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Title: Fire In The Woods - Illustrated
Author: De Mille, James
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Fire In The Woods - Illustrated" ***

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FIRE IN THE WOODS

By Prof. James De Mille

Author Of The “B. O. W. C.,” “The Boys Of Grand Pre School,” “Lost In
The Fog,” “Among The Brigands,” Etc.

Illustrated

Boston: Lee And Shepard Publishers

1871


[Ill 0010]

[Ill 0010]



FIRE IN THE WOODS.



I.

_On a Visit.--A Fascination and a Temptation.--Secret Plans.--An
exciting Letter.--Where’s old Solomon?--Arrival of an Opportunity.--The
Opportunity seized.--A hazardous Adventure.--The Island in the Falls._


BART DAMER lived at St. John, and on his return home he had brought
with him his two friends, Phil and Pat, to pass the vacation with
him. Solomon had also accompanied them, for the purpose of visiting some
relatives who lived in the vicinity. Neither Phil nor Pat had ever been
in St. John before, and they found the place full of attractions of no
common order.

Indeed, it may safely be said, that St. John possesses attractions
sufficient to excite the interest even of those who have travelled
far and seen much, and can lay claim to far more experience than could
possibly have been possessed by two lads like Phil and Pat.

Situated as it is on a peninsula between two seas, and on a declivity
which slopes steeply down on three sides, its houses rise one above
another, and thus produce an effect which is in the highest degree
imposing to those approaching. Before the city and behind it two furious
floods pass and repass, in one place filling up the broad channel with
sand, but in the other mingling with the torrent of a mighty river,
which, after flowing for five hundred miles, at this place pours all its
accumulated waters into the bay.

All around the city are many striking scenes; the sea, with its tides
and currents; the sky, with its clouds and fogs; the rocky ledges, the
surf-beaten islands, and the far-folded headlands; the low marshes,
and broad sand flats; the bold, rocky hills, whose summits, rising
one behind another, fade away in the distance;--and over all these an
ever-changing atmosphere, which at one time veils all the scene in thick
mists, and at another time gathers up all its clouds to lend additional
glories to the setting sun.

But, amid all these objects of interest, one stands forth preeminent,
and that is the river. After flowing for many a mile through every
variety of scenery, it at length approaches its termination, where,
within the space of a few miles, it gathers together the extremes of the
grand and the beautiful. Here it expands into a broad lake, and receives
into itself, by a wide mouth, another tributary river; after which
it contracts into narrow dimensions, and winds its way between rocky
precipices till it reaches the suburbs of the city. Here it expands once
more, and then, flowing onward a little farther, it comes to a place
where towering cliffs rise abrupt, giving signs of some primeval
convulsion of nature, which has rent the solid rock asunder to open
a pathway for the waters. Here, through a narrow and gloomy gorge,
it rushes onward, past rocky shores and between small islands, and at
length, with a majestic curve, sweeps into the harbor, and thence into
the bay.

Now, the surface of that bay is forever changing, as the mighty tides
ebb and flow, and the difference between the extremes of its elevation
is great. At low tide all the river pours in foam and fury through this
gorge, forming what is called the Falls; at high tide, on the contrary,
the outer waters run swiftly up the river with resistless sweep; while
between the two there is a time when the waters are so still that the
most fragile boat can pass with perfect safety in any direction.

The scene is magnificent. At the beginning of the Falls the river grows
narrow, showing two rocky islets on one side, and a promontory on the
other. Then, after widening again, it once more contracts, and
lowering cliffs of solid rock arise on either side. Across this abyss
a suspension bridge has been flung, from which there is a view full of
grandeur. Here at high tide the river may be seen rushing up; at low
tide it may be seen pouring down with the fury of a cataract; while at
intermediate tide may be seen steamers, and schooners, and scows, and
timber-rafts, and sail-boats, and row-boats, all passing through in
perfect safety.

After exhausting the possibilities of the place, Phil and Pat both
settled down upon the Falls as the one grand distinguishing feature of
the city, at least in their estimation. Bart’s house was not very far
away, and so they used to come here often; sometimes sitting on the
suspension bridge, and watching the flood below, or the vessels passing
underneath, or the foam of the thunderous cataract; at other times
scaling the sides of the precipice, and working their way down to the
edge of the river, so as to look up from thence and watch the suspension
bridge overhead, with the people and carriages that passed to and
fro. Thus the whole immediate vicinity of the Falls became at length
perfectly familiar to them, and there was not a single spot worth seeing
which they had not thoroughly explored.

When I say this, I must make an exception. There were some spots which
yet baffled them. These were two islands which lay in the channel of the
river, and, when the flood poured down, received its shock upon their
rocky borders. These islands lay out of the reach of the boys, and for
that reason became particularly attractive to them. An island is always
an object of unutterable fascination to a boy; but these became
still more fascinating, for the reason that they seemed to be more
inaccessible than was generally the case. At the same time they were
very provokingly near. From one shore the distance was so slight that
it seemed almost possible to jump across. But the possibility was only
apparent; the island was in reality inaccessible, except by boat,
at certain times of tide, and so Phil and Pat only found themselves
tantalized by the sight of an object apparently so near, yet in reality
so remote.

Each of the boys began at length to be filled with a consuming desire to
reach the islands, and each soon began to think over some plan by which
their purpose might be effected. Of the two, Pat was the more eager;
in fact, if it had not been for him, it is not at all likely that
Phil would ever have felt the desire so strongly; but Pat seemed to
be completely carried away by this one feeling; and his excitement was
gradually communicated to Phil, till at last one was as eager as the
other to reach those inviting shores.

As for Bart, he was in a different position altogether. He had been
taken there once, and consequently knew all about them; and thus there
was no mystery to attract him. In the second place, his father had
forbidden him, most positively and most solemnly, from ever having
anything whatever to do with any boat above the Falls. The prohibition
was one which was so final, that the idea of disobeying it never for
one moment entered into his head; and when Pat had mentioned his wish
to visit the islands, he had refused so positively, and had warned him
against it so earnestly, that Pat from that moment never alluded to it
again in his presence. In this matter Phil was influenced by Pat, rather
than by Bart; that is to say, he listened rather to Pat’s enthusiastic
descriptions of those mysterious islands than to the somewhat
unsatisfactory warning which Bart had given; and the only result of
that warning was, that he and Pat began to devise in secret some plan by
which they might achieve their desire.

The result of this was, that Pat volunteered to go forth and make some
inquiries about boats. There were plenty of boats above the Falls, and
it was easy enough to procure one. The only difficulty was, that people
might not be willing to let one to inexperienced boys. But Pat was fully
a match for this emergency. He was ready with any amount of professions
as to his ability to manage any boat; and indeed in such professions he
was not deceitful, for he could handle an oar as well as any boy of
his age. And so his offer was accepted very readily by Phil; and the
consequence was, that Pat took occasion to make his search, and made it
with such success that he at length found a boat every way adapted to
their purpose. He did this, too, quite unknown to Bart.

This must not be considered as a violation of confidence, or anything
of that sort; for Pat was, after all, not capable of direct deceit. The
fact was, he regarded Bart’s objection as due to his father’s command,
and that command he did not consider as at all binding either upon
himself or upon Phil. He did not suppose that there was any actual
danger, nor did he stop to think that Mr. Darner’s prohibition might
be founded upon wise precautions and a knowledge of the perils of the
place; for, as a matter of fact, though this fact was unknown to Pat,
the Falls are sufficiently dangerous to cause the loss of one life per
year on an average, besides many accidents which do not result in an
actual loss of life; and it was this knowledge of the dangers attendant
upon boating in these waters which had led to Mr. Darner’s prohibition.

Thus Pat went innocently and confidently to work, and obtained a boat;
and Phil entered with the utmost eagerness into Pat’s plan. Bart’s
strong objections and earnest warnings had, however, produced sufficient
effect upon them to make them anxious to keep their plan a secret from
him, and to carry it into execution at some time when he might not be
with them. But this was not very easy, for Bart was always with one or
both of them; and so, even after they had found a boat, it still seemed
as difficult as ever to make use of it.

At length an event occurred which gave them the long desired opportunity
of making use of the boat in a voyage to the islands.

This event was the receipt by Bart of a letter from Bruce Rawdon. It was
as follows:--

“Dear old Bart: How are you, and how have you been enjoying yourself?
Are you aware that four weeks have passed, and that our holidays will
soon be over? I’ve got several things to say, and others to propose, and
therefore I take my pen in hand on the present occasion.

“First of all, Tom is with us, and has been all along. A week after we
got home, he received a letter from his father, who told him that he was
going to England with his mother, and that he might stay with us, and go
back to school with us. Well, Tom was a little disappointed, but not
so very much, after all. So he’s been here ever since. The next thing I
have to tell you is, the arrival here of a mutual friend and benefactor.
You see it happened this way: The other day I was down on one of the
wharves, when I was struck by a familiar-looking craft, and on going
nearer it became still more familiar. So I jumped on board in a state
of high excitement, and put my head into the opening of a very familiar
cabin, when suddenly it encountered another head that was putting itself
out. And who do you think it was? I won’t keep you in suspense. It was
Captain Corbet! Yes, it was himself, as meek, as mild, as paternal, and
as venerable as ever. He came here after oats. With him is Mr. Wade,
whose ‘ole ’oman’s name’ he still insists is Gipson, and he also
asserts that we won’t find many of that name in this country.

“Well, now I come to the point of my letter. We have persuaded the
venerable Corbet to give up oats for the present and charter his ship
to us. We have organized a campaign around the Bay de Chaleur. We are
going to operate by sea and land. Now, what do you say to it? Will you
come? Is Phil with you, and Pat? Have you got Solomon? What do you say?
Can you resist? Can you keep away when you hear that the Antelope is
once more upon the waters, and that the flag of the B. O. W. C. is again
floating from her masthead? Resist? You know you can’t.

“And so I merely remark that we shall be at Shippegan, on the Bay de
Chaleur, on the 15th of August. This gives you two or three weeks to
reach us. We shall expect you. Bring Phil. Bring Pat. Bring Solomon.
Without the glow of his beloved countenance shining upon us as it beams
over the cooking-stove, no expedition is worth having.

“We start in a few days. You need not answer, as there will not be time
to get your letter. We all count upon meeting you at Shippegan on August
15.

“The venerable Corbet sends his blessing.

“Yours in B. O. W. C.

“Bruce Rawdon.”

This letter created the wildest outburst of joy that is possible to the
effervescing spirits of enthusiastic boys. It came at the very time when
the holidays were beginning to grow a little dull; when all its first
pleasures had been exhausted, and no new ones remained. Coming thus, it
brought the prospect of new excitement, and met with but one response.
Bart eagerly appealed to his father, and received his permission to meet
his friends. Then followed long discussions as to their journey to the
Bay de Chaleur; and first and most important among the preliminaries
of their journey was the necessity of preparing Solomon for what was
proposed.

Solomon!

But where was Solomon?

Shortly after their arrival, he had taken his departure, and had not
been seen since. Bart, however, knew where he had gone, and supposed
that he might be there yet; so he proposed that they should all drive
off in search of Solomon early on the following day.

There soon arose a difficulty, however, which interfered with this. The
place was fifteen miles away, and Mr. Damer would not trust the horse to
Bart alone. If the servant drove, there would not be room for them
all, and so one, at least, would have to stay behind. Pat and Phil each
offered to stay; and as it would be lonely for only one to remain, it
was finally decided that both should stay, while Bart went off alone to
search after the Grand Panjandrum.

This arrangement was the very thing that was most satisfactory to Phil
and Pat; and thus chance threw into their way the very opportunity for
which they had been waiting so eagerly and impatiently.

Early on the following morning Bart started, while Phil and Pat waited a
little while, in order to have a convenient time for setting forth
upon their own enterprise. The sky was clear, and the sun was bright
overhead; but half way down the harbor there were heavy fog clouds,
which increased until all the distance was concealed from view. But as
these fogs belonged to the bay, and did not affect the land, they had no
anxiety about their excursion, since it was to take place on the river.

They waited leisurely about the house for an hour after breakfast, and
at length left without saying anything to anybody, and went at once to
the Falls. As they came in sight of the river, they looked with eager
eyes over its surface to see whether the time was a suitable one for
their enterprise. Their first glance was highly satisfactory. As far as
they could judge, it seemed the very best time that there could be to
make the attempt. The water was quite smooth, and the stream was moving
along rather slowly. Upon reaching the suspension bridge, they stood
still and looked down. As they stood there, they saw several wood boats
approaching them from the upper part of the river. They came along
slowly, and with as little motion of any kind as though they were in the
placid waters farther up. The two boys watched them as they passed under
the bridge, and then followed them with their eyes as they half sailed,
half drifted, onward to the harbor.

This sight greatly encouraged them, and there seemed now not the
slightest doubt of the perfect feasibility of their enterprise. Without
any further delay, therefore, they at once set out for the place where
the boat was kept that Pat had engaged.

The Falls are about a quarter of a mile above the suspension bridge.
At this place, as has been said, the river contracts, and is hemmed in
be-between the projecting precipice of a rocky promontory on one side,
and a small, shaggy, wooded island on the other. Between these it pours
its flood, which alternates between the swift influx of the sea-water at
high tide, and the Swift, thunderous outpour of low tide, when the river
flings itself in wrath and foam down a declivity of rocks that form its
bed. Above this place there is a wide expanse, and on the upper side of
the promontory is a cove which affords an excellent shelter for boats,
rafts, and schooners. It was in this cove that their boat was kept, and
towards this they now directed their steps as fast as possible.

On reaching the place, they found the boat afloat, with its oars inside,
and fastened by the painter to the wharf. Here they stopped for a short
time, and again looked forth over the surface of the water.

Immediately in front it was as smooth as a millpond, and farther out it
appeared to be quite as calm. The two islands to which they wished to
go were out there, full before them, on the other side of the river, yet
not so far away but that they could be reached by a moderate effort.
A brief survey satisfied both of them; and without waiting any longer,
they cast off’ the line, and rowed away towards the islands.

A quarter of an hour’s vigorous pulling brought them well out of the
cove, and soon they reached the channel of the river. Here the water was
still smooth; but they noticed that the current was much stronger than
they had expected to find it. After all, however, there was as yet no
very great force in it; and so they pulled on. But the current made some
change in their plans; for, whereas they had at first intended to go to
the upper island, they now found the sweep of the tide dragging them so
far out of their course, that they decided to land upon the lower one.

This one lay nearest now. They were between the two, and the rocky shore
of the island was close by. It was the part of the island which lay
farthest up stream. They thought it best to visit this one first, then
the other, after which they could return to the shore, or continue their
explorations in other directions, as the fancy might seize them.

With these intentions, they turned the boat’s head towards the island,
and in a short time stepped out upon the rocky beach.



II.

_The Island in the Falls.--A Discovery of a startling Kind.--The sullen
Boar.--A mad Risk.--The Struggle for Life.--On the Verge of Ruin.--A
last Effort.--Over the Falls.--Ingulfed and drawn down by the
Vortex.--Where is Pat!_


THE boys secured their boat to the rocks, and then clambered up the
bank to the top of the island. Arriving there, they found but little to
be seen. The island was of very small dimensions, and the thick woods
that covered it made it impossible to gain any view of the whole scene
around. They crossed to the lower side, and came back; after which they
sat down on the edge of the bank, just above the boat, and looked out.
They could see up the river from here--the wide cove, the rocky shores,
the saw-mills, the rafts, the scows, the tug boats, the wood boats,
and the river steamers. Now that they were on the island, there was
certainly not much to reward them, except this view; and even this was
not equal to that which might be had from the suspension bridge. But,
then, they were not altogether destitute of a reward. The island was
small and insignificant; but, then, it was an island, and that was
something. Besides, their position here meant that they had achieved
their enterprise; and the consciousness of success was of itself a
sufficient reward.

“I wonder,” said Phil, “why no more vessels go through the Falls--”

“Through the Falls, is it?” said Pat. “O, sure it’s just because they
don’t want to; an that’s all, so it is.”

After some more conversation, they began to grow tired of the island;
and since they had exhausted all the pleasure that a landing upon it,
combined with the consciousness of success, could afford, there remained
nothing more to do but to complete their enterprise by effecting a
landing upon the other island also.

This one lay farther up the stream; and as they launched their boat and
rowed towards it, they became at once sensible of a great increase in
the difficulty of their task. With their utmost efforts their progress
was very slow, and it took far longer to reach it than it had taken
to come from the shore to the first island. At length, however, they
reached it, and secured the boat.

“Ye see,” said Pat, who always was ready to account for everything,--“ye
see we’ve had the tide dead agin us this time. Whin we crossed the river
it was on’y on one side. Whin we go back, it’ll be all fair and aisy,
for we’ll have it on one side agin; and that’s how it is.”

They now began to explore this second island. It was larger than the
other, but did not seem so large. As it was free from woods, its small
extent was perceptible at a glance, which was not the case with the
other. The absence of woods made it also even less interesting. But the
boys were not at all exacting; and as there was nothing in particular
to see on the island, they naturally turned their eyes to the scene that
lay beyond. This scene was now very extensive. They could look around in
every direction, and enjoy an unobstructed view. Up the river it was
the same as it had been before--the same assemblage of rocky hills, and
schooners, and steamers, and rafts; but down the river a grander view
unfolded itself before their eyes.

The river there ran on till it seemed terminated by a wall of rocks, at
the foot of which a steam saw-mill was clattering and howling. On each
side of the water arose perpendicular cliffs, and between these was
the suspension bridge, whose frail pathway was sustained by cables that
passed over granite towers at the edge of the precipice; and overhung a
tremendous gulf of treacherous waters.

Suddenly Phil put his hand on Pat’s shoulder. Pat turned, and saw him
looking anxiously out over the water and pointing.

“What’s the matter?” asked Pat.

“I wonder what makes it so white over there,” said Phil, in an anxious
tone.

He was pointing to the water between the island and the promontory.
Here the surface was agitated, and foam was emerging and floating on
in ever-increasing masses, while a deep, dull roar began to be slowly
perceptible to their ears.

“What is it?” repeated Pat, after looking for a little while in silence
at the place where Phil had pointed. “What is it?” he repeated, after
a little hesitation. Then his hesitation vanished, and in his usual
confident way, he proceeded to account for the foam.

“Sure an it’s the foam,” said he, “an that’s what it is.”

“But there wasn’t any foam a little while ago,” said Phil.

“Deed, thin, an I wor jist thinkin that same,” said Pat, in a candid
tone.

The boys stood now for a little while in silence. The low, dull roar
increased as they listened, and excited very singular feelings in the
minds of both.

“The tide is certainly stronger,” said Phil--“a good deal stronger. I
wonder if--if--it’s too strong for us.”

“Niver a bit,” said Pat, shaking off his uneasiness. “Sure an we’ll
have no throuble. We’re jist a good bit above the Falls--so we are--an
there’s no danger--not the laist in life.”

Again they stopped, and looked, and listened.

And now the foam had increased, the dull roar was perceptibly louder,
and its deep cadence reverberated in their inmost hearts, exciting dark
apprehensions.

“Deed an I’ll jist tell ye what it is,” cried Pat, suddenly. “It’s no use
standin here all day; we must hurry out of this.”

“But can we now?” asked Phil, uneasily.

“Sure an why not?”

“The tide--it’s so strong.”

“Sure an that’s nothin,” said Pat. “All we’ve got to do is to head the
boat up strame, half up an half across, an we’ll slide over that way in
spite of the tide, so we will.”

Pat’s confident tone reassured Phil, and as Pat set off quickly to
the boat, he followed without a word of further objection. Under the
impression that there was now not a moment’s time to lose, they pushed
the boat off; and seizing the oars, they began pulling with all their
strength, Pat taking the stroke oar, and striving to head her in that
mysterious direction which he had described a short time ago. For a few
minutes they exerted all their strength; and both boys, as they pulled,
kept turning their heads, so as to see the shore, which they wished to
gain. Those few minutes served to put a considerable distance between
them and the island which they had left. But the interval was not
exactly the kind which they wished to see between them and it. It was
evident that their progress forward was not very great, but that at the
same time their progress down the stream was fearfully rapid. And that
stream was setting full towards the Falls.

Phil noticed this first, and his cry aroused Pat, who was still too much
interested in watching his destination to regard his actual situation.
But that situation, as the two boys looked around upon it, was
calculated to administer a shock to the strongest nerves, and quicken
the action of the stoutest heart.

The river current was running down at such a rate of speed that their
efforts to counteract it while crossing were quite unavailing. Its force
had already dragged them down stream about half way between the two
islands, while the actual progress which they had made towards their
destination was small. Their downward drift had brought them nearer to
the Falls, and as they took their hasty look around, they were aware
again of that low, sullen roar which they had heard on the island; but
now that roar was deeper and nearer, and the low, droning sound of the
agitated waters struck more menacingly upon their ears.

At this moment there was still one chance, and one only. That was to
head the boat back for the island which they had just left. Had they
done so, and rowed for their lives, there was a possibility of emerging
yet from the clutch of that hungry current, which grew more and more
tenacious as they advanced, and from which escape was only possible by
a retreat. But at that moment Pat did not fully realize the danger that
impended. He was quite cool, and the mistake that he made arose from an
error in judgment, rather than from anything like panic. He had only
the idea of resisting the current, and was unable as yet to give up
his purpose of returning to the boat’s wharf. So he headed the boat up
stream in such a way that their own force should be brought as much as
possible against the current, and yet secure to it a slight advance.

They now pulled, as before, in silence, using all their strength. The
head of the boat was almost up stream, and as they pulled they could see
all that could be seen of the danger below them. For about five minutes
they thus struggled, and at the end of that time there began to force
itself into the minds of both of them the dread conviction that the
strength of the current was too great for their efforts. Pat saw this
first, and, seeing this, made a final relinquishment of his efforts to
cross, and put the boat’s head straight up stream, so as to make all
their efforts tell against the tide itself. But by that time they had
brought themselves to where the tide was strongest, and that tide was
growing stronger and stronger every minute. This they both saw and felt;
and they knew enough of the nature of the Falls to understand now the
mistake that they had made. For they had crossed to the islands when the
tide was falling, and, in their attempt to return, had been caught by a
tide that had been increasing in force ever since they had last crossed
it, and was still increasing and directing all its might down towards
the Falls.

Their efforts to resist the tide were overpowered. The river was
gaining; their strength was failing. One last, faint hope remained--to
turn the boat back, to pull towards the islands; it might yet be
possible by strenuous effort to drag the boat forth from the clutch
of the mighty waters. The lower island was as yet below them, on their
left; if they could only bring the boat out of the middle of the stream,
they might reach it.

For the last time, then, Pat changed the direction of the boat, turning
it but slightly, however, just enough to aim at the upper island. Then
again, as before, they put forth their last remaining energies. With
feverish anxiety they fixed their eyes upon one or two objects on the
land, to watch whether the boat was losing or gaining. That it was still
being drawn down by the tide was at once certain; but they yet had a
hope that their advance towards the islands might serve to bring them
there before it was too late. And now they had fairly reached the crisis
of this tremendous struggle. Rousing up the very last of their exhausted
strength, they exerted themselves with the convulsive energies of
despair, working in silence, with eyes fixed on the shore.

In vain!

They saw themselves drawn down in a line with the lower island, and
there, tree by tree, and rock by rock, they saw that island slipping
past them; while the distance between them and it had been lessened so
slightly that it afforded no prospect whatever of their being able to
attain it. At length the last vestige of hope died out. The howling,
wrathful vortex was just before them, and now the islands were
forgotten, and all their efforts were directed towards saving themselves
as long as possible from that fate which they felt was inevitable.

Of the two, Pat was the least affected. Phil was pale, and sat with his
eyes glaring at the flood, straining himself at the oars with all his
strength, his brows contracted, his lips parted, his breath coming and
going in quick, short gasps. As for Pat, the ruddy color of his honest
but freckled Irish face remained unchanged; and though he was working
with all his might, he as yet showed no signs of any very extreme
exhaustion; for his muscles were harder, and his frame more inured to
labor, than the slender limbs and lighter frame of his companion. Nor
did he gasp or sob, nor were his brows contracted, nor was there any
other expression on his face than that same jovial, healthy, and withal
rather impudent self-confidence which it usually wore.

Yet, if anything could have reduced Pat to despair it was the sight that
now appeared immediately before him.

The boat had been dragged for some distance out of the middle of the
stream, and was nearer the island than it had been, though still out of
reach. The tide was fearfully strong. At every desperate pull the boat
would stand still; but between the strokes the tide would bear it down.
Thus their efforts only served now to stop the boat for a few moments at
every stroke, without in any way ennabling them to elude their fate.

The Falls were close at hand--just in front.

These Falls were not, however, a thunderous cataract, though at the
lowest stage of the tide, their furious surges, as they sweep over
the rock-strewn descent of the river bed, would be, perhaps, even more
dangerous than a cataract itself. But now they were not at their most
furious stage. Still, as the boys gazed there, they saw enough to appall
them.

All across was a white line of foam. Immediately in front, the water
seemed to come in contact with some hidden reef, for it lifted itself up
in a heap, and, rounding over, tumbled in thunder on the other side.
It was towards this that they were drifting. This was sufficiently
formidable, but where the foam tossed and the boiling waters seethed in
a long flood of white, it seemed equally so; and thus even if Pat had
been inclined to make a choice of some particular place to direct
the boat, he would not have been able to select one, since all places
appeared equally repellent. The fact was, however, Pat had no such
ideas, but was thinking of some other way of encountering the coming
fate.

There, then, full before them, was the long line of boiling breakers;
there was that upheaving mass of water rounding itself over the sunken
ledge. The hiss of the foam was in their ears, while beneath it was the
gloomy menace of the roar of many waters.

“Phil,” cried Pat, “can you swim?”

“A little,” said Phil.

“It’s our last chance. Will ye do what I tell ye?”

“Yes.”

“Take off yer coat, howld on to yer oar, and jump whin I give the word.”

“What!” cried Phil; “stop rowing? Why, we’ll be lost--”

“Lost, is it? We’re sure to be that--row--or no row--so do as I
say--will ye?”

Phil was silent for a moment, and still tugged at his oar, for neither
of them had stopped during this conversation. In that moment of
extremest peril there was no time to be taken up in deliberating. He had
either to consent to Pat’s proposition, or refuse, and that at once.

“The boat’ll upset,” cried Pat, “sure. You jump out wid me whin I give
the word. But ye’ll have to take off yer coat first. Yer bound to get a
duckin, ony way, an ye’d better do as I say.”

“I’ll do it,” cried Phil, suddenly and decidedly.

“Aff wid yer coat, thin,” cried Pat.

Both boys flung down their oars, and whipped off their coats in an
instant.

The boat was dragged now, without any further resistance, straight
towards the Falls.

“Grab howld of yer oar,” cried Pat, quickly. “Stand up, an’ jump whin
I give the word--ony mind, whin ye do jump, jump for’ard as fur as ye
can.”

“Yes,” said Phil, quietly.

The two boys now stood up, each grasping an oar, and watching the water
before them. The boat drifted down--nearer and nearer! Phil’s heart
throbbed fast in the suspense of that dread moment, but Pat stood cool,
collected, with his sharp, eager glance watching for the right time to
jump.

And now that mighty mass of water, that lifted itself up in a heap, as
it rose and rounded itself over the sunken ledge, grasped the boat, and
raised it on high in its tremendous embrace, and impelled it forward.
For a moment the boat seemed to linger there hesitating. Then it
trembled in every fibre. Then it slowly turned round, till its broad
side was presented to the waters below. Then one side was slowly drawn
down under the water, while the other side rose up. Behind it a wall of
water rushed.

Suddenly Pat gave a loud yell--

“Jump!”

Phil was already standing with the oar poised in one hand, and the other
hand outstretched, waiting for Pat’s word. Every nerve, every sinew, was
on the alert, and before the whole word was fairly spoken, and before
Pat himself had sprung, Phil leaped forward. His feet touched the
water first, He went down. A tremendous grasp seemed to seize upon him,
dragging him downward, and ever downward. He gave himself up for lost.
In the whirl of his senses, he seemed sinking into fathomless abysses,
and in his ears there were the howling and the abhorrent uproar, and the
deafening thunder-peal of a thousand cataracts. Then, in the midst of
all this, another grasp clutched him, and dragged him swiftly forward,
and whirled him round and round. Then he seemed to be thrown upward
by the resistless upheaval of some mighty mass beneath him, and then
suddenly he shot forth, out of the darkness and the uproar of the
ingulfing waters, into the upper air and the glad light of day.

Clutching his oar, which he had held all this time with the grasp of a
drowning man, he drew a long breath, and looked all around. Above
him was the blue sky; farther on, across the sky, hung the suspension
bridge; behind him was the howl of the Charybdis that he had just
escaped.

Where was Pat?

As he thought of this, an involuntary shudder passed through him. He
himself had escaped, and he now felt comparatively safe, for the oar was
of immense assistance, and with the help of this it needed only a slight
effort to keep his head above water. As to progress in any direction,
the water was settling that question for him; for the mighty, resistless
tide held him in its embrace, and was bearing him onward helplessly.
There was no place to which he might look for escape, and no one to
help.

But where was Pat?



III.

_Bart off on an Expedition.--The Search after Solomon.--The aged
Toiler.--The Flaming Fury.--The brandished Broomstick.--Collapse of
Solomon.--Extinction of the Flaming Fury.--Solomon vanishes.--Terrible
Tidings.--An anxious Search.--Despair._


MEANWHILE Bart had started off, as we have seen, on his expedition
after old Solomon. The place in which he proposed to seek after him
was distinguished by the euphonious and historical name of Loch Lomond,
which name originated from the existence of a small but very pretty lake
in that locality, which was in the neighborhood of a hill. Now, this
lake and this hill bore a fanciful resemblance to the famous Scottish
lake and hill, and the names were applied to these by some enthusiastic
Scotchman. The lake was one of a chain, all of which were small and
rather pretty, and the whole region round about went by the name that
properly belonged to the lake.

Two or three miles away from this lake there was what is called a
“colored settlement,” which, of course, means a settlement inhabited by
people of color. This was also called the “black settlement,” and also
the “nigger settlement.” Solomon had informed Bart that he intended
visiting this place, and Bart thought of this as the only place where he
could be heard of.

The colored settlement was founded by some slaves, brought away from
the Southern States by the British during the war of 1812. They had
been presented with land here, and had been told to chop down the trees,
clear the land, and become farmers. The settlement had not been a very
great success, however, and it was generally admitted that the genius of
these people did not lie in colonizing new countries.

It was a beautiful morning, and though Bart saw high fog banks piled up
to the skies in the harbor and in the bay, yet he soon left behind
him all thought of this, and entered the country. The scenery was
attractive, the air was clear and exhilarating, the horse was fast, and
everything conspired to fill him with joyous feeling. His mind reverted
to Bruce’s letter, and he passed most of his time during the drive in
speculating about the coming excursion, and in rejoicing over the happy
accident that had taken Captain Corbet to Prince Edward Island, and
brought him within sight of Bruce before he had engaged about the oats.
Amid such pleasant thoughts as these his mind busied itself, and at
length he reached the colored settlement.

He stopped at a rude log hut, which had a roof of poles and mud, from
which a flour barrel projected, and served as a chimney. Here some
squalid children were playing on the turf, and an elderly colored lady
was engaged in washing. Her Bart accosted with a polite inquiry about
Solomon.

“Solomon!” said she. “Wha dat ar? What? dat ar ole man? Mrs. Franklin’s
ole man?”

Bart didn’t know anything about Mrs. Franklin, but he gave a description
of Solomon, which was sufficiently accurate for this lady to recognize
it.

“Dem’s um,” she said, in a positive tone. “Wal--dat ar ole man’s libben
at Mrs. Franklin’s--”

“And where is Mrs. Franklin’s?”

“Jes you go ahead till you come to de meetin’ house, an it’s de sebent
house after you get to de meetin-house.”

Bart drove on, and in due process of time reached the meeting-house, and
then began to count the houses. He found a little difficulty about this,
as he could hardly distinguish between what might be a house and what
might also be a barn, and was stopping at a place in the road opposite
a hut like the one at which he had first stopped, when his attention
was arrested by the sight of a man in the field on the other side of the
way. The man’s back was turned towards him, and he was toiling with all
his might over a stone and a crowbar, occasionally straightening himself
up and rubbing his back, and uttering groans which reached Bart’s ears
even at that distance, and smote upon his heart.

That aged figure,--aged it was,--could that indeed be Solomon? and was
this the way he enjoyed himself while on a visit to his friends? With a
crowbar, prying up granite boulders? What a thought!

In a moment Bart was out of the wagon, and was running over the fields
towards the old man. He came up close just as the old man was rubbing
his back. He caught him by the arm. The old man gave a wild leap, and
turned round with an expression of awful fear.

But the object of his fear resolved itself into the pleasant face of
Bart, and all the terror fled, and a smile of joy illumed the venerable,
yet dusky face. Tears started to his eyes, and, reaching out both
hands, he dropped the crowbar; then, coming forward with a low moan of
happiness, he exclaimed,--

“You! Mas’r Bart. You, Mas’r Bart--you--you--Mas’r Bart--”

Yes, it was Solomon.

Full of wonder and pity, Bart seized the hands of his old friend, and
began asking him a thousand questions. What was he doing here? What did
he mean by keeping away? And then, without waiting for an answer, he
went on to tell about Bruce’s letter, and their proposed expedition,
and the necessity which there was for him to accompany them. Finally he
urged him to get ready as soon as possible.

To all this Solomon listened in silence, without saying a word. He stood
with his hands clasped together, with his eyes fixed at times on Bart,
and at times half closed, while his lips kept muttering low, inaudible
words. At length, however, his face and manner underwent a change. He
started back, his eyes were fixed on something in the distance, and that
same expression of terror came over his face which Bart had seen upon it
when he first accosted him.

At this Bart turned instinctively to see what it was that inspired such
terror in the mind of Solomon.

He saw a colored lady--tall, gaunt, with a turban on her brow of flaming
red, with a look of fury on her face, and a broom in her hand, which she
was brandishing wildly. She came with great strides at a run, and was
evidently coming towards them. Bart’s first idea was, that she might be
a mad woman, and he had a vague impulse to run; but the next instant his
mind connected this woman with Solomon, and suggested her as the cause
of his fear. As for Solomon, he was now quite beside himself with
terror. His hands fell nerveless by his sides, his jaw dropped, his head
shook as with a palsy, his knees knocked together, he seemed scarce able
to stand erect, and could not utter one single word; all the while his
eyes were fixed on the advancing Fury with the flaming turban, and his
look was the look of one who expected instant annihilation.

The Fury of the flaming turban drew nearer. Her course showed that she
had emerged from the house on the opposite side of the road. As she
rushed on, and as she brandished her broom, she howled out the most
terrible threats against somebody, which somebody Bart now supposed must
be Solomon, and at once, full of pity, determined to defend the old
man from her fury. He therefore stood in front of Solomon, and was just
about to call to his servant to come and help him, when the idea struck
him that the Flaming Fury seemed strangely familiar to him; and as she
came yet nearer, he recognized her perfectly. To his utter bewilderment
and unbounded amazement, the Flaming Fury turned out to be no other
than one who, for the last few years, had been quite a visitor at his
father’s kitchen, and a dependant on his father’s bounty. “Black Betsy”
 was the name by which she was known. A silvery voice, a truly humble and
grateful mind, a meek and quiet spirit, a winning demeanor, a smile that
always charmed every one upon whom it beamed,--such was the Black Betsy
that was known and loved in the Damer kitchen. But what was this? What
had happened?

This Black Betsy? This Virago, this Terror, this Flaming Fury? This!
Impossible. Yet there was the astounding fact. There was only one
explanation. Black Betsy was mad!

No, Bart, she was not mad; she was only drunk;--mad drunk, if you like,
but not what is generally called mad.

And thus, mad drunk, the Flaming Fury came bounding up, howling and
brandishing her broom. The moment that he recognized her, Bart felt not
the slightest fear of her. He stood in front of Solomon. He looked at
her fixedly, and raised his hand with a quiet frown.

It is just possible that, if Bart had been a stranger, the Flaming Fury
would have swept him away with her broom, as she would have swept
a straw. But seeing him, and recognizing him, produced an effect
instantaneous and most astonishing. She stopped, still staring at him.
The broom for a few moments remained poised in her hands, and then
slowly sank towards the ground; while, at the same time, the hard
ferocity of her face died out utterly, and was succeeded by a smile so
gentle, so amiable, and so motherly, that Bart looked at her in fresh
amazement.

“Why, ef it ain’t de dear chicken! Ef it ain’t de dear little Mas’r
Bart, his bressed sef. De sakes, now!”

This exclamation was uttered in the softest, and most silvery, and
most winning of those tones which Bart had always associated with Black
Betsy. This additional proof of the identity of this amiable being with
the Flaming Fury only increased his wonder.

“An how is dat ar bressed angel, your mudder, Mas’r Bart? Clar ef dese
yer ole eyes ain’t farly achin to see her agin.”

“She’s very well, thanks,” said Bart, slowly.

“Dat’s good; dat’s lubly. Clar ef it don’t go clean to my ole heart! An
so you dribe out to see de ole man! Wal, I allus sez, dat ar Mas’r Bart,
I ses, ef he ain’t de ’stror’nest, ’fecsh’nest chicken! All heart,
I sez, he is; all clar lub--no mistake. An what is dis life wurf widout
lub? Why, it’s notin but de soundin brasses an templin simplum. Clar ef
it ain’t!”

While this conversation had been going on, Solomon had regained
consciousness; and seeing the change that had come over the woman, and
that the Flaming Fury had subsided into the gentlest of beings, he began
to gather together his scattered senses. Bart’s back was turned to him,
and so he did not see him. But Solomon did not care for that. His one
idea now was to save himself for the time, at least.

So, first of all, he edged away a little, very slowly and very
cautiously. No notice was taken of this, and he ventured to retreat
still farther. Still Black Betsy went on talking in her silvery voice,
and with her winning smile. So Solomon retreated still farther. Black
Betsy saw all this movement, and once she raised the broom and held it
in the air. But her face was wreathed with smiles, and her soft, gentle
accents flowed on in a mellifluous strain; and so it was, that the
upraised broom, instead of calling Solomon back, only hastened his
retreat. He thereupon turned abruptly, and making his way as rapidly as
possible to the nearest woods, he soon disappeared.

Black Betsy still went on, mellifluous and voluble. The warmth of her
nature seemed boundless. Tears stood in her eyes as she told Bart how
she loved his mother. Finally she stopped with a sob, overcome with
emotion, as she related the kindness she had received from his father,
and began to cry.

At this Bart, who had been trying in vain to understand her, finally
gave it up, and thought of Solomon. He turned around to speak to him.

To his amazement Solomon was not there.

And now this completed his bewilderment. He drew a long breath, and gave
up altogether every effort to understand anything at all.

“Why, where has Solomon gone?” he asked.

“Berryin,” said Black Betsy, gently--“berryin. De ole man dreadful fond
o’ berries.”

“Berries? Well, that’s odd. Why, I want to see him.”

“He tink he gib you pleasant ’prise--go pick berries for de dear
chicken,” said Black Betsy, in a tender voice.

“But I want him,” said Bart. “I want him now. Where did he go?”

“Don-no, Mas’r Bart--no mor’n a chile. You call out real loud,--you got
to call loud fore dat ar ole man’ll har you. He’s got dreadful deaf an
hard o’ hearin o’ late--dese times.”

Bart now shouted over and over again, but there was no response. He
asked his servant if he had noticed Solomon. The servant had noticed
him, and told him about the retreat to the woods. Bart did not know what
to make of it all. The apparition of the Flaming Fury had gradually lost
its force, and he thought only of the gentle, silvery voice of Black
Betsy. The retreat of Solomon, therefore, did not seem to arise from
fear of so gentle a being, but from something else--and what could that
be?

“De ole man tinks you gwine to spen de day,” said Black Betsy. “He gone
olf to dig sassy-prilla to make beer. You wait and he come back soon.”

So Bart waited a little while, hoping that Solomon would return.

But Solomon did not return.

Black Betsy entertained him with remarks in her usual strains, chiefly
of an affectionate and endearing character; but Bart was so disappointed
that he paid but little attention to her. He had come out to get
Solomon’s consent to go with him, and had not been able to do so. What
was the reason? Could it be possible that Solomon did not want to go,
but did not like to refuse, and so had taken this way of getting out of
the difficulty? It seemed very much like it.

Bart waited an hour or so, and then drove away to an inn on the borders
of the lake. Here he dined. Then he drove back again to see Solomon.
To his deep disappointment he learned that Solomon had not made his
appearance since. He therefore left a message to the effect that he
would drive out again on the following day, or, if it was stormy, on
the first fine day. This was all he could do; and so, mastering his
disappointment as well as he could, he drove home again.

It was evening when he reached home. Here a fresh surprise awaited him;
for on asking after Phil and Pat, he learned that they left the house
after breakfast, and had not been seen since. He wondered at this, as he
could not imagine what would take them away, particularly on an occasion
like this, when they ought to be naturally anxious to learn the result
of so important a thing as his search after Solomon. He concluded,
however, that they had gone off on some long walk, or out in the harbor
in a boat, and had been detained.

After a time, as he was wandering about, the servant who had driven him
to Loch Lomond met him, and told him that there was a report of some
accident that had occurred at the Falls that morning.

In a moment Bart’s most anxious excitement was aroused, and he asked
about the accident. The servant did not know anything in particular.
He had only heard that a boat had been upset in the Falls with two
men. Some said they were boys. People had seen them swept under the
suspension bridge. It was said that they were drowned.

At the mention of this, Bart felt for a few moments as though he were
turned to stone. He could not move or speak. In those few moments there
flashed across his mind the remembrance of what Pat and Phil had said
about a visit to the islands, together with mysterious hints and casual
remarks that he had heard afterwards, to which at the time he had paid
no attention, but which now all came back to his memory with fearful
distinctness and accuracy. From all this there arose within him the fear
that Pat and Phil had made the attempt against which he had warned them,
taking advantage of his absence, and that the boat that had been upset
was no other than theirs.

What was to be done?

He did not know what. By this time his father was home, and he at
once went to him and told him all about it. At this story Mr. Darner’s
anxiety was equal to that of Bart. He himself had heard, in the course
of the day, about the accident, but had never imagined that it so nearly
affected him. The moment that he learned this from Bart, he at once
went forth to make further inquiries, to see what could be done, and to
commence a search in any possible way in which a search might be made.

He went first of all to the suspension bridge, and made inquiries of
the toll-keeper. That functionary was able to tell him all that could
be told. It amounted to very little. He had heard shouts on the bridge,
over which two or three people were passing, and had gone out to see
what was the matter. He had just got out in time to see two men--or
two boys, he did not know which--swept by the current under the bridge.
There was a boat also, bottom upwards. He and all the rest stood staring
in horror without doing anything. To do anything was in fact impossible.
The bridge was far above the water, precipices intervened, and the
current was running so fast that the figures were swept away before they
could fairly understand what had happened.

Were they alive, or dead?

This was the question which Bart asked in intense anxiety and dread.

The toll-keeper could not say, but his impression at the time was, that
they were alive; he also had an idea that one of them was clinging to a
bit of wood. But he would not be sure.

“Could he make out their clothes--what they were like?”

No; for only their heads were above water. They had no hats. They
uttered no cry, and made no noise whatever, but he did not think that
they were dead. Still they did not seem to be swimming, and the whole
thing was a puzzle.

Unable to get any more satisfaction from the toll-keeper, Mr. Darner
next went to the town, and made inquiries among the boatmen and
fishermen. There was but one reply from all of them, and that was, that
they had seen nothing. They informed him that there had been a thick fog
in the harbor all day, and a boat might drift out to sea without being
noticed. All of them thought it very unlikely that any men, after being
upset in the Falls, could avoid drowning, although, at the same time,
they were willing to allow that it was just possible. But if so, the
only chance that they could have was to be picked up while in the
harbor. If any men were to drift down the harbor, in the fog, without
being observed, out into the bay, there did not seem any chance of their
being saved.

Such was the opinion of those who knew most about it. Full of anxiety,
and almost despair, Bart and his father then went elsewhere on their
hopeless errand. They visited the tug-boat men, the ferry-boat men; they
questioned many of the scow men and rafts-men; but though most of these
men had heard about the accident, none of them had either seen or heard
of any men, or of any boat, drifting down the harbor.

This took away from Bart and his father almost their last hope. Yet
still they were not willing to give up their search, but continued until
late into the night their now apparently hopeless task.



IV.

_At the Mercy of the Tide.--Ears deafened.--Eyes blinded.--A fresh
Struggle for Life.--The Roar of the Steam Whistle.--Where are we?--Pat
explores.--A desolate Abode.--The falling Tides.--Without Food and
Shelter._


WHERE is Pat?

Such was the terrible question that came to the mind of Phil, as,
clinging to the oar, he felt himself swept onward by the resistless
current. Far on high was the suspension bridge; on either side were
dark, savage precipices, and the sweep of the tide hurried him along
helplessly between these.

Where is Pat?

At that dread question his heart sank within him. The remembrance of his
recent plunge beneath the furious billows where he had been hurled
down, and whirled round, and thrown out again, was still most vivid.
He thought of Pat as being engulfed beneath them still. His own escape
seemed little short of miraculous, and he could not hope that both of
them were safe. Such an escape was astonishing for one, but for two it
was too much to hope for. He did not dare to look back. He was afraid to
know the worst, and that look back, he thought, would show him only the
dark water. For a time he felt as though he would rather fear the worst,
than actually know it; and so, despairingly, he was swept on, and passed
under the bridge in the same attitude in which he had emerged from the
Falls.

Suddenly from behind him there sounded a cry,--

“Hooray!”

A thrill of joy passed through Phil. It was Pat’s voice. In an instant
his terror fled, and he looked back. There, to his amazement, close
behind him, he saw Pat, drifting along, with his face above water fully
revealed, and showing, even at that dread moment, the calm self-reliance
and good-natured ease that always distinguished him. Phil was so
overcome with joy, that he could not say a word.

“Sure an it’s rather wet, so it is,” said Pat, in as natural a tone as
though he were walking along the road in a rain shower.

Phil made no answer.

Again they drifted on in silence.

Now, as for Pat, at the moment when the boat hung hovering on the edge
of the fall, he had stood, keen, watchful, observant, with every one of
his wits about him, and had shouted out to Phil.

Phil had jumped first, but Pat followed immediately. His experience
was like that of Phil, with this difference--that he was under water a
little longer. On emerging, he saw Phil a little in front of him, and so
he felt at ease on that score. His first thought now was about the boat.
He looked back, and saw it not more than six feet behind him, bottom
upwards. Upon this he was seized with a very strong desire to gain the
boat once more; and so he floated on for a time, thinking what to do. At
length he made an effort to swim back towards it. The progress that he
made was scarce perceptible, and he could hardly have gained the boat
by his own efforts; but, fortunately, the river current favored him, for
the boat reached a place where it was whirled round so that its stern
came close to him. A vigorous effort enabled him to seize it, and it was
his joy at this which had elicited the cry that had first given to Phil
the knowledge of his safety. The other remark, about the wetness of
the place, was merely owing to the same exultation, and was intended to
convey to Phil something of the same cheerful confidence that filled his
own mind.

The boat was bottom upwards, but that was rather an advantage; for a
boat can bear a heavier weight under those circumstances than if it is
filled with water in its natural position. Pat knew this very well,
and proceeded at once to avail himself of this knowledge. He did so by
climbing upon it--a task which required some effort, but in which he at
length succeeded. In doing so, he was compelled to let go his oar. This,
however, did not trouble him, for the boat was better than any oar could
be, and so he straddled upon the bottom, and began to think how he could
get Phil into the same comparatively easy position.

At last he hit upon a plan.

“Phil!” he cried.

Phil looked round, and saw the boat, and Pat seated on it.

“Shove us yer oar, darlint,” said Pat. “Can ye shove us up your oar,
jewel?”

Pat spoke in a coaxing tone, just as though he was asking some favor
from Phil.

At this request Phil pushed the oar along the surface of the water with
one hand, using the other to keep himself afloat. The boat was near
enough for him to reach it, and Pat, stooping down, grasped it. Then
pulling at it, he drew Phil towards him, until at length he also was
able to grasp the boat.

“Now,” said Pat, “I’ll take the oar, and you jist climb up here.”

He took the oar in one hand, and reached out his other to assist Phil.
Pat’s help was of great value in such a difficult task, and by means
of it Phil was at length able to clamber up, and straddle upon the boat
behind his friend. They found, to their delight, that the boat supported
both of them with the greatest ease. Now, had it been filled with water
in its ordinary position, right side up, it could scarcely have given
assistance to one of them; but as it was, it gave the most perfect
support to both of them. The reason is easy to explain. When a boat is
turned completely over, bottom upwards, so suddenly as this was, there
always remains a certain amount of air confined inside. This gives it an
immense amount of buoyancy, and until that air all escapes that buoyancy
continues. Of course, after a time the air will all escape, and then the
boat must sink beneath the weight imposed upon it. But if the boat is
tight, the air will be retained, and consequently the buoyancy will
remain for a long time. Now, fortunately for Phil and Pat, the boat
that they had was new, and well calked, and as tight as possible; and so
there was no immediate danger. Fortunately also for them, they had thus
far suffered nothing from cold; for it was the end of July, and the
water was rather warm, and the air was warm also. And so, though they
had experienced such a plunge into the water, and such a prolonged
immersion, and though they now sat thus in their wet clothes, yet, after
all, they suffered nothing whatever from either damp or chill, but, on
the whole, were rather comfortable than otherwise.

Thus far they had uttered no cry for help, nor had they heard any call
of any human voice that might indicate the neighborhood of any human
sympathy. They had passed under the suspension bridge. They had swept
past shores that were crowded on either side with wharves, houses, and
steam saw-mills, but as yet had seen no efforts to assist them. In fact,
as it afterwards proved, no one had noticed them. Whether it was that
every one was busy, or that they had been carelessly regarded as an
ordinary boat in its ordinary position, could not be known; certain it
was that no one offered to assist them. Thus, then, they swept along,
until at length they reached the place where the river enters the
harbor. Just here, the boat, in its drift, came near to the oar which
Pat had dropped when he clambered into it. He grasped Phil’s oar, and
reaching out, he drew it towards him and regained possession of it.

“There’s no knowin,” said he, “what use this may be. It’s best to take
it whin it comes to us handy.”

Saying this, he gave Phil one oar, and keeping the other himself, he
waited for some chance of escape.

But their troubles were far from ending as yet, and soon the prospect
of escape was removed still farther from them. For as they reached the
place where the river enters the harbor, just as they saw a man on the
beach, and began to shout to him to try and attract his attention, they
drifted on, and plunged into a thick, dense cloud of fog.

That fog was no common fog. It was the advance guard of a fog that
covered the bay, and seemed to be thrown forward into the harbor to take
possession and hold it until the main army should be ready to advance.
It was dense, damp, and obscure. Through this they passed, trying to
peer through the gloom, and find out where they might be going. Several
times they shouted, but soon found out the uselessness of this. For the
noise and riot all around showed them that shouting was simply absurd.
Around them they heard the yell of steam whistles from tug-boats, from
ferry-boats, and from what seemed to be a thousand other places. For it
was now about midday, and that is the time when all the steam whistles
of all the steam saw-mills of the city let off one simultaneous blast.
The yells seemed to arise in every conceivable direction. Amid such an
uproar, their loudest cries were feeble, and could not be heard; so they
soon became convinced of the uselessness of this, and remained silent,
but watchful. Watchfulness, however, was equally useless; for if it
is in vain that one shouts amid the yells of steam whistles, so it is
equally in vain that one tries to keep up a watch in the midst of
a dense fog. Watching could reveal nothing but that obscurity which
surrounded them.

In this way, then, they drifted down the harbor, while the steam
whistles were yelling around them so as to stifle all their cries for
help, and while the fog was gathering round them in its dense folds so
as to obscure their sight. But the boat bore them well, and it was
at least a subject of rejoicing to them that they were thus seated in
comparative comfort on that boat, instead of floating tip to their chins
in the water, clinging to their oars.

Neither of them spoke a word as they thus drifted. Both of them were
anxiously on the lookout for some means of escape. But no way of escape
presented itself. They drifted on. The time seemed long indeed as
they thus drifted, though how long it really was they had no means of
knowing, and could only conjecture. On they went, and still on, and no
help appeared, and no way of escape was visible.

At length Pat began to make use of his oar by putting it over the boat
into the water, and working it in the way called sculling; in such a
way, however, as to give the boat as strong an inclination as possible
to the right. It was not easy to scull, for there was no socket in which
to insert the oar; but Pat did the best he could, and by holding one
foot he managed to keep the oar in a steady enough position by holding
it between his foot and the keel. Phil watched him in silence for some
time, and Pat went on working at the oar with all his might.

“What are you doing, Pat?” he asked at last.

“Well,” said Pat, without stopping, “there’s jist a ghost of a chance
for us. We’re dhriftin out to sea, an ef we sit still we’ll be miles out
before we know it. Now there’s Partridge Island afore us yet, an it’ll
be on our right as we’re dhriftin out, an I’m strivin to see if I can
give a twisht to the boat, so as to draw her in nearer to the shore.”

“Can’t I help?” said Phil.

“I suppose ye may as well thry,” said Pat.

Upon this Phil took his oar, and began to use it in the same way as
Pat. The efforts of the boys were directed, not towards resisting the
current, but towards effecting a movement of the boat to the right,
and drawing it away from the middle of the stream to within reach of
Partridge Island. This place was now their last hope.

“Ef we can only get out of the sthraim,” said Pat, “we’ll get to the
island. The boat’s hard to move this way, but we may do something.”

No more was said, but they both worked silently and vigorously. Soon the
water grew somewhat rough, and waves began to rise. These were not of
any size, but the boat was so low down that even the little wavelets
broke over them as they sat there. After a time these wavelets grew
larger, and at length they encountered several in succession that were
worthy of being considered as waves. After this the water continued
rougher, and their drift was by no means so quiet and uneventful as it
had been. The fog, too, remained as thick as ever. Around them was still
the sound of whistles and fog horns, and high and loud and clear above
all the din arose one far-penetrating yell.

“That’s the island whistle,” said Pat--“the fog whistle, so it is. We’re
comin nearer.”

After a time this whistle seemed to be no nearer, but to have changed
its direction.

“Where in the wide wurruld are we dhjiftin to?” said Pat, trying in vain
to peer through the fog.

“We must have passed the island,” said Phil, uneasily.

Pat shook his head in silence.

But now new anxiety came to the two castaways, and the faint hopes that
had arisen began to subside. The wind was blowing somewhat fresh,
the waves were growing larger and more aggressive every moment. They
appeared to have been carried beyond the island, and if so, they had
no hope of any escape, unless they should come upon some vessel. But
in that dense fog such a hope was faint indeed. Even in broad day their
situation would have been dangerous, but now it was nothing less than
desperate. These thoughts now came to each of them, and they said
nothing, but they still worked, as if mechanically, at the oars.

Suddenly something dark loomed immediately before them through the fog,
and in a few seconds, as the swift tide bore them nearer, they saw rocks
and sea-weed.

“Hurrah!” cried Pat. “It’s the island, afther all.”

But at that moment the great fog whistle sent forth its blast, which
sounded far away over the waters.

“‘Tain’t the island, ayther, sure enough,” said Pat. “I wondher if it’s
the shore.”

By this time they were close up to the rocks, and Pat leaped off. It
was not deeper than his waist. Phil followed, and they pulled the boat
forward. It was a shelving ledge of rock, covered with sea-weed; and
drawing the boat as far up on this as they could, they stood still, and
rested, and looked around.

But little could be seen, for the fog was thick, and shut out all except
what was within their immediate vicinity. Nothing but rocks and seaweed
appeared. The rocks were rude and jagged crags, upheaved in wild
disorder, with huge boulders lying in the interstices and hollows. Over
all these was a vast accumulation of sea-weed.

“It’s ashore somewhere that we must be,” said Pat; “but where it is I
don’t know at all, at all, so I don’t; somewhere on the Carleton shore,
so it is. The island’s over there, and this ought to be the baich. I’ll
tell you what I’ll do. You stay here by the boat, and I’ll go off and
see if I can make out anything.”

Saying this, Pat started off to explore the rocks and see the country.
Phil sat down on the wet sea-weed, holding the painter. His heart was
full of fervent gratitude for his astonishing escape, and as his memory
brought back the terrible events that had happened since he left the
island, a prayer of thankfulness was breathed forth from his inmost soul
to the One who had preserved him.

In a short time Pat returned. He looked disappointed, vexed, and
somewhat puzzled.

“We’re not on the baich at all,” said he, in a tone of vextion.

“Where are we--on an island?”

“Niver an island,” said Pat. “It’s a rock that we’re on. It’s what they
call a rafe. But what it is I don’t know. It’s big enough, and runs over
iver so far. Anyhow, we’re not far from the harbor, or from the island.
If I ony knowed how far we were from the shore, I’d like it better. But
I can’t see anything, or hear anything of it.”

“Perhaps we’re close by the shore,” said Phil.

“No; I’ll tell you where it is. I have it. I knowed it,” cried Pat. “I
was sure of it, ony I couldn’t get hold of it. Ye know that rafe lying
off the Carleton shore--Shad Rocks?”

“Yes,” said Phil.

“Well, it’s that same that this place is; and we’re standin here now, so
we are, as sure as you’re alive.”

“Shad Rocks!” cried Phil. “Shad Rocks!”

“Shad Rocks it is,” said Pat, “an no other place. An now I undherstan it
all. Out there is the say,” said Pat, turning and facing where he
supposed the sea to be. “Up there on the lift is Partridge Island, where
ye hear the staim whistle, and back there’s the Carleton shore.”

This discovery cheered them both greatly; and the moment that Pat
suggested this, everything confirmed it. The sounds of whistles in
various directions could now be identified with various steamboats with
which they were acquainted, while the lowing of cattle and the reports
of guns in other directions showed where the land was.

They now looked forward with perfect calmness towards escaping. Before
very long the tide had retreated far enough to leave the boat exposed.
The first thing that they did was to turn her over and set her right.
They then put inside her the oars, which had saved their lives in the
falls, and which they had fortunately brought with them all the time
of their drift on the bottom of the boat. This gave them the means of
effecting their escape.

All that they now had to do was to wait till the boat could float
again. As near as they could calculate, the tide would not be back again
sufficiently to float the boat until eight o’clock in the evening. They
had therefore nothing to do but to wait as patiently as possible. They
were wet and hungry; but in that midsummer day, the wet did not make
them at all cold, and in the course of time their clothes dried upon
them; and as to hunger, they were too much overjoyed at their escape to
make any allusions to such a trivial thing. They amused themselves by
hunting after shrimps in the interstices of the rocks and in the water
pools that lay about.

Thus the time passed, and at length the tide rose high enough to float
the boat. Fortunately for them also, the fog lessened somewhat, and thus
they were able to direct their course much more easily. Soon they were
on the waters again, rowing along, assisted now by the rising tide, and
thus finally succeeded in reaching their destination.

On arriving at the house, they learned about the search of Bart and his
father. They had not yet got home. Servants were at once sent to tell
them the news, and it was at the very lowest point of their despondency
that the tidings came that the lost were found.



V.

_Flight of Solomon.--In Hiding.--Solomon is himself again.--Up the
River.--Through the Country.--A long Drive.--An Indian Village.--An
Indian Guide.--Preparing for the Expedition._


THE joy which Pat and Phil had felt over their safety was certainly not
greater than that of Bart, as the lost ones were at length restored. His
intense anxiety was followed by a happiness as intense, and his excited
feelings resulted in a somewhat sleepless night. But in the wakeful
hours of that night his mind was taken up by other things than the
affairs of Phil and Pat, and his thoughts reverted to the earlier
events of that day, to Loch Lomond, and to Solomon. He still wondered at
Solomon’s precipitate and mysterious retreat, and obstinate staying away
from the house. It looked as though Solomon did not want to go on the
expedition; yet he felt in his own heart, that without Solomon the
expedition would lose its chief charm. Consequently Solomon must go. But
how could he overcome his objections? It would be necessary to see
him at once, to drive out to Loch Lomond as early as possible the next
morning.

The next morning he was up early in spite of his sleepless night, and
swallowing a few hasty mouthfuls, he hurried to the barn to see about
harnessing the horse. The harness was put on, the horse was already
standing between the shafts, Bart was watching the preparations
impatiently, standing in the doorway of the barn, when, suddenly, he
felt his shoulder touched.

He turned at once.

He stood thunderstruck!

For there, close beside him, full before him, was no other than the
actual real bodily presence of Solomon himself.

Bart was so amazed, that for some time he could not utter one single
word.

“Solomon!” he exclaimed at last.

At this, Solomon held up both hands with a warning gesture and a face
full of fearful apprehension. The look and gesture would have been in
every way appropriate to some criminal hiding from the law, and fearful
of discovery; but it was utterly out of place in one so virtuous and so
honored as the venerable Solomon. This incongruity was felt by Bart, and
only added to his amazement.

“When did you come?”

Solomon retreated behind the door, dragging Bart after him.

“Last night,” he answered.

“Last night? How?”

“I walked ebery step--I did.”

“Walked?”

“Yes, ebery step. I rund away, you know.”

“Ran away? What do you mean?”

Solomon’s eyes rolled wildly; he looked all around.

“Drefful doins out dar. Drefful place. An dar’s no noins what would hab
ebber become ob me ef you didn’t hab come yesterday. I’d been a pinin an
a whinin in Gypsum bondage, but couldn’t get away. She kept tight
hole ob me,--mine, I tell you,--an she’ll be arter me to-day, mighty
quick,--ony you keep me hid, Mas’r Bart. Don’t gib me up; don’t let her
take me.”

“She? Her?” replied Bart, to whom all this was quite unintelligible.
“What do you mean? What woman are you speaking of?”

“Black Betsy,” said Solomon, with a groan and another fearful roll of
the eyes.

“Black Betsy? Why, what has she to do with you?” asked Bart, in wonder.

“Why, she my wife, you know.”

“Your wife? Your what? Your wife?” cried Bart. “What! Black Betsy! You
married to Black Betsy! What in the world do you mean by this? When were
you married? Last week?”

“Ben mar’d ober twenty year,” said Solomon, dolefully.

This was a period of remote antiquity with which Bart had no connection,
and he could only listen in amazement to Solomon’s strange and startling
disclosure. He had never heard of this before. He had no idea that
Solomon had a wife, or that Black Betsy had a husband. But this thing
required examination, and meanwhile the horse was all ready. As for the
horse, he could only give orders to have him taken out, and then he was
able to bestow his undivided attention upon Solomon.

“Ben mar’d mor’n twenty year,” replied Solomon, dolefully. “An you
nebber see sech a strorny creetur in all your born days. Fight? Why, dat
ar woman did nuffin but fight from morn to night, all de year roun. An
drunk? Why, she nebber sober, night or day; an de life she led me! Beat?
Why, she beat me black and blue; so I rund off to sea, and a bressed
ting it was, for I ben dead an gone long ago. Den I heerd she gone off
Boston way, an I come back yer, an den went to de Cadmy. Well, I got a
mar’d darter out Loch Lomon way, an I come yer dis time to see her and
de chil’en; an dar was Betsy. She nabbed me. She beat my life out, made
me a slabe, and I done nuffin but grub about ebber since I come yar.
Beat? Why, ebery day she pound me to a jelly. Clar if she didn’t! An de
way she did lay dat ar big broomstick ober dis ole head. De sakes, ony
to tink ob it.”

From all of which Bart learned that Black Betsy was the wife of Solomon;
that her character, according to his showing, was by no means that
gentle, and affectionate, and motherly one which he had supposed it to
he; that her life was disorderly, and her conduct outrageous; that she
was in the habit of getting drunk; that Solomon had to run away from
her years ago, and become an exile and a wanderer; that it was only his
yearning after his daughter that had drawn him back; that, on meeting
his daughter, he had found himself, to his horror, once more in the
presence of his merciless wife, who had at once seized him, appropriated
him, beaten him, and reduced him to a state of abject slavery. From this
slavery he had just escaped. He now appeared before Bart in the attitude
of a fugitive slave, dreading discovery and capture, imploring Bart’s
sympathy and assistance, and eager, above all things, to fly far away,
and follow the fortunes of the boys on a new expedition; once more
to join the ranks of the B. O. W. C.; once more to officiate as Grand
Panjandrum; once more to furnish forth the banquet; once more to sail
under the orders of Captain Corbet.

Solomon’s position was a truly painful one, and excited Bart’s
profoundest sympathy; but there were other things in his position which
were not altogether painful. In the first place, he was delighted to
find that, whatever the reason might be, Solomon’s eagerness to set
forth upon the expedition was equal to his own, if not greater. In the
second place, Solomon wished to remain in hiding, and implored Bart to
conceal him and keep his secret. So Bart found himself suddenly called
on to become the benefactor and protector of a cherished friend, and
also the depositary of a tremendous secret, which he had to guard like
his heart’s blood. It was a secret which must be communicated to none,
not even to Phil and Pat, not to his father or mother, in fact, not to
any living soul. Fortunately, the servant had not seen Solomon, for that
wary old party had discovered himself to Bart so cautiously, and had
drawn him back into the barn to talk to him so carefully, that he had
not been seen.

So Bart undertook the task. He found a safe place for Solomon behind the
hay, and at regular intervals through the day he brought him food and
drink. These regular intervals occurred so frequently, that Bart spent
the greater part of that day in vibrating like a pendulum between the
house and barn. Had Solomon remained in this hiding-place for any length
of time, it is certain that Bart’s assiduous attentions and air
of mystery would have led to a discovery; but as it happened, the
concealment was not needed for any longer time.

All that day, while Bart had been thus performing the part of a faithful
friend, he had also been forwarding to the utmost the preparations
for the coming journey. These preparations consisted chiefly in
fishing-tackle of various kinds. One day was quite sufficient for this,
and so, on the day after, the whole party left. Their departure took
place at sunrise. Solomon had left before them, and had gone in the
early morning twilight to the steamer in which they were to embark,
where he had concealed himself behind a row of flour barrels. At seven
o’clock the boat started. The boys walked forward, and there, to the
utter amazement of Phil and Pat, the first object that met their eyes
was Solomon. They had only heard Bart’s account of his unsuccessful
visit, and had given him up. But now he appeared, radiant, joyous,
ecstatic; and though a large, white smouch was over his right cheek,
caused by his lying down with his face pressed against a flour barrel,
yet that white spot did not at all detract from the exultant and
triumphant expression that overspread his face. His little black beads
of eyes twinkled with delight; his legs went hopping up from the deck in
all directions; and he would certainly then and there have indulged in a
real, original, genuine, plantation break-down, had not rheumatiz gently
reminded him that there were limits to the exercise of his muscular
powers.

The route which they took to the Bay de Chaleur was apparently a
roundabout one; but in reality it was the shortest way to get to their
destination. First they went up the river St. John, and after a time
they intended to turn off into the country.

As they sailed up that beautiful river, they gazed with admiration upon
the varying scenes that opened upon them every moment. With that river
and its features Bart was quite familiar; but the others had never seen
it before, and were never tired of looking out upon the surrounding
valley. First of all they found themselves in a narrow gorge shut in by
precipices. Emerging from this, they entered a broad expanse of water
looking like an extensive lake. Traversing this, the river narrowed
again, and the sheet of water ran on before their eyes in a straight
line for many miles, with high hills, some wooded, some cultivated on
either side. Passing on, they left this behind; and now the course of
the river was a winding one, leading them on amidst varied scenery
of high hills and fertile valleys. Beyond this, again, the high hills
departed, and a broad extent of meadow land, dotted with groves
and orchards and white farm-houses, and covered over with luxuriant
vegetation, spread away on every side as far as the eye could reach.
Here the scene was not so varied as it had been at first, but it was
rich and glorious, showing to them a favored land, a land flowing with
milk and honey. This rich and fertile land continued till the steamer
stopped at Fredericton.

Here they passed the night, and hired a carriage to take them to the
River Miramichi, a place which lay on the way between Fredericton and
the Bay de Chaleur.

On the following morning they crossed the ferry, and after a short drive
they reached another river, a branch of the St. John, which rejoices in
the name of the Nashwaak. The river was small, but they thought it one
of the most beautiful that they had ever seen. High hills covered with
forests arose on every side, now coming up close and shutting in the
waters, again receding and leaving rich meadow lands, through which the
river flowed with many a winding.

At midday they stopped at a pretty little inn by the road-side, and
beguiled the time during which they had to wait for dinner by trying
their hands at trouting. Bart and Phil caught two small trout apiece;
Pat hooked one; while Solomon actually landed a salmon--an event which
created intense excitement in the whole party.

In the evening they reached another place, where they stopped for the
night. The next day they resumed their journey, and in the afternoon
arrived at the village of Chatham, which is situated on the banks of the
River Miramichi.

And now the boys made a discovery, which, strangely enough, had not
suggested itself before. It was the simple fact that they had started
altogether too soon. This was the third of August, but the Rawdons and
Tom would not meet them until the fifteenth. There was therefore nearly
a fortnight’s time on their hands. No thought of regret, however, arose
in the minds of any of them; but the fact that they had so much time
to spare, at once set them all to work to contrive some way of enjoying
themselves. Various suggestions were made. One was, that they should
visit the different, settlements in all the country around; another,
that they should go straight to Shippegan, get a schooner or a
fishing-boat, and explore the Bay de Chaleur. Both of these plans,
however, were rejected, in favor of the superior attractions of a third
plan.

This was, to plunge into the woods, wander about, fish, explore, and
rough it generally. They could take a little stock of provisions with
them, but trust chiefly to the fish which they might catch. They could
build camps, and sleep in them, and cook their fish themselves by their
own fires. Bart spoke to the landlord about the feasibility of this
plan, and that worthy approved of it highly, but told them that they
would have to take some Indian guide with them.

Had the guide been English, Irish, Scotch, or American, the boys would
probably have felt some objections; but being an Indian, the idea had
overpowering fascinations for them. There was a dash of romance about an
Indian guide that lent additional attractions to the proposed excursion.

The landlord informed them that there was an Indian settlement opposite,
and that if they went over there they might find a guide, and make a
bargain with him.

All this was settled on the evening of the day in which they had
arrived, and early on the following morning they crossed the river on a
visit to the Indian settlement, in search of a guide.

The Indian settlement was not a very extensive one. It consisted of
about a dozen wigwams. These camps are constructed of poles set together
in a conical shape, and covered over with birch bark, a substance that
with them is made to serve a wonderful number of purposes. On
entering the settlement, a number of dogs came up and smelt them very
deliberately. They saw a number of children, who, at their approach,
darted inside the nearest camp. Old squaws were busy cooking. One or two
Indians were engaged in making baskets. The whole scene had a peaceful,
primitive, and romantic character. It was clean, too; for though an
Indian camp has no architectural pretensions, yet it rarely gives forth
those overpowering odors which are encountered on approaching many of
the houses of the more civilized races.

An Indian advanced to meet the boys.

“Good day, brother,” said Bart; for in this country it is the fashion to
address an Indian by this fraternal title.

“Good day, broder,” said the Indian, in a friendly way.

He was rather old, fearfully wrinkled, and his long, coarse hair reached
to his shoulders. As Bart looked at him, it struck him that this man
would be a most desirable guide; his age made him trustworthy, while,
at the same time, his sturdy frame and sinewy limbs showed that he
possessed all the powers of endurance that might be desired.

With these thoughts Bart made known to him the object of his visit. As
he spoke, the other Indians listened with much interest, and addressed
remarks to one another, accompanied with glances at the boys, which
seemed to afford them great amusement; for smiles came over their grave
faces, and some of the younger squaws giggled, and numbers of little
heads were poked out through the doors of several wigwams, and numbers
of little sparkling black wild eyes were fixed upon the visitors to the
camp.

The Indian whom they had accosted thought for some time over Bart’s
question, and then addressed some remarks to the others. Some
conversation followed, which, of course, was not intelligible to the
boys, since it was carried on in the language of these Indians. At
length the one whom Bart was talking with informed him that he would be
willing to go himself as guide.

“Me go; me go; takum you troom wood. Me good guide, fus rate; go often.
My name Sam.”

At this Bart was overjoyed.

“You wantum shoot?” asked the Indian.

“No,” said Bart, with a feeling of intense regret, “only to fish.”

“Berry well, fishum; all same. Me show all aboutum. When you go?”

Bart said that he wanted to set out that very day, if he could.

“Me all ready,” said Sam. “Go now, or to-morrow; all same.”

Upon this Bart said that they would go back to get their things, and
return by noon, when they might all set out together.

They now went back and gathered together the things that they considered
necessary. The Indian went over with them. After further conversation
with Sam, Bart thought that it would be better to drive for about twenty
miles, and then take to the woods. That would save them a long and
useless tramp, and bring them at once to the very scene of action.



VI.


_A long Drive, and a long Walk.--The wild Woods.--An Encampment.--The
blazing Fire.--Lo! the poor Indian.--The Wolf and the Watch-dog.--
The Spring of the Wild Beast.--Solomon to the Rescue.--A Fight, and a
Flight._


AFTER a drive of about twenty miles, they came to a place where the
road turned off towards the east. They had been heading thus far in a
northerly direction, and at this turning-off place a path went from the
road in the same northerly direction in which it had gone. At this place
they got out of the wagon, and prepared to follow their guide into the
woods. Each one took the load which he had already made up for himself,
and the wagon then returned.

They did not care to burden themselves too greatly upon this expedition,
and so the load which each one took was as light as possible. Bart,
Phil, and Pat had each a basket slung from the neck, and a fishing-rod.
In each basket was a parcel of ham sandwiches, which they had procured
at the inn, with the intention of using them as a kind of relish, in
addition to their ordinary wood fare, Solomon contented himself with a
basket only. His fishing apparatus he carried in his pocket. He wasn’t
gwine to bodder his ole head, he said, with dem poles--he could cut one
in the woods when he wanted one, and throw it away when he got tired
of it. Solomon’s years seemed to be adverse to his taking part in an
expedition like this, but in spite of this he waddled along quite as
fast as any of them. One precaution he had taken which none of the rest
had considered necessary, and that was, to bring with him a check shawl,
which Bart had lent him. This he did for fear of his ever watchful
enemy, the rheumatiz.

The path was at first very well beaten; but after about a mile or so, it
gradually faded away, and the track that they followed after this was so
faint as to be scarcely discernible. The woods consisted chiefly of pine
trees, with birch and maple intermixed. None of these trees were very
large, and they did not see any of those forest giants which had met
their view in other places. In some places the underbrush was very
dense, but in other places there was scarcely any. Sometimes the ground
was quite bare and slippery with the accumulation of pine spires that
had fallen there; again, they came to immense growths of fern; and
yet again to the young growth of the forest trees, springing in wild
luxuriance, all tangled and matted together.

At length even the faint outline of a path which they had been
traversing for some time laded away, and they walked on after the guide,
without following any path at all. The land was quite level. They found
no hills, and no rocks even. Sometimes a fallen tree lay in front of
them, but it was never of sufficient size to create any obstacle. The
chief irregularities in the ground were caused by an occasional mound,
that seemed to mark the place where a tree had once been. Frequently
they came to little brooks that babbled along beneath the trees, their
borders overgrown with moss; and often they came to bogs and swamps, in
some of which they got wet enough to acquire a very good foretaste of
the experiences that now lay before them. But this was a trifle beneath
their consideration, and the ease with which they advanced filled them
all with the greatest delight.

At length they came to a stop.

It was in the midst of a pine forest. Overhead, the trees interlaced
their branches. Beneath, the ground was dry, and covered with slippery
pine spires. It was a slight declivity, and at the bottom a brook ran
along. No better place could be wished than this for a night’s rest.

“Good place dis,” said Sam; “him dry--sleepum safe--wakum all well.”

The boys were all very well pleased to find their march at an end. They
had been on the steady tramp for at least two hours, and had penetrated
far into the forest. Already the sky above was overcast, and the forest
shades were deepening.

All things betokened the approach of evening and of night.

They flung down their baskets and poles, and then flung themselves down
too, and stretched their weary limbs upon the ground. Solomon took off
his basket, and put it down in a more leisurely fashion, and took up
more time in depositing his own aged frame upon the ground.

“Well, boys,” said Bart, after a short time of rest, in which he had
stretched himself and yawned to his heart’s content, “it’s all very well
to sit down and rest, but it’s rather dark here under the trees, and
it’s going to be darker, and we can’t-ex-pect to get to sleep for at
least a couple of hours. How can we manage to exist, sitting here in the
dark? I’m sure I can’t for one; so let’s make a fire.”

The proposal was at once adopted with the utmost eagerness. They had all
felt a certain degree of cheerlessness, and did not know exactly what
the cause was; but now they saw that it was the darkness, and they
knew that any friendly firelight, however small, would make all the
difference in the world.

They now distributed themselves in different directions for the sake of
procuring fuel. Under that pine forest it was not very easy to find
any. At length, by dint of careful search and unwearying industry, they
succeeded in gathering a very respectable amount, which they deposited
in a heap near the place where they had first sat down. The wood which
they thus gathered was not very promising. What was dry was rotten
twigs, and what was sound was green wood; but they did not complain. In
order to find a fuel that was midway between these two extremes, they
went off after pine branches. These they cut from the smaller trees with
their pocket knives. Then they gathered some pine cones and bits of dry
bark, and with these succeeded in kindling a fire. Over this they put
the dry twigs, then the pine branches, and last of all the green wood.
The fire thus carefully prepared was quite a success; the flames rose up
merrily, and soon the friendly blaze illumined the gathering gloom.

Around this they now sat, and partook of their evening repast. The
repast consisted of ham sandwiches, and their drink was water from the
neighboring brook.

While they were seated round the fire they noticed that their guide drew
forth a black junk bottle, and began to take large and frequent draughts
from it. The smell showed them plainly that it was spirits, and this
discovery filled them all with uneasiness. They were afraid that their
guide would make himself drunk at the very outset of their expedition;
and if so, what could they do with a drunken Indian? Sam had probably
procured the villanous “fire-water” when he crossed with them to
Chatham, before starting, and had brought it here with the express
purpose of swallowing the whole of it that night.

The effects of the intoxicating liquor were soon only too apparent. He
began to talk with such volubility that his broken English was scarcely
intelligible. As far as they could make out, he was trying to tell
them about the best places there were for fishing and shooting, and
illustrating his remarks with incoherent anecdotes about various parties
which he had accompanied through these forests.

But as he went on he grew more and more excited, and at length gave up
broken English, and spoke to them in his own language. Of course this
made him totally unintelligible. There was now something that seemed to
them uncanny in the sight of this man, as he sat there, half out of his
senses, talking at them vociferously and volubly in his unintelligible
jargon. It put an end to all their own conversation, and to all their
pleasure. It was bad enough to be here; but to be here with a drunken
Indian, a crazy savage, was too much.

But the Indian kept on. He still applied the bottle to his lips at short
intervals, and continued his wild gabble as before. At first, he had
been speaking to them, and now he seemed to be addressing his remarks
to space; for his eyes were not any longer turned towards them, but were
rolling in all directions,--sometimes resting on the trees, sometimes on
the fire. He grew more and more excited. Holding the bottle in one hand,
he swung it around, and with the other he made energetic gestures, which
he used to give emphasis to his statements. His voice also gradually
changed. At first it was natural; and so long as he spoke English, there
had been nothing in it to excite particular attention; but when he broke
forth in his native language, it grew deeper and more guttural, and
stranger and more barbaric.

[Illustration: 0097]

The long Indian monotone and drawl became intensified by him, and was
developed into something that sounded like a strange, unearthly chant;
and this fierce sing-song chant only served to increase the wild and
savage effect of the whole.

Here, then, were the boys, in the midst of the lonely forest, face to
face with a drunken Indian. The fire was flaming up, and its blaze shone
upon the Indian, and threw a baleful glow upon his dusky face. He
sat opposite to them, his long hair tangled and matted, his brows
contracted, his bright, black eyes rolling restlessly in their orbits,
the deep-wrinkled face revealed with startling distinctness against the
dark background of the forest, and showing all the incessant working
of its muscles, and the rapid play of its features. With his bottle
clutched in one hand, and the other hand making fierce gesticulations,
all the time he kept howling out unintelligible sounds in a whining
guttural--a monotonous, but furious sing-song chant. Such was the scene
before them; and it was no wonder that it excited some uneasiness.

What could they do?

They did not know.

What would this Indian do?

This also they could not know.

There was nothing in his appearance that could reassure them. Every
moment he grew worse and worse. If this sort of thing went on much
longer, he might grow violent enough to make an attack upon them.
Already he looked far more like a wild beast than a human being. The
maddening fumes of the liquor might excite the natural ferocity of his
race, and urge him on to deeds of horror. They had no security whatever
against such a suspicion, and no means whatever of defending themselves
from any sudden attack.

As for Solomon, he had been watching the Indian most attentively all
this time, and the sight of this wild associate had produced upon
him quite as strong an effect as upon the boys, though of a totally
different kind. Had the boys not been so fascinated by the Indian as to
be unable to withdraw their gaze, and had they looked at Solomon, they
would have been astonished at the change that had suddenly come over
him.

He had been seated a little in the background, in a lazy, reclining
posture, when his attention was aroused by the conduct of the Indian. He
started up and sat erect for a time. Then, as the Indian grew worse,
he became more excited. He rose up on his knees, and remained in
that position--watchful and eager. At length, as the Indian grew more
furious, the excitement of Solomon increased to a proportionate degree.
He rose gradually to his feet, and stood there, eager, attentive,
vigilant; every nerve on the stretch; his body advanced, his arms bent,
his fists clinched, his brows contracted, his lips compressed, his eyes
kindling with a dull glow; and as the flames illumined his dusky face
and figure, they revealed a sight which was quite as impressive as that
other spectacle upon which the eyes of the boys were fastened.

The old man was transformed. He was no longer the shambling, free
and easy, indolent, gabbling, ridiculous, affectionate, rheumatic,
pottering, and apparently feeble old Solomon, whom the boys had known
and loved. He was changed. He was another being. As the feeble woman is
roused to frenzy, and becomes transformed at the approach of danger to
her child, so Solomon, at the suspicion of possible danger to his boys,
his “chickens,” his “chil’en,” whom he loved with all the strength and
devotion of his faithful and affectionate old heart, dropped his old
self altogether. He became changed into the fierce, watchful, vigilant
champion and defender of those whom he loved. Perhaps there was also
some of the savagery of his African blood, and the natural ferocity of
his race, which, long slumbering, had burst forth at that moment, at
the impulse of his brother savage. But as it is difficult to imagine
any taint of savagery, however faint, in one like Solomon, his
present attitude may best be accounted for on the ground of his living
watchfulness over the boys.

At any rate, there he stood, firm as a rock, and rigid as steel,--like a
watch-dog awaiting the onset of the wolf. His “rheumatiz” was forgot in
the excitement of that tremendous moment, just as the soldier, in the
ardor of battle, is unconscious of dangerous wounds.

At length a crisis approached.

The Indian had gone on as before, growing more and more furious every
moment. His eyes rolled fearfully. He had drunk most of the contents
of the bottle, and his brain was on fire. His voice grew hoarser and
hoarser, his gestures more violent, and his manner more threatening; his
utterances were still of that sing-song character already mentioned,
but they had now become almost unearthly in their intonations. What mad
thoughts there might be in his mind at that time could not be known;
nor could they imagine the exciting visions that were wrought in his
distracted brain. Whatever they were, they at length passed away; and
his eyes, that had been rolling at vacancy, now steadied themselves, and
suddenly fastened themselves upon the boys with a look of concentrated
hate and fury that was terrible.

So terrible was that look, that the boys all shrank back in horror. Then
they started up to their feet, and stood close together, in silence,
each nerving his young heart for the coming struggle, which now seemed
imminent. As they thus stood, they were on a line with Solomon; but
their attention was so occupied with the Indian that they neither
thought of him nor saw him.

“Let’s stick together,” said Bart at length in hurried tones--“it’s our
only chance.”

“Stick it is,” said Pat, who had recovered his coolness, “through thick
and thin.”

Phil said nothing, but stood his ground with the others, and waited.

The movements of the boys had excited the Indian still more. A furious
cry escaped him. He looked at them for a moment, and then moved to the
right, and flung his bottle into the fire. The spirits poured out, and
the blaze threw a bluish, ghastly glare over the scene. Then the madman
gave a terrible yell, and rushed towards the boys.

The boys saw him coming. They stood firm. They gathered up all their
strength.

But suddenly a dark shadow darted forward, and a dark figure flung
itself against the Indian. It was Solomon. Watchful, eager, fierce, he
had waited for the onset, and as the Indian advanced he made his spring.
Rushing upon him, he struck him on the side, and the onset was so
unexpected that the Indian had not time to guard against it. He fell to
the ground. In a moment Solomon was upon him. He twined his legs around
him. He grasped the savage by the throat. To that throat he clung with
a death like tenacity, never relaxing that iron grasp, that convulsive
grip, but clinging, holding, tightening his clutch all the more as his
enemy strove to shake him off.

The boys stood there looking on in speechless amazement. They recognized
Solomon, but could scarcely believe their own eyes. Where had Solomon
gained that bounding activity, that tremendous strength and energy,
which now availed him even against the madman’s fury? Could this be
Solomon--the one who was afraid of his own superstitious fancies--the
one who had just been in miserable thraldom to a drunken wife? It seemed
incredible. Yet that this was Solomon himself they saw plainly.

The struggle was most violent. The Indian gasped, and groaned, and
writhed, and sought to free himself from the grasp of his assailant. But
Solomon’s grip could not be shaken off. He devoted all his strength to
that one thing, and did not waste any of his energies in any useless
efforts. The Indian’s struggles grew weaker. He was suffocating from
that grasp on his throat. Had he been younger, he might have overpowered
Solomon; but he was an old man himself, perhaps quite as old as Solomon,
and therefore he was not so superior in strength as might be supposed.

And now a mighty feeling of triumph swelled through Solomon’s heart, and
chased away the furious impulse that had animated him to this assault.
The fainting efforts and the relaxing limbs of his enemy showed that the
victory was his. A softer feeling now came over him, mingling with his
triumph--he thought of the boys whom he had saved.

He turned his head and raised himself slightly.

“Nebber you fear, chil’en,” he said--“he do you no harm now.”

Suddenly the Indian made one last convulsive effort. Had Solomon not
been speaking to the boys he could have resisted even this last throe of
despair; but as it was, his attention was for the moment distracted, and
he was taken by surprise. The Indian tore himself loose from Solomon’s
grasp, jerked himself up by a mighty effort upon one knee, and threw
himself free from his assailant. Both were now on their feet, facing
one another, panting heavily. Once more the fury of the fight raged in
Solomon’s heart. He stood poised--he prepared for a spring. The Indian’s
strength lay in his madness; the strength of Solomon lay in his devotion
to the boys--in the frenzy of his love and anxiety for their safety.

The boys came forward. This time they would not let Solomon fight their
battle. They would assist him, and lend all their united strength
to crush their savage assailant. It was one common impulse, part of
self-preservation, part of regard for Solomon, that animated them, and
they sprang to his side and waited.

All this was the work of a moment.

Another moment and Solomon would once more have made his tiger-spring,
and flung himself upon the madman.

But that moment had sufficed for the Indian to take breath, and to
receive a new impulse. This, time it was not hate or destructive fury.
It was terror. The terrible struggle from which he had escaped with
such difficulty had given a new turn to his frenzied thoughts. Fear
overmastered him. A stifled exclamation escaped him. He started back.

Then he turned and ran.

He ran for his life; and in a few moments he had passed out of sight,
and was lost amid the gloom of the forest and the night.



VII.

_Passing the Night.--On Guard.--The watchful Sentinel.--Plans.--Through
the Woods.--The winding River.--Fishing.--The overcast Sky. Arrival of
Pat with startling Tidings.--A useless Search._


FOR a few moments the whole party stood, confounded by this new and
sudden turn which events had taken.

“He’s gone, anyhow,” said Pat, who was the first to break the silence.

The other boys said nothing. As for Solomon, he stared for a few moments
all around, and then quietly seated himself by the fire.

“Well, of all de cur’ousest an strornar est things!” he exclaimed.
“Ef dis don’t beat all creation holler, den I’m a niggar. An me in a
fight--a rail battle; no play, mind you; but a fight for life and def.
Clar ef I can understan it.”

And Solomon buried his head in his hands, quite overcome.

“Anyhow,” he resumed after a pause, “ye see how it was, chil’en. Dat
ar demon was a plungin an a jumpin, an I see he was makin for you; so
I ‘termined I’d hab a shy at him. Couldn’t stan dat ar nohow. Ain’t a
fightin man; but dat ar Ingin war so dreadful aggravatin; mor’n flesh
an blood could stan. Anyhow, I did gib him nuff ob it for one spell; an
he’ll tink twicet afore he tackle any ob us agin.”

“I never was so astonished in my life,” said Bart. “And how you did
pitch into him!” he continued, admiringly. “Why, you gave a leap like a
tiger. Down he went, with you on top--at his throat.”

Solomon laughed long, joyously, and uproariously. He chuckled, he
giggled, he slapped his knees, and finally he threw himself flat on his
back, and lay there, laughing, chuckling, crowing, and making a confused
medley of noises, all of which were intended by him to be expressive of
triumph and exultation.

“Clar ef I know what ebber did git hold ob me dat time,” he said, in
the intervals of his laughter. “Specs I mus hab gone clean mad an rabin
stracted. Didn’t tink dar was so much clar fight in me. Ain’t such a
rheumatic old nig, arter all. Fight any drunken Ingin on de face ob de
erf. Ki yi! Yep! Ho-o-o-o-o! Dat’s so.”

At all this the boys looked on without saying anything, wondering at the
change. Could this be the same man, thought Bart, that had always seemed
so helpless? whose “rheumatiz” seemed always to prevent the slightest
exertion? Could this be the same Solomon who allowed himself to be
captured by a parcel of Gaspereaugian boys? Could this be the same man
whom he had seen only a day or two before, cowering and cringing at
the sight of an angry woman? Was the Solomon over whom Black Betsy
had tyrannized so remorselessly indeed the same one who had just flung
himself at the throat of a madman, and overpowered him? It seemed
incredible.

Yet it was no other. Already Solomon was himself again, his old natural
self. Already he began to investigate his joints, and to murmur doleful
anticipations of a fresh attack of rheumatiz. But the boys had other
things than this to think of. The question now was, how to pass the
night. They did not feel altogether safe. The madman who had just
threatened them had fled; but it seemed to them as though he was still
lurking somewhere near them in the shadow of the gloomy forest, waiting
his chance; waiting till they should go to sleep, so that he might rush
upon them unawares. If they wished to sleep at all, it would never do,
they thought, for them to sleep here with the firelight shining upon
them, and revealing them to the gaze of their enemy. They must seek some
other place.

On mentioning this to Solomon, he objected very strongly.

“Dar’s no danger, chil’en,” he said. “Dat ar Injun won’t ebber come back
agin. He darsn’t. He nebber forget my grip. I frikend dat ar Injun away
forebbermo.”

“O, that’s the very reason why he’ll be back,” said Bart. “He’ll wait
till we’re all asleep, and then attack us. He’ll make a sudden spring at
you first.”

“No, he won’t,” said Solomon; “nebba. He don’t do dat ar wid dis chile.”

“How can you prevent him if you’re asleep?”

“Cos I don’t’tend goin to sleep; dat’s how,” said Solomon. “Got him dar,
anyhow. Yah, yah, yah.”

“What! do you intend to watch?”

“Jes so. I pose on dis yar solemn casion, my spected friends, to keep de
fire a goin, and to hole a watch an a guard ober de party.”

“Do you think we’d let you do that?” said Bart. “Do you think we’d go to
sleep, and leave you to watch us all night? No. If there’s going to be
any watching, we’ll take turns.”

“Dat ar am all berry well,” said Solomon, with a dignified wave of
his hand, “stremely well, an proppa for ordnary casiums; but dis yar
casium’s a berry strornary casium. Dar’s danger; and de man dat’s
goin to keep watch mus be able to face de enemy in a fight. Dat ars de
reason, den, why I pose to keep a lookout. I’ll set heah, keep de fire
a goin, an you can all sleep safe an sound. Dar’s no use for you to set
up.”

“But you must sleep,” said Bart.

“O, I’ll wake you up early in de mornin, an hab my sleep den. So now
don’t talk no more, for I’m a goin to do dat ar, an watch dis bressed
night.”

Some further conversation followed, in which the boys insisted on
watching for a part of the time, at least. They were so urgent, that
Solomon at last had to consent. He insisted, however, that he would
sit up during the first part of the night, as the danger would be most
likely to take place then, if it took place at all, and promised to wake
them towards morning. With this understanding the boys lay down by the
fire, and in spite of their recent excitement, they soon fell asleep.

Solomon sat there by the fire keeping watch with all his senses on the
alert. No danger was there of this faithful old sentinel sleeping at his
post. The very possibility of danger to the boys was enough to keep all
his mind wakeful and attentive. After a time he moved back a little, and
rested his back against a tree.

The hours of the night passed on slowly and tediously. The boys slept
soundly, and were lost in the land of dreams. Occasionally Solomon
amused himself and beguiled the time by going forth and collecting
sticks for the fire. The flames smouldered low, and the sticks that
Solomon was able to gather were not sufficient to kindle them afresh to
any great extent, and so the consequence was, that at length it nearly
died out. It was profoundly dark; but still Solomon watched, and felt no
inclination to sleep.

He had promised to awake the boys towards morning, but they slept so
soundly that he had not the heart to keep his promise, and so he let
them sleep on. At length Bart awoke, and, starting up, he looked all
around. It was early morning twilight; the sky was brightening overhead,
and the forms of the forest trees were visible around. As he started,
Solomon got up, and walked towards him.

“Well, Mas’r Bart,” said he, “all right so far. De Injun gone off
forebbamo.”

“Why didn’t you wake me before?” asked Bart.

“De gracious sakes, now, chile!” said Solomon; “dar wasn’t no casium.
’Tain’t mornin yet.”

“Well, you lie down now, and go to sleep,” said Bart.

“All right,” said Solomon; and going back to the tree where he had
been sitting, he curled himself up on the moss at the foot of it, and,
drawing his shawl over his head and shoulders, was soon in a sound
slumber.

And now the morning advanced; slowly the shades of night faded away,
until, at length, the day dawned, and a thousand birds awaked the echoes
of the forest in all directions, and filled all the air with a flood
of melody. Bart looked up at the sky, and noticed that it was overcast.
There was also a very peculiar appearance there which excited his
attention. There seemed clouds overhead; but the clouds had a sickly,
yellowish color, which was unlike anything that he had ever seen. After
a short time, Pat and Phil awoke, and Bart drew their attention to this.
They, however, thought nothing of it.

“It’s only common clouds,” said Phil.

“Deed, an it’s a good sign, so it is,” said Pat, in his usual tone of
confidence. “The trout bite wondherful whin they see a sky like that
over thim. It’s lucky for us we’ve got sich weather.”

Bart had his doubts about this, but he kept them to himself, and then
the boys began to consider what they had better do. The loss of their
Indian guide made a change in their circumstances of a very important
nature. As long as they had him with them, they had no care or anxiety,
for they knew that he would take them to all the best places in the
country. But, now that he had gone, what ought they to do first?

The idea of going back occurred, but it was at once dismissed. To go
back would be very fatiguing, and would be of no particular use. For, if
they did get another guide, he might turn out as badly as the one whom
they had lost; and besides, their experience with Sam disgusted them
with guides and with Indians altogether.

“If I only had a compass,” said Bart, “we’d be all right, for we could
at least be able to choose some direction, and have some idea of where
we went. But, as it is, we shall have to wander at random.”

“Sure and that’s the very best way there is to wandhcr, so it is,” said
Pat. “It’s a mighty sight better to go sthrollin along as you like than
it is to be taggin afther a big drunken Injin, any day.”

“Yes,” said Phil, “that’s the best way. Let’s go strolling along,
fishing at every brook we come to, and enjoy ourselves. We can make
camps, and if we come to any pleasanter place than usual, we can stay
there for two or three days. Why, this is the very best way of enjoying
ourselves. I’m sure I couldn’t imagine anything more glorious.”

“I wonder if there are any fish up that little brook,” said Bart.

“Sure an we’d betther try.”

“One of us had better stay behind with Solomon,” said Bart.

“I’ll stay,” said Phil; “I’ll get some sticks and build the fire again,
and if you do get any fish, we’ll be able to have some for breakfast.”

Upon this, Bart and Pat prepared their rods, and linos, and went off up
the brook. It was not very large, but it had the general appearance of a
good trouting stream; and the appearance did not deceive them, for after
a short time, to their great joy, they succeeded in hooking ten or
a dozen very respectable trout, with which they returned to the
“encampment.” Here they found a brisk fire, beside which Phil was
sitting awaiting their return. As they reached the place, Solomon awoke
from his nap, and joined them at the fire. Then followed breakfast,
which consisted of broiled trout, and, as they had brought plenty of
salt and pepper in their baskets, there was no lack of relish, and the
fish was pronounced delicious.

After breakfast, they once more noticed the appearance of the sky. It
had still that dull, sickly, yellowish hue which had first struck Bart’s
attention. Although the day had advanced since then, the sky had not
changed, and there was no increase of light.

“It’s smoke,” said Bart. “I wonder what’s the cause of it.”

“De woods are burnin,” said Solomon.

“I wonder if it is anywhere near,” said Phil.

“O, no!” said Bart; “it’s some distant fire or other. Perhaps they’re
clearing land.”

“Dar’s alius smoke a floatin about d’ese times in de woods,” said
Solomon. “Dey keep a clearin an a choppin--no end.”

“Sure an it’s all the betther fer us,” said Pat, “for an overcast sky is
the thing for the throut; an sure they niver know the difference whither
it’s smoke or clouds, so they don’t, an they bite all the same, so they
do.”

They now prepared for the day’s work; but before starting, Bart said
that they ought to appoint some place of meeting, in case they got
separated. On discussing this point, however, they soon found that they
were not in a position to appoint any place of rendezvous, since no one
place was known to them except where they were sitting. They did not
care about remaining in the vicinity of this place, but wished to ramble
on at leisure, and at liberty.

“Sure an there’s no nade,” said Pat; “we can all kape widin hearin of
one another, so we can.”

“At any rate,” said Phil, “we can start now, and stay by one another as
long as possible. If we come to any place where we have to separate, we
can easily make an arrangement to come back to that place.”

This last remark seemed satisfactory, and as it was really the only
thing that they could do, they said no more on the subject, but set
forth at once.

They walked on for about an hour, and at length emerged from the pine
trees, and came to woods where the trees were largely birch and maple.
Thus far, their progress had been very easy, as the ground under the
pine trees was smooth, and there was very little underbrush. At this
place, however, it became more difficult. Small trees and underbrush
arose on every side in great profusion, and the ground rose in a
succession of gentle eminences, while an occasional swamp intervened.
Still, it was not very difficult walking even there, and the chief
difference was, that their course became much more circuitous. Through
this they wandered for another hour and more, without finding any place
that was at all suitable.

At length, to their great joy, they found themselves upon the edge of a
small rivulet, which was not more than forty or fifty feet in width. Its
bed just here was strewn with pebbles and cobblestones; but farther up
and down, they saw hollows and deeper places in the river-bed, which
promised some sport. Here they prepared for action. Phil and Pat offered
to go down the stream, while Bart and Solomon could go up. Before
parting, it was settled that they should come back to this place. On
the other side of the stream there were two birch trees growing close
together, which would serve as a sufficient landmark to enable them to
recognize this place on their return; and with this arrangement the two
parties separated, Phil and Pat descending the stream, while Bart and
Solomon went up the channel.

Bart and Solomon went up the river-bed for some distance. They found no
difficulty in going along, for the stream was shallow, and they could
wade it in most places. Occasionally they came to deeper places, which
they traversed by going round them. At length they reached a place that
looked favorable to their designs, and began to try them. A few bites
rewarded them, and two or three small trout were soon deposited in their
baskets. They now began to enter more into the spirit of the occasion,
and continued slowly ascending the stream, stopping sometimes a long
while in some particularly good place, till they had exhausted it, and
then resuming their tramp. The consequence was, that their baskets soon
began to be unpleasantly heavy, and they had to confine themselves
more exclusively to one spot, and indulge to a less extent in their
wanderings. All this time these two had had no occasion to keep a
lookout on each other, for Solomon, with his instinct of fidelity, had
no other idea than that of simply following Bart wherever he went.

All this time the sky had maintained the same yellowish hue, and was as
much overcast as ever. Here and there they reached places where the view
upward was more extensive, and their gaze could command a larger part
of the sky. They saw rolling clouds which seemed most unmistakably to be
smoke, and these they thought the sure indications of some fire,
which, judging from these appearances, was larger than usual. Beyond an
occasional glance upward, however, and a stray remark, these appearances
excited no particular notice on the part of either of them.

At length it began to grow somewhat late, and they decided to return.
Their long march and still longer fishing excursion had greatly fatigued
them; and in going back, they found the distance far greater than they
had supposed. At length they recognized the landmark; and here they both
flung themselves wearily down upon the bank, and waited for the return
of the others.

For a long time they waited there. It grew later and later, but there
was no sign of either of them. At length they saw some one coming, and
as he drew nearer they recognized Pat. He was very much out of breath,
and soaking wet from head to foot.

“Where’s Phil?”

Those were the first words that Pat spoke, and he spoke them in hurried,
anxious tones.

“Phil!” cried Bart. “Why, don’t you know?”

“Hasn’t he got back yit?” said Pat, with something like a wail.

“No,” said Bart, as a dark feeling of apprehension came to him.

“Och, thin,” cried Pat, “it’s fairly heart-broke I am, so I am; and no
one knows what I’ve suffered this blissed day. Sorra one o’ me knows
what has become of him. An I’ve been scourin the whole country back’ards
an for’ards, an yellin meself hoarse, so that I can’t utther one blissed
howl more, so I can’t.”

At these startling words, all Pat’s anxiety and more communicated itself
to Bart. He hastily questioned Pat about Phil’s disappearance.

“We wint down,” said Pat, “for iver so far, an we came to one of the
foinest holes iver was. We fished there a half hour an more, and thin
Phil says, says he, ‘I’ll go, says he, over beyont,’--for there was a
moighty big rock jist forninst us. So he wint for to climb the rock, and
he says, ‘I’m goin furder down,’ says he. So I thought no more about it,
but wint on wid me fishin. It wasn’t for iver so long that I thought of
him; but at last I begins to fail anxious, and wondhers to meself what
iver have become of him. So I started off. I didn’t climb over the big
rock, as he did, but crossed the sthraim and wint down the other side.
Well, I couldn’t see a sign of him. I called, an yelled, an howled, an
walked iver so far down an back agin; an that same I’ve been doin iver
since, till I thought, at last, he might have somehow got back here. An
he ain’t here.”

This story caused terrible anxiety. Bart at once started down the
stream, and reached a high, rocky bank covered with trees. He stood
here and called. It was now too dark to see much. His calls awaked no
response. He then returned, full of the most anxious fears, with a faint
hope that he might find Phil on his return.

But on his return there was no Phil to be seen.



VIII.

_The Loss of Phil.--Deep Gloom and heavy Grief.--A Night of Terror.--The
torrid Atmosphere.----The Smell of Smoke.--The Darkness that might be
felt.--Morning brings Relief.--The Search.--The Rock and the Precipice
by the River-side.--The Track of Phil.--Following the Trail.--The Trail
lost.--Persevering Search.--The End of the Day._


THE loss of Phil produced a terrible effect upon the little party.
Pat’s grief was expressed by sighs and groans for some time, until at
length his elastic nature rebounded from its depression, and he began to
hope for the best. Solomon was deeply distressed, and said not a word;
while Bart was also silent, and he tried in vain to conjecture what
had been the cause of Phil’s departure. To him it seemed perfectly
unaccountable how he could have got lost. There was the stream, and it
seemed to be easy enough, even if one had wandered from it, to retrace
his steps. From Pat’s story, Phil’s departure from him by that rock was
the beginning of misfortunes. At some time after that he must have begun
to wander in a wrong direction, and gradually gone farther and farther
away till he was lost.

All that night none of them slept. For a time they kept up a series of
cries, which awakened no response. Then they built afire, thinking that
the glow would penetrate to a distance beyond where their cries could
go. They made the fire on the bank, and kept it up for two or three
hours; but at length they could find no more fuel, and allowed it to die
out.

While thus watching and using these efforts to make known their
situation to the wanderer, their excitement and suspense were too great
to allow of any thought of sleep. Eyes and ears were constantly on the
stretch, and every sound, however faint, awakened within them the hope
that it might be Phil. But the hours passed on, and not a single sign
appeared to them as they watched, and listened, and waited.

“I wonder whether he is wandering about in this darkness or not,” said
Bart, in an anxious-voice. “But I don’t suppose it is possible for any
one to walk in these woods now.”

“Niver a walk,” said Pat; “not he. He’s tin times comfortabler thin we
are. He’s jist gathered some moss, an he’s made a comfortable bed for
himself over beyont, somewheres under thim trays. Deed an he has. An
what’s more, he’s asleep now, sound as a top, so he is; an I wish
I wor as sound aslape as he is this blissed momint.”

Bart shook his head mournfully.

“No,” said he, with a sigh, “he won’t have much sleep to-night, poor old
Phil; he’s got too much to think of. If he had some one with him, he’d
feel all right; but it’s a terrible thing to be all alone this way.
And it’s a miserable night; so horribly dark; so hot. I can scarcely
breathe. I never knew such a night.”

“Thrue for you,” said Pat. “It’s fairly suffocated I am. But at any
rate, that makes no differ to Phil. Sure its betther for him to be too
warrum thin too cowld, so it is.”

“I can’t understand it,” said Bart, after a pause. “I don’t see why he
should be lost. I wonder whether--but that’s nonsense.”

“What’s that?”

“I wonder whether Sam could have been following us,” said Bart, half
shuddering at the frightful thought that had occurred.

“Sam? What, the Injin?”

“Yes.”

“An what’d he be a follerin of us for?”

“O, I don’t know. But you remember how he looked last night. He looked
like a demon. He certainly tried to kill us.”

“Sure but he was dead dhrunk an mad intoirely, so he was.”

“But his mad fit may have lasted till to-day; and he may have been
sneaking after us through the woods, and watching for a chance to do
some mischief. And so--”

Phil hesitated.

Pat was silent for a few moments.

“O, sure,” said he at last, “what are ye givin way for to sich mad
deludherin notions? What’d he be wantin of a boy like Phil?”

“He might have vowed vengeance on us.”

“Yingince is it? By the powers, thin, if it’s vingince he wanted, it ud
be Solomon that he’d track, not Phil, that niver so much as spoke
one word to him, good or bad, all the time he was with us. And as for
vingince, sure my iday is, that the Injin’d give up all the vingince
that ivir wor for a glass o’ whiskey, so he wud.”

Bart made no reply. The subject was too terrible to be discussed. He
tried to dismiss the thought from his mind. But the idea, having once
suggested itself, was not to be got rid of so easily. Do what he could,
it came back to him over and over again, taking possession of his mind
more and more strongly.

A terrible thought it indeed was that had thus come to him--the idea of
that demoniac being who had sprung at them on the previous night, and
had only been repelled by what seemed almost a miracle, being still
animated by furious hate and a thirst for vengeance,--the idea of this
implacable savage, thirsting for their blood, following stealthily
on their trail all that day, maintaining his pursuit with that
inexhaustible patience and tenacity of purpose which a bloodthirsty
savage alone can show when on the search for vengeance. Had he indeed
done this? Had this been the secret history of that day? Was this
blood-hound indeed on their track? Could it have been possible that he
had devoted them one by one to destruction, and had bided his time,
and had made Phil his first victim the moment he wandered away from the
others? It was a horrible, a sickening thought.

Now, Bart’s mind was full of stories of Indian warfare and Indian
vengeance, accumulated during a course of reading in Cooper’s
Leatherstocking series, and kindred works; and so it is no wonder that
this idea came to him. Besides, he had yet fresh and vivid in his mind
the assault of that drunken fiend the night before. All these things
combined to fix this fearful idea in his mind. As the hours passed on
it became more deeply seated, until at length he was in an indescribable
state of anxiety and alarm.

Thus the hours of that night passed away--a night even worse than the
preceding one; for then the terror had come and gone; but now it hung
over them all the time. In addition to this, the night itself was most
depressing. It was intensely dark. After the fire had died out, it was
impossible to see anything whatever--not even the hand before the face.
The deepest shadows surrounded them on all sides, and wherever they
looked their eyes encountered nothing but the blackness of darkness.
Besides this, it was exceedingly hot and sultry, the air having a
certain indescribable oppressiveness which made them sometimes fairly
gasp for breath. The only relief that they were able to gain was by
making frequent applications to the water of the river, sometimes
dashing it over their faces, at other times dipping in their heads, or
feet. This sultriness oppressed them all in an equal degree, and united
with the intense darkness to throw them into a state of bewilderment
and perplexity. Taken in connection with Plil’s disappearance and the
terrible event of the preceding night, it produced such an effect upon
the mind of Bart, that all the fears which were suggested by his vivid
fancy became more formidable and irresistible. Solomon said nothing at
all, but appeared to be quite overwhelmed. Pat alone struggled against
the evil influences of the time, and endeavored most energetically to
put the best appearance on things, and to rouse Bart from the deep gloom
into which he had fallen. So the night passed; and it was at length with
a feeling of immense relief that they saw the darkness begin to lessen.

As the day dawned, a faint breeze sprang up, which brought a gentle,
cooling influence with it. They rose and inhaled with long breaths the
more grateful air. Gradually the darkness disappeared, and the daylight
increased, and the forms of things around them became revealed.

Overhead there was no change from the day before. The sky was all
covered over with dense clouds, which seemed to hang much lower down
than on the preceding day, and now appeared whirling round and rolling
over the heavens in vast vortices. This movement on their part was, no
doubt, caused by their encountering the breeze which had sprung up,
and which, meeting them now in their course, arrested that course, and
whirled them back in confused heaps.

And now a new day lay before them, in which they would have to employ
every hour in the search after Phil. What that day or that search might
bring forward, they could not tell; but they were eager to begin it
as soon as possible. While it was yet morning twilight, they ate their
breakfast, and discussed the best plan of procedure. Solomon, as usual,
made no remark upon the subject, being content to abide by Bart’s
decision, while Bart and Pat talked over various ways of carrying on
their search. To separate was not to be thought of, for that would only
lead to fresh troubles. So it was decided, that wherever they went, they
should now keep together. They further decided that they should go down
the stream till they reached that rock already spoken of, which had been
the point of Phil’s departure, and try if they could not get upon his
trail, so as to see, at least in a general way, what direction he had
taken.

During this deliberation about the course which they should take, Bart
still exhibited the despondency which had characterized him ever since
Phil’s disappearance. The gloom of night and the oppressive sultriness
had passed, daylight was at hand, and the breeze brought fresh life to
them; but still Bart’s spirits were deeply depressed. Against this Pat
rebelled, and the cheerfulness and confidence which he had tried to
maintain through the night now assumed a prominent place in his thoughts
and in his manner.

“Yes,” said Bart, dolefully, continuing some remark which he had been
making, “if we can only get on his trail, we may at least find out the
general direction that he has taken. But I’m afraid there’s no hope.”

“Arrah, be off now wid yer nonsinse,” cried Pat. “What’s the use of
givin up at the very fust, afore ye’ve made a single trial? Sure an
he’ll turrun up all right and safe yit.”

“I wish I could think so.”

“Think so! Why, I know it. Sure am I this day that he’ll turrun up safe
an sound. An why shouldn’t he?”

“These woods. If he once gets tangled among them, how can he ever find
his way out?”

“Tangled among them, is it? Sure an it’s not so very bad thin. He can
only walk on an walk on; an he’s sure to come out somewheres. Besides,
he’ll hit upon a road some place or other, and wander along that.”

“There are no roads here.”

“How do you know? Ye don’t know. Thur may be fifty roads widin a mile of
this very place, so there may. So what’s the use of givin up?”

“No,” said Bart. “This is a wild, unfrequented place, and the woods are
unbroken for an immense distance. If Phil has got among them he will
wander on till--till he drops.”

“Ah, come now, none of that. Sure, what do ye think of Phil? Do ye think
now that Phil’s an idiot? Sure now, what’d ye do yerself if it was you
that was lost instead of Phil? Do you think that you’d wandher about
till you dropped, or do ye think ye’d work yer way out somewheres? Come
now, ye know ye’d work yer way out, so you would. And so would I. And so
will Phil, so he will.”

This process of reasoning struck Bart so forcibly that he had not a word
to say. Pat in fact was right in his estimate of Bart’s confidence in
himself. Bart really did feel sure that if he were lost in the woods
he’d get out.

“Sure now imagine yerself in Phil’s place,” continued Pat, cheerily.
“What’d you do? I’ll tell you what you’d do. Whin ye found yerself lost,
ye’d thry, of coorse, to git back. Well, thin, ye’d go wandherin about.
Very well. Ye’d sit down an rist, and think what ye’d best do nixt.
Then ye’d start off afrish. Maybe ye’d climb a tray to see if ye cud see
anythin. At any rate ye’d work away as long as the daylight lasted. At
steeted intervals ye’d let off howls as loud as ye cud howl. Well, thin,
it’ud grow dark, an so ye’d go to work an make up your mind to pass the
night here, an ye’d thry, of coorse, to make yerself as comfortable as
possible. So ye’d collect any quantity of moss an ferns, an spread
them out--perhaps ye’d make a fire--but that’s neither here nor there;
anyhow, ye’d make a comfortable bid for yerself, an thin ye’d take a
bite of somethin to ate, and thin ye’d lie doun an doze off into the
comfortablest slape ye ever knew. That’s what ye’d do--an ye know it, so
ye do. Now wouldn’t ye? Answer me that. Isn’t that jist what ye wud do?”

“Well, I suppose I would,” said Bart; “but perhaps the Indian has had
something to do.”

“The Injin. O, bah! Bother the Injin. That does to spake of in the
middle of a dark night, but not undher the bright daylight. That Injin’s
safe in his own camp by noo, I’ll warrant ye.”

By this time they were ready to start, and accordingly they set out
on their way down the stream to the rock already mentioned. It was not
quite day when they started, but by the time they reached the rock it
was full day, so that they would be able to detect any trace of Phil’s
pathway if any such trace might remain. The rock was about thirty or
forty feet high, and rose upon the edge of the river which flowed along
its base. Phil might have crossed the river, and gone down, as Pat did,
on the other side; but he chose this, probably thinking that it was only
a few steps. On reaching this place Pat was able to point out pretty
nearly the spot where he saw Phil mount the bank. Here the underbrush
seemed to show signs of having been trampled upon, and they at once
ascended the bank in this direction. For some distance the marks
continued, and they followed very carefully. At last, shortly after they
reached the top of the bank, these faint marks died out utterly, and
there remained no trace whatever of any footsteps that was discernible
to their eyes. Here, then, they paused, and again considered what they
should do.

After careful consideration of everything, it seemed to them that
the best thing for them now to do was to advance from the river bank
directly into the woods in as straight a line as possible. If they were
to do this for several miles, they might get upon the wanderer’s track.
They therefore set out, walking away from the river, trying by every
possible means to make their course a straight line. They also tore off
twigs from the trees as they went and strewed them behind them to leave
a trail. Thus they went for about half an hour. Then they began to
shout, and still going onward for another half hour, they continued
their shouts. But at the end of this time and these efforts they were no
better off than at the beginning, and to all their cries there came no
response whatever.

Here another discussion took place. It seemed to Pat that Phil must have
wandered down the stream, how far he did not know, but perhaps miles,
and that on his return he had left the river at some point, and thus
been lost. If this were so, it followed that the best place to search
for him would be the woods lying on a line with the river, and extending
along its banks. If they were now to turn to the right, they would be
going in a course parallel to the river, and through those very woods
in which it was most likely that Phil might be. Pat’s statement and
argument seemed so reasonable that Bart at once adopted it; and so, with
the utmost care, they took up a course which seemed as near as possible
at right angles with their former one, and consequently as nearly as
possible parallel with the flow of the river. In this direction they now
went, trying as before to keep a straight course, and to leave a trail
behind them. Above all, they kept shouting and calling all the time.

They went on in this course for as much as two hours with no more
success than before. They came to woods where the underbrush was so
thick, and the ground so swampy, that further progress was out of the
question. Here, then, they once more deliberated as to what they should
do. To go back seemed inexpressibly irksome, as well as useless. It
seemed better to change their course in some new direction, which might
be favorable to their hopes. On the whole it now seemed best to get
back to the river. Phil might be there somewhere along its banks. In the
evening they could go back to their former stopping-place by ascending
the course of the river. So they took up a new line of march, which
seemed to be exactly at right angles with their last one, and thus went
on.

All this time they had been taking the utmost pains to leave a trail;
but now, as they were going back to the river, it seemed no longer
necessary: so they walked along much more easily and quickly, merely
trying to make their pathway as straight as possible.

They walked on for a long time.

The river seemed much more distant than they had supposed.

Still they cheered themselves with the thought, at almost every step,
that the next step would bring them in sight of it.

One more pause.

Still the river did not appear.

Another hour passed.

Still no river.

Nevertheless they toiled on, for having set before themselves this river
as a certain place to be reached, they were not willing to stop short of
it.

But the farther they went, the more hopeless did their attempt seem.

At length there began to come over them a vague idea that they had lost
all idea of the direction of the river--that they had been wandering
in a wrong direction altogether; and this vague idea grew stronger and
stronger, and began to grow into a full conviction that they, as well as
Phil, were utterly and hopelessly lost.



IX.

_Lost--Deliberations.--Trying to regain the Course.--The Smoke of the
Burning.--The stagnant Air.--Onward.--An Opening in the Forest.--Hope
and Enthusiasm.--A Rush forward._


LOST!

Yes, Lost!

Lost in the woods!

It was Bart who first received this idea in its full force in his mind.
He stopped abruptly, and looked all around.

“Well,” said he, “it’s my opinion that we’ve been keeping this sort of
thing up too long altogether. For my part, I haven’t the faintest idea
in the world where we are. One thing is certain: we’re utterly astray in
what we may suppose to be our reckoning; and wherever the river may be,
it certainly isn’t anywhere near us. And I’m going to knock under for
the present.”

With these words, he flung himself down upon a knoll under a neighboring
tree, threw off his bag, and pitched it away to some distance from him,
and then, drawing his knees up under his chin, he sat gazing fixedly at
the ground.

“Well,” said Pat, “I’ve been thinkin that same for the last hour, sure;
but, as ye seemed inclined to laid off, an as I hadn’t anythin more to
offer, why, I jist follered afther. An sure I think it ain’t a bad idea
at all, at all, to sit down, if it’s only to rist ourselves, an take
a bite of somethin to ate, an thry to git up some schame for our nixt
attimpt.”

With these words, Pat took a seat upon the ground, and Solomon, without
any remark, sat down near them.

And there they all sat, silent, with the same thought in all their
minds; and that was, that they were utterly, completely, and hopelessly
lost in the woods. None of them felt inclined to speak. They felt
discomfited, disheartened, mortified. So this was the end of their
elaborate plans, so carefully discussed, so carefully followed--that
they who came to seek their lost friend should themselves be lost also!
They were confident that they had made some mistake somewhere, and at
some time, and they were now busily engaged in recalling the different
events of their journey, so as to see where and when the mistake had
been.

Bart thought that their mistake was in not continuing to leave a trail
behind them, after they had made the last change in their course. Up to
that time, it seemed to him that all had gone on well, and he lamented
that fatal carelessness and over-confidence that had led to this
neglect.

Pat’s idea was, that they had not calculated the direction of the river,
and that they had somehow missed it.

Solomon declared that, ever since he left the river, he hadn’t had any
idea at all of any direction.

“Dat’s so,” he said; “I heerd you go on in dem ar long-winded
’scussions bout right Sections, an poppumdiklars, an rytanglums, an
sich, but hadn’t no more notium ob whar we was goin dan a chile. An you
hadn’t nudder. Yah! yah! yah!”

Solomon’s idea was, after all, much nearer the truth than the theories
of either Bart or Pat. For although these two had supposed all the time
that they were carrying in their very clever brains a perfectly
distinct plan of their course, yet, in reality, this belief was utterly
unfounded, and the supposed plan was a mockery, a delusion, and a snare.
Here they were--lost!--that was the end of it.

For, in point of fact, their whole journey had been one constant series
of mistakes. From the first step to the last, there had been nothing but
self-delusion.

First, they had deluded themselves into the be-belief that they could
go in a straight line. Now, in those woods, there had been incessant
obstacles, in the shape of clumps of trees, underbrush, bogs, rocks,
fallen timber, and a hundred other things of a similar character, which
necessitated a departure from a straight line at every few steps. To
suppose that they could walk on, under such circumstances, in a straight
line, was absurd. The consequence was, that their course had, all along,
been exceedingly crooked, leading them towards all the points of the
compass in turns.

Another mistake which they made was, in the supposition that the river
had any definite course. They had acted on the theory, not only that
their own course was straight, but that the course of the river was
straight also. Now, this river, like every other river, had a flow in
one general direction, but its actual course was a winding one, and not
far below the rock from which they had set out, it turned in a direction
which was totally different from the one in which it was flowing when
they left it.

Thus they had been wandering in a very irregular course ever since they
started. They had gone onward for mile after mile, and every step
had carried them farther and farther away from the places in the
neighborhood of which they wished to remain, and now, at this bewildered
halt, they were in reality far, very far, away from that river which
they had believed themselves to be approaching.

Some such conviction as this came to their minds now,--that is to say,
the conviction that they had wandered far away from the river,--but
they had no idea how far away from it they really were, and they
thought--that is to say, Bart and Pat thought--that their wanderings had
begun only at their last change of course, near the wooded swamp.

Thus far, the weather had been warm, but not so sultry as on the day
before. The air appeared to have become cooled by that gentle breeze
which had sprung up in the morning. The sky, however, had been overcast
as before, and all the view overhead was covered with those rolling
smoke clouds before mentioned. They noticed this now as they sat there,
and it seemed to them that the sky was more enveloped with this sombre
covering, and that the light was dimmer, and the scene more gloomy. The
birds also seemed to have all fled away from that smoky sky.

Their long tramp had sharpened their appetites, and they now began to
think of lunch. Fortunately, Solomon, with his usual forethought, had
saved the fish that had been left from their repast on the previous
day, and these, with some sandwiches, furnished out a meal. They
were without anything to drink, however; but a little search in the
neighborhood revealed a slender rill of very warm water, which, warm
as it was, they were glad to drink. On the whole, this frugal repast
refreshed them and invigorated them; and after its conclusion, they
began to consider once more the important question of the course which
they should take next.

What perplexed them most was the impossibility of knowing anything about
the direction in which they ought to go. The points of the compass were
all unknown. North, south, east, and west were all alike a mystery.
The smoke clouds that covered the whole sky made it impossible even to
conjecture, with any approach to accuracy, the possible position of the
sun.

Their situation was perplexing in the extreme. In fact, it was a double
perplexity. They did not know where Phil was, and they did not know
where they themselves were. They wanted to find Phil; but by reason of
their loss of all knowledge of locality, they were unable to form even
a theory of the particular direction in which it might be best to
renew their search after him. And this it was that made any discussion
particularly difficult.

Then, again, though they had a distinct remembrance of the river
itself, yet they had formed no definite idea about its course. Bart
thought it ran north. Pat thought it ran south. Why they thought so,
neither could give any reason. But this mattered nothing now. Even if
they had known most perfectly the actual course of the river,--nay,
even if they had been perfectly acquainted with the geography of the
district,--it would have availed them nothing whatever in their present
position, nor could they have been in any better position to decide
about the best direction which they could take.

“We ought to be moving,” said Bart; “but where? I’m sure I don’t know.”

“Well, thin,” said Pat, “I’ll tell you what it is. Let’s be off,
and thrust to luck. Let’s walk ahead anywheres, and we’ll come out
somewheres.”

“Can’t we tell something by the clouds?” asked Bart, looking up at the
rolling masses overhead.

“Deed an I’ve thought o’ that,” said Pat, “an I’ve been watchin thim;
but sorra one o’ me can make out any thin about thim same at all, at
all. They’re jist rowlin an tumblin every which way. An that same they
were doin this mornin; for I watched thim, an cudn’t make any thin out
o’ thim at all, at all, no more’n I can now at this blissed momint. An
they won’t be afther tellin you any more’n they towld me, I’ll go bail.”

“It seems to me,” said Bart, “that they are moving in some direction.
I remember noticing this morning that they moved, or seemed to move,
across the river. Now, if the river ran north--”

“South,” interrupted Pat.

“North,” persisted Bart. “If it ran north, why, these clouds must be
moving east.”

“West,” cried Pat.

“East,” persisted Bart. “If I’m certain of anything, I’m certain that
they must be going east.”

“Deed an I’m dead sure that they’re a goin west.

“An I’m as likely to be right as you are.”

“O, well,” said Bart, “we can’t come to any decision at all.”

“Surely no; not from thim clouds,” said Pat. “For afther all, I don’t
think they’re movin anywheres. They’re jist rowlin round and round.
Niver mind thim clouds.”

“But we must go somewhere,” said Bart, impatiently.

“Deed an so we must; an so I say.”

“Then where shall we go?”

“Jist wheriver you say. You laid ahead, an I’ll toiler till the
wurruld’s ind, so I will, an that’s all about it.”

Bart now rose, and so did the others; and after a little natural
hesitation, they all set out once more upon their journey.

This journey was thus resumed on the principle that it was better to be
moving than to sit idle. Something had to be done, but what it was they
did not know. Bart had formed some vague idea of his general direction
from the clouds, and was trying now to find his way back to the
neighborhood at least of the place from which they had set out. At any
rate, he thought he would thus be more likely to come upon Phil’s
track, for this was still the idea that was uppermost in his mind. The
direction in which that place lay seemed to him to be west; and so, with
this thought in his mind, he set out and led the way.

Of course, Bart’s idea about going west was of the vaguest possible
description. Bart’s west was Pat’s east; and each of them was equally
likely to be wrong. For it might have been either north or south; and
in addition to this, there was the fact of their circuitous march, which
set straight lines at defiance, and bore them along in a winding course,
that might lead to every point of the compass in turn. However, there
was actually no other course possible, and Bart and Pat were both
satisfied; for while Bart thought he was following the course which
seemed to him best, Pat thought that they were going in no particular
direction at all, but were wandering at random. Of the two, Pat was far
more in the right. As to Solomon, it was a matter of indifference to
him, so long as Bart led the way, and so long as the aim of their march
was a search after Phil.

They walked on now in silence for some hours. The woods were just the
same as they had been all along. Sometimes they came to a wide extent of
pine trees, where the walking was easy, and they were able to maintain
some definite direction. At other times they came to woods filled
with hard-wood trees, where the underbrush was thick and the obstacles
numerous. Here they were compelled to wind along in a circuitous way,
making numerous detours to avoid dense thickets or impassable bogs.

At length the evening drew on, and all of them were nearly worn out.
It had been a long and a difficult march. They had exerted themselves
severely all that day. Besides, it was not a time that was favorable to
severe exertion, for the warmth of the atmosphere affected them all. As
the evening approached the warmth increased, for the slight breeze that
had been prevailing all the day, and mitigating the sultriness of the
weather, now died out, and at once that same oppressiveness of which
they had been aware on the preceding day made itself manifest again.
Exertion became more and more painful. Their progress became more and
more laborious, and they walked with ever-increasing difficulty. At
length Bart stopped.

“I won’t go any farther,” said he. “This isn’t much of a place to pass
the night in, but I’ve been on the lookout for the last hour, and this
is as good as any that I’ve seen. We can’t do any more to-day. So I move
that we stop here and rest, and settle down for the night.”

To this the others agreed; and so, flinging down their baskets, they
began to make preparations for the night. The preparations were simple
enough, consisting in nothing more than a collection of moss and fern
leaves, which abounded all around, and of which they soon heaped up
a quantity sufficient for their wants. After this they sat down and
partook of an evening repast from their rapidly diminishing stock of
sandwiches.

“By the powers,” said Pat, “if we’re in the wuds much longer, we’ll have
to git howld of a stock of frish provisions, so we will.”

That night they all slept soundly, for they were worn out by their long
sleeplessness and by the fatigues of their weary march. In that march
they must have traversed many miles, for they had been walking from
very early morning till dusk, with only one intermission. Their sleep,
therefore, was deep and heavy, and it lasted until comparatively late in
the following day.

On awaking they found the air oppressively close and sultry. The smoke
clouds were nearer, and appeared to touch the tree-tops. There was also
an unpleasant smell of smoke which irritated their nostrils and dried up
their throats. One thing only was evident from this, and that was, that
the woods were on fire. It also seemed equally evident that they were
approaching the scene of conflagration. It was already very oppressive,
and how much longer they would be able to maintain their journey was
a matter of doubt. Yet there was no desire to give up. The one thought
present to all of them was, that Phil was lost; and the rolling smoke
clouds now suggested to their minds a danger impending over him of which
they had not thought before. Thus far Bart had been more or less subject
to fears about the Indian’s being concerned with Phil’s disappearance;
but now, as these natural terrors were revealed, his thoughts of the
Indian gave place to others of the most painful and harassing character.
For if Phil was really lost, it amounted to this--that he was wandering
about in a burning forest, far from all hope of human aid. They
themselves had suffered, and were suffering, enough to know well what
his state must be. The lively imagination of Bart portrayed before his
mind in vivid colors the situation of poor Phil, all alone, wandering
helpless and despairing, surrounded by smoke and flames, oppressed by
the heat, and sinking under the weight of his anxiety and fatigue. His
little store of provisions must soon fail--he would not dare to stop to
try to catch fish; he would hurry on as long as strength lasted, seeking
to escape from the advancing fires. At last all strength and all hope
would fail, and a terrific fate would seize upon him.

The others had something of the same feelings about Phil, although less
vividly, and were ready to keep up the search after him as long as they
could move. So they snatched a hasty breakfast, and at once prepared
for the day’s march. That breakfast exhausted the last of their stock
of provisions, and they could only hope to reach some brook where they
might catch a few fish. At that moment, however, their thoughts about
themselves were disregarded in their anxieties about Phil; and so they
set out full of eager desire to find him before it might be too late.

Thus far they had continued to shout at certain intervals, and the last
thing on the preceding night, and the first thing on this morning, had
been a series of loud calls. But the calls had never been answered, and
Phil seemed still to be as far away from them as when they first set
out. Still it was the only thing that they could do; and so, as they
went forward on this day, they kept up, as before, their practice of
calling at certain intervals of time.

They wandered on for hour after hour. The air continued close and
sultry, and the smoke was most unpleasantly perceptible; but this,
instead of deterring them, only nerved them to fresh efforts, since
it never ceased to suggest to them the thought of poor Phil’s terrible
situation. One thing consoled them; and that was, the discovery that the
sultriness and the smoke had grown no worse since they started, but if
anything had rather lessened. This they were glad of on Phil’s account;
as for themselves, however, it was certainly bad enough, and as the
hours passed, their efforts became more and more difficult, and their
labors more overpowering.

At last the woods in front of them grew thinner, and through the trees
they were able to see more and more of the sky. To emerge from the thick
woods into any open place whatever was a pleasant thought to all of
them. They wondered what it could be. Solomon thought that it was some
barren district bare of trees, and overgrown with low brush, such as
sometimes occurs in the forest. Pat thought it was a lake, or a river,
or a swamp, or something of that sort. Bart expected to find a clearing
in the woods, and his heart beat last with joy at the idea of finding
some human being who could tell them where they where. With these
various thoughts and feelings they hurried forward.



X.

_The Opening.--The Sea, the Sea, the open Sea.--The Priest.--The Promise
of Help.--Pat takes a Walk, and passes a mysterious Building.--He takes
a Swim.--Return of Pat.--A terrific Discovery.--Pat in a Panic.--The
Scene of Horror.--Smoke and Flame.--The Fire Glow by Night._


IT was late in the afternoon when they reached that opening in the
woods which had suddenly appeared. They had been fearfully exhausted;
they had also been almost famished, and were without any prospect of
either rest or food, when that opening appeared before them. But the
sight of it acted upon them like magic, and seemed to drive away both
hunger and weariness. Instantly their pace quickened from a languid,
laborious walk to a trot, and then to a run, as they hurried forward,
eager to learn what this place might be. Bart, with his hope of finding
a settlement with living human beings, from whom he might receive
information and assistance, was most excited, and was the first to
quicken his pace; and the sight of his excited eagerness affected his
companions with the same feelings. Thus they rushed forward, and in a
short time emerged from the woods.

An open field lay before them, in which stumps arose here and there. The
field rose with a slight ascent to an elevation which shut out the scene
beyond. It was not the “Barrens,” which Solomon had expected, nor yet
the lake or swamp which Pat had mentioned. Bart had been right. It was a
space cleared by the hand of man; but still the question remained,
what kind of a settlement was it, and of what extent. For a moment they
paused as they emerged from the wood, and then they all hurried rapidly
forward.

As they hurried forward the prospect opened more and more, until they
gained the eminence; and then what a scene lay before them!

There, full before them--there, to their speechless
amazement--lay--what? Could it be possible. Did their eyes deceive them.
No. It was a fact. Yet, how amazing!

The sea!

The wide and boundless sea!

Yes, there it was, beyond the possibility of doubt--the sea--the sea
itself--no river--no lake--but the sea, and nothing else.

Overhead the smoke clouds still rolled, as before, in vast voluminous
folds, curling, and turning, and rolling, and lowering down close to the
earth, giving to all nature a gloom that was peculiar, and not without
terror. But beyond this lay the sea; and it stretched far away to the
horizon, reaching along that horizon to the right and to the left as far
as the eye could wander. It was the sea, the sea itself; and they had
wandered far from the place from which they had set out, to reach such a
goal as this.

And what was the place?

It was a settlement on the sea-shore. Between them and that sea-shore
there extended cultivated fields, and numerous houses dotted the green
meadows, and groves, and out-houses, and barns. Farther away, and nearer
the sea, they noticed a long, low, white building, that looked like a
straggling farm-house, or rather two or three farmhouses joined in one.
Some people could be seen at the door, and a high fence surrounded it.
Between this building and the place where they were standing a road ran,
and along this road some cattle were passing. Beyond the building lay
a sheet of water that looked like a harbor, between which and the sea
extended a narrow spit of land; in several of the fields cattle were
grazing; and within stone’s throw they saw a rude farm-house, built of
logs, and whitewashed.

Pat was the first to break the silence into which they had been thrown
by the utter astonishment and bewilderment of this discovery.

“Sure an it’s dead beat I am, and dumb entirely,” he exclaimed. “Ony
to think of our coming out of the wuds to the say. Sure an it must be
Miramichi itself, so it must, an we’ve been a wandherin through the
wuds sthraight back to the place we dhruv out from wid de Injin. Och,
an, be the powers, but it’s a quaire wandherin that we’ve been havin.
Och, but I’ll nivir git over this.”

“It isn’t Miramichi,” said Bart, whom Pat’s wild remarks had roused
from the stupor into which his amazement had thrown him. “It isn’t
Miramichi,” he repeated; “for that’s a river, and here we have the open
sea itself. But where in the world we have got to, and how we’ve got
here, I confess I have no more idea than a stone.”

Bart’s surprise was certainly greater than that of either of his
companions, and very naturally too. For he had thought all along that
he was going west, and that his back was turned to the sea: but now he
found that his actual course had been the very opposite of what he had
supposed, and intended it to be. He had been trying to get to where Phil
was, but now discovered that he had been going away from him all the
time.

The discovery of the truth was amazing, bewildering, and at the same
time humiliating to one who had been officiating in the dignified part
of leader in this adventurous and eventful journey. But humiliating as
it was, there was the actual fact, and it only remained to find out the
name of the place where they had so strangely arrived.

In spite of his anxiety about Phil, and his mortification about his own
mistake, Bart was not altogether without a feeling of relief at this
sight that revealed itself, for he saw human habitations at any rate;
and he thought that he would now be able not only to find out where he
was, but also, perhaps, to get assistance, and thus resume, under more
favorable circumstances, the difficult task of exploring the woods in
search of Phil.

“Well,” said he, at length, “there’s no use standing here. We’re
somewhere, and the best thing we can now do is to find out where we
are. So come along. We’re in a place where we’ll be able to get food and
shelter, at any rate.”

Saying this, he started off for the nearest house, and in a short time
reached it. At first no one was visible; but on knocking at the door a
woman made her appearance.

“We’ve lost our way in the woods,” said Bart. “Can you tell me what
place this is?”

The woman stared at him for a moment, and then at Pat and Solomon. Then
she said,--

“This place? Why, don’t you know this place? This is Tracadie.”

“Tracadie!” repeated Bart. The name was familiar to him, for he had
often seen it on the map, and had often heard it mentioned. He knew it
as a small settlement on the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, though
how in the world he could ever have wandered here still remained a
profound mystery.

Bart then informed her that one of his party had been lost in the woods,
and asked her if any boy had made his appearance, or had been heard of,
in the settlement. The woman shook her head. Upon this Bart asked her
if they could get any one in the place to help them go off in search of
their lost friend. The woman did not know, but advised them to see the
priest, and offered to take them to the priest’s house.

This house was not far away, and it did not take long to reach it.
It was a pretty little cottage surrounded by trees, situated a little
distance away from the road. Fortunately, the priest was at home. He was
a wiry little man, with a benevolent face and most engaging manners. The
moment he understood their errand, he insisted on giving them something
to eat and drink, and refused to hear anything more until they had all
satisfied their hunger.

Thus, then, they found themselves once more under a roof, after their
long and eventful wandering. This was the fourth day since their
departure from Miramichi. The first day they had driven for some twenty
miles or so, and had walked far enough to reach a point which must have
been nearly thirty miles from their starting-place. The second day they
had walked ten or twelve miles farther, to the little river, where they
had fished. The third day they had lost themselves, and had wandered
from early dawn till dusk. The fourth day they had walked since
daybreak, and had reached Tracadie towards evening. The last day had
been the most fatiguing of all; partly on account of the oppressiveness
of the atmosphere; partly because their provisions had given out, so
that they had to walk for an immense distance without any food; and
partly, also, because their hopes of finding Phil had died out, leaving
them in a state of deep depression.

On hearing their story, the priest showed the deepest sympathy, and
promised to do all that he could.

“You wish,” said he, “to go back to the woods again, and take a guide?”

“Yes, if we can find one.”

“Well, I think I know of one or two men who will be suitable; and if
they are at home, they will be able to start as soon as you wish.”

“How near do you think this fire is?” asked Bart, anxiously. “Is there
any likelihood that it is at all near?”

“I’m afraid there is,” said the priest.

“Are these woods often on fire?”

“Pretty often, in different places. These woods, in fact, are famous for
fires. You’ve heard of the Great Fire of Miramichi? I can tell you
all about that--but not now. These woods are a younger growth; the old
forest was all swept away.”

At the mention of this Great Fire, of which he had heard, Bart’s heart
sank within him. It was indeed a place of ill omen where poor Phil had
lost himself; and what chance could there be for him in the presence of
the merciless fire?

“I can’t make out the place where your friend was lost,” said the
priest; “but I dare say the men I’ll bring will be able to understand
where it is. They’ve been all through the woods in all directions,
and ought to know every stream and every rock in it. Big rocks are not
common here, and the one you speak of ought to be a very conspicuous
landmark. But I won’t delay now any longer. I’ll go off at once; and I
hope you’ll make yourselves comfortable till I return.”

The priest was a Frenchman; but he had lived here many years, and he
spoke English almost like a native. His eager offer of help and active
assistance greatly encouraged them, and they hoped for the best. Pat,
in particular, showed this feeling in the strongest manner. He had been
quite silent during the latter part of the walk, owing to fatigue and
hunger combined; but now the short rest had refreshed him, and the
repast had strengthened and cheered him. He accepted the promise of the
priest as almost a certain token of success, and at once regained all
his habitual confidence, and indulged in a long series of rattling,
joyous remarks as to Phil’s present condition, and the probable state of
his mind when they should find him.

At length he rose from his seat, and said he was going out to take a
walk. He asked Bart and Solomon to go with him; but both declined. In
spite of his long walk Pat could not sit still, but was restless and
fidgety, and wanted to be moving about, even though his legs were yet
aching from their long and arduous tramp. So, leaving Bart and Solomon,
he went out of the house and along the road. After a while he came to
another road, which led down to the water. It led to that irregular
whitewashed building which they had seen from the eminence as they first
emerged from the wood. Pat’s idea of the place was, that it was an inn;
and so he sauntered along with the intention of reaching the water and
having a swim.

As he approached the house, he noticed something very dreary and
repellent in its appearance. The high fence around the adjacent ground
gave it the air of a prison. Several people were in front of it, most
of them sitting down. As Pat passed on he noticed that some of these had
their heads bound up; others had their arms in slings; others had faces
that were pale and emaciated. All of them watched him with wistful,
curious eyes; with such looks as prisoners give through their jail
windows at the passer-by. This strange look filled Pat with still
greater surprise.

“It must be a hospital,” he thought; “but what ‘ud they be wan tin of a
hospital in a scrap of a place like this?”

“Perhaps,” he thought again, “it’s a watherin place, an these are sick
people that have come here to be thraited wid the custhomary rimidies.”

Passing by this place, he at length reached the beach, and walked along
it for some distance before he found a place which appeared altogether
suitable for his swim. About a mile away there ran a long spit of land,
which seemed to shut out this piece of water from the outer sea, and
made it seem like a lake. The water was calm and deliciously warm. Pat
sprang in, and dived, and swam, and floundered about for a long time;
and when at length he returned to the shore, he felt reinvigorated in
every limb. All his fatigue seemed to have departed, and he felt almost
fresh enough to begin a new tramp through the woods.

The priest returned after a short absence, bringing two men with him.
They were both French, and spoke only broken English. They listened to
the story of Bart, and asked a number of particular questions about the
stream and the rock. They declared that they knew the place perfectly
well; that there was only one rock of that description in the country,
and that the place was about thirty miles away; by which Bart began
to understand more clearly the full magnitude of his tramp. The men
expressed a willingness to go whenever they were wanted, and it was
finally agreed that they should start at daybreak on the following
morning. With this understanding, the men took their departure.

It was dusk when Pat returned. He came towards the house whistling as
cheerily as a bird, and the moment he entered he began telling what a
delicious walk he had had. He then thought of the strange building near
the shore, and asked the priest what it was.

“That?” said the priest. “O, that’s the Lazaretto.”

“The Lazaretto?” repeated Pat, not understanding him.

“Yes,” said the priest; “have you not heard of it?”

“The Lazaretto--niver a word surely. An what is the Lazaretto, thin?”

“O, it’s a place where we keep lepers.”

“Lepers!” cried Pat, in a voice of horror; and his ruddy face changed to
a sickly pallor.

“Lepers?” said Bart. “Lepers? What, lepers here, in this country?”

“Yes,” said the priest. “It’s a miserable story. A great many years
ago a French ship was wrecked in the Miramichi River. There were some
clothing and bedding on board that came from the Levant, and the people
here used them; and it is said that from this clothing they caught this
terrible disease. It has continued here ever since, and the place has
been established here for the poor creatures.”

“Lepers!” groaned Pat again. “An me walkin by that place, and thinkin of
goin in.”

“It’s a terrible thing,” said the priest. “The patients who go there are
dead to their friends. They never can hope to see them again.”

“Och, murdher!” cried Pat, starting up. “What’ll iver become of me? Och,
murdher! Why didn’t somebody tell me?”

“What’s the matter?” asked the priest, in surprise.

“Och, everything’s the matther. Sure, an didn’t I go an swim for over
half an hour in the leper wather, down yondher?”

“Leper water?” said the priest. “What is that?”

“Sure, the lake down there, or the cove, or whatever ye call it. Don’t
they all go there an bathe?”

“I dare say they do; but what of that?”

“Och, murdher! The wather’s all fairly pisoned wid the leprosy, an I’m
lost and gone intirely.”

“Nonsense,” said the priest; “don’t be alarmed. It isn’t contagious.”

“Sure, an how do I know that it isn’t?”

The priest smiled.

“Why,” said he, “I’m a proof of that, I suppose. I’ve lived here a great
many years, and I’ve visited the poor creatures all that time regularly.
I’ve shaken hands with them, and attended to all the duties of religion
among them, but without any evil consequences.”

As the priest said this, Pat rose slowly to his feet, with a face of
perfect horror. Even Bart experienced a slight feeling of repugnance as
he thought that he was in familiar intercourse with one who had been so
much in contact with lepers. But the priest’s calm, good-natured face,
and his assurance that the disease was not contagious, quelled his
rising fears, and the thought of that priest’s self-sacrifice made him
feel ashamed of that cowardly feeling.

But with Pat it was different. The thought that the priest had touched
the lepers; that on this very day he may have been there shaking hands
with them; that he had been coming and going for years between his house
and the Lazaretto,--all this filled him with terror. If that disease had
been originally communicated by means of clothing, why should it not
yet communicate itself in the same way? The whole house might be reeking
with the insidious seeds of the deadly disease.

The thought was too horrible.

He murmured some inarticulate words, and went out of the house.

The priest went on talking with Bart, and for a long time no notice was
taken of Pat’s absence. But hours passed, and bedtime came, and still
there were no signs of him. Bart went out to call him.

Pat was not visible; but Bart saw a sight that drove all thoughts of Pat
out of his mind. Pat, in fact, had fled, determining to sleep anywhere
rather than in the priest’s house; and so Bart saw no signs of him. But
the sight that he did see was awful beyond description.

There, where his eyes first turned, he saw the gloomy shadow of the
forest. Overhead the sky was filled with rolling smoke clouds; and
immediately above the range of the forest trees there was a long line of
red,--dull, lurid, dark,--yet sustained and unintermittent, lying like a
foundation of fire under all the moving mass of smoke.

The priest had followed him out. He looked at it for some time in
silence.

“The fire is nearer,” he said, at last.

“And there is where we must go to-morrow,” said Bart; “and Phil is
there!”

The priest said nothing.

Where--where--O, where is Phil? Such was now the one thought of Bart’s
mind.



XI.

_Where? O where is Phil?--The Wanderer in the Woods.--Struggles
with Difficulties that always increase.--Approach of
Night.--Gloom.--Despair.--Climbing a Tree.--No Hope.--Rallying from the
Assault.--A Midnight Meal.--Overworn Nature seeks Repose._


WHERE, O, where was Phil?

Had he indeed fallen a victim to the vengeance of the Indian? or had he
wandered away through those terrible woods to encounter the fires, and
to perish by them?

While Bart is racking his mind with these anxious questions, and trying
in vain to answer them, let us leave him and follow the fortunes of the
wanderer.

The rock that had risen on the shore of the river extended for about a
hundred yards. Phil could have crossed the river and gone down on the
other side, but it seemed swampy over there, and he thought it would be
easier to pass over the rock. He also thought that there might be some
view from the top which would give him a general idea of the country.

He therefore started off, and clambered to the top of the rock. On
reaching it, however, he did not find any view in particular, for the
trees around it rose so high that they intercepted the prospect. He
therefore went on, intending to reach the river again lower down.
On traversing the rock and reaching its lower end, he found that it
terminated in an abrupt precipice. This precipice here ran back from the
river into the woods, and if Phil still wished to reach the lower part
of the stream, he saw that it would be necessary to go back into the
woods till he found a place where he could clamber down the side of the
rock. He therefore set off in that direction, expecting that he would
only have to go a short distance. But the rock ran on much farther than
he had supposed; and it was still too precipitous for him to descend.
Along the edge there was a dense growth of underbrush which prevented
his walking close to it, and forced him to go along at some distance
away from it, and penetrate from time to time to the edge, to see if he
had reached any place which offered a descent.

At length the rock subsided into the ground, and then Phil was able to
seek the river. He walked along for some time in that direction, keeping
the line of rock in sight as a guide; but at length the woods became so
exceedingly dense that it was quite impossible to keep the rock in sight
always. He therefore wandered off at times to avoid difficult places,
returning again as soon as convenient to seek the guidance of his
landmark. At length he plunged into a very dense and difficult part of
the forest, where he had to make so many turns and detours to avoid the
obstacles that rose in his way, that he soon lost all idea of the right
direction. He struggled onward, however, striving to get into the open
from which he might gain sight of his rock; but the farther he went
onward, the more difficult did it seem to grow, and the less prospect
was there of any open ground. Upon this he turned, and tried to retrace
his steps, anxious at all hazards to get free from this entanglement.
But to retrace his steps was not so easy. He had got in, but to get out
was a different matter altogether. His frequent turnings and twistings
had already bewildered him; and as he had still to keep up the same
crooked course, and turn and twist as much as ever, his bewilderment
increased. Still he was not at all alarmed as yet, for the thought of
any actual danger had not begun to occur. He was only perplexed, and at
the same time slightly vexed at the continuance of the jungle into which
he had tumbled. There was no help for it, however; and so he toiled
on as well as he could, and at length, to his satisfaction, found the
underbrush diminishing very perceptibly. This discovery encouraged him,
and he kept on in this direction, for now his chief desire was, first of
all, to get to some place where he could regain sight of the rock; and
so he walked on as rapidly as possible, until at length the woods became
sufficiently open to make his progress as easy as he could expect.

It seemed to him now that he had been a long time wandering, and he
began to be anxious to discover the rock. How to do so he did not know,
and could only think of climbing a tree so as to take a survey of
the country. Unfortunately none of the trees were very large; but he
selected the tallest one that he could find, and climbed up as high
as he could. He now looked all around. The prospect gave but little
satisfaction. On every side other trees arose above the level of his
outlook, and shut out from view the scene beyond. He therefore learned
nothing whatever from this survey, and was compelled to descend
disappointed. What now to do became a serious question. There was the
rock, and there was the river, either of which it would be equally
advisable to regain; but in what direction did they lie? It seemed to
him that the rock ought to be west of his present position, and the
river south. If he could go either westward, or southward, or in any
intermediate direction, he would regain his course. Yet that was the
very thing that he was unable to do. He had no compass, and now bitterly
regretted that he had not brought one. Overhead there was nothing that
could afford him any assistance, for the sky was all overspread with
that smoke which he had noticed all along, and the sun could not be
seen. There was nothing left, therefore, but bare conjecture.

He now tried, as far as possible, to recall his confused wanderings.
Although he could not, of course, recall the details of his journey,
yet, as he thought it over, it seemed to him that, on the whole, he had
been making progress in some one direction, and that, if he could but go
back, he would be more likely to reach the river or the rock than in any
other way. As he looked back over his course, it seemed to him that the
west lay there, and to the left of that was the south; so that if he
could now only effect some progress in that direction, all would be
well. He therefore made up his mind to go back again, as far as going
back over his lost track was possible; and as he could not think of
plunging again into that thicket, he thought that when he reached it he
would turn to the left, and avoid it if possible in that way.

Accordingly, he now set out in the endeavor to go back on his path. No
vestige of anything like a trail appeared to him, nor was there a single
thing that he remembered having seen before. He walked on now for a long
time, expecting every moment to reach that tangled thicket which he
had considered as the chief difficulty in his way back. To his utter
amazement, he came across no tangled thicket of any kind whatever. The
woods, instead of growing denser, seemed to grow more open, and his
progress grew easier. The woods now were precisely like what they had
been daring their walk early in the day.

At first he felt only surprise; but soon surprise deepened into
uneasiness, and uneasiness into anxiety. Where was he? In what direction
was he going? What should he do if he were going wrong? Such were the
thoughts that came to him. At length his anxiety grew so strong, and
he became so convinced that his course was altogether wrong, that he
stopped, and again tried to think how he might rectify his error. Once
more he climbed a tree, but with the same result as before. The tops
of other trees were all around. Nothing appeared which could act as a
guide. Overhead, the smoky covering which overspread the skies shut out
all traces of the sun; and when he descended to the ground, there began
to dawn upon him the conviction, which grew stronger and stronger every
moment, that he was actually lost! hopelessly and utterly lost! and
that, too, in a trackless and uninhabited forest.

His only hope was, that he had not gone very far away, but was still, if
not within sight of his friends, at least within hearing. So upon this
he began to do what he now knew he ought to have done before. He began
to call in a loud voice after Pat, and Bart, and Solomon. After each
call he stopped and listened for an answer. But no answer came, and his
own calls echoed far away through the forest aisles, and it was only the
mocking sound of these echoes that came to his ears. Still he thought
that if he persevered long enough, some response must finally come. He
thought they must be near enough to hear him, but were too intent upon
their fishing to think of him, or to notice his cries. Besides, he
took comfort in the thought that they had not yet missed him, and
consequently would not be on the alert. His cries might be faint in
their ears, and not excite any notice.

The time passed, and still he kept up his cries. He called in every
possible tone, and made use of every shout that his voice could compass,
sometimes calling their names, sometimes uttering shrieks, and howls,
and shrill yells. But all these were unavailing, and he was at last
compelled to desist, from utter weariness and loss of voice.

And now he noticed that it began to grow darker. At first this discovery
gave him an unpleasant shock, but immediately he began to find comfort
in this circumstance.

“When it grows dark,” he thought, “they’ll miss me, and they’ll come to
hunt me up. They’ll hear me if I call--or, better yet, they themselves
will now do the shouting, and I’ll hear them.”

With this thought he kept perfectly still. The darker it grew, the more
intently did he listen; for he was convinced that by this time they must
have discovered his absence, and must be searching after him. The only
thing that troubled him was the remembrance of his last words to Pat.
He had told Pat that he was going down the stream, and they might make
their first search after him in that direction, and this he did not
think would bring them within hearing; for though he had no idea where
he was, he still had every reason to believe that he was nowhere near
the river.

It now grew darker and darker; yet still to his strained ears there had
not come a single sound to tell him that his friends were near; not a
single cry, however faint, however remote, to make known to him that
they were on the search after him. As the time passed away, the long,
long suspense and the protracted disappointment began to fill him with
the deepest gloom--and he began to know to its fullest extent that
“agony of hope deferred that maketh the heart sick.” At length it grew
so dark, that even his hope, tenacious as it was, could no longer shut
out from his mind the conviction that whatever anxiety his friends might
feel, it was simply impossible for them at this time to make any search
whatever. If they had missed him, and had sought for him, they must have
gone in a direction different from that in which he had gone, and must
have been altogether out of hearing.

As soon as he fully recognized this fact, all his energies gave way,
and he sank down upon the ground. Not until this moment had he known how
exhausted he was, and how oppressive the sultry atmosphere. Thus far his
excitement, first to regain his lost path, and latterly to communicate
with his friends or hear from them, had so taken possession of him,
that heat or fatigue, or any other bodily sensation, was not noticed.
Anxiety, eager effort, pertinacious hope,--all these had by turns
influenced him; but now, as there seemed no further chance either for
action or for expectation, his strength collapsed, and he gave way
utterly. He lay upon the ground, his head resting upon some moss,
and yielded himself up both in mind and in body to the misery of his
situation. The severe exertions that he had made had utterly exhausted
him; the conflict of soul that he had endured, had intensified that
exhaustion; and for a long time he remained motionless, gasping for
breath, and in a state of utter despair.

Now, the night came down--sultry, torrid, oppressive, suffocating. Its
intense blackness covered everything in an impenetrable veil. Its effect
upon the others has already been described, and upon Phil it
produced results more fearful still. Had it not been for that unusual
oppressiveness and that Egyptian darkness, he might have roused himself;
but as it was, he gave up utterly, and remained sunk in the profoundest
despair for hours.

At length a change came over him. In spite of the heat of the night, the
long rest had been beneficial, and it was not in the nature of things
that emotions so strong should last very long. Phil’s mind was buoyant,
his temper cheerful, and hope was always strong in his soul. As he lay
there sleepless, his thoughts began to revolt against the gloom that had
overwhelmed him.

“What a fool I am!” he thought, rousing himself, and sitting up. “After
all, what is it? and why should I knock under this way? Me, too--of all
fellows! after that tremendous adventure at the Falls.”

The moment his thoughts reverted to that fearful adventure his gloom
vanished. He now recalled the incidents of that terrific event. He
thought of the frenzied struggle against the grip of the resistless
waters; he thought of the wild plunge into the seething flood, and of
that horrible moment when the rolling torrents overwhelmed him, and
hurled him downward into awful depths. Then he recalled the events of
their drift down the harbor, and out towards the bay, when there seemed
not the faintest chance of escape.

In comparison with this his present situation seemed trifling. To be
lost in the woods, what was that? Was it equal to being lost in the
terrible tide, and environed in impenetrable fogs? Could it under any
possibility be so bad as being swept out to sea, a helpless victim of the
pitiless waves? There was no comparison between the two cases.

And now his depression fled, and the buoyancy of his soul lifted him up
to hope. He began to think over his prospects cheerfully, and to make
plans about the following day. As soon as daylight came, his friends
would at once come in search of him. He would listen and hear their
calls. If he could not think of any direction in which to go, he could
wait. But as to that, he did not expect to be so puzzled as he had been.
The sun would surely shine, and that would give him an idea of east,
west, north, and south. He might then choose his route, and follow it
up. If his friends did not come, he could go off himself, and doubtless
he would reach some place eventually. He might find some stream, and
follow it to its mouth, where there would be sure to be a settlement;
or perhaps he might light upon some clearing in the woods where he might
obtain help, and perhaps regain his friends.

Thus Phil’s thoughts grew more and more cheerful; and he looked forward
most hopefully, and persisted in putting the best appearance on things.
At length he began to think that his long fast was not good for him,
especially as he might have some hard work to do on the morrow; so he
opened his basket, and taking out his sandwiches that he had carried
there all the day, he made a hearty meal. The effect was most
beneficial; the hollow, craving, gnawing feeling that had distressed him
passed away, and was succeeded by a sense of comfort.

And now drowsiness began to steal over him. He had satisfied his hunger;
he had overcome by his long rest the first painful exhaustion and
fatigue consequent upon his severe exertions; above all, his mind had
attained a pleasant state of cheerfulness and hope. There were no longer
any despairing thoughts or terrible fears to excite him and keep him
awake; and so at length he fell into a sound and refreshing sleep.



XII.

_The Wanderer on his winding Way.--The Bewilderment of the
Forest.--Swamps and Bogs.--? The friendly Brook.--Following the Flow
of the running Water.--A pleasant Course.--An encouraging
Discovery.--Astray once more.--He sinks to Rest.--The last Sandwich._


IT was very late when Phil fell asleep, and his fatigue and exhaustion
combined to make his sleep heavy and prolonged. As there were no sounds
to break in upon his slumbers, he continued sleeping until late on the
following day. On awaking he raised himself up, and looked around in
surprise, for in his dreams he had been wandering among familiar scenes,
and it was some time before he could comprehend his present situation.
But his mossy bed at the foot of a large maple tree, and the woods that
extended all around on every side, soon enabled him to recall the events
of the preceding day, and to understand how he came here.

These recollections were not cheerful, nor was it a pleasant change to
turn from happy dreams to such an awakening as this; yet Phil was not
cast down. He still felt the beneficial effect of those better thoughts
of the night before; and still retained that buoyancy of spirit and that
hopefulness which he had felt on going to sleep.

And now another day had dawned, with its possibilities for good and
evil. His watch told him, to his amazement, that it was after ten
o’clock. Ten o’clock! After ten o’clock, and yet no signs of Bart
and the others! What did this mean? Had they neglected him so long?
Neglected him? No. They could not do that; but was it not possible that
during his sleep they may have wandered about these woods near him, and
called to him while he could not hear them? This was a most distressing
thought, and if such a thing had happened, its result would bring a
twofold evil; for in the first place, he would have missed the chance of
deliverance, and in the second place, they would not be likely to pass
by here again. But these thoughts were not of a kind that he chose to
entertain. He was in no mood now to sink into despondent inaction.
He was tired of this place, and was anxious to leave it. He was also
wearied of inaction, and was eager to do something. Far better did
it seem to him to do anything, and go anywhere, even if he should be
unsuccessful, than to remain here waiting for those who might never
come. So he at once dismissed all idle thoughts and useless regrets, and
addressed himself to the task of arranging his own course of action.

He saw at once that the points of the compass were as much a mystery as
ever. The first glance upward showed him that the sky was darker than
ever, that its covering was more opaque, that the smoke was nearer
to the earth. The air also, was close and oppressive. The sun was not
visible, and therefore his hope failed of finding some course which he
might pursue by this means. What, then, was he to do?

The first thing that he decided on doing was, to take his breakfast.
Now, he had eaten pretty freely on the preceding night, and therefore it
was with some concern that he opened his basket and examined his stores.
That concern was certainly not at all lessened when he found that he had
only two sandwiches left.

Two sandwiches!

Rather a small supply of provisions for one who was lost in the midst of
the forest, and had no idea whatever when he might be able to find his
way out. Phil would not allow himself to feel anxious about this, yet at
the same time he was prudent enough to look out for the future; and so,
though he was hungry, and felt the need of a good breakfast, yet he did
not feel inclined to devour all of his slender stock at that one meal.
He chose rather to exercise some self-denial; and so he contented
himself with only one sandwich, and put the other back, reserving it for
a time of need.

He now felt thirsty, and began to look around for water. He could not
find any for a long time. Meanwhile, as he walked about, the exertion
made him much more sensitive to the closeness and heat of that torrid
atmosphere, and so aggravated his thirst that it began to torment him
to an intolerable degree. At length, to his great joy, he found a swampy
place; and, stooping down, he tore out the moss and sods, and scooped up
the black mud that was underneath, until at last some black, discolored
water appeared. He took a few mouthfuls of this without hesitation, and
then, scooping out some more mud, he waited till the water should grow
clearer. The particles of mud after a time settled at the bottom, and
the water became clear enough for Phil to drink it; and though it was
disagreeably warm, it yet refreshed him.

He now resumed his course. This swamp lay in a slight hollow, and
seemed to extend for some distance. He was loath to leave it, for the
remembrance of his recent sufferings was strong within him; and so he
walked along the swampy hollow. To his surprise it extended for a long
distance, and to his great gratification the moisture of the ground
increased, until at length the bog became more and more marshy, and
pools of standing water became visible. He skirted the edge of the
swamp, still walking on, and at length reached a place where a small
brook flowed on out of this swamp into the woods. Along this he walked
for a little distance, and then took another draught of the water,
which he now found quite pure, and not so warm as to be unpleasant. Much
refreshed, he sat down by its edge, and once more began to deliberate
about the best course that he could take.

He did not like the state of things altogether. It was bad enough to be
lost in the forest; but there were other things superadded which made
his situation far worse. For he now felt the oppressiveness of the air
most painfully, and the exertion of walking was far more exhaustive
than he had ever known it before. Besides, the atmosphere had a smoky
character, which was distressing, and the thick smoke clouds overhead
showed that something was going on in these woods that might ere long
make his situation much worse. There was, indeed, something ominous in
that sickly, leaden sky, in those rolling smoke clouds that hung so
low, in this suffocating air which he could not breathe with
comfort,--something ominous in the oppressive heat, and in the
stagnation of the atmosphere. There was, however, a breeze; its signs
were visible overhead, but the woods were so dense that he could not
gain any benefit from it. What the meaning of it all might be, he could
easily conjecture; but the thought was too formidable to be entertained,
and so he tried to dismiss it from his mind.

And now, while he thought of what he ought to do, a plan of action
suggested itself which was so-simple, so feasible, and so full of
promise, that he at once caught at it and proceeded to act upon it. This
plan was nothing else than to follow the course of the brook. It would
of course enlarge as it ran on. It might lead into a larger stream, and
that stream would be sure to bring him out somewhere. Besides, to be
near a stream would be of great advantage in many ways. It would be more
open, and lighter, and more airy than the thick recesses of the forest;
its bed would offer a comparatively easy footpath, except where it might
become too strong or swampy; and he would always be in the neighborhood
of water.

On this idea he proceeded at once to act, and so resumed his journey,
walking in the bed of the little brook. The bottom afforded an easy
path; and though the water was over his ankles, yet its coolness was
refreshing, and served to alleviate very materially the effects of the
sultry atmosphere.

But on resuming his course, Phil saw that if he hoped to make any real
progress, he must divest himself of all useless encumbrances. His basket
and his fishing-rod were of this description. He therefore sacrificed
both of them to the necessities of the occasion; but before he threw
them down, he removed the hook and line from the rod, so as to have it
in case of need. And now, as he went on, he felt the benefit of this
disencumbrance; for the weight and inconvenience of these had been
excessively troublesome all along. Yet the line and hook were the only
essential part of the rod, and the sandwich was the only necessary part
of the basket; and these things were carried far more conveniently in
his pocket.

The brook flowed on, and gradually increased in volume by the occasional
addition of other brooklets, which joined it in its course. The channel
grew broader, and the waters grew more abundant, sometimes spreading
themselves out wide over a pebbly bottom, at other times collecting
into deep pools, which Phil preferred avoiding. In spite of the
irregularities and inequalities of its course, Phil preferred walking
here to wandering at random through the woods; in the first place, on
account of the reasons above mentioned; and in the second place, for the
reason that it led to some definite point, and would not allow him to
wander about blindly in a circle. The hopeless bewilderment which
had resulted from his forest wanderings on the previous day, made his
present course seem quite certain and definite in comparison.

At last, to Phil’s great delight, the brook joined another brook, which
was fully twice as large, though not as large as that stream where he
had been fishing. A vague hope had arisen in his mind that this brook
might lead him to that very stream, in which case he counted confidently
on finding his friends; but now he had walked so far that he gave up
this hope altogether, and had made up his mind to seek his own safety,
irrespective of his friends. The new brook was quite as easy as the old
one; in fact, it was somewhat more so, for it was less irregular, and
presented fewer inequalities of depths. Over its bed, then, Phil trudged
on, sometimes stopping to dash water over his face and head, at other
times thrusting in his hands, and occasionally bending down to take a
drink. The presence of the brook thus proved of the greatest advantage
to him, and its cool waters prevented him from feeling that exhaustion
under which he might otherwise have sunk utterly. In the broader pathway
that this brook afforded, he had also the chance of gaining advantage of
any slight breeze or movement of the air that might take place; and thus
in every way he was a gainer.

At length he came to another brook, into which this one discharged
itself. The new brook was very much larger; and though not quite so
large as the stream where they had been fishing, still it was not much
smaller. At first the only thought that came to Phil was, that he had
come back to this very stream itself from which he had started; but
soon, as he came to reflect upon the length of his wanderings, and upon
the probability that many streams ran through the forest, he gave up
this idea, and contented himself with following out the plan that he had
adopted. This stream he thought might lead to some larger one, and
that larger one to some river, which might eventually bring him to the
habitations of man.

The fresh hopes that were now aroused within him lessened his fatigue,
and stimulated him to new efforts. The bed of this stream was shallow
and pebbly, sometimes deepening into pools, at other times bringing him
into the midst of swamps, and grasses, and rushes; but, on the whole,
it was no more difficult than its predecessor had been; and his progress
was very satisfactory.

At length he came to a place where he saw something that sent a thrill
of joy through his whole being.

It was a path!

It was an unmistakable path, narrow and rough, it is true, yet still a
path. It seemed like one of those roads which are used in winter to draw
logs out of the woods, or fuel; yet whatever its purpose might be, there
it was; and here at last Phil saw something that proved that he was
not cut off altogether from all association with human kind. That
path seemed to promise escape, and seemed to lead him forth from the
wilderness track to life and liberty.

He stood and looked at it long and carefully. It ran across the brook,
and on either side it presented the same appearance. The question that
now arose in his mind was, which side should he choose--the right or the
left? There was nothing in the path that helped him to a decision; no
footmarks were visible to show him where to go; he was left altogether
to chance and to his own instincts.

At length he decided to take the path on the right hand side, and
accordingly he at once went on in this direction. The path was about
six feet wide, and was comparatively smooth; so smooth, indeed, that
it seemed almost luxurious when compared with the irregularities of the
brook, with its alternations of gravel and swamp, which was also deep
in water. Here, then, Phil walked along rapidly, and was so full of hope
that at every turn in the path he expected to see some house.

The path, as has been said, seemed like one of those which are used in
the winter only for lumbering purposes. At the present time it bore
no marks whatever of recent use. No traces of wheels were visible,
no footprints of any kind; yet it was level, for the ordinary
irregularities seemed to have been smoothed away by the attrition of
logs which had been hauled over it.

Phil walked on for several hours. He was very much fatigued; but
the new excitement that had arisen consequent upon this discovery had
prevented him from giving way to his weariness, and had, in fact,
roused him above it to such an extent that he was unconscious of it.
His expectation of meeting with some signs of humanity clung to
him incessantly as he walked along; and though he was constantly
disappointed, yet he constantly hoped, and persisted in the hope, in
spite of disappointments.

At length, it began to grow darker, and he saw that evening was coming
on. He had been walking incessantly, with but one short rest, ever
since eleven o’clock. Under ordinary circumstances he could not have
maintained such a prolonged effort; and had he not met with this path
he would have sought rest long before this. But his intense desire to
escape, which had been stimulated by this discovery of the path, drew
him on, and nerved him to new efforts. At the end of each hour he still
hoped that the next hour would bring something; and so he kept on even
after the darkness began to deepen. Now, as the darkness increased, the
path grew less and less perceptible, and at last he happened to get out
of it at a place where there was a wide opening in the woods. Leaving
it here, he wandered about until he discovered that he had lost it
altogether. On making this discovery, he made no effort either to
retrace his steps, or to find out the lost path. He was too much worn
out to think of doing either. He simply gave up.

A moss-covered mound was close beside him; and taking a seat here, he
determined to remain for the night, and leave all further effort for the
following day. He was fearfully fatigued, and utterly worn out. When
he gave up he gave up completely. His only thought now was for his
immediate wants, and those wants comprised the two essentials of food
and rest. Rest he could find here, on the mossy mound, under the forest
trees. As to food, thanks to his forethought and self-denial in the
morning, something yet remained. It was that sandwich which he had
reserved for a time of need. The time of need had come, and he drew the
sandwich from his pocket.

He looked at it for a moment solemnly and thoughtfully. It was his last
sandwich--the very last of his little stock of provisions. Should he eat
it all, or should he still preserve a little of it? It seemed unwise
to eat it all. He broke it into two portions, and wrapping one up
carefully, he proceeded to eat the other. But on eating this he found
his appetite unappeased, and his craving for more was irresistible. He
unwrapped what he had reserved and looked at it. Should he eat it? Dare
he eat it? To eat it would be to deprive himself of his last mouthful,
and on the following morning he would have nothing with which to begin
the day.

[Illustration: 0187]

He looked at that small fragment of food with longing eyes, and the
longer he looked at it the more tempting did it seem, and the more
irresistible did the temptation grow. At last he thought that it would
be better to strengthen himself now after his long journey, and secure a
good night’s rest.

On the morrow he could look out for food and get something to
eat--somewhere, he knew not where--somehow, he knew not how. This
thought appeased his cautious scruples. He hesitated no longer, but ate
what remained of the sandwich.

And so his last particle of food was gone.

But he gave no thought to this. He was too tired, and worn out with
exhaustion he lay down and fell asleep.



XIII.

_Clouds and Vapors.--The exhaustive Heat.--Thirst.--Muddy Water.--The
Pangs of Hunger.--How to fish.--The River.--The placid Lake.--A
Plunge into the Water.--The Midday Mead.--The Pine Woods.--The rocky
Cavern.--Preparing a Night’s Rest.--The Evening Repast.--Night once
more._


ON waking the next morning, Phil’s first impulse was to look above
and around to see what might be the prospects for the day. To his
disappointment he found those prospects not at all changed for the
better. Overhead he saw the rolling smoke clouds, which now were
gloomier and denser than before, and still nearer the earth. The
atmosphere caught from them a very perceptible odor, which showed the
character of the clouds above, and was pungent enough to create some
degree of irritation in the nose and throat. The spot where he was
appeared to be somewhat more open than usual, and in some directions he
could look over a space several rods in extent. In this direction the
smoke haze was very apparent.

He felt both hungry and thirsty. But he had nothing whatever to eat, and
knew it. He had eaten his last mouthful the evening before, and there
was nothing whatever left now to satisfy the demands of his appetite.
But for the present his thirst was stronger than his hunger; and so
parched was his throat, and so painful was his craving for water, that
he at once started up, and set out in search of some.

His object was now to regain that path which he had lost the night
before, and follow it until he might find another brook, or at least a
swamp. But though he sought most diligently, and most thoroughly, in
all directions, still he could find no trace of it whatever. Bitter
experience had already taught him his own utter incapability of finding
his way back through these woods to any point from which he might have
wandered, and so he soon gave up this search as useless: but in addition
to this, his thirst was altogether too pressing to allow of any search
after lost paths. The one thing of his desire became water, and so he
turned his attention towards finding this first necessity. He did not
have to undergo a very long trial. The woods were intersected in many
places by small brooklets, and before long he came to a bog, in which
he obtained sufficient water to allay his thirst. By carefully examining
this, he found a place which was the outlet of a brook, and he now
pursued the same course which had been followed by him the day before;
that is, he walked along in the bed of the brook, hoping that it would
lead to a stream.

As he walked along it grew larger and larger; other brooks joined it;
and at length it ran into a stream which was quite as large as that one
from which he had originally wandered. On reaching this he sat down on
the bank and rested. The stream was about a dozen yards wide here, and
the waters were shallow, running on among gravel and cobble stones. The
banks were bordered with trees, which rose to the height of about forty
feet, and threw their branches across the stream till they nearly met.

Sitting here and resting, Phil began to feel more hungry than ever. His
walk had only served to sharpen his appetite, and the alleviation of his
thirst had brought out his hunger more prominently. And now what could
he do? To struggle forward all day without anything to eat would be
almost impossible. Already he felt exhausted from his walk thus far
without food; and to commence again seemed out of the question. In his
hunger he now tried to find something in the woods. He tore up some
grass, and chewed the roots; he peeled off some maple bark, and tried
to chew this; but the grass roots and the maple bark had no perceptible
effect in diminishing his hunger. At last he thought of his fishingline,
which he had carried with him after throwing away the rod. Wondering why
he had been so stupid as not to think of this before, he proceeded
to search for a suitable rod. This he found after a short time, and
attaching the line to the end of it, he proceeded to try his skill at
fishing. He walked down the stream for some distance, but for some time
he met with no success. He began to feel a little alarm, and to think
that the heat and the smoke prevented the fish from rising, when
suddenly, in the midst of his discouragement, he felt a nibble at
the hook. He jerked it up, but missed his prey that time; still the
circumstance encouraged him greatly, for it showed him that there was
hope, and he continued his task with fresh spirit. At length, to his
intense delight, he jerked out a fish. It was quite small, but still it
was indescribably welcome; and without waiting any longer, Phil at once
proceeded to kindle a fire. He did this with little difficulty, and
placing the fish on the blazing sticks, he watched it until it seemed
sufficiently cooked to be eaten. Although his hunger had made him too
impatient to wait till the fish was thoroughly cooked, yet that same
hunger made him indifferent to little deficiencies of this sort, and
the half-raw trout seemed to him, without exception, the most delicious
morsel that he had ever eaten. He now resumed his rod, and before long
hauled out another, which was soon followed by another, and yet another.
By this time the fire had died down to the coals, and on these Phil laid
his fish. This time he waited until they were so thoroughly cooked that
they would have satisfied the most fastidious appetite. On these Phil
made a right royal repast; and this supply of food seemed to him to be
sufficient for any effort that he might have to make that day. Before
starting, however, he was provident enough to wait until he had caught
three more trout, so as to secure himself from again coming so close to
absolute starvation as he had been that morning; and then, putting these
in his pocket, he rolled up very carefully his precious hook and line,
and once more resumed his journey.

He had thus been able to satisfy both that thirst and that hunger which
had each assailed him so fiercely on his first awaking; and this
fact gave to him a glow of satisfaction, and a confidence in his own
resources, which dispelled the last vestige of his gloom, and filled him
with energy, and hope, and cheerfulness. In this frame of mind he set
out on the renewal of his journey, not knowing any better than before
where he was going, yet hoping for the best.

The brook ran on for some miles, receiving other brooks, and growing
gradually larger. As a general thing, its bed afforded a sufficiently
easy pathway for Phil to traverse, without any unusual exertion, and
was preferable, on the whole, to the forest with its underbrush.
Occasionally, however, he was able to take advantage of favorable
openings among the trees, and on several occasions gained very much
by taking short cuts, and avoiding certain bends in the river. On such
short cuts it is needless to say that he never ventured, unless he was
able to see plainly where he was going. In this way he went on for some
hours, and in that time he certainly succeeded in getting-over a large
extent of ground.

But such exertions as these were not made easily; and soon the energy
with which he had started began to relax. He became more sensitive to
the heat, and it seemed to him that the smoke was growing more dense and
more distressing. He began to think that he must be drawing nearer to
the fires from which all this smoke and this oppressive heat arose.
The thought was a most disheartening one; for if it were true, it would
transform what seemed to be his pathway to safety into a blind rush
to danger, and make of no avail all his long struggles that he had
put forth so perseveringly. It was a thought, indeed, which was too
depressing for him to entertain, and so he strove to drive it from his
mind; but it was one of those unpleasant ideas which cling to the mind
in spite of itself, and so, notwithstanding Phils efforts to hope for
the best, there lowered over him a very dark and dismal foreboding that
his present course would at length bring him face to face with the fire.

And what then?

All, that he could not tell.

Should he turn back now? No; that was a thing which he could not bear to
think of. Wherever he was going, he could not turn back yet--not till he
was convinced that it was all wrong--not till the very presence of the
fire itself should force him to give up all hope of farther progress in
this direction.

In spite of his surroundings of oppressive heat and distressing smoke,
of rough pathways and alternating wood and water,--in spite of his
fatigue of body, and despondency of mind,--Phil still kept on his
course, and struggled most heroically to maintain his onward march,
wherever it might lead. At length he reached a place where the stream
ran in almost a straight line for a considerable distance; and looking
down this, he could see at the farthest extremity the smoky haze; but
at the same time he felt confident that it was not a whit denser than it
had been in the morning. This discovery encouraged him; and now, if
he felt the smoke and the heat more keenly, he was able, with great
apparent reason, to attribute it solely to his own weariness of body.

“I will rest soon,” he thought. “I will take a long rest, and get
something to eat, and that will be sure to restore me.”

With this thought he went on; and though he had made up his mind to
rest, yet he kept constantly postponing the period of that rest. At
length the stream took a turn round a wooded declivity, and as Phil went
up this to cut across, he suddenly beheld lying immediately in front of
him a small lake, into which the stream ran.

The sight of this at once decided him to make this wooded declivity his
resting-place. So he took his seat here on the shore, and looked out
upon the scene before him. The lake was of no very great extent, and was
surrounded on all sides by trees. In front of Phil the beach was pebbly,
and the waters clear and transparent; but on the right there was a wide
extent covered over with green rushes, and water lilies, both yellow and
white. As Phil looked forth upon this pleasant scene, the waters seemed
so inviting and so clear, that he determined to take a bath. No sooner
had he thought of this than he was on his feet again, and in a very
short time had divested himself of his clothes and plunged in.

He plunged down into those sweet, clear, tranquil waters. As his head
sank under the embrace of the cool flood, it seemed to convey new life
and strength to every fibre of his wearied frame. It was one delicious
moment in a day of toil and trouble. He struck out and swam far off into
the middle of the lake. Then he dived again and again; and then, rolling
over on his back, he lay floating, with his eyes closed, and his form
reposing luxuriously upon its soft, watery couch. The water here was
sufficiently clear and sufficiently deep for his purposes, the rushes
and lilies were over upon the shore on one side, and there was nothing
to mar his enjoyment. Here he forgot the heat and the smoke. The cool
waters took away from him all that sense of oppression which he had so
long felt, and when he at length landed, it was as though he had enjoyed
some prolonged rest for hours, or some profound and refreshing slumber.

Now he resumed his clothes, and thought of those fish which he had been
carrying. On examining them, he found them slightly stale, yet not at
all crushed, and thereupon he proceeded to kindle a fire upon the shore
of the lake. Thus far he had found no difficulty in making his fires,
for he had matches with him, and there was no lack of dry twigs; so, in
a short time, a fire sufficient for his purposes was blazing merrily.
Phil was in no hurry; so, lying down near it, and leaning on one elbow,
he watched it lazily, until sufficient coals had been formed, upon which
he might lay his fish.

The fish this time were even superior to what they had been on a former
occasion, for Phil’s practice had shown him, to some extent, how they
could be broiled to the best advantage. All that they needed was a
little salt and pepper; but he was too hungry to miss either of those
seasonings. He found, indeed, in his case, the truth of the old saying,
that hunger is the best relish; and never in his life had he eaten any
meal with half the zest that he had known at the eventful meals of this
eventful day. A draught of water from the running stream completed his
repast, and he now lay down refreshed, and began to meditate over his
journey. He had now rested for nearly two hours, and he began to feel
like resuming his march. It would be necessary, he saw, to walk around
the lake till he found its outlet, and then go along as before, and keep
on as long as his strength might hold out.

Once more, then, he rose strong, eager, resolute, and cheerful, hoping
for the best, and willing to go on in this course until he reached some
destination, wherever that might be. He walked along the lake shore, and
on reaching the other end, he found the outlet. This was nothing more
than a continuation of the stream down which he had been going,
but there was more water, for the lake probably received other
contributions; and what was more important, the bottom was muddy.
Fortunately, however, the woods here were free from underbrush, so that
he had no difficulty in walking through them, keeping the stream in
sight. After going about a mile or so, he found, to his great delight,
that he had come to a pine forest. To him, after his long, rough walk,
this fact gave the greatest possible joy. For now the trees rose up
around him at wide intervals, and no tangled underbrush stood in his
way, forcing him to wind through them or lose himself in the attempt to
go around it. The pine forest allowed him to choose his own course and
walk almost as freely as though he were in an open field. Besides, the
ground under his feet gave a firm foothold. It was not like the soft
moss or long ferns of the other woods; it was not like the pebbly bed of
the stream; it was hard, and smooth, and afforded an easy pathway.

As Phil went on, he noticed that the stream grew much wider, though it
still remained shallow. Its waters flowed sometimes in the middle of the
bed, sometimes on the right bank, and sometimes towards the left; while
again they distributed themselves over the whole of its wide bed, and
brawled, and gurgled, and bubbled onward among the stones and pebbles
with which its bed was again filled. At one place its channel divided,
and a little island covered with trees arose in the midst, while the
waters, after flowing past in two streams, once more reunited. About a
half mile below this another stream joined it, and the waters were very
considerably increased.

Phil walked along for several hours, and at length began to feel once
more that excessive weariness which he had felt before bathing in the
lake. Once more the atmosphere grew exceedingly oppressive, and the
smoke distressed him. At length he came to a ledge of rocks, by the
borders of the stream. As he came up he noticed something like an
opening, and walked towards it. He saw that a huge mass of rock lay
tilted over and resting against another mass in such a way that it
formed a covered chamber about ten feet long and six feet wide. The
floor was a flat, rough rock, and the end consisted of damp moss.
Immediately beside this the stream flowed along in a deeper channel than
usual, for all its waters had gathered on this side, leaving the rest of
its bed bare. Phil was so struck with the appearance of this place that
he examined it quite closely, and began to think that it would be an
excellent place to pass the night in. He could not have found it at a
better time. Already it was growing a little dusk, and he was thoroughly
worn out. In fact he was so tired that after stopping here one minute he
found it impossible to go forward any farther; so he at once resolved to
stay.

On the top of the rock was a quantity of moss, and as he was going
to pass the night here he proceeded to gather it, and collected a
sufficient quantity to make a comfortable couch when strewed on the
rocky floor of his little cave. But there were other things to do before
he should be able to rest. He was once more in a state of starvation,
and the only thing for him to do was to resort to his fishing-line. He
found a pole without much trouble, and then threw his line. At first he
met with no success. But he persevered, and walked farther up the stream
till he came to a place that looked more favorable. Here his efforts
were crowned with success, for in a little time he had hooked no less
than six trout, one of which was large enough for a meal by itself.

After this he took a bath in the running stream, and felt once more the
same invigorating and restorative effects from the cool water which he
had experienced during his bath in the lake.

Then he kindled his fire on the edge of the stream, near his cave, and
cooked two of the fish, reserving the others for the next morning.

This meal was as great a success as the former ones had been, and at
length he retired to the little cave where he had already spread the
moss for a bed. Here he could not help recalling the events of the
day. He had hoped, on starting, by this time to have reached some human
abode. He had not done so. But this, instead of exciting his regrets,
gave way altogether to emotions of gratitude. He had been saved from
thirst and from hunger in a most wonderful manner, and, even at this
moment, instead of feeling utterly exhausted, he had little else than a
sense of languid weariness. All this filled him with thankfulness, and
kneeling down in his little cave, he offered up his most grateful thanks
to the merciful Being who had protected his wanderings during the day.

After this he lay down on his moss and soon fell asleep.



XIV.

_Bart.--An anxious Night.--Suspicions.--Reappearance of Pat.--The Woes
of Pat.--A hideous Thought.--The Leper.--Off to the Woods.--Indian
File.--The Rear Guard.--Defection of Pat.--He makes a Circuit.--“Hyar!
Hyar! You dar? Whar Mas’r Bart?”_


THE sight of the lurid glow which had burst upon Bart’s eyes as he
looked from the priest’s house excited within him anxious thoughts,
which kept him awake for hours on that night; the thought that Phil was
wandering in those woods, and that all around him were these wrathful
flames; the thought that perhaps he might have already fallen a victim;
the thought that his search could scarcely be made now, since they could
hardly hope to penetrate the woods for any distance; the thought that
now any search, however extensive, might perhaps be too late. He slept
but little. Every little while he would rise from his bed, and look out
of the window towards the woods, to see if that lurid glow continued. It
was visible for a long time, but at length died out altogether. But this
did not lessen Bart’s anxieties, for now the smoke grew thicker, and the
smell of it was most unpleasantly perceptible, exciting the very natural
thought that the fire glow was no longer visible, not because the fires
were extinguished, but rather because the smoke had grown so dense that
it hid it from view.

When Bart arose it was not yet daybreak, and on coming down stairs no
one was visible. He went out of doors, and paced up and down the
road uneasily. After a while two men made their appearance, whom Bart
recognized as the ones who were to be the guides in their exploration
of the forest. He felt too anxious and too sick at heart to ask them
anything, for he thought that anything they would say would only confirm
his worst fears, and as yet he did not wish to know the worst. He wished
to cling to his hopes, faint though they now were, until hope should be
no longer possible. After a while Solomon made his appearance; but Bart
had nothing to say to him, and the old man, seeing by his manner that he
did not wish to be spoken to, held aloof, and sat down in silence on the
doorstep.

It was now day, and still the priest had not made his appearance. Bart
wondered at this, and attributed it to his oversleeping himself. This
made him feel somewhat impatient, and he thought hardly of the priest
for yielding to his drowsiness at such a time as this, when it was a
question of life and death; but he waited, and checked a rising impulse
which he had to hunt up the priest’s bedroom and wake him. While he
was fretting and fuming, the two French guides had placidly seated
themselves on the doorstep in a line with Solomon, and began to smoke,
chatting with one another in French.

Suddenly Bart heard footsteps behind him. He thought it was the priest,
and turned hastily. It was not the priest, however, but Pat. Bart
had actually forgotten Pat’s existence ever since that moment on the
previous evening, when he had gone out doors to look for him, and
had seen that terrible appearance over the forest trees. As he now
recognized him, he wondered at his long absence, and noticed at the same
time that Pat looked very much agitated. At once he thought that Pat had
heard bad news, and had come to tell him. This idea was so terrible that
he stood paralyzed, and could scarcely utter a word.

Pat came up and gave a heavy sigh.

“It’s dhreadful--it’s terrible. Och, wurrooooo!” Bart looked at him with
an awful face, not daring to ask the question that was upon his lips,
and now feeling sure that Pat had heard the worst.

“Och, what’ll we iver do?” cried Pat; “what’ll we iver do? Sure an me
heart’s fairly broke widin me, so it is.”

“How did you find it out?” asked Bart, in a trembling voice.

“Sure an wasn’t it the praste himself that tould me,” said Pat, in a
tone of voice that sounded like a wail of despair.

“The priest?” said Bart. “You saw him then--did you. Where--where is
he?”

“The praste,” said Pat, dolefully; “sorra one o’ me knows. I seen him
dhrivin off. I wor sleepin undher a tray behind the fince. I wasn’t goin
to thrust mesilf in their leper houses, so I wasn’t.”

“You saw him. P--he has gone, has he--gone--to--to--to see about it,”
 stammered Bart, feverishly; “and what did he tell you?”

“Tell me?” said Pat, dubiously.

“Yes. You said you saw him.”

“So I did.”

“Well--what did he say about it?”

“Sure an he didn’t say anythin jist thin.”

“But he told you about it, you said.”

“So he did; but it was last night.”

“O, in the night--you saw him in the night--he must have been out
then--and I thought he was in bed. O, why wasn’t I with him? Why didn’t
he take me? But I suppose he thought I’d be too much overcome, and so he
didn’t want to tell me--and did he tell you this, Pat? Tell me all. Tell
me all--don’t keep me in suspense.”

At these incoherent words Pat stared at Bart in utter amazement, and for
a moment thought that he had lost his senses.

“Suspinse?” he said--“suspinse? What do you mean? You talk as though
you’d lost your sivin sinsis! Sure an didn’t you hear it yerself, ivery
word? Sure an worn’t ye in the room yourself, listhening? Didn’t ye hear
it all?”

“Hear it all? Hear what?” cried Bart. “About what?”

“Why, about the lepers, sure. Sorra a thought I’ve had iver since,
except about that same. And I went off, so I did; for I didn’t dare to
slape in that leper house, wid a man that lives among the lepers and
shakes hands wid them.”

“The lepers!” cried Bart in impatience, but with a feeling of
inexpressible relief--the relief which is felt at a respite, however
brief, from sorrow. “The lepers! Why, I was talking about Phil. Have you
heard anything about Phil?”

“Phil?” said Pat. “Arrah, sure he’s all right. I ony wish I wor in his
shoes. It ud be a happy boy I’d be if I cud change places wid Phil. Och,
wurroo--but it’s a bitther day whin I came to this place.”

“You haven’t heard anything at all about Phil, then?” said Bart.

“Niver a word,” said Pat. “I’ve heard too much about other things.”

Bart turned away.

As for Pat, he wandered disconsolately to the fence by the road side,
and leaning against it, he stood there in a woe-begone attitude,--the
very picture of despair.

Bart now resumed his melancholy walk; but before he had taken many
paces, he heard the rapid gallop of a horse, and in turning, he saw a
rider approaching the house, who, on drawing nearer, turned out to
be the priest. Bart now saw that he had done his kind host a great
injustice in supposing that he had been oversleeping himself, and felt
a natural sorrow at his suspicions. As the priest dismounted, the very
first words which he addressed to Bart made the compunction of the
latter over his unjust suspicions still stronger, since they showed
that, so far from sleeping while Bart was wakeful, in his anxiety over
Phil, he had left Bart in bed, and had been traversing the country for
miles, in order to institute a general search after the lost boy.

“I took a few hours’ sleep,” said he, “and rose between one and two.
I’ve been up the road for twelve or fifteen miles, and have persuaded a
number of people to make a search of the woods as far as they are able
to. They are all full of the deepest anxiety about the poor lad, and
you may rest assured that the good people will do all in their power
for him. My people are not very intellectual, nor are they what you call
progressive; but they are affectionate, simple-hearted, and brave; and
there is not one of them that I have spoken to who will have any peace
until that poor lad’s fate is decided. So when we go off to search after
him, you may console yourself with the thought that our party is but one
out of several that are engaged in the same search.”

At this disclosure of the real business of the priest, Bart was so
overcome with mingled emotions, that he could scarcely say a word. He
could only murmur some confused expressions of gratitude.

“O, never mind me,” said the priest, “and my poor efforts. I assure you
I am as eager to find him as you are. Pray to God, my boy. He only can
save your friend. And now let us set out at once.”

With these words the priest hurried up to the two guides, and spoke
a few words to them in French. The guides answered, and after a short
conversation the priest went into the house. The guides took his horse
and put him in the stable; and by the time they had returned, the priest
came out, and they all went off towards the woods.

“Don’t be discouraged,” said the priest to Bart, “about the fires. After
all, they may have driven your friend away in this direction. For you
see he would naturally keep as far as possible away from them, and as
they advanced lie would retreat. And so, if they are really coming in
this direction, he would be forced to come this way too. If so, I think
some of my friends would be likely to meet with him. The only real
danger is, that he may be tired out, and be unable to endure the
fatigue. But you say he is an active boy, and that he had a little food
with him; and so I really think that there is every reason for hope. You
must try, then, to keep up your spirits, and remember that even if we
don’t find him he may yet be safe, and may meet with others; or he may
even get out of the woods unassisted.”

These words were very encouraging to Bart, and excited his best hopes.
As he was naturally light-hearted and sanguine, he determined to
struggle against his depression, and cling as long as possible to the
hopes that the present held out. The consequence was, that he at once
surmounted his gloom, and dismissed from his mind those desponding
thoughts which had taken possession of him ever since he saw the glow of
the fire. He became more like his old self, and commenced the exploring
tour, full of life, and energy, and hope.

Far different was it with Pat. His trouble arose from a dark, dreadful
terror which had taken full possession of him, and which not even his
buoyancy of soul and natural cheerfulness could withstand. It was the
terror that had been awakened by the mention of the leprosy.

And so it was that as the party entered the woods, Pat held back; and
he who was usually among the first, now lingered the last. He had a
terrible fear that he had run a risk of catching the loathsome disease
by bathing in what he considered the “leper waters,” and by entering
the house of one who was on such familiar terms with the lepers as the
priest professed to be. It seemed to him, now, that the only possible
chance that remained for him was to keep as far away from the priest as
possible. He remembered with horror that he had eaten at the priest’s
house on the preceding evening. He had not eaten anything that morning,
nor had any of them as yet; for the guides carried provisions, and
it was intended to breakfast in the woods. But to Pat all thoughts of
eating were obnoxious; the sickening thought of the leprosy drove away
all his appetite; and if he followed them into the woods, it was at a
distance; and then only because there still remained a loyal regard
for Phil, and thus the tables were completely turned. Bart, who the day
before had been despondent, was now hopeful; while Pat, who had then
been the hopeful one, had now sunk down into a state of depression to
which language fails to do justice.

After walking into the woods for some distance, they sat down and made
a breakfast off some ham and crackers, which were carried by the
guides. Pat sat at a distance from the rest, and resolutely refused all
invitations to partake, pleading a slight sickness; nor was poor Pat’s
plea altogether a feigned one; for by this time he had worked himself
into a state of utter panic, and the miserable feelings resulting from
his loss of a night’s sleep and from hunger were attributed by him to
the approach of leprosy. So poor Pat stood aloof from the rest, pale,
anxious, and already beginning to think that he had made a great mistake
in accompanying them at all. The more he thought upon this, the more
convinced did he become that his presence there in company with them was
both unnecessary and unwise,--unnecessary, for, as it now seemed to him,
Phil was perfectly able to take care of himself; and unwise, for he was
only destroying his chance of escape from the leprosy, by thus remaining
in the company of those who had its terrible seeds clinging to their
clothes and to their persons.

A prey thus to his anxiety, Pat’s generous desire to help Phil gradually
weakened in the presence of his instinct of self-preservation, and
his belief that Phil was safe somewhere made him all the more eager to
secure safety for himself. The wretchedness which he felt, from the loss
of his night’s rest, and want of food, and terror, all combined, tended
to turn all his thoughts upon himself; and the more wretched he felt,
the more did he attribute it to the awful disease which he so greatly
dreaded. And so, at last, by the time they had finished their repast,
Pat had felt so overcome by his terrors, that he determined, at all
hazards, to free himself from his dangerous associates, and escape
somewhere before it was too late. Having thus made up his mind, it only
remained to find some favorable opportunity of slipping away unobserved,
and thus securing that safety for which he longed.

After their breakfast they began to go forward. The two guides of course
went first, one behind the other. Then followed the priest, and after
him came Bart. Pat wanted Solomon to go next; but Solomon declined,
from a feeling of humility natural to him, which made him seek the
lowest--that is to say, the last--place on the line of march, and partly
also from a desire to be in the rear, so as to see that no one straggled
away. Thus they all went on in Indian file, and after Bart came Pat,
while Solomon brought up the rear.

As they thus went on, one after the other, in Indian file, through the
woods, it was, of course, impossible for any one to see all the rest
of the party. It was enough if each one should see the one who might be
immediately in front. This was especially the case when the woods grew
thicker and the march more laborious. Bart then could only see the
priest; and Pat, Bart; while Solomon could only see Pat. In this way
they went on then, and this mode of progress soon suggested to Pat a
simple, easy, and perfectly natural mode of separating himself from the
others. He had only to slacken his pace a little for a short distance.
He had only to fall back slightly, and he would easily be able to put
between himself and the others such obstacles that they would be able
neither to see him nor to find him. This, now, became his fixed resolve.

So, as he went on, Pat allowed Bart to go gradually farther and farther
ahead, until at length he was out of sight. But even then he was not
satisfied. He still kept on, but chose a course which swerved slightly
from the one which the others were following; and entering upon this
course, he sought to make it more and more apart from the track of the
others. As he went along he kept constantly turning to the right, and
thus before long he had made a complete circuit; and then, when he
thought he had turned far enough to be heading towards the place from
which he set out, he tried to go in a straight line. In all this he was
completely successful; that is to say, so far as concerned his desire
not to be noticed; and so he kept on for so long a time that at length
he began to be on the lookout for the open land and the sea.

But suddenly there was a loud cry behind him,--

“Hyar, Hyar! you dar! Whar Mas’r Bart?”

It was Solomon.

Pat had forgotten all about Solomon; but now he remembered that Solomon
had been behind him, and he saw that he must have been following him
all the time, though he had been too excited to be conscious of that
important fact.



XV.

_Solomon in a Rage.--Flight of Pat.--The Explorers penetrate the
Forest.--The missing Companions.--New Fears and Anxieties.--A baffled
Search.--Onward.--The Recesses of the Forest.--An open Space.--Halt!_


YAR, Hyar! you dar! Whar Mas’r Bart?” The cry at once arrested Pat.
He stopped short, and turning round he found himself face to face with
Solomon.

“Whar Mash Bart?” said Solomon again. He was excited and agitated, and
looked all around, and peered into the forest ahead with most anxious
curiosity.

“Bart?” said Pat, in a dejected tone; “sure an I don’t know.”

“Warn’t you follerin him?” cried Solomon, in an excited voice.

“Sure an I wor,” said Pat; “but I lost sight of him iver an iver so long
ago. An wheriver he is now, it ud take more’n me to tell.”

At this Solomon made a gesture of despair, and looked wildly all around.

“Mas’r Bart lost! Mas’r Bart lost!” he murmured, clutching his wrinkled
hands together.

“Och, you needn’t bother about him. Sure an he’s follerin the praste an
the Frinchmin, an he’s all safe an right. The last time I see him he was
close on the hails of the praste.”

Solomon did not seem to have heard him. His eyes rolled wildly. He
looked all around eagerly, wistfully, with unspeakable anxiety in his
face.

“Mas’r Bart lost! Mas’r Bart lost!” he murmured, still wringing his
hands.

“But I till ye he ain’t lost,” cried Pat. “He’s wid the praste, so he
is. Didn’t I see him?”

“Don’t see no use,” cried Solomon, angrily, “for de likes ob you to go
foolin round dis yer way, leadin folks eberywhar, out ob de right track.
I bound to foller Mas’r Bart, an heah you go a foolin an a gittin lost.
What’s de sense ob dis yer proceedin? What do you mean, anyhow? Ef you
tink I’m goin to stan any such tomfoolery, you precious mistaken. You
better begin now and go ahead, and find out whar Mas’r Bart is.”

Solomon’s tone was full of a certain angry menace, which was so utterly
unlike his usual manner that Pat stared at him in wonder.

“Ah, howl yer whist,” he exclaimed, at last; “sure I ain’t the only
one that’s got lost in these wuds, so I ain’t. You can find him yerself
bether’n me, so ye can, if ye want to. How can I find him! Sorra one of
me knows the way anywheres out of this; and I’m fairly broken-hearted,
so I am, and that’s all about it.”

And saying this, Pat flung himself down, and buried his face in his
hands. He felt overwhelmed by his troubles. His fears of the leprosy
were still strong within him, and in addition to this he felt a keen
sense of self-reproach at his desertion of Bart. Had it not been for
Solomon he might not have thought of this; but the sight of the old
man’s anxiety about Bart brought before him in the plainest manner the
fact that he had been disloyal to his friend, and had deserted him, in
this hour of need.

As for Solomon, he took only one look at him, and then turned away. In
his faithful heart there was only one feeling, one desire; and that was,
to get back to Bart. He had no idea of the actual state of the case. He
did not know what a circuit Pat had made, but merely supposed that they
had got off the track that the others were following. With this idea
in his mind, he proceeded to call after Bart, so as to open up a
communication with him. This he strove to do by means of a series of the
most unearthly yells, shrieks, and howls that ever echoed through the
recesses of a harmless and unoffending forest. Yell followed yell; howl
succeeded howl; and a long series of hoots, halloos, shrieks, whoops,
and hullaballoos followed in swift succession. After each effort Solomon
stood listening attentively, waiting for a response before beginning
again. But his listening and his waiting were all unavailing, for no
response came, and all his unearthly cries only echoed through the dim
forest aisles, without bringing back any answer from the one whom they
were intended to reach. And no wonder: for by this time Bart was very
far indeed out of hearing.

At last Solomon gave up in utter discouragement. He stood for a time
in deep dejection, and then turned towards Pat, who had all this time
remained in the same attitude, sitting with his head buried in his
hands.

“How long ago is it,” asked Solomon, “sence you lost sight ob Mash
Bart?”

“O, iver so long,” said Pat; “more thin an hour, surely.”

“Why didn’t you call?”

“Sure an how did I know?” said Pat, evasively; “wasn’t I bothered out
of my life, an fairly heart-broke? so I was. An sure an it’s been a bad
time for us all intirely. Bad luck to the day whin we came out to this
leper place,--an me goin a bathin in the leper wather, an aitin their
leper dinners; the more fool I was for that same. Sure an the praste’s
the desayver, so he is, for laydin a poor feller in this way.”

Not one word of this did Solomon understand, nor did he try to
understand it. He had other things to think about. His one idea was to
find Bart once more. He did not think that he was far away, but believed
that he had been going on in the same general direction, though he had
swerved, to some extent, from the true course. So he now determined to
go on, and hoped that he might find Bart before long.

“No use waitin in dis yer place, dis yer way,” said he. “I’m a goin to
hunt up Mas’r Bart.”

And with these words he left Pat, and went onward into the woods,
continuing the same course which Pat had been leading. As to asking Pat
to go with him, the thought never entered his head,--partly on account
of his deep disgust at Pat for losing sight, as he believed, of Bart,
but principally from the fact that his mind was so filled with the
desire of reaching Bart, that there was no place in it for any thought
of any other person. And so the poor old fellow plunged into the woods,
and took up a course which was about as far away from that in which Bart
was going as it well could be.

At Solomon’s last words Pat raised his head and saw him go. He watched
him till he was out of sight, with varied emotions. He supposed that
Solomon was now on his way to Tracadie, while believing himself to
be following after Bart into the depths of the woods. There seemed,
therefore, no danger before him, and Pat had no fears for his safety.
Had Solomon taken another direction, Pat would probably have told him
all; but as it was, he saw no necessity for doing so. He would get back,
he thought, in the course of time, to Tracadie, and on finding himself
there, he would probably wait for Bart’s return, and all would be well.

He sat there motionless, until Solomon was out of sight, and then began
to think of himself. One thing only was in his mind, and that was, the
desire to fly, as soon as possible, far away from this abhorrent place,
to some other place, where he might be safe, and where he could watch to
see if the terrible disease had really taken hold of him or not. So with
this purpose he arose, and after a look all around, he chose his course,
and went on through the woods.

Meanwhile the others had been walking diligently onward; first the
guides leading the way, next the priest, and then Bart. Not a word was
spoken by any one of them; the guides were too intent upon maintaining
a correct course; the priest was too much absorbed in watching the
movements of the guides, and in observing the scenes through which he
was passing; and Bart was too much occupied with conjectures about the
probable course of Phil’s wanderings to think anything about the members
of their own party. Bart had a perfect conviction that Pat and Solomon
were behind him; so perfect, in fact, that it remained in his mind as
a foundation underlying all his other thoughts; so perfect that those
thoughts never reverted to those behind him, but turned only to that one
who was at a distance--the object of their present search.

Deeper and deeper, and farther and farther, they advanced into the
forest, encountering every variation of woodland scenery, and every
alternation of forest travelling; sometimes finding it easy, again
finding it difficult, yet at no time encountering any very serious
obstacle. Their pace was somewhat rapid, for the guides led them on
without much regard to the possible weakness or clumsiness of their
followers; and judging them by themselves, they maintained a pace which
soon began to tell very seriously upon Bart, and forced him to put forth
his utmost strength and energy in order to keep the priest in sight.

At last, after a walk of several hours, the guides stopped, and offered
to rest. They were coming, they said, upon a more difficult part of the
forest, where greater exertion would be required, and it might be well
to rest for a time. The priest approved of this, and mentioned it to
Bart. He also approved of it most heartily, for he was almost exhausted,
and then turned to mention it to Pat. To his surprise, however, Pat was
not behind him, nor was there any sign of Solomon.

This discovery gave him a great shock, and the priest also was equally
amazed; but both he and Bart supposed that they could not be far
away, and so they looked back through the woods to gain sight of their
advancing figures. Not perceiving any signs of them, they listened to
find out if they were approaching. No sounds, however, arose of any
kind; no crackle of dry twigs announced coming footsteps; and as they
listened, there was nothing perceptible to their hearing save the
intense and drear silence of a vast solitude.

At this Bart threw a look of anxious inquiry at the priest.

“They were following you?” said the priest, in an inquiring tone.

“Yes,” said Bart, doubtfully.

“Have you noticed that they fell back?”

“I didn’t notice them at all. I took it for granted all the time that
they were behind me.”

“How long is it since you saw them last?”

“Well, really, I don’t believe I have looked behind me once since we
started.”

“I hope they haven’t lost sight of us. I hope they haven’t lost their
way,” said the priest.

The evident anxiety of his tone affected Bart very seriously. His own
experience in the woods, as well as the loss of Phil, made him quite
ready to believe the worst; and though it puzzled him greatly to
conceive how Pat and Solomon could quietly lose them, and go off on a
strange course, without a single word, at the same time he began to fear
that such must have been the case.

“Well,” said the priest, “we may as well sit down and rest. There’s
nothing else to be done. Perhaps they’ll be along presently. I’ll make
the guides call for them. They can do it better than we can.”

He then spoke to the guides; and the latter, as soon as they understood
the state of the case, began to call for their lost companions. They did
this by setting up a series of cries so loud, so shrill, and so sharp,
that Bart actually started. He had never in all his life heard such
sounds. Pitched upon a high and very peculiar key, they seemed to have
a far-penetrating power which would suffice to carry them for an
incredible distance.

Again and again the guides uttered these cries, and after each cry they
listened; but though they listened long, there came not the slightest
response. At length, at a suggestion from the priest, one of them went
back along the track which they had traversed. He returned after about
half an hour. He came back alone, and reported that he had seen no sign
whatever of either of those who were lost.

The priest now looked worried and uneasy. He sat for some time in
silence, thinking over this fresh difficulty.

“Well,” said he, at length, “they seem to have lost us--most
mysteriously; and now the only question is, shall we go back to try to
find them, or shall we go on? Which needs our help most, the one who has
been lost for two or three days, or those who have just left us?”

“O, as to that,” said Bart, “they are both better able to take care
of themselves than Phil is; and besides, they are nearer to the
settlements, and they must know the way back, for the woods have not
been very thick, and we have been going in a straight course, and so it
seems to me that we had better go on and try to find poor Phil.”

“I think so too,” said the priest. “At any rate we shall rest for an
hour yet, and perhaps before we start they will find us.”

They remained for an hour longer, but there was no sign of the lost
ones. No sound of crackling twigs, no calls for help, awakened the deep
silence that reigned in the surrounding forest.

At length they rose to resume their journey in accordance with Bart’s
decision. This new calamity broke up that cheerfulness and hopefulness
which he had been maintaining since the priest had spoken to him those
encouraging words; and the thought of Pat and Solomon wandering about,
without food and without guides through this trackless forest, gave him
more than his former anxiety. It seemed a succession of misfortunes that
was destined to end in some kind of a tragedy, and there arose within
his mind the dark anticipation of some inevitable calamity as the
natural termination of all these pieces of ill-fortune.

Struggling as well as he could with these gloomy forebodings, Bart once
more set out after his guides on what he now began to think a hopeless
errand. But now there came other things to distract his mind from the
anxieties that were harassing it in the shape of the difficulties of
the way. The guides were right in their warning about the toil and labor
that now lay before them. There were dense underbrushes to penetrate--so
dense and so close that every step was a struggle; there were streams
to ford, in which they sank to the armpits; there were swamps to cross,
where there was nothing but one long struggle from one extremity to the
other; and added to this there were long pathways that led over fallen
trees, and through tangled weeds, and tall ferns, which impeded the
feet at every step, and necessitated the most painful and the most
unremittent exertion. In his progress through the woods before, Bart had
found nothing like this, except for very short periods of time, and
he thought that if such a journey as this had been before him he could
never have escaped.

Thus far the heat had been very great. There was no wind. The air was
still and stagnant; and the effort of walking, even when the walk
had been easy, as at first, had been somewhat exhaustive. But now the
exertion required was far greater, and what was worse, the heat far
more intense. There was a torrid heat in the atmosphere that exceeded
anything which he had thus far experienced, and made all exertion doubly
toilsome and exhaustive. Yet in spite of all this, his deep anxiety
about Phil seemed to sustain him, and though he felt ready to drop, yet
he managed to maintain his march, and follow on after his guides.

At length they emerged from a tangled thicket which had offered
extraordinary obstacles to their progress. They came suddenly into a
wide, open place, quite bare of trees, and overgrown with low brush and
trailing evergreen vines. Here there burst upon them an extraordinary
sight,--so extraordinary, indeed, that they all stopped with one common
impulse, and gazed in silence upon the scene before them.



XVI.

_The wide open Space.--The terrific Scene.--Arrested and driven
back.--New Purposes.--The Story of the Great Fire of Miramichi, and the
Ruin wrought in one tremendous Night._


THE wide open space upon which they had come extended for some miles
away on the right and on the left. About a mile off on the other side
arose the trees of the forest again. Above these the smoke was rolling
in vast, dense, voluminous clouds, while underneath them shone the red
glare of a mighty conflagration. It was in those very woods which rose
before them. They could see and feel its terrible presence. They could
see, behind the line of trees that stood nearest, the dash of the
surging flames as they seized upon the dry foliage and resinous wood
of the forest; and the angry glow of the red fire, as, following the
advance of the flame, it grasped and held in its blighting, withering
embrace all that it seized upon. At the breath of the flame the forest
shrank away; at the touch of the fire it crumbled into dust.

The foremost line of trees stood there, black against the glow of
the fire that raged behind, like the bars of some vast, immeasurable
furnace. Beneath, behind those bars, gleamed the fire; overhead rose the
smoke, spreading over the sky, and filling all the air with its hot and
suffocating fumes.

The whole party stood there looking on in silence. The guides conversed
with one another and with the priest in French, of which Bart understood
nothing. By the expression of their faces, and by the shaking of their
heads, however, he learned,--if indeed he did not know well enough
already,--that any farther progress in that direction was impossible.

“What do they say?” asked he at length of the priest.

“Well, of course, you see yourself,” said the priest, “that it’s
impossible to go any farther, and consequently we must give up the idea
of reaching that part of the forest where your friend was lost.”

“What shall we do?” exclaimed Bart, in deep distress.

“Well, that is what we are thinking of now. It all depends upon whether
your friend has come in this direction or not. Now, you came in this
direction, and you must have been within a few miles of this place; but
you reached Tracadie safely, and saw no fire.”

“No,” said Bart, “only smoke.”

“But you must have been near it, for you saw the flames last evening.
They were concealed by the trees when you were in the woods. Besides,
the fire has, no doubt, been spreading in this direction ever since.
Now, as for your friend, if he came in this direction at all, he may
have reached a place to the north of the fire, and I am of the opinion
that we might go in that direction. We shall thus see something of the
other parties that are searching the woods up there. In fact there is
nothing else to be done. If we don’t find him farther to the north, then
I shall take it for granted that he has wandered in another direction
altogether, and perhaps may come out at the Bay de Chaleur.”

“You don’t think, then, that there is--reason for despair?”

“Despair? Certainly not. Why should there be?”

“O, I don’t know. I was afraid that this fire extended everywhere, like
the great fire that once raged here.”

“The great fire? O, no. Such a thing as that can only take place once
in centuries. That was the result of a combination of circumstances so
extraordinary, that it is not likely that they will ever occur again.
And just now, such a fire as that is a simple impossibility.”

“But this fire seems pretty bad,” said Bart, “and it’s certainly
increasing.”

“This fire? O, this is nothing,” said the priest.

“In these woods, there is a fire somewhere every summer,--and it runs on
till a rain shower comes. This is only a local affair, confined to this
particular district. It may possibly extend for ten or twelve miles, and
have a width of two or three miles. It is troublesome, and you perceive
the heat in the air, and it sends out smoke for many miles; but there is
nothing in it that is at all extraordinary. There is nothing in it that
a man cannot escape from. It is not like the swift and hurricane speed
of the great fire, that swept in one night through all this country,
and made one vast waste of ashes and death before morning. O, no. As for
your friend, he ought to be able to get along; and every brook that he
comes to will give him fish to eat. It’s the greatest country for trout
and salmon in the world. In fact, I don’t see the slightest cause for
anxiety about him.”

These words gave Bart a relief that was inexpressible, and he was now
freed from the terrible anxiety that had so long devoured him. The
opinion of the priest was of great value, for he, no doubt, knew
perfectly well just what danger there might be. His estimation of the
fire afforded still greater relief. Bart had feared that it was some
universal conflagration; but it now turned out to be a local affair, so
commonplace that no one here regarded it.

“I think,” said the priest, “that we had better go back at once.”

“Go back?”

“Yes.”

“Where?”

“To Tracadie.”

“But I thought we were going to search farther for Phil--to the north.”

“So we are,” said the priest; “but we’ll have to go back. If we were to
walk through the woods, we would only be losing time. Now, I propose to
go back, and drive along the road to a place about fifteen miles away,
where some men are already in the woods engaged in this search. We can
either go there, or go farther on; in fact, it might be well to go as
far as the Bay de Chaleur, and get people there to keep a lookout. But
first, we must go back, and we can see what the prospects are.”

They now retraced their steps in accordance with what the priest had
said. It was a deep disappointment to Bart to find himself returning
again without having accomplished anything; and in addition to this, he
was very greatly troubled by the disappearance of Pat and Solomon. By
the time they reached Tracadie it was evening, and as nothing more could
be done that night, Bart once more took up his quarters for the night
with the priest.

While sitting together that evening, the conversation was very naturally
drawn to the great fire, of which the priest had already spoken several
times; and at Bart’s request he now gave a more particular account of
it.

“It was in the year 1825,” said the priest. “The summer had been the
hottest and the dryest ever known, not only in this province, but all
over North America. There was no rain for months. The hay crop was
a total failure everywhere, and the garden vegetables all wilted and
withered. Corn, turnips, potatoes, almost everything failed. The roads
were all covered with fine dust, the fields were all cracked, and the
grass was as if it had been scorched. The woods were dried and parched
in the same way, the sap seemed to dry up in the trees, and the leaves
and branches were ready to flash into a blaze at the slightest approach
of fire.

“Fires, indeed, were in the woods in different places from midsummer
till autumn. These burned steadily, though without making any very great
progress. There were fires in these woods, and up at the head of the
bay, and near the Nashwaak. The most extensive was one near Fredericton.
There were also fires in the woods of Maine. And in Canada some of them
had reached very serious dimensions. As a general thing, none of our
people thought anything of it. Fires are so common that they excite no
attention, and so it was with us. It was so dry that there was every
reason to expect them, and if they were even larger than usual, that was
no more than might be expected under such unusual circumstances.

“At last the month of October came, and in the early part of that
month various causes contributed to spread the fires. On the 6th it was
noticed that they had increased very greatly, and their extent was now
far beyond anything that had ever been known before. People wondered
at this, but thought that before long it must come to an end. Rain must
come and put a stop to it.

“On the following day, the 7th, it was far worse. All through the
preceding night the fires had been extending everywhere, and when day
came it had an appearance different from anything ever known before.
The sky had a deep purple tint, and immense clouds of black smoke rolled
over the whole heavens. There was not a breath of wind, but everything
was sunk into a calm so deep and profound that it seemed like the death
of Nature. The heat was suffocating, the air thick and stagnant, so that
breathing was difficult. No one could put forth the slightest exertion.
Everybody lay about in a state of utter lassitude and listlessness,
or tried in vain to find some cool place where the heat might be less
oppressive.

“The most wonderful thing was the effect of all this upon the lower
animals. The birds had all fled. The cattle in the fields seemed
bewildered and terrified. They collected in groups, lowing piteously,
and looking wildly around, eating nothing, but standing as though
paralyzed. The dogs moaned, and crouched, and wandered restlessly out of
doors and back again. But what was yet more astonishing was the behavior
of the wild animals. Wolves, and bears, and hares, and foxes came from
the woods to the open places, overcome with terror, and seeking refuge
among the domestic animals.

“In spite of all this the people did not show much excitement. In the
more lonely places they may have been frightened, but in the settlements
they seemed simply listless. No one anticipated the terror that was
approaching, or had any idea of the doom impending over the whole
country. Strangely enough, the instinct of the lower animals was truer
than the reason of man. As the fire was not yet visible, the people in
the settlements made no preparations against it, nor did they even think
that preparations were necessary. They knew, of course, that the heat
and the unusual appearances were produced by fires in some place, but
where it was, or how near it might be, they did not think.

“Evening came on, and at about seven o’clock a brisk wind suddenly
sprang up. The sun set, and the darkness was intense beyond all
description. And in that darkness nothing whatever was visible; there
was something terrible beyond words in such deep gloom; but the wind
went on and increased to a wilder degree, until at last it blew with
extraordinary violence. Now, through the darkness a terrible sight
became visible. All over the west and towards the north-west there shone
a red glow, which grew brighter and brighter, until at last the whole
skies were lightened up with flaming fires. The wind increased, coming
from the west, until at length it blew a perfect hurricane; fiercer,
more furious, more terrible than any in the memory of the oldest
inhabitants here. Driven on by this fierce tempest, the fires spread
with inconceivable rapidity, and all the west became a sea of fire, and
above the woods vast flames shot up, furiously, far into the sky. There
was no darkness now. It was driven away, and light had come; but the
light was worse than the darkness had been.

“The hurricane increased, and the fires drove onward before it, and the
fierce flames towered far up into the sky. Then there came a low moan
from afar, which increased, and strengthened, and deepened, until at
last it grew to a loud, appalling roar--a roar like sustained thunder,
which still grew louder, and deeper, and nearer, and more awful. In the
midst of this came the sound of crackling, like musketry volleys, and
loud, tremendous explosions, like the discharge of cannon. And all this
increased every minute, the fires sweeping onward more terribly, the
roar of its advance gathering in intensity and volume, until at last the
vast sheets of flame seemed to rise almost to the zenith. Overhead all
the black smoke was now reddened in the glow of the fire, and there
passed away over the sky a fierce torrent, bearing with it innumerable
sparks, and blazing twigs, and branches of trees, which had been torn
from the forest by the fire, and were now hurled through the air by the
hurricane.

“Now there arose the wildest panic. All had been so sudden that there
had been no time for thought--but even if there had been time, no
thought could have availed. There was only one common impulse in all
living things, whether man or beast, and that was escape. One cry only
arose--the cry, ‘To the river! To the river!’ In this direction every
one hurried, a confused crowd,--men, women, children, horses, cows,
and dogs,--some carrying the old or the sick, others assisting the weak;
fathers carrying their children, mothers their infants. Each seized what
was most precious, and fled. All the time there were wild outcries--some
of fear, others of hope, others of command, others of despair from some
who had been separated from relatives, and were trying to find them
again. Then they all hurried to the river; and some stood plunged in the
water, others sought boats, others rafts, others floated on logs, while
others sought the opposite shore, from which, however, the fires that
spread even there soon drove them.

“And now the whole country, in all directions, blazed. The whole forest
was as dry as tinder, and everywhere the floating sparks would fall upon
the trees, and there would kindle fresh flames, which would sweep
away before the hurricane like those behind. It was this that made the
conflagration so swift and so universal.

“The morning at length came after that night of horror--the morning of
the 8th of October; and never did human eye rest upon such a scene
of desolation. The vast forests, the green meadows, the flourishing
villages, the pleasant homes which a few hours before had formed one of
the happiest countries in the world, was now one vast expanse of dust
and ashes, out of which lowered the smouldering, blackened shafts of
giant pine trees that had not been all consumed. The half-burned corpses
of men, women, and children, cattle and wild beasts, strewed the
forests, and in the dried-up beds of brooks and rivers lay the blackened
bodies of burnt fishes. Six thousand square miles had been suddenly
blasted by that unparalleled fire. And all this ruin had been wrought on
that one night of horror.”

Such was the priest’s narrative of one of the most terrible fires on
record--the great fire of Miramichi; a fire most remarkable for
the astonishing rapidity of its course, and the thoroughness of its
devastation. For, apart from other more immediate evils, it ruined the
timber of all that country, turned fertile districts into barren wastes,
and annihilated in one night all the resources of a great commerce.

To all this Bart listened with deep attention, and gained from it
increased hope for Phil. For now he saw how different was this fire
from the one of which he had been hearing, and how different the
circumstances were. These woods were not dried like tinder, nor was it
possible for a fire to spread so fast but that any living being could
escape it. Besides, the woods were full of brooks and streams, and all
these streams were full of fish; and Phil had his rod and lines, and
was an expert fisherman. From all these thoughts he drew hope and
confidence.

He was greatly puzzled, however, by the disappearance of Pat and
Solomon. Their departure in the woods had greatly perplexed him, but he
hoped that he would find them on his return to Tracadie. There were no
signs of them. The night passed, but they did not make their appearance.
Morning came, but brought them not.

He did not know what to think about it, and felt perplexed. Still he had
no anxiety. Neither Pat nor Solomon was likely to come to any trouble in
the woods, for they were perfectly well able to take care of themselves.

The party was now all broken up and scattered--Phil, Pat, Solomon, and
Bart, all in different directions, and none of them knowing where the
others were. But Bart’s mind was now intent upon finding Phil; and so,
after a hurried breakfast, he got into the wagon with the priest, and
they both drove off together.



XVII.

_Phil awakes.--A morning Bath and a morning Repast.--A pleasant
Discovery.--Once more upon the Move.--The rough, impenetrable
Woods.--The River.--A new Mode of Travel.--The friendly Log.--I’m
afloat, I’m afloat.--Arrested.--The secret Place of Fire._


ALL that night Phil slept most soundly in the little rocky chamber
where he had made his bed; and early on the following morning he waked
and crawled forth. It had been much cooler inside that little cavern
than outside, and he was very much refreshed; but on emerging into the
outer world, he was at once sensible that the heat of the atmosphere was
most oppressive. The smoke, too, was thicker now than ever. Overhead it
was darker, and descended nearer to the ground; while the smell of the
air was more irritating to the throat and nostrils. Everything showed
him, most plainly, either that the fires were increasing, or were
steadily drawing nearer to where he was. In either case, the prospect
was sufficiently unpleasant to make him look forward with uneasiness to
his future; for as he could see nothing at any distance ahead, and as he
was still in ignorance of the direction which he ought to take, he was
quite incapable of forming any definite plan of escape, and could only
adhere to his former plan of following the course of the river.

On finding out the heat of the atmosphere, his first impulse was to
prepare himself for the toils of the day by a bath, which he proceeded
at once to take. The water was still cool; and the rushing torrent,
as it passed over his head and dashed against his limbs, gave him a
delicious sense of enjoyment. Then followed his breakfast. The fish
which he had saved for the night before were used for this purpose. He
kindled a fire close by his rock, and cooked them upon the coals
with his usual success. While eating his fish, he noticed at a little
distance some shrubbery that seemed strangely familiar, and suggested
the idea of a luxurious addition to his repast. He at once went towards
them, and found that his surmise was correct. They were blackberry
bushes, and were filled with berries, in such numbers that in a very
short time he had picked as much as a quart. These he caught in some
strips of bark folded so as to make a dish, and with this addition
to his provisions he returned to his former station, and finished his
breakfast with uncommon relish and enjoyment.

After finishing his repast he waited for some time, trying to think upon
what might be his best course of action through the day. The more he
tried, however, the more unable he found himself to devise anything
better than that which he had been doing; and so at length, finding any
further thought useless, he determined to set out on his daily tramp,
leaving his course to be determined by the events of the day.

His course was at first precisely like what it had been on the previous
day. Dark pine trees arose all about him, standing at intervals
sufficiently wide to allow of easy progress, their innumerable shafts
rising on every side as far as the eye could reach. The shadow of the
forest beneath caught a peculiar leaden tinge from the smoke that now
surrounded everything, and in some places was so dark that it seemed as
though the fire might be smouldering there. There was no underbrush of
any consequence, so that Phil could go on whatever course he pleased;
and as the ground was firm and hard, his progress was made without undue
effort. Thus he was able to keep the river in sight, and follow its
course for a long distance.

As he went on the brook grew gradually larger, and at length ran into a
stream very much larger than itself, large enough, in fact, to deserve
the name of river. This Phil saw with delight; for he saw in this the
hope of encountering the haunts of men. As he looked down the course of
this river, which here afforded a much wider opening in the forest than
he had yet seen, he was struck by the density of the smoke clouds, and
the peculiar character of the atmosphere. The sight inspired him with
far stronger fears than any which he had hitherto known. Thus far he had
considered the fire as arising from some one spot, and had thought of
being able to evade it, even if he should reach the place where it might
be burning; but now he began to feel as though the fires were all around
him, rolling forward from every side towards him, and sending an advance
march of smoke to bewilder him and lead him astray. This thought gave
him a momentary pang, and a transitory feeling of despair crossed his
mind. But this weakness was only short-lived. It soon passed, and his
buoyancy of soul and sanguine temperament reasserted themselves.

At length, as he went along by the river side, he noticed, to his deep
regret, that the pine woods ended, and were succeeded by a forest like
that which he had traversed on the first day of his wandering. What was
worse, it could not be avoided. He could not walk along the river bank,
for it was lined with trees and shrubbery. He could not walk in its bed,
for it was too deep. There was therefore nothing left to do but to make
his way through the woods the best way that he could.

On entering these woods, the change was unpleasant in the extreme. It
was necessary for him to keep near the river, and in order to do this
he had to encounter without shrinking all the obstacles that lay in his
way. He did not dare now to attempt to go round any of them, or to make
short cuts, for he was afraid that if he got out of sight of the water
once, he would never be able to find it again; and, therefore, at all
hazards, and at every cost, he determined to keep it within sight.

These new efforts soon exhausted him, and he was forced to sit down and
try to recover himself. As he sat there gasping, there seemed to be
a more intense warmth in the air, a dry, torrid heat, a suffocating
closeness, which was, far worse than it had been yet. He felt that under
these circumstances his progress would be small indeed. He had only one
thought now, and that was, to recover from his heat and exhaustion; and
to do this he knew of only one thing, which was--a plunge in the water.

Tearing off his clothes now, he flung himself in the water, and felt
once more its reviving influence. At this moment a new idea occurred to
him, which filled him again with hope. It was, that he should remain in
the river, and go on as he was, carrying his clothes with him. At this
rate his progress would be far more rapid than it had just been; and he
would be far less liable to feel fatigue. Acting upon this suggestion,
he rolled his clothes up into as small a bundle as possible, but kept
his boots on his feet, so as to walk without difficulty over the sharp
sticks or stones that he might encounter; and now, slinging his bundle
behind his back, he went on, walking near one of the banks, in water
that was about up to his waist. His progress was certainly not very
fast; but the plan was highly satisfactory, since he no longer suffered
so much from that intense exhaustion to which he had been subject while
forcing his way through the tangled brushwood. But at length he found
himself assailed by myriads of mosquitos, and this infliction became so
intolerable that he had to go into the deeper water of the mid-channel.
Here, however, his progress was slow, and carrying his bundle was a
great trouble.

Suddenly he saw a log lying near the shore, entangled among the
brushwood. It was of cedar, and looked as though it had been cut for a
telegraph pole. This at once offered him an easy and agreeable mode of
progress, which was in every possible way superior to anything that he
had yet tried. Walking towards it, he drew it out, and then placing it
before him he bound his bundle upon it. He now pushed it in front
of him, down the stream, and clinging to it, he struck out after it,
sometimes swimming, sometimes walking. So buoyant was the log that
it easily sustained his weight; and the complete success of this
contrivance made Phil determine to make the rest of his journey in this
way. So he once more stopped, and taking off his boots, bound them upon
the log also. He was now divested of all his clothing, keeping on only
his hat, which was useful both against the heat and the flies; and thus
prepared, he once more pushed his log before him, and seeking the centre
of the stream, began to move slowly down. The water here was now over
his head; and the current was running at the rate of about three miles
an hour. A very slight effort on his part served to increase his motion
to a rate which was faster than any which he had been able to make yet;
and he found himself going onward in a way in which he was able at once
to secure both speed and coolness.

The musquitos were troublesome from time to time, but not continuously;
and these he was able to evade by plunging his head under, hat and all,
after which plunge the drip of the water from his hat about his head
seemed both to cool him and to repel his assailants.

He now floated along, and was thus borne onward by the river, with
many a turn and winding, amidst the forest. On either side arose the
trees,--dark, solemn, and silent, for not a sound of any kind could be
heard. The birds which usually made the forest vocal with their melody
had fled to other places. In that torrid and smoky atmosphere there was
no place for these children of song. Phil, as he floated in the cool
current of the river, felt himself withdrawn completely from the heat
and the smoke; but as he looked up he saw enough to make him feel
grateful that he was where he was--that he had found a stream deep
enough to sustain him in its waters, and swift enough to carry him
onward without any severe exertion on his part. The smoke lowered darkly
and menacingly overhead, and before him, where the river ran, it seemed
accumulated in gloomier and denser masses. The air seemed even hotter,
and as he at times plunged his head under the waters, he rejoiced to
think that he had so near him such a perpetual remedy for heat and
exhaustion.

He had now been in the stream for some hours, when at length he noticed
a rising ground before him. It was a hill of no very great height,
rounded and covered with trees; but behind this there seemed to be an
agitation among the smoke clouds, as though there was concealed there
the unseen cause of all these stifling vapors that filled the skies.
This place Phil began to watch with deep interest and curiosity. He did
not feel fear, for in his present position he did not anticipate any
danger; but he expected that at this place he would reach what might be
the climax of his adventures. The only real fear that he had was, not
from fire, but from the water itself. He was apprehensive that he might
come to a cataract, or to rapids. This danger certainly did not seem
very imminent, or very probable, for the country was generally of too
level a character to allow of waterfalls; but Phil thought of this as
his only possible danger, and was consequently always on the lookout.
Now, therefore, as he saw this accumulation of clouds, and the
agitation that prevailed there, he did not perceive anything that could
immediately affect him, and so he felt no terror.

The river had a winding course; and though it drew nearer and nearer
to this hill, yet it approached it slowly, and by gradual advances. At
length, on taking a turn round one of its bends, Phil could see that
the hill was on the left bank, and that he would soon reach it, and
pass round it in the next turn of the stream. Full of curiosity, he now
drifted along, and waited for the next prospect that would be opened up
behind the hill.

Nearer and nearer Phil approached, and stronger and stronger did
his excited curiosity grow. The smoke, as he drew closer, was more
distinctly revealed, rising into the skies in dark, rolling masses, as
though sent up by some mighty power beneath. Nearer and nearer he came,
and at length became aware of short, dull flashes of light, which,
brightening for a moment, were soon obscured. It did not surprise him,
for this was in some degree what he was expecting. Where there is smoke
there must be fire; and if now the flames flashed forth, it merely
proved that he was at last drawing near to that fire whose signs had
filled the air for many days. And what should he see? What was it that
could produce this veil of smoke that obscured the universal sky? Could
it be near the haunts of men, and was it merely the commonplace process
of clearing land? No; he felt that it could not be anything so ordinary
as this. The signs which he had seen and felt for days arose from
something more than the clearing of fields for cultivation. It was
rather the march of a mighty conflagration through the forest, which
devoured all things in its path, swept away the verdant trees, blackened
and devastated the rich forest foliage, and sent afar in all directions
the breath of its devastating mouth.

With these thoughts Phil drifted on, awaiting the disclosure of the
great fire, and at length reached the hill. Past this he was slowly
borne by the current which encircled it, and then, completing the
circuit, swept onward upon its course.

Here, as Phil floated looking forward, the whole scene burst at once
upon his sight. No obstacle any longer rose between him and the fire; he
saw it in its reality--living and breathing before his eyes.

The river went on for about a half mile, and then took another turn.
Half way between this hill and the next bend rose the flames of a vast
conflagration, devouring the forest far and wide, extending on both
sides of the river to the right and to the left. From Phil’s position
he could not command any extensive view on either side, and, indeed, the
smoke would have prevented that had he even been more elevated; but
the scene before him was enough to convince him of the magnitude of
the fire. Immediately in front, beginning from that point, lying midway
between him and the next bend, the fires began, and extended till the
river turned again upon its next circuit. On both sides of the stream
the fires blazed up, and continued far away, reddening in the glow of
a mighty conflagration. In the midst of this arose innumerable trees,
standing up, black, blighted, and withered in the red fire; while over
them the smoke leaped and rolled as it bounded upward. Nearer, the fires
were brighter, for here they were incessantly advancing to attack new
trees: and the flames could be seen darting, like lightning, upward
from twig to twig, and from bough to bough, until tree after tree was
enveloped in the raging fire. These were the cause of those flashes
which he had noticed further up the stream, and indicated the advance of
the fire in this direction. The foreground was thus most brilliant, most
active, and most thrilling; but the background, with its innumerable
array of blackened trunks rising from the midst of that dull, angry fire
glow, and surrounded by the dark smoke clouds, formed a scene that was
yet more terrible.



XVIII.

_The Conflagration.--A dread Alternative.--Forward or backward.--A bold
Decision.--The Hood.--A terrible Venture.--The red Place of Flame.--The
Place of the fiery Glow.--The toppling Tree.--A Struggle for Life.--The
fiery Atmosphere.--The last supreme Moment._


AS this sight thus came upon his view, Phil drove his float towards the
shore on the left, until his feet touched bottom; and standing here he
looked down the river upon the conflagration. Away before him stretched
that vista of fire, the pathway before him led through an avenue of
flame, the burning forest glowed on either side, while overhead the vast
volumes of smoke rolled along, and around him fell showers of ashes.
There before him through that scene of terror lay his pathway; the way
which lie thought was leading him to safety had brought him here; the
river, to which he had intrusted himself, had borne him along to this;
and at the very moment when his hopes had been most excited, they were
dashed at once to the ground.

And what now?

What should he do?

Could he go back?

Go back? No; that was a simple impossibility. How should he go back? Not
through the woods, for he could make but small advance through the dense
forest that now surrounded him; not up the stream, for how could his
strength bear him on against this current? He would have to wander for
days before he could reach the place which he had left that morning; and
of what avail would it be if he did reach it? What would he do? Where
could he go? No; to go back was not to be thought of.

He saw plainly that he had now to make choice from, one of two
alternatives.

One was to remain here and wait for the fires to subside.

The other was to go forward.

Now, the idea of waiting here was intolerable. To wait here idle, or,
perhaps, slowly retreating before the advancing fires, enduring day
after day the hunger, the fatigue, and the misery of such a situation,
seemed the worst fate conceivable. Where could he sleep at night?
How could he endure living in the water by day? Besides, the fire was
evidently advancing in a direction which led it up stream; so that he
would merely be driven before it back to his old quarters, to perish
miserably. To be driven back before the fires would be a lingering
death. It was not to be thought of, so long as any other course was
possible.

What, then, was the other course?

The other course was--to go forward.

To go forward!

This was what Phil longed to do, with longing unspeakable. To go forward
would lead him farther down the river. To go forward would carry him
beyond the fires. Once let him pass the place where the fire raged, and
then he would be on the other side of it; out of its hot breath; away
from its stifling smoke. Could he but once make that passage, all would
be well. To him it seemed as though on the other side of those fires
there lay the abodes of men, and open lands, and pure air, and help, and
liberty, and life. It was there that he longed to go.

But between him and what he fancied to lie beyond, there lay a barrier,
terrific, tremendous, whose fullest horrors were unknown; a barrier that
seemed impassable--irremovable. How could he hope to overcome it?

Under any other circumstances, the idea of passing that barrier could
not, of course, be entertained. But there was one thing in Phil’s
situation which made him think that the deed might be done; that it was
not impossible, or even difficult. This one thing that gave hope was the
river. Its stream might still bear him on its bosom, amidst those fires;
he might find protection in its running waters. He could keep cool amid
that fervent heat; and as the stream would itself bear him on, he would
not need to make any efforts except those which served to guide him in a
right course.

As he thought of this, and of the possibility of making his passage, he
felt eager to go, but was restrained by other thoughts.

How far might those fires extend? How long could he endure the presence
of those flaming woods, even in the waters of the river? Could he
breathe? Would not the intense heat make breathing impossible? That
burning district might extend for many and many a mile; and if he once
ventured there, how would he ever get out of it? Or again, might not
that possible obstacle in the river waters, which he had dreaded, be
found down there amid the burning forests? And if so, what a
terrible fate would be his!--to be arrested amid raging fires by a
cataract--unable to advance, unable to retreat, unable to go ashore! If
he could only form some idea as to the possible extent of the fire,--if
he could only see beyond that next turn in the river, and find out how
far those fiery shores ran on,--then he might know whether there was any
hope. But this was impossible. The land before his eyes was a land of
fire; its trees blackened by the fire, or still glowing red as they
quivered under its attack; and there was no way by which he might know
anything more than this.

At last there came a thought which gave him great encouragement. He
thought that the fire in its march must exhaust itself after a certain
time, and that after the trees were actually consumed there must be a
departure of the heat. It was in the advanced part of its march that it
maintained this furnace glow; at a certain dis tance behind, the heat
might not be intolerable. If, therefore, he could traverse the flames
and the fire that he saw before him, he might find the country beyond
not much worse than it was here.

This thought, this hope, decided him. He determined to stake everything
upon this, and venture upon that fiery path.

But before he attempted it he made the only preparation possible. What
he dreaded most was the scorching glow of those flames; and as he did
not know to what extent they might affect him, he wished above all
things to guard his head against that danger.

He therefore unbound his clothes from the log, and took his coat out,
after which he again bound the remainder of the clothes to the place
where they had been. His coat he dipped in the river until it was
saturated with the water, and then carefully adjusted it over his head,
tying the sleeves under his chin so that it served the purpose of a
hood. In this way he hoped to have a protection from the heat of the
burning forest, while his eyes would be shaded from the dazzling and
blinding glare, and would be able to watch without interruption or
impediment the course of the river.

With these simple preparations Phil breathed a short prayer, committing
himself to the care of God, and then summoning up all his courage, he
directed his float down the stream once more, and then boldly launching
forth, he dared the terrible journey. Once more the waters received him
to their embrace; once more the river enfolded him, and bore him gently
onward; once more he swept past the shores, and saw them recede on
either side. The current bore him on. The fire drew near.

The fire drew near--and nearer. He felt its hot breath, growing hotter
upon his brow--nearer yet--and then, at length, the flames dashed
forward, the green trees passed from his line of vision, and his eyes
saw nothing but one vast and far-reaching glare.

He plunged his head beneath the water, and held it under as long as he
could. When he raised it again he found himself farther on in the midst
of the flaming trees. The heat of the air was intense, yet not so much
so as he had feared. His dripping coat hung round his head, protecting
him. His course was true, for looking forward he saw that he was still
in the very middle of the stream.

One look was sufficient, and then, desiring to prepare himself as much
as possible for the worst that the fire might bring against him, he once
more plunged his head under.

When he next raised his head, he found the scene somewhat changed. The
dazzling flash of leaping, up-springing flames had passed away. He had
moved past the advanced line of the fire where the flames were assailing
the light twigs and foliage of the trees, and had come to that inner
portion where the trees were standing bare of everything that the flame
could destroy; skeletons--glowing red in the embrace of consuming fire.
The glow was all around--on the ground, on the trees--and the emanation
of heat was far more intense. The air was now like that of a room heated
to an intense degree; yet, to his immense relief, it was not worse than
he had known air to be before; and to him it seemed like the atmosphere
of a room overheated on some winter day. He could breathe without
difficulty, and thanks to his extemporized hood, and his plunges under
water, he did not feel that scorching glow of the hot fires that he
might otherwise have felt. Well was it for him that he was spared
the necessity of exertion. In that atmosphere any exertion would have
overcome him in a very short time. As it was he had only to cling to his
float, steer it straight, and from time to time plunge his head under
water.

In this way he was borne steadily on, and succeeded in preserving
himself from destruction during that first entrance into the avenue of
flame. He was now in the avenue of fire, and over this the flood bore
him, until at length he reached that bend on the river which he had seen
before starting upon this last journey.

The river turned to the right, and swept away for about as great a
distance as lay between this bend and the last one. As Phil looked at it
in eager and anxious scrutiny, he saw to his dismay that the fire glow
covered all the land before him, and on either side. He had been too
sanguine, and had not made sufficient allowance for the tenacity of
the fire where it once has fixed its grasp. There rose the trees--the
skeletons--red--glowing in a fervid glow; and the air was hotter
here--more torrid--more stagnant.

Here, then, Phil found a severer trial than any which he had yet
experienced; and the sight of these new regions, all glowing in the
wide-spread conflagration, showing far and wide the withering signs
of fiery devastation, filled him with awe and apprehension. There was
nothing, however, which he could do. He could only do as he had been
doing, and draw his hood over his face as far as he could without
obstructing the view, and guide himself in the right course, and
occasionally plunge beneath the waters so as to maintain the protection
that was afforded by the moisture and the sheltering hood.

The time seemed long as he thus drifted on; but at length, to his great
joy, he reached the next bend in the river, and began slowly to pass
around it.

But the joy which he had felt at reaching this place soon passed away,
when, on turning the point and entering upon the new course of the
river, he beheld before him an unchanged scene of devastation. There, as
before, the glowing fire appeared on the ground below and in the trees
above; the latter rising all red in the fire, and crumbling slowly
beneath its touch. One difference there was; and that was, that in
this new scene the conflagration seemed to be farther advanced; giant
branches fell to the ground; tall trees toppled over, and the silence
that had reigned was now broken by the thunder of those falling masses.

The air here was also hotter; for as the fire had been burning longer,
so everything was affected by its long intensity. Now it was that Phil
first began to find something approximating to what he had dreaded--a
heat which made breathing difficult, and made the air like that at the
mouth of a furnace.

Through this he drifted on as before. His soul already began to yield to
despondency; while hope grew fainter, and a dark dismay gradually took
possession of his heart. How could it end? Would it ever end? Were there
any limits to the burning woods? Must he thus go drifting on, and find
that every new scene, as it opened up, was worse than its predecessor?

So he drifted on.

As he thus went on, he suddenly saw immediately before him, on the edge
of the bank, a tree which was slanting over the river, and seemed to
him to be swaying, or toppling slowly over. It had been assailed most
fiercely by the flames. Its trunk and branches were all glowing red,
while the fire seemed to have burned into the ground, and consumed those
roots which had thus far held it in its place. The slight movement
had arrested Phil, and instinctively he turned his course towards the
opposite shore. The tree was tall, but whether it could reach across
the river, he could not tell. It seemed to be falling, and if it did,
it would fall across the stream. Thus Phil, by a blind instinct, shifted
his course slightly.

[Illustration: 0261]

The tree slowly tilted over. It descended farther and farther. Phil
at that same moment was being borne on by the current. The danger was
imminent. The tree would fall upon him. With a frantic effort he threw
himself nearer to the shore, and as he did so, the tree descended. Phil
let go the log, and swam towards the shore. There was a rush, and a
sweep through the air; a rattling, crashing sound, followed by a hiss,
as the red-hot mass touched the water; there was the shower of a million
sparks, and then all was still.

Phil felt every fibre of his frame tingle with horror, and thrill with
a sense of descending ruin. But the moment passed. His feet touched
bottom. He turned and looked around. There, about three yards from him,
lay the tree, its roots still on the other bank, and its top buried
beneath the water. With a wild, despairing glance Phil looked for
his float. Even as he looked, he saw it slowly emerge from the water,
several yards below where the tree lay. For the tree in its descent had
struck it, and dashed it to the bottom of the river; but fortunately it
had become disentangled, and the current had freed it from the tree, and
there it floated, ready once more to assist him.

Phil swam down the stream towards it, and almost fainting with the
fatigue of this exertion, he clung to it motionless, panting heavily,
and now scarcely able even to guide himself aright.



XIX.

_The black Place of Desolation.--Blue Sky.--Open Heavens.--The Glory of
the Sunshine.--Green Hills.--The open Sea once more.--Along the Road.--A
strange, a very strange Encounter.--The Wandering Leper.--Naaman the
Syrian._


PANTING heavily, and almost fainting with exhaustion, Phil drifted on,
clinging with a convulsive grasp to his log, and scarce conscious of his
surroundings. It was the current that now guided him, for he for some
time was incapable of making any effort to guide himself. Several times
he instinctively thrust his head under the water; and each time, though
this did not ease his breathing, it at least caused relief by the
grateful coolness and the drip of the water over his face. Drifting on
in this way, he remained for some time without noticing the shores on
either side, too much taken up with his own sensations to regard any
external things. He had a general idea that the fires were all around
him still; but he no longer sought with his former eager scrutiny to
find some signs favorable to his own hopes.

But at length he regained his breath, and began once more to look
around. The first thing that he noticed was, that the heat had very
materially lessened. The next thing was, that the land of the fiery glow
had passed away. Around him there was now, not a fiery country, but a
black and devastated country, out of which smoke was still arising in
places, but from which the fire had departed, having done its work. He
now saw that while he had been in a half senseless state he had been
carried along; that the current had drifted him away from the place
where the fire was now raging, to a place where it raged no longer--to a
place where the air was cooler--where it was purer--where the smoke was
much diminished. All around, and all before, the country was black, and
there arose a forest of charred and blackened trees; but this sight,
hideous though it might be in itself, was inexpressibly delightful to
eyes that had just gazed upon the fire in its wrath.

He began to understand his position now. This was the very thing that he
had hoped for when first he ventured to make the passage. His hope had
been realized. The fire was advancing up the stream. He had passed
the front line of flame, the second line of fire, and now reached the
blackened and desolate tract that lay in the rear of the conflagration.
Here the hot breath of the fire existed no longer. Here the air was
purer--it grew cooler at every yard of his progress forward.

It was, probably, this cooler air that had revived him, and given him
back the breath that he had nearly lost forever at that time of his
struggle near the falling tree.

He looked up. The smoke was thinner overhead. Before him the skies were
brighter, and in one place the glorious blue of heaven was discernible.
It was the first bit of blue sky that he had seen since first he entered
these ill-omened woods; and it seemed to him to be the harbinger of
safety, and liberty, and life. His whole soul roused itself in joyous
hope; the last vestige of his dismay and despondency departed, and
even his weakness and bodily languor left him. He gave a cry of joy; he
breathed a prayer of thankfulness to the merciful One who had preserved
him from a terrible fate; and then, grasping his float with a strong
and nervous clutch, he once more put forth his efforts to quicken his
progress, and struck out with strong and rapid strokes.

Every moment his prospects increased. The smoke faded away more and
more, and the blue sky unfolded itself, until at last the glorious sun
burst forth to view, and threw upon him those bright and gladdening rays
to which he had been a stranger for so many days. There came up also a
breeze, and it fanned his flushed face, bringing healing on its wings;
and as he inhaled it there seemed in it something which was like a new
life, something which gave new strength and energy to the body, and new
joy and hope to the soul. At last he could breathe freely. The air had
lost all that oppressiveness which it had so long had. No longer was
there perceptible the abhorrent smell of smoke. He had emerged from
the fire and the smoke, and wherever he was, he had at least left these
things behind. He had no idea where he was, or whither he was going;
it was enough for him to know that he had escaped from the fire and the
woods.

He had been long in the water, but he had no desire to leave it. The
land was not inviting, while his present mode of progress was easy and
agreeable. He chose, therefore, to drift on until he should reach some
place where he might rest.

At length there appeared before him something green. It looked like the
foliage of trees. It rose above the black land and the charred stumps of
the burnt district, and seemed to be some place which the fire had not
reached. Was it some green oasis in this desert of devastation, or was
it some new forest as boundless, as uninhabited, and as desolate as the
one in which he had been lost? At that moment it mattered not to him
what it was, so long as it was some place that was free from the touch
of fire.

Onward he drifted, and the stream took a turn, and swept forward. Here
the green foliage appeared full before him. It was of no great extent.
Beyond it there was no vast forest, but only the sky. It seemed as
though in one place there might be a broad plain, so low did it lie, and
so open was it, and bare of trees. This place he watched with the most
eager scrutiny. To this he came nearer and nearer. The space broadened
every moment, until at last he thought that it must indeed be a wide
plain--if plain it was.

Nearer he drew and nearer. Then, at length, a suspicion came to his mind
that startled him greatly. Nearer he came, and nearer, and the suspicion
changed to reality, for there, full before him, lay nothing less than
the sea!

The sea!

Yes, the sea! The river ran into a harbor. The harbor opened out into
the sea. It was not a bay. It was the sea, with the distant horizon
touching the sky. Before he had reached the green spot, he came to a
place where a bridge had been, and of which nothing now remained but
some charred timbers. This showed him that he could not be very far from
human habitations. A little below this he reached the green spot, and,
landing here, he loosened his clothes from the log, and dressed himself.
They were wet; but his watch was still ticking bravely, and marked three
o’clock. His matches were also dry, and a piece of trout left from his
morning’s repast was still there unharmed. This he ate with an eager
appetite.

He spread out his wet coat upon the grass, and lay down by it, and,
while resting, deliberated about what he ought next to do. Where he was
he had not the faintest idea. He could not be on the Bay de Chaleur, for
then the opposite shore would be visible; but here there was no shore
opposite. He thought that it must be the Gulf of St. Lawrence. If so,
then that bridge must belong to the road that ran along the shore, and
settlements could not be very far away.

He was now too impatient to rest any longer, and was so eager to find
out where the road led to, that he took his half-dried coat over his
arm, and started off towards the burnt bridge. The road here seemed to
be pretty well travelled, and the sight of this stimulated still more
his desire of reaching some house; so he at once set off.

He walked for about a mile, through a district that had been burnt, and
then came to the seashore again. Here the trees were green, and there
were no signs of fire. There was a cool and refreshing breeze now from
off the sea, and the hope of finding a house stimulated him to such a
degree that he maintained a rapid walk for at least another mile.

And now, as he ascended a slight elevation, he saw a figure, on the
road before him, advancing towards him. It was a boy that he saw. He was
walking wearily, and seemed both tired and dejected. He was looking at
the ground.

Phil hurried towards him. The boy did not notice him till he had come
quite close. Then he looked up.

As Phil saw that face, he stood for a moment speechless with amazement
and delight.

It was Pat!

“Pat!” he cried. “Pat!”

He could say no more. Tears of joy started to his eyes. He grasped Pat’s
hand in his, and looked at him, completely overcome. He was too deeply
agitated to notice Pat’s face or manner, but stood overcome by his own
emotions.

“So you’ve been after me,” said Phil. “Where are the rest of them?
Where’s Bart? How did you get here? What place is this? Only think of my
getting out here--and only a few minutes ago--and then meeting with you!
But where are the others? Come, I’m crazy to see Bart. I declare I never
was so utterly confounded in my life! But what’s the matter with you?”

In the midst of Phil’s eager torrent of exclamations and questions,
he was struck by something very peculiar in Pat’s face, and in Pat’s
manner, and ended all with this abrupt question.

In fact, Pat’s appearance was very peculiar.

His face was pale, and had an anxious expression. His eyes, generally so
merry, and open, and frank, were now furtive and suspicious; and instead
of showing any pleasure at the sight of Phil, he started back, and
snatched his hand away.

At Phil’s question Pat gave a very heavy sigh, and made no answer.

“Pat, Pat, what is the matter?” cried Phil again. “Has anything
happened? Where’s Bart? What is the matter?”

“Matther,” muttered Pat. “Matther enough, surely, as ye’ll know to yer
sorra.”

At this Phil stared at him in amazement. Pat was so totally changed from
his former self, that he couldn’t comprehend it at all.

“Come, Pat,” said he, “don’t keep me in suspense. I see by your manner
that some horrible thing has happened to some of you. Which is it? Is it
Bart?”

Pat shook his head.

“It’s me,” said he, in a dismal voice. “Me. I’m the one.”

“You! Why, what do you mean?”

“I’m a leper!” wailed Pat.

“You, what? You’re what? What are you talking about?”

“You’ll know soon enough. An maybe ye’ll find out from shakin my hand
the way ye did jist now.”

“Shaking your hand!”

“Yis,” said Pat. “Ayven the touch of me’s on-whowlsome, so it is. An
I’ve got that on me that’s goin to be the death of me afore long, so it
is.”

“See here, Pat,” cried Phil, anxiously. “Tell me what’s the matter, like
a good fellow. You make me horribly anxious. What do you mean?”

“Och, sure, an what’s the use? Didn’t I say it? What are ye tormentin me
for to say it again? Haven’t I just run away whin it’s too late
intirely? An the leprosy’s tuk, so it has!”

“The--the what? What’s that?” asked Phil. “Sure an haven’t I been sayin
that it’s a leper I am,” cried Pat, despairingly.

“A leper!” repeated Phil, who began to think that poor Pat was
quite insane, and wondered what he ought to do with him under the
circumstances.

“I’ve happened among lepers,” said Pat. “I’ve bathed in the leper
wather--an that’s the way I tuk it. I’ve ate wid the leper praste; an
Bart’s wid him now--in the wuds--they’re huntin afther you; but I ran
for it--for I was hopin to get away before the leprosy tuk--but tuk it
did--in spite of me; and that’s all about it.”

“I don’t understand you,” said Phil, in bewilderment, for Pat’s remarks
had some degree of connectedness, and did not sound quite like insanity
except his allusions to leprosy. “I don’t understand,” said he, “what
you mean about leprosy.”

“Sure it’s the Lazaretto, at Tracadie, I mean. I got the leprosy by
bathin, so I did--an aitin wid the leper praste.”

“You’ll have to explain. This is all nonsense. Come, Pat, don’t make a
fool of yourself. You’ve got some absurd idea in your head, Come, tell
me all about it, for I can’t make it out at all, you know.”

“Well, it’s this way,” said Pat, with undiminished dolefulness; “ony
don’t be kapin too nair me if ye vally yer life--this was the way of it.
Ye see we wandhered about the wuds afther ye, an sure enough before we
knowed it we got lost ourselves. Well, we wandhered about, and at last
we come out in a place they call Tracadie, an bad luck to it. So we mit
a praste that was all smiles and blarney, an he tuk us to his house
an gave us fud. Well, thin, I wint out for a walk, an I see a bit
of wather, an wint to it to have a bit of a swim. Well, I come to a
onwhowlsome lookin place, wid ghosts of people in it, that wud fairly
make yer blood run cowld to look at, an I stared at thim, an walked
right close to thim, an brathed their brith, an walked over their
ground, an wint on to the wather, an ondrissed, an wint in. An I shwam
there nearly an hour, an thin I wint back, an what do ye think the
praste towld me.”

“What?” asked Phil.

“Sure, he up an he towld us that the onwhowlsome lookin house wor a
lazaretto, an the ghosts of people there wor lepers--nothin else--an
he said he wor the leper praste, an spint the most of his time wid thim
same--sittin wid thim--talkin wid thim--feelin thim--handlin thim--an
brathin the poison leper air. An he towld us that the wather was the
leper wather, where the lepers bathed. An I had bathed there,” cried
Pat, with a burst of despair. “An I’d tuk a shwirn there,” he cried,
with another burst. “An I’d been in the house of the leper praste,”--a
groan--“an I’d sat on his chairs,”--another groan--“an I’d ate at his
table,”--a howl--“an I’d swallowed his fud,”--another howl--“an I’d been
gettin the leprosy meself all the time,” and a cry that was something
like a yell of despair terminated Pat’s story.

Phil listened to all this, and felt puzzled.

“I don’t know what you mean by lazarettos,” said he, “and lepers. I
did’nt know the disease was in this country.”

“Well, it is, thin,” moaned Pat. “An I’ll soon be there too, so I will.”

“Nonsense,” said Phil, impatiently. “Did you ask the priest if there was
any danger?”

“Och, sure he wouldn’t be afther committin himsilf.”

“Didn’t he say anything about it?”

“He did, thin.”

“What did he say?”

“Why, he said he had lived among the lepers all his life, an visited
thim almost every day; but wor as well a man as anybody. An he said the
disease couldn’t be caught.”

“Did he say that?” cried Phil. “Why, of course. I knew that. You are
mistaken altogether.”

“Sure, an how does the praste know? His time’ll come yit, so it will.”

“Nonsense! This isn’t the real leprosy, at all. It’s some disease that’s
hereditary, I dare say; but it isn’t contagious. Pooh! how absurd! Why,
Pat, what could have put such a notion into your head. The leper water
is all nonsense. What harm could it do you to bathe in the sea? If all
the lepers in the world were bathing at the same time, they couldn’t
affect the sea water.”

Phil now began to reason with Pat, and he spoke so earnestly and so
confidently, that at last Pat’s fears began to yield. Phil showed him
that he couldn’t possibly have the leprosy yet, and assured him that
he wasn’t going to have it. Finally, he told him the story of the most
famous of all lepers--Naaman the Syrian. From this story he proved
so conclusively that there were some kinds of leprosy that were not
contagious, that Pat hadn’t a word to say. The story produced a profound
and most beneficial effect upon Pat’s mind.

“Sure an I niver thought of him before. Why didn’t I think of ould
Naymin? An him the chafe gineral of the Misaypytamyins, so he was. Sure
an there wer nothin contagious in that leprosy. The leper Naymin! Sure
an what a fool I wor niver to think of the leper Naymin!”



XX.

_Fish for Breakfast.--The Cottage and the Schooner.--A familiar
Sight.--The old Boat.--Sinking in deep Waters.--An exciting and amazing
Meeting.--The Flag.--Bart on the Road.--A strange Discovery.--A fresh
Surprise._


THE happy suggestion of Phil brought infinite relief to Pat; and the
story of Naaman the Syrian had sufficient power over him to dispel his
fears, and restore his olden peace of mind. So great was the reaction
now, that he went to the other extreme; and being of a very excitable
and volatile temperament, he exhibited a joy as immoderate as his grief
had been but a short time before. He made Phil tell him all about his
adventures; and as he listened to all the dangers through which his
friend had gone, his warm Irish heart overflowed with the truest
sympathy, and he followed the story with a running accompaniment of
ejaculations of the most animated character. As for his own story, he
had already told it; but there yet remained the tale of his flight in
the woods. This he confessed without reservation, and informed Phil that
he had been wandering in the woods all day, and had stumbled out upon
the road only about an hour ago. He had seen no houses, and had met no
people. This information at once changed Phil’s plans. If Pat had seen
no inhabitants after an hour’s walk, it was clearly useless for him to
go any farther that day. He was worn out with the exertions that he had
made, and longed for rest. Pat also confessed that he was on the borders
of starvation, and was too tired to go any farther. Upon this, they both
resolved to remain here for the night.

It was now somewhat late in the day, but not too late to preclude the
possibility of catching some fish for supper. On Phil’s suggesting this,
Pat received it with an enthusiasm that was altogether like his old
self; and as there was no time to lose, they at once set out in search
of a brook. Pat remembered passing one not more than half a mile from
this place; so they proceeded in this direction, which was the same
in which Phil had been going. Pat’s story had served to give him some
general idea of his whereabouts. Pat had been at Tracadie; and though he
had lost his way, yet there was every reason to believe that they were
now not very far away from that place, on the shore of the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, and most probably to the northward; for though Pat did not
know exactly his position, yet he was sure that he must have come out of
the woods farther north than Tracadie.

After about a half mile’s walk they reached a brook and began to fish.
Their success was not brilliant, but any fish at all were very welcome
at such a time; and the half dozen or so which they succeeded in hooking
were regarded by them as capable of affording a repast which a king
might envy. They soon had a fire burning, and broiled the fish on the
coals, and thus made their dinner. Among the woods here they found a
district which had escaped the ravages of the fire, and here they passed
the night. They went to rest a little after sundown, and awoke the next
morning before day. They then made a breakfast off the remains of their
evening’s repast, and were ready for a start.

There was no question now as to the route which they should take. Pat
had been walking in a direction the very opposite of that in which Phil
had been going, but he had no desire now to persist in it. Then he felt
himself to be a victim of one of the most cruel fates that can befall
mankind, and was seeking to fly from it, anywhere, no matter where. Now,
however, thanks to Phil, and to Naaman, he felt himself to be a victim
no longer, and was anxious to get back to the place where Bart was or
might be. He felt also a kind of pride arising from the fact that he had
been the first one to find Phil; and the pride was quite as strong as
it would have been if he had found Phil by his own actual efforts. The
circumstances under which their meeting had taken place he dismissed
from his mind, and chose rather to dwell upon the fact that his
confidence in Phil’s ability to take care of himself had been completely
vindicated. So now, on that morning, as they renewed their walk, there
remained in Pat’s mind not a vestige of his foolish fears; but instead
of them there was a sense of triumph, a consciousness of superior merit,
and a sweet anticipation of the glory that would now be his, as he
brought back Phil in safety.

Their frugal repast did not occupy many minutes, and the sun had not yet
risen when they started. They were eager to go on, and so they walked at
a rapid pace. The road was a very primitive one, and had they been in
a carriage, their progress would have been rough and slow; but on foot
they were able to avoid the deep ruts and numerous irregularities, and
make a very good progress indeed. After about an hour, they came within
sight of a harbor. They had been for some time out of sight of the sea,
and this prospect filled them with the hope that they were not very
far from Tracadie. To Pat, the sight of the harbor gave very strong
recollections of that place. The water was very smooth, and seemed like
a lake. A long, narrow strip of land separated the harbor from the outer
sea, and the general appearance of the place was very much like that of
the “leper wather” in which Pat had bathed. As they advanced towards
it, the sun rose; and as the glorious orb ascended from the ocean, their
whole sight was filled with the splendor of his appearance.

Looking now upon the scene before them, they saw at last the signs
of man. On the shore was a small cottage, and near the shore, in the
harbor, was a small schooner. These were both only a short distance
away, and to these they hastened. On reaching the cottage they went up
to it, but to their great disappointment found that it was deserted and
in ruins. The door was gone, and it seemed as though it had not been
inhabited for some time.

“We’ve got to go on further,” said Pat. “There must be more houses
further on.”

“I wish we could find out where we are,” said Phil. “I wonder if any one
is on board of that schooner.”

Saying this, he cast longing eyes upon the schooner before mentioned.
It was anchored in front of the cottage, not far away from the shore. It
was a small vessel, and somewhat shabby, and behind it there was a boat
floating in the water.

“It looks as if there was some one on board,” said Pat. “They’ve got the
boat there!”

“I wish I could go and ask them where we are,” said Phil; and saying
this, he walked towards the beach.

As he did so he saw a boat upon the beach. It was old and dilapidated,
like the house to which it seemed to belong. No sooner had he seen it,
than he was struck by the thought that he might manage to get to the
schooner by means of this; so he began to examine it very narrowly. It
was very clumsily constructed, and looked more like a box than a boat;
but it was strong, and though dilapidated, it still looked as though it
might float for the short distance that separated the schooner from the
shore.

“I’ll try it,” said Phil.

“Thry what?” asked Pat.

“Why, I’ll go out to the schooner in this boat.”

“How’ll we row her?” said Pat. “We haven’t any oars.”

“Well, in the first place, it can’t hold more than one; so you’ll have
to stay, unless you want to go very particularly.”

“Niver a bit do I,” said Pat. “I’m not brakin my heart about it, so I
ain’t. I’ll stay an welcome.”

“Then I’ll go,” said Phil, “and you wait. I’ll have to get something
though, that’ll do for an oar.”

Saying this, he went back to the house, and looked about for some time.
At length he found a pole lying near the well, and taking this, he went
back to the boat. Pat and he then pushed it from the shore into the
water. It floated.

“Hurrah!” said Phil. “It’ll carry me out that far any way.”

“Sure an don’t ye see the wather, how it’s rowlin an rushin in?” cried
Pat.

Phil looked, and saw that the boat was, indeed, anything but
water-tight, for the water was oozing in through numerous cracks and
crevices.

“It’ll take me out that far,” said he; and with these words he jumped
into the boat, and thrusting the pole into the ground, he pushed her
off.

Pat stood watching his movements with great interest.

Phil pushed for some time, thrusting his pole down to the bottom, and
made excellent progress. In this way he reached a point more than half
way to the schooner. Here, however, it grew too deep, and he had to use
the pole as a paddle. It was but a clumsy instrument for this purpose,
and his progress was but slow; still he managed to draw nearer to his
destination, and worked with commendable diligence. But unfortunately
there was something more to be considered than mere progress forward,
and that was the condition of the boat itself. For while Phil was
gaining on the schooner, the water was gaining on him. By the time that
he had reached half way, the water was over his ankles. Had his progress
continued at the same rate, he might have reached the schooner without
any very great inconvenience; but as it was, the water rushed in faster
and faster, and in spite of his efforts he began to fear that he would
not reach his destination. Fortunately for him, the schooner happened to
be lying with her stern towards the shore, and the schooner’s boat was
thus brought nearer to him. This materially lessened the distance to be
traversed. He now sought to reach the schooner’s boat. He paddled with
desperate efforts, and as he paddled the water rose higher. At length
he found himself within reach of the schooner’s boat; he flung out his
pole, and sought to pull it nearer. As he did so the boat began to sink
under him. The water rose to his knees. At that instant the schooner’s
boat was within reach, and flinging himself forward, he half scrambled,
half tumbled into it.

Then quite out of breath, he sat down, and rested for a moment, while
the boat by which he had come slowly drifted off. At this moment a shout
of joy came from Pat, who had been watching the proceedings with intense
interest.

But Phil’s movements had not been unnoticed on board the schooner; and,
indeed, he had made noise enough to rouse any who might be there. He was
not surprised, therefore, when he heard movements on board, and voices,
and footsteps. So he looked up, without rising, so as to see those on
board, who might be moving.

Phil had not been surprised at the sound of movements on board; but he
was very greatly surprised, indeed, at the sight of the person who met
his eyes.

As he looked up some one advanced to the stern and looked down upon
him. It was an aged person, with a mild face, and a gracious eye, and a
benevolent smile. He wore a pea-jacket, and his head was covered with a
souwester. It was a face the sight of which almost made Phil bound out
of the boat.

While this person excited such emotions in the breast of Phil, his own
emotions at the sight of Phil were no less strong. There he was, in the
schooner’s boat, with no visible means by which his appearance there
could be explained. The person in the schooner, therefore, stared at
Phil, and then removing his hat with one hand, with the other hand he
thoughtfully scratched his venerable head, and then slowly ejaculated,--

“Go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-d thunder!”

“Captain Corbet!” exclaimed Phil, in indescribable amazement.

And then they both stared at each other in silence.

But the silence was soon broken. Footsteps were heard, and soon one
after another heads appeared, and then bodies, and then the new comers
stood by the side of Captain Corbet, staring over the stern at Phil in
mute astonishment.

And Phil stared back at them all in astonishment fully equal to their
own.

It was Bruce Bawdon!

And Arthur!

And Tom!

As for Phil, he could not utter a word. Nor could the others on board
the schooner.

But Pat, the excited watcher on the shore--Pat had seen it all, and
he was anything but mute. Mute? He howled. He yelled. He vociferated
unintelligible volleys of frantic exclamations, addressed to each by
turns. Then words failed, and he began to dance.

At length Phil pulled the boat up, and scrambled on board the schooner,
and was seized by all the boys in turn, and overwhelmed with questions;
while he, on his part, overwhelmed them with questions quite as eager
and quite as numerous.

Their story was soon told. They had left at the time mentioned by Bruce
in his letter to Bart, and had been cruising along the coast of the Gulf
of St. Lawrence. They had arrived here the day before, and as they were
in no hurry, they had anchored for the night, with the intention of
doing a little fishing. Their place of rendezvous was Shippegan, which
was not far away, and they had a week to spare as yet. They had no idea
that Bart would leave so much before the time, and could not understand
how Phil had found them.

Phil’s story was soon told; for, as he was a modest boy, he did not
dwell upon his own adventures to anything like the extent which I have
done; and so they learned that their meeting was purely accidental, and
that Phil had been lost, and had found Pat, who had been lost also,
and that these two lost ones had stumbled upon them here, in Tracadie
lagoon.

All of which elicited wonder, and laughter, and shouts, and no end of
eager questions, and excited exclamations. In the midst of this Tom
rushed off, and by way of giving proper expression to the feelings which
agitated them all, he brought forth the flag of the B. O. W. C. from the
cabin of the Antelope, where, strangely enough, it had been left since
their last voyage; and in a few minutes he had hoisted it aloft, where
it fluttered, and floated, and waved triumphantly in the fresh morning
breeze.

And now Phil thought of Pat, and mentioned that he was upon the shore;
whereupon Bruce rushed to the boat to go for him. As he leaped in, Phil
and the others looked towards the place where Pat had been standing, and
saw a wagon and two persons, a boy and a man, talking with Pat.

Now, you know, that very morning Bart had left along with the priest,
on his way to the north, to carry on his search after Phil. It was
early when they left, but as the road was rough, their progress was not
particularly rapid. Still they did make some progress, and in process
of time they reached the place where the schooner lay anchored. This
schooner excited Bart’s attention, for there was something in her
general appearance that was strangely familiar. As they drew nearer they
saw a number of figures on the deck, running to and fro, and giving all
possible signs of the greatest possible excitement. Suddenly, in the
midst of this, he saw a flag ascend, and float in the breeze. It
was dark in color, and of a nondescript character, and at first its
emblazonment was not distinctly visible. Soon, however, he came near
enough to see it. Then the whole thing was disclosed.

It was the well-known flag--his flag--the flag that had waved over the
most memorable events of his life--the flag of the B. O. W. C.!

The thing was astonishing, yet not incomprehensible. He saw that the
Antelope had probably been cruising about these waters on her way to
Shippegan. He saw that he had come upon her in an amazing manner; but
what seemed incomprehensible was the excitement on her deck. What
was the cause, and what did it mean? It could not be that they had
recognized him, and had done this in honor of his arrival. No; it must
be something else.

He said nothing to the priest, but sat filled with excitement, waiting
till they should come near. In this way they approached the old
house, and beside the shore he saw a figure dancing, jumping, yelling,
shouting, waving his cap, and indulging in a thousand fantastic
gestures.

This figure was Pat.

The wagon stopped, and Bart jumped out, followed by the priest. In a
few minutes Bart understood all. First of all, Phil had been found;
secondly, he was on board the schooner, and the excitement was about
him; and thirdly, Pat claimed the honor of discovering Phil.

In the midst of this a boat approached the shore, and soon Bruce Rawdon
stood before them, giving them an uproarious welcome. The arrival of
Bart had given a new turn to the excitement of the occasion, and they
all went off to the schooner, accompanied by the priest, who entered
most heartily into the spirit of the joyous scene.



XXI.

_Where is Solomon?--The Search.--The aged
Wanderer.--Recognition.--Boating.--Fishing.--Cooking.--Swimming.--The
Preparations for the Banquet.--The savory Smell.--Solomon dances a
Breakdown, and makes a Speech._


THEIR joy was long and uproarious. Innumerable were the questions which
they asked each other; but at length they succeeded in gathering from
the confusion a general idea of the fortunes of each member of the
party.

And then, in the midst of their joy, there came a mournful thought. It
was the thought that one was yet missing out of their number, and that
his fate was involved in mystery.

Where was Solomon?

Pat knew nothing more than any of the rest of them, and his story only
served to show that after leading Solomon astray, he had left him in the
midst of the forest. Where he now was, none could tell; but all saw
the necessity of doing something; and so, when Bart proposed that they
should go in search of him, they all assented most eagerly. The priest
still saw that they would require his assistance, and offered to take
them where they wished to go; while Captain Corbet felt such intense
interest in the fate of his aged friend, that he insisted on making one
of the party, and bringing Mr. Wade as an additional recruit.

Some preliminaries had to be attended to before they were able to
start, among which the first was to get themselves ashore. This was
accomplished in two trips; after which the boat was hauled up on the
beach, and tied to a tree. Then the priest had to see to the well-being
of his horse, which he did by leaving his wagon behind the house, and
letting the horse go free in the meadow.

After this the priest gave them some general advice as to their
proceedings. He reminded them of their former mishaps, and in order to
guard against their losing the way, he advised them to go on in a line,
keeping always within sound of one another, if not in sight. This they
all promised to do, and made no objection, for their recent various
adventures in the way of wandering had deeply impressed their minds.

At length they all started, as follows:--

The Priest,

Captain Corbet,

Mr. Wade,

Bruce,

Arthur,

Bart,

Tom,

Phil,

Pat.

The priest led the way, and leaving the road close by the old house,
they went straight into the woods. Soon the forest grew thick, and as
they went on, they saw that here no signs of the fire were visible,
though how far the green, unburnt forest might extend, none of them
could know. This, however, did not trouble them in the slightest, but
obeying the priest’s injunction and keeping well within hearing of one
another, the whole party went forward after their leader.

About two hours after they had disappeared in the woods, a solitary
pedestrian might have been seen slowly wending his way along the road
that leads to Tracadie. He was rather elderly, and walked slowly. His
hat was sadly battered, his hair was grizzled, and his face was of that
complexion which usually denotes the man of African descent.

As this wanderer approached the place where the schooner was anchored,
his pace quickened, and he walked onward quite rapidly until he reached
the old house. Towards this he walked, but only to discover that it
was ruined and deserted. Upon this the aged wanderer heaved a sigh, and
seating himself in the doorway, gazed intently at the schooner.

As he gazed he suddenly seemed struck by some very exciting thought. He
raised his head, still sitting, and stared for a moment most intently
at the schooner. At that moment, the flag, which had been drooping,
suddenly shook itself out, and unfolded to his astonished gaze the
escutcheon of the B. O. W. C. .

At this the aged wanderer bounded up to his feet, and rushed down to the
shore. There he stood in silence for a time, staring at the schooner,
until at length his recognition of her was complete. Whereupon he
slapped both hands on his thighs, jumped up in the air, came down on his
right foot, went up again, came down on his left, wheeled about, turned
about, and, in fact, indulged in a regular breakdown.

After this he stopped, and burst forth into long, loud, vehement, and
uproarious peals of laughter.

After which he resumed the breakdown.

And then, once more, the laughter.

Finally, he began to bawl to the schooner.

“Ship, ahoy! Hi yah! Hollo dar! What you bout? Hi-i-i-i ya-a-a-a-a-ah!
Mas’r Bruce! Mas’r Atta! Mas’r Tom! Yep. Ye-e-e-e-e-e-p!”

But as he called, no answer came, and no matter how loud his voice was,
or how eager his cry, still no response whatever was elicited.

“De sakes!” he exclaimed, “ef dis yar casium don’t beat all
creation! Wonda what dey’ll say to see ole Solomon! Dey’re all off,
suah--fishin--course. An it ain’t a mite ob good to be standin heah
yellin my ole head off. Wonda if dey had a boat!”

Saying this, he looked up and down the shore, and saw the boat a little
distance off on his right, drawn up and tied to a tree. The oar was
inside.

So intent had he been on the schooner, that he had not looked about the
house, and so had not seen the wagon which was behind it, or the horse
which was placidly feeding at no great distance off. But if he had seen
them, they would have had no interest for him, except so far as they
showed that people were using the house, and that the owner of the horse
would be back in the course of the day; and even the interest of this
discovery would have been nothing in comparison with the sight of the
Antelope. For this showed him that some of the boys were here, and
could not be far off, and would probably be back before dark. With
this conviction, Solomon proceeded to launch the boat--a task which he
accomplished with little difficulty; after which he sculled the boat out
to the schooner, and in a short time stood on board.

Arriving here, he had a full confirmation of his suppositions. It was,
indeed, the Antelope, and there was no one on board. By the signs
all around, he perceived that they could not have been gone long.
Bed-clothes lay carelessly tossed about, trunks were open, provisions
were lying on the boxes that had served for temporary tables.

It was with a sentiment of affectionate recognition that Solomon gazed
upon the old cooking-stove, at which he had frequently officiated on
former occasions, which had been impressed upon his memory by events
of such thrilling character. Over that stove he had been bowed by the
weight of heavy responsibilities, and upon it he had achieved some of
the brightest triumphs of his life. He gazed upon it long and lovingly.
He was pained to see the rust that covered it. He touched it, and with
loving hands he tried to rub the rust off one of the griddles. Alas!
he could not. That rust had fixed itself there too deeply to be easily
erased. So he gave up the attempt, and wandered back to the deck, where
he stood looking all around for some signs of the ship’s company.

No signs, however, appeared, and Solomon now began to consider how he
ought to pass the day. First of all, he decided to make things look
comfortable. To this task he set himself, rolling up the mattresses,
putting the trunks and boxes on one side, cleaning the stove as well as
it could be cleaned, and arranging the confused medley of stores which
they had brought with them. At length this task was ended, and it was
about noon.

All the rest of the day still remained, and Solomon thought that it
would be a delicate, a considerate, and a grateful act, if he were to
prepare a dinner for the ship’s company, and have it ready for them on
their return. An examination of the stores showed him various things
which his skill could combine into palatable dishes; but some thing was
still wanting; and it seemed to him that nothing could so well supply
that want as the fragrant and aromatic flavor of broiled trout. In
the brooks that meandered through the surrounding country, trout were
plentiful; and if he should now go after some, it would not only be in
the line of his duty, but he would also be able to fill up the time in
the pleasantest possible way.

So Solomon prepared his lines, which he had carried in his pocket ever
since the day when they had started off after Phil, and rowing back to
the shore, he walked back over the road till he came to a stream which
he remembered, for by that very stream he had made his escape from the
woods. Up this he went, and having cut a rod from the woods suitable for
his purposes, he proceeded up the stream in search of fish.

After an absence of several hours, he emerged once more from the woods,
at the mouth of the stream. An ecstatic smile illumined his dusky
countenance, his steps were light and active, and from time to time he
cast proud and happy glances at something which he carried in his hand.
And, in truth, that burden which he bore was worthy of exciting pride
and happiness in any bosom, for there, strung on a willow twig, were two
noble salmon, of fine proportions, sufficient for the dinner of a large
company.

With these Solomon returned to the schooner, and in due time readied it.
He then prepared the fish, and kindled the fire, and began the important
and exciting business of cooking them. While engaged upon this, however,
an idea seized upon him which sent him off into fits, in the shape of
one of those breakdowns, by which he was accustomed to let off steam.

This was what he did.

He undressed himself.

He looked all around very stealthily, and saw no signs of any human
being.

Then he jumped into the boat, sculled it ashore to the place where he
had found it, tied it to the tree, and threw the oar inside.

Then he jumped into the water, and swam back to the schooner.

Then he dressed himself.

And then, in the solitude of that lonely hold, he once more let
off steam, and proceeded to indulge in a breakdown, which was more
prolonged, more enthusiastic, more sustained, more vehement, more
emotional, more expressive, more African, more hilarious, and at the
same time more perfectly outrageous and insane than all the other
breakdowns put together.

After which he subsided into a comparative calm, and resumed his
professional duties.

Thus the hours of the day passed away, and at length evening began to
draw near.

It was near sundown when there emerged from the woods the party that had
gone into them in the morning. They were all there. None were missing.
There were--

The Priest,

Captain Corbet,

Mr. Wade,

Bruce,

Arthur,

Bart,

Tom,

Phil,

Pat.

They were not talkative; they were not demonstrative; but walked along
in silence. They came out of the woods about a quarter of a mile away
from the house, and in this silent and dejected way they walked towards
the place where the boat was. Whether that silence and dejection arose
from their disappointment at not finding Solomon, or simply from the
fatigue of a long tramp, with nothing in particular to eat, need not now
be considered; suffice it to say, that they were silent, and they
were dejected; and what is more, they were all in a state of perfect
starvation.

“The boat can’t take more’n half of us at a time,” said Captain Corbet.
“You, boys, choose among yerselves who’ll go fust.”

“Won’t you come now?” asked Bart of the priest.

“O, no,” said he. “I’ll wait. I must see about my horse. You go, and
I’ll be ready the next time.”

“Sure an I’ll wait too, an help ye wid the horse,” said Pat, who had so
utterly overcome his fears of the “leper praist” that he had struck up
a violent friendship with him. And no wonder, for the “praist” was a man
after Pat’s own heart--warmhearted, cordial, affectionate, brave, and
modest; a man who loved his fellow-men, and gave himself up to them,
even if they were abhorred lepers; and who now was putting himself to no
end of fatigue and trouble for the sake of the lost companion of a set
of harum-scarum boys. Amid all this, he never ceased to cheer them up,
to stimulate their flagging energies, to inspire them with hope,
to rouse the manliest feelings of their generous young natures. And
therefore it was that Pat fell in love with him.

Captain Corbet was not anxious to go, and so it happened that Bruce,
Arthur, Tom, Phil, and Bart got into the boat, and made the first trip,
with the understanding that Bruce was to come back for the others.

The boat approached the schooner.

As they drew near they became suddenly aware of an odor that was
wafted to their nostrils--an odor penetrating, aromatic, fragrant, and
delicious beyond all description to their famished senses; an odor
that was suggestive of some great banquet; an odor so rich that these
starving boys felt as though they might almost feed upon it.

They looked up in astonishment. They saw that smoke was issuing from the
pipe that projected above the schooner’s deck.

Some one was on board, and some one had made a fire. Some one was
cooking. Who was that some one? How did he get on board? What did it all
mean?

Such were the questions that each one asked himself; but none of them
spoke, for in fact their amazement was too great to allow them to utter
any audible words. Bruce, who was sculling, worked harder than ever,
twisting his head around at the same time that he tried to see who the
mysterious being was that had got on board the schooner. The others all
stared in the same direction; but to no purpose, for no one was visible.

At last the boat touched the schooner’s side, and they all clambered
upon the deck. Bruce was last, and had to wait a moment to fasten the
boat. When he had done this he sprang down into the hold.

He there beheld an astonishing sight. There were Arthur, and Bart, and
Tom, and Phil, close beside him, staring in silent wonder at a figure
beside the cooking-stove; while the figure beside the cooking-stove
stood with a ladle in one hand, and a dish cover in the other, enveloped
in the aromatic vapor of a broiling salmon, staring at them in equal
wonder.

“Mas’r Bart! Mas’r Phil! De sakes now!”

The ladle and the dish cover dropped from his hands. He had expected
to see only the two Rawdons and Tom; but he saw Bart and Phil also.
Consequently he was overwhelmed.

“Solomon!” cried the boys; and hurrying forward, they grasped one after
another his trembling, and perhaps slightly greasy hands.

“B’lubb’d bruddrn ob de Bee-see dubble ’Sociatium,” said Solomon
at last, in a voice that was tremulous with emotion, and with slight
indications of an approach to another breakdown. “Dis yer’s a great an
shinin casium. De sperinces we ben an had beat all creatium. We ben a
racin an a chasin arter one anoder in a way dat makes my ole head ache
to tink ob. An den to tink ob me gettin lost, and de last ob all de
venters to hab youns a marchin an a sarchin arter me! An me a huntin
roun for Mas’r Bart, an a comin dis way on de ole schooner! An den
to fine youns all heah, in good helf an sperits! B’lubb’d bruddrn, de
’motions dat’spire dis yer wenebble ole breast ain’t spressible no
ways. Durin de lass few weeks I ben called on to suffer ’flictiums,
but I nebber knowed anytin like de ’citement dat I now feels a surgin
an cumulatin inside o’ me. O, you get out! Go way, now! Sakes
alive! Ye-e-e-e-p! Hi--ya-a-a-a-h! Hi-i-i-i-i-i--ya-a-a-a-a-a-a-a
a-a-a-a-a-a-a-h!”

And Solomon here burst forth in a breakdown so tremendous and so absurd,
that the boys first started back, and then all burst into roars of
laughter, and laughed till they cried.

After which Bruce went back for the others, and brought them to the
schooner, and they all ate of Solomon’s banquet and were refreshed; and
the priest staid all night, and on the following morning bade them an
affectionate adieu; and shortly after the Antelope spread her white
wings to the breeze, and slowly, but gracefully, passed over the waters
of Tracadie lagoon, to the outer seas.



XXII.

_Away from Tracadie.--The Gulf of St. Lawrence.--The Bay de
Chaleur.--The innumerable Fishing Boats.--Along Harbor--Shippegan.--The
Acadians.--The Memories of Grand Pré._


IT was a beautiful morning; the wind blew fair, and the blue waters
of the Gulf of St. Lawrence spread far away before them as they left
Tracadie. Reunited so strangely after such wonderful adventures, they
had not yet satisfied their curiosity; but each one had still something
to ask the other. Pat had to tell once more the cause of his desertion;
Solomon had to explain his wanderings; Bart had another account to give;
while, above all, Phil had to recount, for the hundredth time, the whole
story of his adventures in the woods. The venerable Corbet, assisted by
his mate, Wade, navigated the vessel; Solomon resumed his duties in the
hold over the cooking-stove; while the eager boys gathered in knots to
talk over the inexhaustible themes above mentioned.

Far away on the right extended the waters of the gulf, till the view
was bounded by the horizon. Before and behind was the same illimitable
prospect. But on the left lay the land,--a low, wooded coast,--and their
course lay parallel with this. Their destination was the Bay de Chaleur,
around which they proposed to take a cruise; but this proposed cruise
seemed now to promise but little in comparison with the adventures which
one half of the party had already met with, and the fortunes of Bart’s
party, far from creating pity in the minds of the other boys, only
excited their envy; for there was not one of them who did not wish that
he had been in the burning forest.

About midday the wind grew lighter, and the schooner’s progress slower.
They passed two openings that led into the bay which divided two islands
from the main land. The first one was Shippegan Island; and the other,
which lay beyond this, was called Miscou Island. These two extended
along at the mouth of the bay in such a way as to form a natural
breakwater. They sailed past these, and by evening they rounded Point
Miscou, entered the bay, and as the wind was now adverse, they anchored
for the night.

The Bay de Chaleur is about seventy miles long and twenty wide. On
account of the islands at its mouth it is sheltered from the worst
gales, while on every other side it is land-locked. It thus becomes a
vast harbor, affording throughout its whole extent an excellent shelter
for vessels.

Around its shores, particularly on the south, are smaller harbors, upon
which little villages are already rising. The bay divides the Province
of New Brunswick from that of Quebec; and on account of its many
advantages, it will, no doubt, become well known to the world before
many years.

On the following morning the wind changed, and blew more favorably. It
was Captain Corbet’s design to go first to the settlement of Shippegan,
and in this direction they now sailed. As they went on their way, they
were amazed at the vast number of sails that dotted the surface of the
sea. They were all fishing boats, and appeared to be on their way to the
gulf. As they came to Miscou Gully, which separates Miscou and Shippegan
Islands, they saw the fishing boats passing through; and further on, at
Shippegan Gully, which lies between the main land and the island of that
name, they found it traversed by a still larger number.

“I’ve ben in these here waters,” remarked Captain Corbet, in answer to
some inquiries, “onst or twist, afore, an its allers ben the same. All
these craft air fishin boats; an I never see the place yet, in all my
born days that can turn out on a pinch sich a lot of small fishin craft
as this here bay.”

Two or three miles of a run down a long, narrow harbor, where the
waters were deep enough for large ships, brought them at last to their
destination. A wharf lay there, at which the Antelope drew up, and the
boys all stepped joyfully ashore.

The village of Shippegan was a small settlement, with scattered houses
of very simple construction. Close by the wharf stood the most prominent
structure in the place, being a huge saw-mill, which now, as they
landed, sent forth that hissing, cutting, slashing, grinding howl and
uproar characteristic of such establishments. Towards this place the
boys first directed their steps; and on reaching it they were greeted
in a very pleasant manner by a gentleman who introduced himself as
Mr. Smith. He was the owner of the mills, and though the place was so
remote, he was not at all discontented, but, on the contrary, showed
an enthusiastic attachment to this country, which he affirmed to be the
best place in the world to live in. No sooner did he learn the object
of the party, than he at once began to give a glowing account of the
beauties and attractions of the Bay de Chaleur. In particular he urged
them to visit the Restigouche Valley, at the extremity of the bay, where
he affirmed they would find some of the most magnificent scenery, and
some of the finest sport in the world.

Yet it was in this very place that the boys found the greatest
attraction, for Mr. Smith happened to say, in a casual way, that the
people were Acadian French. No sooner had he mentioned that name than
the boys asked the meaning of it. They were informed that these people
were the descendants of the Acadians, and that the ancestors of most of
them had been expelled from their homes in Nova Scotia, and fled to this
place. This at once excited the deepest interest in their minds. All
that had reference to the old Acadians was most attractive to them, and
in the persons of the Shippeganders they hoped to find reproduced the
forms of those gentle, poetic, and simple-minded peasants, with whom
they had become acquainted in the beautiful verses of Evangeline.

This unexpected enthusiasm of the boys delighted Mr. Smith, who at once
deserted his saw-mill, and proceeded to show them the place. It was of
no very great extent, and contained not more than forty or fifty small
cottages. These were all built of frame, and shingled over. The road was
grass-grown, and did not appear to have any very intimate acquaintance
with wheeled vehicles. The people had an unmistakably foreign aspect,
but were very pleasant in their looks and manners. The women wore
short homespun frocks, with a jacket, and a head-dress consisting of a
handkerchief of bright colors. Some of them were spinning at the doors
of their cottages, others were knitting, others attending to the duties
of the dairy. In the fields were the men making hay. Children laughed
and danced, in their play, about the cottage doors. In the middle of the
village was a small, simple chapel, with a cross upheld from one point
of its roof, and a small belfry from the other.

As the party walked down the road they were greeted with pleasant
smiles, in which there were both natural curiosity and kindly welcome.
Mr. Smith spoke to the people some friendly words in the _patois_ used
by them, which he seemed to understand perfectly; and the answers,
though unintelligible to the boys, had a pleasant meaning to their
minds, on account of the merry laughter and amiable faces of the
speakers. The little children stopped in their sport as the strangers
came along, and stood, with their round, merry faces, staring with
laughing black eyes.

On the whole, the boys found in this scene all that they could wish, and
more than they had anticipated. It realized very closely the ideas which
they had formed from the description in Evangeline; and Bart, as he
looked around, could not help repeating the well-known words:

               “There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village;

               Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of

                        chestnut,

               Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the days of the

                        Henry s.

               There, in the tranquil evenings of summer, when brightly the

                        sunset

               Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes on the chim

                        neys,

               Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white cap, and in kirtles

               Scarlet, and blue, and green, with distaffs spinning the golden

               Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within

                        doors

               Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the

                        songs of the maidens.

               Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the

                        children

               Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless

                        them.

               Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and

                        maidens,

               Hailing his slow approach with words of affeetionate welcome.

               Then came the laborers home from the field, and serenely the

                        sun sank

               Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the

                        belfry

               Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of the village

               Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascend

                        ing,

               Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace and con

                        tentment.

               Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers;

               Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free

                        from

               Fear that dwells with the tyrant, and envy, the vice of repub

                        lics.

               Neither looks had they to their doors, nor bars to their win

                   dows;

               But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the

                        owners.

               There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived in abun

                        dance.”


After traversing the village, they approached a house at the other end,
which, though of the same simple construction, was larger and better
than the others. Two or three of those tall poplar trees, which were
so dear to the Acadians, grew in front. A massive porch was before the
door, around which grew a honeysuckle. Two or three barns indicated the
comfortable circumstances of the owner. As they drew near, they saw an
old man sitting in the porch smoking, who looked at them, and rose with
a pleasant smile. His figure was slightly bent, his hair, mustache, and
beard quite gray, and his whole aspect venerable in the extreme.

“It’s Benedict Bellefontaine!” exclaimed Bart. “I thought we’d find him,
too. Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand Pre. Here
he is, in life, dwelling on his goodly acres.”

“No, it isn’t,” said Mr. Smith, with a laugh. “His name is Grousset,
but he’ll do very well for Bellefontaine. At any rate, you can judge for
yourselves, for Pm going to introduce you to him.”

By this time they had reached the house, and Mr. Smith, after shaking
hands with the old man, introduced the boys. Monsieur Grousset greeted
each one with a paternal smile, and upon learning their errand, at once
invited them all to stay at his house while they were in the village. At
first the boys refused; but the old man was so urgent, and the prospect
of seeing an Acadian home was so attractive, that they at length
accepted the kind invitation.

The resemblance which Bart had found between Mr. Grousset and “Benedict
Bellefontaine” was, indeed, sufficiently striking to be marked even by
one less imaginative. The old man, the house, and the surroundings, all
might have stood for Longfellow’s description; for though there might be
a difference in minor things, the general character was the same:

               “Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer

               Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea, and a shady

               Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine wreathing

                        around it.

               Rudely carved was the porch, with seats beneath; and a foot

                        path

               Led through an orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow.

               Under the sycamore tree were hives overhung by a pent-house

               Such as the traveller sees in regions remote, by the road-side,

               Built o’er a box for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary.

               Farther down on the slope of the hill was the well, with its

                        moss-grown

               Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough for the horses.

               Shielding the house from storms, on the north were the barns

                        and the farm-yard.

               There stood the broad-wheeled wains, and the antique ploughs,

                        and the harrows.

               There were the folds for the sheep, and there, in his feathered

                        seraglio,

               Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the self

                        same

               Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter.

               Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves a village. In

                        each one,

               Far o’er the gable, projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase

               Under the sheltering eaves led up to the odorous corn-loft.

               There, too, the dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent

                        inmates,

               Murmuring ever of love; while above, in the variant breezes,

               Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.

               Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of

                        Grand Pré

               Lived on his sunny farm.”

For some time they remained outside, and Mr. Grousset talked with them.
He spoke English very well, and seemed to be a man of much general
information for one of his class, and in so remote a place. He was
thoroughly simple-minded, however, unworldly, and guileless.

At length he invited them all to come inside. Mr. Smith excused himself,
as he had to go back to the mill; but the boys entered, and their host
introduced them to his wife and granddaughter; who were in the house.
The wife was about the same age as her husband, and the granddaughter
was about eighteen. Her gentle face and sweet smile at once charmed all
the boys, who saw in her a very good representative of Evangeline.

Leaving the boys with his wife and granddaughter, the old man went out
to give some directions about bringing up the luggage from the schooner.
The boys would have been charmed to engage in conversation with the old
lady and the young “Evangeline,” but unhappily this was not possible.
The old lady and “Evangeline” could not speak a word of English, and
the boys could not speak a word of French, and the consequence was, that
they could only express their mutual good feeling by amiable smiles.

Apart from the regret which this created in their minds, it was very
pleasant for them thus to find themselves presented to an Acadian
interior. It seemed as though they had been carried back into the past,
and suddenly plunged into the midst of that old Acadian life which all
of them loved so much to think about and talk about. Here were the
old scenes of which they had read--the village--the house--the
Acadian farmer--his family--and the crowning grace of all, the gentle
Evangeline.

The room into which they had been shown was a large one. At one end was
an enormous fireplace, over which was a marble piece containing a store
of curiosities, such as shells and stones of peculiar shape. There
was no carpet on the floor, but a number of home-made rugs covered the
middle of it. The chairs were old-fashioned, high-backed, rush-seated
constructions, singularly comfortable, however, and in every way adapted
to carry out the intention of a chair to the utmost perfection. A large
wooden settee stood opposite the fireplace. Overhead the rafters were
bare, and nails were driven in them, from which hung a store of domestic
goods, such as skeins of yarn and flitches of bacon. The partitions of
the room were of boards, and upon these were pasted a great variety
of pictures, which Mr. Grousset had probably obtained from some stray
illustrated paper, that had penetrated to this place, and fallen into
his hands. These pictures had a modern character, which was somewhat
out of keeping with the rest of the interior; but after all, there was
a simplicity in such a mode of decoration which took away the sense of
discord that might otherwise have been felt.

After a short absence the old man returned, and, seating himself,
began to talk with the boys, occasionally translating to his wife and
granddaughter what they said. He asked them all where they came from,
and Bart narrated their recent adventures, while the old man listened
with the greatest interest.

“We all belong to the same school,” said Bart, at length, in answer to
the old man’s question; for he was puzzled to know how they had come
together from such remote places. “We belong to the same school. Our
school is in a place that you may have heard of. It is Grand Pré.”

At this name the old man started and stared at them.

“What?” he asked.

“Grand Pré,” repeated Bart.

“Grand Pré!” exclaimed the old man. “Grand Pré? What! On the Basin of
Minas?”

“Yes.”

“Grand Ciel!” exclaimed the other. “And you have been there! And you
have lived there! How easy it must be to go there! And I was never
there--never! Alas! why did I not go to see, that place when I was a
young man?”

His emotion was so strong that his wife asked him the cause.

He explained. And Bart noticed that the old lady and the granddaughter
both looked at them with deeper interest as they repeated the
name--Grand Pré!

“None of my countrymen live there now, I suppose.” said the old man,
looking at Bart interrogatively.

Bart shook his head.

“Ah, I thought so,” said the old man. “All gone. They had to go. They
were banished. They dared not return to that place. They came back, but
could not get their homes again. Their houses were burnt up, and their
farms were given away to strangers. Ah, Grand Ciel! what injustice! And
they so good, so pious, so innocent!”

“They were shamefully wronged,” exclaimed Bart, in a burst of
indignation,--“most shamefully, most foully wronged!”

“True,” said the old man. “You are right. They were wronged. They were
robbed. Ah, how I have heard my grandfather tell about that mournful
day! How he loved that dear home in Grand Pré, which he never dared to
revisit! He was a young man when he was driven away, and he lived to be
an old man; but he never lost his love for his old home. He was always
homesick; never content.”

“Your grandfather!” said Bart, with the deepest interest. “Did he live
in Grand Pré?”

“He lived in Grand Pré,” said the old man. “He was one of those that the
English drove away.”

“And he must have been one of those who managed to come back again,”
 exclaimed Bart, eagerly. “I’ve heard that a great many found their way
back from Massachusetts, from New York, from the Southern States, and
even from the West India islands.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “but my grandfather was never carried away. He
escaped, and ran for his life. He was pursued, and almost caught; but by
God’s help he was saved from his enemies, and came here, where he lived
to grow old.”

“Escaped?” said Bart. “O, how I wish you would tell us all about it!”

The old man smiled. The eager faces of all the boys showed how deeply
they were interested; and with such listeners as these it could not be
otherwise than pleasant to tell a story.



XXIII.

_The Story of an Acadian Exile.--The Country in Flames.--A dread
Discovery.--Pursuit.--Flight over the Water.--The Bloodhound
Instinct.--Red Sea Waves._


THE story which the old man went on to tell the boys was long, and
subject to frequent interruptions, partly owing to his own emotion, and
partly from the eager questions of his listeners. A direct report of his
own words need not therefore be given here, but rather the material of
his narrative.

Grousset, then, the grandfather of their host, was a young man at the
time of the expulsion of the Acadians. He was not married, but lived
with his father and mother in a place which, by close questioning, Bart
conjectured could not have been far away from the very spot where the
school stood. As the old man had never been there himself, but had only
to speak from hearsay, he could not, of course, give any very exact
description of localities; and it was only from his general knowledge
that Bart was able to draw this conclusion. At any rate, the young
Grousset lived here. There was one brother besides himself. They devoted
themselves to farming, chiefly, but they also went out fishing, whenever
any good opportunity presented itself.

Their house was on the side of a hill which sloped towards the Basin of
Minas. In front were extensive marshes, beyond which was a river, that
emptied into the bay. Into this river ran another smaller stream, a
little below the house. The principal part of the settlement was two
or three miles away. Their house was a very comfortable one, their farm
extensive, and a thriving orchard contributed something towards the
luxuries of life.

On that day Grousset was out in his boat. He had been out for two days
fishing. The fleet of schooners which was to convey the settlers away
had arrived before he left, but he had no idea whatever of their real
intent. He supposed that they had come for the purpose of buying corn,
or hay, or something of that sort; and he regarded them simply as a
probable market where he could sell his fish. With this belief he spent
much longer time than usual, hoping to fill his boat, and thereby effect
a larger sale.

In the course of his fishing, he had gone well over towards the other
side of the bay; and when at length he started on the return voyage,
much time was taken up, and he could not go more than half way. He
anchored for that night, and very early on the following day resumed his
homeward progress. As he drew nearer, he was astonished to find great
clouds of smoke rolling over the whole country where the Grand Pré
settlement stood. He could not understand it. At first he thought it was
the woods; but as he drew nearer, he saw that the smoke came from the
cultivated parts, and not from the woods. This puzzled him at first.
He had intended to sail at once for the mouth of the Gaspereaux River,
where the fleet was; but these strange and unaccountable appearances
excited the deepest anxiety and alarm, and drove all thought of
traffic and money-making out of his mind. He changed the boat’s course,
therefore, and steered straight for his own home; for there, as well as
elsewhere, the smoke clouds arose, and the terrible conflagration seemed
to have extended over his father’s fields.

Heading thus towards his own home, full of fear and anxiety, he drew
ever nearer, but only to find his anxiety deepened as his progress
increased. Nearer and nearer still he came, until at last he could see
that every house and every barn had disappeared from the face of the
country. The fire was not accidental--it had evidently been done on
purpose; but this discovery was still more perplexing, for he could not
imagine any possible cause that could give rise to such a deed.

The rising tide bore him onward rapidly, and soon his boat floated up
that river that ran past his father’s farm. There rose the hill-slope
where his father’s house and out-houses had once stood; but now the
house and out-houses had all vanished, and over the surface of the
hill were spread the black traces of the devastating fires. Nor was
the desolation confined to this place. It extended everywhere. Every
building had disappeared. Every human habitation had vanished. The fire
had spared nothing. All had gone.

Grousset stood in his boat, gazing with looks of horror upon the scene,
altogether bewildered, overcome by this sudden blow, wondering in his
bewilderment what might be the fate of his relatives, wondering where
his father was, and his mother, and whether behind this conflagration
there could possibly lurk some other calamity. With such feelings as
these he floated on, and did not even seek to bring his boat to the
shore.

Suddenly a loud cry came to his ears. Looking in the direction whence
the cry came, he saw a figure crawl stealthily forth from a mud gully,
and wave his hands towards him. Then the cry was repeated--

“Pierre!”

Grousset recognized the voice. It was his brother Paul. At once he
directed the boat towards the place, which he reached in a few minutes.
His brother plunged into the water, seized the boat, clambered in, and
then implored him to turn and fly.

His brother Paul was pale as death, and was covered with mud from head
to foot. Pierre was so horrified by all that he had seen, and by his
brother’s appearance, that he could scarcely gasp out a question about
it.

“Fly! fly!” cried Paul, “or we’re lost! It’s the English! They’ve burned
all the settlement, and seized the people! They are carrying them away
to another country as slaves! Father and mother are gone! I was a little
late at the place, and managed to escape. But fly! fly! for they are
scouring the country, and if they see us, we are lost!”

At this frightful intelligence Pierre’s first impulse was to join his
father and mother, and suffer with them; but the impulse passed away,
and the thought of the horrors of slavery and exile deterred him. Flight
was now his only thought--flight instant and immediate. The boat’s head
was turned, and Pierre now sought the bay as eagerly as a short time
before he had sought the shore.

And now, as Pierre retraced his course, he soon perceived that he was
discovered. Over the marshes a number of men came running. They were
dressed in red coats, and by this, even when far away, they could easily
be recognized as English soldiers. They gesticulated wildly towards him,
and finally, on reaching the bank of the river, they discharged their
muskets at the boat. But by that time the fugitives had passed beyond
their reach, and the shots, though fast and furious, did no damage, but
only urged them on to swifter flight, if possible; and to accomplish
this, the two brothers seized the oars, and sought by rowing to make
greater speed.

The pursuers stood for a time as though baffled, and then hurried away
back to the rising ground.

“They’ll pursue us,” said Paul, gloomily.

“O, no,” said Pierre.

“They’ll pursue us,” said Paul once more, obstinately; “you don’t know
their malignity. They will not let one of us escape. They have gone for
a boat.”

Pierre said nothing. After what had occurred, how could he hope for
any forbearance on the part of his enemies? There, as he sat rowing,
appeared full before him the blackened fields of his father’s farm, the
gaunt chimney that rose above the ruins of the house where he was born.

For some time the two brothers pulled at the oars, with their eyes fixed
upon the desolated shore, speaking not a word, for the hearts of both
were too full. Pierre did not seek as yet to know the particulars of the
dread tragedy whose results Paul had already stated, nor did Paul care
to say anything more about an event upon which he scarcely dared to
think; so both pulled on in silence, until at length a cry from Paul
startled his brother.

“They have a boat! They are chasing us;” he cried. “They are coming out
of the creek!”

While he was speaking Pierre saw it. He saw a boat shooting out from a
creek which emptied into the river. They had already passed its mouth,
and the boat was fully a mile behind them; but still it seemed too near
for safety, and almost too near for hope. They understood all at once.
The soldiers, intent on capturing them, had hurried back to the creek
where the boats usually lay, and one of these they had seized. It was a
boat like their own, and in it there were a half dozen soldiers, armed,
and full of the bloodhound instinct of pursuit. Their own boat was
loaded down with fish, and even the aid of the oars did not seem
sufficient to draw them away from their pursuers.

There was one thing which had to be done immediately, and this thing was
suggested simultaneously to the minds of both of them. They must lighten
their boat at all hazards. The fish were useless now; worse--they were
an impediment.

“Over with them!” shouted Pierre, still rowing with one hand while he
flung out the fish with the other. But Paul had already begun to do
that very thing. Hearing Pierre’s words he passed his oar over to his
brother, and then, gathering the fish up in both hands, he flung
them out of the boat by armfuls. Meanwhile Pierre rowed with all his
strength, and at the same time the wind never ceased to bear the boat
along. But the same wind bore onward after them the boat of their
pursuers, and the two brothers watched with anxious eyes the progress of
those who followed on their track.

At last all the fish were flung overboard except about half a dozen,
which were reserved for food. They felt the benefit of this very soon.
Gradually the distance between themselves and their pursuers increased.
By this time also the tide had turned, and swept them on at an ever
accelerated rate of progress; and, although the same tide swept their
enemies along after them, still their own speed was the greater, and
every minute served to increase their chance of escape. For the boats
were about equal in speed, and while their boat only had two inside, the
other carried six, and therefore was over weighted in this race.

Several hours passed away, and the united action of wind and tide had
carried onward pursuers and pursued many miles into the bay. There rose
before them the frowning cliffs of Blomidon, and past this the current
was setting in a swift stream, by which they were borne along. Now, too,
the wind died away, and the tide alone remained. This caused a change
for the worse. Thus far the lightness of their boat had favored them, so
that their pursuers had fallen behind as much as four or five miles; but
now, when it came to drifting, this difference was no longer in their
favor, and the enemy, either from having caught a stronger current, or
from some other reason, seemed to be slowly gaining upon them.

The question now arose, what was to be done? They could easily have
landed here, scaled the cliff, and escaped in the woods. But that was
not to be thought of except as a last resort. At all hazards they
wished to keep the boat. If they fled to the woods their boat would
be captured, and their fate might be a miserable death. With the boat,
however, they might hope not only to save their lives, but perhaps to
follow their friends, perhaps to rescue them; or at least, if such a
thing as that should be beyond their powers, they could choose some new
home, and have the means of living from the water, till the land should
be ready to yield them sustenance. For these reasons they resolved to
cling to the boat, and fly as long, and as far, as possible.

But however eager they were in their determination to escape, the enemy
showed a resolve to pursue which was as obstinate as theirs. As they
floated along they saw the other boat still following. The tide bore
them on, in its course, down through the Straits of Minas, beneath the
frowning cliffs that rise gloomily on one side, where Blomidon overhangs
the water, past the rocks all covered with sea-weed, past long, bare
sand flats, past the giant cliffs, which, torn and riven by earthquake
or by tempest, rise at the extremity of the straits, and onward into the
wide Bay of Fundy.

They had hoped that in this place a breeze might arise, but their hopes
were disappointed. The water was smooth, and they were borne onward over
an unruffled surface, by the strong tide, far down. Yet though there
was no wind, they at length encountered something which to them, in
that extremity, was no less welcome. Before them rose a wall of mist,
shutting out all the scene beyond, hiding even the Haute, which lay so
near. Into the entrance of this dense fog bank they were borne by the
tide; and soon all surrounding scenes, all prospect of rock, and cliff,
and distant shore, and overhanging sky, and all sight of their
pursuers, were snatched from their eyes, and nothing remained but an
all-surrounding blank, an opaque wall of unpenetrable fog.

At any other time such an occurrence would have plunged them into
despair, but now it raised them out of despair into hope. At first they
thought of rowing in some direction, but a little discussion served to
dismiss this thought from their minds. In the first place, they could
not tell in which direction to row; and in the second place, they
thought that their pursuers would probably take to their oars, and if
so, their best plan of escape would be to drift.

Hours had passed away since their flight commenced, and at length
darkness came on. That darkness was most intense. There was not the
slightest light to alleviate the gloom. Still even this darkness was a
relief, for they felt more secure. In spite of the hope which they tried
to entertain that their enemies had given up the chase, they could not
get rid of a dark fear that they were still pursued, and a foreboding
that with the return of light they might see them. And as the darkness
seemed to bring safety, they bore it with patience, and resignation, and
hope.

All night long they drifted in this thick darkness. At last light came
again. But the light was dull and obscure, for the fog still enveloped
them. By this time they had lost all idea of locality, and could not
conceive in what direction they were drifting. They knew, however, that
while the falling tide would carry them down the bay, the refluent tide
would bear them back, and therefore hoped, when the fog lifted, that
they would find themselves somewhere near the land. The day that
followed was a gloomy day indeed. The water was glassy. There was not a
breath of wind. Having nothing by which to judge of their motion, they
seemed to be without motion, and to be floating on a stagnant sea. There
was no sight to meet their eyes through the dense surrounding fog, and
no sound came to their ears through the wide, surrounding stillness.

At last the evening of that day came on, and the fog lessened. Land
appeared on either side of them. Gradually the atmosphere cleared, and
to their amazement they found themselves drifting up a long channel that
seemed like a river. Up this river the tide seemed to run, carrying them
with it at a great rate of speed. As they went on the shores approached
more closely, the stream grew narrower and more winding; but still the
swift waters lost nothing of their speed. The shores on either side were
a wilderness, covered with the primeval forest, with not a sign of any
human habitation. The strangeness of the place and the suspense which
they felt at finding themselves here prevented them from trying to land.
They rather chose to drift onward, and allow themselves to be borne
wherever the current might carry them.

At length darkness began to come on, and the fugitives thought that they
had drifted far enough. They therefore flung out the rude anchor which
they had in the boat. It caught, and their progress was stopped. They
felt safe at last. Here, in this remote place, no pursuer would follow
them, and they might rest. They had not slept during all the time of
their flight, and were very greatly fatigued. It seemed to them that
the boat was safer than this unknown shore, and to sleep there at anchor
floating on the water would be better than in those unknown woods where
wild beasts or prowling Indians might be lurking; and thus, as soon as
the boat came to anchor, they flung themselves down in the bottom, and
were soon in a sound sleep.

Their sleep was somewhat disturbed, and early on the following day they
awaked. Pierre was up first, and he looked about in surprise. It was
about dawn, and in that morning twilight surrounding objects were as
yet indistinct. The first thing that he noticed was, that the boat was
aground. The channel up which they had drifted on the preceding evening
was now bare of water--a wide expanse, like those red mud flats of Grand
Pré with which he was so familiar. These flats extended here above and
below for miles, and on either side they ran for a great distance before
they touched the shore.

Suddenly, in the midst of this survey, Pierre caught sight of an object
which made his blood run cold, and caused his heart for a few moments to
stop its beating. It was a dark object that appeared, on the mud flats,
about a mile away, down the channel.

It was a boat!

That boat, like his own, had grounded, and lay there on her side.

Could that be the boat of their pursuers? Had they been followed all
this time, and all this distance, so remorselessly? It seemed like it.
Perhaps his pursuers had become bewildered by the fog, or perhaps they
had allowed themselves to drift, as the surest way of keeping near to
the fugitives; but whatever the reason was, it seemed as though the same
currents that had borne them away had carried the pursuers after them.

And there it lay! It grew lighter as he looked, and then, as if to
confirm his worst fears, there suddenly appeared something which put an
end to all doubt.

A figure stood up in that boat. It was light enough to see the color of
his dress.

It was red.

Scarcely had he seen this than other figures appeared--red-coated
figures. They stood up. Pierre could no longer doubt. They were English
soldiers. Even as he looked they began to leap out from the boat,
and run towards him. As he looked his eyes caught sight of something
beyond--something white--like a long, low, white wall; and from that far
distance there arose a low, droning sound, which struck a strange terror
into his soul.

In a moment he roused his brother. Paul stood up, and stared in the
direction where Pierre was pointing. He saw the wide, flat river bed
uncovered. He saw the red-coated English soldiers.

Pierre looked all around to find the best place for refuge.

On his right there projected a wooded cliff, its sides rising
precipitously for fifty or sixty feet, and its summit covered with fir
trees. This was the nearest land. If they ran towards this they might
get out of sight of their pursuers in a few minutes, and plunge into
the woods at a place where the cliff ended and the land sloped gradually
down. To this place he directed Paul’s attention; and then calling upon
him to follow, he leaped from the boat. Paul followed. The two brothers
ran with their utmost speed over the treacherous mud flats towards the
shore behind the point.

Up the channel, over the same treacherous mud flats, came their
pursuers, who, at this unexpected sight of their prey, seemed to be
filled with fresh fury. Seeing that prey about to escape, they fired
after them. Report after report sounded through the air and echoed along
the shore.

Six shots were thus fired, and then, as the last echo died out, there
arose another sound. It was that low, droning sound which had come to
Pierre’s ears before he left the boat but the sound was louder, and
deeper, and nearer, and more dreadful. It was a sound of wrath. It was
the voice of many waters! It was the sound of a pursuer more terrible
than man--the sound of the pitiless march of innumerable waves.

The cliff rose overhead. They had reached it; but before they passed
behind it they turned one glance at their pursuers. In that one glance a
sight revealed itself which was never forgotten.

Far down arose a wall of white foam, formed by the advancing tidal wave
of the Bay of Fundy--a dread mass of surging billows, rolling up the
channel, extending all the way across. At the moment when they looked
it had caught the boat and overwhelmed it, and then, in hungry fury,
advanced towards the soldiers.

They had heard it! They had seen it--that terrible pursuer, the
tremendous, the inevitable! They stood still in horror. Escape was
impossible. On came the wave. Even the fugitives stood for a moment
overwhelmed with the horror of that spectacle.

On came the wave!

The wall of white foam rose high. It rushed onward. It reared its
curling crest. It fell in thunderous fury upon the wretched victims of
its wrath. One wild, despairing yell burst forth, and then all sounds
were drowned in the roar of the rolling waves.

The brothers fled. They reached the sloping bank, and clambered to a
place of safety, from which they looked with pallid faces upon those
waters, which, like the waves of the Red Sea, had saved the fugitives by
overwhelming the pursuers.

After this they wandered through the woods for some days, and finally
met with friendly Indians, with whom they went to the Miramichi.

Such is the substance of M. Grousset’s narrative.



XXIV.

_The American Indian in a new Light.--The false Guide.--Solomon prepares
for Vengeance.--The Indian Chief.--Full Explanations._


THAT evening they had a bountiful repast, after which they slept well,
and on the following morning an equally bountiful breakfast fortified
them for the work of the day. Soon after this they started down to the
schooner to talk over their plans for the future.

Close by the wharf stood the mills already mentioned, where now arose
the tumult and bustle generally prevalent there. Into the precincts of
this mill the boys strolled, and looked about upon the busy scene.

The scene was to Bart one of the most familiar possible, for all his
early life had been passed in a city of saw-mills, and the present
occasion offered nothing that was new. To the other boys it was also
more or less familiar, and it was rather the animation of the spectacle
before them than its novelty which attracted them. One thing, however,
there certainly was which seemed to all of them most singular and
unaccountable.

As they looked upon the men who were at work in the mill and in the mill
yard, they noticed that one after another of them was an Indian. To see
an Indian engaged in such work as this seemed astonishing, for it
had been a fixed belief in their minds that no Indian will engage in
continuous hard labor; yet here was a fact which contradicted all former
opinions. What was more surprising was the gradual discovery that not
one, or two, or a few, but the whole gang of men at work in and about
the mill were of the same race.

They worked doggedly, ploddingly, industriously; some floating logs,
some carrying deals, some attaching the ropes to those logs that had to
be hauled up; all busy, none idling.

“I never knew that Indians would work,” said Bart to Mr. Smith.

“These Indians work very well,” said he.

“Yes; and that is what is so astonishing. Of course I knew that Indians
will go through any amount of fatigue in the course of a hunting
expedition, but I have always heard that they are incapable of hard
work.”

“Well, as to being incapable, I have my doubts about that,” said Mr.
Smith. “They cannot be incapable; they are only unwilling. Continuous
drudgery like this does not suit them as a general thing. But these
Indians don’t object. They work hard, never complain, and I have never
had any men who have given so little trouble.”

“It seems very odd, though,” said Bart. “I’m sure no other Indians in
this country would be willing to work in this way. No amount of wages
would tempt them.”

“No. That’s true. The fact is, these Indians belong to a different
tribe.”

“A different tribe?”

“Yes. The Indians that you are acquainted with, who live in Nova Scotia
and the greater part of New Brunswick, are called the Micmacs. These
are called the Milicetes. The language of the two tribes is altogether
distinct; their traditions, manners, and customs also vary in many
particulars. Between the two tribes there is no intercourse and no
friendly feeling whatever. You see here with your own eyes how different
they must be from the other tribe, with which you are acquainted.”

Midday came, and as the steam whistles sounded, all hands left off work
and prepared for dinner. Their dinners had been brought to them by the
squaws of the tribe who had come to the mill bringing their pappooses
with them. Men, women, and children then sat in a circle, in the midst
of the mill yard, and engaged in their midday repast, while the boys
looked on curiously from a distance.

Among these Indians there was one who had come up with the women, and
seemed to have some sort of authority. He did not work in the mill,
but had the air and tone of one giving directions, to which the others
yielded assent or obedience. There was something in this Indian which
seemed familiar to Bart, though he could not account for it. He was the
first who noticed him, and he mentioned it to the others; but they
were equally unable to do so. At length, as several of the boys grouped
themselves together, it seemed to Bart as though the Indian had some
recognition of them. There were Bart, and Phil, and Pat, and the two
Rawdons; and as the Indian looked up, he caught sight of them, with
Bart in the foreground. He started, and then turned his head away, and
appeared to busy himself with something else.

He was a very old man, somewhat bent, his face seamed with a million
wrinkles; but his figure was still strong, sinewy, and apparently
capable of undergoing fatigue or exertion to an indefinite extent. He
turned away, as has been said, but every few moments he threw a furtive
glance at the boys.

And now it happened that Solomon came up from the schooner to ask
whether the boys were to get dinner on board or on shore. He came up to
where the Indians were seated, and it was evident that they had never
seen a negro before, for the advent of Solomon created an extraordinary
sensation. The women drew back, the children screamed, the men stared,
and all gave signs of unusual excitement. But among all, none showed
such excitement as the old man already mentioned.

As Solomon drew near, he saw him first, and started to his feet,
staring at him with a face upon which there was a variety of contending
expressions; curiosity, wonder, uneasiness, alarm--all these were
plainly visible at the same time on that old Indian’s face.

But the emotion of the Indian found its counterpart in that which was
manifested by Solomon, as the Indian caught sight of him and started
to his feet. The attention of Solomon was arrested by that movement. He
stopped short, and fixed his eyes upon the Indian. His hands clinched
themselves together; his lips compressed themselves; his limbs grew
rigid; while his eyes seemed to glow like fire. Again the old man
was transformed; again that wonderful change took place from apparent
feebleness, and even decrepitude, to something which seemed like the
bounding vigor and vehement energy of barbaric manhood. His chest
heaved; he seemed like some wild beast, as he stood there, gathering up
all his energies for one tremendous spring.

On the other hand, the Indian saw it, and drew himself up to resist the
assault. He fell back a step or two, and mechanically threw himself into
an attitude of defence. His gesture was seen by his companions. They
looked up to where his eyes were turned, and they marked the threatening
attitude of Solomon. In an instant every one of them started up to his
feet, and by one common movement put themselves in front of their old
companion, as though to guard him from the attack of this unexpected
enemy.

Upon the boys these singular proceedings produced different effects.
Bart and his companions in the woods at once recognized the truth. The
old Indian was no other than their false guide, who had first turned
upon them to attack them, and then fled, leaving them in the midst of
the trackless forest. This was the man who now appeared before them in
the midst of his own people, who certainly deserved some punishment
for all that he had done, but who seemed to be out of the reach of any
punishment, unless, indeed, Solomon should take the law into his own
hands. But Bruce and the others, who had never seen the Indian before,
stood simply amazed, not knowing what to make of such a singular scene.
They had heard of the adventure in the woods with the Indian guide, but
what they had heard did not suffice to afford them a clew to the affair
before them.

For a few ‘moments they stood thus, Solomon threatening, the Indians
scowling, the boys looking on. But Solomon, though poised to spring,
hesitated, as he saw all the enemies before him. Had it been only the
old Indian, he would have leaped upon him at once; but with so many
other Indians, it was a different matter. Very naturally, therefore,
Solomon hesitated, and faltered, and sank down from his high pitch of
fury, at thus being confronted with the impossible.

It was at this juncture that Mr. Smith approached. He surveyed the scene
with surprise and anxiety, and walking forward, hastily he asked what
it all meant. The advent of one thus clothed with authority produced an
instantaneous effect. The Indians turned away, and talked in low tones
with one another; Solomon subsided from his fighting attitude into one
of vehement denunciation; and Bart proceeded to tell Mr. Smith the whole
story.

Mr. Smith listened to it all with the deepest interest.

“It’s abominable of Sam,” said he, as Bart ended, “and if it had been
any one else, I should like to have him punished. But with Sam it
is different, and I can easily explain it. Sam is the chief of these
Milicetes, and generally is all that a chief should be. The only trouble
with him is, that, like all Indians, he is fond of liquor. When he gets
any, it makes him simply insane. He stays about here most of the time,
and in this place he can’t get a single drop. Consequently he is a very
sensible, dignified, and respectable Indian. He is looked up to with
the utmost respect by his people, and he and I agree perfectly well.
Unfortunately, when he goes away, he generally manages to get liquor.
He can’t resist temptation. He went off, about a fortnight ago, to
Miramichi, where you found him. Before starting with you, he supplied
himself with that unfortunate bottle of liquor. Had it not been for
that, you would have found him an admirable guide, and he would have
brought you here without any difficulty. But his bottle drove him crazy,
and caused that wild outbreak. I don’t believe he remembers much about
it himself. He must have come straight back to Shippegan after leaving
you.”

This explanation proved highly satisfactory to the boys, who readily
forgave the Indian for an outbreak that had been produced by such an
unfortunate cause; and even Solomon, on learning that it had not been
out of any malicious intention, consented to forego his vengeance.

After this, Mr. Smith had some conversation with the Indian himself,
who, as he suspected, remembered nothing about his outbreak in the
woods.

He only remembered that he had engaged to go with the boys, and had got
separated from them, he knew not how. He expressed great sorrow, and
tried, in his broken English, to explain and to apologize.

Thus this affair was all happily settled.

The boys spent one more day in Shippegan, and then prepared to depart.
On the following morning they bade adieu to Mr. Gronsset and his amiable
family, who begged them, with great earnestness, to visit them again,
which they all promised to do. Mr. Smith accompanied them to the wharf,
and shook hands with them all around. Up went the sails, the lines were
cast off, and the Antelope passed down the long harbor and out into the
bay.





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