« PreviousContinue »
away over beyond Dungarvey. He had me posted at the foot of a long slope that was fairly criss-crossed with deer signs. I just took notice and mentally labeled the runaways “Buck Avenue,’ “Doe Boulevard,' and “Fawn Playground,’ when I heard a noise like a cavalry charge, and over the ridge, right into my face and eyes, ran two does and a few paces to the rear came a fine buck. They never saw me at all, and I guess would have run right over me if I hadn't opened on them. I'll bet I overshot the buck at least three feet and of all the getting out you ever
saw They're going yet. I was some disgusted. Hank, tell that story you cheered me up with.” “I will if you'll all promise not to punctuate it with growls like ‘But' did. Can't blame him though. He refers to a strictly accurate story I'll vouch for, because it was told to me by my friend Fred Parke, one of the best fellers that ever drew breath and a taxidermist up at the head of Moosehead Lake. Fred never tells lies and I guess this tale will stand salt all right. “A certain friend of his in Greenville Junction is death on hedgehogs and puts in a lot of his time getting after them and boring them full of holes with his 38-55. Matters have taken such a turn now that the bitterest kind of a feud exists between him and the porcupine tribe, and he swears the quilled pigs lie awake nights to do him dirty. Here's one instance he quotes: “‘Down in my apple orchard them pesky critters had a merry-go-round that was a caution and their pizen marks was everywhere Looked like an army had carried on a Red and Blue war every night. One evening I took Jed and chased myself inter the lot before sundown and held tight ter watch fer 'em. Bright looonlight made all plain, and pretty soon we saw a forty-pounder sneaking along a limb of a tree we'd jest picked that day. “Stung,” thinks I, he'll have his climb fer nuthin', when I see him stop and look down at a big o of seconds we'd left on ther ground fer ther cider barrel. “‘Fer a full minote he oggled them apples, then hunched himself inter a ball, stuck out every cuill and tumbled on his back off ther limb inter that pile. He jest kioider squirmed when he struck 'em as d got up and waltzed away with more'n a bushel of apples stickin' all over him. I'll be jiggered if I could shoot ther son of er gun and let him git plumb off with his load. True, by gosh!’” “Murder— help! You fellows are getting more and more dat.gerous. Pretty soon you'll be believing yourselves, then the dippy house for yours,” and Chuc, the latest arrival, threw up his hands and fell in a faint, from which he was quickly aroused by a faceful of smoke from a strong 1pe, which set nim gasping for breatn is dead earnest, out he refused to believe the porcupine story, even when “Bu'” showed him the pictures. Strange some men are so incredulous! It is inevitable that horse-play be indulged in when there is a tenderfoot in camp, and in guileless fashion, Steve and Bert got into an argument with Hank and Sam over the relative merits
of Arrah na Pogue and The Clerk.
“What's the controversy” asked Chuc, when others by their perfect indifference made his question opportune. “Is this ‘Clerk' something to do with lumbering life?” "Surest thing you know, kid," gravely replied Steve. “Come on down here, fellows, and we'll show him what we mean. All around in a circle on the floor, feet toward the middle, and Chuc in the center. Now thos is the kind of a trade we usually make with the clerk in the woods.” For an instant Chuc was inclined to remain outside this strange game, but so guileless did the men appear that he at length sat within the charmed band, the members of which asked the question, “What you going to pay us for our day's work? Here we been wading snow drifts and cutting timber for you and no money. What do we get?” Entering into the spirit of the fun, Chuc began an argument as what each man was worth, trying to hire them as cheaply as possible, until they pretended to get exasperated at his meanness, cried, “Ile'd Jew us—he's no good —kick him out !” and closing in from all sides, they began to kick with their stockinged feet until they had raised him from the floor and were turning him over and over like a big ball in mid air. As soon as he saw his chance, he tackled the nearest man, who then became the “Clerk” and the sport went on. Chuc had been initiated. When the squad had recovered their breath, Hank's full baritone started the chorus into a full swing of popular songs, after which the party witnessed a “rooster fight” between Bill and Bob that resulted in Bob's ignominious defeat. Bob began the fun by getting away to one side of the cabin. “Flap-flap-flap, cock-a-doodle-doo! No rooster dares come on my yard ' I'm the cock of the walk—I am! Cock-adoodle-doo-a-rue-a-rue.” Quickly Bill took up the challenge, strutting and crowing in derision, and the “spurs” were produced immediately. These consisted of stout sticks about three feet long, sharpened on each end. The “roosters” were made to sit on the floor, knees up and hands clasped about them, where they were securely tied. The “spurs” were then run through between the elbows and knees, the “roosters” placed about four feet apart and given the word. Hitching toward each other, they got close, when Bob suddenly turned sidewise and made a lunge at Bill, but in so doing lost his balance as Bill dodged, and over he went on his side. Quick to take advantage of his enemy, Bill ciosed in and bradded Bob to his heart's content, until he cackled in token of defeat. All joined in a barnyard chorus of bleats, moos, and every kind of noise even to the bray of a jackass.
Mysterious disappearances were now becoming the order, until liank, Tom, Steve, and “But” looked up from a game of “bid whist” to discover that they were alone in the big room with the fire running low, while breathings long and deep told the story of the departure for sandland of their tired comrades. With a look into each other's faces, they arose from the table and got into their flannel pajamas, then climbed into bunks never more inviting.
In a very few minutes, “But” reremarked drowsily, “Gee, but I'd like another try at that buck to-morrow. Hank—do you reckon—”
A strenuous snore was the only reply.
The flutter of the light wind's kiss leaves depths unstirred below.
The mountain is eternal, yet untouched by hoary age,
The crown of snow upon its head is not time's heritage.