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spruce, that bordered the lake, and wait for the deer to come into the bay again, for they had now retreated into the bushes. For half-an-hour I waited, thinking of the fine ride by moonlight upon the lake, of the evening before, when whole volleys of echoes came back to me from the hills, answering to the notes of 'Pleyel's Hymn,' and 'Plaintive Martyrs ;' and of the long reach of water, and the low mountain beyond, behind which the moon was stealing up among the thin clouds, and throwing its beams aslant, gilding the boughs of the dark fir-trees, and making every thing seem like Puck and the fairies. The deer did not come, so I laid down my rifle, and wandered idly along the shore. I stepped out from the bushes, and walked along a fallen tree that reached over the water. My foot slipped, and I thought I should fall in, but I did not; when suddenly I heard a rustle in the bushes, and saw a pair of sharp, long ears among the leaves, while a deer pushed her head out a moment after, to see what was going on. She looked very amiable, but when I thought of my rifle, I am afraid that I did not. So I went back, and told Achates; and when I mentioned the ears, he looked at mine in a way that I thought impolite.
After a breakfast without venison, we followed the foot-path until near noon, when it brought us to a settlement, from which there was a path leading southward, among the mountains. We were to follow a road eight miles before coming to the path that would take us, if we followed it, away to the west, and then back by a circuitous route to the neighborhood of Whiteface. found the road very lonely, almost without a traveller, or a house by the roadside ; yet, as our route was new to us, it was full of interest. We saw the bend in the road, with the sign showing where a man had been murdered ; and a little farther on came to a fisherman's hotel, where I asked for a glass of water. While a boy was gone to the spring, an old and long gray-bearded man, carrying a rifle, and leading a dog, came along the road from the south. He told me he was a hunter from the Saranac Lakes, "and knew all about the woods.' Soon a young man came from the house to where we were talking. He too was a hunter, and had very fine flowing sandy beard, and a head that certainly did look like Shakspeare's. Don't laugh .'t was the Chandos portrait exactly. The hunters began a game of 'brag,' which was very entertaining; one had hunted eight years in the Adirondack, whereupon and immediately the other had hunted nine; the gray-beard's dog was very uncommon after a deer, the sandy-beard thought it a pity the dog had but one eye, when gray-beard affirmed that - You can see two when he is on a track.' The young man had a new double-barrel, cap-lock rifle, but the old man had.no opinion' of cap-locks, and never saw one that did not miss fire, generally ; his worn flint-lock, that was a 'leetle out of order, just now, but was going to be fixed,' was the true gun. The gray-beard made a point of the fact, that his dog had driven a white deer into the water, a few days before ; but when they came to talk of the different waters, as they called the lakes, he failed almost entirely, and in the end Shakspeare, in a very good-natured way, completely triumphed.
Soon after leaving the hotel, we came to the path, which we found grown up with bushes and grass, and showing no trace of having been travelled for
a long time. As we entered upon it, we had a view of the mountains to the south, around Loon lake. They were quite near to our line of march, and at every opening in the trees, I saw them rising dark and grand against the evening sky. The forest of black spruce which clothes their sides, gives a wildness and sombreness to the view that adds very much to the effect. There was a green valley between us and the range, and in this stood skeleton pines, their white and lofty trunks and withered arms brought into strange relief against the dark bases of the mountains. As the sun went down, we encamped by a stream, where I found a tolerable fishing-place, which afforded an addition to our supper.
Our camp was a cold one, and all night long, as it seemed to me, I watched the moon sailing in the burnished sky; yet I presume I was asleep most of the time, as I only saw her near the zenith. Previous experience had taught me that Achates was right when he said, that a tired man in the woods may sleep four hours, and not know it.
In the morning, as we passed over a little hill, we saw the long lines of silver dividing the green forest of spruce and pine, where the mist was riding from the water-courses, and in the broad valley it rested, like a silver sea, in which the mountains seemed to float, like ice-bergs; only they were very black, and the outline did not melt softly away; for the spruce tops are so sharply cut, that what we saw seemed more like saw-teeth than the faint line that divides a distant berg from the Arctic sky.
All day we trudged on through a noble forest, which changed to hard timber as we advanced; and seemed very cheerful, after looking for some days upon the gloomiest ever-green that grows. We gained no look-out place during the day, and only the squirrels and jays broke the silence and monotony of travel. Near evening water was seen glimmering through the trees, on our left. We went to it, and found a fine pond, clear as crystal, by which we encamped. There were no fish jumping after the flies, and churning the water into bubbles, as we had seen at the other ponds, and not a nibble cheered my eager hook. During all this night's weary hours, we had to endure a serenade of loons and owls that was truly wonderful. We did not mind the frogs, for, like every body else — poets included — we heard them as old friends; but the hooting and screaming were new to me, while Achates, being a naturalist, found it not only novel, but a rare treat to hear so full a chorus of his favorites.
During the next day, we had the same monotonous travel, passing Meacham Lake, where we found the trout the most abundant and largest we had yet
Late in the afternoon, we reached a settlement of five families. They had chosen this spot deep in the woods to settle, because here the fire had made for them a broad clearing of many hundred acres. These people kept a number of very fine deer-hounds, which insisted upon escorting us from the woods to the houses ; and by their deafening roar, poured into our very faces, informed the inhabitants that something had come out of the woods. On reaching the best-looking house in the place, I made an arrangement for a civilized supper ; and then went with Achates to look at a bear that was chained in the door-yard. Like all bears and bearesses in captivity, this one kept walk
ing to-and-fro, so far as her chain would allow. Soon the children of the settlement came from the little school-house, near by, to play with the bear, and see the travellers. They called the bear Topsy, and one of the larger boys could play with her almost as freely as with a kitten. The naturalist gained a new idea here, in reference to the appetite of the Ursus Americanus, namely, that he is very fond of tobacco. They had given Topsy so much of the weed that they were afraid it would injure her wits; and yet when a plug was held toward her, she begged for it with a bleat like that of a calf half-weaned, and waiting for milking-time. The bear was only the beginning of the show, they had three little wild cats in the stable, which had hardly got their eyes open, After supper, we made five miles before dark, found a good camping-place, and slept soundly.
The next day was almost eventless; but on Saturday we found ourselves near Osgood Pond, where I had learned there lived a hermit, with whom I had resolved to become acquainted. Our path led us to the pond, and to his cabin. As we approached, we saw the hermit, a white-haired old man, sitting in the open door, reading. I went alone to the house, and asked him to sell me a few ears of corn, from his garden, as I wished to camp near him, and remain over Sabbath. He was much pleased to see a stranger, and very ready to con
He said the world had been a poor, broken world to him; his property and many of his friends were gone, and he was trying to find hope for a hereafter. As the rain was now beginning to fall, which had for some days threatened us, we accepted the warm invitation to spend the Sabbath with the hermit. The trout and small game we had brought with us, and the stores of our entertainer, with vegetables from the garden, gave us sumptuous fare. Sunday was a long, rainy day, yet to us a very pleasant one.
The cry of the lonely loon was our Sabbath-bell. We feasted and talked of all matters, political and religious; and all the events of our lives were deemed for the time common property. The hermit showed us the 'mock gold,' he had found among the mountains, and compared it with a lump of the real, sent to him from California. He had a shadow of a hope that some of his own gatherings would prove to be gold. I had seen much of this metal before, sometimes pieces ; but more generally of that variety which flashes in small particles among the grains of sand in the bottom of a spring, ås we stoop to drink the pure waters of the Adirondacks. It would have been wrong to have puzzled the hermit with a dissertation upon sulphates, and yellow mica, even if I had known how. I declined also to converse much with him upon the result of his religious experience, which he summed up by saying, that a certain very hot place was in his view growing smaller every year, and having less influence with the people. There was one point where he had me at an advantage, and even the naturalist could not help me out; for he had composed a poem in imitation of Milton, which I must write out for him, as it was only in his memory. Thanks to phonography, I made quick work of it; and by rare good luck was not quite compelled to express an opinion of its merits, or say that I would see it published. The hermit was so kind and good a man that at least
one of his best lines should see the light. If I publish them, however, it must be in the “new light' newspaper, in which it was his ambition to appear.
On Monday morning, we left our friend, who could not conceal his regret, at such a time, for the lonesome days he had spent, and his dread of those to
Our course was now bending toward the east, and we had yet thirty miles to the mountain before us. Our way was along the edge of a broad valley, beyond which rose the dark mountains; and loftiest of them all was Whiteface, whose rugged peak tore the thin white clouds sailing over him. September had been ushered in with a keen frost, which had changed the color of the foliage of the red maple and beech, and spots of scarlet and yellow gave variety to the green of the forest.
At evening we were five miles from the mountain. As darkness came on, the sky became suddenly overcast, and we looked anxiously for shelter. We came at last to a little log cabin, with a single window. The light through the panes looked cheerful, and a merry song came out, as if to welcome us. Here I found a family of warm-hearted Irish people, who were ready to do all in their power to accommodate us. We passed the night very much to the gratification of the inmates of this humble abode, whom we found to consist of a multitude of others beside the Irelanders. At eight o'clock next morning, we reached the foot of the mountain. The sky gave promise of a fair day, for only bright clouds trailed their shadows along the tops of the forest-trees that clothed the sides of the range. An hour's climbing brought us to the top of a ridge, which forms a shoulder to the mountain. Along the line of this ridge, we intended to ascend to the base of the rocky peak or cone. At noon we had reached such an elevation that the clouds began to race overhead at an apparent rate never seen farther down. Soon we had glimpses of the landscape below, and of the dark mountain peaks around. An hour later, still laboring on, no cone appeared. It was long and hard climbing, until coming to an open space, the dark gray peak looking bold and near, stood out against the sky. We took the direction by compass, and pushed into the woods again. The spruce, which had been dwindling all the way, had now become no larger than bushes, and grew so close together that it was with great difficulty we could press our way through the matted branches. It was still a long pull to reach the peak; for the boldness of the outline has a tendency to deceive in respect to distance. As we neared the top, the low forest was a mere wreck of trees; we seemed to be tracing the path of a tornado. The air, which had all the time been growing cooler, now became severely cold. The wind was blowing strongly, and clouds swept rapidly past us. At length we reached the bare rock, and gained our first view. A dark cloud was settling over us, and shut in the prospect toward the west, where the sun was setting, leaving us almost in darkness. The edge of the cloud toward the east, was about half-a-mile distant, and a little below us; along the edge the wind was ripping this vapor into a fringe, that changed continually as we looked. Below this was the bright landscape, shining in the mellow light of a September sunset. While we were in darkness, the vast black curtain was raised just enough to show us the brown fields, the forest rich with autumn hues, and far, far away Lake Champ
lain, with its many islands; and still farther the clear outline of the Green Mountains, drawn against the sky. The cloud gradually settled, and soon we were enveloped in mist. The wind blew very hard, and it was with difficulty we clambered along the rocky ledge that led to the table-rock at the top. Just as we reached it, a small gray rabbit.came running up the mountain ; and the report of my rifle, as I shot him, sounded no louder than the crack of a whip. The mist was so cold and penetrating, that we turned to go down the mountain, intending to camp in the forest below. Just as we were leaving, we saw dimly through the fog a man coming toward us. He proved to be the guide to the mountain, who had during the summer made a path up its eastern side. He showed us an angle in the highest rock of the mountain, over which he had stretched a canvas covering. Here we were sheltered from the wind, and resolved to pass the night, and wait the sun's rising. The guide left us with his teeth chattering, and no wonder, for the air seemed like February. We went down the leeward side of the peak, took the dry dwarf-trees, and hauling them to the top, made a little fire, being sparing of fuel that cost us so much labor. As evening came on, there was a commotion in the mist and clouds that was wonderful to see. Torn and whirled in all directions, the clouds would sometimes open, revealing a distant landscape bright with the golden light of autumn. A sudden rent toward the south showed us Lake Placid, sleeping at the mountain's foot, and reflecting in its glassy waters the trees upon its margin.
In the evening, the wind increased to a furious blast, but the wall of rock gave us a good defence. Being very weary, I took a wet blanket, which the guide had left, and lay down to sleep, while faithful Achates watched the fire. About midnight I awoke, nearly frozen, and found a driving snow-storm upon the mountain. There seemed a prospect that we should be blown away, and buried in a snow-drift. As morning dawned, Achates pronounced the prospect very dismal. The air was so thick, we could not see three yards from our hiding-place; and unless we could find that little path, which the guide had recently made, we would have to wade the snow, and scramble over the fallen timber for many a weary hour, before we could find rest or food. The last bit of rabbit had been eaten long before, so that we could not wait for the storm to lull. We left a good fire burning, in case we should be compelled to return to our place of refuge, and made the attempt. It was a little difficult at first to hold fast to the icy rock, while the hardest gusts swept by; but when the woods were reached, and the path found, our trouble was over.
Half-way down the mountain, the snow ceased. We passed a beautiful cascade, dashing over a clean white rock, and before noon reached the house of the guide. As we wandered away, and adown the valley in the afternoon, old Whiteface had his bonnet on, drawn down to his shoulders. I no longer saw the thin white clouds of the day before, resting lightly upon his crown; but the cold air of February, and driving storms, were present to my imagination, as I strove to gain glimpses of his rocky features.