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Title: Spring notes from Tennessee
Author: Torrey, Bradford
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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        Books by Mr. Torrey.

    BIRDS IN THE BUSH. 16mo, $1.25.
    A RAMBLER'S LEASE. 16mo, $1.25.
    THE FOOT-PATH WAY. 16mo, gilt top, $1.25.
    A FLORIDA SKETCH-BOOK. 16mo, $1.25.
    SPRING NOTES FROM TENNESSEE. 16mo, $1.25.

        HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.
         BOSTON AND NEW YORK.



        SPRING NOTES FROM TENNESSEE

                     BY

               BRADFORD TORREY


    We travelled in the print of olden wars;
        Yet all the land was green.

                           ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

               [Illustration]

            BOSTON AND NEW YORK
       HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
       The Riverside Press, Cambridge
                    1896



              Copyright, 1896,
             BY BRADFORD TORREY.

            _All rights reserved._


_The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._

 Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.



CONTENTS.


                                               PAGE

    AN IDLER ON MISSIONARY RIDGE                  1

    LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN                             28

    CHICKAMAUGA                                  57

    ORCHARD KNOB AND THE NATIONAL CEMETERY       89

    AN AFTERNOON BY THE RIVER                   102

    A MORNING IN THE NORTH WOODS                113

    A WEEK ON WALDEN'S RIDGE                    124

    SOME TENNESSEE BIRD NOTES                   183

    A LIST OF BIRDS                             213

    INDEX                                       221



SPRING NOTES FROM TENNESSEE.



AN IDLER ON MISSIONARY RIDGE.


I reached Chattanooga on the evening of April 26th, in the midst of
a rattling thunder-shower,--which, to look back upon it, seems to
have been prophetic,--and the next morning, after an early breakfast,
took an electric car for Missionary Ridge. Among my fellow-passengers
were four Louisiana veterans fresh from their annual reunion at
Birmingham, where, doubtless, their hearts had been kindled by much
fervent oratory, as well as by much private talk of those bygone days
when they did everything but die for the cause they loved. As the
car mounted the Ridge, one of them called his companions' attention
to a place down the valley where "the Rebels and the Yankees" (his
own words) used to meet to play cards. "A regular gambling-hole,"
he called it. Their boys brought back lots of coffee. In another
direction was a spot where the Rebels once "had a regular picnic,"
killing some extraordinary number of Yankees in some incredibly
brief time. I interrupted the conversation, and at the same time
made myself known as a stranger and a Northerner, by inquiring after
the whereabouts of Orchard Knob, General Grant's headquarters; and
the same man, who seemed to be the spokesman of the party, after
pointing out the place, a savin-sprinkled knoll between us and the
city, kindly invited me to go with him and his comrades up to the
tower,--on the site of General Bragg's headquarters,--where he would
show me the whole battlefield and tell me about the fight.

We left the car together for that purpose, and walked up the slope to
the foot of the observatory,--an open structure of iron, erected by
the national government; but just then my ear caught somewhere beyond
us the song of a Bachman's finch,--a song I had heard a year before
in the pine woods of Florida, and, in my ignorance, was unprepared
for here. I must see the bird and make sure of its identity. It led
me a little chase, and when I had seen it I must look also at a
summer tanager, a chat, and so on, one thing leading to another; and
by the time I returned to the observatory the veterans had come down
and were under some apple-trees, from one of which the spokesman was
cutting a big walking-stick. He had stood under those trees--which
were now in bloom--thirty years before, he said, with General Bragg
himself.

I was sorry to have missed his story of the battle, and ashamed to
have seemed ungrateful and rude, but I forget what apology I offered.
At this distance it is hard to see how I could have got out of the
affair with much dignity. I might have heard all about the battle
from a man who was there, and instead I went off to listen to a
sparrow singing in a bush. I thought, to be sure, that the men would
be longer upon the observatory, and that I should still be in season.
Probably that was my excuse, if I made one; and in all likelihood
the veteran was too completely taken up with his own concerns to
think twice about the vagaries of a stray Yankee, who seemed to be
an odd stick, to say nothing worse of him. Well, the loss, such
as it was, was mine, not his; and I have lost too much time in the
way of business to fret over a little lost (or saved) in the way of
pleasure. As for any apparent lack of patriotic feeling, I suppose
that the noblest patriot in the world, if he chanced to be also an
ornithologist, would notice a bird even amid the smoke of battle; and
why should not I do as much on a field from which the battle smoke
had vanished thirty years before?

So I reason now; at the time I had no leisure for such sophistries.
Every moment brought some fresh distraction. The long hill--woodland,
brambly pasture, and shrubby dooryard--was a nest of singing birds;
and when at last I climbed the tower, I came down again almost as
suddenly as my Louisiana friends had done. The landscape,--the city
and its suburbs, the river, the mountains,--all this would be here
to-morrow; just now there were other things to look at. Here in the
grass, almost under my nose, were a pair of Bewick wrens, hopping
and walking by turns, as song sparrows may sometimes be found doing;
conscious through and through of my presence, yet affecting to
ignore it; carrying themselves with an indescribable and pretty
demureness, as if a nest were something never dreamed of by birds
of their kind; the female, nevertheless, having at that moment her
beak bristling with straws, while the male, a proud young husband,
hovered officiously about her with a continual sweetly possessive
manner and an occasional burst of song. Till yesterday Bewick's wren
had been nothing but a name to me. Then, somewhere after crossing the
state line, the train stopped at a station, and suddenly through the
open window came a song. "That's a Bewick wren," I said to myself,
as I stepped across the aisle to look out; and there he stood, on
the fence beside the track, his long tail striking the eye on the
instant. He sang again, and once again, before the train started.
Tennessee was beginning well with a visiting bird-gazer.

There must be some wrennish quality about the Bewick's song, it would
seem: else how did I recognize it so promptly? And yet, so far as I
am able to give an account of my own impressions, it had in my ears
no resemblance to any wren song I had ever heard. I think it never
suggested to me any music except the song sparrow's. The truth is, I
suppose, that we _feel_ resemblances and relationships of which the
mind takes no cognizance.

I wandered at a venture down the further slope, turning this way and
that as a song invited me. Here were Southerners and Northerners
fraternally commingled: summer tanagers, Carolina wrens, blue-gray
gnatcatchers, cardinal grosbeaks, chats, Bachman finches, field
sparrows, chippers, white-throated sparrows, chewinks, indigo
buntings, black-poll warblers, myrtle-birds, prairie warblers, a
Maryland yellow-throat, a bay-breasted warbler, a black-and-white
creeper, a redstart, brown thrushes, catbirds, a single mocking-bird,
wood thrushes, red-eyed vireos, white-eyed vireos, wood pewees, a
quail, and, in the air, purple martins and turkey buzzards. On the
Ridge, as well as near the foot on our way up, a mocking-bird and a
wood thrush sang within hearing of each other. Comparison as between
birds so dissimilar is useless and out of place; but how shall a man
avoid it? The mocking-bird is a great vocalist,--yes, and a great
singer; but to my Northern ears the wood thrush carried the day with
his _voice_.

Having climbed the Ridge again,--though climbing might be thought
rather too laborious a word for so gradual a slope,--and started
down on the side toward the city, I came to a patch of blackberry
vines, in the midst of which sat a thrasher on her nest, all a
mother's anxiety in her staring yellow eyes. Close by her stood
an olive-backed thrush. There, too, was my first hooded warbler,
a female. She escaped me the next instant, though I made an eager
chase, not knowing yet how common birds of her sort were to prove in
that Chattanooga country.

In my delight at finding Missionary Ridge so happy a hunting-ground
for an opera-glass naturalist, I went thither again the very
next morning. This time some Virginia veterans were in the car
(they all wore badges), and when we had left it, and were about
separating,--after a bit of talk about the battle, of course,--one
of them, with almost painful scrupulosity, insisted upon assuring me
that if the thing were all to be done over again, he should do just
as before. One of his comrades, seeing me a Northerner, interrupted
him more than once in a vain attempt to smooth matters over. They had
buried the hatchet, he said; let bygones be bygones. But the first
man was not to be cajoled with a phrase. He spoke without passion,
with no raising of the voice, quite simply and amicably: he too
accepted the result; the thing never _would_ be done over again; only
let his position be understood,--he had nothing to take back. It was
impossible not to respect such conscientiousness. For my own part, at
any rate, I felt no prompting to argue against it, being sufficiently
"opinionated" to appreciate a difficulty which some obstinate people
experience in altering their convictions as circumstances change,
or accepting the failure of a cause as proof of its injustice. If
a man is not _too_ obstinate, to be sure, time and the course of
events may bring him new light; but that is another matter. Once,
when the men were talking among themselves, I overheard one say, as
he pointed down the hill, "The Rebels were there, and the Union men
yonder." That careless recurrence of the word "Rebel" came to me as a
surprise.

The principal excitement of the morning was a glimpse of a Kentucky
warbler, a bird most peculiarly desired. I had finished my jaunt,
and was standing beside the bramble patch not far from the railway,
where I had seen the hooded warbler the day before, when the splendid
creature flashed into sight, saw me, uttered a volley of quick, clear
notes, and vanished up the hillside. I ran after him, but might as
well have remained where I was. "He _is_ a beauty!" I find written
in my notebook. And so he is, clothed in lustrous olive and the
most gorgeous of yellows with trimmings of black, all in the best
of taste, with nothing patchy, nothing fantastic or even fanciful.
I was again impressed with the abundance of chats, indigo-birds,
and white-eyed vireos. Bachman sparrows were numerous, also, in
appropriate localities,--dry and bushy,--and I noted a bluebird, a
yellow-throated vireo, and, shouting from a dead treetop, a great
crested flycatcher.

My most vivid recollection of this second visit, however, is of the
power of the sun, an old enemy of mine, by whom, in my ignorance
of spring weather in Tennessee, I allowed myself to be taken at a
cruel noonday disadvantage. Even now, in the deep frigidity of a
Massachusetts winter, I cannot think of Missionary Ridge without
seeing again those long stretches of burning sunshine, wherein the
least spot of shade was like a palm in the desert. In every such
shelter I used to stand awhile, bareheaded; then, marking the next
similar haven, so many rods ahead, I would hoist my umbrella and
push forward, cringing at every step as if I were crossing a field
under fire. Possibly I exaggerate, but, if I do, it is very little;
and though it be an abuse of an exquisite poem, I say over to myself
again and again a couplet of Miss Guiney's:--

    "Weather on a sunny ridge,
    Showery weather, far from here."

In truth, early as the season was, the excessive heat, combined with
a trying dog-day humidity, sadly circumscribed all my Tennessee
rambles. As for my umbrella, my obligations to it were such that
nothing but a dread of plagiarism has restrained me from entitling
this sketch "An Umbrella on Missionary Ridge." Nature never intended
me for a tropical explorer. Often I did nothing more than seek a
shady retreat and stay there, letting the birds come to me, if they
would.

Improved after this indolent fashion, one of the hottest of my
forenoons became also one of the most enjoyable. I left the car
midway up the Ridge,--at the angle of the Y,--and, passing my
thrasher's blackberry tangle and descending a wooded slope, found
myself unexpectedly in a pleasant place, half wood, half grassy
field, through which ran a tiny streamlet, the first one I had seen
in this dry and thirsty land. Near the streamlet, on the edge of the
wood, quite by itself, stood a cabin of most forlorn appearance, with
a garden patch under the window,--if there _was_ a window, as to
which I do not remember, and the chances seem against it,--the whole
closely and meanly surrounded by a fence. In the door stood an aged
white woman, looking every whit as old and forlorn as the cabin, with
a tall mastiff on one side of her and a black cat on the other.

"Your dog and cat are good friends," I remarked, feeling it polite to
speak even to a stranger in so lonesome a spot.

"Yes," she answered gruffly, "they're good friends, only once in a
while he wants to kill her."

She said nothing more, and her manner did not encourage further
attempts at neighborly intercourse; but as I passed the cabin now and
then during the forenoon, the birds leading me about, I heard her
muttering often and at considerable length to her hens and ducks.
Evidently she enjoyed conversation as well as most people, only
she liked to pick her own company. She was "Aunt Tilly," I learned
afterwards, and had lived there by herself for many years; one of the
characters of the city, a fortune-teller, whose professional services
were in frequent request.

In this favored nook, especially along the watercourse, were many
birds, some of them at home for the summer, but the greater part,
no doubt, lying over for a day or two on their long northward
journey. Not one of them but was interesting to me here in a new
country, however familiar it might have become in New England. Here
were at least eleven kinds of warblers: black-polls of both sexes,
black-throated blues, chestnut-sides, myrtle-birds, golden warblers,
black-and-white creepers, redstarts (have we anything handsomer?),
Maryland yellow-throats, blue golden-wings, chats, and Kentuckies.
Here were blue-gray gnatcatchers, bluebirds, wood thrushes, veeries,
an olive-backed thrush, catbirds, thrashers, Carolina wrens, tufted
titmice, a Carolina chickadee, summer tanagers uncounted, orchard
orioles, field sparrows, chippers, a Bachman sparrow (unseen), a
cardinal, a chewink, flocks of indigo-birds and goldfinches, red-eyed
vireos, white-eyed vireos, a yellow-throated vireo, kingbirds, and a
crested flycatcher.

In an oak at the corner of Aunt Tilly's cabin a pair of gnatcatchers
had built a nest; an exquisite piece of work, large and curiously
cylindrical,--not tapering at the base,--set off with a profusion of
gray lichens, and saddled upon one limb directly under another, as
if for shelter. If the gnatcatcher is not a great singer (his voice
is slender, like himself), he is near the head of his profession as
an architect and a builder. Twice, in the most senseless manner, one
of the birds--the female, I had no doubt, in spite of the adjective
just applied to her conduct--stood beside the nest and scolded at
me; then, having freed her mind and attracted my attention, she got
inside and began pecking here and there at the rim, apparently giving
it the final touches. The tufted tits whistled unseen with all their
characteristic monotony. The veeries and the olive-back kept silence,
but the wood thrushes, as was their daily habit, made the woods ring.
One of them was building a nest.

Most admired of all were the Kentucky warblers, of which there were
at least five. It was my first real sight of them, and, fortunately,
they were not in the least bashful. They spent the time mostly on
the ground, in open, grassy places, especially about the roots of
trees and thorn-bushes,--the latter now snowy with bloom,--once in a
while hopping a few inches up the bole, as if to pick off insects.
In movement and attitude they made me think often of the Connecticut
warbler, although when startled they took a higher perch. Once I
saw one of them under a pretty tuft of the showy blue baptisia (_B.
australis_),--a new bird in the shadow of a new flower! Who says that
life is an old story? From the general manner of the birds,--more
easily felt than defined,--as well as from their presence in a group
and their silence, I inferred, rightly or wrongly, that they had
but recently arrived. For aught I yet knew, they might be nothing
but wayfarers,--a happy uncertainty which made them only the more
interesting. Of their beauty I have already spoken. It would be
impossible to speak of it too highly.

As I took the car at noon, I caught sight of a wonderfully bright
blood-red flower on the bank above the track, and, as I was the only
passenger, the conductor kindly waited for me to run up and pluck it.
It turned out to be a catchfly, and, like the Kentucky warbler, it
became common a little later. "Indian pink," one of my Walden's Ridge
friends said it was called; a pretty name, but to me "battlefield
pink" or "carnage pink" would have seemed more appropriate.

I had found an aviary, I thought, this open grove of Aunt Tilly's,
with its treasure of a brook, and at the earliest opportunity I went
that way again. Indeed, I went more than once. But the birds were no
longer there. What I had seen was mainly a flock of "transients,"
a migratory "wave." On the farther side of the Ridge, however, I
by and by discovered a spot more permanently attractive,--a little
valley in the hillside. Here was a spring, and from it, nearly dry
as it was, there still oozed a slender rill, which trickled halfway
down the slope before losing itself in the sand, and here and there
dribbled into a basin commodious enough for a small bird's bath.
Several times I idled away an hour or two in this retreat, under the
shadow of red maples, sweet-gums, sycamores, and tupelos, making an
occasional sortie into the sun as an adventurous mood came over me or
a distant bird-call proved an irresistible attraction.

They were pleasant hours, but I recall them with a sense of waste and
discomfort. In familiar surroundings, such waitings upon Nature's
mood are profitable, wholesome for body and soul; but in vacation
time, and away from home, with new paths beckoning a man this way and
that, and a new bird, for aught he can tell, singing beyond the next
hill,--at such a time, I think, sitting still becomes a burden, and
the cheerful practice of "a wise passiveness" a virtue beyond the
comfortable reach of ordinary flesh and blood. Along the upper edge
of the glen a road ran downward into the valley east of the Ridge,
and now and then a carriage or a horseman passed. It would have been
good to follow them. All that valley country, as I surveyed it from
the railway and the tower, had an air of invitingness: beautiful
woods, with footpaths and unfrequented roads. In them I must have
found birds, flowers, and many a delightful nook. If the Fates could
have sent me one cool day!

Yet for all my complaining, I have lived few more enjoyable Sunday
forenoons than one that I passed most inactively in this same
hillside hollow. As I descended the bank to the spring, two or three
goldfinches were singing (goldfinch voices go uncommonly well in
chorus, and the birds seem to know it); a female tanager sat before
me calling _clippity_, _clippity_; a field sparrow, a mocking wren,
and a catbird sang in as many different directions; and a pair of
thrashers--whose nest could not be far away--flitted nervously about,
uttering characteristic moaning whistles. If they felt half as badly
as their behavior indicated, their case was tragical indeed; but at
the moment, instead of pitying them, I fell to wondering just when it
is that the thrasher _smacks_ (all friends of his are familiar with
his resounding imitation of a kiss), and when it is that he whistles.
I have never made out, although I believe I know pretty well the
states of mind thus expressed. The thrasher is to a peculiar degree
a bird of passion; ecstatic in song, furious in anger, irresistibly
pitiful in lamentation. How any man can rob a thrasher's nest with
that heartbroken whistle in his ears is more than I can imagine.

Indigo-birds are here, of course. Their number is one of the marvels
of this country,--though indeed the country seems made for them, as
it is also for chats and white-eyed vireos. A bit farther down the
valley, as I come to the maples and tupelos, with their grateful
density of shade, a wood pewee sings, and then a wood thrush. At the
same moment, an Acadian flycatcher, who is always here (his nest
is building overhead, as, after a while, I discover), salutes me
with a quick, spiteful note. "No trespassing," he says. Landowners
are pretty much alike. I pass on, but not far, and beside a little
thicket I take up my stand, and wait. It is pleasant here, and
patience will be rewarded. Yes, there is a magnolia warbler, my
second Tennessee specimen; a great beauty, but without that final
perfection of good taste (simplicity) which distinguishes the
Kentucky. I see him, and he is gone, and I am not to be drawn into
a chase. Now I have a glimpse of a thrush; an olive-back, from what
I can see, but I cannot be sure. Still I keep my place. A blue-gray
gnatcatcher is drawling somewhere in the leafy treetops. Thence, too,
a cuckoo fires off a lively fusillade of _kuks_,--a yellow-bill,
by that token. Next a black-poll warbler shows himself, still far
from home, though he has already traveled a long way northward;
and then, in one of the basins of the stream (if we may call it a
stream, in which there is no semblance of a current), a chat comes
to wash himself. Now I see the thrush again; or rather, I hear him
whistle, and by moving a step or two I get him with my eye. He _is_
an olive-back, as his whistle of itself would prove; and presently
he begins to sing, to my intense delight. Soon two others are in
voice with him. Am I on Missionary Ridge or in the Crawford Notch?
I stand motionless, and listen and listen, but my enjoyment is
interrupted by a new pleasure. A warbler, evidently a female, from
a certain quietness and plainness, and, as I take it, a blue-winged
yellow, though I have never seen a female of that species (and only
once a male--three days ago at Chickamauga), comes to the edge of
the pool, and in another minute her mate is beside her. Him there is
no mistaking. They fly away in a bit of lovers' quarrel, a favorite
pastime with mated birds. And look! there is a scarlet tanager; the
same gorgeous fellow, I suppose, that was here two days ago, and the
only one I have seen in this lower country. What a beauty he is! One
of the finest; handsomer, so I think, than the handsomest of his
all-red cousins. Now he calls _chip-cherr_, and now he breaks into
song. There he falls behind; his cousin's voice is less hoarse, and
his style less labored and jerky.

Now straight before me, up a woody aisle, an olive-backed thrush
stands in full view and a perfect light, facing me and singing,
a lovely chorister. Looking at him, I catch a flutter of yellow
and black among the leaves by the streamlet; a Kentucky warbler, I
suspect, but I dare not go forward to see, for now the thrushes are
in chorus again. By and by he comes up from his bath, and falls to
dressing his feathers: not a Kentucky, after all, but a Canadian
flycatcher, my first one here. He, too, is an exquisite, with fine
colors finely laid on, and a most becoming jet necklace. While I am
admiring him, a blue yellow-back begins to practice his scales--still
a little blurred, and needing practice, a critic might say--somewhere
at my right among the hillside oaks; another exquisite, a beauty
among beauties. I see him, though he is out of sight. And what seems
odd, at this very moment his rival as a singer of the scale, the
prairie warbler, breaks out on the other side of me. Like the chat
and the indigo-bird, he is abundantly at home hereabout.

All this woodland music is set off by spaces of silence, sweeter
almost than the music itself. Here is peace unbroken; here is a
delicious coolness, while the sun blazes upon the dusty road above
me. How amiable a power is contrast--on its softer side! I think of
the eager, bloody, sweaty, raging men, who once stormed up these
slopes, killing and being killed. The birds know nothing of all
that. It might have been thousands of years ago. The very trees have
forgotten it. Two or three cows come feeding down the glade, with
the lazy tinkle of a bell. And now my new friend, the blue-winged
yellow warbler, sings across the path (across the aisle, I was going
to say), but only two or three times, and with only two insignificant
lisping syllables. The chary soul! He sings to the eye, I suppose. I
go over to look at him, and my sudden movement startles the thrushes,
who, finding themselves again in the singers' gallery, cannot
refrain from another chorus. At the same moment the Canadian warbler
comes into sight again, this time in a tupelo. The blue-wings are
found without difficulty; they have a call like the black-and-white
creeper's. A single rough-winged swallow skims above the treetops. I
have seen him here before, and one or two others like him.

As I return to the bed of the valley, a female cardinal grosbeak
flutters suspiciously about a thicket of tall blackberry vines. Her
nest should be there, I think, but a hasty look reveals nothing.
Again I come upon the Canadian warbler. If there is only one
here, he is often in my way. I sit down upon the leaning, almost
horizontal, bole of a large tupelo,--a new tree to me, but common
in this country. The thick dark-colored bark is broken deeply into
innumerable geometrical figures, giving the tree a noticeable,
venerable appearance, as wrinkles lend distinction and character to
an old man's face. Another species, which, as far as I can tell,
should be our familiar tupelo of Massachusetts, is equally common,--a
smaller tree, with larger leaves. The moisture here, slight as it
now is, gives the place a vegetation of its own and a peculiar
density of leafage. From one of the smaller tupelos (I repeat that
word as often as I can, for the music of it) cross-vine streamers
are swinging, full of red-and-yellow bells. Scattered thinly over
the ground are yellow starflowers, the common houstonia, a pink
phlox, and some unknown dark yellow blossom a little like the fall
dandelion,--Cynthia, I guess.

My thoughts are recalled by a strong, sharp _chip_ in a voice I do
not recognize,--a Kentucky warbler's, as presently turns out. He
walks about the ground amid the short, thin grass, seemingly in the
most placid of moods; but at every few steps, for some inscrutable
reason, he comes out with that quick, peremptory call. And all the
while I keep saying to myself, "What a beauty!" But my forenoon is
past. I rise to go, and at the motion he takes flight. Near the
spring the goldfinches are still in full chorus, and just beyond them
in the path is a mourning dove.

That was a good season: hymns without words, "a sermon not made
with hands," and the world shut out. Three days afterward, fast
as my vacation was running away, I went to the same place again.
The olive-backed thrushes were still singing, to my surprise, and
the Kentucky warblers were still feeding in the grass. The scarlet
tanager sang (it is curious how much oftener I mention him than the
comparatively unfamiliar, but here extremely common summer tanager),
the cuckoo called, the Acadian flycatcher was building her nest,--on
a horizontal limb of a maple,--and a goldfinch warbled as if he
could never cease. A veery sang, also (I heard but one other in
Tennessee), with a chestnut-sided warbler, two redstarts (one of them
in the modest garb of his mother), a Carolina chickadee, a mocking
wren, a pine warbler, a prairie warbler, and a catbird. In time,
probably, all the birds for a mile around might have been heard or
seen beside that scanty rill.

To-day, however, my mood was less Sundayish than before, and in spite
of the heat I ventured across an open pasture,--where a Bachman's
finch was singing an ingenious set of variations, and a rabbit
stamped with a sudden loudness that made me jump,--and then through
a piece of wood, till I came to another hollow like the one I had
left, but without water, and therefore less thickly shaded. Here was
the inevitable thicket of brambles (since I speak so much of chats
and indigo-birds, the presence of a sufficiency of blackberry bushes
may be taken for granted), and I waited to see what it would bring
forth. A field sparrow sang from the hillside,--a sweet and modest
tune that went straight to the heart, and had nothing to fear from
a comparison with Bachman's finch or any other. What a contrast in
this respect between him and his gentle-seeming but belligerent
and tuneless cousin whom we call "chippy."[1] Here, likewise, were
a pair of complaining Carolina wrens and an Acadian flycatcher. A
thrush excited my curiosity, having the look of a gray-cheek, but
showing a buff eye-ring; and while I was coaxing him to whistle,
and so declare himself,--often a ready means of identification,
and preferable on all accounts to shooting the bird,--there came a
furious outburst from the depths of the brier patch, with a grand
flurry of wings: a large bird and two smaller ones engaged in sudden
battle, as well as I could make out. At the close of the _mêlée_,
which ended as abruptly as it had begun, the thicket showed two
wrens, a white-throated sparrow, and a female cardinal. The cardinal
flew away; the affair was no business of hers, apparently; but in a
minute she was back again, scolding. Then, while my back was turned,
everything became quiet; and on my stepping up to reconnoitre, there
she sat in her nest with four eggs under her. At that moment a chat's
loud voice was heard, and, turning quickly, I caught the fellow in
the midst of a brilliant display of his clownish tricks, ridiculous,
indescribable. At a little distance, it is hard to believe that it
can be a bird, that dancing, shapeless thing, balancing itself in the
air with dangling legs and prancing, swaying motions. Well, that is
the chat's way. What more need be said? Every creature must express
himself, and birds no less than other poets are entitled to an
occasional "fine frenzy."

My little excursion had brought me nothing new, and, like all my
similar ventures on Missionary Ridge, it ended in defeat. The sun was
too much for me; to use a word suggested by the place, it carried too
many guns. I took a long and comfortable siesta under a magnificent
chestnut oak. Then it was near noon, and, with my umbrella spread, I
mounted the hill to the railway, and waited for a car.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] If I could have my way, he should be known as the doorstep
sparrow. The name would fit him to a nicety.



LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.


Lookout Mountain was at first a disappointment. I went home
discouraged. The place was spoiled, I thought. About the fine inn
were cheap cottages,--as if one had come to a second-class summer
resort; while the lower slopes of the mountain, directly under
Lookout Point on the side toward the city, were given up to a squalid
negro settlement, and, of all things, a patent-medicine factory,--a
shameful desecration, it seemed to me. I was half ready to say I
would go there no more. The prospect was beautiful,--so much there
was no denying; but the air was thick with smoke, and, what counted
for ten times more, the eye itself was overclouded. A few northern
warblers were chirping in the evergreens along the edge of the
summit, between the inn and the Point,--black-polls and bay-breasts,
with black-throated greens and Carolina wrens; and near them I saw
with pleasure my first Tennessee phoebes. In the street car, on the
way back to Chattanooga, I had for my fellow-passengers a group of
Confederate veterans from different parts of the South, one of whom,
a man with an empty sleeve, was showing his comrades an interesting
war-time relic,--a bit of stone bearing his own initials. He had cut
them in the rock while on duty at the Point thirty years before, I
heard him say, and now, remembering the spot, and finding them still
there, he had chipped them off to carry home. These are all the
memories I retain of my first visit to a famous and romantic place
that I had long desired to see.

My second visit was little more remunerative, and came to an untimely
and inglorious conclusion. Not far from the inn I noticed what seemed
to be the beginning of an old mountain road. It would bring me to St.
Elmo, a passing cottager told me; and I somehow had it fast in my
mind that St. Elmo was a particularly wild and attractive woodland
retreat somewhere in the valley,--a place where a pleasure-seeking
naturalist would find himself happy for at least an hour or two, if
the mountain side should insufficiently detain him. The road itself
looked uncommonly inviting, rough and deserted, with wild crags
above and old forest below; and without a second thought I took it,
idling downward as slowly as possible, minding the birds and plants,
or sitting for a while, as one shady stone after another offered
coolness and a seat, to enjoy the silence and the prospect. Be as
lazy as I could, however, the road soon gave signs of coming to an
end; for Lookout Mountain, although it covers much territory and
presents a mountainous front, is of a very modest elevation. And at
the end of the way there was no sylvan retreat, but a village; yes,
the same dusty little suburb that I had passed, and looked away from,
on my way up. _That_ was St. Elmo!--and, with my luncheon still in
my pocket, I boarded the first car for the city. One consolation
remained: I had lived a pleasant hour, and the mountain road had
made three additions to my local ornithology,--a magnolia warbler, a
Blackburnian warbler, and a hairy woodpecker.

There was nothing for it but to laugh at myself, and try again; but
it was almost a week before I found the opportunity. Then (May
7) I made a day of it on the mountain, mostly in the woods along
the western bluffs. An oven-bird's song drew me in that direction,
to begin with; and just as the singer had shown himself, and been
rewarded with an entry as "No. 79" in my Tennessee catalogue, a
cuckoo, farther away, broke into a shuffling introductory measure
that marked him at once as a black-bill. Till now I had seen
yellow-bills only, and though the voice was perhaps a sufficient
identification, a double certainty would be better, especially in the
retrospect. Luckily it was a short chase, and there sat the bird, his
snowy throat swelling as he cooed, while his red eye-ring and his
abbreviated tail-spots gave him a clear title to count as "No. 80."

As I approached the precipitous western edge of the mountain, I
heard, just below, the sharp, wiry voice of a Blackburnian warbler;
a most splendid specimen, for in a moment more his orange-red
throat shone like fire among the leaves. From farther down rose
the hoarse notes of a black-throated blue warbler and two or three
black-throated greens.

Here were comfortable, well-shaded boulders and delightful
prospects,--a place to stay in; but behind me stood a grove of small
pine-trees, out of which came now and then a warbler's _chip_;
and in May, with everything on the move, and anything possible,
invitations of that kind are not to be refused. Warbler species
are many, and there is always another to hope for. I turned to the
pines, therefore, as a matter of course, and was soon deeply engaged
with a charming bevy of northward-bound passengers,--myrtle-birds,
palm warblers, black-throated blues (of both sexes), a female Cape
May warbler (the first of her sex that I had seen) magnolias,
bay-breasts, and many black-polls. It makes a short story in the
telling; but it was long in the doing, and yielded more excitement
than I dare try to describe. To and fro I went among the low trees
(their lowness a most fortunate circumstance), slowly and with all
quietness, putting my glass upon one bird after another as something
stirred among the needles, and hoping every moment for some glorious
surprise. In particular, I hoped for a cerulean warbler; but this was
not the cerulean's day, and, if I had but known it, these were not
the cerulean's trees. None but enthusiasts in the same line will be
able to appreciate the delight of such innocent "collecting,"--birds
in the memory instead of specimens in a bag. Even on one's home beat
it quickens the blood; how much more, then, in a new field, where a
man is almost a stranger to himself, and rarities and novelties seem
but the order of the day. Again and again, morning and afternoon, I
traversed the little wood, leaving it between whiles for a rest under
the big oaks on the edge of the cliffs, whence, through green vistas,
I gazed upon the farms of Lookout Valley and the mountains beyond. A
scarlet tanager called,--my second one here,--wood thrush voices rang
through the mountain side forest, a single thrasher was doing his
bravest from the tip of a pine (our "brown mocking-bird" is anything
but a skulker when the lyrical mood is on him), while wood pewees,
red-eyed vireos, yellow-throated vireos, black-and-white creepers,
and I do not remember what else, joined in the chorus. Just after
noon an oven-bird gave out his famous aerial warble. To an aspiring
soul even a mountain top is but a perch, a place from which to take
wing.

All these birds, it will be noticed, were such as I might have seen
in Massachusetts; and indeed, the general appearance of things about
me was pleasantly homelike. Here was much of the pretty striped
wintergreen, a special favorite of mine, with bird-foot violets,
the common white saxifrage (dear to memory as the "Mayflower" of
my childhood), the common wild geranium (cranesbill, which we were
told was "good for canker"), and maple-leaved viburnum. One of the
loveliest flowers was the pink oxalis, and one of the commonest
was a pink phlox; but I was most pleased, perhaps, with the white
stonecrop (_Sedum ternatum_), patches of which matted the ground, and
just now were in full bloom. The familiar look of this plant was a
puzzle to me. I cannot remember to have seen it often in gardens, and
I am confident that I never found it before in a wild state except
once, fifteen years ago, at the Great Falls of the Potomac. Yet here
on Lookout Mountain it seemed almost as much an old friend as the
saxifrage or the cranesbill.

I ate my luncheon on Sunset Rock, which literally overhangs the
mountain side, and commands the finest of valley prospects; and
then, after another turn through the pines, where the warblers
were still busy with their all-day meal,--but not the new warbler,
for which I was still looking,--I crossed the summit and made the
descent by the St. Elmo road, as before. How long I was on the way
I am unable to tell; I had learned the brevity of the road, and,
like a schoolboy with his tart, I made the most of it. Midway down I
caught sudden sight of an olive bird in the upper branch of a tree,
with something black about the crown and the cheek. "What's that?" I
exclaimed; and on the instant the stranger flew across the road and
up the steep mountain side. I pushed after him in hot haste, over the
huge boulders, and there he stood on the ground, singing,--a Kentucky
warbler. Seeing him so hastily, and on so high a perch, and missing
his yellow under-parts, I had failed to recognize him. As it was, I
now heard his song for the first time, and rejoiced to find it worthy
of its beautiful author: _klurwée_, _klurwée_, _klurwée_, _klurwée_,
_klurwée_; a succession of clear, sonorous dis-syllables, in a fuller
voice than most warblers possess, and with no flourish before or
after. Like the bird's dress, it was perfect in its simplicity. I
felt thankful, too, that I had waited till now to hear it. Things
should be desired before they are enjoyed. It was another case of
the schoolboy and his tart; and I went home good-humored. Lookout
Mountain was not wholly ruined, after all.

The next day found me there again, to my own surprise, for I had
promised myself a trip down the river to Shellmound. In all the
street cars, as well as in the city newspapers, this excursion was
set forth as supremely enjoyable, a luxury on no account to be
missed,--a fine commodious steamer, and all the usual concomitants.
The kind people with whom I was sojourning, on Cameron Hill, hastened
the family breakfast that I might be in season; but on arriving at
the wharf I found no sign of the steamer, and, after sundry attempts
to ascertain the condition of affairs, I learned that the steamer did
not run now. The river was no longer high enough, it was explained;
a smaller boat would go, or might be expected to go, some hours
later. Little disposed to hang about the landing for several hours,
and feeling no assurance that so doing would bring me any nearer to
Shellmound, I made my way back to the Read House, and took a car for
Lookout Mountain. In it I sat face to face with the same conspicuous
placard, announcing an excursion for that day by the large and
commodious steamer So-and-So, from such a wharf, at eight o'clock.
But I then noticed that intending passengers were invited, in smaller
type, to call at the office of the company, where doubtless it would
be politely confided to them that the advertisement was a "back
number." So the mistake was my own, after all, and, as the American
habit is, I had been blaming the servants of the public unjustly.

I was no sooner on the summit than I hastened to the pine wood. At
first it seemed to be empty, but after a little, hearing the drawling
_kree_, _kree_, _kree_, of a black-throated blue, I followed it,
and found the bird. Next a magnolia dropped into sight, and then a
red-cheeked Cape May, the second one I had ever seen, after fifteen
or twenty years of expectancy. He threaded a leafless branch back and
forth on a level with my eyes. I was glad I had come. Soon another
showed himself, and presently it appeared that the wood, as men speak
of such things, was full of them. There were black-polls, also, with
a Blackburnian, a bay-breast, and a good number of palm warblers,
(typical _palmarum_, to judge from the pale tints); but especially
there were Cape Mays, including at least two females. As to the
number of males it is impossible to speak; I never had more than
two under my eye at once, but I came upon them continually,--they
were always in motion, of course, being warblers,--till finally, as
I put my glass on another one, I caught myself saying, in a tone of
disappointment, "Only a Cape May." But yesterday I might as well have
spoken of a million dollars as "only a million." So soon does novelty
wear off. The magnolia and the Blackburnian were in high feather, and
made a gorgeous pair as chance brought them side by side in the same
tree. They sang with much freedom; but the Cape Mays kept silence,
to my deep regret, notwithstanding the philosophical remarks just
now volunteered about the advantages derivable from a bird's gradual
disclosure of himself. Such pieces of wisdom, I have noticed, when
by chance they do not fall into the second or third person, are
commonly applied to the past rather than the present; a man's past
being, in effect, not himself, but another. In morals, as in archery,
the target should be set at a fair distance. The Cape May's song is
next to nothing,--suggestive of the black-poll's, I am told,--but I
would gladly have bought a ticket to hear it.

The place might have been made on purpose for the use to which it
was now put. The pinery, surrounded by hard-wood forest, was like
an island; and the warblers, for the most part, had no thought of
leaving it. Had they been feeding in the hard wood,--miles of tall
trees,--I should have lost them in short order. At the same time, the
absence of undergrowth enabled me to move about with all quietness,
so that none of them took the least alarm. Not a black-throated green
was seen or heard, though yesterday they had been in force both among
the pines and along the cliffs. A flock of myrtle warblers were
surprisingly late, it seemed to me; but it was my last sight of them.

The reader will perceive that I was not exploring Lookout Mountain,
and am in no position to set forth its beauties. It is eighty odd
miles long, we are told, and in some places more than a dozen miles
wide. I visited nothing but the northern point, the Tennessee end,
the larger part of the mountain being in Georgia; and even while
there I looked twice at the birds, and once at the mountain itself.

At noon, I lay for a long time upon a flat boulder under the tall
oaks of the western bluff, looking down upon the lower woods, now in
tender new leaf and most exquisitely colored. There are few fairer
sights than a wooded mountain side seen from above; only one must
not be too far above, and the forest should be mainly deciduous.
The very thought brings before my eyes the long, green slopes of
Mount Mansfield as they show from the road near the summit,--beauty
inexpressible and never to be forgotten; and miles of autumn color
on the sides of Kinsman, Cannon, and Lafayette, as I have enjoyed
it by the hour, stretched in the September sunshine on the rocks of
Bald Mountain. Perhaps the earth itself will never be fully enjoyed
till we are somewhere above it. The Lookout woods, as I now saw
them, were less magnificent in sweep, but hardly less beautiful. And
below them was the valley bottom,--Lookout Valley, once the field of
armies, now the abode of peaceful industry: acres of brown earth,
newly sown, with no trace of greenness except the hedgerows along the
brooks and on the banks of Lookout Creek. And beyond the valley was
Raccoon Mountain, wooded throughout; and behind that, far away, the
Cumberland range, blue with distance.

A phoebe came and perched at my elbow, dropping a curtsey with
old-fashioned politeness by way of "How are you, sir?" and a little
afterward was calling earnestly from below. This is one of the
characteristic birds of the mountain, and marks well the difference
in latitude which even a slight elevation produces. I found it
nowhere in the valley country, but it was common on Lookout and on
Walden's Ridge. Then, behind me on the summit, another northern
bird, the scarlet tanager, struck up a labored, rasping, breathless
tune, hearty, but broken and forced. I say labored and breathless;
but, happily, the singer was unaware of his infirmity (or can it
be I was wrong?), and continued without interruption for at least
half an hour. If he was uncomfortably short-breathed, he was very
agreeably long-winded. Oven-birds sang at intervals throughout the
day, and once I heard again the black-billed cuckoo. Yes, Hooker was
right: Lookout Mountain is Northern, not Southern. But then, as if to
show that it is not exactly Yankee land, in spite of oven-bird and
black-bill, and notwithstanding all that Hooker and his men may have
done, a cardinal took a long turn at whistling, and a Carolina wren
came to his support with a _cheery_, _cheery_. A far-away crow was
cawing somewhere down the valley, no very common sound hereabout; a
red-eye, our great American missionary, was exhorting, of course; a
black-poll, on his way to British America, whispered something, it
was impossible to say what; and a squirrel barked. I lay so still
that a black-and-white creeper took me for a part of the boulder,
and alighted on the nearest tree-trunk. He goes round a bole just
as he sings, in corkscrew fashion. Now and then I caught some of
the louder phrases of a distant brown thrush, and once, when every
one else fell silent, a catbird burst out spasmodically with a few
halting, disjointed eccentricities, highly characteristic of a bird
who can sing like a master when he will, but who seems oftener to
enjoy talking to himself. Lizards rustled into sight with startling
suddenness; and one big fellow disappeared so instantaneously--in
"less than no time," as the Yankee phrase is--that I thought "quick
as a lizard" might well enough become an adage. Here and there I
remarked a chestnut-tree, the burs of last year still hanging;
and chestnut oaks were among the largest and handsomest trees of
the wood, as they were among the commonest. The temperature was
perfect,--so says my penciled note. Let the confession not be
overlooked, after all my railing at the fierce Tennessee sun. It made
all the pleasure of the hour, too, that there were no troublesome
insects. I had been in that country for ten days, the mercury had
been much of the time above 90°, and I had not seen ten mosquitoes.

I left my boulder at last, though it would have been good to remain
there till night, and wandered along the bluffs to the Point. Here it
was apparent at once that the wind had shifted. For the first time I
caught sight of lofty mountains in the northeast; the Great Smokies,
I was told, and could well believe it. I sat down straightway and
looked at them, and had I known how things would turn, I would
have looked at them longer; for in all my three weeks' sojourn in
Chattanooga, that was the only half-day in which the atmosphere was
even approximately clear. It was unfortunate, but I consoled myself
with the charm of the foreground,--a charm at once softened and
heightened, with something of the magic of distance, by the very
conditions that veiled the horizon and drew it closer about us.

It is truly a beautiful world that we see from Lookout Point:
the city and its suburbs; the river with its broad meanderings,
and, directly at our feet, its great Moccasin Bend; the near
mountains,--Raccoon and Sand mountains beyond Lookout Valley, and
Walden's Ridge across the river; and everywhere in the distance
hills and high mountains, range beyond range, culminating in the
Cumberland Mountains in one direction, and the Great Smokies in
another. And as we look at the fair picture we think of what was
done here,--of historic persons and historic deeds. At the foot of
the cliffs on which we stand is White House plateau, the battlefield
of Lookout Mountain. Chattanooga itself is spread out before us,
with Orchard Knob, Cameron Hill, and the national cemetery. Yonder
stretches the long line of Missionary Ridge, and farther south,
recognizable by at least one of the government towers, is the
battlefield of Chickamauga. Here, if anywhere, we may see places that
war has made sacred.

The feeling of all this is better enjoyed after one has grown
oblivious to the things which at first do so much to cheapen the
mountain,--the hotels, the photographers' shanties, the placards,
the hurrying tourists, and the general air of a place given over
to showmen. Much of this seeming desecration is unavoidable,
perhaps; at all events, it is the part of wisdom to overlook it, as,
fortunately, by the time of my third visit I was pretty well able to
do. If that proves impossible, if the visitor is of too sensitive
a temperament,--to call his weakness by no worse a name,--he can at
least betake himself to the woods, and out of them see enough, as I
did from my boulder, to repay him for all his trouble.

The battlefield, as has been said, lies at the base of the
perpendicular cliffs which make the bold northern tip of the
mountain,--Lookout Point. I must walk over it, though there is
little to see, and after a final look at the magnificent panorama I
descended the steps to the head of the "incline," or, as I should
say, the cable road. The car dropped me at a sentry-box marked
"Columbus" (it was easy to guess in what year it had been named), and
thence I strolled across the plateau,--so called in the narratives of
the battle, though it is far from level,--past the Craven house and
Cloud Fort, to the western slope looking down into Lookout Valley,
out of which the Union forces marched to the assault. The place was
peaceful enough on that pleasant May afternoon. The air was full
of music, and just below me were apple and peach orchards and a
vineyard.

In such surroundings, half wild, half tame, I had hope of finding
some strange bird; it would be pleasant to associate him with a
spot so famous. But the voices were all familiar: wood thrushes,
Carolina wrens, bluebirds, summer tanagers, catbirds, a Maryland
yellow-throat, vireos (red-eyes and white-eyes), goldfinches, a field
sparrow (the dead could want no sweeter requiem than he was chanting,
but the wood pewee should have been here also), indigo-birds, and
chats. In one of the wildest and roughest places a Kentucky warbler
started to sing, and I plunged downward among the rocks and bushes
(here was maiden-hair fern, I remember), hoping to see him. It was
only my second hearing of the song, and it would be prudent to verify
my recollection; but the music ceased, and I saw nothing. At the
turn, where the land begins to decline westward, I came to a low,
semicircular wall of earth. Here, doubtless, on that fateful November
morning, when clouds covered the mountain sides, the Confederate
troops meant to make a stand against the invader. Now a wilderness of
young blue-green persimmon-trees had sprung up about it, as about
the Craven house was a similar growth of sassafras. I had already
noticed the extreme abundance of sassafras (shrubs rather than trees)
in all this country, and especially on Missionary Ridge.

With my thoughts full of the past, while my senses kept watch of the
present, I returned slowly to the "incline," where I had five minutes
to wait for a downward car. It had been a good day, a day worth
remembering; and just then there came to my ear the new voice for
which I had been on the alert: a warbler's song, past all mistake,
sharp, thin, vivacious, in perhaps eight syllables,--a song more like
the redstart's than anything else I could think of. The singer was in
a tall tree, but by the best of luck, seeing how short my time was,
the opera-glass fell upon him almost of itself,--a hooded warbler;
my first sight of him in full dress (he might have been rigged out
for a masquerade, I thought), as it was my first hearing of his song.
If it had been also my last hearing of it, I might have written that
the hooded warbler, though a frequenter of low thickets, chooses a
lofty perch to sing from. So easy is it to generalize; that is, to
tell more than we know. The fellow sang again and again, and, to my
great satisfaction, a Kentucky joined him,--a much better singer in
all respects, and much more becomingly dressed; but I gave thanks for
both. Then the car stopped for me, and we coasted to the base, where
the customary gang of negroes, heavily chained, were repairing the
highway, while the guard, a white man, stood over them with a rifle.
It was a strange spectacle to my eyes, and suggested a considerable
postponement of the millennium; but I was glad to see the men at work.

Two days afterward (May 10), in spite of "thunder in the morning"
and one of the safest of weather saws, I made my final excursion
to Lookout, going at once to the warblers' pines. There were few
birds in them. At all events, I found few; but there is no telling
what might have happened, if the third specimen that came under my
glass--after a black-poll and a bay-breast--had not monopolized my
attention till I was driven to seek shelter. That was the day when
I needed a gun; for I suppose it must be confessed that even an
opera-glass observer, no matter how much in love he may be with his
particular method of study, and no matter how determined he may be
to stick to it, sees a time once in a great while when a bird in the
hand would be so much better than two in the bush that his fingers
fairly itch for something to shoot with. From what I know of one such
man, I am sure it would be exaggerating their tenderness of heart
to imagine observers of this kind incapable of taking a bird's life
under any circumstances. In fact, it may be partly a distrust of
their own self-restraint, under the provocations of curiosity, that
makes them eschew the use of firearms altogether.

My mystery on the present occasion was a female warbler,--of so
much I felt reasonably assured; but by what name to call her, that
was a riddle. Her upper parts were "not olive, but of a neutral
bluish gray," with light wing-bars, "not conspicuous, but distinct,"
while her lower parts were "dirty, but unstreaked." What at once
impressed me was her "bareheaded appearance" (I am quoting my
penciled memorandum), with a big eye and a light eye-ring,--like a
ruby-crowned kinglet, for which, at the first glance, I mistook her.
If my notes made mention of any dark streaks or spots underneath, I
would pluck up courage and hazard a glorious guess, to be taken for
what it might be worth. As it is, I leave guessing to men better
qualified, for whose possible edification or amusement I have set
down these particulars.

While I was pursuing the stranger, but not till I had seen her
again and again, and secured as many "points" as a longer ogling
seemed likely to afford me, it began thundering ominously out of
ugly clouds, and I edged toward some woodland cottages not far
distant. Then the big drops fell, and I took to my heels, reaching
a piazza just in time to escape a torrent against which pine-trees
and umbrella combined would have been as nothing. The lady of the
house and her three dogs received me most hospitably, and as the rain
lasted for some time we had a pleasant conversation (I can speak
for one, at least) about dogs in general and particular (a common
interest is the soul of talk); in illustration and furtherance of
which the spaniel of the party, somewhat against his will, was
induced to "sit up like a gentleman," while I boasted modestly of
another spaniel, Antony by name, who could do that and plenty of
tricks beside,--a perfect wonder of a dog, in short. Thus happily
launched, we went on to discuss the climate of Tennessee (whatever
may be the soul of talk, the weather supplies it with members and
a bodily substance) and the charms of Lookout Mountain. She lived
there the year round, she said (most of the cottagers make the place
a summer resort only), and always found it pleasant. In winter it
wasn't so cold there as down below; at any rate, it didn't feel so
cold,--which is the main thing, of course. Sometimes when she went
to the city, it seemed as if she should freeze, although she hadn't
thought of its being cold before she left home. It is one form of
patriotism, I suppose,--parochial patriotism, perhaps we may call
it,--that makes us stand up pretty stoutly for our own dwelling-place
before strangers, however we may grumble against it among ourselves.
In the present instance, however, no such qualifying explanation
seemed necessary. In general, I was quite prepared to believe that
life on a mountain top, in a cottage in a grove, would be found every
whit as agreeable as my hostess pictured it.

The rain slackened after a while, though it was long in ceasing
altogether, and I went to the nearest railway station (Sunset
Station, I believe) and waited half an hour for a train to the Point,
chatting meanwhile with the young man in charge of the relic-counter.
Then, at the Point, I waited again--this time to enjoy the prospect
and see how the weather would turn--till a train passed on "the broad
gauge" below. Just beyond Fort Cloud it ran into a fine old forest,
and a sudden notion took me to go straight down through the woods and
spend the rest of the day rambling in that direction. The weather had
still a dubious aspect, but, with motive enough, some things can be
trusted to Providence, and, the steepness of the descent accelerating
my pace, I was soon on the sleepers, after which it was but a little
way into the woods. Once there, I quickly forgot everything else at
the sound of a new song. But _was_ it new? It bore some resemblance
to the ascending scale of the blue yellow-back, and might be the
freak of some individual of that species. I stood still, and in
another minute the singer came near and sang under my eye; the very
bird I had been hoping for,--a cerulean warbler in full dress; as
Dr. Coues says, "a perfect little beauty." He continued in sight,
feeding in rather low branches,--an exception to his usual habit, I
have since found,--and sang many times over. His complaisance was a
piece of high good fortune, for I saw no second specimen. The strain
opens with two pairs of notes on the same pitch, and concludes with
an upward run much like the blue yellow-back's, or perhaps midway
between that and the prairie warbler's. So I heard it, I mean to
say. But everything depends upon the ear. Audubon speaks of it as
"extremely sweet and mellow" (the last a surprising word), while Mr.
Ridgway is quoted as saying that the bird possesses "only the most
feeble notes."

The woods of themselves were well worth a visit: extremely open, with
broad barren spaces; the trees tall, largely oak,--chestnut oak,
especially,--but with chestnut, hickory, tupelo, and other trees
intermingled. Here, as afterward on Walden's Ridge, I was struck
with the almost total absence of mosses, and the dry, stony character
of the soil,--a novel and not altogether pleasing feature in the eyes
of a man accustomed to the mountain forests of New England, where
mosses cover every boulder, stump, and fallen log, while the feet
sink into sphagnum as into the softest of carpets.

Comfortable lounging-places continually invited me to linger, and at
last I sat down under a chestnut oak, with a big broken-barked tupelo
directly before me. Over the top of a neighboring boulder a lizard
leaned in a praying attitude and gazed upon the intruder. Once in a
while some loud-voiced tree-frog, as I suppose, uttered a grating
cry. A blue-gray gnatcatcher was complaining,--snarling, I might have
said; a red-eye, an indigo-bird, a field sparrow, and a Carolina wren
took turns in singing; and a sudden chat threw himself into the air,
quite unannounced, and, with ludicrous teetering motions, flew into
the tupelo and eyed me saucily. A few minutes later, a single cicada
(seventeen-year locust) followed him. With my glass I could see its
monstrous red eyes and the orange edge of its wing. It kept silence;
but without a moment's cessation the musical hum of distant millions
like it filled the air,--a noise inconceivable.

I would gladly have sat longer, as I would gladly have gone much
farther into the woods, for I had seen none more attractive;
but a rumbling of thunder, a rapid blackening of the sky, and a
recollection of the forenoon's deluge warned me to turn back. And
now, for the first time, although I had been living within sound of
locusts for a week or more, I suddenly came to trees in which they
were congregated. The branches were full of them. Heard thus near,
the sound was no longer melodious, but harsh and shrill.

It seemed cruel that my last day on Lookout Mountain should be so
broken up, and so abruptly and unseasonably concluded, but so the
Fates willed it. My retreat became a rout, and of the remainder of
the road I remember only the hurry and the warmth, and two pleasant
things,--a few wild roses, and the scent of a grapevine in bloom; two
things so sweet and homelike that they could be caught and retained
by a man on the run.



CHICKAMAUGA.


The field of Chickamauga--a worthily resounding name for one of
the great battlefields of the world--lies a few miles south of the
Tennessee and Georgia boundary, and is distant about an hour's ride
by rail from Chattanooga. A single morning train outward, and a
single evening train inward, made an all-day excursion necessary, and
the time proved to be none too long. Unhappily, as I then thought,
the sun was implacable, with the mercury in the nineties, though
it was only the 3d of May; and as I was on foot, and the national
reservation covers nine or ten square miles, I saw hardly more
than a corner of the field. This would have been a more serious
disappointment had my errand been of a topographical or historical
nature. As the case was, being only a sentimental pilgrim, I ought
perhaps to have welcomed the burning heat as a circumstance all in
my favor; suiting the spirit of the place, and constraining me to a
needful moderation. When a man goes in search of a mood, he must
go neither too fast nor too far. As the Scripture saith, "Bodily
exercise profiteth little." So much may readily be confessed now; for
wisdom comes with reflection, and it is no great matter to bear a
last year's toothache.

From the railway station I followed, at a venture, a road that soon
brought me to a comfortable, homelike house, with fine shade trees
and an orchard. This was the Dyer estate,--so a tablet informed all
comers. Here, in September, 1863, lived John Dyer, who suddenly
found his few peaceful acres surrounded and overrun by a hundred
thousand armed men, and himself drafted into service--if he needed
drafting--as guide to the Confederate commander. Since then strange
things had happened to the little farmhouse, which now was nothing
less than a sort of government headquarters, as I rightly inferred
from the general aspect of things round about, and the American flag
flying above the roof. I passed the place without entering, halting
only to smile at the antics of a white-breasted nuthatch,--my first
Tennessee specimen,--which was hopping awkwardly about the yard.
It was a question of something to eat, I suppose, or perhaps of a
feather for the family nest, and precedents and appearances went for
nothing. Two or three minutes afterward I came face to face with
another apparition, a horseman as graceful and dignified, not to say
majestic, as the nuthatch had been lumbering and ungainly; a man in
civilian's dress, but visibly a soldier, with a pose and carriage
that made shoulder-straps superfluous; a man to look at; every inch
a major-general, at the very least; of whom, nevertheless,--the heat
or something else giving me courage,--I ventured to inquire, from
under my umbrella, if there were any way of seeing some of the more
interesting portions of the battlefield without too much exposure
to the sun. He showed a little surprise (military gentlemen always
do, so far as I have observed, when strangers address them), but
recovered himself, and answered almost with affability. Yes, he said,
if I would take the first turn to the left, I should pass the spot
over which Longstreet made the charge that decided the fate of the
contest, and as he spoke he pointed out the field, which appeared to
be part of the Dyer farm; then I should presently come within sight
of the Kelly house, about which the fighting was of the hottest; and
from there I should do well to go to the Snodgrass Hill tower and the
Snodgrass house. To do as much as that would require little walking,
and at the same time I should have seen a good share of what was best
worth a visitor's notice. I thanked him, and followed his advice.

The left-hand road, of which my informant had spoken, ran between
the forest--mostly of tall oaks and long-leaved pines--and the
grassy Dyer field. Here it was possible to keep in the shade, and
life was comparatively easy; so that I felt no stirrings of envious
desire when two gentlemen, whom I recognized as having been among my
fellow-passengers from Chattanooga, came up behind me in a carriage
with a pair of horses and a driver. As they overtook me, and while
I was wondering where they could have procured so luxurious a
turnout, since I had discovered no sign of a public conveyance or a
livery stable, the driver reined in his horses, and the older of the
gentlemen put out his head to ask, "Were you in the battle, sir?" I
answered in the negative; and he added, half apologetically, that he
and his companion wished to get as many points as possible about the
field. In the kindness of my heart, I told him that I was a stranger,
like himself, but that the gentleman yonder, on horseback, seemed
to be well acquainted with the place, and would no doubt answer all
inquiries. With a queer look in his face, and some remark that I
failed to catch, my interlocutor dropped back into his seat, and the
carriage drove on. It was only afterward that I learned--on meeting
him again--that he was no other than General Boynton, the man who is
at the head of all things pertaining to Chickamauga and its history.

In the open field several Bachman finches were singing, while the
woods were noisier, but less musical, with Maryland yellow-throats,
black-poll warblers, tufted titmice, and two sorts of vireos.
Sprinkled over the ground were the lovely spring beauty and the
violet wood sorrel, with pentstemon, houstonia, and a cheerful pink
phlox. Here I soon heard a second nuthatch, and fell into a kind of
fever about its notes, which were clearer, less nasal, than those of
our New England birds, it seemed to me, and differently phrased.
Such peculiarities might indicate a local race, I said to myself,
with that predisposition to surprise which is one of the chief
compensations of life away from home. As I went on, a wood pewee and
a field sparrow began singing,--two birds whose voices might have
been tuned on purpose for such a place. Of the petulant, snappish cry
of an Acadian flycatcher not quite the same could be said. One of the
"unreconstructed," I was tempted to call him.

The Kelly house, on the way to which through the woods my Yankee
eyes were delighted with the sight of loose patches of rue anemones,
was duly marked with a tablet, and proved to be a cabin of the
most primitive type, standing in the usual bit of fenced land (the
smallness of the houseyards, as contrasted with the miles of open
country round about, is a noticeable feature of Southern landscapes),
with a corn-house near by, and a tumble-down barn across the way.
For some time I sat beside the road, under an oak; then, seeing two
women, older and younger, inside the house, I asked leave to enter,
the doors being open, and was made welcome with apparent heartiness.
The elderly woman soon confided to me that she was seventy-six years
old,--a marvelous figure she seemed to consider it; and when I
tried to say something about her comparative youthfulness, and the
much greater age of some ladies of my acquaintance (no names being
mentioned, of course), she would only repeat that she was awful
old, and shouldn't live much longer. She meant to improve the time,
however,--and the unusual fortune of a visitor,--and fairly ran over
with talk. She didn't belong about here. Oh no; she came from "'way
up in Tennessee, a hundred and sixty miles!" "'Pears like I'm a long
way from home," she said,--"a hundred and sixty miles!" Again I
sought to comfort her. That wasn't so very far. What did she think
of me, who had come all the way from Massachusetts? She threw up her
hands, and ejaculated, "Oh, Lor'!" with a fervor to which a regiment
of exclamation points would scarcely do justice. Yet she had but a
vague idea of where Massachusetts was, I fancy; for pretty soon she
asked, "Where did you say you was from? Pennsylvany?" And when I
said, "Oh no, Massachusetts, twice as far as that," she could only
repeat, "Oh, Lor'!" Her grandson was at work in the park, and she had
come down to live with him and his wife. But she shouldn't live long.

The wonder of this new world was still strong upon her. "Them
moniment things they've put up," she said, "have you seen 'em? Men
cut in a rock!--three of 'em? Have you seen 'em? Ain't they a sight
to see?" She referred to the granite monuments of the regulars, on
which are life-size figures in high relief. And had I seen the tower
on the hill, she proceeded to ask,--an open iron structure,--and
what did I think of _that_? She wouldn't go up in it for a bushel
of money. "Oh yes, you would," I told her. "You would like it, I'm
sure." But she stuck to her story. She wouldn't do it for a bushel of
money. She should be dizzy; and she threw up her hands, literally, at
the very thought, while her granddaughter sat and smiled at my waste
of breath. I asked if many visitors came here. "Oh, Lor', yes!" the
old lady answered. "More'n two dozen have been here from 'way up in
Chicago."

The mention of visitors led the younger woman to produce a box of
relics, and I paid her a dime for three minie-balls. "I always get
a nickel," she said, when I inquired the price; but when I selected
two, and handed her a ten-cent piece, she insisted upon my taking
another. Wholesale customers deserved handsome treatment. She had
picked up such things herself before now, but her husband found most
of them while grubbing in the woods.

The cabin was a one-room affair, of a sort common in that country
("cracker-boxes," one might call them, if punning were not so
frowned upon), with a big fireplace, two opposite doors, two beds
in diagonally opposite corners, and, I think, no window. Here
was domestic life in something like its pristine simplicity, a
philosopher might have said: the house still subordinate to the man,
and the housekeeper not yet a slave to furniture and bric-à-brac. But
even a philosopher would perhaps have tolerated a second room and a
light of glass. As for myself, I remembered that I used to read of
"poor white trash" in anti-slavery novels.

By this time the sun had so doubled its fury that I would not cross
the bare Kelly field, and therefore did not go down to look at the
"men cut in a rock;" but after visiting a shell pyramid which marks
the spot where Colonel King fell,--and near which I saw my first
Tennessee flicker,--I turned back toward Snodgrass Hill, keeping to
the woods as jealously as any soldier can have done on the days of
the battle. At the foot of the hill was a well, with a rude bucket
and a rope to draw with. Here I drank,--having to stand in the sun,
I remember,--and then sat down in the shelter of large trees near
by, with guideboards and index-fingers all about me, while a Bachman
finch, who occupied a small brush-heap just beyond the well (_he_ had
no fear of sunshine), entertained me with music. He was a master. I
had never heard his equal of his own kind, and seldom a bird of any
kind, that seemed so much at home with his instrument. He sang "like
half a dozen birds," to quote my own pencil; now giving out a brief
and simple strain, now running into protracted and intricate warbles;
and all with the most bewitching ardor and sweetness, and without
the slightest suggestion of attempting to make a show. A field
sparrow sang from the border of the grass land at the same moment. I
wished he could have refrained. Nothing shall induce me to say a word
against him; but there are times when one would rather be spared even
the opportunity for a comparison.

As I went up the hill under the tall trees, largely yellow pines, a
crested flycatcher stood at the tip of one of the tallest of them,
screaming like a bird of war; and further on was a red-cockaded
woodpecker, flitting restlessly from trunk to trunk, its flight
marked with a musical woodpeckerish wing-beat,--like the downy's
purr, but louder. I had never seen the bird before except in the
pine-lands of Florida, nor did I see it afterward except on this same
hill, at a second visit. It is a congener of the downy and the hairy,
ranking between them in size, and by way of distinction wears a big
white patch, an ear-muff, one might say, on the side of its head. Its
habitat is strictly southern, so that its name, _Dryobates borealis_,
though easily rememberable, seems but moderately felicitous.

Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the day--the most comfortable,
certainly, but the words are not synonymous--was a two-hour siesta on
the Snodgrass Hill tower, above the tops of the highest trees. The
only two landmarks of which I knew the names were Missionary Ridge
and Lookout Mountain; the latter running back for many miles into
Georgia, like a long wooded plateau, till it rises into High Point at
its southern end, and breaks off precipitously.

Farther to the south were low hills followed by a long mountain
of beautiful shape,--Pigeon Mountain, I heard it called,--with
elevations at each end and in the middle. And so my eye made the
round of the horizon, hill after hill in picturesque confusion, till
it returned to Missionary Ridge, with Walden's Ridge rising beyond,
and Lookout Point on the left: a charming prospect, especially for
its atmosphere and color. The hard woods, with dark pines everywhere
among them to set them off, were just coming into leaf, with all
those numberless, nameless, delicate shades of green that make
the glory of the springtime. The open fields were not yet clear
green,--if they ever would be,--but green and brown intermixed,
while the cultivated hillsides, especially on Missionary Ridge, were
of a deep rich reddish-brown. The air was full of beautifying haze,
and cumulus clouds in the south and west threw motionless shadows
upon the mountain woods.

Around me, in different parts of the battlefield, were eight or ten
houses and cabins, the nearest of them, almost at my feet, being the
Snodgrass house, famous as the headquarters of General Thomas, the
hero of the fight,--the "Rock of Chickamauga,"--who saved the Union
army after the field was lost. All was peaceful enough there now,
with the lines full of the week's washing, which a woman under a
voluminous sunbonnet was at that moment taking in (in that sun things
would dry almost before the clothes-pins could be put on them, I
thought), while a red-gowned child, and a hen with a brood of young
chickens, kept close about her feet. Her husband, like the occupant
of the Kelly house, was no doubt one of the government laborers, who
to-day were burning refuse in the woods,--invisible fires, from each
of which a thin cloud of blue smoke rose among the trees. The Dyer
house, in a direction nearly opposite the Snodgrass house, stood
broadly in the open, with an orchard behind it, and dark savins
posted here and there over the outlying pasture.

Even at noonday the air was full of music: first an incessant tinkle
of cow-bells rising from all sides, wondrously sweet and soothing;
then a continuous, far-away hum, like a sawmill just audible in
the extreme distance, or the vibration of innumerable wires, miles
remote, perhaps,--a noise which I knew neither how to describe nor
how to guess the origin of, the work of seventeen-year locusts, I
afterward learned; and then, sung to this invariable instrumental
accompaniment,--this natural pedal point, if I may call it so,--the
songs of birds.

The singers were of a quiet and unpretentious sort, as befitted
the hour: a summer tanager; a red-eyed vireo; a tufted titmouse;
a Maryland yellow-throat, who cried, "What a pity! What a pity!
What a pity!" but not as if he felt in the least distressed about
it; a yellow-throated vireo, full-voiced and passionless; a field
sparrow, pretty far off; a wood pewee; a yellow-billed cuckoo; a
quail; a Carolina wren, with his "Cherry, cherry, cherry!" and a
Carolina chickadee,--a modest woodland chorus, interrupted now by the
jubilant cackling of a hen at the Snodgrass house (if a man's daily
achievements only gave him equal satisfaction!) and now by the scream
of a crested flycatcher.

The most interesting member of the choir, though one of the
poorest of them all as a singer, is not included in the foregoing
enumeration. While I lay dreaming on the iron floor of the tower,
enjoying the breeze, the landscape, the music, and, more than all,
the place, I was suddenly brought wide awake by a hoarse drawling
note out of the upper branches of a tall oak a little below my level.
I caught a glimpse of the bird, having run down to a lower story of
the tower for that purpose. Then he disappeared, but after a while,
from the same tree, he called again; and again I saw him, but not
well. Another long absence, and once more, still in the same tree, he
sang and showed himself: a blue-winged yellow warbler, an exquisite
bunch of feathers, but with a song of the oddest and meanest,--two
syllables, the first a mere nothing, and the second a husky drawl,
in a voice like the blue golden-wing's. Insignificant and almost
contemptible as it was, a shabby expression of connubial felicity, to
say the least, I counted myself happy to have heard it, for novelty
covers a multitude of sins.

The yellow-throated warblers were hardly less interesting than the
blue-wing, though they threw me into less excitement. For a long
time I heard them without heeding them. From the day of my arrival
in Chattanooga I had been surrounded by indigo-birds in numbers
beyond anything that a New England mind ever dreams of. As a matter
of course they were singing here on Snodgrass Hill, or so I thought.
But by and by, as the lazy notes were once more repeated, there came
over me a sudden sense of difference. "_Was_ that an indigo-bird?" I
said to myself. "Wasn't it a yellow-throated warbler?" I was sitting
among the tops of the pine-trees; the birds had been droning almost
in my very ears, and without a thought I had listened to them as
indigo-birds. It confirmed what I had written in Florida, that the
two songs are much alike; but it was a sharp lesson in caution. When
a prudent man finds himself thus befooled, he begins to wonder how it
may be with the remainder of that precious body of notions, inherited
and acquired, to which, in all but his least complacent moods, he has
been accustomed to give the name of knowledge.

Here was a lesson, also, in the close relation that everywhere
subsists between the distribution of plants and the distribution of
animals. These were the only yellow pines noticed in the neighborhood
of Chattanooga; and in them, and nowhere else, I found two birds
of the Southern pine-barrens, the red-cockaded woodpecker and the
yellow-throated warbler.

At the base of the tower, when I finally descended, I paused a moment
to look at a cluster of graves, eight or ten in all, unmarked save
by a flagging of small stones; one of those family or neighborhood
burying-grounds, the occupants of which--happier than most of us, who
must lie in crowded cities of the dead--repose in decent privacy,
surrounded by their own, with no ugly staring white slabs to publish
their immemorable names to every passer-by.

From the hill it was but a few steps to the Snodgrass house, where
a woman stood in the yard with a young girl, and answered all my
inquiries with cheerful and easy politeness. None of the Snodgrass
family now occupied the house, she said, though one of the daughters
still lived just outside the reservation. The woman had heard
her describe the terrible scenes on the days of the battle. The
operating-table stood under this tree, and just there was a trench
into which the amputated limbs were thrown. Yonder field, now grassy,
was then planted with corn; and when the Federal troops were driven
through it, they trod upon their own wounded, who begged piteously
for water and assistance. A large tree in front of the house was
famous, the woman said; and certainly it was well hacked. A picture
of it had been in "The Century." General Thomas was said to have
rested under it; but an officer who had been there not long before to
set up a granite monument near the gate told her that General Thomas
didn't rest under that tree, nor anywhere else. Two things he did,
past all dispute: he saved the Federal army from destruction and made
the Snodgrass farmhouse an American shrine.

When our talk was ended I returned to the hill, and thence sauntered
through the woods--the yellow-throated warblers singing all about me
in the pine-tops--down to the vicinity of the railroad. Here, finding
myself in the sun again, I made toward a shop near the station,--shop
and post-office in one,--where fortunately there were such edibles,
semi-edibles, as are generally to be looked for in country groceries.
Meanwhile there came on a Tennessee thunder shower, lightning of
the closest and rain by the bucketful; and, driven before it, an
Indiana soldier made his appearance, a wiry little man of fifty or
more. He had been spending the day on the field, he told me. In one
hand he carried a battered and rusty cartridge-box, and out of his
pockets he produced and laid on the counter a collection of bullets.
His were relics of the right stamp,--found, not purchased,--and not
without a little shamefacedness I showed him my three minie-balls.
"Oh, you have got all Federal bullets," he said; and on my asking
how he could tell that, he placed a Confederate ball beside them, and
pointed out a difference in shape. He was a cheery, communicative
body, good-humored but not jocose, excellent company in such an
hour, though he had small fancy for the lightning, it seemed to me.
Perhaps he had been under fire so often as to have lost all relish
for excitement of that kind. He was not at the battle of Chickamauga,
he said, but at Vicksburg; and he gave me a vivid description of his
work in the trenches, as well as of the surrender, and the happiness
of the half-starved defenders of the city, who were at once fed by
their captors.

All his talk showed a lively sense of the horrors of war. He had
seen enough of fighting, he confessed; but he couldn't keep away
from a battlefield, if he came anywhere near one. He had been to the
national cemetery in Chattanooga, and agreed with me that it was a
beautiful place; but he had heard that Southern soldiers were lying
in unmarked graves just outside the wall (a piece of misinformation,
I have no doubt), and he didn't think it right or decent for the
government to discriminate in that way. The Confederates were just as
sincere as the Union men; and anyhow, vengeance ought not to follow a
man after he was dead. Evidently he had fought against an army and a
cause, not against individuals.

When the rain was over, or substantially so, I proposed to improve
an hour of coolness and freshness by paying another visit to
headquarters; but my Indiana veteran was not to be enticed out of
shelter. It was still rather wet, he thought. "I'm pretty careful
of my body," he added, by way of settling the matter. It had been
through so much, I suppose, that he esteemed it precious.

I set out alone, therefore, and this time went into the Dyer house,
after drinking from a covered spring across the way. But there was
little to see inside, and the three or four officers and clerks
were occupied with maps and charts,--courteous, no doubt, but with
official and counting-house courtesy; men of whom you could well
enough ask a definite question, but with whom it would be impossible
to drift into random talk. There was far better company outside. Even
while I stood in the back door, on my way thither, there suddenly
flashed upon me from a treetop by the fence a splendid Baltimore
oriole. He fairly "gave me a start," and I broke out to the young
fellow beside me, "Why, there's a Baltimore oriole!" The exclamation
was thrown away, but I did not mind.

It was the birds' own hour,--late afternoon, with sunshine after
rain. The orchard and shade-trees were alive with wings, and the air
was loud. How brilliant a company it was a list of names will show:
a mocking-bird, a thrasher, several catbirds, a pair of bluebirds,
a pair of orchard orioles, a summer tanager, a wood pewee, and a
flicker, with goldfinches and indigo-birds, and behind the orchard a
Bachman finch. For bright colors and fine voices that was a chorus
hard to beat. As for the Baltimore oriole, the brightest bird of the
lot, and the only one of his race that I found in all that country,
he looked most uncommonly at home--to me--in the John Dyer trees. I
was never gladder to see him.

A strange fate this that had befallen these Georgia farms, owned
once by Dyer, Snodgrass, Kelly, Brotherton, and the rest: the
plainest and most ordinary of country houses, in which lived the
plainest of country people, with no dream of fame, or of much else,
perhaps, beyond the day's work and the day's ration. Then comes
Bragg retreating before Rosecrans, who is manoeuvring him out of
Tennessee. Here the Confederate leader turns upon his pursuers. Here
he--or rather, one of his subordinates--wins a great victory, which
nevertheless, as a Southern historian says, "sealed the fate of the
Southern Confederacy." Now the farmers are gone, but their names
remain; and as long as the national government endures, pilgrims from
far and near will come to walk over the historic acres. "This is the
Dyer house," they will say, "and this is the Kelly house, and this
is the Snodgrass house." So Fame catches up a chance favorite, and
consigns the rest to oblivion.

My first visit to Chickamauga left so pleasant a taste that only two
days afterward I repeated it. In particular I remembered my midday
rest among the treetops, and my glimpse of the blue-winged warbler.
It would be worth a day of my vacation to idle away another noon so
agreeably, and hear again that ridiculous makeshift of a bird-song.
Field ornithology has this for one of its distinguishing advantages,
that every excursion leaves something for another to verify or finish.

This time I went straight to Snodgrass Hill through the woods, and
was barely on the steps of the tower before I heard the blue-wing.
As well as I could judge, the voice came from the same oak that the
bird had occupied two days before. I was in luck, I thought; but the
miserly fellow vouchsafed not another note, and I could not spend
the forenoon hours in waiting for him. Two red-cockaded woodpeckers
were playing among the trees, where, like the blue-wing and the
yellow-throats, they were doubtless established in summer quarters.
"Sap-suckers," one of the workmen called them. They were common, he
said, but likely enough he failed to discriminate between them and
their two black-and-white relatives. Red-headed woodpeckers were
_not_ common here (I had seen a single bird, displaying its colors
from a lofty dead pine), but were abundant and very destructive,
so my informant declared, on Lookout Mountain. Turkeys were still
numerous on the mountain, and only the Sunday before one had been
seen within the park limits.

The Bachman finch was again in tune at his brush-heap near the well,
and between the music and a shady seat I was in no haste to go
further. Finally, I experimented to see how near the fellow would let
me approach, taking time enough not to startle him in the process.
It was wonderful how he held his ground. The "Rock of Chickamauga"
himself could not have been more obstinate. I had almost to tread on
him before he would fly. He was a great singer, a genius, and a poet,

              "with modest looks,
    And clad in homely russet brown,"

and withal a lover of the sun,--a bird never to be forgotten. I wish
I knew how to praise him.

To-day, as on my previous visit, I remarked a surprising scarcity of
migrants. With the exception of black-poll warblers, I am not certain
that I saw any, though I went nowhere else without finding them in
good variety. Had my imagination been equal to such a stretch, I
might have suspected that Northern birds did not feel at home on the
scene of a great Southern victory. Here and there a nuthatch called,
and again I seemed to perceive a decided strangeness in the voice.
From the tip of a fruit-tree in the Kelly yard a thrasher or a mocker
was singing like one possessed. It was impossible to be sure which it
was, and the uncertainty pleased me so much, as a testimony to the
thrasher's musical powers, that I would not go round the house in the
sun to get a nearer observation. Instead, I went down to look at the
monuments of the regulars, with their "men cut in a rock." Thence I
returned to Snodgrass Hill for my noonday rest, stopping once more
at the well, of course, and reading again some of the placards, the
number of which just here bore impressive witness to the fierceness
of the battle at this point. One inscription I took pains to copy:--

    [Pointing hand sign] GEN. J. B. HOOD WAS WOUNDED 11.10 A. M.
    20 SEPT. '63 IN EDGE OF TIMBER ON COVE ROAD 1/2 MILE EAST OF
    SOUTH, LOOSING HIS LEG.

It was exactly eleven o'clock as I went up the hill toward the
tower, and the workmen were already taking down their dinner-pails.
Standard time, so called, is an unquestioned convenience, but the
stomach of a day-laborer has little respect for convention, and is
not to be appeased by a setting back of the clock. For my own part,
I was not hungry,--in that respect, as in some others, I might have
envied the day-laborers,--but as men of a certain amusing sort are
said to turn up their trousers in New York when it rains in London,
so I felt it patriotic to nibble at my luncheon as best I could, now
that the clocks were striking twelve in Boston.

The hour (but it was two hours) calls for little description. The
breeze was delicious, and the hazy landscape beautiful. The cow-bells
and the locusts filled the air with music, the birds kept me company,
and for half an hour or more I had human society that was even more
agreeable. When the workmen had eaten their dinner at the foot of the
tower, four of them climbed the stairs, and my field-glass proved so
pleasing a novelty that they stayed till their time was up, to the
very last minute. One after another took the glass, and no sooner
had it gone the rounds once than it started again; for meanwhile
every man had thought of something else that he wanted to look at.
They were above concealing their delight, or affecting any previous
acquaintance with such a toy, and probably I never before gave so
much pleasure by so easy a means. I believe I was as happy as if the
blue-wing had sung a full hour. They were rough-looking men, perhaps,
at least they were coarsely dressed, but none of them spoke a rude
word; and when the last moment came, one of them, in the simplest
and gentlest manner, asked me to accept three relics (bullets) which
he had picked up in the last day or two on the hill. It was no great
thing, to be sure, but it was better: it was one of those little
acts which, from their perfect and unexpected grace, can never be
forgotten.

A jaunt through the woods past the Kelly house, after luncheon,
brought me to a superfine, spick-and-span new road,--like the new
government "boulevard" on Missionary Ridge, of which it may be a
continuation,--following which I came to the Brotherton house,
another war-time landmark, weather-beaten and fast going to ruin.
In the woods--cleared of underbrush, and with little herbage--were
scattered ground flowers: houstonia, yellow and violet oxalis, phlox,
cranesbill, bird-foot violets, rue anemones, and spring beauties. I
remarked especially a bit of bright gromwell, such as I had found
first at Orchard Knob, and a single tuft of white American cowslip
(_Dodecatheon_), the only specimen I had ever seen growing wild. The
flower that pleased me most, however, was the blood-red catchfly,
which I had seen first on Missionary Ridge. Nothing could have been
more appropriate here on the bloody field of Chickamauga. Appealing
to fancy instead of to fact, it nevertheless spoke of the battle
almost as plainly as the hundreds of decapitated trees, here one and
there one, which even the most careless observer could not fail to
notice.

From the Brotherton house to the post-office was a sunny stretch, but
under the protection of my umbrella I compassed it; and then, passing
the Widow Glenn's (Rosecrans's headquarters), on the road to Crawfish
Springs, I came to a diminutive body of water,--a sink-hole,--which
I knew at once could be nothing but Bloody Pond. At the time of the
fight it contained the only water to be had for a long distance.
It was fiercely contended for, therefore, and men and horses drank
from it greedily, while other men and horses lay dead in it, having
dropped while drinking. Now a fence runs through it, leaving an outer
segment of it open to the road for the convenience of passing teams;
and when I came in sight of the spot, two boys were fishing round
the further edge. Not far beyond was an unfinished granite tower, on
which no one was at work, though a derrick still protruded from the
top. It offered the best of shade,--the shadow of a great rock,--in
the comfort of which I sat awhile, thinking of the past, and watching
the peaceful labors of two or three men who were cultivating a
broad ploughed field directly before me, crossing and recrossing
it in the sun. Then I took the road again; but by this time I had
relinquished all thought of walking to Crawfish Springs, and so did
nothing but idle along. Once, I remember, I turned aside to explore
a lane running up to a hillside cattle pasture, stopping by the way
to admire the activities--and they _were_ activities--of a set of
big scavenger beetles. Next, I tried for half a mile a fine new road
leading across the park to the left, with thick, uncleared woods on
one side; and then I went back to Bloody Pond.

The place was now deserted, and I took a seat under a tree opposite.
Prodigious bullfrogs, big enough to have been growing ever since the
war, lay here and there upon the water; now calling in the lustiest
bass, now falling silent again after one comical expiring gulp. It
was getting toward the cool of the afternoon. Already the birds felt
it. A wood thrush's voice rang out at intervals from somewhere beyond
the ploughed land, and a field sparrow chanted nearer by. At the same
time my eye was upon a pair of kingbirds,--wayfarers hereabout, to
judge from their behavior; a crested flycatcher stood guard at the
top of a lofty dead tree, and a rough-winged swallow alighted on
the margin of the pool, and began bathing with great enjoyment. It
made me comfortable to look at him. By and by two young fellows with
fishing-poles came down the railroad.

"Why is this called Bloody Pond?" I asked.

"Why?"

"Yes."

"Why, there were a lot of soldiers killed here in the war, and the
pond got bloody."

The granite tower in the shadow of which I had rested awhile ago was
General Wilder's monument, they said. His headquarters were there.
Then they passed on down the track out of sight, and all was silent
once more, till a chickadee gave out his sweet and quiet song just
behind me, and a second swallow dropped upon the water's edge. The
pond was of the smallest and meanest,--muddy shore, muddy bottom, and
muddy water; but men fought and died for it in those awful September
days of heat and dust and thirst. There was no better place on the
field, perhaps, in which to realize the horrors of the battle, and I
was glad to have the chickadee's voice the last sound in my ears as I
turned away.



ORCHARD KNOB AND THE NATIONAL CEMETERY.


The street cars that run through the open valley country from
Chattanooga to Missionary Ridge, pass between two places of peculiar
interest to Northern visitors,--Orchard Knob on the left, and the
national cemetery on the right. Of these, the Knob remains in all
the desolation of war-time; unfenced, and without so much as a
tablet to inform the stranger where he is and what was done here; a
low, round-topped hill, dry, stony, thin-soiled, with out-cropping
ledges and a sprinkling of stunted cedars and pines. Some remains of
rifle-pits are its only monument, unless we reckon as such a cedar
rather larger than its fellows, which must have been of some size
thirty years ago, and now bears the marks of abundant hard usage.

The hill was taken by the Federal troops on the 23d of November,
1863, by way of "overture to the battle of Chattanooga," Grant,
Thomas, Hooker, Granger, Howard, and others overlooking the
engagement from the ramparts of Fort Wood. The next day, as all
the world knows, Hooker's men carried Lookout Mountain, while the
multitude below, hearing the commotion, wondered what could be going
on above them, till suddenly the clouds lifted, and behold, the
Confederates were in full flight. Then, says an eye-witness, there
"went up a mighty cheer from the thirty thousand in the valley,
that was heard above the battle by their comrades on the mountain."
On the day following, for events followed each other fast in that
spectacular campaign, Grant and Thomas had established themselves on
Orchard Knob, and late in the afternoon the Union army, exceeding its
orders, stormed Missionary Ridge, put the army of Bragg to sudden
rout, and completed one of the really decisive victories of the war.

For a man who wishes to feel the memory of that stirring time there
is no better place than Orchard Knob, where Grant stood and anxiously
watched the course of the battle, a battle of which he declared that
it was won "under the most trying circumstances presented during
the war." For my own part, I can see the man himself as I read the
words of one who was there with him. The stormers of Missionary
Ridge, as I have said, after making the demonstration they had been
ordered to make, kept on up the slope, thinking "the time had come
to finish the battle of Chickamauga." "As soon as this movement was
seen from Orchard Knob," writes General Fullerton, "Grant turned
quickly to Thomas, who stood by his side, and I heard him say
angrily, 'Thomas, who ordered those men up the ridge?' Thomas replied
in his usual slow, quiet manner, 'I don't know; I did not.' Then,
addressing General Gordon Granger, he said, 'Did you order them up,
Granger?' 'No,' said Granger; 'they started up without orders. When
those fellows get started all hell can't stop them.'" In the heat of
battle a soldier may be pardoned, I suppose, if his speech smells
of sulphur; and after the event an army is hardly to be censured
for beating the enemy a day ahead of time. I speak as a civilian.
Military men, no doubt, find insubordination, even on the right side,
a less pardonable offense; a fact which may explain why General
Grant, in his history of the battle, written many years afterward,
makes no mention of this its most dramatic incident, so that the
reader of his narrative would never divine but that everything had
been done according to the plans and orders of the general in command.

Orders or no orders, the fight was won. That was more than thirty
years ago. It was now a pleasant May afternoon, the afternoon of
May-day itself. The date, indeed, was the immediate occasion of
my presence. I had started from Chattanooga with the intention of
going once more to Missionary Ridge, which just now offered peculiar
attractions to a stranger of ornithological proclivities. But the car
was full of laughing, smartly dressed colored people; they were bound
for the same place, it appeared, on their annual picnic; and, being
in a quiet mood, I took the hint and dropped out by the way.

There was much to feel but little to see at Orchard Knob; and yet
I recall two plants that I found there for the first time; a low
gromwell (_Lithospermum canescens_), with clustered bright yellow
flowers, and an odd and homely greenish milkweed (_Asclepias
obovata_). The yarrow-leaved ragwort was there also, and the tall
blue baptisia; but as well as I can recollect, not one dainty and
modest nosegay-blossom; not even the houstonia, which seemed to grow
everywhere, though after a strangely sparse and depauperate fashion.
As I said to begin with, the Knob is a desolate place. It made me
think of the Scriptural phrase about "the besom of destruction." I
can imagine that mourners of the "Lost Cause," if such there still
be, might see upon it the signs of a place accursed.

Far otherwise is it with the national cemetery. That is a spot
of which the nation takes care. Here are shaven lawns, which,
nevertheless, you are permitted to walk over; and shrubbery and
trees, both in grateful profusion, but not planted so thickly as to
make the inclosure either a wood or a garden; and where the ledge
crops out, it is pleasingly and naturally draped with vines of the
Virginia creeper. One thing I noticed upon the instant; there were
no English sparrows inside the wall. The city is overrun with them
beyond anything I have seen elsewhere; within two hundred feet of
the cemetery gate, as I passed out, there were at least two hundred
sparrows; but inside, on three visits, I saw not one! How this
exemption had been brought about, I did not learn; but it makes of
the cemetery a sort of heavenly place. I felt the silence as the
sweetest of music (it was a Sunday afternoon), and thought instantly
of Comus and his "prisoned soul" lapped in Elysium. If I knew whom to
thank, I would name him.

A mocking-bird, aloft upon the topmost twig of a tall willow near the
entrance, was pouring forth a characteristic medley, in the midst
of which he suddenly called _wick-a-wick_, _wick-a-wick_, in the
flicker's very happiest style. "So flickers must now and then come to
Chattanooga," I said to myself, for up to that time I had seen none.
It was a pleasure to hear this great songster of the South singing
above these thousands of Northern graves. It seemed _right_; for time
and the event will prove, if, indeed, they have not proved already,
that the South, even more than the North, has reason to be glad of
the victory which these deaths went far to win.

A tablet on one of the cannons which stand upright on the highest
knoll informs visitors that the cemetery was "established" in 1863.
The number of burials is given as 12,876, of which nearly five
thousand are of bodies unidentified. A great proportion of the
stones bear nothing but a number. On others is a name, or part of a
name, with the name of the State underneath. One I noticed that was
inscribed:--

        JOHN

        N. Y.

An attendant of whom I inquired if any New England men were
here, answered that there were a few members of the Thirty-third
Massachusetts. I hope the New Englanders resident in Chattanooga do
not forget them on Memorial Day.

Twice in the year, at least, the place has many Northern visitors.
They arrive on wings, mostly by night, and such of them as came under
my eye acted as if they appreciated the quiet of the inclosure,
a quiet which their own presence made but the more appreciable.
Scattered over the lawns were silent groups of white-throated
sparrows,--on their way to New Hampshire, perhaps, or it might be to
upper Michigan; and not far from the entrance, and almost directly
under the mocking-bird, were two or three white-crowned sparrows,
the only ones found in Tennessee. On an earlier visit (April 29)
I saw here my only Tennessee robins--five birds; and most welcome
they were. Months afterward, a resident of Missionary Ridge wrote
to me that a pair had nested in the cemetery that year, though to
his great regret he did not know of it till too late. He had never
seen a robin's nest, he added, and was acquainted with the bird only
as a migrant. Such are some of the deprivations of life in eastern
Tennessee. May and June without robins or song sparrows!

On the last of my three visits, a small flock of black-poll warblers
were in the trees, and two of them gave me a pleasant little
surprise by dropping to the ground, and feeding for a long time
upon the lawn. That was something new for black-polls, so far as my
observation had gone, and an encouraging thing to look at: another
sign, where all signs are welcome, that the life of birds is less
strictly instinctive--less a matter of inherited habit, and more
a matter of personal intelligence--than has commonly been assumed.
In general, no doubt, like human beings, they do what their fathers
did, what they themselves have done heretofore. So much is to be
expected, since their faculties and desires remain the same, and they
have the same world to live in; but when exceptional circumstances
arise, their conduct becomes exceptional. In other words, they do
as a few of the quicker-witted among men do--suit their conduct to
altered conditions. A month ago I should have said, after years of
acquaintance, that no birds could be more strictly arboreal than
golden-crowned kinglets. But recently, I happened upon a little group
of them that for a week or more fed persistently on the ground in
a certain piece of wood. Then and there, for some reason, food was
plentiful on the snow and among the dead leaves; and the kinglets had
no scruples about following where duty called them.

At the same time a friend of mine, a young farmer, was at his
winter's work in the woods; and being alone, and a lover of birds,
he had taken a fancy to experiment with a few chickadees, to see
how tame a little encouragement would make them. A flock of five
came about him day after day, at luncheon-time, and by dint of
sitting motionless he soon had two of them on terms of something like
intimacy; so that they would alight on his hand and help themselves
to a feast. He was not long in discovering, and reporting to me, that
they carried much of the food to the trees round about, and packed it
into crannies of the bark.

"Are you sure of that?" I asked.

"Oh, yes," he answered; "I saw them do it, and then I went to the
trees and found the crumbs."

Did any one ever suspect the chickadee of such providence? If so, I
never heard of it; and it is more likely, I think, that the birds had
never before done anything of the sort; but now, finding suddenly a
supply far in excess of the demand (one day they ate and carried away
half a doughnut), they had sense enough to improve the opportunity.
What they had done, or had not done, in times past, was nothing to
the point, since they were creatures not of memory alone, but of
intelligence and a measure of reason.

Beside the unmistakable migrants,--white-throats, white-crowns,
and black-polls,--there were numbers of more southern birds in the
national cemetery. Among them I noticed a yellow-billed cuckoo, crow
blackbirds, orchard orioles, summer tanagers, catbirds, a thrasher,
a bluebird, wood pewees, chippers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, yellow
warblers, wood thrushes, and chats. All these looked sufficiently at
home except the chats; and it helps to mark the exceeding abundance
of these last in the Chattanooga region that they should show
themselves without reserve in a spot so frequented and so wanting in
close cover. One of the orioles sang in the manner of a fox sparrow,
while one that sang daily under my window, on Cameron Hill, never
once suggested that bird, but often the purple finch. The two facts
offer a good idea of this fine songster's quality and versatility.
The organ tones of the yellow-throated vireo and the minor whistle of
the wood pewee were sweetly in harmony with the spirit of the place,
a spirit hard fully and exactly to express, a mingling of regret
and exultation. What mattered it that all these men had perished,
as it seemed, before their time?--that so many of them were lying
in nameless graves? We shall all die; few of us so worthily; and
when we are gone, of what use will be a name upon a stone, a name
which, after a few years at the most, no passer-by will be concerned
to read? Happy is he who dies to some purpose. It would have been
good, I thought, to see over the cemetery gate the brave old Latin
sentence, _Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori_.

The human visitors, of whom one day there might have been a hundred,
were largely people of color. All were quiet and orderly, in couples
and family groups. Most of them, I remarked, went to look at the
only striking monument in the grounds, a locomotive and tender (the
"General") on a pedestal of marble--"Ohio's Tribute to the Andrews
Raiders, 1862." On three faces of the pedestal are lists of the
"exchanged," the "executed," and the "escaped."

One thing, one only, grated upon my feelings. In a corner of
the inclosure is the Superintendent's house, with a stable and
out-buildings; and at the gate the visitor is suddenly struck in
the face with this notice in flaring capitals: KEEP OUT! THIS MEANS
YOU! That is brutality beyond excuse. But perhaps it answers its
purpose. For my own part, I got out of the neighborhood as quickly as
possible. I liked better the society of the graves; at such a price a
dead soldier was better than a live superintendent; and to take the
unpleasant taste out of my mouth I stopped to read again a stanza on
one of the metal tablets set at intervals along the driveway:--

    "On Fame's eternal camping ground
        Their silent tents are spread,
    And Glory guards, with solemn round,
        The bivouac of the dead."

Far be the day when these Southern fields of Northern graves shall
fall into forgetfulness and neglect.



AN AFTERNOON BY THE RIVER.


To an idler desirous of seeing wild life on easy terms Chattanooga
offers this advantage, that electric cars take him quickly out of the
city in different directions, and drop him in the woods. In this way,
on an afternoon too sultry for extended travel on foot, I visited a
wooded hillside on the further bank of the Tennessee, a few miles
above the town.

The car was still turning street corner after street corner, making
its zigzag course toward the bridge, when I noticed a rustic old
gentleman at my side looking intently at the floor. Apparently he
suspected something amiss. He was unused to the ways of electricity,
I thought,--a verdancy by no means inexcusable. But as he leaned
farther forward, and looked and listened with more and more
absorption, the matter--not his ignorance, but his simple-hearted
betrayal of it--began to seem amusing. For myself, to be sure, I knew
nothing about electricity, but I had wit enough to sit still and
let the car run; a degree of sophistication which passes pretty well
as a substitute for wisdom in a world where men are distinguished
from children not so much by more knowledge as by less curiosity.
In the present instance, however, as the event proved, the dunce's
cap belonged on the other head. My countryman's stare was less
verdant than his next neighbor's smile; for in a few minutes the
conductor was taking up a trap door at our feet, to get at the works,
some part of which had fallen out of gear, though they were still
running. Twice the car was stopped for a better examination into the
difficulty, and at last a new wedge, or something else, was inserted,
and we proceeded on our way, while the motorman who had done the job
busied himself with removing from his coat, as best he could, the oil
with which it had become besmeared in the course of the operation.
It was rather hard, he thought, to have to spoil his clothes in
repair-shop work of that kind, especially as he was paid nothing for
it, and had to find himself. As for my rustic-looking seatmate, he
was an old hand at the business, it appeared, and his practiced ear
had detected a jar in the machinery.

We left the car in company, he and I, at the end of the route,
and pretty soon it transpired that he was an old Union soldier,
of Massachusetts parentage, but born in Canada and a member of a
Michigan regiment. Just how these autobiographical details came to
be mentioned I fail now to remember, but in that country, where so
much history had been made, it was hard to keep the past out of
one's conversation. He had been in Sheridan's force when it stormed
Missionary Ridge. As they went up the heights, he said, they were
between two fires; as much in danger from Federal bullets as from
Confederate; "but Sheridan kept right on." An old woman who lived on
the Ridge told him that she asked General Bragg if the Yankees would
take the hill. "Take the hill!" said Bragg; "they could as well fly."
Just then she saw the blue-coats coming, and pointed them out to the
General. He looked at them, put spurs to his horse, "and," added the
woman, "I ain't seen him since." All of which, for aught I know, may
be true.

The talkative veteran was now on his way to find an old friend of his
who lived somewhere around here, he didn't know just where; and as
my course lay in the same general direction we went across lots and
up the hill together, he rehearsing the past, and I gladly putting
myself to school. In my time history was studied from text-books;
but the lecture system is better. By and by we approached a solitary
cabin, on the dilapidated piazza of which sat the very man for whom
my companion was looking. "Very sick to-day," he said, in response
to a greeting. His appearance harmonized with his words,--and with
the piazza; and his manners were pitched on the same key; so that
it was in a downright surly tone that he pointed out a gate through
which I could make an exit toward the woods on the other side of
the house. I had asked the way, and was glad to take it. Not that
I was greatly offended. A sick man on one of his bad days has some
excuse for a little impatience; a far better excuse than I should
have for alluding to the matter at this late date, if I did not
improve the occasion to add that this was the only bit of anything
like incivility that I have ever received at the South, where I have
certainly not been slow to ask questions of all sorts of people.

A little jaunt along a foot-path brought me unexpectedly to a second
cabin, uninhabited. It was built of boards, not logs, with the
usual outside chimney at one end, a broad veranda, a door, and no
window; a house to fill a social economist with admiration at the
low terms to which civilized life can be reduced. Thoreau himself
was outdone, though the veranda, it must be confessed, seemed a
dispensable bit of fashionable conformity, with forest trees on all
sides crowding the roof. Half the floor had fallen away; yet the
house could not have been long unoccupied, for at one end the wall
was hung with newspapers, among which was a Boston "weekly" less than
two years old. From it looked the portrait of a New England college
president, and at the head of the page stood a list of "eminent
contributors." I ran the names over, but somehow, in these wild and
natural surroundings, they did not seem so very impressive. I think
it has been said before, perhaps by Thoreau, that most of what we
call literature wears an artificial and unimportant look when taken
out-of-doors.

Near this cabin I struck a road ("a sort of road," according to
my notebook) through the woods, following which I shortly came to
a grave-yard, or rather to a bunch of graves, for there was no
inclosure, nor even a clearing. One grave--or it may have been a
tiny family lot--was surrounded by a curb of stone. The others, with
a single exception, were marked only by low mounds of gravel. The
one exception was a grave with a head-board,--the grave of "Little
Theodosia," a year and some months old. "Theodosia!"--even into a
windowless cabin a baby brings romance. Under the name and the two
dates was this legend: "She is happy." Of ten inscriptions on marble
monuments nine will be found less simply appropriate.

By a circuitous course the wood road brought me to a larger cabin, in
a larger clearing. Here a pleasant-spoken, neighborly woman, with a
child in her arms, called off her dog, and pointed out a path beyond
a pair of bars. That path, she said, would carry me to the river,--to
the water's edge. And so it did, down a pleasant wooded hillside,
which an unwonted profusion of bushes and ferns made exceptionally
attractive. At the end of the path a lordly elm and a lordlier
buttonwood, both of them loaded with lusty vines (besides clusters of
mistletoe, I believe), gave me shelter from the sun while I sat and
gazed at the strong eager current of the Tennessee hurrying onward
without a ripple. As my foot touched the beach a duck--I could not
tell of what kind--sprang out of the water and went dashing off.
She had learned her lesson. In the duck's primer one of the first
questions is: "What is a man?" and the answer follows: "Man is a
gun-bearing animal." In the treetops a golden warbler and a redstart
were singing. Then I heard a puffing of steam, and by and by a tug
came round a turn, pushing laboriously up stream a loaded barge. It
was the Ocoee of Chattanooga, and the two or three mariners on board
seemed to find the sight of a stranger in that unlooked-for place a
welcome break in the monotony of their inland voyage.

On the bushy, ferny slope, as I returned, two Kentucky warblers were
singing in opposite directions. So I called them, at all events. But
they were too far away to be gone after, as my mood then was, and
soon I began to wonder whether I might not be mistaken. Possibly they
were Carolina wrens, whose _cherry_ is not altogether unlike the
Kentucky's _klurwee_. The question will perhaps seem unreasonable to
readers long familiar with the two birds; but let them put themselves
in a stranger's place, remembering that this was only his third or
fourth hearing of the Kentucky's music. As the doubt grew on me (and
nothing grows faster than doubt) I sat down and listened. Yes, they
were Kentuckies; but anon the uncertainty came back, and I kept my
seat. Then a sound of humming-bird wings interrupted my cogitations,
and in another moment the bird was before me, sipping at a scarlet
catchfly,--battlefield pink. I caught the flash of his throat. It
was as red as the flower--beyond which there is nothing to be said.
Then he vanished (rather than went away), as humming-birds do; but in
ten minutes he was there again. I was glad to see him. Birds of his
kind were rare about Chattanooga, though afterwards, in the forests
of Walden's Ridge, they became as common as I ever saw them anywhere.
The two invisible Kentuckies wore out my patience, but as I came to
the bars another sang near me. Him, by good luck, I saw in the act,
and for the time, at least, my doubts were quieted.

In the woods and thickets, as I sauntered along, I heard blue
golden-winged warblers, two more Kentuckies, a blue-gray gnatcatcher,
a Bachman's finch, a wood pewee, a quail, and the inevitable chats,
indigo-birds, prairie warblers, and white-eyed vireos. Then, as
I drew near the car track, I descended again to the river-bank
and walked in the shade of lofty buttonwoods, willows, and white
maples, with mistletoe perched in the upper branches, and poison ivy
climbing far up the trunks; the whole standing in great contrast to
the comparatively stunted growth, mainly oak,--and largely black
jack,--on the dry soil of the hillside. Across the river were broad,
level fields, brown with cultivation, in which men were at work, and
from the same direction came loud rasping cries of batrachians of
some kind. For aught that my ear could detect, they might be common
toads uttering their mysterious, discordant midsummer screams in
full chorus. Here were more indigo-birds, with red-eyes, white-eyes,
lisping black-poll warblers, redstarts, a yellow-billed cuckoo
(furtive as ever, like a bird with an evil conscience), catbirds, a
thrasher, a veery in song (a luxury in these parts), orchard orioles,
goldfinches, and chippers. A bluebird was gathering straws, and a
carrion crow, one of two seen in Tennessee, was soaring high over the
river.

The "pavilion," at the terminus of the car route, was deserted, and I
sat on the piazza enjoying the really beautiful prospect--the river,
the woods, and the cultivated fields. The land hereabout was all in
the market. In truth, the selling of building lots seemed to be one
of the principal industries of Chattanooga; and I was not surprised
to find the good-humored young fellow behind the counter--with its
usual appetizing display of cigars, drinks, and confectionery--full
of the glories and imminent possibilities of this particular
"suburb." He believed in the river. Folks would come this way, where
it was high and cool. (On that particular afternoon, to be sure, it
was neither very high nor very cool, but of course the weather isn't
always good anywhere.) "Lookout Mountain ain't what it used to be,"
he said, in a burst of confidence. "It's done seen its best days.
Yes, sir, it's done seen its best days." It was not for a stranger,
with no investment in view, to take sides in such competitions and
rivalries. I believed in the river and the mountain both, and hoped
that both would survive their present exploitation. I liked his talk
better when it turned upon himself. Nothing is more exhilarating than
an honest bit of personal brag. He was never sick, he told me. He
knew nothing of aches or pains. He could do anything without getting
tired. Save for his slavery to the counter, he seemed almost as well
off as the birds.



A MORNING IN THE NORTH WOODS.


The electric car left me near the Tennessee,--at "Riverview,"--and
thence I walked into the woods, meaning to make a circuit among the
hills, and at my convenience board an inward-bound car somewhere
between that point and the city. The weather was of the kind that
birds love: warm and still, after heavy showers, with the sun now
and then breaking through the clouds. The country was a suburb in
its first estate: that is to say, a land company had laid out miles
of streets, but as yet there were no houses, and the woods remained
unharmed. That was a very comfortable stage of the business to a man
on my errand. The roads gave the visitor convenience of access,--a
ready means of moving about with his eyes in the air,--and at the
same time, by making the place more open, they made it more birdy;
for birds, even the greater part of wood birds, like the borders of a
forest better than its darker recesses.

One thing I soon perceived: the rain had left the roads in a
condition of unspeakable adhesiveness. The red clay balled up my
heels as if it had been moist snow, till I pitched forward as I
walked. I fancied that I understood pretty well the sensations of
a young lady in high-heeled shoes. One moment, too, my feet were
weighted with lead; then the mass fell off in a sudden big lump, and
my next few steps were on air. A graceful, steady, self-possessed
gait was out of the question. As for abstaining from all appearance
of evil--well, as another and more comfortable Scripture says, "There
is a time for everything." However, I was not disposed to complain.
We read much about the tribulations of Northern soldiers on the march
in Virginia,--of entire armies mud-bound and helpless. Henceforth I
shall have some better idea of what such statements mean. In that
part of the world, I am assured, rubber overshoes have to be tied
on the feet with strings. Mother Earth does not believe in such
effeminacies, and takes it upon herself to pull them off.

The seventeen-year locusts made the air ring. Heard at the right
distance, the sound has a curious resemblance, noticed again and
again, to the far-away, barely audible buzz of an electric car. For
a week the air of the valley woods had been full of it. I wondered
over it for a day or two, with no suspicion of its origin. Then, as I
waited for a car at the base of Missionary Ridge, a colored man who
stood beside me on the platform gave me, without meaning it, a lesson
in natural history.

"The locuses are goin' it, this mornin', ain't they?" he said.

"The locuses?" I answered, in a tone of inquiry.

"Yes. Don't you hear 'em?"

He meant my mysterious universal hum, it appeared. But even then I
did not know that he spoke of the big, red-eyed cicada that I had
picked off a fence a day or two before and looked at for a moment
with ignorant curiosity. And even when, by dint of using my own eyes,
I learned so much, I was still unaware that this cicada was the
famous seventeen-year locust. Here in the north woods I more than
once passed near a swarm of the insects. At short range the noise
loses its musical character; so that it would be easy to hear it
without divining any connection between it and the grand pervasive
hum of the universal chorus.

One of the first birds at which I stopped to look was a Kentucky
warbler, walking about the ground and pausing now and then to sing;
one of six or seven seen and heard during the forenoon. Few birds are
more freely and easily observed. I mean in open woodlands with clear
margins, such as I was now exploring. In a mountain forest, where
they haunt brookside jungles of laurel and rhododendron, the story is
different, as a matter of course. How it happens that the same bird
is equally at home in surroundings so dissimilar is a question I make
no attempt to answer.

All the hill woods, mostly oak, were dry and stony; but after a
while I came unexpectedly to a valley, a place of another sort;
not moist, to be sure, but looking as if it had been moist at some
time or other; and with pleasant grassy openings and another set
of trees--red maples, persimmons, and sweet-gums. Here was a fine
bunch of birds, including many migrants, and I went softly hither
and thither, scanning the branches of one tree after another, as a
note or the stirring of a leaf attracted me, ready every minute for
the sight of something new and wonderful. I found nothing,--nothing
new and wonderful, I mean,--but I had all the exhilaration of
the chase. In the company, nearly all of them in song, were wood
thrushes, a silent palm warbler (red-poll), a magnolia warbler, three
Canadian flycatchers, many black-polls, one or two redstarts, a
chestnut-sided warbler, a black-and-white creeper, a field sparrow,
a yellow-throated vireo, a wood pewee, an Acadian flycatcher, and
two or more yellow-billed cuckoos. The red-poll was of a very pale
complexion (but I assert nothing as to its exact identity, specific
or sub-specific), and seemed to me unreasonably late. It was the 11th
of May, and birds of its kind had been passing through Massachusetts
by the middle of April. Chestnut-sides were scarce enough to be
interesting, and it was good to hear this lover of berry fields and
the gray birch singing from a sweet-gum.

When at last I turned away from the grassy glade,--where cattle were
pasturing, as I now remember,--and went back among the dry hills
(through the powdery soil of which the almost daily showers seemed
to run as through a sieve), I presently caught sight of a scarlet
tanager,--a beauty, and, except on the mountains, a rarity. Then I
stopped--on a street corner!--to admire the singing of a Bachman's
finch, wishing also to compare his plumage with that of a bird seen
and greatly enjoyed a few days before at Chickamauga. To judge from
my limited observation, this is one of the sparrows--the song sparrow
being another--which exhibit a strange diversity of individual
coloration; as if the fashion were not yet fully set, or perhaps
were being outgrown. The bird here in the north woods, so far as
color and markings went, might well enough have been of a different
species from that of the Chickamauga singer, yet there was no reason
to suspect the presence of more than one variety of _Peucæa_, so far
as I knew, and the music of the two birds was precisely the same. A
wonderfully sweet and various tune it is; with sometimes a highly
ventriloquial effect, as if the different measures or phrases came
from different points. It opens like the song heard in the Florida
flat-woods, but is even more varied, both in voice and in musical
form. So it seemed to me, I mean to say; but hearing the two a year
apart, I cannot speak without reserve. It is pleasanter--as well as
safer--to praise both singers than to exalt one to the pulling down
of the other. In appearance, Bachman's finch is one of the dullest,
dingiest, least prepossessing members of its great family; but its
voice and musical genius make it a treasure, especially in this
comparatively sparrowless country of eastern Tennessee.

I have remarked that I found this bird upon a street corner.
Unhappily my notes do not enable me to be more specific. It may have
been at the corner of Court and Tremont Streets, or, possibly, at the
junction of Tremont and Dartmouth Streets. All these names appear in
my memoranda. Boston people should have had a hand in this business,
I said to myself. It was on Federal Street (so much I put down) that
I saw my only Tennessee rose-breasted grosbeak. He, or rather she,
was the most interesting bird of the forenoon, and matched the one
Baltimore oriole seen at Chickamauga. I heard the familiar _click_,
as of rusty shears, and straightway took chase. For some minutes
my search was in vain, and once I feared I had been fooled. A bird
flew out of the right tree, as I thought, but showed yellow, and the
next moment set up the _clippiticlip_ call of the summer tanager.
Could that bird have also a note like the rose-breast's? It was not
impossible, of course, for one does not exhaust the vocabulary of
a bird in a month's acquaintance; but I could not think it likely,
thick as tanagers had been about me; and soon the _click_ was
repeated, and this time I put my eye on its author,--a feminine
rose-breast. Perhaps it was nothing more than an accident that she
was my only specimen; but so showy a bird, with so lovely a song and
so distinctive a signal, could hardly have escaped notice had it been
in any degree common.

Wood thrushes sang on all sides. They had need to be abundant
and free-hearted, since they stand in that region for the whole
thrush family. Blue golden-winged warblers, too, were generously
distributed, and, as happens to me now and then in Massachusetts,
I found one with a song so absurdly peculiar that I spent some time
in making sure of its author. It is to be hoped that this tendency
to individual variation will persist and increase in the case of
this species till something more melodious than its present sibilant
monotony is evolved; till beauty and art are mated, as they ought
to be. Who would not love to hear the music of all our birds a few
millions of years hence? What a singer the hermit thrush will be,
for example, when his tune is equal to his voice! Indigo-birds,
white-eyed vireos and prairie warblers abounded. As for the chats,
they saluted me on the right and on the left, till I said, "Chats,
Chattanooga," and felt almost as if Nature had perpetrated a huge
fantastic pun on her own account. If I could have had the ear of the
enterprising owners of this embryo suburb,--a syndicate, I dare say
they call themselves,--I would have suggested to them to name it
"Chat City."

I wandered carelessly about, now following a bird over a rounded
hill (one, I remember, was covered literally from end to end with
the common brake,--_Pteris_,--which will give the reader an idea of
its sterility), now keeping to the road. In such a soil flowers were
naturally scarce; but I noticed houstonia, phlox, hieracium, senecio,
pentstemon, and specularia. Like the brake, the names are suggestive
of barrenness. The senecio (ragwort), a species with finely cut
leaves (_S. millefolium_), was first seen on Missionary Ridge. There,
as here, it had a strange, misplaced appearance in my eyes, looking
much like our familiar _S. aureus_, but growing in dry woods!

So the morning passed. The hours were far too brief, and I would
have stretched them into the afternoon, but that my trunk was packed
for Walden's Ridge. It was necessary to think of getting back to the
city, and I took a quicker pace. Two more Kentucky warblers detained
me for a moment; a quail sprang up from under my feet; and on the
other side of the way an oven-bird sang--the only one found in the
valley. Then I came to the car-track; but somehow things wore an
unexpected look, and a preacher, very black, solemn, and shiny, gave
me to understand, in answer to a question, that the city lay not
where I thought, but in an opposite direction. Instead of making a
circuit I had cut straight across the country (an unusual form of
bewilderment), and had come to another railway. But no harm was done.
In that corner of the world all roads lead to Chattanooga.



A WEEK ON WALDEN'S RIDGE.


I.

Throughout my stay in Chattanooga I looked often and with desire at
a long, flat-topped, perpendicular-sided, densely wooded mountain,
beyond the Tennessee River. Its name was Walden's Ridge, I was told;
the top of it was eighty miles long and ten or twelve miles wide;
if I wanted a bit of wild country, that was the place for me. Was
it accessible? I asked. And was there any reasonable way of living
there? Oh yes; carriages ran every afternoon from the city, and there
were several small hotels on the mountain. So it happened that I
went to Walden's Ridge for my last week in Tennessee, and have ever
since thanked my stars--as New England Christians used to say, in my
boyhood--for giving me the good wine at the end of the feast.

The wine, it is true, was a little too freely watered. I went up the
mountain in a rain, and came down again in a rain, and of the seven
intervening days five were showery. The showers, mostly with thunder
and lightning, were of the sort that make an umbrella ridiculous,
and my jaunts, as a rule, took me far from shelter. Yet I had little
to complain of. Now and then I was put to my trumps, as it were; my
walk was sometimes grievously abbreviated, and my pace uncomfortably
hurried, but by one happy accident and another I always escaped a
drenching. Worse than the water that fell--worse, and not to be
escaped, even by accident---was that which saturated the atmosphere,
making every day a dog-day, and the week a seven-day sweat. And
then, as if to even the account, on the last night of my stay I
was kept awake for hours shivering with cold; and in the morning,
after putting on all the clothing I could wear, and breakfasting
in a snowstorm, I rode down the mountain in a state suggestive of
approaching congelation. "My feet are frozen, I know they are," said
the lady who sat beside me in the wagon; but she was mistaken.

This sudden drop in the temperature seemed to be a trial even to the
natives. As we drove into Chattanooga, it was impossible not to
smile at the pinched and woebegone appearance of the colored people.
What had they to do with weather that makes a man hurry? And the next
morning, when an enterprising, bright-faced white boy ran up to me
with a "'Times,' sir? Have a 'Times'?" I fear he quite misapprehended
the more or less quizzical expression which I am sure came into my
face. I was looking at his black woolen mittens, and thinking how
well he was mothered. It was the 19th of May; for at least three
weeks, to my own knowledge, the city had been sweltering under the
hottest of midsummer heats,--94° in the shade, for example; and now,
mittens and overcoats!

I should be sorry to exaggerate, or leave a false impression. In
this day of literary conscientiousness, when writers of fiction
itself are truth-tellers first, and story-tellers afterwards,--if
at all,--it behooves mere tourists and naturalists to speak as
under oath. Be it confessed, then, that the foregoing paragraphs,
though true in every word, are not to be taken too seriously. If the
weather, "the dramatic element in scenery," happened not to suit the
convenience of a naturally selfish man, now ten times more selfish
than usual--as is the rule--because he was on his annual vacation, it
does not follow that it was essentially bad. The rains were needed,
the heat was to have been expected, and the cold, unseasonable and
exceptional, was not peculiar to Tennessee. As for the snow, it was
no more than I have seen before now, even in Massachusetts,--a week
or two earlier in the month; and it lent such a glory to the higher
Alleghanies, as we passed them on our way homeward, that I might
cheerfully have lain shivering for _two_ nights in that unplastered
bedroom, with its window that no man could shut, rather than miss the
spectacle. Eastern Tennessee, I have no doubt, is a most salubrious
country; properly recommended by the medical fraternity as a refuge
for consumptive patients. If to me its meteorological fluctuations
seemed surprisingly wide and sudden, it was perhaps because I had
been brought up in the equable climate of New England. It would be
unfair to judge the world in general by that favored spot.

The road up the mountain--the "new road," as it is called--is a
notable piece of work, done, I was told, by the county chain-gangs.
The pleasure of the ascent, which naturally would have been great,
was badly diminished by the rain, which made it necessary to keep the
sides of the wagon down; but I was fortunate in my driver. At first
he seemed a stolid, uncommunicative body, and when we came to the
river I made sure he could not read. As we drove upon the bridge,
where straight before his eyes was a sign forbidding any one to drive
or ride over the bridge at a pace faster than a walk, under a penalty
of five dollars for each offense, he whipped up his horse and his
mule (the mule the better horse of the two), and they struck into a
trot. Halfway across we met another wagon, and its driver too had let
his horses out. Illiteracy must be pretty common in these parts, I
said to myself. But whatever my driver's educational deficiencies, it
did not take long to discover that in his own line he was a master.
He could hit the ear of his mule with the end of his whip with a
precision that was almost startling. In fact, it _was_ startling--to
the mule. For my own part, as often as he drew back his hand and let
fly the lash, my eye was glued to the mule's right ear in spite of
myself. Had my own ears been endowed with life and motion, instead
of fastened to my head like blocks of wood, I think they too would
have twitched. I wondered how long the man had practiced his art. He
appeared to be not more than forty-five years old. Perhaps he came of
a race of drivers, and so began life with some hereditary advantages.
At all events, he was a specialist, with the specialist's motto,
"This one thing I do."

We were hardly off the bridge and in the country before I began
plying him with questions about this and that, especially the wayside
trees. He answered promptly and succinctly, and turned out to be
a man who had kept his eyes open, and, better still, knew how to
say, "No, suh," as well as, "Yes, suh." (There is no mark in the
dictionaries to indicate the percussive brevity of the vowel sound
in "suh" as he pronounced it.) The big tupelo he recognized as the
"black-gum." "But isn't it ever called 'sour-gum'?" "No, suh." He
knew but one kind of tupelo, as he knew but one kind of "ellum."
There were many kinds of oaks, some of which he named as we passed
them. This botanical catechism presently waked up the only other
passenger in the wagon, a modest girl of ten or twelve years. She
too, it appeared, had some acquaintance with trees. I had asked the
driver if there were no long-leaved pines hereabout. "No, suh,"
he said. "But I think I saw some at Chickamauga the other day,"
I ventured. (It was the only place I did see them, as well as I
remember.) "Yes, sir," put in the girl, "there are a good many
there." "Good for you!" I was ready to say. It was a pretty rare
schoolgirl who, after visiting a battlefield, could tell what kind of
pines grow on it. Persimmons? Yes, indeed, the girl had eaten them.
There was a tree by the fence. Had I never eaten them? She seemed to
pity me when I said "No," but I fancied she would have preferred to
see me begin with one a little short of ripe.

As for the birds of Walden's Ridge, the driver said, there were
partridges, pheasants, and turkeys. He had seen ravens, also, but
only in winter, he thought, and never in flocks. His brother had
once shot one. About smaller birds he could not profess to speak.
By and by he stopped the carriage. "There's a bird now," he said,
pointing with his whip. "What do you call that?" It was a summer
tanager, I told him, or summer redbird. Did he know another redbird,
with black wings and tail? Yes, he had seen it; that was the male,
and this all-red one was the female. Oh no, I explained; the birds
were of different species, and the females in both cases were yellow.
He did not insist,--it was a case of a driver and his fare; but he
had always been told so, he said, and I do not flatter myself that
I convinced him to the contrary. It is hard to believe that one man
can be so much wiser than everybody else. A Massachusetts farmer once
asked me, I remember, if the night-hawk and the whippoorwill were
male and female of the same bird. I answered, of course, that they
were not, and gave, as I thought, abundant reason why such a thing
could not be possible. But I spoke as a scribe. "Well," remarked the
farmer, when I had finished my story, "some folks _say_ they be, but
I guess they _ain't_."

With such converse, then, we beguiled the climb to the "Brow,"--the
top of the cliffs which rim the summit of the mountain, and give it
from below a fortified look,--and at last, after an hour's further
drive through the dripping woods, came to the hotel at which I was to
put up--or with which I was to put up--during my stay on the Ridge.

I had hardly taken the road, the next morning, impatient to see
what this little world on a mountain top was like, before I came to
a lovely brook making its devious course among big boulders with
much pleasant gurgling, in the shadow of mountain laurel and white
azalea,--a place highly characteristic of Walden's Ridge, as I was
afterwards to learn. Just now, naturally, there was no stopping so
near home, though a Kentucky warbler, with his cool, liquid song, did
his best to beguile me; and I kept on my way, past a few houses, a
tiny box of a post-office, a rude church, and a few more houses, till
just beyond the last one the road dropped into the forest again, as
if for good. And there, all at once I seemed to be in New Hampshire.
The land fell away sharply, and at one particular point, through a
vista, the forest could be seen sloping down on either side to the
gap, beyond which, miles away, loomed a hill, and then, far, far in
the distance, high mountains dim with haze. It was like a note of
sublimity in a poem that till now had been only beautiful.

From the bottom of the valley came a sound of running water, and
between me and the invisible stream a chorus of olive-backed thrushes
were singing,--the same simple and hearty strains that, in June and
July, echo all day long through the woods of the Crawford Notch. The
birds were on their way from the far South, and were happy to find
themselves in so homelike a place. Then, suddenly, amid the golden
voices of the thrushes, I caught the wiry notes of a warbler. They
came from the treetops in the valley, and--so I prided myself upon
guessing--belonged to a cerulean warbler, a bird of which I had seen
my first and only specimen a week before, on Lookout Mountain. Down
the steep hillside I scrambled,--New Hampshire clean forgotten,--and
was just bringing my glass into play when the fellow took wing, and
began singing at the very point I had just left. I hastened back; he
flew again, farther up the hill, and again I put myself out of breath
with pursuing him. Again and again he sang, now in this tree, now in
that, but there was no getting sight of him. The trees should have
been shorter, or the bird larger. Straight upward I gazed, till the
muscles of my neck cried for mercy. At last I saw him, flitting amid
the dense foliage, but so far above me, and so exactly between me and
the sun, that I might as well not have seen him at all.

It was a foolish half-hour. The bird, as I afterwards discovered, was
nothing but a blue yellow-back, with an original twist to his song.
In Massachusetts, I should not have listened to it twice, but on new
hunting-grounds a man is bound to look for new game; else what would
be the use of traveling? It was a foolish half-hour, I say; but I
wish some moralist would explain, in a manner not inconsistent with
the dignity of human nature, how it happens that foolish half-hours
are commonly so much more enjoyable at the time, and so much
pleasanter in the retrospect, than many that are more reasonably
employed.

I swallowed my disappointment, and presently forgot it, for at the
first turn in the road I found myself following the course of a brook
or creek, between which and myself was a dense thicket of mountain
laurel and rhododendron, with trees and other shrubs intermingled.
The laurel was already in full bloom, while the rhododendrons held
aloft clusters of gorgeous rose-purple buds, a few of which, the
middle ones of the cluster, were just bursting into flower. Here
was beauty of a new order,--such wealth and splendor of color in
surroundings so romantic. And the place, besides, was alive with
singing birds: hooded warblers, Kentucky warblers, a Canadian
warbler, a black-throated blue, a black-throated green, a blue
yellow-back, scarlet tanagers, wood pewees, wood thrushes, a field
sparrow (on the hillside beyond) a cardinal, a chat, a bunch of
white-throated sparrows, and who could tell what else? It was an
exciting moment. Luckily, a man can look and listen both at once.
Here was a fringe-tree, a noble specimen, hung with creamy-white
plumes; here was a magnolia, with big leaves and big flowers; and
here was a flowering dogwood, not to be put out of countenance in
any company; but especially, here were the rhododendrons! And all
the while, deep in the thickest of the bushes, some unknown bird was
singing a strange, breathless jumble of a song, note tripping over
note,--like an eager churchman with his responses, I kept saying to
myself, with no thought of disrespect to either party. It cost me a
long vigil and much patient coaxing to make the fellow out, and he
proved to be merely a Wilson's blackcap, after all; but he was the
only bird of his kind that I saw in Tennessee.

On this first visit I did not get far beyond the creek, through the
bed of which the road runs, with a single log for foot-passengers.
I had spent at least an hour in going a hundred rods, and it was
already drawing near dinner time. But I returned to the spot that
very afternoon, and half a dozen times afterward. So poor a traveler
am I, so ill fitted to explore a new country. Whenever nothing in
particular offered itself, why, it was always pretty down at Falling
Water Creek. There I saw the rhododendrons come into exuberant
bloom, and there I oftenest see them in memory, though I found them
elsewhere in greater abundance, and in a setting even more romantic.

More romantic, perhaps, but hardly more beautiful. I remember, just
beyond the creek, a bank where sweet bush (_Calycanthus_), wild
ginger (_Asarum_), rhododendron, laurel, and plenty of trailing
arbutus (the last now out of flower) were growing side by side,--a
rare combination of beauty and fragrance. And within a few rods
of the same spot I sat down more than once to take a long look at
a cross-vine covering a dead hemlock. The branches of the tree,
shortening regularly to the top, were draped heavily with gray
lichens, while the vine, keeping mostly near the trunk and climbing
clean to the tip,--fifty feet or more, as I thought,--was hung
throughout with large, orange-red, gold-lined bells. Their numbers
were past guessing. Here and there a spray of them swung lightly from
the end of a branch, as if inviting the breeze to lend them motion
and a voice. The sight was worth going miles to see, and yet I passed
it three times before it caught my eye, so full were the woods of
things to look at. After all, _is_ it a poor traveler who turns again
and again into the same path? Whether is better, to read two good
books once, or one good book twice?

A favorite shorter walk, at odd minutes,--before breakfast and
between showers,--was through the woods for a quarter of a mile to a
small clearing and a cabin. On a Sunday afternoon I ventured to pass
the gate and make a call upon my neighbors. The doors of the house
stood open, but a glance inside showed that there was no one there,
and I walked round it, inspecting the garden,--corn, beans, and
potatoes coming on,--till, just as I was ready to turn back into the
woods, I descried a man and woman on the hillside not far away; the
man leading a mule, and the woman picking strawberries. At sight of
a stranger the woman fell behind, but the man kept on to the house,
greeted me politely, and invited me to be seated under the hemlock,
where two chairs were already placed. After tying the mule he took
the other chair, and we fell into talk about the weather, the crops,
and things in general. When the wife finally appeared, I rose, of
course; but she went on in silence and entered the house, while the
husband said, "Oh, keep your seat." We continued our conversation
till the rain began to fall. Then we picked up our chairs and
followed the woman inside. She sat in the middle of the room (young,
pretty, newly married, and Sunday-dressed), but never once opened her
lips. Her behavior was in strict accordance with local etiquette, I
was afterward assured (as if _all_ etiquette were not local); but
though I admire feminine modesty as much as any man, I cannot say
that I found this particular manifestation of it altogether to my
liking. Silence is golden, no doubt, and gold is more precious than
silver, but in cases of this figurative sort I profess myself a
bimetallist. A _little_ silver, I say; enough for small change, at
any rate; and if we can have a pretty free coinage, why, so much the
better, though as to that, it must be admitted, a good deal depends
upon the "image and superscription." However, my hostess followed her
lights, and reserved her voice--soft and musical let us hope--for
her husband's ear.

They had not lived in the house very long, he told me, and he did
not know how many years the land had been cleared. There was a fair
amount of game in the woods,--turkeys, squirrels, pheasants, and so
on,--and in winter the men did considerable hunting. Formerly there
were a good many deer, but they had been pretty well killed off.
Turkeys still held out. They were gobbling now. His father had been
trying for two or three weeks, off and on, to shoot a certain old
fellow who had several hens with him down in the valley. His father
could call with his mouth better than with any "caller," but so far
the bird had been too sharp for him. The son laughed good-naturedly
when I confessed to an unsportsmanlike sympathy with the gobbler.

The cabin, built of hewn logs, with clay in the chinks, was neatly
furnished, with beds in two corners of the one room, a stone chimney,
two doors directly opposite each other, and no window. The doors,
it is understood, are always to be open, for ventilation and light.
Such is the custom; and custom is nowhere more powerful than in
small rustic communities. If a native, led away by his wife, perhaps,
puts a window into his new cabin, the neighbors say, "Oh, he is
building a glass house, isn't he?" It must be an effeminate woman,
they think, who cannot do her cooking and sewing by the light of
the door. None the less, in a climate where snow is possible in the
middle of May, such a Spartan arrangement must sometimes be found
a bit uncomfortable by persons not to the manner born. A preacher
confided to me that in his pastoral calls he had once or twice made
bold to push to a door directly at his back, when the wind was cold;
but the innovation was ill received, and the inmates of the house,
doubtless without wishing to hurt their minister's feelings,--since
he had meant no harm, to be sure, but was simply unused to the ways
of the world,--speedily found some excuse for rectifying his mistake.
Probably there is no corner of the world where the question of fresh
air and draughts is not available for purposes of moral discipline.

Beside the path to the cabin, on the 13th of May, was a gray-cheeked
thrush, a very gray specimen, sitting motionless in the best of
lights. "Look at me," he seemed to say. "I am no olive-back. My
cheeks are not sallow." On the same day, here and in another place,
I saw white-throated sparrows. Their presence at this late hour was
a great surprise, and suggested the possibility of their breeding
somewhere in the Carolina mountains, though I am not aware that such
an occurrence has ever been recorded. Another recollection of this
path is of a snow-white milkweed (_Asclepias variegata_),--white with
the merest touch of purple to set it off,--for the downright elegance
of which I was not in the least prepared. The queen of all milkweeds,
surely.

After nightfall the air grew loud with the cries of batrachians and
insects, an interesting and novel chorus. On my first evening at the
hotel I was loitering up the road, with frequent auditory pauses,
thinking how full the world is of unseen creatures which find their
day only after the sun goes down, when in a woody spot I heard behind
me a sound of footsteps. A woman was close at my heels, fetching a
pail of water from the spring. I remarked upon the many voices. She
answered pleasantly. It was the big frogs that I heard, she reckoned.

"Do you have whippoorwills here?" I asked.

"Plenty of 'em," she answered, "plenty of 'em."

"Do you hear them right along the road?"

"Yes, sir; oh yes."

We had gone hardly a rod further before we exclaimed in the same
breath, "There is one now!"

I inquired if there was another bird here, something like the
whippoorwill, meaning the chuck-will's-widow. But she said no; she
knew of but one.

"How early does the whippoorwill get here?" said I.

"Pretty early," she answered.

"By the first of April, should you say?"

"Yes, sir, I think about then. I know the timber is just beginning to
put out when they begin to holler."

This mannerly treatment of a stranger was more Christian-like than
the stately silence of my lady of the cabin, it seemed to me. I
liked it better, at all events. I had learned nothing, perhaps; but
unless a man is far gone in philosophy he need not feel bound to
increase in wisdom every time a neighbor speaks to him; and anyhow,
that expression about the "putting out of the timber" had given me
pleasure. Hearing it thus was better than finding it upon a page
of Stevenson, or some other author whose business in life is the
picking of right words. Let us have some silver, I repeat. I am ready
to believe, what I have somewhere read, that men will have to give
account not only for every idle word, but for every idle silence.

The summit of the Ridge, as soon as one leaves its precipitous rocky
edge,--the Brow, so called,--is simply an indefinite expanse of
gently rolling country, thin-soiled, but well watered, and covered
with fine open woods, rambling through which the visitor finds little
to remind him of his elevation above the world. I heard a resident
speak of going to the "top of the mountain," however, and on inquiry
learned that a certain rocky eminence, two miles, more or less, from
Fairmount (the little "settlement" where I was staying), went by
that name, and was supposed to be the highest point of the Ridge.
My informant kindly made me a rough map of the way thither, and one
morning I set out in that direction. It would be shameful to live for
a week on the "summit" of a mountain, and not once go to the "top."

The glory of Walden's Ridge, as compared with Lookout Mountain,--so
the dwellers there say,--is its streams and springs; and my morning
path soon brought me to the usual rocky brook bordered with mountain
laurel, holly, and hemlock. To my New England eyes it was an odd
circumstance, the hemlocks growing always along the creeks in the
valley bottoms. Beyond this point I passed an abandoned cabin,--no
other house in sight,--and by and by a second one, near which, in the
garden (better worth preserving than the house, it appeared), a woman
and two children were at work. Yes, the woman said, I was on the
right path. I had only to keep a straight course, and I should bring
up at the "top of the mountain." A little farther, and my spirits
rose at the sight of a circular, sedgy, woodland pond, such a place
as I had not seen in all this Chattanooga country. It ought to yield
something new for my local ornithological list, which up to this
time included ninety species, and not one of them a water-bird. I did
my best, beating round the edge and "squeaking," but startled nothing
rarer than a hooded warbler and a cardinal grosbeak.

Next I traversed a long stretch of unbroken oak woods, with single
tall pines interspersed; and then all at once the path turned to
the right, and ran obliquely downhill to a clearing in which stood
a house,--not a cabin,--with a garden, orchard trees, and beehives.
This should be the German shoemaker's, I thought, looking at my
map. If so, I was pretty near the top, though otherwise there was
no sign of it; and if I had made any considerable ascent, it had
been as children increase in stature,--and as the good increase in
goodness,--unconsciously. A woman of some years was in the garden,
and at my approach came up to the fence,--a round-faced, motherly
body. Yes, the top of the mountain was just beyond. I could not miss
it.

"You do not live here?" she asked.

No, I explained; I was a stranger on the Ridge,--a stranger from
Boston.

"From Washington?"

"No, from Boston."

"Oh! from Boston!--Massachusetts!--Oh-h-h!"

She would go part way with me, she said, lest I should miss the path.
Perhaps she wished to show some special hospitality to a man from
Massachusetts; or possibly she thought I must be more in danger of
getting bewildered, being so far from home. But I could not think of
troubling her. Was there a spring near by, where I could drink?

"I have water in the house," she answered.

"But isn't there a creek down in the valley ahead?"

Oh yes, there was a creek; but had I anything to drink out of? I
thanked her. Yes, I had a cup. "My husband will be at home by the
time you come back," she said, as I started on, and I promised to
call.

The scene at the brook, halfway between the German's house and the
top, would of itself have paid me for my morning's jaunt. I stood on
a boulder in mid-current, in the shadow of overhanging trees, and
drank it in. Such rhododendrons and laurel, now in the perfection of
their beauty! One rhododendron bush was at least ten feet high, and
loaded with blooms. Another lifted its crown of a dozen rose-purple
clusters amid the dark foliage of a hemlock. A magnolia-tree
stood near; but though it was much taller than the laurel or the
rhododendron, and had much larger flowers, it made little show beside
them. Birds were singing on all hands, and numbers of gay-colored
butterflies flitted about, sipping here and there at a blossom. I
remember especially a fine tiger swallow-tail; the only one I saw
in Tennessee, I believe. I remember, too, how well the rhododendron
became him. Here, as in many other places, the laurel was nearly
white; a happy circumstance, as it and the rhododendron went the
more harmoniously together. Even in this high company, some tufts of
cinnamon fern were not to be overlooked; the fertile cinnamon-brown
fronds were now at their loveliest, and showed as bravely here, I
thought, as in the barest of Massachusetts swamp-lands.

A few rods more, up a moderate slope, and I was at the top of the
mountain,--a wall of out-cropping rocks, falling off abruptly on the
further side, and looking almost like an artificial rampart. Beyond
me, to my surprise, I heard the hum of cicadas,--seventeen-year
locusts,--a sound of which the lower country had for some time been
full, but of which, till this moment, I had heard nothing on the
Ridge.

As for the prospect, it was far reaching, but only in one direction,
and through openings among the trees. Directly before me, some
hundreds of feet below, was a piece of road, with a single cabin
and a barn; and much farther away were other cabins, each with its
private clearing. Elsewhere the foreground was an unbroken forest.
For some time I could not distinguish the Ridge itself from the
outlying world. Mountains and hills crowded the hazy horizon, range
beyond range. Moving along the rocks, I found a vista through which
Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain were visible. Another change, and
a stretch of the Tennessee River came into sight, and, beyond it,
Missionary Ridge with its settlements and its two observatories.
Evidently I was considerably above the level of the Brow; but whether
this was really the top of the mountain--reached, in some mysterious
way, without going uphill--was more than I could say.[2]

Nor did it matter. I was glad to be there. It was a pleasant place
and a pleasant hour, with an oak root for a seat, and never an insect
to trouble me. That, by the way, was true of all those Tennessee
forests,--when I was there, I mean; from what I heard, the ticks
and jiggers must be bad enough later in the season. As men do at
such times,--for human nature is of noble origin, and feels no
surprise at being well treated,--I took my immunity as a matter of
course, and only realized how I had been favored when I got back to
Massachusetts, where, on my first visit to the woods, I was fairly
driven out by swarms of mosquitoes.

The shoemaker was at home when I reached his house on my return, and
at the urgent invitation of himself and his wife I joined them on
the piazza for a bit of neighborly chat. I found him a smallish man,
not German in appearance, but looking, I thought, like Thoreau,
only grown a little older. He had been on Walden's Ridge for fifteen
years. Before that he was in South Carolina, but the yellow fever
came along and made him feel like getting out. Yes, this was a
healthy country. He had nothing to complain of; he was sixty-two
years old and his doctors' bills had never amounted to "five dollar."

"Do _you_ like living here?" I asked his wife.

"No," she answered promptly; "I never did. But then," she added, "we
can't help it. If you own something, you know, you have to stay."

The author of Walden would have appreciated that remark. There was no
shoemaking to be done here, the man said, his nearest neighbor being
half a mile distant through the woods; and there was no clover, so
that his bees did not do very well; and the frost had just killed
all his peach-trees; but when I asked if he never felt homesick for
Germany, the answer came like a pistol shot,--"No."

I inquired about a cave, of which I had heard reports. Yes, it was
a good cave, they said; I could easily find it. But their directions
conveyed no very clear idea to my mind, and by and by the woman
began talking to her husband in German. "She is telling him he ought
to go with me and show me the way," I said to myself; and the next
moment she came back to English. "He will go with you," she said. I
demurred, but he protested that he could do it as well as not. "Take
up a stick; you might see a snake," his wife called after him, as we
left the house. He smiled, but did not follow her advice, though I
fancied he would have done so had she gone along with us. A half-mile
or so through the pathless woods brought us to the cave, which might
hold a hundred persons, I thought. The dribbling "creek" fell over it
in front. Then the man took me to my path, pointed my way homeward,
and, with a handshake (the silver lining of which was not refused,
though I had been troubled with a scruple), bade me good-by. First,
however, he told me that if I found any one in Boston who wanted
to buy a place on Walden's Ridge, he would sell a part of his or
the whole of it. I remember him most kindly, and would gladly do
him a service. If any reader, having a landed investment in view,
should desire my intervention in the premises, I am freely at his
command; only let him bear in mind the terms of the deed: "If you own
something, you know, you have to stay."


II.

Fairmount, as has already been said, is but a clearing in the forest.
Instead of a solitary cabin, as elsewhere, there are perhaps a dozen
or two of cabins and houses scattered along the road, which emerges
from the woods at one end of the settlement, and, after a mile or so
in the sun, drops into them again at the other end. The glory of the
place, and the reason of its being, as I suppose, is a chalybeate
spring in a woody hollow before the post-office. There may be a
shop of some kind, also, but memory retains no such impression. One
building, rather larger than most of its neighbors, and apparently
unoccupied, I looked at more than once with a measure of that
curiosity which is everywhere the stranger's privilege. It sat
squarely on the road, and boasted a sort of portico or piazza,--it
puzzled me what to call it,--but there was no vestige of a chimney.
One day a ragged, bright-faced boy met me at the right moment, and I
asked, "Did some one use to live in that house?" "That?" said he, in
a tone I shall never forget. "That's a barn. That over there is the
dwelling." My ignorance was fittingly rebuked, and I had no spirit to
inquire about the piazza. Probably it was nothing but a lean-to. Even
in my humiliation, however, it pleased me to hear what I should have
called that good literary word "dwelling" on such lips. A Yankee boy
might have said "dwelling-house," but no Yankee of any age, or none
that I have ever known, would have said "dwelling," though he might
have read the word in books a thousand times. I thought of a spruce
colored waiter in Florida, who, when I asked him at breakfast how the
day was likely to turn out, answered promptly, "I think it will be
inclement." It may reasonably be counted among the minor advantages
of travel that it enriches one's every-day vocabulary.

Another Fairmount building (an unmistakable house, this time) is
memorable to me because on the doorstep, day after day, an old
gentleman and a younger antagonist--they might have been grandfather
and grandson--were playing checkers. "I hope you are beating the
young fellow," I could not help saying once to the old gentleman.
He smiled dubiously, and made some halting reply suggestive of
resignation rather than triumph; and it came to me with a kind of
pang, as I passed on, that if growing old is a bad business, as most
of us think, it is perhaps an unfavorable symptom when a man finds
himself, not out of politeness, but as a simple matter of course,
taking sides with the aged.

Fairmounters, living in the woods, have no outlook upon the world.
If they wish to see off, they must go to the Brow, which, by a
stroller's guess, may be two miles distant. My first visit to it
was the pleasanter--the more vacational, so to speak--for being an
accident. I sauntered aimlessly down the road, past the scattered
houses and orchards (the raising of early apples seemed to be a
leading industry on the Ridge, though a Chattanooga gentleman had
assured me that the principal crops were blackberries and rabbits),
and almost before I knew it, was in the same delightful woods that
had welcomed me wherever I had gone. And in the same woods the same
birds were singing. My notes make particular record of hooded and
Kentucky warblers, these being two of my newer acquaintances, as well
as two of the commoner Ridge songsters; but I halted for some time,
and with even a livelier interest, to listen to an old friend (no
acquaintance, if you please),--a black-throated green warbler. It was
one of the queerest of songs: a bar of five or six notes, uniform
in pitch, and then at once, in perfect form and voice,--the voice
being a main part of the music in the case of this warbler,--the
familiar _trees_, _trees_, _murmuring trees_. Where could the
fellow have picked up such a ditty? No doubt there was some story
connected with it. Nothing is born of itself. A dozen years ago, in
the Green Mountains,--at Bread-Loaf Inn,--I heard from the forest by
the roadside a song utterly strange, and hastened in search of its
author. After much furtive approach and diligent scanning of the
foliage, I had the bird under my opera-glass,--a black-throated blue
warbler! With my eye still upon him, he sang again and again, and
the song bore no faintest resemblance to the _kree_, _kree_, _kree_,
which all New England bird-lovers know as the work of _Dendroica
cærulescens_. In what private school he had been educated I have no
idea; but I believe that every such extreme eccentricity goes back to
something out of the common in the bird's early training.

I felt in no haste. Life is easy in the Tennessee mountains. A
pile of lumber, newly unloaded near the road,--in the woods, of
course,--offered a timely seat, and I took it. Some Chattanooga
gentleman was planning a summer cottage for himself, I gathered. May
he enjoy it for twenty years as much as I did for twenty minutes. Not
far beyond, near a fork in the road, a man of twenty-five or thirty,
a youth of sixteen or seventeen, and a small boy were playing marbles
in a cabin yard. I interrupted the sport long enough to inquire
which road I had better take. I was going nowhere in particular, I
explained, and wanted simply a pleasant stroll. "Then I would go
to the Brow, if I were you," said the man. "Keep a straight road.
It isn't far." I thanked him, and with a cheery "Come on!" to his
playmates he ran back, literally, to the ring. Yes, life is easy
in the Tennessee mountains. It is not to be assumed, nevertheless,
that the man was a do-nothing: probably he had struck work for a
few minutes only; but, like a sensible player, he was enjoying the
game while it lasted. Perhaps it is a certain inborn Puritanical
industriousness, against which I have never found the courage
effectually to rebel, that makes me look back upon this dooryard
comedy as one of the brightest incidents of my Tennessee vacation.
Fancy a Massachusetts farmer playing marbles at nine o'clock in the
forenoon!

At that moment, it must be owned, a rebuke of idleness would have
fallen with a poor grace from my Massachusetts lips. If the player of
marbles had followed his questioner round the first turn, he would
have seen him standing motionless beside a swamp, holding his head on
one side as if listening,--though there was nothing to be heard,--or
evoking ridiculous squeaking noises by sucking idiotically the back
of his hand. Well, I was trying to find another bird, just as he was
trying to knock another marble out of the ring.

The spot invited such researches,--a bushy swamp, quite unlike the
dry woods and rocky woodland brooks which I had found everywhere
else. I had seen my first cerulean warbler on Lookout Mountain, my
first Cape May warbler on Cameron Hill, my first Kentucky warbler
on Missionary Ridge, and my first blue-winged yellow warbler at the
Chickamauga battlefield. If Walden was to treat me equally well, as
in all fairness it ought, now was the time. Looking, listening, and
squeaking were alike unrewarded, however, till I approached the same
spot on my return. Then some bird sang a new song. I hoped it was a
prothonotary warbler, a bird I had never seen, and about whose notes
I knew nothing. More likely it was a Louisiana water-thrush, a bird
I had seen, but had never heard sing. Whichever it was, alas, it
speedily fell silent, and no beating of the bush proved of the least
avail.

Meanwhile I had been to the Brow, where I had sat for an hour or more
on the edge of the mountain, gazing down upon the world. The sky was
clouded, but here and there were fugitive patches of sunshine, now
on Missionary Ridge, now on the river, now glorifying the smoke of
the city. Southward, just across the valley and over Chattanooga,
was Lookout Mountain; eastward stretched Missionary Ridge, with
many higher hills behind it; and more to the north, and far in the
distance, loomed the Great Smoky Mountains, in all respects true
to their name. The valley at my feet was beautiful beyond words:
green forests interspersed with green clearings, lonely cabins,
and bare fields of red earth. At the north, Walden's Ridge made a
turn eastward, narrowing the valley, but without ending it. Chimney
swifts were cackling merrily, and the air was full of the hum of
seventeen-year locusts,--miles and miles of continuous sound. From
somewhere far below rose the tinkle of cow-bells. Even on that
cloudy and smoky day it was a glorious landscape; but it pleased me
afterward to remember that the eye returned of itself again and again
to a stretch of freshly green meadow along a slender watercourse,--a
valley within the valley. Of all the fair picture, that was the most
like home.

Meanwhile there was no forgetting that undiscovered stranger in the
swamp. Whoever he was, he must be made to show himself; and the
next day, when the usual noonday deluge was past, I looked at the
clouds, and said: "We shall have another, but in the interval I can
probably reach the Brow. There I will take shelter on the piazza of
an unoccupied cottage, and, when the rain is over, go back to the
swamp, see my bird, and thence return home." So it turned out--in
part. The clouds hurried me, but I reached the Brow just in season,
climbed the cottage fence, the gate being padlocked, and, thoroughly
heated as I was, paced briskly to and fro on the piazza in a chilling
breeze for an hour or more, the flood all the while threatening to
fall, and the thunder shaking the house. There was plenty to look at,
for the cottage faced the Great Smokies, and though we were under the
blackest of clouds, the landscape below was largely in the sun. The
noise of the locusts was incessant. Nothing but the peals of thunder
kept it out of my ears.

So far, then, my plans had prospered; but to find the mysterious
bird,--that was not so easy. The swamp was silent, and I was at once
so cold and so hot, and so badly under the weather already, that I
dared not linger.

In the woods, nevertheless, I stopped long enough to enjoy the
music of a master cardinal,--a bewitching song, and, as I thought,
original: _birdy_, _birdy_, repeated about ten times in the sweetest
of whistles, and then a sudden descent in the pitch, and the same
syllables over again. At that instant, a Carolina wren, as if
stirred to rivalry, sprang into a bush and began whistling _cherry_,
_cherry_, _cherry_ at his loudest and prettiest. It was a royal
duet. The cardinal was in magnificent plumage, and a scarlet tanager
near by was equally handsome. If the tanager could whistle like the
cardinal, our New England woods would have a bird to brag of.

Not far beyond these wayside musicians I came upon a boy sitting
beside a wood-pile, with his saw lying on the ground. "It is easier
to sit down than to saw wood, isn't it?" said I. Possibly he was
unused to such aphoristic modes of speech. He took time to consider.
Then he smiled, and said, "Yes, sir." The answer was all-sufficient.
We spoke from experience, both of us; and between men who _know_,
whatever the matter in hand, disagreement is impossible and
amplification needless.

Three days later--my last day on the Ridge--I had better luck at the
swamp. The stranger was singing on the nearer edge as I approached,
and I had simply to draw near and look at him,--a Louisiana
water-thrush. He sang, and I listened; and farther along, at the
little bridge where I had first heard the song, another like him was
in tune. The strain, as warbler songs go ("water-thrushes" being not
thrushes, but warblers), is rather striking,--clear, pretty loud,
of about ten notes, the first pair of which are longest and best.
I speak of what I heard, and give, of course, my own impression.
Audubon pronounces the notes "as powerful and mellow, and at times
as varied," as those of the nightingale, and Wilson waxes almost
equally enthusiastic in his praise of the "exquisitely sweet and
expressive voice." Here, as in Florida, I was interested to perceive
how instantly the bird's appearance and carriage distinguished it
from its Northern relative, although the descriptions of the two
species, as given in books, sound confusingly alike. It is matter for
thankfulness, perhaps, that language is not yet so all-expressive as
to render individual eyesight superfluous.

I kept on to the Brow, and some time afterward was at Mabbitt's
Spring, quenching my thirst with a draught of liquid iron rust, when
a third songster of the same kind struck up his tune. The spring,
spurting out of the rock in a slender jet, is beside the same
stream--Little Falling Water--that makes through the swamp; and along
its banks, it appeared, the water-thrushes were at home. I was glad
to have heard the famous singer, but my satisfaction was not without
alloy. Walden, after all, had failed to show me a new bird, though it
had given me a new song.

The most fatiguing, and perhaps the most interesting of my days on
the Ridge was the one day in which I did not travel on foot. Passing
through the village, on my return from one of my earlier visits to
Falling Water, I stopped a nice-looking man (if he will pardon the
expression, copied from my notes), driving a horse with a pair of
clothes-line reins. He had an air of being at home, and naturally I
took him for a native. Would he tell me something about the country,
especially about the roads, so that I might improve my scanty time
to the best advantage? Very gladly, he answered. He had walked and
driven over the mountain a good deal, surveying, and if I would call
at his house, a short distance down the road,--the house with the big
barn,--he would make me a rough map, such as would answer my purpose.
At the same time he mentioned two or three shorter excursions which
I ought not to miss; and when I had thanked him for his kindness, he
gathered up the reins and drove on. Intending no disrespect to the
inhabitants of the Ridge, I may perhaps be allowed to say that I was
considerably impressed by a certain unexpected propriety, and even
elegance, of diction, on the part of my new acquaintance. I remember
in particular his description of a pleasant cold spring as being
situated not far from the "confluence" of two streams. _Con-fluens_,
I thought, flowing together. Having always something else to do, I
omitted to call at his house, and one day, when we met again in the
road, I apologized for my neglect, and asked another favor. He was
familiar with the country, and kept a horse. Could he not spare a day
to take me about? If he thought this proposal a bit presumptuous,
courtesy restrained him from letting the fact be seen, and, after a
few minutes of deliberation,--his hands being pretty full just then,
he explained,--he promised to call for me two mornings later, at
seven o'clock. We would take a luncheon along, and make a day of it.

He appeared at the gate in due season, and in a few minutes we were
driving over a road new to me, but through the same spacious oak
woods to which I had grown accustomed. We went first to Burnt Cabin
Spring, one of the famous chalybeate springs of the mountain,--a
place formerly frequented by picnic parties, but now, to all
appearance, fallen into neglect. We stretched our legs, drank of the
water, admired the flowers and ferns, talking all the while (it was
here that my companion told a story of a young theologian from Grant
University, who, in a solemn discourse, spoke repeatedly of Jacob as
having "euchred his brother out of his birthright"), and then, while
a "pheasant" drummed near by, took our places again in the buggy.

Another stage, still through the oak woods, and we were at Signal
Point, famous--in local tradition, at least--as the station from
which General Sherman signaled encouragement to the Union army
beleaguered in Chattanooga, in danger of starvation or surrender.
I had looked at the bold, jutting crags from Lookout Mountain and
elsewhere, and rejoiced at last to stand upon them.

It would have been delightful to spend a long day there, lying
upon the cliffs and enjoying the prospect, which, without being so
far-reaching as from Point Lookout, or even from the eastern brim
of Walden, is yet extensive and surpassingly beautiful. The visitor
is squarely above the river, which here, in the straitened valley
between the Ridge and Raccoon Mountain, grows narrower and narrower
till it rushes through the "Suck." Even at that elevation we could
hear the roar of the rapids. A short distance above the Suck, and
almost at our feet, lay Williams Island. A farmer's Eden it looked,
with its broad, newly planted fields, and its house surrounded by
out-buildings and orchard-trees. The view included Chattanooga,
Missionary Ridge, and much else; but its special charm was its
foreground, the part peculiar to itself,--the valley, the river,
and Raccoon Mountain. Along the river-banks were small clearings,
each with its one cabin, and generally a figure or two ploughing or
planting. A man in a strangely long boat--a dugout, probably--was
making his difficult way upstream with a paddle. The Tennessee, in
the neighborhood of Chattanooga, at all events, is too swift for
pleasure-boating. Seen from above, as I commonly saw it, it looked
tranquil enough; but when I came down to its edge, now and then, the
speed and energetic sweep of the smooth current laid fast hold upon
me. From the mountains to the sea is a long, long journey, and no
wonder the river felt in haste.

I had gone to Signal Point not as an ornithologist, but as a patriot
and a lover of beauty; but, being there, I added one to my list of
Tennessee birds,--a red-tailed hawk, one of the very few hawks seen
in all my trip. Sailing below us, it displayed its rusty, diagnostic
tail, and put its identity at once beyond question.

Our next start--far too speedy, for the day was short--was for
Williams Point; but on our way thither we descended into the valley
of Shoal Creek, down which, with the creek to keep it company, runs
the old mountain road, now disused and practically impassable. Here
we hitched the horse, and strolled downwards for perhaps half a mile.
I was never in a lovelier spot. The mountain brook, laughing over
the stones, is overhung with laurel and rhododendron, which in turn
are overhung by precipitous rocks broken into all wild and romantic
shapes, with here and there a cavern--"rock-house"--to shelter a
score of travelers. The place was rich in ferns and other plants,
which, unhappily, I had no time to examine, and all the particulars
of which have faded out of my memory. We walked far enough to look
over the edge of the mountain, and up to the Signal Point cliffs. If
I could have stayed there two or three hours, it would have been a
memorable season. As it was, the stroll was enlivened by one little
adventure, at which I have laughed too many times ever to forget it.

I had been growing rapturous over the beauty of things, when my
companion said, "There are some people whom it is no pleasure to take
into places like this. They can't keep their eyes off the ground,
they are so bitten with the fear of snakes." He was a few paces ahead
of me, as he spoke, and the sentence was barely finished before he
shouted, "Look at that huge snake!" and sprang forward to snatch up
a stone. "Get a stick!" he cried. "Get a stick!" From his manner I
took it for granted that the creature was a rattlesnake, and a glance
at it, lying motionless among the stones beside the road, did not
undeceive me. I turned hurriedly, looking for a stick, but somehow
could not find one, and in a moment more was recalled by shouts of
"Come and help me! It will get away from us!" It was a question of
life and death, I thought, and I ran forward and began throwing
stones. "Look out! Look out! You'll bury it!" cried my companion;
but just then one of my shots struck the snake squarely in the head.
"That's a good one!" exclaimed the other man, and, picking up a dead
stick, he thrust it under the disabled creature and tossed it into
the road. Then he bent over it, and, with a stone, pounded its head
to a jelly. Such a fury as possessed him! He might have been bruising
the head of Satan himself, as no doubt he was--in his mind; for my
surveyor was also a preacher, as had already transpired.

"It isn't a venomous snake, is it?" I ventured to ask, when the work
was done.

"Oh, I think not," and he pried open its jaws to look for its fangs.

"I don't generally kill innocent snakes," I ventured again, a little
inopportunely, it must be confessed.

"Well, _I_ do," said the preacher. "The very sight of a snake stirs
my hatred to its depths."

After that it was natural to inquire whether he often saw
rattlesnakes hereabouts. (The driver who brought me up the mountain
had said that they were not common, but that I "wanted to look out
sharp for them in the woods.") My companion had never seen one, he
answered, but his wife had once killed one in their dooryard. Then,
by way of cooling off, after the fervor of the conflict, he told
me about a gentleman and his little boy, who, having come to spend
a vacation on the Ridge, started out in the morning for a stroll.
They were quickly back again, and the boy, quite out of breath, came
running into the garden.

"Oh, Mr. M.," he cried, "we saw a rattlesnake, and papa fired off his
pistol!"

"A rattlesnake! Where is it? What did it look like?"

"Why, we didn't see it, but we heard it."

"What was the noise like?" asked Mr. M., and he took a pencil from
his pocket and began tapping on a log.

"That's it!" said the boy, "that's it!"

They had heard a woodpecker drilling for grubs,--or drumming for
love,--whereupon the man had fired his pistol, and for them there was
no more walking in the woods.

After our ramble along Shoal Creek we rested at the ford, near a
brilliant show of laurel and rhododendron, and ate our luncheon to
the music of the stream. I finished first, as my evil habit is, and
was crossing the brook on natural stepping-stones when a bird--a
warbler of some unknown kind--saluted me from the thicket. Making my
companion a signal not to disturb us by driving into the stream, I
gave myself up to discovering the singer; edging this way and that,
while the fellow moved about also, always unseen, and sang again and
again, now a louder song, now, with charming effect, a quieter and
briefer one, till I was almost as badly beside myself as the preacher
had been half an hour before. But my warfare was less successful than
his, for, with all my pains, I saw not so much as a feather. There
is nothing prettier than a jungle of laurel and rhododendron in full
bloom, but there are many easier places in which to make out a bird.

Williams Point, which we reached on foot, after driving as near it
as the roughness of the unfrequented road would comfortably allow,
is not in itself equal to Signal Point, but affords substantially
the same magnificent prospect. Near it, in the woods, stood a newly
built cabin, looking badly out of place with its glaring unweathered
boards; and beside the cabin stood a man and woman in a condition of
extreme disgust. The man had come up the mountain to work in some
coal-mine, if I understood him correctly; but the tools were not
ready, there was no water, his household goods were stranded down
in the valley somewhere (the hens were starving to death, the woman
added), and, all in all, the pair were in a sorry plight.

Here, as at Signal Point, I made an addition to my local ornithology,
and this time too the bird was a hawk. We were standing on the edge
of the cliff, when a sparrow hawk, after alighting near us, took wing
and hung for some time suspended over the abyss, beating against the
breeze, and so holding itself steady,--a graceful piece of work,
the better appreciated for being seen from above. Here, also, for
the first time in my life, I was addressed as a "you-un." "Where
be you-uns from?" asked the woman at the cabin, after the ordinary
greetings had been exchanged. I believe, in my innocence, I had
always looked upon that word as an invention of story-writers.

Somewhere in this neighborhood we traversed a pine wood, in which
my first Walden pine warbler was trilling. Then, for some miles, we
drove along the Brow, with the glory of the world--valley, river,
and mountain--outspread before us, and the Great Smokies looming in
the background, barely visible through the haze. For seven miles, I
was told, one could drive along that mountain rim. Surely the city
of Chattanooga is happy in its suburbs. Here were many cottages, the
greater number as yet unopened; and not far beyond the one under
the piazza of which I had weathered the thunderstorm of the day
before, the road entered the forest again. Then, as the way grew
more and more difficult, we left the horse behind us, and by and by
came to a foot-path. This brought us at last to Falling Water Fall,
where Little Falling Water--after threading the swamp and passing
Mabbitt's Spring, as before described--tumbles over a precipice
which my companion, with his surveyor's eye, estimated to be one
hundred and fifty feet in height. The slender stream, broken into
jewels as it falls, strikes the bottom at some distance from the
foot of the cliffs, which here form the arc of a circle, and are
not perpendicular, but deeply hollowed. After enjoying the prospect
from this point,--holding to a tree and leaning over the edge of the
rocks,--we retraced our steps till we came to a steep, zigzag path,
which took us to the foot of the precipice. Here, as well as above,
were laurel and rhododendron in profusion. One big rhododendron-tree
grew on the face of the cliff, thirty feet over our heads, leaning
outward, and bearing at least fifty clusters of gorgeous rose-purple
flowers; and a smaller one, in a similar position, was equally full.
The hanging gardens of Babylon may have been more wonderful, but I
was well content.

From the point where we stood the ledge makes eastward for a long
distance, almost at right angles, and the cliffs for a mile--or,
more likely, for two or three miles--were straight before us, broken
everywhere into angles, light gray and reddish-brown intermixed, with
the late afternoon sun shining full upon them, and the green forest
fringing them above and sweeping away from them below.

It was a breathless clamber up the rocks again, tired and poorly off
as I was, but I reached the top with one hand full of rhododendrons
(it seemed a shame to pick them, and a shame to leave them), and in
half an hour we were driving homeward, our day's work done; while my
seatmate, who, besides being preacher, lawyer, surveyor, and farmer,
was also a mystic and a saint,--though he would have refused the
word,--fell into a strain of reminiscence, appropriate to the hour,
about the inner life of the soul, its hopes, its struggles, and its
joys. I listened in reverent silence. The passion for perfection is
not yet so common as to have become commonplace, and one need not be
certain of a theory in order to admire a practice. He had already
told me who his father was, and I had ceased to wonder at his using
now and then a choice phrase.

My friend (he will allow me that word, I am sure) had given me a day
of days, and with it a new idea of this mountain world; where the
visitor finds hills and valleys, creeks and waterfalls, the most
beautiful of forests, with clearings, isolated cabins, straggling
settlements, orchards, and gardens, and where he forgets again and
again that he is on a mountain at all. Even now I had seen but
a corner of it, as I have seen but a corner of the larger world
on which, for these few years back, I have had what I call my
existence. And even of what I saw, much has gone undescribed: stately
tulip-trees deep in the forest, with humming-birds darting from
flower to flower among them; the flame-colored azalea; the ground
flowers of the woods, including some tiny yellow lady's-slippers,
too dainty for the foot of Cinderella herself; the road to Sawyer's
Springs; and numbers of birds, whose names, even, I have omitted. It
was a wonderful world; but if the hobbyist may take the pen for a
single sentence, it may stand confessed that the greatest wonder of
all was this,--that in all those miles of oak forest I found not one
blue jay.

Another surprising circumstance, which I do not remember to have
noticed, however, till my attention was somewhat rudely called
to it, was the absence of colored people. With the exception of
three servants at the hotel, I saw none but whites. Walden's Ridge,
although stanchly Union in war-time, and largely Republican now, as
I was told, is a white man's country. I had gone to bed one night,
and was fast asleep, when I was wakened suddenly by the noise of some
one hurrying up the stairs and shouting, "Where's the gun? Where's
the gun? Shorty's been shot!" "Shorty" was the colored waiter, and
the speaker was a general factotum, an English boy. The colored
people--Shorty, his wife, and the cook--had been out on the edge of
the woods behind the house, when three men had fired at them, or
pretended to do so. It was explained the next morning that this was
only an attempt (on the part of some irresponsible young men, as the
older residents said) to "run the niggers off the mountain,"--after
what I understood to be a somewhat regular custom. "Niggers" did not
belong there; their place was down below. If a Chattanooga cottager
brought up a colored servant, he was "respectfully requested" to
send him back, and save the natives the trouble of attending to the
matter. In short, the Ridgites appeared to look upon "niggers" as
Northern laborers look upon non-union men--"scabs."

The hotel-keeper, an Englishman, with an Englishman's notions about
personal rights, was naturally indignant. He would hire his own
servants, or he would shut the house. In any event, the presence of
"Whitecaps," real or imaginary, must affect his summer patronage.
I fully expected to see the colored trio pack up and go back to
Chattanooga, without waiting for further hints; but they showed no
disposition to do anything of the sort, and, I must add, rose in my
estimation accordingly.

Of the feeling of the community I had a slight but ludicrous
intimation a day or two after the shooting. I passed a boy whom I had
noticed in the road, some days before, playing with a pig, lifting
him by the hind legs and pitching him over forwards. "He can turn a
somerset good," he had said to me, as I passed. Now, for the sake of
being neighborly, I asked, "How's the pig to-day?" He smiled, and
made some reply, as if he appreciated the pleasantry; but a more
serious-looking playmate took up his parable, and said, "The pig'll
be all right, if the folks up at the hotel don't shoot him." His tone
and look were intended to be deeply significant. "Oh, I know you,"
they implied: "you are up at the hotel, where they threaten to shoot
white folks."

For my last afternoon--wars and rumors of wars long since
forgotten--I went to the place that had pleased me first, the valley
of Falling Water Creek. The cross-vine on the dead hemlock had by
this time dropped the greater part of its bells, but even yet many
were hanging from the uppermost branches. The rhododendron was still
at the height of its splendor. All the gardens were nothing to it,
I said to myself. Crossing the creek on the log, and the branch on
stepping-stones, I went to quench my thirst at the Marshall Spring,
which once had a cabin beside it, and frequent visitors, but now was
clogged with fallen leaves and seemingly abandoned. It was perhaps
more beautiful so. Directly behind it rose a steep bank, and in front
stood an oak and a maple, the latter leaning toward it and forming
a pointed arch,--a worthy entrance. Mossy stones walled it in, and
ferns grew luxuriantly about it. Just over them, an azalea still
held two fresh pink flowers, the last till another May. In such a
spot it would have been easy to grow sentimental; but there came a
rumbling of thunder, the sky darkened, and, with a final hasty look
about me, I picked up my umbrella and started homeward.

My last walk had ended like many others in that showery, fragmentary
week. But what is bad weather when the time is past? All those black
clouds have left no shadow on Walden's Ridge, and the best of all my
strolls beside Falling Water, a stroll not yet finished,

    "The calm sense of seen beauty without sight,"

suffers no harm. As Thoreau says, "It is after we get home that we
really go over the mountain."

FOOTNOTE:

[2] It was _not_ the top of the mountain; so I am now informed, on
the best of authority. I followed the map, but misunderstood the man
who drew it. It was a map of some other route, and I did not see the
top of the mountain, after all.



SOME TENNESSEE BIRD NOTES.


Whoever loves the music of English sparrows should live in
Chattanooga; there is no place on the planet, it is to be hoped,
where they are more numerous and pervasive. Mocking-birds are scarce.
To the best of my recollection, I saw none in the city itself,
and less than half a dozen in the surrounding country. A young
gentleman whom I questioned upon the subject told me that they used
to be common, and attributed their present increasing rarity to the
persecution of boys, who find a profit in selling the young into
captivity. Their place, in the city especially, is taken by catbirds;
interesting, imitative, and in their own measure tuneful, but poor
substitutes for mocking-birds. In fact, that is a rôle which it is
impossible to think of any bird as really filling. The brown thrush,
it is true, sings quite in the mocking-bird's manner, and, to my
ear, almost or quite as well; but he possesses no gift as a mimic,
and furthermore, without being exactly a bird of the forest or the
wilderness, is instinctively and irreclaimably a recluse. It would
be hard, even among human beings, to find a nature less touched with
urbanity. In the mocking-bird the elements are more happily mingled.
Not gregarious, intolerant of rivalry, and, as far as creatures of
his own kind are concerned, a stickler for elbow-room,--sharing with
his brown relative in that respect,--he is at the same time a born
citizen and neighbor; as fond of gardens and dooryard trees as the
thrasher is of scrublands and barberry bushes. "Man delights me," he
might say, "and woman also." He likes to be listened to, it is pretty
certain; and possibly he is dimly aware of the artistic value of
appreciation, without which no artist ever did his best. Add to this
endearing social quality the splendor and freedom of the mocker's
vocal performances, multifarious, sensational, incomparable, by turns
entrancing and amusing, and it is easy to understand how he has come
to hold a place by himself in Southern sentiment and literature.
A city without mocking-birds is only half Southern, though black
faces be never so thick upon the sidewalks and mules never so common
in the streets. If the boys have driven the great mimic away from
Chattanooga, it is time the fathers took the boys in hand. Civic
pride alone ought to bring this about, to say nothing of the possible
effect upon real estate values of the abundant and familiar presence
of this world-renowned, town-loving, town-charming songster.

From my window, on the side of Cameron Hill, I heard daily the
singing of an orchard oriole--another fine and neighborly bird--and
a golden warbler, with sometimes the _fidgety_, _fidgety_ of a
Maryland yellow-throat. What could _he_ be fussing about in so
unlikely a quarter? An adjoining yard presented the unnatural
spectacle--unnatural, but, I am sorry to say, not unprecedented--of
a bird-house occupied in partnership by purple martins and English
sparrows. They had finished their quarrels, if they had ever had
any,--which can hardly be open to doubt, both native and foreigner
being constitutionally belligerent,--and frequently sat side by side
upon the ridge-pole, like the best of friends. The oftener I saw
them there, the more indignant I became at the martins' un-American
behavior. Such a disgraceful surrender of the Monroe Doctrine was too
much even for a man of peace. I have never called myself a Jingo, but
for once it would have done me good to see the lion's tail twisted.

With the exception of a few pairs of rough-wings on Missionary
Ridge, the martins seemed to be the only swallows in the country
at that time of the year; and though _Progne subis_, in spite of
an occasional excess of good nature, is a most noble bird, it was
impossible not to feel that by itself it constituted but a meagre
representation of an entire family. Swallows are none too numerous in
Massachusetts, in these days, and are pretty certainly growing fewer
and fewer, what with the prevalence of the box-monopolizing European
sparrow, and the passing of the big, old-fashioned, widely ventilated
barn; for there is no member of the family, not even the sand martin,
whose distribution does not depend in great degree upon human agency.
Even yet, however, if a Massachusetts man will make a circuit of a
few miles, he will usually meet with tree swallows, barn swallows,
cliff swallows, sand martins, and purple martins. In other words, he
need not go far to find all the species of eastern North America,
with the single exception of the least attractive of the six; that
is to say, the rough-wing. As compared with the people of eastern
Tennessee, then, we are still pretty well favored. It is worth while
to travel now and then, if only to find ourselves better off at home.

It might be easy to suggest plausible reasons for the general
absence of swallows from a country like that about Chattanooga;
but the extraordinary scarcity of hawks, while many persons--not
ornithologists--would account it less of a calamity, is more of a
puzzle. From Walden's Ridge I saw a single sparrow hawk and a single
red-tail; in addition to which I remember three birds whose identity
I could not determine. Five hawks in the course of three weeks spent
entirely out of doors, in the neighborhood of mountains covered
with old forest! Taken by itself, this unexpected showing might
have been ascribed to some queer combination of accidents, or to a
failure of observation. In fact, I was inclined so to explain it
till I noticed that Mr. Brewster had chronicled a similar state of
things in what is substantially the same piece of country. Writing
of western North Carolina, he says:[3] "The general scarcity--one
may almost say absence--of hawks in this region during the breeding
season is simply unaccountable. Small birds and mammals, lizards,
snakes, and other animals upon which the various species subsist are
everywhere numerous, the country is wild and heavily forested, and,
in short, all the necessary conditions of environment seem to be
fulfilled." Certainly, so far as my ingenuity goes, the mystery is
"unaccountable;" but of course, like every other mystery, it would
open quickly enough if we could find the key.

Turkey vultures were moderately numerous,--much less abundant than
in Florida,--and twice I saw a single black vulture, recognizable,
almost as far as it could be seen (but I do not mean at a first
glance, nor without due precaution against foreshortened effects),
by its docked tail. Both are invaluable in their place,--useful,
graceful, admirable, and disgusting. The vultures, the martins, and
the swifts were the only common aerial birds. The swifts, happily,
were everywhere,--jovial souls in a sooty dress,--and had already
begun nest-building. I saw them continually pulling up against the
twigs of a partially dead tree near my window. In them nature has
developed the bird idea to its extreme,--a pair of wings, with just
body enough for ballast; like a racing-yacht, built for nothing but
to carry sail and avoid resistance. Their flight is a good visual
music, as Emerson might have said; but I love also their quick,
eager notes, like the sounds of children at play. And while it has
nothing to do with Tennessee, I am prompted to mention here a bird
of this species that I once saw in northern New Hampshire on the 1st
of October,--an extraordinarily late date, if my experience counts
for anything. With a friend I had made an ascent of Mount Lafayette
(one of the days of a man's life), and as we came near the Profile
House, on our return to the valley, there passed overhead a single
chimney swift. What he could be doing there at that season was more
than either of us could divine. It was impossible to feel any great
concern about him, however. The afternoon was nearly done, but at the
rate he was traveling it seemed as if he might be in Mexico before
sunrise. And easily enough he may have been, if Mr. Gätke is right in
his contention that birds of very moderate powers of wing are capable
of flying all night at the rate of four miles a minute!

The comparative scarcity of crows about Chattanooga, and the amazing
dearth of jays in the oak forest of Walden's Ridge, have been touched
upon elsewhere. As for the jays, their absence must have been more
apparent than real, I am bound to believe. It was their silent time,
probably. Still another thing that I found surprising was the small
number of woodpeckers. For the first four days I saw not a single
representative of the family. It would be next to impossible to be
so much out of doors in Massachusetts at any season of the year
with a like result. During my three weeks in Tennessee I saw eight
flickers, seven hairy woodpeckers, two red-heads, and two or three
red-cockaded woodpeckers, besides which I heard one downy and one
"logcock." The last-named bird, which is big enough for even the
careless to notice, seemed to be well known to the inhabitants of
Walden's Ridge, where I heard it. By what they told me, it should be
fairly common, but I saw nothing of its "peck-holes." The first of
my two red-headed woodpeckers was near the base of Missionary Ridge,
wasting his time in exploring pole after pole along the railway. Did
he mistake them for so many dead trees still standing on their own
roots? Dry and seemingly undecayed, they appeared to me to offer
small encouragement to a grub-seeker; but probably the fellow knew
his own business best. On questions of economic entomology, I fear
I should prove but a lame adviser for the most benighted woodpecker
that ever drummed. And yet, being a man, I could not help feeling
that this particular red-head was behaving uncommonly like a fool.
Was there ever a man who did not take it as a matter of course that
he should be wiser than the "lower animals"?

Humming-birds cut but a small figure in my daily notes till I
went to Walden's Ridge. There, in the forest, they were noticeably
abundant,--for humming-birds, that is to say. It seemed to be the
time of pairing with them; more than once the two sexes were seen
together,--an unusual occurrence, unless my observation has been
unfortunate, after the nest is built, or even while it is building.
One female piqued my curiosity by returning again and again to the
bole of an oak, hovering before it as before a flower, and more
than once clinging to its rough upright surface. At first I took it
for granted that she was picking off bits of lichen with which to
embellish the outer wall of her nest; but after each browsing she
alighted here or there on a leafless twig. If she had been gathering
nest material, she would have flown away with it, I thought.

At another time, in a tangle of shrubbery, I witnessed a most
lively encounter between two humming-birds; a case of fighting or
love-making,--two things confusingly alike to an outsider,--in the
midst of which one of the contestants suddenly displayed so dazzling
a gorget that for an instant I mistook it for a scarlet flower. I
did not "wipe my eye," not being a poet, nor even a "rash gazer,"
but I admired anew the wonderful flashing jewel, now coal-black,
now flaming red, with which, perhaps, the male ruby-throat blinds
his long-suffering mate to all his shameful treatment of her in her
season of watchfulness and motherly anxiety. Does she never remind
him, I wonder, that there are some things whose price is far above
rubies? I had never seen the humming-bird so much a forest-dweller as
here, and gladly confessed that I had never seen him when he looked
so romantically at home and in place. The tulip-trees, in particular,
might have been made on purpose for him.

As the Chattanooga neighborhood was poorly supplied with hawks,
woodpeckers, and swallows, so was it likewise with sparrows, though
in a less marked degree. The common species--the only resident
species that I met with, but my explorations were nothing like
complete--were chippers, field sparrows, and Bachman sparrows; the
first interesting for their familiarity, the other two for their
musical gifts. In a comparison between eastern Tennessee--as I
saw it--and eastern Massachusetts, the Bachman sparrow must be set
against the song sparrow, the vesper sparrow, and the swamp sparrow.
It is a brilliant and charming songster, one of the very finest; but
it would be too costly a bargain to buy its presence with loss of the
song sparrow's abounding versatility and high spirits, and the vesper
sparrow's unfailing sweetness, serenity, and charm.

So much for the sparrows, commonly so called. If we come to the
family as a whole, the goodly family of sparrows and finches, we miss
in Tennessee the rose-breasted grosbeak and the purple finch, two of
our best esteemed Massachusetts birds, both for music and for beauty;
to offset which we have the cardinal grosbeak, whose whistle is
exquisite, but who can hardly be ranked as a singer above either the
rose-breast or the linnet, to say nothing of the two combined.

At the season of my visit,--in the latter half of the vernal
migration,--the preponderance of woodland birds, especially of the
birds known as wood warblers, was very striking. Of ninety-three
species observed, twenty-eight belonged to the warbler family. In
this list it was curious to remark the absence of the Nashville and
the Tennessee. The circumstance is significant of the comparative
worthlessness--except from a historical point of view--of locality
names as they are applied to American birds in general. Here were
Maryland yellow-throats, Cape May warblers, Canada warblers, Kentucky
warblers, prairie warblers, palm warblers, Acadian flycatchers,
but not the two birds (the only two, as well as I remember) that
bear Tennessee names.[4] The absence of the Nashville was a matter
of wonderment to me. Dr. Rives, I have since noticed, records it
as only a rare migrant in Virginia. Yet by some route it reaches
eastern New England in decidedly handsome numbers. Its congener,
the blue golden-wing, surprised me in an opposite direction,--by
its commonness, both in the lower country near the river and on
Walden's Ridge. This, too, is a rare bird in Virginia; so much so
that Dr. Rives has never met with it there. In certain places about
Chattanooga it was as common as it is locally in the towns about
Boston, where, to satisfy a skeptical friend, I once counted eleven
males in song in the course of a morning's walk. That the Chattanooga
birds were on their breeding grounds I had at the time no question,
although I happened upon no proof of the fact.

In the same way, from the manner in which the oven-birds were
scattered over Walden's Ridge in the middle of May, I assumed, rather
hastily, that they were at home for the summer. Months afterward,
however, happening to notice their southern breeding limits as
given by the best of authorities,--"breeding from ... Virginia
northward,"--I saw that I might easily have been in error. I wrote,
therefore, to a Chattanooga gentleman, who pays attention to birds
while disclaiming acquaintance with ornithology, and he replied
that if the oven-bird summered in that country he did not know it.
The case seemed to be going against me, but I bethought myself
of Mr. Brewster's "Ornithological Reconnaissance in Western North
Carolina," and there I read,[5] "The open oak woodlands, so prevalent
in this region, are in every way adapted to the requirements of
the oven-bird, and throughout them it is one of the commonest and
most characteristic summer birds." "Open oak woodlands" is exactly
descriptive of the Walden's Ridge forest; and eastern Tennessee and
western North Carolina being practically one, I resume my assured
belief (personal and of no authority) that the birds I saw and heard
were, as I first thought, natives of the mountain. Birds which are
at home have, as a rule, an air of being at home; a certain manner
hard to define, but felt, nevertheless, as a pretty strong kind of
evidence--not proof--by a practiced observer.

Several of the more northern species of the warbler family manifested
an almost exclusive preference for patches of evergreens. I have
elsewhere detailed my experience in a grove of stunted pines on
Lookout Mountain. A similar growth is found on Cameron Hill,--in the
city of Chattanooga,--one side of which is occupied by dwellings,
while the other drops to the river so precipitously as to be almost
inaccessible, and is even yet, I was told, an abode of foxes. On
the day after my arrival I strolled to the top of the hill toward
evening, and in the pines found a few black-polls and yellow-rumps.
I was in a listless mood, having already taken a fair day's exercise
under an intolerable sun, but I waked up with a start when my glass
fell on a bird which at a second glance showed the red cheeks of a
Cape May warbler. For a moment I was almost in poor Susan's case,--

    "I looked, and my heart was in heaven."

Then, all too soon, as happened to poor Susan also, the vision faded.
But I had seen it. Yes, here it was in Tennessee, the rarity for
which, spring after spring, I had been so many years on the watch. I
had come South to find it, after all,--a bird that breeds from the
northern border of New England to Hudson's Bay!

It is of the nature of such excitements that, at the time, the
subject of them has no thought of analyzing or justifying his
emotions. He is better employed. Afterward, in some vacant mood,
with no longer anything actively to enjoy, he may play with the
past, and from an evil habit, or flattering himself with a show of
intellectuality, may turn his former delight into a study; tickling
his present conceit of himself by smiling at the man he used to
be. How very wise he has grown, to be sure! All such refinements,
nevertheless, if he did but know it, are only a poorer kind of
child's play; less spontaneous, infinitely less satisfying, and
equally irrational. Ecstasy is not to be assayed by any test that
the reason is competent to apply; nor does it need either defense or
apology. It is its own end, and so, like beauty, its own excuse for
being. That is one of the crowning felicities of this present order
of things,--the world, as we call it. What dog would hunt if there
were no excitement in overhauling the game? And how would elderly
people live through long evenings if there were no exhilaration in
the odd trick?

"What good does it do?" a prudent friend and adviser used to say to
me, smiling at the fervor of my first ornithological enthusiasm. He
thought he was asking me a poser; but I answered gayly, "It makes
me happy;" and taking things as they run, happiness is a pretty
substantial "good." So was it now with the sight of this long-desired
warbler. It taught me nothing; it put nothing into my pocket; but it
made me happy,--happy enough to sing and shout, though I am ashamed
to say I did neither. And even a sober son of the Puritans may be
glad to find himself, in some unexpected hour, almost as ineffably
delighted as he used to be with a new plaything in the time when he
had not yet tasted of the tree of knowledge, and knew not that the
relish for playthings could ever be outgrown. I cannot affirm that I
went quite as wild over my first Cape May warbler as I did over my
first sled (how well the rapture of that frosty midwinter morning is
remembered,--a hard crust on the snow, and the sun not yet risen!),
but I came as near to that state of heavenly felicity--to reënter
which we must become as little children--as a person of my years is
ever likely to do, perhaps.

It is one precious advantage of natural history studies that they
afford endless opportunities for a man to enjoy himself in this
sweetly childish spirit, while at the same time his occupation is
dignified by a certain scientific atmosphere and relationship.
He is a collector of insects, let us say. Whether he goes to the
Adirondacks for the summer, or to Florida for the winter, he is
surrounded with nets and cyanide bottles. He travels with them as
another travels with packs of cards. Every day's catch is part of
the game; and once in a while, as happened to me on Cameron Hill,
he gets a "great hand," and in imagination, at least, sweeps the
board. Commonplace people smile at him, no doubt; but that is only
amusing, and he smiles in turn. He can tell many good stories under
that head. He delights to be called a "crank." It is all because
of people's ignorance. They have no idea that he is Mr. So-and-So,
the entomologist; that he is in correspondence with learned men the
country over; that he once discovered a new cockroach, and has had a
grasshopper named after him; that he has written a book, or is going
to write one. Happy man! a contributor to the world's knowledge, but
a pleasure-seeker; a little of a savant, and very much of a child; a
favorite of Heaven, whose work is play. No wonder it is commonly said
that natural historians are a cheerful set.

For the supplying of rarities and surprises there are no birds
like the warblers. Their pursuit is the very spice of American
ornithology. The multitude of species (Mr. Chapman's "Handbook of the
Birds of Eastern North America" enumerates forty-five species and
sub-species) is of itself an incalculable blessing in this respect.
No single observer is likely ever to come to the end of them. They do
not warble, it must be owned, and few of them have much distinction
as singers, the best that I know being the black-throated green and
the Kentucky; but they are elegant and varied in their plumage, with
no lack of bright tints, while their extreme activity and their
largely arboreal habits render their specific determination and their
individual study a work most agreeably difficult and tantalizing. The
ornithologist who has seen all the warblers of his own territory, say
of New England, and knows them all by their notes, and has found all
their nests,--well, he is himself a pretty rare specimen.

As for my experience with the family in Tennessee, I was glad, of
course, to scrape acquaintance--or to renew it, as the case might
be--with the more southern species, the Kentucky, the hooded, the
cerulean, the blue-wing, and the yellow-throat: that was partly why
I was here; but perhaps I enjoyed quite as keenly the sight of our
own New England birds moving homeward; tarrying here and there for
a day, but not to be tempted by all the allurements of this fine
country; still pushing on, northward, and still northward, as if for
them there were no place in the world but the woods where they were
born. Of the southern species just named, the Kentucky was the most
abundant, with the hooded not far behind. The prairie warbler seemed
about as common here as in its favored Massachusetts haunts; but
unless my ear was at fault its song went somewhat less trippingly:
it sounded labored,--too much like the scarlet tanager's in the way
of effort and jerkiness. Unlike the golden warbler, the prairie
was found not only in the lower country, but--in less numbers--on
Walden's Ridge. The two warblers that I listed every day, no matter
where I went, were the chat and the black-and-white creeper.

When all is said, the Kentucky, with its beauty and its song, is
the star of the family, as far as eastern Tennessee is concerned.
I can hear it now, while Falling Water goes babbling past in
the shade of laurel and rhododendron. As for the chat, it was
omnipresent: in the valley, along the river, on Missionary Ridge,
on Lookout Mountain, on Walden's Ridge, in the national cemetery,
at Chickamauga,--everywhere, in short, except within the city
itself. In this regard it exceeded the white-eyed vireo, and even
the indigo-bird, I think. Black-polls were seen daily up to May 13,
after which they were missing altogether. The last Cape May and the
last yellow-rump were noted on the 8th, the last redstart and the
last palm warbler on the 11th, the last chestnut-side, magnolia,
and Canadian warbler on the 12th. On the 12th, also, I saw my only
Wilson's blackcap. In my last outing, on the 18th, on Walden's Ridge,
I came upon two Blackburnians in widely separate places. At the
time, I assumed them to be migrants, in spite of the date. One of
them was near the hotel, on ground over which I had passed almost
daily. Why they should be so behindhand was more than I could tell;
but only the day before I had seen a thrush which was either a
gray-cheek or an olive-back, and of course a bird of passage. "The
flight of warblers did not pass entirely until May 19," says Mr.
Jeffries, writing of what he saw in western North Carolina.[6]

The length of time occupied by some species in accomplishing their
semi-annual migration is well known to be very considerable, and
is best observed--in spring, at least--at some southern point.
It is admirably illustrated in Mr. Chapman's "List of Birds seen
at Gainesville, Florida."[7] Tree swallows, he tells us, were
abundant up to May 6, a date at which Massachusetts tree swallows
have been at home for nearly or quite a month. Song sparrows were
noted March 31, two or three weeks after the grand irruption of
song sparrows into Massachusetts usually occurs. Bobolinks, which
reach Massachusetts by the 10th of May, or earlier, were still very
abundant--both sexes--May 25! Such dates are not what we should
have expected, I suppose, especially in the case of a bird like
the bobolink, which has no very high northern range; but they seem
not to be exceptional, and are surprising only because we have
not yet mastered the general subject. Nothing exists by itself,
and therefore nothing can be understood by itself. One thing the
most ignorant of us may see,--that the long period covered by the
migratory journeys is a matter for ornithological thankfulness. In
Massachusetts, for example, spring migrants begin to appear in late
February or early March, and some of the most interesting members of
the procession--notably the mourning warbler and the yellow-bellied
flycatcher--are to be looked for after the first of June. The
autumnal movement is equally protracted; so that for at least half
the year--leaving winter with its arctic possibilities out of
consideration--we may be on the lookout for strangers.

One of the dearest pleasures of a southern trip in winter or early
spring is the very thing at which I have just now hinted, the sight
of one's home birds in strange surroundings. You leave New England in
early February, for instance, and in two or three days are loitering
in the sunny pine-lands about St. Augustine, with the trees full of
robins, bluebirds, and pine warblers, and the savanna patches full of
meadow larks. Myrtle warblers are everywhere. Phoebes salute you as
you walk the city streets, and flocks of chippers and vesper sparrows
enliven the fields along the country roads. In a piece of hammock
just outside the town you find yourself all at once surrounded by a
winter colony of summer birds. Here are solitary vireos, Maryland
yellow-throats, black-and-white creepers, prairie warblers, red-poll
warblers, hermit thrushes, red-eyed chewinks, thrashers, catbirds,
cedar-birds, and many more. White-eyed vireos are practicing in the
smilax thickets,--though they have small need of practice,--and
white-bellied swallows go flashing and twittering overhead. The world
is good, you say, and life is a festival.

My vacation in Tennessee afforded less of contrast and surprise, for
a twofold reason: it was near the end of April, instead of early in
February, so that migrants had been arriving in Massachusetts for six
or seven weeks before my departure; and Tennessee has nothing of the
foreign, half-tropical look which Florida presents to Yankee eyes;
but even so, it was no small pleasure to step suddenly into a world
full of summer music. Such multitudes of birds as were singing on
Missionary Ridge on that first bright forenoon! The number of species
was not great, when it came to counting them,--morning and afternoon
together yielded but forty-two; but the whole country seemed alive
with wings. And of the forty-two species, thirty-two were such as
summer in Massachusetts or pass through it to their homes beyond.
Here were already (April 27) the olive-backed thrush, and northern
warblers like the black-poll, the bay-breast, and the Cape May, none
of which would be due in Massachusetts for at least a fortnight.
Here, too, were yellow-rumps and white-throated sparrows, though the
advance guard of both species had reached New England before I left
home. The white-throats lingered on Walden's Ridge on the 13th of
May, a fact which surprised me more at the time than it does in the
review.

One bird was seen on this first day, and not afterward. I had been
into the woods north of the city, and was returning, when from the
bridge over the Tennessee I caught sight of a small flock of black
birds, which at first, even with the aid of my glass, I could not
make out, the bridge being so high above the river and its banks.
While I was watching them, however, they began to sing. They were
bobolinks. Probably the species is not common in eastern Tennessee,
as the name is wanting in Dr. Fox's "List of Birds found in Roane
County, Tennessee, during April, 1884, and March and April, 1885."[8]

I have ventured upon some slight ornithological comparison between
southeastern Tennessee and eastern Massachusetts, and, writing as a
patriot (or a partisan), have seen to it that the scale inclined
northward. To this end I have made as much as possible of the absence
of robins, song sparrows, and vesper sparrows, and of the comparative
dearth of swallows; but of course the loyal Tennessean is in no
want of a ready answer. Robins, song sparrows, vesper sparrows, and
swallows are _not_ absent, except as breeding birds. He has them
all in their season,[9] and probably hears them sing. On the whole,
then, he may fairly retort, he has considerably the advantage of us
Yankees: he sees our birds on their passage, and drinks his fill
of their music before we have caught the first spring notes; while
we, on the other hand, see nothing of his distinctively southern
birds unless we come South for the purpose. Well, they are worth the
journey. Bachman's finch alone--yes, the one dingy, shabbily clad
little genius by the Chickamauga well--might almost have repaid me
for my thousand miles on the rail.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a strange mingling of sensations that possessed me in
Chattanooga. The city itself was like other cities of its age and
size, with some appearance of a community that had been in haste to
grow,--a trifle impatient, shall we say (impatience being one of
the virtues of youth), to pull down its barns and build greater;
just now a little checked in its ambition, as things looked; yet
still enterprising, still fairly well satisfied with itself, with
no lack of energy and bustle. As it happened, there was a stir in
local politics at the time of my visit (possibly there always is),
and at the street corners all patriotic citizens were exhorted to
do their duty. "Vote for Tom ---- for sheriff," said one placard.
"Vote for Bob ----," said another, in capitals equally importunate.
In Tennessee, as everywhere else, the politician knows his trade.
Familiarity, readiness with the hand, freedom with one's own name
(Tom, not Thomas, if you please), and a happy knack at remembering
the names of other people,--these are some of the preëlection tests
of statesmanship.

All in all, then, between politics and business, the city was "very
much alive," as the saying goes; but somehow it was not so often the
people about me that occupied my thoughts as those who had been here
thirty years before. Precious is the power of a first impression.
Because I was newly in the country I was constantly under the feeling
of its past. Hither and thither I went in the region round about,
listening at every turn, spying into every bush at the stirring of a
leaf or the chirp of a bird; yet I had always with me the men of '63,
and felt always that I was on holy ground.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] _The Auk_, vol. iii. p. 103.

[4] Both these warblers--the Nashville and the Tennessee--were named
by Wilson from the places where the original specimens were shot.
Concerning the Tennessee warbler he sets down the opinion that "it is
most probably a native of a more southerly climate." It would be a
pity for men to cease guessing, though the shrewdest are certain to
be sometimes wrong.

[5] _The Auk_, vol. iii. p. 175.

[6] _The Auk_, vol. vi. p. 120.

[7] _Ibid._, vol. v. p. 267.

[8] _The Auk_, vol. iii. p. 315. Of sixty-two species seen by me
during the last four days of April, eleven are not given by Dr.
Fox, namely, Wilson's thrush, black-poll warbler, bay-breasted
warbler, Cape May warbler, black-throated blue warbler, palm warbler,
chestnut-sided warbler, blue golden-winged warbler, bobolink, Acadian
flycatcher, yellow-billed cuckoo.

[9] See Dr. Fox's list.



A LIST OF BIRDS

FOUND IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD OF CHATTANOOGA FROM APRIL 27 TO MAY 18,
1894.


1. Green Heron. _Ardea virescens._--A single individual seen from a
car window. No other water birds were observed except three or four
ducks and a single wader, all upon the wing and unidentified.

2. Bob White. Quail. Partridge. _Colinus virginianus._--Common.

3. Ruffed Grouse. "Pheasant." _Bonasa umbettus._--Heard drumming on
Walden's Ridge.

4. Carolina Dove. Mourning Dove. _Zenaidura macroura._--A small
number seen.

5. Turkey Vulture. Turkey Buzzard. _Cathartes aura._--Common.

6. Black Vulture. Carrion Crow. _Catharista atrata._--Two birds seen.

7. Red-tailed Hawk. _Buteo borealis._--One bird seen from Walden's
Ridge.

8. Sparrow Hawk. _Falco sparverius._--One bird, on Walden's Ridge.

9. Yellow-billed Cuckoo. _Coccyzus americanus._--Common. First
noticed April 29.

10. Black-billed Cuckoo. _Coccyzus erythrophthalmus._--Seen twice on
Lookout Mountain, May 7 and 8, and once on Walden's Ridge, May 12.

11. Belted Kingfisher. _Ceryle alcyon._--A single bird heard on
Walden's Ridge.

12. Hairy Woodpecker. _Dryobates villosus._--My notes record
seven birds. No attempt was made to determine their specific or
sub-specific identity, but they are presumed to have been _D.
villosus_, not _D. villosus audubonii_.

13. Downy Woodpecker. _Dryobates pubescens._--A single bird was heard
(not seen) on Walden's Ridge,--a noticeable reversal of the usual
relative commonness of this species and the preceding.

14. Red-cockaded Woodpecker. _Dryobates borealis._--Found only at
Chickamauga, on Snodgrass Hill, in long-leaved pines--two or three
birds.

15. Pileated Woodpecker. "Logcock." _Ceophloeus pileatus._--Said to
be common on Walden's Ridge, where I heard its flicker-like shout.

16. Red-headed Woodpecker. _Melanerpes erythrocephalus._--One seen
near Missionary Ridge and one at Chickamauga. The scarcity of this
bird, and the absence of the red-bellied and the yellow-bellied, were
among the surprises of my visit.

17. Flicker. Golden-winged Woodpecker. _Colaptes auratus._--Not
common. Three birds were seen at Chickamauga, and it was occasional
on Walden's Ridge, where I listed it five days of the seven.

18. Whippoorwill. _Antrostomus vociferus._--Undoubtedly common. I
heard it only on Walden's Ridge, the only place where I went into the
woods after dark.

19. Nighthawk. _Chordeiles virginianus._--Common.

20. Chimney Swift. _Chætura pelagica._--Abundant.

21. Ruby-throated Humming-bird. _Trochilus colubris._--Common in the
forests of Walden's Ridge. Seen but twice elsewhere. First seen April
28.

22. Kingbird. _Tyrannus tyrannus._--Seen but three times--nine
specimens in all. First seen April 29.

23. Crested Flycatcher. _Myiarchus crinitus._--Noticed daily, with
two exceptions.

24. Phoebe. _Sayornis phoebe._--Common on Lookout Mountain and
Walden's Ridge. Not seen elsewhere.

25. Wood Pewee. _Contopus virens._--Very common. Much the most
numerous member of the family. Present in good force April 27, and
gathering nest materials April 29.

26. Acadian Flycatcher. Green-crested Flycatcher. _Empidonax
virescens._--Common.

27. Blue Jay. _Cyanocitta cristata._--Scarce (for the blue jay), and
not seen on Walden's Ridge!

28. Crow. _Corvus americanus._--Apparently much less common than in
Eastern Massachusetts.

29. Bobolink. _Dolichonyx oryzivorus._--A small flock seen, and heard
singing, April 27.

30. Orchard Oriole. _Icterus spurius._--Common, but not found on
Walden's Ridge.

31. Baltimore Oriole. _Icterus galbula._--A single bird, at
Chickamauga, May 3.

32. Crow Blackbird. _Quiscalus quiscula?_--Seen on sundry occasions
in the valley country, but specific distinction not made out. Both
forms--_Q. quiscula_ and _Q. quiscula æneus_--are found in Tennessee.
See Dr. Fox's List of Birds found in Roane County, Tennessee. "The
Auk," vol. iii. p. 315. My own list of the Icteridæ is remarkable for
its omissions, especially of the cowbird, the red-winged blackbird
(which, however, I am pretty certain that I saw on the wing) and the
meadow lark.

33. House Sparrow. English Sparrow. _Passer
domesticus._--Distressingly superabundant in the city and its suburbs.

34. Goldfinch. _Spinus tristis._--Abundant. Still in flocks.

35. White-crowned Sparrow. _Zonotrichia leucophrys._--Seen but once
(May 1), two birds, in the national cemetery.

36. White-throated Sparrow. _Zonotrichia albicollis._--Common. Still
present on Walden's Ridge (in two places) May 13. Sang very little.

37. Chipping Sparrow. Doorstep Sparrow. _Spizella socialis._--Common.

38. Field Sparrow. _Spizella pusilla._--Common.

39. Bachman's Sparrow. _Peucæa æstivalis bachmanii._--Common. One of
the best of singers.

40. Chewink. Towhee. _Pipilo erythrophthalmus._--Rather common. Much
less numerous than I should have expected from the nature of the
country.

41. Cardinal Grosbeak. _Cardinalis cardinalis._--Seen daily, but
seemingly not very numerous.

42. Rose-breasted Grosbeak. _Habia ludoviciana._--A single female,
May 11.

43. Indigo-bird. _Passerina cyanea._--Very abundant. For the first
time I saw this tropical-looking beauty in flocks.

44. Scarlet Tanager. _Piranga erythromelas._--Common on the
mountains, but seemingly rare in the valley.

45. Summer Tanager. _Piranga rubra._--Common throughout.

46. Purple Martin. _Progne subis._--Common.

47. Rough-winged Swallow. _Stelgidopteryx serripennis._--A few birds
seen.

48. Red-eyed Vireo. _Vireo olivaceus._--Common. One of the species
listed every day.

49. Yellow-throated Vireo. _Vireo flavifrons._--Common. Seen or heard
every day except April 27.

50. White-eyed Vireo. _Vireo noveboracensis._--Abundant. Heard every
day.

51. Black-and-white Creeper. _Mniotilta varia._--Very common.

52. Blue-winged Warbler. _Helminthophila pinus._--One bird seen at
Chickamauga, and a pair on Missionary Ridge.

53. Golden-winged Warbler. _Helminthophila chrysoptera._--Common,
especially in the broken woods north of the city.

54. Panda Warbler. Blue Yellow-backed Warbler. _Compsothlypis
americana._--Only on Walden's Ridge.

55. Cape May Warbler. _Dendroica tigrina._--One bird seen on Cameron
Hill, and a small company on Lookout Mountain--April 27, and May 7
and 8.

56. Yellow Warbler. Golden Warbler. _Dendroica æstiva._--Common, but
not observed on Walden's Ridge.

57. Black-throated Blue Warbler. _Dendroica cærulescens._--Common,
April 27 to May 14.

58. Myrtle Warbler. Yellow-rumped Warbler. _Dendroica
coronata._--Noted April 27 and 28, and May 7 and 8.

59. Magnolia Warbler. _Dendroica maculosa._--Not uncommon, May 1 to
12.

60. Cerulean Warbler. _Dendroica coerulea._--One bird, a male in
song, on Lookout Mountain.

61. Chestnut-sided Warbler. _Dendroica pensylvanica._--Listed on six
dates--April 27 to May 12.

62. Bay-breasted Warbler. _Dendroica castanea._--Seven or eight
individuals--April 27 to May 10.

63. Black-poll Warbler. _Dendroica striata._--Common to May 13.

64. Blackburnian Warbler. _Dendroica blackburniæ._--Seven birds--May
1 to 18.

65. Yellow-throated Warbler. _Dendroica dominica._
(_Albilora?_)--Found only at Chickamauga (Snodgrass Hill), where it
seemed to be common.

66. Black-throated green Warbler. _Dendroica virens._--Common.

67. Pine Warbler. _Dendroica vigorsii._--Not numerous, but found in
appropriate places.

68. Palm Warbler. _Dendroica palmarum._--The specific--or
sub-specific--identity of this bird was not certainly determined, but
I judged the specimens--seen on four dates, April 29 to May 11--to be
as above given, rather than _D. palmarum hypochrysea_.

69. Prairie Warbler. _Dendroica discolor._--Very common.

70. Oven-bird. _Seiurus aurocapillus._--Common on Lookout Mountain
and Walden's Ridge. Seen but once in the lower country.

71. Louisiana Water-thrush. _Seiurus motacilla._--A few birds seen on
Walden's Ridge.

72. Kentucky Warbler. _Geothlypis formosa._--Very common, and in
places very unlike.

73. Maryland Yellow-throat. _Geothlypis trichas._--Common.

74. Yellow-breasted Chat. _Icteria virens._--Very common.

75. Hooded Warbler. _Sylvania mitrata._--Common, especially along the
woodland streams on Walden's Ridge.

76. Wilson's Blackcap. _Sylvania pusilla._--A single bird on Walden's
Ridge, May 12, in free song.

77. Canadian Warbler. _Sylvania canadensis._--Seen on three
dates--May 6, 11, and 12.

78. Redstart. _Setophaga ruticilla._--Common. Not seen after May 14.

79. Mocking-bird. _Mimus polyglottos._--Rare. Not found on the
mountains.

80. Catbird. _Galeoscoptes carolinensis._--Very common, both in the
city and in the country round about.

81. Brown Thrasher. _Harporhynchus rufus._--Common.

82. Carolina Wren. Mocking Wren. _Thryothorus ludovicianus._--Common.

83. Bewick's Wren. _Thryothorus bewickii._--Not common. Seen only on
Missionary Ridge.

84. White-breasted Nuthatch. _Sitta carolinensis._--Common at
Chickamauga and on Walden's Ridge. A single bird noticed on Lookout
Mountain.

85. Tufted Titmouse. _Parus bicolor._--Common.

86. Carolina Chickadee. _Parus carolinensis._--Common.

87. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. _Polioptila cærulea._--Common.

88. Wood Thrush. _Turdus mustelinus._--Very common. A bird with
its beak full of nest materials was seen April 29, at the base of
Missionary Ridge.

89. Wilson's Thrush. Veery. _Turdus fuscescens._--Rare.

90. Gray-cheeked Thrush. _Turdus aliciæ_, or _T. aliciæ
bicknelli_.--Two birds, May 2 and 13.

91. Swainson's Thrush. Olive-backed Thrush. _Turdus ustulatus
swainsonii._--In good numbers and free song. Seen on four dates, the
latest being May 12.

92. Robin. _Merula migratoria._--Five birds in the national cemetery,
April 29.

93. Bluebird. _Sialia sialis._--Common. Young birds out of the nest,
April 28.



INDEX.


    Arbutus, 137.
    Azalea:--
      flame-colored, 178.
      pink, 182.
      white, 132.

    Baptisia, blue, 14, 93.
    Blackbird:--
      crow, 99.
      red-winged, 215.
    Bluebird, 9, 13, 78, 99, 111, 207.
    Bobolink, 205, 209.
    Buzzard, turkey, 6, 188.

    Catbird, 6, 17, 25, 43, 47, 78, 99, 111, 183, 207.
    Catchfly, scarlet, 15, 85, 109.
    Cedar-bird, 207.
    Chat, yellow-breasted, 3, 6, 9, 13, 17, 19, 27, 47, 55, 99, 110,
        121, 135, 204.
    Chewink, 6, 13, 207.
    Chickadee, blackcap, 98.
    Chickadee, Carolina, 13, 25, 71, 88.
    Cowslip, 85.
    Cranesbill, 34, 85.
    Creeper, black-and-white, 6, 12, 33, 42, 117, 204, 207.
    Cross-vine, 23, 137, 181.
    Crow, 42, 189.
    Cuckoo:--
      black-billed, 31, 42.
      yellow-billed, 19, 24, 71, 99, 111, 117.

    Dogwood, flowering, 136.
    Dove, mourning, 24.

    Fern:--
      cinnamon, 148.
      maiden-hair, 47.
    Finch:--
      Bachman's, 2, 6, 9, 13, 25, 66, 78, 81, 110, 118, 193, 194, 210.
      purple, 194.
    Flicker, 66, 78, 190.
    Flycatcher:--
      Acadian, 17, 24, 26, 62, 117.
      crested, 9, 13, 67, 71, 87.
      yellow-bellied, 206.
    Fringe-tree, 135.

    Ginger, wild, 137.
    Gnatcatcher, blue-gray, 6, 13, 18, 55, 99, 110.
    Goldfinch, 13, 17, 24, 25, 47, 78, 111.
    Gromwell, 85, 92.
    Grosbeak:--
      cardinal, 6, 13, 23, 26, 42, 135, 146, 162.
      rose-breasted, 119, 194.
    Grouse, ruffed (pheasant), 167.

    Hawk:--
      red-tailed, 169, 187.
      sparrow, 174, 187.
    Hieracium, 122.
    Houstonia, 23, 61, 85, 93.
    Humming-bird, ruby-throated, 109, 178, 191.

    Indigo-bird, 6, 9, 13, 17, 47, 55, 72, 78, 110, 111, 121, 204.

    Jay, blue, 178, 189.

    Kingbird, 13, 87.
    Kinglet, golden-crowned, 97.

    Lady's-slipper, yellow, 178.
    Lizard, 43, 55.
    Locust, seventeen-year, 55, 70, 83, 114, 149.

    Magnolia, 136, 148.
    Martin, purple, 6, 185.
    Maryland yellow-throat, 6, 13, 47, 61, 70, 185.
    Milkweed, 92, 142.
    Mistletoe, 110.
    Mocking-bird, 6, 78, 82, 94, 183.
    Mountain Laurel, 132, 135, 147, 169, 173, 176.

    Nuthatch, white-breasted (Carolina), 58, 61, 82.

    Oriole:--
      Baltimore, 78.
      orchard, 13, 78, 99, 111, 185.
    Oven-bird, 31, 33, 42, 122, 196.
    Oxalis:--
      violet, 34, 61, 85.
      yellow, 85.

    Pentstemon, 61, 122.
    Pewee, wood, 6, 17, 33, 62, 71, 78, 99, 117, 135.
    Phlox, 23, 34, 61, 85, 122.
    Phoebe, 28, 41, 207.
    Pink, Indian, 15.

    Quail, 6, 71, 122.

    Ragwort (Senecio), 93, 122.
    Raven, 130.
    Redstart, 6, 13, 25, 108, 117.
    Rhododendron, 135-137, 147, 169, 173, 176, 181.
    Robin, 96, 207, 210.
    Rue anemone, 62, 85.

    Saxifrage, 34.
    Sparrow:--
      Bachman's (see FINCH).
      chipping, 6, 13, 26, 99, 111, 193, 207.
      field, 6, 13, 17, 25, 47, 55, 62, 67, 70, 87, 117, 135, 193.
      house (English) 93, 183, 185.
      song, 4, 194, 205, 210.
      vesper, 194, 207, 210.
      white-crowned, 96.
      white-throated, 6, 26, 95, 135, 142, 208.
    Specularia, 122.
    Spring beauty, 61, 85.
    Stonecrop, white, 34.
    Swallow:--
      rough-winged, 22, 87, 88, 187.
      tree (white-bellied), 187, 205, 207.
    Sweet bush, 137.
    Swift, chimney, 189.

    Tanager:--
      scarlet, 20, 24, 33, 41, 118, 131, 135, 162.
      summer, 3, 6, 13, 17, 20, 47, 70, 78, 120, 131.
    Thrasher (brown thrush), 6, 7, 13, 17, 33, 82, 99, 111, 183, 207.
    Thrush:--
      gray-cheeked, 141.
      hermit, 207.
      Louisiana water, 163.
      olive-backed (Swainson's), 7, 13, 14, 19, 20, 22, 24, 133, 208.
      Wilson's (veery), 13, 14, 25, 111.
      wood, 6, 13, 14, 17, 33, 47, 87, 99, 117, 120, 135.
    Titmouse, tufted, 13, 14, 61, 70.
    Tulip-tree, 178, 193.
    Tupelo, 23.
    Turkey, wild, 81, 130, 140.

    Viburnum, maple-leaved, 34.
    Violet, bird-foot, 34, 85.
    Vireo:--
      red-eyed, 6, 13, 33, 42, 47, 55, 70.
      solitary, 207.
      white-eyed, 6, 9, 13, 17, 47, 110, 121, 204, 207.
      yellow-throated, 9, 13, 33, 70, 99, 117.
    Vulture:--
      black (carrion crow), 111, 188.
      turkey, 6, 188.

    Warbler:--
      bay-breasted, 6, 28, 32, 38, 49, 208.
      Blackburnian, 30, 31, 38, 204.
      black-poll, 6, 12, 19, 28, 32, 38, 42, 49, 61, 81, 96, 117, 198,
          204, 208.
      black-throated blue, 12, 31, 32, 37, 135, 157.
      black-throated green, 28, 31, 135, 156, 202.
      blue-winged, 20, 22, 71, 79, 80.
      blue yellow-backed, 21, 134, 135.
      Canadian, 21, 22, 23, 117, 135, 204.
      Cape May, 32, 37, 39, 198, 200, 204, 208.
      cerulean, 53.
      chestnut-sided, 12, 25, 117, 204.
      Connecticut, 14.
      golden-winged, 13, 110, 120, 195.
      hooded, 7, 48, 135, 146, 156, 203.
      Kentucky, 9, 13, 14, 19, 24, 35, 47, 49, 109, 110, 116, 122, 132,
          135, 156, 202-204.
      magnolia, 19, 30, 32, 37, 117, 204.
      mourning, 206.
      myrtle (yellow-rumped), 6, 12, 32, 39, 198, 204, 207, 208.
      Nashville, 195.
      palm (red-poll), 32, 38, 117, 204, 207.
      pine, 25, 175, 207.
      prairie, 6, 21, 25, 110, 121, 203, 207.
      Tennessee, 195.
      Wilson's blackcap, 136, 204.
      yellow (golden), 12, 99, 108, 185, 203,
      yellow-throated, 72, 73, 75, 80.
    Water-thrush, Louisiana, 163.
    Whippoorwill, 143.
    Wintergreen, striped, 34.
    Woodpecker:--
      downy, 191.
      golden-winged, 66, 190.
      hairy, 30, 190.
      pileated, 191.
      red-cockaded, 67, 73, 80, 191.
      red-headed, 80, 190, 191.
    Wren:--
      Bewick's, 4.
      Carolina (mocking), 6, 13, 17, 25, 26, 28, 42, 47, 55, 71, 109,
          162.





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