
it had not been mine, and that I was going to find water. He told me to
do as I pleased, so I struck off toward the Grand—I like to be
independent sometimes. My horse went scrambling through the thick sage
brush, catching his toes in the roots and threatening to throw me over
his head every few minutes, until finally he stopped at the bank of the
river. It was fifty feet, at least, down to the water. I looked up
stream half a mile, then down to the belt of timber, and that same bank
presented itself at an aggravating angle of about ninety degrees. I
don’t like Indians, nor any of their belongings, as a general rule, but
I went cheerfully back to that trail, and quietly followed in the
Doctor’s wake. When I caught up, the Doctor said in a mild sort of way
that it was generally safe to keep on the trail. We walked our horses to
the timber and into it, the Doctor in the lead. We got about half way
round the mountain with a thousand or fifteen hundred feet of earth,
rocks and trees below us, and as many above, when the Doctor discovered
a “cut-off.” He led the way for a few rods, when a tree about three feet
in diameter barred further progress in that direction. We could not turn
round, nor could we go on, so we got off, and persuaded the horses to
climb perpendicularly fifty feet up to the trail. I was satisfied in my
mind that the Doctor was more than ever convinced of the safety of
keeping on the trail, but he did not say so to me.

We kept on to Williams’ Fork, and picketed our horses about half a mile
from the month. The Doctor then proposed that we “hoof it” over more
hills. I began to be disgusted, but was away from home and at the mercy
of this new-fangled fisherman. I didn’t know an Indian trail from a cow
path, and was as likely to get into one as the other. A trail, like the
road of a civilized brother, leads to some place, but a cow path,——. I
puffed on behind, up a high ridge of rocks, and as soon as I could get
the breath, told the Doctor I was obliged to him. We stood upon a Grand
Cañon in miniature. I want to describe it, but I can’t. After dreaming
over it awhile, the Doctor told me an incident in his experience
concerning the ledge where we had precarious foothold, looking down into
the seething waters several hundred feet below. The Doctor, Wm. H.
Beard, the artist, Bayard Taylor and a prospector and mining man came
over the trail a few years before on horseback, the Doctor in the lead,
then the prospector, and, finally, the artist and the great traveler
bringing up the rear. When the prospector passed the narrow ledge,
barely sufficient in width to allow a horseman to squeeze along, where
one has to hang, as it were, like a fly on a wall, he became conscious
that his saddle girths needed tightening. With the recklessness peculiar
to his craft, he slipped off his mule, and was engaged in the necessary
adjustment of his belly-band when Beard reached the narrow ledge and had
to stop. The first intimation the Doctor had of anything wrong came in
the way of an emphatic adjuration, that might have been heard half a
mile, for the blessed prospector to get out of that. The Doctor said he
was glad the artist was not given to profanity, though he said a great
deal to the miner that the Doctor could not understand; it did not sound
like English nor Dutch, nor any language the Doctor had ever heard, but
hurled at the head of the miner from a two-foot trail hanging over five
or six hundred feet of perpendicular granite, it seemed to have an
accelerating effect. The miner led his mule to more convenient quarters
without finishing his task, and the artist followed, not in silence,
however: he did not seem to be able to get through his business with
that miner for an hour.

Looking down into the chasm, I suggested that it did not seem
particularly “pokerish.” The Doctor said it was well enough to say so
when one was afoot, “but just try it horseback,” in that ambiguous sort
of way that always rouses one’s determination to undertake it. I did a
few days after, but in returning I led my horse.

Getting through with his anecdote, the Doctor pointed to another pile of
rocks half a mile further up the stream, and called my especial
attention to a pool beneath, which, even at that distance, placed me
under conviction that I could see trout therein, two feet long at least.
I started to get some of them. Arrived there, we shipped our tackle, and
I selected a spot under a pine-tree on one side of this pregnant pool,
while the Doctor took the other. I made a cast with an anxiety
indescribable; I knew I would have the first strike, and I did; the fly
caught in the luxuriant foliage overhead. I tried to coax the blasted
thing loose, but the more I prayed and persuaded the more obstinately
the line interlaced itself. If there is anything more exasperating than
to get a line fastened in a pine-tree, I want to know what it is; a
“picked-up dinner” on wash-day is bliss in comparison. Not being able to
untangle the line, I tried to pull down the tree; then I took a seat on
the bank and patiently renewed my leader. Meanwhile the Doctor was
threshing the peaceful waters industriously. I asked him if he had
caught anything; he said he was going to very soon, and threshed away.
When I got my line fixed I murmured, “but deliver us from evil,” and got
out of the reach of that pine, when I labored faithfully for full
fifteen minutes, till finally we scared up a trout about six inches
long. He came browsing around with his head half out of water and an
inquiring expression plainly visible in his bright eyes, then he
disappeared wiggling his tail in derision. We worked away in hope of
bringing the scaly monster once more to the surface. A second sight of
him would have been comforting; but his curiosity was evidently
satisfied. I asked the Doctor if this was one of the trout pools he had
been bragging about, and he said it was; he had always caught trout out
of that hole, and the stories he told me of the numbers he had lifted
out of that place “in the short space of an hour,” were marvelous. While
listening and trying to believe him I felt a sudden jerk at my rod. Up
to that moment I had entertained no special antipathy to stop-reels. But
with one leader unattainable in the profuse growth overhead, and another
serving as a sort of submarine union-jack to an unknown denizen of the
pool, with no prospect of satisfaction, I felt—not like Patience. The
trout must have been a monster, of course, or he never would have
snapped that gut with so little ceremony. I shall not soon forget the
sensation; it was a single and sudden blow without pause for a second
pull, as though his troutship in passing that way had snapped up that
fly and gone on about his business or pleasure, without realizing in the
remotest degree that he had done anything more than take a midge
floating on the surface of his habitation. To avoid a repetition of the
calamity, I cheerfully tied the check to a crossbar of the reel, looped
on another leader, and resumed, with an angler’s vow registered in
heaven, which I have religiously kept.

With that commendable resignation born of experience, I worked that pool
for half an hour, gave up in disgust and started down stream—the Doctor
followed in humiliation. We whipped every foot of the way down through
the cañon to our horses, but not a fin rewarded our efforts. The
forenoon was gone; I felt sorry for the Doctor; my sympathies went out
to him as they always do for the under dog in the fight. I had no heart
to express anything but unbounded satisfaction for the morning’s
enjoyment. But I believe he thinks to this day I was lying.



Did you never go fishing when a boy, and come home at the close of a
Saturday without so much as a single chub dangling on a string to
console you for the anticipated dressing because of your interdicted
absence? I have. But the chagrin of the ten-year-old is nothing in
comparison to the mortification of the middle-aged boy under similar
circumstances. However, there were no inquisitive bores in our camp. The
Doctor was determined to again try his luck in Williams’ Fork; nothing
but the remembrance of my early experience could have induced me to join

The day after our successful failure, equipped as before, we took our
way over the hills and through the sage brush, reaching our destination
about nine o’clock. The tackle was quickly adjusted, and keeping out of
the way of that infernal pine, I dropped a brown-bodied gray hackle
gently upon the placid water. The fly had hardly touched the surface,
when suddenly from out the depths there flashed an open-mouthed beauty,
and that hackle disappeared as, turning head down and revealing his
glittering side, its captor plunged again into the till then silent
pool. It made my pulse throb a little quicker, but I was not paying as
much attention to that as to the trout. He made a dart up stream with
the hook firmly fixed; I brought him gradually round and coaxed him to
the surface to ascertain what sort of a leviathan I had encountered;
then I got excited and felt that if I did not get him ashore very soon
he was not my trout. Just below the pool, ten yards or so, was a
shelving beach a few feet in length, and I gradually worked my way to
it, keeping a taut line on my bonanza. While I was doing this I
remembered having read a whole column of imagination, written by
somebody named Murray, wherein he described his “happiness” under like
circumstances; cracking bamboo and spinning silk, with a half dozen
Johns with landing nets, were the burden of his effusion, and he wound
the matter up after a three hours’ fight, with a trout seventeen inches
long, when I expected to learn at least of a ten-pound salmon lifted out
by one of the Johns above mentioned. I wanted to hit the fellow with a
club for making an ass of himself. I was hungry for trout, and inside
five minutes I had drawn my prize up to and on that gravelly beach, had
him by the gills, and he was seventeen inches flush, big as Mr. Murray’s
and no fuss about it. Just as I got my fish secured I heard the Doctor
threshing round in the willows, about two rods away, and in a moment
after he held up to my envious gaze more than a match for my capture.
Our exchange of congratulations was hurried; the Doctor cast in his
hopper; I stuck to the gray hackle, and inside half an hour I had landed
a dozen good-sized trout, and the Doctor had “yanked out” as many more.
The pool and the Doctor were redeemed; we had not quite “fished it out,”
had only taken those with sharp appetites. But that kind of success
demoralizes one for the time being, so we moved off down the creek,
trying the eddies and below the riffles; now and again dropping the fly
under the lee of the larger boulders in mid stream, with varying
success, until we reached our horses. Our creels were full enough to
carry with comfort and we started for camp, discussing the causes of the
failure of the day before, but arriving at no satisfactory solution.

The rapidity with which news of success in trouting will travel through
the various camps in one’s vicinity is somewhat singular, and is only
equaled by the celerity with which the reports of the quantity captured
is multiplied. Having more than we could consume, we gave some to our
nearest neighbor, who came over to see our catch. We learned the next
day that we had caught anywhere from twenty-five pounds to a hundred,
and I am unable to say how many went exploring for trout on the day
following. That some were unsuccessful I know, because several swore to
me that there was not even a minnow in Williams’ Fork. There was one
young gentleman in particular who appealed to me in a tone of
remonstrance after a day spent in unsuccessful labor down the Grand. He
was dressed in light drab pants, cheviot shirt, and a broad-brimmed felt
hat, the band of which was stuck full of flies of all sizes and a
multitude of colors. He had a fifty-dollar rod and a fifteen-dollar reel
of wonderful combination; his eyes, emphatic with disgust, glaring
through his glasses, he avowed there were no fish in the Park. He held
up a crimson fly that would have driven crazy any fish except a sucker,
and would have scared a sucker if sunk to his level, and wanted to know
of me if I didn’t think it a fine fly. I told him I did. He said he had
whipped five miles of water with that fly and could not get a rise. I
told him that the trout was a queer fish, and that perhaps he had better
try a blue flannel rag, and offered to give him a piece of my shirt, but
he got mad, tore around, and threatened, in popular parlance, to take
off the top of my head. Believing this to be a more painful operation
than scalping, I apologized, and the difficulty was promptly adjusted.
Then I gave him a gray hackle and told him that that was to the trout
what bread was to civilized man, a staple article of which he seldom
grew tired, or if he did, to try the brown hackle, which, still like the
bread, was a wholesome change; that if he could get neither the gray nor
the brown, then to take a grasshopper, pull off his legs and wings, and
string it upon a number six Kirby; that such a hook would take a three
ounce or a three pound trout with equal facility.

The next evening I saw my new acquaintance; his drab pants were ruined,
his rod had been shivered into kindling wood, his reel lay in a pool of
the Grand twenty feet deep. He had cast that gray hackle with a brown
body into that pool; it had been seized upon by a trout something “near
a yard long;” the angler had succeeded in landing its head upon the
rocks, then his rod gave way and he fell on the fish, rolled into the
river, lost the remains of his tackle and his hat with the flies, and
some other tenderfoot who happened providentially that way, had pulled
him out by the collar. He was happy, and said he would write to his
mother, for which I commended him. This morning I saw him following a
trail down the Grand; he had provided himself with some hackles and had
a pole cut from a plum bush. I predicted for him success or a watery

In tender consideration of the tyro in these waters, I may be permitted
to make a few suggestions as to tackle, based upon my own experience. In
the matter of lures the taste of the trout must be considered; as to all
else you may consult your own. It is well to have in your fly-books a
_little_ of everything, but of gray and brown hackles, as already
intimated, coachmen and professors, an abundance. The best reel is one
that combines lightness and durability, and is incapable of fouling your
line, no matter how negligent you may be; a click reel of hard rubber
and metal, with a revolving disk, the handle fixed upon the outer edge,
and weighing, with thirty yards of line, about five ounces, will answer
well. For lines there is, to my mind, nothing equal to the braided and
tapered water-proof silk (size F); being the best, they are the
cheapest, easily managed, and less liable to snarl or call for a tax
upon your patience. For a rod always select one of three joints; they
hang more evenly and have a “better feel.” Ash butt and second joint,
with lancewood tip; Greenheart or Bethabara; try any and all; break them
on the least provocation, which means a ten-inch trout or less, but
wreck two or three by the “yanking process,” or otherwise. Then, when
you feel that you can handle a rod with the same deftness a mother her
first-born, save up your money and buy a first-class split bamboo. When
you get it have faith in it, for if properly made it will bend, if
necessity demands, till the tip touches the butt, yet do not needlessly
try that conclusion with it; neither must you attempt to lift your fish
out of the water with it. When you have fairly exhausted your trout,
take the line in your disengaged hand; there are moments between
struggles when you can swing your catch safely to land, without a
movement on his part; when he will came out as straight as the plumb
line Amos saw. If in his struggles his troutship should clear the water,
something I never saw a trout do, bow the rod to him, of course, as he
returns, so that he may not get his unsupported weight upon the
beautiful toy. Keep a taut line upon your prey—by this I do not mean
that you should give him no line, but let the strain be steady, giving
only when you must. After the first few rushes, you may generally with
safety press your thumb upon the line, and let him feel the spring of
your rod; that will kill him quickly. The climax in the poem of trouting
is the spring of the split bamboo. In striking, remember you have not a
plum bush sapling and that it is not incumbent upon you to bail the
stream with an artificial fly; let it be done with a quick motion of the
wrist; a motion which, if you should miss the game, would move your fly
but a little way. If your catch is too large to lift out as I have
suggested, in the absence of a landing net, you can generally find a
place, always down stream, where you can safely, if you go about it
gently, snake him out, or get your finger under his gills. Much more
might be written, and what I have said is by no means new, but the
purpose is to put you in the way merely of avoiding the calamity that
befell the tackle of my acquaintance in the drab pants. Have a taste for
the sport, “let your own discretion be your tutor,” and you will work
out your own salvation more surely than by a library of directions,
remembering this for an axiom, that: The true sportsman does not go down
stream and afield for the mere love of killing something.


                          BLACK LAKE IN 1878.

Two or three years since, a couple of divines, imbued, doubtless, with a
spirit of adventure, found their way up one of the tributaries of the
Blue. They discovered a lake nestled away in the grand old hills, and in
about the last place one would think of looking for a lake. They called
it Black Lake, very appropriately, and when they made known their
discovery there were found some of those disagreeable two-legged animals
who are never surprised at anything, and who knew, of course, that “the
lake had been there all the time.” The ministers, however, took away
with them the credit of the discovery, though but few people manifested
any interest in the matter. As a result of the indifference, the merits
of the lake have been but little talked about, and when mentioned at
all, it has been treated with a sort of indefiniteness, as a place that
had been heard of, but was not known, except that it was “up there,
somewhere,” in the rugged range of the Blue. One was, and is, also,
always reminded by the would-be informant that “a couple of preachers
found it;” in that particular sort of tone that at once conveys the
impression that, because a preacher was instrumental in making the
discovery, it must be a kind of slough of despond, or an eight-by-ten
waterhole, or a beaver pond, with a few decayed water-lilies mourning
round the margin. It may be that there is much skepticism hereaway
concerning the general level-headedness of gentlemen in orders, where
our mountain scenery is involved. Your “rugged frontiersman”—to whom
these grandeurs are every-day affairs, still new every day, and not the
less revered—worships in silence, and is apt to think your enthusiast
off his tender feet the moment he opens his mouth. “There is no use
trying to do the subject justice by attempting to describe what you see.
Just look about you, realize that you are not the greatest thing in
creation, and, with a chastened spirit, go tell your friends to come and
see and worship.” So your gentlemen in flannel shirt and foxed breeches
would recommend, and they mean well. But if enthusiasm is pardonable at
all, it may be overlooked in a man fresh from his books and his daily,
dull routine, suddenly set down in the midst of such evidences of God’s
handiwork as one finds here. The ordained discoverers of Black Lake did
not, evidently, adopt the reticent method of expressing their veneration
for the grand surroundings, and their delight at the beautiful lake so
unexpectedly revealed to them. They were unquestionably very
enthusiastic, and consequently more the object of doubt. If they had
said simply: “We found a lake up there, just under the base of that
cone-shaped peak,” and pointed out the mountain, there would have been a
dozen visitors to the spot before the end of the summer. Your pioneer
would have told it that way, and that would have been notoriety. As it
was, Grand Lake, the Twin Lakes, and other known lakes in the mountains,
made Black Lake a possibility. A few have taken the trouble to go in
search of it, the Doctor, who is no tenderfoot, and myself, a little
younger, among the number.

The trip determined upon, the next step was to make preparation. The
experience of my indefatigable Mentor enabled him to speedily devise all
plans and complete them. A pack animal was at once forthcoming, and upon
it were secured four days’ provisions, a coffee pot, frying-pan, two tin
cups, a pair of blankets and a rubber poncho; the limited number of
utensils inculcating a lesson in economy—a practical illustration of
what we need and what we think we must possess to be happy. With our
four days lares and penates thus secured and armed with our fishing
tackle, a bright August morning saw us in the saddle and on the road.

The first few miles of our route were by the Indian trail, already
familiar as far as Williams’ Fork, thence up the long mesa bordering
that stream, toward Ute Mountain. Bands of antelope frequently starting
up and scampering away refuted the insinuation of another young
gentlemen in glasses and lavender pants who had been hunting up and down
the high roads for a week, within half a mile of the Springs, and
“couldn’t find any game in the Park.” The same young gentleman told me
that he had seen what he understood to be sage hens, but could not kill
them with a rifle—he must have something larger—and then wanted to
know of me if there were no “sage roosters.” I told him there were, lots
of ’em; that they were web-footed, had ruffles round their necks and
wore lavender-colored legs at this season; whereat he expressed himself
satisfied and said he would find one. I expect to see him chased into
camp some day by a mountain woodchuck—then we’ll have another bear
story. While I am writing this, that same young man is fishing in the
Grand in sight of my tent; he has waded out and is standing knee deep,
whipping the stream just where a hot sulphur spring bubbles up throwing
the steam above the surface. He, too, has a valuable rod. I wish he had
to stay there enjoying his homeopathic sulphur bath till the fellow with
the club could come along and kill him.

Looking round after the antelope resulted in our losing the trail. We
started in the direction to cross it, but, with the exasperating
contrariness peculiar to the country, traveled parallel with it for more
than a mile, and until we ran into a body of timber which the Doctor
knew the trail had nothing to do with. Then we struck off at right
angles. I told the Doctor that he was heading for camp; he said he
intended to make camp about six o’clock. I urged him not to be
discouraged, that we might yet reach our destination, and that I did not
like to be disappointed. But he trotted on, in silence, found the trail
within two hundred yards and turned into it. By this time I did not know
Ute Mountain from Gray’s Peak. We jogged on to the timber clothing the
hills on the north side of Ute Pass, crossed a little brook, left a
blind trail to the right, recrossed the brook, and in about five minutes
we were playing circus among a lot of fallen timber, with no more sign
of a trail in sight than there was a prospect of our getting out of the
blasted place inside a week. Had the devil been really a man of genius,
instead of covering Job with boils, destroying his flocks and killing
his relatives, he would some forenoon have inveigled that much abused
patriarch up a steep mountain side and deposited him in about forty
acres of fallen timber. Then when Job’s dinner-hour came round he would
have tried to get out of that, and after about ten minutes of that kind
of pastime he would have begun to realize that old Mrs. Job would be
looking for him with the same kind of disposition they keep dinner
waiting for us in these days. Just then the devil would have gained his

I ventured to ask the Doctor, while he and his horse were crawling
through a symmetrical masterpiece of accidental log-architecture, if he
knew where the trail was. I was deferential, knowing the subject of
trails was to him a delicate one. He said, of course, he knew where it
was; on the other side of the brook. Encouraged by his affability, I
then inquired why he had left it; he said there were some rough places
ahead of us, and that he wanted to drill the horses a little before we
reached them. Then I asked him if he didn’t think we had better go back
to the Springs and give me an opportunity to employ a broncho breaker to
drill my horse; he said if I did not break my dashed neck before I got
out of that I might do so. All this time I was trying to follow him
round, between, under and over dead tree, wondering what sort of
battle-field was in store for me if this was only a parade ground. We
finally, deployed by a perpendicular-horizontal-right-and-left-oblique,
gained the other side of the brook and the trail. Then the Doctor said
that we were all right, in a tone that carried conviction.

We jogged on, up hill and down, through timbered land and little
meadows, by the sides of deep gorges and under huge cliffs, now in the
sunlight and again through such dense forests of heavy firs that night
seemed to have set in, until we reached the summit of the Pass, and
looked beyond upon the massive and frowning Blue River range, riven in
mighty fissures, its sharp peaks kissing the azure sky, its great gorges
filled with the eternal snows, now rosy under the rays of the setting
sun, and over all brooding a solemn stillness that bade the heart bow in
humility and reverential awe. In such a presence if a man does not
realize his own utter insignificance, he is justified in believing that
“all things are created for him,” even office. Toiling slowly down, we
reached the Blue, now, however, yellow with the work of the gold hunter,
crossed it, and made camp before dark. After supper, and tired with our
day’s ride, we spread our blankets under the great roof fretted with
golden fire, and slept the sleep of the weary.

The sun was scarcely out of bed next morning before we were astir, and
on the road to Roaring Fork. A boisterous name, truly, and indicating
nearly five miles of cascade. Since the discovery of the lake it is
sometimes called Black Lake Creek, but the noisy name is more apt.
Crossing the Fork we followed up the right bank, without any trail, for
about four miles, at which point we deemed it advisable to camp, picket
our horses and proceed on foot. We reached the lake after a tiresome
climb of a few hundred yards, afterwards, of course, discovering a much
easier route from our camp, and over which we might have ridden the
horses to our destination.

The lake is about a mile by three-quarters in size, a narrow point
jutting out at the foot giving it somewhat the shape of a crescent.
Along the margin, when the lake is perfectly calm, the bottom seems to
shelve to irregular distances, when the light color of the crystal water
suddenly changes to a hue almost black, at once suggestive of
precipitous and tremendous depths, and which, no doubt, prompted the
giving of its name. To the left, its base lapped by this gem of the
mountains, rises a cone-shaped spur of the range with summit far above
timber-line, and its rugged clefts filled with snow. In front of you the
main range, seemingly lower only because more distant, with rocky,
snow-crowned heads overtopping the velvety-looking firs that reach down
to the western margin; and from out the dense foliage coming and
receding upon the pure air is the music of falling waters. For there is
hidden there a beautiful fall, with its source far away in front of you
in those great snow fields; in one place having a perpendicular descent
of fifty feet or more, and in another dashing and tumbling down its
precipitous bed over huge boulders for hundreds of feet, like a great
artery pouring crystal life and beauty into the little queen below. And
on the right, yet another mighty mountain, with verdant base and
snow-crowned head, sloping gradually away behind the nearer hills. It
must, indeed, have been a revelation and a glad surprise to the man who
first discovered it, as it was to us who went not to be surprised, but
for another pleasant purpose.

We found on the point of land and down near the water’s edge, a shelter
of canvass and pine boughs, a Dutch oven, tin cans empty and full, an
old pair of boots, some fishing tackle and other evidences of man’s
presence. Besides there was a boat and a couple of rafts moored to the
beach and a fish box anchored a short distance out. We contented
ourselves with looking over these desecrations, which had on first view
taken nine-tenths of the romance out of the picture, and walked back to
camp, intent only upon the quantity of trout we were to take out of the
prolific depths.

The first hour’s effort after dinner produced only disappointment. I
could see nothing of the Caliban of the Point, and was loth to touch his
property, feeling that most men under like surroundings are always ready
to grant favors and equally quick to resent a liberty. Casting the fly
from the shore resulted in only an occasional strike, while all parts of
the lake were being aggravatingly broken into circles by the leaping
trout. Finally I worked round the point toward the outlet, somewhat
disgusted but determined to exhaust all my temptations. The first cast
there, with a red-bodied gray hackle, brought an instant rise, and I was
kept busy for half an hour, the fish varying but little in size, running
from ten to twelve inches. I did not make slow work of my part of the
business, and in less than an hour had about eight pounds of the little
fellows in my creel. The Doctor had found quarters where equal success
had attended him, so far as quantity was concerned, but as usual, he had
to catch one fine fellow larger than any I could boast. The bright
salmon color of the beauty flashed upon me irritatingly not five rods
away as he was seized upon and held up exultantly by my companion.

Satisfied with our afternoon’s sport, we returned to camp with the
prospect of a wetting from overhead. The clouds continued to thicken; we
got supper—coffee, bread and trout. You of Denver, who get trout only
in the market, have yet to learn the exquisite flavor of the fish. The
first time you eat one, properly prepared, within an hour from the time
of his capture, you will wager on your ability to eat trout only, three
times a day for a month; believe me, and I am no particular lover of
fish diet either, as you may have readily concluded. The rain had not
begun yet, and the Doctor, full of resources, had improvised a shelter
out of the rubber poncho, and with our blankets spread under it, and a
bright camp fire to take off the chill of the night air, we realized the
comforts of roughing it in genuine style. But it did not rain, and we
went to sleep; I maturing ways and means to discover the owner of the
property on the Point.

About noon next day I discovered my man, in buckskin, and lost no time
in making his acquaintance. We intended to start upon our return trip at
four o’clock; as yet, that morning, I had enticed out of the lake barely
eight trout, and had but little time left to remunerate myself for a
thirty-five mile ride. He said if I would be patient till he got some
dinner he would take me out on a raft and teach me to catch trout. I
said I was willing to learn, and he asked me to dine with him, which I
did, off bread and butter and stewed blackberries with lake water for
grog, and I have made worse meals. Then we went down and got on board
one of those rafts; it was constructed of four logs each about six
inches in diameter and eight feet long, held together by cleats and
wooden pins—a rollicking craft to put to sea in. Notwithstanding its
questionable appearance, I took my seat on a soap box to which I was
invited, and my chaperone seized his paddle and pushed the machine from
the shore into deep water. I would rather it had not been so deep, and
as I tried to see bottom and couldn’t, I thought it would be less
disagreeable to drown in ten feet of water than two hundred—your
friends could find your precious remains so much easier, and would not
be debarred the luxury of a funeral. While there was conviction in the
assurance of the captain that “the old thing” was safe, I nevertheless
handled myself gingerly. I cast my fly upon the waters with immediate
success. The skipper, inspired by my example, dropped his paddle, and
attempted competition. After a few minutes of unavailing effort, during
which time I had all I could attend to, he looked down at me with a
puzzled expression in his gray eyes, and exclaimed:

“Why, Mister, you beat all the men to catch trout I ever see; what kind
of fly you got?”

I gave him the infallible gray hackle with the red body; he took it
doubtingly, while I bore my honors meekly. After landing half a dozen
trout in quick succession, the doubter again broke silence:

“I say, Mister, have you got any of them flies to spare?”

I told him I had, and he was happy.

The Doctor had gone round to the inlet upon our arrival in the morning,
and was apparently busy when I started on my voyage. We were about an
hour in reaching him, when he informed us that he had all he could
carry. My own creel was nearly full, and before we got back to our
starting point it was running over, and I dropped the surplus in the
fish-box with which the raft was provided, that the skipper might be
helped, as he was fishing for market, and doing it in a legitimate way.

I had flattered myself that in previous years, in some of our virgin
streams, I had enjoyed the sport, but the hour and a half spent upon
Black Lake demonstrated that, as to the race against time, my previous
seasons had been failures. A man under such circumstances is tempted to
make a “trout hog” of himself, and I told my new acquaintance that I’d
like to stay with him a week.

“Just fetch your traps right up here, Mister, I’d be mighty glad to have
you,” was his cordial response. But I was obliged to decline; it was too
much of a good thing.

That afternoon the Doctor and I again made our camp on the banks of the
Blue. I had had three days of genuine enjoyment, but when I laid down
that night the heavens were overcast. We were to experience the felicity
of sleeping with the rain pelting on us. I wished for a tent, a tree, a
clump of willows, but it was too late; we had made our bed and must lie
in it; there was no shelter anywhere, nor even the means to erect the
poncho, so we spread it on top of us. When the drops began to fall, I
pulled it over my head, and as they came thicker and faster, thought of
“The Rain on the Roof,” and in about half an hour felt a chill on my
weather side, put my hand down to straighten the cover and felt a pool
of water. It crept up that side and under me. I told the Doctor of my
condition. He said it was nothing; that it would do me good, in fact. I
told him I thought I’d get up. He wanted to know where I would go. I
said I did not know. Then he advised me to go to sleep. I asked him if
he was under water, but he said he was dry as a bone and warm. I offered
to change places with him, but he said he was sleepy, and that I had
better say my prayers and go to sleep as he was about to do. I thought
of all I had heard of the danger of damp sheets, of rheumatisms,
fevers—chills I had—colds, and other ills resulting from such
exposure; then of the men who had slept that way and lied about the
comfort of it; then I wished it was day, and wondered how many hours I
would have to lie there; then I felt that Coates Kinney was a fraud, and
his “Rain on the Roof” a satire, and registered a vow that if I ever
allowed myself to be again caught in such a d—amp fix, I hoped some
fellow would hit me with a club; then I went to sleep, and awoke at
sunrise. I would have had no reluctance in moving about had my clothes
been dry, but the sensation to me of the clinging garments was—well, we
kindled a fire; I got a cup of hot coffee under my waistband and felt
better, and have been feeling better ever since. We reached the Springs
about four o’clock, tired, of course, but with the memory of a four
days’ jaunt to look back upon that half-a-dozen rainstorms could not
wash out.


                           EGOTISM AND—RODS.

A writer in _The Angler_, I think, apologized for giving his personal
experiences, in that they savored of egotism. To my mind he should not
have done so. What a world this would be if every man kept his personal
experience to himself.

Egotism may not perhaps be a cardinal virtue; but good may come out of
Nazareth. One’s personal experiences are more novel than romances; the
egotist need not necessarily be a follower of Des Cartes. If my egotism
affords a brother a few moments’ pleasure, or he is in any way profited,
then my life has not been a total failure.

Then, again, what is the use of apologizing for a universal weakness. If
we do not talk about ourselves, we are always tickled to have others
talk of us, and many would rather be abused than not be noticed at all.
Doubtless vanity and egotism are at the bottom of most of the good
things of this life, just as discontent is the father of perfected

De Quincey would make a martyr of Judas; looked at from the De Quincey
stand-point, Judas was a broad-gauge man. If so eminent a scholar may
make a nobleman but of the King of Traitors, as we have been taught to
regard him, certainly one, even so poor as I, may take up the cudgels in
defense of mine own and my brother’s folly. I flatter myself, too, that
I should be more successful in carrying conviction than the learned
author of “murder considered as a fine art.” He combated a prejudice; I
should tickle the tender side of nine out of ten—if the nine would only

The pronoun I is the straightest letter in the alphabet; the only one
independent of curves or angles for support; for this reason it is
entitled to every man’s respect.

But I do not intend to enter into a defense of egotism at this writing;
this is only to express a willingness to enter the lists should occasion
demand, and to admonish the man who would deprecate egotism that he
himself is full of that commendable weakness. I wish to give my
experience, a very limited one, with rods.

An immediate change from a three pound plum bush pole to an esthetic
split bamboo rod of a few ounces would drive a man crazy. It would be
like putting a delicately turned Kirby into the hands of a pot hunter of
the stone age. As the Kirby would compare with a bone sharpened at the
ends, and a hole in the middle for the raw hide line, so the little
bamboo with the plum bush. No doubt the prehistoric angler and his
descendant of the nineteenth century would look, if they could, each
upon the implements of the other with curiosity and utter lack of faith.
But faith comes with education, and when the labor of learning is a
labor of love, education becomes easy.

My experience with the plum bush was not satisfactory. Early in the
“sixties,” depending on ox teams for bacon and flour, fishing rods were
not counted as merchandise or articles of freight. Necessity therefore
required, that, to indulge my liking, I must exert my skill, so that
when I got back from Bear creek and my memorable first trouting, I made
a rod; my first rod.

A piece of pine for the butt, cedar, straight grained and without flaw,
for the second joint. A well selected hickory whip handle furnished the
timber for a tip. A jack knife, glass and sand paper served for tools;
and excellent tools they are with patience for capital.

I shall not say how many days I exhausted in working up those three
sticks into satisfactory shape.

As to mounting, I had neither tools or metal, nor the genius of Tubal
Cain, so I applied to a tinker of watches, made known my difficulty, and
he fitted me out with two sets of ferrules and half a dozen guide rings
for the modest sum of seven dollars in gold dust.

Drug stores and whisky shops get to the frontier with equal facility, so
there was no scarcity of oil, shellac and alcohol. The wrapping of the
rings was followed by the oil and shellac, and when I strung that rod
together, and, in the privacy of our cabin, submitted it to the
inspection of the madam, it was pronounced “just perfect.”

The verdict was no less delightful than the rod and the jury of one.

During the winter that marvel of excellence and beauty was subjected to
weekly examinations and comment. The anticipated pleasures of the coming
summer, because we were “both going,” were the prime subjects of evening
conversations over the kitchen stove. There never had been, nor could
there ever be, vouchsafed to any other couple the amount of enjoyment
banked up and ready to draw upon, than was stored away during that
memorable winter, and the rod was the pole star, so to speak. Everything
pointed to that. But disappointments make life worth living; while they
are sometimes severe, there is yet a genuine pleasure in setting one’s
foot on their necks.

I never flourished my master-piece of mechanical skill over anything
save the weeds and the few straggling vegetables that decorated our back
yard. The rod was too good to keep. I lost it early, just as the good
children die.

I had, and yet have, a friend, whom I’ll call Sam, because that is his
name. About a month before the time fixed for our departure to the
hills, Sam came over and told me I had a fishing rod, as though I had
been the only man in town unacquainted with the fact. He said he wanted
to borrow it for a few days, he wanted to go fishing and hoped I’d
accommodate him! Think of loaning your watch to a two-year-old for a day
or so. He promised, of course, to bring it back in good order; I
expected no less—than the promise, I mean, and cheerfully allowed him
to walk off with it. I never saw it again, but I am glad to say I saw
Sam. He came back in about a week; there was nothing the matter with
him, his bones were whole, he hadn’t got drowned, nor been bitten by
rattlesnakes, nor chased by bears, nor clawed by mountain lions, nor
lost his scalp. The mosquitoes had been a little troublesome; there was
some comfort in that, but not enough to speak of. He had come over to
see me, he said, about “that fishing rod.”

“Yes, the fact is, I found an old friend on South Boulder, and he took
such a fancy to that rod, that I could do no less than make him a
present of it. It’s a splendid rod, that’s a fact, and I don’t know
exactly how I can replace it, just now; I’m sorry you’re disappointed at
my not returning it, but I don’t see—”

We were not a very ceremonious community in those days, though kindly
disposed. At the outset I was on the point of telling Sam to say his
shortest prayer, if he had more than one, but changed my mind and told
him not to say any more about it. It was some time before he would be
convinced that I was not mad.

That summer I fished with a clear conscience and a plum bush pole and
had a good time.

By the time the season was over Sam came round again. He brought with
him a rod; it had four joints and an extra tip; it was of ash and lance
wood. Sam had sent to the states for the treasure by ox team, and had
ordered a reel in addition. These he informally turned over to me, still
doubtful of my condition of mind. I tried to make him understand that
from the first I had felt that his love for me had prompted him to treat
my property as his own. He finally caught the idea, and the first trout
I caught on that rod was twenty inches long.

I have the rod yet, with one of the original tips; I have used it every
summer since; if no accident happens it may last forever. A few years
since I changed the reel seat, put the whole concern through a
whip-wrapping machine, and think I have improved it. I have never
weighed it, and I do not intend to say how many pounds of trout it has
been fatal to. In accordance with the frontier rule “she” has a name:
“the old reliable.”

Since the rod has been put into shape for this summer’s trip I have been
made happy—No! it’s not a new baby, but the next thing to it—a split
bamboo. I have it in my mind, that an old fellow capable of being made
the recipient of a split bamboo, a genuine split bamboo (the donor for
my guaranty), with the name of the maker upon it as a warrant to all the
world, will be elevated in your estimation. I am that he. With this poem
in my hand I yet felt as of the stone age. I have not been educated up
to this standard. I don’t know what to do with it. I never felt just
exactly the same way but once before, that was a little short of a year
after I was married, and I thought I had got used to that sensation, but
when my generous friend put into my hands this miracle of grace and
artistic skill, the old feeling came back, and I was “two inches
taller.” That, I believe, is the orthodox expression for such occasions.

It is said that hope ends in fruition; except in the matter of babies
and split bamboos, I believe this to be true.

If you are bored with this effusion, lay it to my split bamboo, upon
that hint I spake; for the rod, you know, is an emblem of affliction,
save in your own hand.



Tony Weller tells us of a friend he had, who, becoming misanthrope, went
for revenge and kept a “pike,” in this country, commonly called a
toll-gate. The frequency of toll-roads and the rates of toll in Colorado
would make the state a paradise for misanthropes. One gate may be
located every ten miles, so the law provides, and you are sure to find
them if you travel ten miles on any road. Some fellow has said that all
roads lead to Rome, but in this country all roads lead to turnpikes. It
was a delightful conceit of old Tony’s, but if I wanted to reach the
seventh heaven of revenge I’d hunt out a location on any road five miles
from a toll-gate and open a house of entertainment for man and beast.
The entertainment for the beast would be a mere poetic license, a sort
of wild fancy, and consist of illimitable acres of rocks and pine brush;
a picket pin and a lariat, if the beast was to grow gaunt. Leave out the
picket pin and the beast would entertain himself by running away; but it
would be my custom, nevertheless, to charge fifty cents per head “all
the same,” and get it, because no one in this country ever thinks of
disputing the landlord’s demands. I’d say to you, “Thar was the pastur;
you turned your hoss in thar; ef he’s strayed, that’s your lookout, not
mine; I’ll claim a lien on the one that’s left, for the feed of both.”
The law allows it and the court awards it. No use to suggest that the
horse may not have been in the “pastur” half an hour; “the pastur was
thar, prepared for the hoss, and ef the hoss strayed, that’s your
lookout, not mine.” If you were reasonable I would give the remaining
horse the run of the “pastur” and charge you for it while you hunted up
the stray. If you’d “kick” there might be trouble, and trouble under the
circumstances in this country might be serious. But the cream of the
business of wayside entertainment would be in the cooking, and the
results of it thrown together for the man. I’d fry everything; would
rack my ingenuity for a method of frying the chicory. Two dishes for
flitch and potatoes, rolling-prairie-dried-apple-pie and griddle cakes
would be a red-letter day in the calendar of any tenderfoot who chanced
my way. If a man hinted at a teaspoon to eat his blasted blackberries,
I’d wither him with a glance of my frontier eye, and ask him if he
thought I kept a Denver restaurant. Tony Weller’s friend no doubt did
the best “according to his lights,” and opportunities, but the
capabilities of my plan, with study, are boundless. Imagination runs
riot on the theme, and the only wonder to me is that some fellow,
misanthropically inclined, has never adopted this method of making his
fellows happy. Perhaps there are no misanthropes in Colorado. At least I
am away from them, toll-roads and wayside houses; in the land of the
mosquito and the trout; and the meadow larks perch upon my tent top and
“give salutation to the morn,” by conjugating the to them familiar Greek
verb—at least it strikes me so.

Mosquitoes are among the blessings of this life; they prepare us for the
robes of immortality, by teaching us patience under affliction. If there
is anything I love better than a mule, it is a mosquito. There is poetry
in his flight and music in his song. Never having concealed my love, I
think it got abroad and preceded me this trip. I found him and his
family here, on the banks of the Troublesome; there is quite a number of
him, so to speak, and he keeps one’s five senses actively employed at
once, while he inculcates prudence and fortitude. I met a man from the
mouth of Troublesome, and he told me he had seen but one mosquito, and
“he was very wild.” That is the one I have been looking for; I long to
cultivate him, on the same principle that a fellow wants the girl, not
the whole family. The Mississippi gallinipper is adolescent compared to
the Troublesome mosquito. Yesterday I saw one stick his bill into a
gallon jar and take a drink without any apparent effort. If I had
anticipated the pleasure, I would have borrowed some foils and got up a
few fencing matches. I wouldn’t under any consideration suggest
broadswords or cavalry sabres, for that might prove dangerous. I am
maturing a plan to submit to the Secretary of War, whereby I think the
mosquitoes of this immediate vicinity may be advantageously organized in
a campaign against the Utes. Judiciously maneuvered, they’d exterminate
the Indian. West Point can boast of no such natural drill-masters. Their
individual proficiency in this regard makes me itch to present my
project to the department at Washington. All they need for effective
service is regimental discipline, and I have no doubt our
representatives in Congress can find some of their unemployed military
constituents at the Capital who would prove excellent and willing
disciplinarians. Salary, of course, would be of no consequence; love of
country, something to do except turning up their toes in her service,
would be ample pay. The more I reflect upon this project of mine, the
better I think of its possibilities, and, but that this world is given
to ingratitude, the debt that Belford and our two Senators would owe me
for thus opening one channel for their relief would be great. I believe
“there’s millions in it.”

But how about the trout fishing? you ask. Well, the trout fishing is
good. I have met the usual tourist, with cod hooks, chalk lines and
wagon poles, with an occasional hatful of highly colored flies; the
fellow with the hundred dollar rig and helmet hat, apparently all “fly,”
and I have seen them belabor the beautiful Grand for a mile at a
stretch, my mind dwelling on murder. The “swish” of their poles through
the air sounds like the sough of an amateur cyclone, and the fall of the
lines upon the water as though some indignant father were having an
interview in the woodshed with his first born, and nothing handy but a
quarter strap. Could the fishing be otherwise than good? Good for the
fishermen because it gives them plenty of exercise, and as half at least
of the pleasure of this life is made up of anticipation, these fellows
keep thinking all the time that they are going to catch something, and
they do—cold. Good for the trout because they are never caught, and
good for the sportsman who knows their ways, though they be like the
“way of the serpent upon the rock”—past finding out. The instinct of
the trout is akin to the sense of the human sucker, and I have sometimes
wondered if they did not entertain a pretty fair idea of our lunatic
asylums, and gain the impression that at certain seasons there was an
exodus; that the inmates escaped into the wilderness and deployed along
the mountain streams; that these people were the descendants of farmers
and laborers opposed to the probable innovations of threshing machines,
and esteeming the ancient flail above all other methods, thus expressed
their hallucination. It requires no stretch of the imagination to thus

There is no genuine enjoyment in the easy achievement of any purpose;
there is no bread so sweet as the hard-earned loaf of the man who works
for it. The rule holds good in the school of the sportsman. The fellows
I have been writing of, had they their way, would become mere engines of
destruction; they would catch, not for the pleasure of catching, but
because they could, and a universe of trout would not satiate them.
Sportsmen are not made of that kind of material. A little horse sense
goes a great way in all things, trouting not excepted; it is an
indispensable foundation to success. Avarice must be ruled out; your
genuine angler has none of it, but will insist on his neighbor having at
least as good as he, if not better.

I said awhile ago that I was away from toll roads and wayside houses of
entertainment. I’m stopping with a friend, a genuine angler, whom I have
seen walk in the wake of one of those threshing machines, with a rod
light as a buggy whip, and with a twist of the wrist drop a fly upon the
water thirty or fifty feet away, and as it settled gently down, as falls
the snowflake upon the bosom of the stream, there would come a rush and
struggle that denoted the fishing was really good to him who had
achieved the art of casting a fly. He is no seeker after distinction,
and I shall not give you his name. He does not read Horace, nor does he
understand the thirty-nine articles of the established church, as some
of our amateur Christians do, but he knows how to treat his friends,
which is better. I had been tickling my vanity with the belief that I
knew something about trout fishing, but I have found out that my
acquirements were, by way of comparison, merely with the escaped
lunatics. He sends me out to “take the cream off” a pool, or out of it,
and when I’d be ready to swear there was not another left, he’ll make me
bear witness to my own lack of faith by striking as many, if not more,
than I had brought to creel. He thinks I’ll learn to handle a fly rod
after awhile, and I have hope; besides I am learning to cultivate all
the virtues. Think of me with the mercury at seventy or more at high
noon, rubber boots with tops to my hips, thick breeches, woolen shirts
and a duck coat, my intellectual head swathed in a net and my horny
hands encased in buckskin gauntlets, a ten-ounce fly rod, and ten pounds
of trout brought to basket at my back, perspiration exuding in streams;
outside that net nine thousand mosquitoes to the square inch, yet I’m
happy—going to school, and have the best of the vermin.



Hot weather is pleasant to have—in Denver—and I didn’t escape because
of hot weather. But I have lived there a long time and know a number of
people, and every time I met a fellow on the street he was sure to say:
“Hot, ain’t it?” Five minutes after, if I met the same man, he would
pull off his hat, mop his head with a handkerchief, and as if it had
just occurred to him, tell me the same thing, with an emphatic prefix.
By way of change it is interesting to see a couple of fellows meet on
the sidewalk, shake hands, and hear them tell each other “it’s hot.” The
amount of information mutually imparted is gratifying, and makes one
think, at first, that life is worth living. But when this delight is
experienced a hundred times a day for a couple of weeks, one begins to
sigh for the old stand-by: “What’s new?” “Nothing.” The monotony becomes
exasperating, and even one not given to profanity stands in imminent
peril of falling into the prevailing habit. Shakespeare, Mother Goose,
or some other mortal plethoric with wisdom, has informed us that evil
associations corrupt good manners. I was being led astray; I knew it, in

The air was becoming thickly freighted with expletives; heat and
profanity, as I had been taught to believe, before “the new version,”
were inseparable. The maternal admonition came back to me in all its
bitter sweetness, and I had the fortitude to shun the temptation. In the
classic language of this age, “I lit out” for lighter air and a purer
atmosphere; I did not find what I wanted until I got beyond Golden. When
the train entered the cañon the sublime grandeur of—but I promised not
to say anything about Clear Creek Cañon, as that has been written about
once before. I took it all in, however, cinders included; all except
“that mule.” I have never been able to find “that mule.” Several years
since I was advised of the existence of “the mule,” and though I firmly
believed at the time that my informant was only trying to make himself
agreeable, I have, upon every occasion, faithfully looked out from the
mouth of the cañon to Beaver Brook for the picture of that much-abused
hybrid. The nearest approach to success in my efforts was a spotted cow,
three years ago, browsing among the rocks—but she is not there now.

At Dumont a friend of mine climbed on the train, and the first thing he
said to me was: “It’s hot in Denver.” He did not speak interrogatively,
but the remark was affirmative, in a tone of defiance. I asked him if he
had ever heard of Billy the Kid. He said he had and that he was dead. I
told him that was a mistake, “He is not dead,” said I, “he’s on the
train with me. I have hired him to go as far as Empire to kill the first
man who says the word ‘hot’ to me. There he sits,” and I pointed to our
very sedate fellow-townsman, Judge ——, who sat behind us deeply
immersed in a formidable bundle of law papers.

“The devil!” said my friend.

“Yes, he is, and a dead shot; let me introduce you—come.”

“Excuse me, my wife is in the other car, just up from Denver, and I
havn’t seen her for a week. Some other time I’ll be happy.”

I do not understand why it is that this generation is so given to lying.
That friend of mine is not married, and he must know that I am aware of
it; yet he slid out of the car with all the bustle of a conscientious
man of family. In fact he was too anxious, except for a Benedict in the
honey-moon. When he left I went over and sat down by the Judge. In the
meantime the latter had folded up his papers and wanted to know of me,
first thing, if I had ever read Pompelli or some other fellow, who had
traveled in Abyssinia, where the mercury stood habitually at 150°, when
you could find a shady place for the thermometer; where the natives cut
steaks out of the live oxen, sewed up the wounds and cooked the meat in
the sun; where these same natives went about naked with raw hide
umbrellas, and each fellow carried a pair of tweezers in his pocket to
pull the cactus thorns out of his feet. While being entertained with
these veracious statements, I discovered that our car had suddenly
become quite full, and that the Judge and I were objects of interest.
Just then the engineer sounded the whistle for Empire, and I gathered up
my creel and grip-sack of commissaries, and made for the door. As I got
off the platform I heard one passenger tell another that “the reward is
$2,000,” and as the train started on I noticed the Judge in animated
conversation with a burly fellow whose prominent features were a heavy
moustache and a square jaw. The Judge is a good man—physically, I
mean—but I shall not see him again for a month, and if it comes to the
worst, roughing it in the hills has a tendency to take off flesh and put
on muscle. I take comfort in the reflection.

At Empire I found my conveyance awaiting me—a light wagon and a pair of
playful mules; little fellows with coats of satin and gentle eyes. Some
fellow would say they had “sinews of steel,” but these mules were not
built that way; they were the natural sort. I dearly love a mule, and
were I a poet, would write a sonnet to a mule’s eye. I admire a mule’s
eye; always feel interested in that portion of his anatomy, and, as one
likes to be in the vicinity of that which is pleasing, so I, when I have
any business with a mule, find his head the attractive feature. These
mules behaved remarkably well; they took us to the top of Berthoud Pass
in about three hours, and climbed over each other only twice during the
trip. That, however, was only in playfulness; they pretended to be
frightened, in one instance at a laborer’s coat lying by the roadside,
and in the other at an empty fruit can. I thought on both occasions that
the mountain side was steeper, the gulch ever so many million feet
deeper, and the road narrower than any other place I had ever been in.
But as the mules were only in fun, I did not feel scared. After the
first exhibition of hilarity the driver told me that the last stranger
who rode behind those mules had his neck broken by jumping out of the
wagon. I know the driver to be an innocent young man, unversed in the
wicked ways of this world, and it was comforting to be in congenial

On the summit Captain Gaskill handed me his thermometer. I don’t know
why he did it; I had not said anything about the temperature. But I saw
the mercury rise in the tube the moment I touched it; I told him to take
the blasted thing away or I would melt right there; with my heavy
overcoat on I would have been a mere spot in ten minutes. He hung the
agitator on the side of the house, and it registered 45°. I felt cool,
and he took me to the fire. No one that I know of except Hamlet’s father
has returned to give us any authentic information from beyond the sea;
and how it was ascertained that “in the twinkling of an eye” we mortals
should realize the end of our journey from this shore, I am not prepared
to say. But I can vouch for the fact that it was just eight hours from
Denver to happiness. If dissatisfied humanity demands a country better
adapted to its wants than Colorado, it will have to die to find it.

Upon a former occasion several years ago, I took upon myself to say
publicly through the columns of a Denver daily, that I thought Coates
Kinney’s “Rain on the Roof” a satire. But the night before I had lain in
a pool of water on the banks of the Blue with nothing between me and the
angry heavens except my prayers for daylight; they, of course, were thin
but earnest. This night, however, I had, as the preacher used to say, “a
realizing sense” of the effect of surrounding circumstances, repented me
of my harsh verdict, and hope to be forgiven. I had supper, a not
uncommon event on the top of the range at this particular point. Thanks
to the mules (they had allowed me to walk a mile or more) and the light
air, and wholesome food well cooked, and the obliging host and his wife
(think of their hibernating, the snow level with the ridge-pole, and
never a soul to visit them except the mail carrier on snow-shoes), I had
an appetite, and made good use of it, while the clouds gathered outside
for a jubilee. After supper came the indispensable pipe and chat, and
then to bed, right under the rafters, with the rain pattering on the

                   “It seemed as if the music
                     Of the birds in all the bowers,
                   Had been gathered into rain-drops
                     And was coming down in showers.”

There is only one line of Kinney’s poem that ever troubled me (the
foregoing is not his):

                    “Then in fancy comes my mother.”

When I was a boy I didn’t fancy my mother coming around my bed after I
had crawled into it. It meant something besides prayers for me; we had
hard timber in the country where I was born and bred,—how pliant the
young twigs were! Coates must have been a good boy, especially with such
a name; I can solve the mystery in no other way. But all that about

                    “With her eyes delicious blue,”

will do “passing well,” except the color; mine were not blue, and she
played the same game on me.

With the “patter of the soft rain overhead,” I soon forgot all about the
thermometer and the other misfortunes, being wrapped in—forty pounds of

Having gone to bed, it is a very good place to stop; and as to the trip
down to the Springs, if those mules give me any trouble I will let you
know about it.


“The morn, in russet mantle clad, walks o’er the dew of yon high eastern
hill.” That was my matutinal orison as I tumbled out of bed at
Gaskill’s. The air was fragrant with the perfume of the pine, and the
hardy wild flowers were brilliant in liquid diadems. Some other fellow
would say that he ”drank in the life-giving tonic“; but I don’t drink,
so I breathed it, with my head out of the garret window, and felt as
though this world has some things to enjoy, and that fresh air is one of
them. The blue seemed nearer, and as I looked over into the Park, and
over the fir-crowned hills to the majestic piles of granite, everywhere
set off with a background of azure, I felt as though there was a mistake
somewhere in my make-up. I ought to have been born with a gift to make
the whole world feel as I did then—happy but humiliated among these
magnificent monuments of Divine greatness. I’m not a self-made man,
that’s the trouble; if I’d had the ordering of it, I’d have got up a
success. There is nothing like success, even in a fraud, until it stands
face to face with such evidences of the sublime handiwork as I looked
out upon that bright morning; then the “uses of this life” seem “flat,
stale and unprofitable,” as we use them.

But I must not forget the mules. Gaskill has a couple of cinnamon bears,
in a room at the end of the barn. I can’t say that the Devil got into
the mules, because the Devil is now ruled out; without a hell to put him
in, he is no longer of any earthly use. I am sorry to lose him, because
under certain circumstances I am a believer in intimidation; it is
wholesome. I have known a single quiet and orderly hanging in a summary
way, to make a neighborhood that would have terrorized Satan himself, as
nice and well behaved as a community of Quakers. I heard one of our
Denver preachers once say—and we all loved him—that there was “a
certain class of mortals whom it was necessary to take by the neck and
choke before they could be made ready for conviction.” The Devil has
always been useful for that purpose, and I think he could be made
available yet.

But I started to say something concerning those mules. The Devil, as I
have said, did not get into the mules, but they got scent of those
bears, and I venture the assertion that the bears discounted the Devil
in his palmiest efforts, as heretofore reported. To speak without
exaggeration, those mules were frightened; the bears were in their
heads, heels, hair and eyes; inside and out, above and below, and all
around, were bears. To those mules, it rained bears, and the atmosphere
was pregnant with bears about to be delivered. If those mules had been
human I would have thought it the worst case of delirium tremens that
ever racked a diseased imagination. As the driver expressed it: “they
was plumb crazy.” There was no crookedness about it; they were
frightened horizontally as well as straight up and down, as I suppose
the driver meant to be understood. It is impossible for me to tell what
they did or attempted. They seemed capable of any extravagance except
dying. I like to ride after mules in that condition; there is something
exhilarating in dashing down a mountain road with one’s hair
straightening out behind as though it would disappear by the roots;
careening around short curves and making lightning-like estimates of the
thousands of feet to the bottom of the gulch; picking out the softest
rocks upon which to fall; flying over boulders and becoming entangled in
tree tops fifty feet in the air, there to remain a torn and wretched
monument of indiscretion. It wouldn’t be much of a monument, but enough
to tell the tale. I thought how grand it would be, and told the driver
that I preferred to have him pick me up whole some distance down the
road; I felt confidence in my ability to control my own legs; the air
was just right for a brisk morning walk; besides, much of the pleasure
of the ride would be denied me by reason of my not having any hair to
speak of that might stream in the wind. I made these suggestions and
started. I believe the driver thought I was afraid to ride after those
mules; but that was a mistake. I intended to ride after them provided
there was anything to ride in when he should catch up to me, if he ever
did. About two miles down the range I sat on a log and waited for the
wreck. Presently I heard the rumbling of the wagon; soon it came in
sight, the driver sitting at his post singing, as well as the roughness
of the road would permit: “I want to be an angel.” I certainly thought
he did, and asked him if the mules had not tried, at least, to run away,
when they were being harnessed.

“Oh, no; they was too bad scared. You see, when they get that way they
want to stay right with me; a mule is an obstinate cuss, you know, and
only runs away for fun.”

Just then the ears of the off mule stuck out straight as the prongs of a
magnified clothes pin, and she began to dance. This time it was a ground
squirrel, not much larger than a lead-pencil. But the brake had to come
down before the mule did. Shortly after, the nigh mule went through a
like performance for a similar cause, and then they both waltzed to the
music of the Frazier. I was sorry when we got as far as Cozzens’,
because there it was plain sailing, with plenty of room to turn round
and run away in, and yet those delightful mules trotted right along
twenty-two miles to the Springs, regardless of gophers, old clothes, tin
cans and two badgers. If Gaskill’s bears had got in the way, I firmly
believe those mules would have trotted over them, or kicked them out of
the road. Kick! They could kick in pure cussedness. “I should say so.”

A mule is a natural kicker, as a rule, but this pair had so improved
upon nature’s gift, by constant practice, that they had reduced the
accomplishment to an exact science. “They can fetch anything they go
for, from a gnat on a stall post to a self-confident hostler.” “The nigh
mule can take a fly off her right ear with her nigh hind foot.” I can’t
describe how she does it, not having seen the feat performed, but the
driver explained it to me so that I understood it. From my confidence in
the veracity of the driver, but especially from my knowledge of the
mule, I am ready to be sworn. But it is about time these mules were

We have the usual complement of campers and tourists in the Park this
season. The former are mostly of our own mossbacks; but it will not do
to call the tenderfoot by any less dignified title than a tourist. I saw
one of the latter start out the other morning for a day’s sport. He had
a rifle and a shot-gun, a game-bag, a fishing rod and creel; he remarked
to me, as he climbed up on the off side of his horse, that he was pretty
well fixed for a day’s campaign. I told him I thought he was, but
suggested that he ought to take along a bass drum to beat up the game,
and, do you know, the fellow got mad and made me apologize. If he had
only kept me in front of his infernal arsenal, I never would have
modified my suggestion, but he threatened me over his shoulder, and that
looked dangerous. He came back at night, to my surprise, but brought
neither fish, flesh nor fowl; it is perhaps needless to say he was the
only disappointed party in the Park.

A strict enforcement of the game and fish law would be an advantage to
this vicinity. The Park is easy of access, and when the railroads, or
either of them now under construction, shall be completed, the Park and
its surroundings, a very paradise for sportsmen, can be made the most
attractive resort in the state. Why, it is worth a day’s journey to sit
where I do now, under the shadow of a pine whose every sigh in the cool
breeze is freighted with fragrance, and feast on the massively beautiful
scenery. A foreground of a mile or two of meadow rich in green and gold;
the beetling lava cliffs on the left, and the brown hills, studded with
great piles of granite, sloping gently down to the margins of the Grand.
The noble stream flecked with silver, rolling majestically along and
keeping time to its own melody, while away beyond lies the range for a
background, with Long’s Peak, o’ertopped with fleecy clouds to serve him
as a diadem, to be changed to a turban of rainbow tints for evening
dress. And the sunsets that gather about the head of the rugged giant!
You who view them from the other side should sit under the shadow of
Mount Bross and see the cloud tints that crown His Majesty. Your view
from the eastern side shows but the work of a tyro; from this the
accomplished task of the master. If I had the gift I spoke of, you
should see it as I do; as it is, there is nothing left but to come over
and take it in for yourself. You can have a change of programme every
day, and when you tire of the pictures, if you can, it is easy climbing
a few hundred feet to find a dozen others just as grand and no twins. I
suppose many a fellow has glanced over his shoulder up the Grand and
seen a mountain with a notch in it, no more, not even a patch of color.
But ten to one of these have seen something more and yet made a hearty
meal of flitch and potatoes.


                         MUSIC AND METEOROLOGY.

Without fair success with rod and line, a camping trip, to some at
least, would be a failure. The weather giving fair promise, I started
over the divide below the Springs to revisit several familiar pools and
riffles down the Grand, in anticipation of a good morning’s sport. The
forenoon was expended with half a dozen trout and as many miles’ tramp
as the result. Life is not worth living without a disappointment now and
then. I met with a decided failure where I had rarely had anything but
success, and it sharpened my appetite—for dinner.

A day or two after I was joined by my familiar and guide, the Doctor,
who is an animated encyclopedia not only of the Park, but of the state,
and we forthwith put up a job, as it were, upon the denizens of
Williams’ Fork. Nine o’clock found us on the banks of that beautiful
stream, our horses picketed and we ready to meet any emergency that
might arise—that’s a new name for ’em. The Doctor started up stream and
I took to the bed of the creek about half a mile from its mouth. Twenty
minutes and not the sight of a fin. I also began to think that Williams’
Fork was depleted. Brown hackles and gray, and a half dozen other
newfangled varieties not named to me, had no more effect than the wiles
of a three-card-monte dealer have upon one who “has been there.” I
thought of lying down upon the bank and seriously playing with the
garter snakes, but changed my mind and put on a gray hackle with a
peacock-body. Result, a trout. I had found the color to tickle their
fancy for the day.

Trout and—and—women are very much alike; few men know much about
either, unless you take their own words for it. Both are handsome, of
course, delicate in taste, fickle as to ornament, not otherwise, and
always too confiding in that which is least to be relied on. I felt
sorry for that trout as I slipped her into my creel; they are such
short-sighted fish—I’ll not say why—but they exact the angler’s care,
and carry out the simile admirably. Had I offered that trout a worm for
breakfast, the chances are ten to one she would have inquired whether I
took her for a sucker. But it occurs to me all at once that I am on
delicate ground—the current runs five miles an hour, the water is above
my knees and the rocks are slippery; to fall is easy as—lying; the fate
of our common ancestor is a warning.

By the time I had reached the Grand I had about seven pounds of
fair-sized trout, besides having returned with all possible gentleness
to the water a number of small-fry. I did not consider it much of a
catch, as upon more than one occasion over the same ground I had filled
my fourteen-pound creel in the same time. The Grand looked tempting as I
waded out into the deep, clear current at the confluence of the streams,
and dropped the peacock as far out in the deep pool as I could. I took
that fly out in a hurry as I saw the gaping mouth of a leviathan, to my
imagination, about to take it off. I speedily had the fly changed to one
upon which I could rely, and commissioned it to that pool on business of
moment. It had no sooner touched the surface than the glistening sides
of my much-coveted triumph shone in the brilliant sunlight, clear of the
water, as he darted for the fly and—missed. I thought the fish a little
nervous, and I sent the falsehood over into the pool again; as soon as
it touched the tiny wavelets that roofed the haunt of his excellency he
was again visible, shooting from out the depths straight to his destiny.
He reached it, and for a second lay poised as if in inquiry, and then,
realizing that he had “struck it,” disappeared as suddenly as he had
come. I realized, too, that I had struck it. There was music in the
air—the music of the reel—and that trout danced to the measure with
fifty feet of line before he allowed an inch of slack. He was nervous;
there was plenty of water, a hundred feet at least, to the opposite
bank, and miles up or down stream; there was no reason whatever for
uneasiness—on the part of the fish I mean. But he seemed as much
disturbed as ever when the slack was all in, and I, quietly and in as
dignified but determined a manner as smooth stones and rubber boots
would permit, backed up to the dry beach. Exhibiting the utmost
reluctance to being thus led by the nose, he suddenly took it into his
head to come voluntarily, started my way, but as suddenly changed his
mind; the reel accommodated his whim and played a waltz; the old fellow,
however, soon got giddy and asked for a rest; there could be no bar to
so reasonable a request, paradoxical as it may seem; I immediately
relieved him of the weight of the loose silk and gave him the privilege
of a closer inspection of the gentleman at my end of the line. Had any
other man been in my place, I should have concluded that the fellow on
the fly was not favorably impressed, as he started with celerity on
another trip across the Grand. Being myself a man of benignant
appearance, I concluded, of course, that he had become enamored of the
sound of the reel and was delighted that I had taken a hand in the
revelry. Humanity, however, has not the monopoly on making mistakes, and
as the reel was evidently taking a turn—this time at a dead march—I
towed the gentleman round and gently drew him out on the clean gravel.
He measured just nineteen inches; when I first saw him I thought he was
“a yard long,” but even with his nineteen inches his capacity for
conferring happiness was immeasurable. As I relieved his mouth of the
hook, the Doctor, who had come down to me unawares, startled me with the
remark, “You seem to take a heap of delight in catching a sucker.” There
was a maliciousness in his tone that led me at once to inquire what
success he had met with; his open creel disclosed three only, that would
not weigh half as much as my capture; they were the result of his
morning’s work. My own dignity will sometimes get the better of my
reverence, and I read him a homily on envy.

The next day the Doctor proposed a visit to Grand Lake. I suggested that
it threatened rain, and he replied that he who went fishing must expect
to get wet. The retort, I told him, was dry with age; but the mules were
hitched,—they have not been lost,—and we started up the Grand Valley
in the sunshine, but had not been long on the road before it began to
rain. Rain is a good thing in the mountains; it freshens up the earth,
brightens the wild flowers, fills the air with a new fragrance, makes
the grass grow, and I like it. I told the Doctor how much I enjoyed it
coming down in vast sheets, but he did not say anything, only smiled.
I’ve seen that smile before; in a fighting man it is dangerous. I didn’t
say anything more about the rain, but tried to impress him with my
knowledge of locations for dairy farms, and the excellence of the
neighborhood for the growth of turnips and potatoes for winter food,
without irrigation. Toward noon we came to a stream, and he told me it
was North Fork; it rained at North Fork. I asked him where the other
prongs were. He said there was but one other, “up yonder.” I told him
the style of fork was long out of date. He stopped the mules. I noticed
that smile again, and immediately changed the subject by asking him how
far it was to the lake. He said it was about a mile in a direct line,
but we did not go that route. About an hour afterwards I asked again how
far it was, and he said it was half a mile in a direct line. I was about
to inquire why he didn’t take the “direct line,” but changed my mind,
and reflected upon the uncertainty of distances in this light air, and
the gratifying exactness of the information one derives from being told
something is “up yonder.” It rained. Sometime during the afternoon we
came to what appeared to me a long line of embankment of gravel and
boulders that might have been thrown up by the Titans for a railroad bed
in the long ago. We had passed a number of railroad grade stakes, and I
inquired if the embankment was the road-bed of the Denver, Utah and
Pacific. He said it was a moraine. I thought he was joking, but he
always laughs when he gets off a good thing, and he looked as sober as a
hired mute at a pauper funeral. I meekly suggested that we had already
had more rain than—. He stopped me and the mules right there; said the
lake was just over that bank, and had no bottom; that I deserved to be
drowned, and wanted to know my weight. I told him that under ordinary
circumstances not very heavy, too light to sink, at least, but when wet
I swelled. He concluded to go on. It rained, and after awhile we reached
the town of Grand Lake. It is hid from the lake, and I was thankful; for
I could climb over the moraine—what a handy word for such weather—and
look out upon a beautiful sheet of water nearly three miles long by half
that in width, guarded at the east and south by mighty hills, while to
the southwest I could have recognized Powell Mountain, the grand, with
lower hills for distant foreground, and forget the two saloons, the saw
mill, tavern and a few slab shanties that were hidden from view—by the
moraine—while the clouds hid everything else; and it rained.

We crossed the north inlet and pitched our tent, at the recommendation
of a friend, in the midst of a grove of young pines, where the ground
was soft with the dead needles from the protecting branches. The couch
was delightfully tempting, on the very margin of the lake, with the
gentle murmur of the miniature breakers to lull us to sleep. But it
rained; I think, however, I have mentioned that fact; there was another
drawback, or rather a number of them—ticks. The next morning another
friend exhibited to our wondering gaze about two quarts of fish,
something less than a hundred to the quart, and said he caught ’em with
grasshoppers. I asked him if the grasshoppers were small. He said they
were ordinary grasshoppers. Then I asked him if he had to rip any of
them open, and he wanted to know for what, and I said to take the fish
out of them, of course. He was a polite friend, and he laughed, but I
know him for a mimic. He said the fishing was splendid, and I did not
tell him of my nineteen-inch prize, lest he might for the first-time
doubt my veracity.

After breakfast, it looked as though we might have some “falling
weather,” and, while I am partial to a little rain after a very long dry
spell, I suggested to the Doctor that, considering we had to do some
fording, we had better get to the Springs while we might. He went right
off and hitched up those mules; never said a word; didn’t even ask me to
help him. He wanted me to carry away a pleasant remembrance of the lake,
so he drove round to the south side. Then it began to rain. It is
raining yet, and, to all appearances, is settled weather.

I have been sitting under my canvas roof this blessed day, looking at
the rain and watching the meanderings of the tiny rivulets outside, and
the midges that congregate about their margins. They stand on the
current and ride off, and I sometimes think they come back again to
“keep the mill going,” as you and I did on the ice when we were younger
boys than now. The ground squirrels and chipmunks come out of their
holes to pay me brief visits and then scud back. The little chips are
cunning chaps, their motions are agile, their eyes are bright, and the
glistening rain drops that soak all else, leave no impression upon their
glossy fur. They run up the stalks of the wild rye, nibble off a head
and drop to the ground as quickly as falls the severed top, and then to
shelter under the lee of a log or a projecting rock, to feast. One other
visitor I have had to-day—a solitary blackbird with feathers awry and
tail bedraggled. He had a melancholy look in his white eyes as he cocked
his head despondingly, and his forlorn condition made me think he might
be, in miniature, the larcenous and unfortunate jackdaw of Rheims,
suffering under the Cardinal’s curse. His wretched condition was
contagious, and I myself was about to request him to “move on,” when one
of his brethren, dressed in blue and sable, a policeman, evidently, in
their community, ran him in, or off. For aught I know he may be now
before His Honor on the general charge of vagrancy, with a prospect of a
fine and costs, or in default of means, with a term in the blackbird
jail staring him in the face.

I want to go home. The Grand is brown, Williams’ Fork is gold color; the
Troublesome is so thick that you can stick a knife into it, turn it
round and see the hole. Trout fishing this side Egeria Park is not to be
thought of, for it seems to have been raining as it never rained before.
As if ’twould keep on raining, evermore.



Upon the contingency of a rainy day it is always pleasant to have
something to read in the mountains. A friend of mine gave me a pamphlet
written by one Herbert Spencer, entitled “Education.” A level-headed
appreciative friend who understands one’s needs, is a good thing to
have. Education was my necessity. After being educated I became hungry
for more. My friend had said there were “some good things in Herbert;
that he was a philosopher, but given to infidelity.” I discovered that
Herbert had written a library; I had, then, so to speak, the wide world
from which to choose. I am a seeker after happiness, so I selected
“Social Statics, or the Conditions Essential to Human Happiness.” If
there is any one thing that I enjoy more than another, it is happiness.
Having secured the key to the “Essential Conditions,” I felt as I
imagine a hungry and ragged prospector feels when the assayer tells him
he has “struck it,” and drew heavy drafts on the future, just as any
prospector does. The “Essential Conditions” being philosophy, is not dry
reading as you may imagine, that is on a rainy day in camp. It is good
as a comedy.

Dickens tells us that the editor of the Etanswill _Gazette_ employed a
savan to write an article on Chinese Metaphysics, and that the learned
gentleman did it after this fashion: He consulted the Encyclopedia
Britannica, first under the title “Chinese,” and second under the title
“Metaphysics,” and combined his information. The editor gravely informed
Mr. Pickwick that the essay caused a sensation, as no doubt it did, and
Her Majesty’s minions were put on the lookout for an escaped lunatic.
Sometimes, while studying the “Conditions”—you study and do not read
philosophy—I thought Herbert, when he labored on the “Conditions,” must
have been a very old man, in his second childhood, for instance, and
troubled with dyspepsia. Sometimes that he must have been young, very
young, staggering under a heterogeneous load of information that had
got the better of his mental calibre; that his mind, so to speak,
was in the condition of a few acres of undergrowth just after a
hurricane—demoralized, as it were. Sometimes—when his arguments
reminded me of a horde of inebriated aborigines, each ready to kill his
neighbor—that he must have been in good condition, with a view to
sensation and ducats, and that if his theories, conceding he had any,
could, by any conceivable method be put into practice, it would be when
“chaos was come again,” but that his Christian readers wouldn’t see the
joke, would take him to be serious, and advertise him with abuse.

“There are some good things in Herbert,” of course; I enjoyed them;
unless a thing is good you cannot enjoy it; the only one to doubt this
would be Herbert. He himself is an argument against total depravity, yet
if you can find that he admits the contrary as to all humanity, except
Herbert, call me Ananias, and his wife too.

What has Herbert Spencer got to do with Middle Park and trout fishing?
you inquire. Not anything, except that he says no fellow has a right to
own a mine; that if he—the fellow, I mean—finds a good mine, it
belongs to everybody, and he must ask everybody’s permission to work it
and convert the proceeds to his own use. I wish I were everybody, or
“Society,” as Herbert calls it, I’d go right over to Leadville or Rabbit
Ear Range and assert my rights. Being everybody, nobody else would be
around to say anything, except the fellow who had the mine. If he
undertook to draw his gun, I’d stand up in front of him and argue the
point, while I went round behind him and took away his six-shooter.
Being everybody, this would be easy to do. Then I’d let the fellow go
find another mine, and everybody would go and tell him he was a
claim-jumper and “must light out;” and I’d keep on until I had corraled
all the good mines in the state. Then I’d go down to New York and
interview Mr. Vanderbilt and other millionaires, and convince them that
they entertained a mistaken notion as to the ownership of the many odd
millions of government securities and sundry moneys and valuables, real
and personal, said to be in their names. When I’d got all that, I’d
buy—no, I wouldn’t—I’d take possession of New York; after that I
should be capable of anything—except managing Mr. Conkling.

But I hear you inquire again: What has all this to do with Middle Park
and trout fishing? Not anything. But that I am puzzled to know, under
the circumstances, what I am to do with the gentleman last above named.
If Herbert were only here he could, perhaps, help me out of my dilemma;
he can set up a dilemma and help himself out of it as easy as—falling
off a precipice, and there is nothing hard about that till you get to
the bottom. It must be because his dilemmas are all imaginary, or that
mine is not a dilemma. Let us see what he says of one of his: “Of this
(dilemma) nothing can be said, save that it seems in part due to the
impossibility of making the perfect law recognize an imperfect state,
and in part to that defect in our powers of expression. As matters
stand, however, we must deal with it as best we may.” See how he has
helped himself out of that! There is a world of wisdom in it all,
especially the last sentence, I know, if I could only find it. But
that’s the trouble with Herbert—You ask him for bread and he gives you
a stone. I know I can do as best I may, but I want to know what to do
with Conkling; I cannot go on and perfect my monopoly according to
Herbert’s philosophy without disposing of Roscoe. This planet is not big
enough for both. I am in possession of all worth having. It is well
demonstrated that two bodies cannot occupy the same space. He is too old
to educate. I am, as Herbert’s disciple, opposed to coercion. Everybody,
that’s me, is entitled to his own free will, but here I can’t have mine.
He says that nothing can be said, and yet all the newspapers of the
country, for three or four months, have been saying a great deal. Then
he tells me of the difficulty of making the perfect law—that’s me,
again—recognize the imperfect state—that’s Roscoe. But the latter
makes me recognize him. What use is there in telling me I may deal with
him as best I may? I didn’t need a philosopher to tell me that. I want
that impossible possibility of Herbert’s—a perfect law. I am in some
degree mercenary; everybody is. If I had that law it would be a
curiosity, valuable as some of the mines voluntarily surrendered, as
already stated, and particularly valuable at this crisis. I want to know
how to dispose of Conkling.

You ask me again: What has this to do with trout fishing and Middle
Park? and what good is it? Nothing, except it is some of Herbert’s
philosophy considered in a light atmosphere; where the air is thin, and
you can see a great way, it is easier discovering obscure objects in the
distance. Herbert could not have expressed himself more clearly.

Well, all right; I’ll stop right here. But I would like to say just a
word about Herbert’s style. I like his style—when I can understand what
it is. His arguments are something between black-letter Norman-French
and a fashionable bonnet. The one is incomprehensible to the ordinary
mind, and the other is a delightful combination of vagaries. Good-bye,
Herbert. I hope you will have a good time. But if you don’t find it
harder work traveling over your own turnpike with the load you have on
than driving a jack train over a blind trail, you can set me down for a
fool or a philosopher—the difference is so slight that one may be happy
as either.

The conditions essential to happiness are three, and may be described
thus: Two primary, and one primary and secondary, or primary or
secondary, depending altogether upon the existence of the two primary.
Thus: the first condition essential to happiness is—that is human
happiness; “I do not wish to be misunderstood,” nor have the happiness
of which I am now writing “confounded (nonsense! No, sir) with some
other” happiness—an appetite; this is the first primary. (No, sir! I am
not a ward politician.) Let me repeat: the first condition essential to
happiness is an appetite. The second primary condition essential is a
good digestion. Dependent upon these two is the third condition
essential, which may be called something to eat. Thus, if the appetite
and digestion are good, the third—something to eat—becomes an
essential condition and primary. If the appetite and digestion, or
either, is impaired, the third essential condition becomes secondary or
useless, so to speak. These, the essential conditions, concurring in one
man, he is capable of happiness, mental and physical, otherwise not.
Observe, I do not affirm he will be or is happy, but that he is capable,
merely, of happiness. The conditions essential must concur, however, and
in one man. This is a necessity more than a condition, and may be called
properly a concurrent necessity, rather than a condition essential. But
the appetite requires food. I mean by this that the appetite of the
man—and the term is used in a generic sense and includes women—the
most superficial thinker will concede without argument that there must
be a man to have the appetite; the man, therefore, will be understood,
thus: The appetite of the man requires food. If he have the appetite and
not the food, the conditions are non-concurrent. If he have the food and
not the appetite, there is a similar, but not exactly parallel,
non-concurrence. If he have the appetite and the food and the dyspepsia,
which is the corollary of indigestion, and the opposite of good
digestion, or equivalent to no digestion at all, there is a lack of the
conditions essential. It would seem, therefore, that there are only
three conditions essential, but those three must necessarily concur in
one man before he can be happy.

I like positive people with positive opinions, not people who are
perpetually preferring exceptions. Now I have one of those non-committal
mortals, who is willing to admit that my conclusion is correct,
indisputable in fact, _except_ that I have not taken into consideration
the possible non-concurrence of the conditions essential in the event
that the food, admitted, has not been properly prepared. While I am free
to admit that I have not as yet discovered anything esthetic about the
mere operation of eating, and, farther, that it is purely an animal
necessity, yet I must contend that the preparation of the food is so far
secondary as to be a condition non-essential, as I will now proceed

Well, just as you say; I’m never disposed to bore one if I can help it,
though you might have so augured in the premises, after reading the
title. Do not swear. I give Herbert up with regret; the sun has come out
after the rain, and it is delightful outside this canvas house of mine.
The air is fresh with the new dampness, and the rain-drops will not
linger long in the shirt fronts of the mountain daisies. What could I
have done this afternoon if not for Herbert?


                     AN IDLE MORNING AT GRAND LAKE.

From under the shelter of a friendly pine I look out upon a long stretch
of water, two miles and more, to a sloping beach of a few yards in
width, and then a belt of young trees growing back to a rugged mountain
gorge. The bright green of the growth contrasts with the time-stained
hues of the great piles of rock, and these grow more wild as the eye
follows up the defile. Then a white patch, the length of a man’s arm and
the breadth of a hand, glistens in the rays of the morning sun, here
inaudible, but there a roaring waterfall a hundred feet high.

The gorge widens and drifts away to the right and left, but reaching
high, with irregular outlines traced against the blue sky; the tints of
brown and gray and green intermingle in bountiful confusion, but never
wearisome; then, seemingly, blocking up the gorge in huge and
awe-inspiring massiveness, a dome-shaped mountain, with miles of base
and height far reaching above the growth of vegetation; just below its
summit a bed of snow, shaped like a dove, defying the hot rays of an
August sun, sparkles like a jewel on the mountain’s brow. Silent and
grand, it o’ertops the beautiful lake, mirrors its rugged outlines upon
the calm surface, and faintly tints the clear waters with the colors of
its robes. To the right and left the nearer and lower-lying pine-covered
hills reach round and down to the water’s edge.

And the lake, a gem in the mountain fastness, how calm it is! There is
no melody in the pines this morning, their sighing is hushed, and the
lake is still, its smooth surface only dotted here and there with the
widening rings made by the leaping trout. How deep it is no man knows;
how cruel it has been is the subject of many a story within the
experience of the whites about its shores, and legends not a few among
the red men. Seductive it is in its silent beauty, and treacherous as
grand. Cold and relentless as fate, “it never surrenders its dead.” The
Ute cannot be induced to approach it, and mentions its name with a
shudder, while ye gentle angler commits his frail bark to its bosom with
commendable prudence. There is no telling when a storm may come; the
clouds are not always the harbingers of a gale; it may come when the sky
is clearest, and the awkward skiffs that prevail hereabout are not the
safest, even under skilful hands.

But, as the sun puts behind him the early morning hours, the dark tints
of the smooth waters change, and a mile or more away a ray of silver
flashes across the lake; its outer line moves my way, and as the tiny
waves reach my shore, the breeze that moved them brings the sound of the
waterfall. I listen to the melody it sings, always mellowed in its
highest notes by the distance, and then dying gradually away as if
sighing the requiem of the lost lying buried here, or as fade the last
moments of a weird dream.

And, while I am dreaming, a friend of mine, to whom this ripple is a
never-failing sign, pulls out into the lake. I mark the long, steady
stroke, and wonder how it is that one so long out of practice can
feather his oars so well, when he catches sight of me, idling away the
time, and stops. But I wave him on, and watch him as he makes for a
point on the western shore that we both know; where the light tint of
the water changes suddenly to a hue almost black; where the depth on one
side the boat is six feet and on the other may be six hundred; where the
trout are large, and where we have had many a good fight. In a few
minutes he has business on his hands. I can see his rod, against the
dark background of the adjacent pines, bend and spring back, and bend
again, and then the flash of silvery spray as the stricken trout breaks
the surface in his vain effort to free his mouth from the cruel barb.
But a few moments, and the mastery is awarded to human skill, and I see
my friend hold up his capture for my delectation. In his enthusiasm he
does not stop to consider that I have to take a great deal for granted,
that I can at best see only a minute something glisten in his grasp; but
he takes off his hat, waves it over his head, and I conclude he has a
pounder at least. It turned out to be a little short of double that.

As I lazily wave a response of appreciation my boot-heel comes in
contact with a small stone. Something in its shape leads me to pick it
up; I find it scarred, and know enough to understand that it is a
scratched stone from the till. And so my eyes wander from this product
of nature’s great lapidary over to the waterfall and the mountain gorge,
which had been his workshop, how many thousand years ago, who can tell?
The beautiful waterfall is all that remains of him, but his handiwork is

Stretching along the east shore lies a great lateral moraine, even now
twenty, and, in places, thirty feet high, made of great rocks, thousands
of tons in weight, down to mere grains of sand. How many generations of
pines have found precarious foothold there and died, may be conjectured
only. But a new growth is springing up, as if it were the pleasure of
the present to keep green the grand monument of the dead glacier.

On the narrow beach, with its background of new growth, smolder the
dying embers of a camp-fire. My eyes follow the thin column of blue
smoke that rises and wreathes itself among the tree-tops, and floats
away to where desecration has stepped in. The suggestion of primitive
life is dispelled by the ridge pole of a mean house obtruding itself
above a depression in the moraine, and I know that this is but the best
of a number of slab shanties. They are hidden from my sight, but I
recognize them as one does a boil.

The first step into the wilderness of life is filled with bright
anticipations, and lack of restraint makes one’s happiness as limitless
as the great unknown into which one is traveling; the second step is
monotonous, and one sighs for the promises of the end. The camp-fire,
emblematical of the first step, is passing away; the slab shanty, the
sordid, hard existence that makes life a burden, is the second step, and
one longs for the third, that may, if nature must feel the weight of our
sacrilegious hands, give us the ashler, graceful roofs, broad porches,
and the comforts of a new life. Pioneers are lauded for “subduing the
wilderness,” but deliver me from witnessing the progress of subjugation.
I want to be the first, or, that being impossible, the next best thing
to do is to wait till the ruin is complete. One can then imagine what
the surroundings were; but in the middle period no room is left for
imagination,—one can neither wonder what it was or will be, and the
only thing left is to “unpack my heart with words, and fall a cursing
like a very drab.”

While my mental anathemas and I are holding high carnival, I am
conscious of the presence of something besides the figures of my
imagination. Looking around, I discover a dark-complexioned woman, with
hair black as night, when cats most do congregate; eyes like jet, square
face, all one color—parchment; a mouth that shuts like a steel-trap.
Her hair brushed smoothly back, and gathered behind in a great coil, is
beautiful; that is all the beauty I see, except, perhaps, a dainty
buttoned boot with a high instep. In one hand she holds the end of a
small chain, at the other end of which is—yes, a monkey! This
predecessor of the missing link looked at me in a sort of dreamily
sympathetic way, and I at him. Our commiseration was mutual, and I felt
inclined to shake hands with him. His owner was a French woman, of
course; I do not think a woman of any other nation, except as a matter
of business, would go wandering round among the Rocky Mountains with a
monkey. If she had had a hand-organ strapped to her back, I could have
forgiven her, even if grinding out “Days of Absence.” About the time I
had “doffed my old felt,” we were joined by the other member of the
family; he looked like an Egyptian three thousand or more years old. Not
understanding French, I stepped into my boat and joined my friend.

I have been making an effort to secure for you a picture of the lake,
and though the photographer has been about here frequently, my success
has been indifferent. Every view worth having is sure to have a
foreground of one or more of the lords of creation, “bearded like the
pard,” with an arsenal strapped around their bodies, and an expression
beaming out from under their broad-brimmed hats that would drive an
ordinary man clear into the ground in sheer humiliation. Think of these
addle-pated asses posing for exhibition amid scenes that should awaken
naught but wonder and admiration, blended with that reverence one must
feel in the presence of the Father’s works, and have charity if you can.
The very boulders against which they lean are satires that will endure
the tread of the centuries long after this world shall have forgotten
that such fellows or their seed had ever incumbered the earth.



Before the little narrow gauge engines of the Denver, South Park and
Pacific with their trains of baby cars went thundering up through the
cañons, reaching out for Leadville, the trouting in the Platte was
prime. Following the sinuous track, first on one side of the river, then
on the other, you can look out to the right and see your engine going
west while your car is going east, then your engine starts east or north
and you go south or west. Now you crane your neck to catch the top of
some overhanging cliffs a thousand feet high, and are suddenly jerked
around a curve into a little glade of a dozen acres with a little brook
running through it; then you are as quickly yanked into another cañon.
If one were drunk no doubt, the road would be straight. But thirty-five
or forty miles from Denver the cañon grows familiar. Buffalo Creek comes
tumbling out from the south, and presently the brakeman puts his head in
at the door and shouts: “Pine Grove!” This is the Pine Grove known to
travelers who go by rail, but the Pine Grove of twenty odd years ago was
six miles away from the river, and the railroad Pine Grove was Brown and
Stuart’s ranche, the owners of which drove a thrifty traffic in hay.

In August, 1868, I made acquaintance first with the pools and riffles in
the vicinity of the old Brown and Stuart’s ranche. I clambered up and
down the cañon for five or six miles east and west. The rush and the
roar of the crystal waters made glorious music, and an hour’s fishing
would send me laden back to camp. But for all the grand surroundings,
the fresh air, the wild flowers and the trout, there was weariness of
heart for her and me who made our camp on the margin of the then
beautiful stream. There had a little while before crept over our
threshold a shadow we all dread, and which had gone out again leaving a
wound that would not heal.

But later on, when the cloud with the silver lining had turned a little
of its brighter side our way, there came out to us one of your down-east
girls, to whom the “Great American Desert” was a revelation, and these
grand old mountains an epic. It was the season for camping, and she was
stricken with the mania at once. She approached the subject
tenderfootedly, but being assured that nothing was easier, nothing
better for city folks, ecstacy was the consequence. Then there suddenly
arose an insurmountable barrier.

“What will you do with the Governor?”

“Take him along, of course.”

“What! baby sleep in a tent? Be eaten by mosquitoes, rained on and
bitten by snakes?”

The prospect was appalling; but then I assured her that fresh air never
hurt babies; that mosquitoes were unknown, in August, at least; that
rain was such a rarity that I was compelled to go to the creek for
moisture, and as for snakes, the rattlers, at least, they never got
beyond the foot hills; the little gart—a-hem—striped snakes were
pleasant to have around, and were cleaner than flies. Besides it was
confidently anticipated that baby was about to distinguish himself, and
there was no panacea so efficacious for teething babies as the mountain
air. That settled it.

The first thing to be looked after was the mess kit—known among the
cow-boys as the “chuck box.” Mine would fit neatly into the tail end of
a wagon; was about two feet and a half from top to bottom, and about
twelve inches deep; had racks for cups, saucers, plates, knives and
forks, and plenty of room for two weeks’ supplies of flour and other
necessaries. When we wanted to lunch it was an easy matter to drop the
tail gate of the wagon, let down the side of the mess kit, and we had a
good table; the whole thing was as handy as a pocket in a shirt, and its
capacity marvelous. An ordinary lumber wagon with spring seats, an A
tent, 7 × 7, for the women folks, plenty of rubber ponchos, a change of
clothing, wool, of course, all round. All together making an abundance
for comfort, and a light load with which the horses could trot along and
not half try.

About the hour that Hamlet’s father was wont to render himself up to
“sulphurous and tormenting flames,” we were astir, and before the sun
was up we were away. Fifteen miles to the foot hills and Turkey Creek
cañon. Towards noon the sun beats down hotly on the plains, and I always
make it a point to get to the cañon by ten o’clock at the outside. And
this morning we passed Harriman’s before ten, and from our shelf on the
mountain side we could look out east till plains and sky came together.

Down below us, on the left, six or eight hundred feet, the little creek
looked about as wide as one’s finger. The road is fairly wide enough for
the wagon, with here and there a “turn out,” to accommodate passing
teams. To the right a perpendicular wall running up a hundred feet; to
the left—well, our visitor said she was tired of riding and would like
to walk a little; the road was smooth as a floor, and the grade easy. I
suggested that horses rarely cut up capers in such places, but the
effect of a wrecked wagon and the remains of a mule lodged against a
granite boulder half way down the mountain was not to be overcome by any
assurance of mine; and walk she did; so did the baby’s mother and maid,
taking turns in carrying his majesty for a couple of miles. Not having
any hills to climb the inconvenience is not so great; but, take a
twenty-five pound youngster in your arms, at an elevation of, say nine
thousand feet, and undertake to walk up hill; a half mile seems twenty,
and at the end of three-quarters you want to lie down, wondering if your
lungs are larger than the universe. But like everything else in this
life, it becomes easy when you get used to it.

Our first objective point on this trip was Reed’s Mill, about thirty
miles from home. No trout, but wild raspberries, now in their prime. Did
you ever eat any? If not, the first one you put on your tongue will make
you “wish your throat a mile long and every inch a palate,” with
accessible untold acres of berries. There is about them a tenderness and
luscious delicacy, a fragrance and even beauty, that makes a cultivated
brother look and taste in comparison like a combination of mucilage and
sawdust. The “Shepherd” thought when Tom Moore was penning his Loves of
the Angels, that he “fed upon calf foot jeelies, stewed prunes, the dish
they ca’ curry, and oysters.” But I don’t believe it. Tom was in America
once, and I believe he strayed this way, and was inspired by mountain
raspberries, with cream so thick “a spider might crawl on’t.” I do not
believe Tom was so much of an animal as Hogg, by his wit, would make

But the fruit season is brief, and three or four days in the berry patch
set me yearning for running waters, and the delicate salmon-colored
fins. So we broke camp and turned into the road for Pine Grove and the
Platte. By five o’clock we were fixed to stay, with plenty of pine knots
for the camp fire and quaking asp to cook with, our only neighbors a
couple of “English cousins,” owners of the ranche, from whom we could
get cream, and butter and milk, and who helped make our evenings

Everything being in trim for the proper conducting of household matters,
I received orders to “catch a mess for supper.” Right in front of our
tent, two rods away, a gravelly bar reached from the bank to the water,
and the opposite side, fifty feet about, the river ran deep and rapidly.
I had never failed securing a trophy from that swirl, and I sent a gray
hackle on its mission as near the opposite willows, and as deftly as my
skill would permit. I “struck it rich” the first cast; the fraud had
barely touched the water before I saw the jaws of a beautiful trout
close upon it, and felt his strength at the same instant. Since last
summer’s experience I have wished more than once that I had been on that
occasion the owner of a split bamboo. As it was, the sport resolved
itself into a mere trial of strength between tackle and fish. In three
seconds he was ignominiously snaked out on the beach, a three-pound
trout, the largest I have ever caught, and enough for supper.

The whole family had “swarmed up” the bank, as Dickens would say, to
enjoy my discomfiture, but the contemplated taunts were never given
breath. I stood in my tracks and landed three more, and, will heart of
man believe it? they complained because the three last were not as large
as the first. But my merit was established; when I came home empty
handed, which was hard to do, any explanation of mine was “confirmation,
strong as proof of holy writ,” that the trout would not rise for
anything. So much for reputation! I wonder how many fellows there are in
the world who enjoy it who are no more deserving than I?

One morning I started down the stream; it was my birthday, and though
nothing had been said about that momentous epoch in my history, I felt
it incumbent upon me to achieve something out of the ordinary. I did. I
fell off a log, head first, into a hole four feet deep. Cold? well, yes!
I thought I had struck a moderate sized Arctic winter. But there was no
one “there to see,” and I uttered my benison on the man who invented the
sun, as I crawled out to the warmth of our daily servant and friend. My
creel was not empty and I saved everything, even my temper. When I got
back to camp, she who had taken “the long path with me” suggested that I
was wet, that an immediate change of garments was imperative. But,
having an exasperating disposition to stubbornness, I insisted that
every thread must dry where it was, and it did, without even a sneeze,
to punish me for not taking a woman’s advice. I had been there before.

It was determined that baby and I should tend camp for half an hour or
so that afternoon, while the three natural guardians wandered off to the
adjacent hillside for wild flowers wherewith to deck the tea-table. This
was no new business to us. The young man with a pillow at his back,
seated in the middle of a blanket rubbing his face with a teaspoon; I
lying prone three feet away with my toes beating an occasional tattoo on
the soft sward, my chin in my hands and brier-root between my teeth,
watching him. There was a bright light in his eyes, and his cheeks were
rosy, soft as velvet, yet firm and cool. What is there like the touch of
a baby’s cheek pressed against your own! You must turn and kiss it, just
as you did its mother’s the first time you had a right to. But is there
anything more ridiculous in life than to see a baby attempt to put a
spoon into his mouth before he has got the knack of it? See him hit
himself in the eye with it, pretty much as a drunken man would knock a
fly off his nose; smear it down his face, with his mouth wide open and
turned up like a young robin’s, but it misses the place on the way down;
he takes it with both chubby fists, looks at it with dignified surprise,
as though for the first time aware of its presence, lets go one hand,
whacks the spoon against his ear and drags it across his cheek with the
same result. But persistence is characteristic of this baby, a quiet
determination that has something appalling about it. If there were any
raspberry jam on that spoon his face would look worse than a railroad
map of the State of New York. Finally, and as it would seem, after all,
more by accident than design, the spoon reaches the right place; he
twists it round to the distortion of his rosebud mouth; then he looks at
me, sees me laughing; the fun seems to dawn upon him; he takes the spoon
out of his mouth, pounds the blanket with it, and smiles back at me, and
the smile resolves itself into a well-defined laugh.

The sun has just disappeared behind the range, but there is a mellow ray
of golden light that lingers about the baby’s head that makes me
think—think of the one so like him, and from the base of the hill, with
her hands full of wild flowers, the tallest of the three starts toward
me, and I remember only the sunshine of the long path.

But I forgot to tell you about my camp stove: it is a piece of sheet
iron, eighteen inches square, with a hole in the centre, eight inches in
diameter; set upon four stones, it makes a first-class stove.


                            BOYS AND BURROS.

From my outlook under the shade of the old pine I see a familiar and
massive pile of granite over fourteen thousand feet high, and a bit of
the range, with patches of last winter’s snow glistening in the
sunlight. The brown and gray of the lofty peaks are contrasted with the
mist-covered blue of the lower mountains. Then comes the furthest
glimpse of the beautiful river rolling out from the beautiful cañon of
lava cliffs. Then the meadow for a foreground, its rich green tinted
here and there with the gold that denotes the coming sickle time. Then
the quiet, straggling village of log houses, with its tavern perched
upon a hillside, and down by the river bank the smith’s shop, where
seems the only sign of life. The ring of the “ten-pound-ten,” as it
comes up to me clear and resonant upon the pure air, does not mar the
harmony of the river’s melody, nor taint the romance of the scene. But a
boy, taking his afternoon nap astride a shingle horse on the shady side
of a cabin, does; he is suggestive of some of the realities of life, and
is recuperating for my benefit. That shingle horse is to him a bed of
roses, and the hard log of the old cabin a pillow of down. He can sleep
standing on his head, I believe; I know he can crosswise or tangled up.
I am not near enough to see, but I know that his cheeks are red, his
face tanned to russet, his hands dirty, his clothes ragged, and—his
pulse regular. I know exactly what he will do when he awakes; he’ll
whistle, whistle for me, but not for my benefit. If he’d only whistle
Put Me in My Little Bed, Yankee Doodle, or other soul-moving melody, his
music would not be so much a burden. But he cannot distinguish between
Gray Eagle and the Doxology; he could whistle a stave from a barrel
sooner than a bar from an opera. He whistles to make a noise; and, not
content with ordinary methods, he sticks his fingers in his mouth, and
awakens the echoes down the cañons until you would think the Utes had
escaped from the Reservation and were round hunting scalps.

How did I come by him? Why, through his mother, of course; did you ever
know of a boy being round to make life a joy forever, without his mother
being at the bottom of it? I had an interest in the boy; his mother is a
near relative of mine, and hearing that I was to have a short vacation
in the mountains, she thought it a splendid idea, if you know what that
is, to have him spend his vacation with me instead of running round the
streets. I told her I was going a great way off, into a rough country
where the mosquito and buffalo gnat were rampant, to sleep upon the bare
ground, to live upon flitch and potatoes with flap-jacks fried in
grease, and she said that was just what he needed, fresh air and plain
food. I told her that where I was going the boys were wicked and the men
drank and swore like pirates, and there were no Sabbath schools; she
said he would never be good for anything were he not thrown in the way
of temptation, and as to the Sabbath school, I could take along a
Testament and read to him; that would be novel to myself and amuse the
boy. I told of high mountains and dangerous trails to be traversed, of
deep caverns and antres vast, of swift rivers, and Utes whose heads were
filled with vermin, “the chief end and market of whose time” was to
capture and torture boys. She said he would have something to tell about
when he came back, and as to the vermin, I could have his head mowed
with a clipping machine. I swore I wouldn’t take him; but she said she
knew I would, and was right, because I always like to, and do, have my
own way, except—.

Yes, he is waking up and looking round in search of his Barlow, perhaps.
I saw him stabbing the shingle horse with it when he went to sleep. No,
he is not looking for his Barlow, but another fellow of later date.
There goes his hand to his mouth; I knew it.

“Hello, old fellow! here I am under the old pine.”

“All right,” came back to me, in confidence of my ability to take care
of myself, while he had me in sight.

“Can I come up there?” and he granted his own request, as usual.

“What’s that thing over there?”

“What thing, and where do you mean?”

“Why, that thing over yonder; it looks like a man.”

“I don’t see anything that looks like a man.”

“Why, don’t you see that thing up against that mountain that runs down
to the river? It looks like a man with his fist doubled up goin’ to hit

“I see a brown patch against the mountain side surrounded by green that
has something the shape of a man—is that what you mean?”

“Yes, what is it?”

“A patch of brown surrounded by grass or bushes.”

“Well, what does it mean?”

“I don’t know.”

“How did it come there?”

“Because the grass or bushes grew around it, I suppose.”

“Well, but I mean does it mean anything? It looks like a big man.”

“Life is short, little boy. But if it means anything, it is the
photograph of the presiding genius of the Hot Sulphur Springs.”

“What’s a presiding genius?”

“Little boy, did you say that you would like to ride horseback?
Yes—well go over and tell the man at the barn that you want the pony.”

I am a great lover of ponies, they give one a rest. In fact, if it were
not for this particular pony, the only non-bucking broncho in the
vicinity, I should be constrained to leave. I have been anxious to go
down the river to the house of a friend and have a week’s fishing, but I
dare not go away from that pony. I am afraid the owner of that pony is
mercenary; he refuses to hire him for a week; I think he knows that I
want to go fishing, and has possessed himself of the idea that I cannot
fish without the pony. He told me only yesterday that he commonly fished
off that pony’s back; in fact that it was “the best way to fish anyhow.”
It may be a good method; I never tried it; the novelty of the thing is
something of an inducement. But the man asks too much, I am satisfied;
the pony is not worth more than thirty dollars, but the owner demands
fifty. He says I can sell him again, and I have no doubt of that. But
what can I get for him? Well, he don’t know, but he’s sure I “won’t lose
nothin’;” he might take a notion to buy him back, at a discount, of
course. I offer to pay him the “discount” for the pony’s use, and also
tender references as to my integrity. But he “don’t know nothin’ about
references—there’s the pony, sound in wind and limb, and so gentle a
child can ride him, and the best pony to fish off’n I knows on; you can
take him, or leave him.”

I have concluded to take him; an indifferent saddle and bridle, ten
dollars—total, sixty dollars. The boy takes the outfit under his
immediate supervision and we go down to the house of my friend.

Here we found another boy a couple of years younger. I did not know of
this boy save by report, but now I do. This last boy is sedate;
sometimes I think he is about sixty, but his father is not that old, and
it bothers me occasionally to determine which is the father and which
the son. They call him Judge, and it’s worth half a dollar to hear him
call me counselor—the title with which he dubbed me on our

“Counselor, I’m glad to see you; the fishing is good; the mosquitoes are
a little troublesome for this time of year; but we can give you a net,
and I’ll show you where to fish.”

His hair is curly, and he has what the mother of the boy in charge of me
would call a “sweet face.” I was about to take him in my arms, but I
took off my hat instead, and introduced him to my boy; they looked at
each other, grinned and shook hands; then I knew he was a boy, and again
wanted to take him in my arms, but dared not. That evening I sat on a
stool mending a broken leader, and the Judge sat opposite in a high

“Counselor,” said he, “you are not tying that knot square; that knot
will slip; bring it here and let me tie it for you.”

I obeyed reverently; he accomplished the trick deftly and handed back my
leader in silence.

“Judge, can you tie a fly?”

“Not very well; but I will some day, and then I’ll make the trout round
here think they are eating candy.”

“By the way, Judge, do you like candy?”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

I was glad of that, because I’m fond of candy myself, though I never
before took any on a camping trip.

We have been at my friend’s house nearly a week. I have not as yet had
an opportunity to test the qualities of the pony “to fish off’n,” but
the boys corroborate the stableman’s assertion, and I think that unless
I can get a good price from the man of whom I purchased him, I shall
take him home with me and try him another season. The idea, however, is
not of my own suggestion; my boy proposed it. Besides, some day when the
boy is at school—blessed be the school, the school teacher, and not the
birch—his mother might get a chance to ride. The pony could rest at
night, of course. It would only involve a dollar a day and a
side-saddle. Think of a pony eating himself up once a month! That kind
of financiering is what keeps me a pauper; I shall have to forego the
pleasure of fishing “off’n that pony.”

At my friend’s house our tent is pitched on the bank of the river. I
came away from home to be out. I have slept in the house for so many
years that it has ceased to be a novelty. The boy and I sleep together;
or rather he sleeps on the same spruce boughs or hay that I occupy.
Perhaps there is nothing in the world so beautiful as a sleeping child,
with the rosy flush of health mantling brow and cheek, with, may be, a
tear trembling on the closed lashes, the remembrance of a sorrow that
was, but now forgotten. This has been an inspiration to a multitude of
poets, but the inspiration did not come upon them in camp, nor were the
poets trying to snatch repose in the same bed; they were lookers on
merely, giving the rein to their imagination. A poem under such
circumstances would be a satire, certainly.

Last night the boy went to bed early, while the pony sorrowfully partook
of his evening meal in my friend’s meadow. I flattered myself that a
good night’s rest was in store for me, and turned in as the moon came up
over the range. The night was very still, and I was dozing off under the
soothing melody of the swift flowing river on its road to the sea, when
I thought I heard the distant lowing of a cow; that was no strange
matter in this neighborhood. I forgot it in a moment and was gone,
perhaps five minutes, trout fishing, or eating wild raspberries with
cream, yellow cream, not blue, when I heard the cow again, then
something like three hundred cows and as many calves, and six hundred
cow-boys, all yelling like a band of Apaches just before day break. If
you never heard an Apache yell, remember, the first time you do, each
particular hair will stand on end—if you have any left. Each cow
bellowed for her calf and each calf for its dam—how I’d like to put an
“n” to that last word, with cow to top off with—and each particular
cow-boy yelled as though he were six, and interested in his mission.
They were trying to ford the stream, not a hundred yards from my head.
Of course I was broad awake, expecting every instant that the boy would
start up with the impression that a million Utes had come down for him.
I opened the tent fly, and the moonlight streamed brightly in upon his
sunburned face; he heaved a long sigh of utter satisfaction, turned over
and snored an accompaniment to the pandemonium in the road. I gave it
up, and prepared to turn in again just as the rear end of the cavalcade
was passing out of sight.

But not to sleep, just yet. My friend has a dozen or more burros, and
the burro is another of the blessings of this world for which I possess
unlimited love. Their patient and melancholy looking eyes will excite
the sympathy of any human save the miner; their ears are a mystery;
their song!—Oh for a bard to string his lyre and sing in poetic numbers
his praises of the burro’s song! I have sometimes thought the burro the
Pegasus of some of our Colorado poets, but that they shunned their
source of inspiration; gave him the cold shoulder, as it were. Rivalry
begets jealousy, and that may account for it; each individual poet would
swear by himself only, upon the same principle that every fellow likes
to take to himself the credit of all the good things said and done,
forgetting there is nothing new under the sun.

Well, my friend’s burros had ranged themselves in line along the inside
of the lane fence, and with their ears sticking straight out a foot or
more between the top rails, seemed to be silently investigating the
cause of the misery in their vicinity. A little blue fellow at the head
seemed to take in the situation, as the last cowboy galloped by; then he
stuck his head through the fence rails and laughed; his immediate
neighbors of course saw the joke, and joined in. The whole band at once
became inspired, and that infected me. When it grew monotonous, I began
“heaving rocks;” they pulled their heads in at this unexpected
interruption, backed off a few rods out of the reach of my compliments,
and stared at me with their ears. After apparently taking in _my_
situation, they began laughing again. I laid down in disgust, and the
boy slept on. The moon was going down in the West before the serenade
entirely ceased; then I went to sleep, and dreamed—no wonder, you
say—that I was in Ireland. There I met the Doctor, driving round in an
American buckboard, with no tires on the wheels. I asked him where the
irons were, and he told me the English Government was covering the Green
Isle with railroads as a military necessity, and was confiscating all
the iron. Building railroads being then my mission, I had a gang of men
at work, when I felt myself suddenly hit in the back with a spike
hammer, whereat I was broad awake in the tent on the bank of the river,
and the boy’s knees planted in my ribs. I shook him, gently of course,
and asked him why he did it. He said he didn’t know, but guessed he was
asleep; that he could always do it at home, and strike his knees against
the wall. There was no answer to this, so I told him to go to sleep
again, which he did. In less than five minutes he was lying crosswise. I
straightened him out, gently of course, and he wanted to know why I did
that. My explanation being satisfactory, he went to sleep again, and I
was getting into a doze when he turned a somersault and lit with his
head in my stomach. I straightened him out again, gently of course, and
asked him if he thought I was a circus ring. He said he had been
dreaming. I told him he shouldn’t dream; that dreaming was the peculiar
privilege of his elders. I might have read him quite an essay on
dreaming, but he was having out his morning nap, and I turned out quite
refreshed. When I went to call him to breakfast, he was on his knees
with his face buried in his hands, and his hands on his pillow. Of
course I hesitated to disturb him in that Oriental attitude of devotion,
but I soon discovered he was asleep, finishing that morning nap. As soon
as he was fairly awake he began to whistle.

The boy, the pony and I went back to the stableman to-day, and the
latter offered me thirty dollars for the pony, saddle and bridle. I told
him I thought thirty dollars rather an extravagant expenditure for a
week’s use of a pony, but the man seemed to have forgotten that he had
sold him to me. When I reminded him of the fact, he said he couldn’t buy
and sell horses without making something; that the buying and selling of
horses was his business; that he had a family to support and expenses to
meet; but seeing as how I was, anxious to sell, though he had no
particular use for a pony, and as long as it was me, he’d give me
thirty-two fifty for the outfit. I had finally learned the value of the
pony, and being loth to impose upon him something that he did not need,
I concluded not to sell, notwithstanding the side-saddle and the ability
of the pony to consume himself monthly. The boy approved the plan—that
is all this emergency demands. I shall yet “fish off’n that pony.”

The dining-room of the caravansary where my boy takes me to get our
daily bread is presided over by a goddess possessed of a pink cotton
gown and a Grecian nose with a mole—an exquisite sorrel mole with two
sable hairs pendant. Looked at from any point of the compass she
resembles a shingle with an old-fashioned candle extinguisher for a
head. The former physical peculiarity is the result, I presume, of the
Mother Hubbard cut of the cotton robe; the latter, of the manner in
which she dresses her hair. While she served the fried liver to-day, a
pensive sadness lingering about her blue eyes exaggerated the mole, and
it seemed that both the mole and its owner felt they were out of place.
As she stood over against me, with the stoneware platter of felicity
gracefully poised in her nut-brown hands, hers was that “far-away look”
we read about, and I thought,

                    “The melancholy days have come,
                    The saddest of the year.”

Might she not be a New England school ma’am away for a vacation? Or
perhaps one of our own seminary young ladies escaped for a holiday. I
had heard of such vagaries in other hill countries further east, and
knew that fashion followed the star of empire rapidly. I had never met
any poets—might she not be one? Her style of _coiffure_ and number
seven boot were suggestive of something out of the ordinary, to say the
least. Presuming upon the far-away look and my paternal appearance, I

“My dear, can I have a glass of milk?”

The look was not so far away any more—only about three feet, or less;
and to me the little boy appeared quite as tall as I, as she answered:

“No, sir; we buy our milk.”

I wanted to ask her if I might infer that all else in that hostelry was
stolen, but daren’t. She left me in this collapsed condition, and the
boy then wanted to know of me who she was. I ventured to tell him she
was the lost pleiad. Then he wanted to know what a pleiad was. When I
had explained as well as my limited knowledge of mythology would permit,
he wanted to know if the pleiades were in the Milky Way. In my then
condition of mind, the inquiry from any other source would have proved
the proverbial “last straw.” He pouted on my laughing at him, and
threatened to tell the young woman that I had said her husband was in
hell rolling stones. Only the promised deprivation of the pony, in such
event, averted the calamity.

Sometime during that forenoon my boy picked up a friend whom he brought
into camp behind him on the pony. This other boy was dressed in the
remains of a shirt, with some other man’s pants, strapped to his arm
pits by a relic of suspender and rolled up to his knees. The iris of one
eye was black, the other gray; his hair had the withered appearance of
having been cured in the sun; his skin russet and of grain leather
texture. He might have been half a score or three in years; if he had
ever possessed any timidity the sharp edges of it had been rubbed off
years ago. Looking down at me with a Selkirkian satisfaction, he
inquired hoarsely:

“I say, Mister, be you this kid’s dad?”

“His mother says so, and I have no reason to doubt it.”

“Is she the boss?”

“She is.”

“Thought so; does she chaw gum?”


“What! Don’t chaw gum! What kind of a Christian is she, anyway?”

“A Methodist—an orthodox.”

“Well, so’s mam, and she chaws gum, you bet—see that”—and he held out
a hand that in its normal state would have rivaled Vulcan’s for color;
but the combination of pitch and dirt exhibited was a marvel of
blackness. “That’s her’n.”

Thinking my turn had come, and taking advantage of the momentary lull, I
inquired his name.


“What is your surname?”

“My what?”

“Your other name?”

“Oh! Hain’t got none.”

“What is your mother’s name?”

“Mam, you mean?—Jane.”

“Well, what is her other name?”


“What is your father’s name?”

“Dad, you mean?—John.”

“Has he no other name?”

“Not that I knows on.”

“What does your mam call him?”

“Don’t call him at all—she blows the horn.”

Upon further questioning I learned that this scion of a nameless house
was a nephew of the young woman who owned the mole. Also that he had
been informed that I was “one of them newspaper fellers.” I hastened to
convince him that however much I felt honored I could not lay claim to
the distinction. At this he wanted to know what I was “givin’” him. I
disavowed any intention of giving him anything, unless, indeed, it might
be a taste of the quirt my boy used to tickle the pony’s ribs. Not
having an appetite for that kind of pabulum, he suddenly slipped off his
perch and disappeared; as he did so the sulphurous fumes from the
Springs were heavier than I had ever known them. My boy then had an
interview with me, amicable, of course, during which we discussed at
length the evil influence of miscellaneous associations, the Sunday
school mission and kindred subjects. Half an hour afterwards I saw them
together again killing water snakes. I went immediately and turned the
pony into the pasture, thinking he would need at least three days’ rest;
it proved a specific.

That day at dinner I found a glass of milk awaiting me, as well as the
young woman, with a smile, instead of the excrescence, being the
absorbing feature. Being neither Mexican nor French, the revolution was
a surprise; I carried that round with me all the afternoon without
knowing what to do with it. Had my boy’s mother been accessible she
could have cleared up the surprise in five minutes.

In the evening I sat on the tavern porch, enjoying my brier-root, when I
became conscious of the presence of the cotton gown and its owner. She
wanted to know of me if I were “star gazing.” I began to think she had
taken me for a widower and eligible, so I hastened to tell her that
since my fourth marriage I had outgrown the sentiment involved in her
inquiry. She nevertheless assured me that she “doted on the study of the
heavenly orbs,” and a minute afterwards I learned—“Oh, my prophetic
soul”—that poetry was her mission. She said she had been trying to find
out the difference between a spondee and a trochee; I told her I knew
nothing about the former, being a temperance man; as to the latter, I
recommended Brown’s, and offered her one, as she seemed to need it at
the moment. But she declined, as I thought, in a manner unnecessarily
formal. Then she informed me that she had no reference to bronchial
difficulties or their remedies, but to feet. I expected no less than a
dissertation on corns, that being a tender subject with me, and hastened
to express my interest. I became convinced in a moment that I had verily
“put my foot in it” for the second time, when she told me she meant
“poetic feet.” I was about to say something, but felt out of my depth,
and refrained, lest I might disappear, head and ears. She then informed
me that a spondee was a foot, but whether it was a foot of two short
syllables and a long one, or two long ones and a short one, was what
“bothered” her. I told her the subject was too long for me to get round,
and, in short, that I had never read any poetry but that of Walt
Whitman. She had never heard of him, and wanted a taste of his quality;
I gave it her:

        “My head slews round on my neck;
        Music rolls, but not from the organ;
        Folks are around me, but they are no household of mine”—

She interrupted me at this point, and wanted to know what I was “giving”
her, and whether I called that poetry. It became my duty, of course, to
assure her of my utter inability to express an opinion. Thereupon, in a
burst of confidence, she informed me that, as I had no appreciation of
poetic numbers (though she possessed “piles of manuscript”), she had
just finished “An Essay on Time.” The subject being prose, and original,
I begged the favor of hearing it. She began without hesitation:

“Once more has the earth completed its circuit round the burning and
brilliant luminary of heaven; the wheels of Time still roll on and bury
every moment in the dust the wrecks of former revolutions——”

Just then my boy came with the announcement that he was sleepy and
wanted to go to bed. It is difficult to resist a boy’s appeal, as a
rule; of the sleepy boy an impossibility. If not yielded to at once, he
repeats his invocation every half minute until success crowns his
efforts. But I could not go without exacting a promise that, at some
future time, when she had time, the Essay on Time, “whereof by parcels I
had something heard, but not intentively,” she would “dilate” fully. Of
course she promised, but the Arctic smile which beamed upon the boy
would have made his mother wretched. The next morning at breakfast he
complained to me that his coffee tasted salty. I had learned of him that
he had already that morning corroborated to the aunt my denial to the
nephew of the editorial dignity charged upon me by that youth the day
before. I had no milk for dinner that day, nor any day thereafter; the
far-away look came back into Merope’s eyes, and, for me, was stereotyped
there. The Essay on Time was lost; so were I and the boy—at least we
seemed to be the only ones aware of our own presence at meal times. I
always have sympathy for those who realize having, as it were, “wasted
their sweetness on the desert air.” But the young woman ignored
sympathy, and I was made painfully conscious of my inability to eat her
pearls. One’s pride may sometimes exert the mastery over one’s appetite,
but a boy’s stomach, especially a healthy boy’s, possesses no such
armor. His tyrant began to dictate to him, and, as tyranny generally
begets rebellion in the subject, there was no alternative but to declare
war or vacate. Being always peacefully inclined, I adopted the latter,
and the boy, the pony and I took our leave.


                           “HE’S NO SARDINE.”

Wagon Wheel Gap ought to have been colonized by Frenchmen. Why, did you
say? Well, the Gap proper is a few hundred feet long. On the southwest
side of the Rio Grande, a cliff, about six hundred feet at the base,
reaches heavenward perpendicularly about the same distance. Opposite,
and stretching for two miles or more down the stream, is a beetling
wall, in some places, they tell me, thirteen hundred feet high. To reach
the summit, one must go two miles up the river to Bellows Creek, strike
into a game trail that leads through numberless little parks, bordered
with mountain pines, and gorgeous with the hues of wild flowers. If a
Frenchman should walk to the summit of his ambition, he would be too
tired to fall off; if he rode up, being a mercurial creature, he’d have
time to, and would, change his mind, go back to his family, if he had
any, and wonder why he had ever entertained the notion that this is not
a good world to live in. Looked at from below, there would be such a
fascination in the absolute magnificence of the means to his end, that
when the melancholy fit enraptured him again, he’d go over the same
trail, with the same happy result. With those cliffs hanging over him,
the consequences of charcoal, morphine, the pistol or the rapier would
become coarse. He would abandon all other routes to immortality, and
finally die in his bed with the weight of years, like a Christian. That
was my explanation to the Captain, and he believed in it, as we lay
peering over the edge and looking down at our six-feet friends turned
into midgets.

Those friends of ours, good rodsters, all, stood on the bank of the
river, evidently predicting what a day might bring forth. The Rio Grande
was metamorphosed from a crystal stream into a river of mud. From our
dizzy height, it looked like a demoralized rope, the impeding boulders
in the current making the frayed patches. We had seen it in that plight
and none other for two weeks. But that we had been assured each day that
there would certainly be a change on the morrow, we would have sworn its
normal condition was “rily.”

Having been lied to daily for the last fourteen days, our hope had ended
in the faith that inspired our comforters. “So much a long communion
tends to make us what we are:—even I” promised each newcomer, anxious
to test his skill, that the river would “clear up to-morrow.” We had
heard, too, about four times a day, of the eight-pound trout captured
somewhere in Antelope Park, on a seven-ounce rod,—the trout I mean, not
the park. I knew all the history of that trout; it had been skinned and
the skin stuffed; I saw a woman who saw the trout, and I, of course, had
no hesitation in confidently asserting its weight and the details of its

Our hourly routine had been to go to the river, examine the color of the
water, and the mark that registered its stage; every fellow said it
would “clear up to-morrow;” then we went back to the house and smoked.

Being on higher ground, the Captain thought he would vary the subject,
so he said:

“I’d like to catch a pound and a half trout.”

I told him he should have one; that one of eight pounds had been caught
somewhere in Antelope Park, and that it had been skinned and the skin
stuffed; then he said he felt encouraged. That night the river did clear
a little, and notwithstanding we knew that every fish in the river was
gorged, we could not resist going down stream. Having floundered round
on the slippery boulders for a couple of hours without sitting down, we
reached a couple of good-sized pools at the head of a riffle; the
Captain took the upper, I the lower. Making my way out near to
mid-stream, I took up my station behind a large flat rock that stood
about a foot out of water, and busied myself sending a “coachman” and a
“professor” out into my domain with a little hope that I might induce
something out of the inviting pool. Before I had been there five minutes
a yell from the Captain caused me to look his way. His Bethabara was
beautifully arched, and at the end of fifty feet of line something was
helping itself to silk.

“I’ve got him—he’s a whopper.”

“That’s the pound and a half I promised you,” I answered, as a beautiful
fellow shot across stream not three yards above me; “but you’ll lose him
in that current.”

“I know it, unless I work him down your way.”

“Come on with him—don’t mind me.” I reeled in, climbed on the rock, and
sat down to see the fun. The noble fish made a gallant fight, but the
hook was in his upper jaw, and it was only a matter of time when he
would turn upon his side. Working him down stream, through my pool and
round into the quieter water near shore, was the work of ten minutes at
least; the captive, seeming to readily understand that still water was
not his best hold, kept making rushes for the swift current; but each
time he was brought back, and soon began to weaken under the spring of
the lithe toy in the Captain’s hand. Fifteen minutes were exhausted when
the scale hook was run under his gills, and he registered one pound
twelve ounces.

Apologizing for creating a row in my quarters, the Captain went back to
his old place, while I again tried my luck. About five minutes elapsed
when I heard another, not to be mistaken yell.

“I’ve got another—he’s bigger than the first.”

“Yes, I see you have—I think it’s infernally mean.”

“I know it is, but I can’t help it. I’ve got to come down there again.”

“Well, come on,” and I sat down again to watch the issue. The struggle
was not so brave, though the fish, when brought to scale, weighed half a
pound more than the first. While we were commenting on this streak of
luck, we noticed a change in the water, its partially clear hue began to
grow milky, and in less time than it takes to tell it, a boulder six
inches under the surface was out of sight.

“We might as well go to dinner, no trout will rise in that mud,” and I
reeled up with the reflection that the next best thing to catching a
trout is to see one captured by one who knows how to manipulate a
two-pounder on a seven-ounce rod.

That evening the river gave promise, as usual, of “clearing up
to-morrow,” whereupon six of us made arrangements for a trip up stream
half a dozen miles, with a lunch in the wagon. The morrow came and
brought with it comparatively clear water. We were off immediately after
breakfast; arrived at our lunching place under the shelter of some pines
by the river bank, it was at once discovered that the river had gone
back on us, so to speak; muddy again. No one swore, we just arranged
ourselves along the margin and prayed; all good anglers know how to
pray. I am indifferently skilful—at angling I mean—but always endeavor
to do the best I can. In the course of an hour the river gave us some
encouragement. It grew better as noon approached, and after lunch each
man was assigned his quarters and struck out for them.

I went down stream with a six-footer in long waders, who was to cross to
the other side at the first riffle, which he did. Our flies overlapped
each other in agreeable proximity for two hours or more, with
indifferent success to either. The trout were gorged with the food
brought down by the repeated rises, and seemed in no hurry to seek the
broad road that leads unto death.

Finally we reached a magnificent pool, nearly a mile from our starting
point, and my companion had worked his way back to my side of the
stream. We started into the edge of the pool together, he above me a
couple of rods. The flies went over toward the opposite bank,
twenty-five and thirty feet away, time and again, without success.
Finally an exclamation from the gentleman above me directed my attention
from my own tackle to his.

“Have you got him?” The inquiry was made on the score of good
fellowship; the bend of his split bamboo, the tension of his line, and
the whirr of his reel indicated that my tall friend had reached the
first stage.

“I’ve hooked him, and he’s no sardine, I tell you—whoa boy; gently
now,” as a sudden rush strung off full twenty feet of line. “Whoa boy,
be easy, now; gently, now; come here; whoa! confound your picture! whoa
boy; gently; so, boy.”

Just then a call from behind us announced the arrival of the balance of
the party. They had got out of the wagon and were standing along the

“May be you think you are driving a mule,” came from one of them.

“Oh no! I’m trying to lead one—whoa boy, whoa boy—gently now; none of
your capers—whoa! I tell you!” as a renewed and vigorous dash for
liberty threatened destruction to the slender tackle. “No you don’t, old
fellow—so, boy; that’s a good fellow,” and showing his back near the
surface the captive exhibited twenty inches, at a guess, of trout.

“By George, he’s a beauty,” came from behind us. I had allowed my flies
to float down stream and had backed out to give room for fair play. It
was a long fight, but his troutship finally showed side up, and was
gently drawn ashore, the water turned out of him, and he drew down the
scale three pounds, to a notch. As we gathered around to admire his
majesty, I said: “The next best thing to catching a trout is to see a
three-pounder brought to creel by one who can handle a seven-ounce rod.”
They all agreed with me, and our tall friend modestly doffed his dead
grass canvas.


                          UNDER DIFFICULTIES.

The clouds would assemble daily about the summits of the Sierra Mimbres,
whence come the waters of the Rio Grande. Prayers were unavailing; the
morning brought the usual complement of fleecy harbingers, and by noon
the hosts were marshaled in mighty platoons of black and gray; the
artillery was unlimbered, the sun retreated in dismay, and the spree
commenced. For two or three hours there would be a terribly sublime row
up in the vicinage of the granite and dwarfed timber, that would reach
down to the lower hills, and with its results set roaring the little
rivulets and usually dusty arroyos, to swell the already turbid waters
of the beautiful river. The daily dull monotony was wearing; I thought,
more than once, that “hope deferred maketh the heart sick,” and
concluded I had struck the inspiration of the proverb.

The Old Man sat on Jordan’s rugged banks, waiting for that creek to
clear up so that he could indulge himself in his favorite amusement.
He’d been there a week, camped out, restricted to potato and flitch
diet, and had not wet a line. His fly books were an aggravation, and his
split bamboo a source of misery. The evening would give promise of
crystal water on the morrow, and each morning brought with it a stream
of thick, yellow fluid. A trout would no more rise in it than upon the
heaven-kissing hills that gathered the cause of his tribulation about
their cloud-compelling peaks. The fir-crowned hills and majestic cliffs
had lost their charm, the grasshopper had become a burden, and there was
no more music in the roily water than in the mosquito’s song. I presume
he has forgotten all about it by this time, yet my soul cried out in

But I was better off than he. He had no John to console him with stories
of leviathans caught by other rodsters “last summer.” John would scorn
anything less than a three-pound trout to embellish his romances; five,
six, and even nine pounds were evolved in his imagination. I took him
for a Vermont Yankee, but it transpired that the Ozark Mountains claimed
him for their own, without the prospect of any other place setting up a
demand for him when he dies—if he ever does. He is tall and thin, has a
stoop in his shoulders and slouches in his gait; his garments, such as
he has, fit him—not so well as they would the clothes line; he has a
Roman nose and gray eyes, he chews the fragrant “nigger head,” and his
saffron-hued incisors habitually caress his nether lip. His mouth is
always open, and his scraggy beard would vie in symmetry with a patch of
hazel brush demoralized by a Kansas cyclone. A few days ago I wagered
him a quarter that he could not close his lips and keep them so three
minutes. I won the bet, but have not yet realized upon it. John is a
booley, fortunately for the rest of humanity.

Becoming a little impatient at John and the periodically feculent
condition of the river, I suggested to the Captain a run up to Antelope
Park, twenty-five miles away, and a few casts for the denizens of
certain minor tributaries to the Rio Grande. The suggestion proved
agreeable to him.

The next morning after an early breakfast we mounted the buckboard, and
in company with the United States mail for somewhere, a nervous driver
and a pair of wild mules, we arrived at our destination before noon.
Telegraphic facilities being somewhat limited, our coming had not been
heralded. Our driver left us with our traps in front of a
comfortable-looking house, but it required half an hour to find the
landlord. We had lived long enough in the country to recognize in every
house a hotel. We would have taken ourselves and belongings into the
first convenient room, but that a large black dog kindly took us under
his immediate supervision. It began to rain, but the dog gave no
intimation whatever of inconvenience on that score; indeed, I think he
rather enjoyed it. The Captain, after we had admired the dog for a
quarter of an hour, slipped his hand into his hip pocket. I don’t know
whether to attribute the dog’s sudden disappearance to his superior
intelligence and knowledge of the ways of the country, or to the coming
of the landlord. Her greeting was cordial when she hove in sight:

“Glad to see you gentlemen suppose you’ve come afishin’ didn’t know as
you was comin’ or I’d a had dinner instead of bein’ out to see to them
colts the last two died and I don’t propose to have no more of that kind
of business not if I know myself you bet these has been tended to right
and I know it they was risin’ three year and of course gettin’ too big
to run loose that husband of mine run away with another woman two year
ago and he come back in less’n three months for me to take him back
again but I told him to pack and he did since then I’ve ran this ranche
alone and propose so to do she was older than him”——

“Can you give us a glass of milk,” I broke in, irreverently, on this bit
of family history, delivered without a pause, with the end, if it had
any, promising to outlive us and run into the next century, “you can get
us something to eat later in the day.”

“Milk certainly you can have all the milk you want and whatever else
there is in the house to eat ’taint much but I’ll do the best I can
what’s your business?”

“Just at present we are in search of clear water and trout.”

“Plenty of trout in the creek though the river’s rily and trout won’t
rise in rily water I suppose you know there’s some big ones in the creek
one took off a leader and fly for me yesterday but I’m goin’ to snatch
him out of that hole yet but what I want to know is what do you do for a
livin’ people have to rustle in this country or tramp.”

Having deposited our traps in the front room, I told her I was a
preacher and the Captain a Sunday-school superintendent.

“Well stranger I haven’t got but mighty little use for gospel sharps
they don’t give anybody’s house a good reputation leastways I’ve so
hearn tell but perhaps if you doesn’t go psalm singin’ and prayin’ round
here nobody ’ill know any better you doesn’t look much like preachers

The conclusion was fired at us over her shoulder as she disappeared
after the milk. I looked at the Captain seriously and asked him if he
thought he could stand it for a day or so; he said he thought he could
by going out early and coming in late and going to sleep the balance of
the time.

The milk was rich and sweet, but a word of commendation inadvertently
uttered by the Captain resulted in a history from birth to maternity,
and the details of travail of each of thirteen cows, with the condition
of their offspring, their present and prospective value and probable

Leaving him to be further enlightened by this disquisition on bovine
tocology, I escaped, and with rod and creel started up the creek. Five
minutes after, and before I had lost sight of the house, a hail from the
Captain brought me to a halt.

“What puzzles me,” said the Captain wearily, “is to learn how that
landlord’s husband had strength enough left to run away; he had three
years of it; his vitality must have been something remarkable.”

“His coming back is harder to comprehend.”

“I think not; that gives me the only solution to the mystery. You see,
he must have been a lunatic; that will account for his strength
physically; and for his returning. But do you see that pool? That’s the
home of the trout that took the landlord’s leader. I’m going for him.”

“All right; I’ll wait and see you do it.”

The Captain slipped down the bank, seeking the shelter of a clump of
willows, and made a cast into the center of a pool, the bare appearance
of which suggested the certain lurking place of trout. He did not have
out over twenty feet of line, and the coachman lit cleverly, but without
effect. Another cast, a little further toward the lower end, and yet no
rise. A third—there is luck in odd numbers—where the water began to
break at the head of the ripple, and the landlord’s trout got himself
into trouble. There was no stiff cane pole with a tyro at the end of it
this time, but a lithe Bethabara of seven ounces, in the hands of one
who knew the use of it. It was a very pretty ten minutes’ fight, when
the despoiler of the landlord’s tackle turned up his side and was towed
ashore; the fish had a remnant of the broken leader still in its jaw. He
weighed a little less than a pound, though we had been informed, as
usual, that his weight was four pounds, at least.

We trudged on up the creek, crossing four or five times to shorten the
walk, until we reached a point two miles from the ranche. Each taking
his side, we began moving down stream, snaking out the little fellows,
from seven to ten inches in length, until we had more than enough for a
late dinner. Concluding that the trout in these grounds might grow a
little if let alone, we walked back. The manner in which the catch was
served up with warm biscuit, fresh butter, and coffee with cream in it,
made the conversation of the landlord interesting.

We were advised, that, had we gone a mile further, larger trout would
have rewarded us. It being affirmed beyond contradiction that the larger
fish were holding a sort of salmon tea higher up stream, and the Rio
Grande still being muddy, the next morning found us nearly a couple of
miles further toward the head waters. But if there were any trout
exceeding a half pound in any of the pools industriously tickled by us,
they must have known who we were, and, therefore, declined an interview.

This kind of sport had not been bargained for; a strict adherence to the
trail, with diligence, would enable us to reach the ranche in time for a
lunch and the buckboard “going down.” We made it, besides having time to
bid our landlord adieu, the sound of her melodious voice gradually dying
out as the wild mules increased the distance between us.

That evening the river gave promise, as usual, of being clear in the
morning, always provided, of course, that it had not rained “up above.”
But the next day we learned that the customary entertainment had taken
place among the lofty peaks of the San Juan. When any man again tells
you that “it never rains in Colorado,” remind him of Ananias’ fate.

A day did come, finally, and go, through all the hours of which the sun
had an easy time of it in making things warm; in the evening we could
fairly see the boulders in the river, and the next day it was clear. But
back in the west the clouds had already gathered, and if any trout were
to be captured we could not stand upon the order of our going. After
breakfast half a dozen of us piled into the wagon, rode five miles down
the river and began operations, which we were satisfied must cease by
noon. For half an hour or so the trout raised fairly, and then the casts
increased from one to a dozen, and this was finally resolved into a
devoted whipping of every likely place without avail.

Toward lunch time I waded ashore, clambered up the bank ten feet above
the river, and stood waiting for my comrade of the morning. He was
standing in the stiff current, thigh deep, and faithfully sending his
flies into a long eddy thirty feet away. I called him, but the response
I received was that the place had never failed him, and he wanted to go
the length of it. So I stood watching the play of his split bamboo and
the curl of the light silk line; now and then the heel of his leader
would strike, but generally the coachman on the end was first to touch
the water. He had told me only the day before, though he acknowledged it
was beyond his skill, that in casting, one should never use more than
the forearm; that to confine the movement to the wrist was still better.
The awkwardness of the full-stretched arm swinging back and forth was
apparent, but to one unaccustomed to light tackle the habit is hard to
overcome. I told him to keep his arm down, and he did for two or three
casts; then up it went again, he forgetting the admonition in his desire
to reach a few feet further. When I reminded him of it he looked round,
laughingly, and said he couldn’t. Just then my attention was called to a
pilgrim with weak eyes peering out from under the broken-down brim of an
old felt hat, sallow as the mug it covered; his butternut jeans tucked
in his boots, and his woolen shirt suggestive of other occupants than

“What does a pole like that cost, Mister?” motioning with his head to
the bamboo I held in my hand. Being disposed to treat everybody with
civility, I told him.

“I don’t think anybody kin ketch fish with that ’ar thing, ’cept little
ones. I like one o’ them long stiff fellers to jerk ’em with; I
shouldn’t think this here thing was no account,” and he gesticulated
with his head again. “Now, the best way to git fish is with a net; now,
I wish I had a net; look at that ’ar man thar, he’ll not git a fish in a

“Mark you, my friend!” The libel stepped back a couple of paces; I don’t
know why. “If you catch fish in that way, they will cost you ten dollars
each,” I continued mildly. “Try it, I wish you would; there is a
standing reward of five hundred dollars for such fishermen as you claim
to be; perhaps I might get the money and you a rope.”

“See here, Mister, I ain’t got no net; I ain’t goin’ to ketch no fish;
I’m goin’ to Silverton; I don’t keer ’bout fishin’ no way; hits mighty
po’ business.”

“The sooner you get to Silverton the better—every man, woman and child
in this park wants to earn that five hundred dollars.”

What further I might have said I don’t know, but just then my friend
with the split bamboo hailed me; he had made a strike, to his own
surprise as well as mine, for the water had become quite cloudy. With
his face down stream and rod well up, he was talking to his victim much
as one would address a fractious colt. It was pleasant to listen to his
expressions of assurance that no harm should come to his troutship if he
would only behave himself, followed by a threatening admonition at every
rush for liberty. If my tall friend was not skilful enough to carry away
the first prize at a casting tournament, he knew at least how to handle
and save the victim he had struck. Having quite exhausted him, he was
reeled in till the line could be grasped, and the trout was drawn
cautiously within reach; the line was then changed to the rod hand, and
with a quick movement, evidently not acquired without practice, that
trout was scooped up against the angler’s stomach; the next movement was
to run his dexter finger into the trout’s mouth, press his thumb upon
its neck and break it, the fish being held in the left hand, and the
three fingers of the right holding the rod. Having thus killed him, the
hook was removed, and he was held up triumphantly to be admired. The
rest of the party had arrived in time to see the close of the struggle
with a handsome two pounds and three ounces of salmon-colored luxury.

The misery under the felt hat had departed.


                              HIS SERMON.

John Doe—and by Doe I do not mean the Doe ex dem. Gorges vs. Webb, nor
Doe, lessee of Gibbon vs. Pott. My John Doe was not a Doe of fiction,
but a gentleman of flesh and blood. He was not a great man, it is true,
except in the matter of temperance and cleanliness. As he has not gone
into history because of either of those virtues, and has no doubt been,
in the course of nature, long since gathered to his fathers, leaving no
issue, I may write of him without fear of giving offense.

The unblemished linen and highly polished shoes of Mr. Doe always
challenged my boyish admiration. The enviable condition of his shoes I
could account for. He cleaned them with his own hands, I knew, because I
had, on more than one occasion, discovered him in the act. Whatever Mr.
Doe did, he endeavored, at least, to do well. There were no dull spots
on his shoes, but an exquisite evenness of polish pervaded their whole
surface from heel to toe and from top to shank. In connection with the
linen they indicated to me the possession by their owner of an always
desirable credit. I had been taught to believe that no gentleman ever
permitted himself to be seen in foxy shoes or soiled linen. It did not
follow, of course, that all men in clean shoes and linen were gentlemen,
nor did I so understand it, but that the fortunate possessor of these
well conditioned articles of apparel presented, as it were, a _prima
facie_ case for my consideration. They were component parts, so to
speak, in the absence of which, the accomplishment of the structure
suggested would be an impossibility. The garments of Mr. Doe were rarely
new, as a whole; a new coat, for instance, was not always seen in his
company with a new pair of trousers. Whether he labored under the
impression that the display of an entire new suit upon his person would
mark him as a man of too much magnificence, or whether the condition of
his finances deterred him, I am not prepared to say. But whether new, or
napless and white at the seams, they were always innocent of dust. His
linen, however, was a mystery to me; certainly he did not himself do it
up, he kept no servant and it was not sent out. It may be surmised that
I had rather an intimate acquaintance with the domestic establishment of
Mr. Doe. I did, and it was not savory—I mean when considered from the
broom and soap and water stand-point.

The house of Mr. Doe was the home of odors, wherein the fragrance of
boiled cabbage and onions seemed to wage perpetual warfare for
supremacy. The pattern of the carpet in the best room has escaped my
memory, but a spot in it will always linger with me as fixed as in the
carpet. This spot was about the size of an ordinary chair seat, and was
always associated in my mind with a ham, a twenty pound ham; as if the
hind-quarter of a magnificent porker had suddenly melted its shape into
the brown and orange tints of the best carpet and refused, with porcine
obstinacy, to come out. The furniture, as long as I saw it, was in a
chronic state of immature cleanliness, and impressed me with the idea
that some one had been round with a wet cloth, and, having been suddenly
called to the front door, had neglected to come back.

Mrs. Doe I remember as a tall, thin lady, in a black calico gown with
little round gray and brown spots; and I have a recollection of debating
in my mind as to the original color of those spots, and of concluding
that they had at one time been uniformly white, and that that time must
have been long before I had enjoyed the acquaintance of Mrs. Doe. The
complexion of Mrs. Doe was dark, her eyes brown, and her hair, which was
abundant and black, always looked dusty and as if about to tumble down.
I remember seeing the lady once seated in a Windsor chair with her heels
resting on the front edge—at least I supposed her heels were there—her
chin resting on her knees and her hands clasped round her ankles. She
said to me upon that occasion that she was not well, and when I
sympathized with her I wondered whether it was cabbage or onions, or
both. But as I have to do principally with Mr. Doe, I trust I may not be
charged with lack of gallantry, if, without apology, I take leave of his
estimable lady.

Mr. Doe worked in blue cotton overalls six days in the week, as a maker
of watches, and walked on the seventh, the weather permitting; or he
walked on the first and worked on the other six days, as you please. He
always walked with a cane; why, was also for some time a mystery, he
being an active man with no apparent use for support of that character.
As a boy, I had an interest in both his occupation and amusement; an
ambition to possess a result of the one and to join him in the other.
Too young, and withal beset by the poverty usually attendant upon youth,
to have the first, and deterred by maternal influences from indulging in
the latter, were among my tribulations of that period. I contemplated
the bliss of walking with Mr. Doe with an eagerness hard to overcome;
and I have sometimes felt that the fear of mere reproof, unaided by the
respect in which I held the tender branches of the beautiful shellbark
in our back yard, would not have prevented my running away. One other
obstacle conspired with those already suggested, more potent perhaps
than either: permission was a condition precedent to the acquiescence of
Mr. Doe.

But there came a day when my best friend was away from home, and I felt
emboldened to interrupt my other best friend in the act of putting the
fork into the breast of a beautifully browned canvas-back, with the
suggestion, that on the morrow, with his permission, I would be pleased
to take a walk with Mr. Doe.

“Take a walk with Mr. Doe!” The wings and legs of the duck were severed
upon reaching the exclamation point, and the blade of the carver was
finding its way delicately through the plump breast and becoming dim
with the roseate tint, that denoted the skill of the cook, when he

“To-morrow is Sunday, and you should go to Sunday school and to church.”

My bosom became as bare of hope as the carcass before me was of meat.

“What would your mother say?”

“I dunno.”

“Ah, you are not certain, then?”

Thinking, perhaps, that he was pressing me too closely in the wrong
direction for his purpose, he gave me some relief by inquiring the
direction of Mr. Doe’s proposed tour.

“Out in the country.”

“Mr. Doe is going hunting, I suppose?”

“Oh, no! he wouldn’t hunt Sunday; I don’t think he’s fond of hunting;
and, besides, isn’t it wicked to hunt on Sundays, and shoot off your gun
and make a noise?”

“Perhaps it is, but—” upon reflection, at this distance of time, I
think my interrogator was about putting a leading question, suggesting
an analogy beyond my capacity to distinguish, except in the matter of
the noise. At all events he hesitated,—“but, as I am informed, Mr. Doe
generally remains away all day when he takes his walks on Sunday—you
will lose your dinner.”

“I shall not want any dinner.”

“No, of course—not till noon; but take a lunch, and be a good boy.”

I do not remember at this late day whether or not, upon the foregoing
announcement, I apprehended that Mr. Doe might, through some possible
contingency, vary his custom, and go walking Saturday afternoon. I did,
however, deem it expedient to leave my dinner unfinished, with a view of
communicating with him without delay. Receiving his assurance that he
would take me to walk with him on the morrow, I went back to my pastry.
The sun came up as usual the next day; there had been no convulsion of
nature, in our vicinity at least; the morning was cloudless, without any
prospect of untoward circumstance to interfere with our anticipated

Mr. Doe announced himself at our front gate immediately after breakfast;
he would no doubt have come to the door had I not obviated the necessity
for his so doing by neglecting my coffee, and nervously anticipating him
on the porch. He had his cane with him, and his shoes and linen
presented their ordinary, unobjectionable appearance, as if defiant of

Our course was through the city, westerly some three miles, and out to a
road beyond what in those days was called “The Heights.” The
neighborhood was new to me, and Mr. Doe took pleasure, seemingly, in
pointing out various objects of interest, not forgetting walnut and
hickory trees, and even persimmons, that gave promise of good things
after frost. Among other things, I remember he called my attention to a
blue and misty looking object a great distance off, which looked in
shape like the Pyramids of Egypt, as shown in my geography. This, he
told me, was the Sugar Loaf; and when I asked him why it was so named,
he thought because it did not resemble a sugar loaf. But it was my first
mountain, and I have always carried with me a pleasant remembrance of
it. Our road lay by an old frame house, with a porch and well, at which
we stopped to drink. The house, he told me, was known as the “Bull’s
Head;” why it was so named he was unable to inform me. Finally we
reached the vicinity of it covered bridge, spanning a fine stream. He
said it was the “Chain Bridge,” but not seeing any chains, I felt
compelled to inquire why everything away from home seemed to bear titles
that were evidently not appropriate. Not being able to impart to me any
satisfactory information upon that head, he called my attention to the
Little Falls; I learned these were called Little, because there were Big
Falls farther up stream.

Mr. Doe informed me that this was a good place to fish. Unskilled in the
gentle art, but curious, I suggested that it would afford me infinite
delight to see him fish. He then wanted to know if I would not like to
try my hand; being informed of my inability to do so through lack of
knowledge and tackle, he forthwith cut a small pole, and from the hidden
recess of his coat produced a line with a float and hook. Having rigged
me out, he proceeded to unscrew the ferrule of his cane, and lo! the
inseparable walking stick was transformed into a rod; his own
manufacture, he said, as he held it out with the air of a critic and
pardonable self-complacency. The recesses of his coat were again
resorted to, resulting in a tin mustard box well filled with angle
worms. Baiting my hook, he stationed me on a large rock and directed me
to drop the lure into the gentle eddy beneath. That float, I remember,
was painted red on the top, and looked to me like a highly colored
bird’s egg drifting out of its element. Being informed that to watch it
was my business, I did so with assiduity. Presently it bobbed up and
down, then fell over on its side, then again bobbed up and down as
though it were sentient and in sound of a fiddle exuding a hornpipe. I
inquired of Mr. Doe the meaning of this, and was admonished by him to
“look out,” that I had a nibble. Of all things desirable to me at that
crisis, next to a bite, was a nibble. There was contained in it a fund
of encouragement absolutely infinite, that left hope in the distance and
resolved itself at once into faith.

“Now, jerk!” exclaimed Mr. Doe, as the float started off rapidly and
suddenly disappeared. I jerked. And behold! a bit of burnished silver
but little longer than my hand, its dorsal as suddenly expanded as if
moved by electricity, standing stiff and defiant upon the sudden change
of elements, only a shade duller than the sun’s rays, as it flashed into
the light,—any first white perch, and my initial piscatorial triumph.
Proud! The result of the accomplished details of section two of article
two of our glorious bulwark announced to the fortunate choice of the
majority of the unsoaped out of the seventeen millions and odd of the
free and enlightened, placed him upon no loftier ground; I would have
patronized His Excellency at that sublime moment.

“It was born in you,” said Mr. Doe, as he relieved the captive and
placed him in my outstretched hands. My perception of Mr. Doe’s meaning
was intuitive, and I suggested that I would like conviction impressed
upon the mind of my other best friend by a personal examination of this
peerless perch. Nothing could be more easily accomplished; it was
slipped on a stout string and consigned to an isolated pool. During the
ensuing hour my attention was divided between the jail of my captive,
the red-top cork and the actions of Mr. Doe; that gentleman had
stationed himself a few yards below me, and had secured quite a
respectable string of perch, while I had added several, beside two
tobacco-boxes, to my own.

At lunch it dawned upon me to inquire of Mr. Doe if he did not think it
wicked to fish on the Sabbath. My recollection is that he felt loth to
set himself up as a judge in the matter. But the leaping stream, the
picturesque rocks, the trees and sweet air had attractions for him, and
he could enjoy them but one day in seven; for those who had nothing else
to do the case might be different; he thought that perhaps education had
much to do with the matter—“One man esteemeth one day above another;
another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in
his own mind;” said Mr. Doe.

Somehow it crept into my youthful imagination, as I listened to him,
that the beautiful river, the rocks and the trees, had been created for
him, but that he claimed no monopoly. Yet no rich man could purchase
them nor deprive him of his property; that for this he was thankful, and
entertained for the philanthropic Creator of these the same sort of
reverence, but in a new and quiet way, that I had been accustomed to
hear must, to be acceptable, be expressed within doors. And I wondered,
if he should be so unfortunate as to die then and there, whether he
would go to heaven. My doubts as to myself, and the propriety of my
participation in his peculiar worship were grave in the extreme.

The doubts, however, did not prevent my renewing the fascinating
occupation of the forenoon, and thereby adding a few more victims to my
already questionable spoils.

The shadows began to lengthen and grow quite grotesque is their
attenuation, before I inquired of Mr. Doe as to his intentions about
returning. He gave as his reason for not going sooner that he deferred
to the prejudices of others to the extent of avoiding any aggressive
expression of his own opinions, by trailing his fish through town in
daylight. That while he saw no impropriety in passing the Sabbath
out-doors in the fresh air and sunlight, there were those who would be
shocked at what they deemed a desecration. He felt responsible to a
higher authority for his acts, and would render his accounts at the
proper forum in due course of time. Meanwhile he proposed to follow the
admonition of the great apostle: “_If it be possible_, as much as lieth
in you, live peaceably with all men.” Upon this he transformed his rod
again into a walking stick, carefully stowed away the lines, and threw
the remaining bait into the stream; we gathered up what had been
vouchsafed us and started for home.

Tho condition of Mr. Doe’s mind was unquestionably tranquil, while mine
was incumbered with doubts, yet devoid of apprehension, in the matter of
serious consequences, at least. Our walk home was accomplished
satisfactorily, the latter part of it being in the dark through the
neighborhoods where we were best known, the twilight being short in that
latitude and gas then only a possibility. He who had given me permission
to go walking expressed severe astonishment at the evidences of the
day’s doings presented to him. Mr. Doe was not a large man, but his
shoulders were broad; he improved upon our original ancestor by assuming
the responsibility. My enthusiastic portrayal of the delights
experienced were listened to, I thought, with interest; I did not go
supperless to bed, and I had some of the fish for breakfast. The diet
was no novelty, but the flavor upon that occasion far surpassed that of
any former experience, and no fish since has tasted so sweet as that
first perch. The burnished silver tint had given way to an exquisite
brown, delicate as the hue of an amber cloud painted by the evening rays
of an autumn sun. Crisp, and with a fragrance to subdue the censorious
palate of an epicure, he invited me to remove his dorsal, and lay bare
in equal halves the firm, white meat; next, without a hair’s-breadth
torn, the backbone cleaved as smoothly as a type from its matrix, and
appetite and palate joined in adulation. I would cherish the memory
tenderly, but, above all, the text and sermon of Mr. Doe.



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