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"A fresher gale
Begins to wave the wood and stir the lake."— THOMSON.
A SAIL ON THE "DIAMOND."
FRIDAY morning we went down to the steamer, and found the river was frozen over as far as we could see, the ice being about one-fourth of an inch thick. The sun was shining, but there were a large number of clouds in the sky, and it looked more like a storm than pleasant weather.
"We're all ridy to start, Captain," said Chris to me, as we walked on board, and the engineer began working the engine back and forth to break up the ice around us.
A few revolutions of the wheels accomplished this, and, hauling in the lines, the captain rang to "go ahead," and in a minute later we were ploughing our way down the river, the boat scattering the ice in all directions. As we neared the mouth of the river we came to open water, and upon entering the lake found it clear of ice, except in a few small coves.
It was a very sharp morning, the wind coming out quite strong, and we found it so cold on deck that we were glad to take shelter in the engine-room, while the old steamer puffed her way onward.
"Take a seat by the biler, Cap'n," called Chris, as we entered. "I thought ye would foind it too cold outside, while we are crossin' the lake. It won't be so bad when we get into the river. And so ye are goin' up to Parmachenee? Faith, I'd like to be goin' along wid ye."
"I wish you were," said Jack. "We shall probably have a good time."
"Were you ever up there?" I asked.
"No, but I've bin over on the Diamond, and I always wanted to go to Parmachenee. I couldn't go in better company, byes, and if I could lave the boat I'd go in a minute. But yees see Jim couldn't get back wid the steamer."
"I should say not," replied Jack.
"Is there much large game around Parmachenee?" I inquired.
"I've heard fellers say there was who lumbered up there. One of the river-drivers told me this spring that he shot a moose up there last winter, and he said caribou were plenty as foxes."
"How plenty were the foxes?" asked Jack, with a wink at me.
"I didn't ax him," replied the engineer, with a grin; "but I will the next toime I see him."
"We are nearly to the outlet, aren't we, Chris?" inquired Jack, who had walked over to the port side of the steamer, and was looking out of the window.
Chris glanced outside and then replied:
"Yes, we're off against Moll's Rock now; that's it, that rocky p'int ye see, and we'll be out of the lake in a few minutes."
"Why do they call it Moll's Rock?" queried Jack, who was one of the most inquisitive fellows I ever met.
"Because an old Injun woman used to live there, and her name was Molly Molasses. She was Metalluc's squaw."
"She had a sweet name," said Jack, laughing.
"Probably the latter part of her name was suggested by her color, rather than her disposition," I added, laughing in sympathy.
"Ye may laugh all ye please, byes, but she certainly lived there, and whin she wint up Magalloway she used to carry her canoe across that narrow strip of land there;" and Chris pointed to the place.
Jack and I took a look in the direction indicated, and I wondered how many times Molly had ever crossed there.
"It is called 'Moll's Carry'," added the engineer, "and ye'll get a good look at it as we go down river. We've rin across that carry wid this boat at high water."
After entering the Androscoggin River Jack and I went out on deck again to watch for ducks. We saw quite a number; also two blue herons, and a magnificent bald eagle, but did not get near enough to shoot any of them.
Chris came out in time to see the eagle, and, with a twinkle in his eye, remarked, "Thim aigles can be caught, Cap'n, if ye get near enough to put salt on their tails."
"Oh, get out!" replied Jack, laughing; "that tale is too old. Give us something new."
"How much time shall we have at Errol, Chris?"
"Fifteen or twenty minutes, perhaps more, Cap'n. But if ye go ashore I'll whistle whin we're ridy to leave."
"That's right," replied Jack. "Give us time to look around a little. I never was in Errol before."
"Faith, and ye haven't missed much; the 'house and the dam is all there is for ye to see. But ye oughter be here in the spring once, if ye wanter see miskeetors and black flies. Errol bates all the places in the wurld for them. We don't make very long stops here in the spring whin we land, I tell ye."
"Are the mosquitoes as large as they are in New Jersey ?"
"I don't know about that, Captain. But many of thim here will weigh a pound."
"Ont in New Jersey they have to house their cattle every night during mosquito time to keep the mosquitoes from carrying them off."
Chris looked at me square in the eye for a second, and then walked away. He was silenced for the time being.
After passing the mouth of the Magalloway we found a little ice in the river; but the steamer made her way through it easily, and we reached Errol Dam all right at half-past ten.
While the captain and engineer of the steamer were unloading some freight Jack and I took a run on shore, and Spot scared up a partridge which Jack shot. We thought there might be more in the vicinity, and were encouraging the dog to find them, when we heard the hoarse whistle of the steamer, and knew that our time was up.
We hurried down to the boat, and found the fasts all cast off, and that they were only waiting for us. We jumped on board, and the steamer started to retrace her course, the Magalloway, up which river we were bound, emptying into the Androscoggin four miles above Errol Dam.
"Ha! Ha! byes, ye came near gettin' left that toime," said the good-natured Hibernian who had charge of the engine.
"Why, Chris, you don't mean to say you were going to run away from us?"
"Faith, I warnt, Captain, but I whistled so as to hurry yees a little. Got a shot at a partridge, didn't ye?"
"Yes, Jack shot it, and I shall have it for dinner."
"Will you?" inquired Jack. "Where do I come in?"
"Oh, you can come in at the door, or the window, just as you please! But if you shoot the partridge, and I eat it, I am sure that is a fair division of labor."
"Yes, altogether too fair. You remind me of the Irishman who had quarreled with his wife, and proposed to her that they divide the house even, and told her he'd be after kaping the inside, and she could have the outside."
"And that did not suit her, I suppose," I replied, with a laugh. "Women are so unreasonable."
"There comes a blue heron," cried Jack, pointing to the bird, and with careful aim he fired, the only result being to make the heron swerve in his flight.
"Wait till we get into the Magalloway, and ye'll get a shot at some ducks. We see lots of 'em every day we go up there."
Half an hour after leaving the dam the boat made a sharp turn to the left and entered the Magalloway. From its mouth to the landing was eight miles by the river but not more than half that in a straight line.
The river is one of the most beautiful in the world. Narrow and crooked, it twists and turns to all points of the compass. The banks are from three to six feet high, and are thickly wooded on both sides. In some places the large elms whose branches spread out over the river nearly meet in an arch overhead, and the forest is reflected from the quiet water as plainly as from a mirror. Among the growth are many tall firs, hoary with age, and draped and festooned With long, trailing, light-colored moss, that gives them a charming and fantastic appearance, reminding one of Longfellow's lines: —
"This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms."
There are quite a number of small ponds and "logons" a short distance back from the river, scattered along for many miles. This is true of both the Lower and Upper Magalloway. These little bodies of water are excellent feeding-places for wild fowl and deer, as their borders, and sometimes their entire surface, are covered with a peculiar kind of grass, also water lilies and other aquatic plants.
On deck, near the bow, Jack and I took our station, and were soon joined by the engineer.
Soon after turning a sharp bend of the river the steamer passed Pulpit Rock, and Chris pointed it out to them, saying it was a favorite spot for camping out.
A few rods beyond, the engineer discovered a fox trotting along the starboard side of the river, and called our attention to the animal.
"We will have a shot at it," I exclaimed, and we watched Reynard anxiously; he stopped occasionally to investigate, and Chris said he was after mussels or musk-rats, he did not know which.
Captain Tenny had now sighted the fox, and he slanted the steamer toward him.
"There's a chance for you, Jack," he called ont from the wheel-house. "See if you can't get that fox. His skin is worth a dollar and a half."
"I'll warm him, if we get near enough," answered Jack, softly.
A moment or two more and the steamer was within gunshot; but, just as we fired, Reynard turned and saw us, and made tracks for the woods. He was out of sight in a moment, and we never knew whether he was struck or not.
"Better luck next time," cried the captain, as he closed the window, for it was colder in the wheel-house than it was down on deck.
"I am sorry we did not get that fox," said Jack, as he put fresh charges in his gun.
"We may see another before we git to the landin'," the engineer replied. "Some days we see two or three of them on this trip."
Shortly after this the steamer came in sight of a large brook on the left-hand side of the river. Chris told us it was Bear Brook; but nary a "b'ar "did we see.
A few moments more brought us up to Bottle Brook, also on the left side of the river, and here we saw the first signs of civilization we had met with since leaving Errol, in the shape of a small log-cabin.
The engineer, who seemed to be an encyclopædia of the country, told us that an Indian squaw resided there, and that she had a white husband.
"I don't admire his taste," declared Jack, contemptuously.
Two men now made their appearance from the cabin, and, taking fishing-poles that stood against one end of it, went down to the brook. They waved their hats as the steamer swept by.
"Why do they call that stream Bottle Brook, Chris?"
"Faix, Cap'n, ye have me there, for I don't know. It's been called Bottle Brook iver since I came into this country; but I guess"—and he smiled —"it is because there are so many bottles opened there by fishermen."
"I suppose the first fellow who opened a bottle there threw it into the stream and christened the brook," added Jack.
"In a horn he did," I remarked.
"You mean he took a horn when he did," laughed my companion.
Just beyond Bottle Brook the boat swept around a sharp turn, and Chris told Jack to be ready. As we turned the point we saw seven black ducks, and, as they rose, Jack blazed away at them, and I gave them three shots from my revolver. Three of them were knocked over, and it has always been an open question between Jack and I as to who killed the ducks. But of course I know.
Chris stopped the steamer, and he and Jack went out in the small boat and picked them up. On their return we steamed up river again. Although we saw several flocks afterwards we did not get near enough to any of them to shoot successfully.
We passed another house, which Chris said was Chase's, and then turned around a long point, known as "Sharp Shins." It was the sharpest turn we had made on the river, and I thought the boat would not make it; but the captain brought her around after a while, but he had a narrow escape from running aground.
A little after twelve we arrived at Littlehale's landing in Wentworth's Location, and were met by a team, which took us all up to the Brown Farm, a mile and three-quarters distant, where we took dinner at the Berlin Mills House. We had our ducks and partridge cooked, and found them decidedly toothsome.
Chris and Captain Tenny did not have much time to spare, as they wished to get home before dark, and they started to walk back immediately after dinner, the team not going down.
We bade them "good-by" and shook hands with them before they left, and told them we hoped to meet them again, and have another ride on the steamer.
They reciprocated our sentiments, and wished us good luck, and then left at a rapid gait, for they were already behind time.