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<SPAN name="link2H_PART2" id="link2H_PART2"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> PART II. THE LANDLOOKER </h2> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0016" id="link2HCH0016"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter XVI </h2> <p> In every direction the woods. Not an opening of any kind offered the mind a breathing place under the free sky. Sometimes the pine groves,&mdash;vast, solemn, grand, with the patrician aloofness of the truly great; sometimes the hardwood,&mdash;bright, mysterious, full of life; sometimes the swamps,&mdash;dark, dank, speaking with the voices of the shyer creatures; sometimes the spruce and balsam thickets,&mdash;aromatic, enticing. But never the clear, open sky. </p> <p> And always the woods creatures, in startling abundance and tameness. The solitary man with the packstraps across his forehead and shoulders had never seen so many of them. They withdrew silently before him as he advanced. They accompanied him on either side, watching him with intelligent, bright eyes. They followed him stealthily for a little distance, as though escorting him out of their own particular territory. Dozens of times a day the traveller glimpsed the flaunting white flags of deer. Often the creatures would take but a few hasty jumps, and then would wheel, the beautiful embodiments of the picture deer, to snort and paw the leaves. Hundreds of birds, of which he did not know the name, stooped to his inspection, whirred away at his approach, or went about their business with hardy indifference under his very eyes. Blase porcupines trundled superbly from his path. Once a mother-partridge simulated a broken wing, fluttering painfully. Early one morning the traveller ran plump on a fat lolling bear, taking his ease from the new sun, and his meal from a panic stricken army of ants. As beseemed two innocent wayfarers they honored each other with a salute of surprise, and went their way. And all about and through, weaving, watching, moving like spirits, were the forest multitudes which the young man never saw, but which he divined, and of whose movements he sometimes caught for a single instant the faintest patter or rustle. It constituted the mystery of the forest, that great fascinating, lovable mystery which, once it steals into the heart of a man, has always a hearing and a longing when it makes its voice heard. </p> <p> The young man's equipment was simple in the extreme. Attached to a heavy leather belt of cartridges hung a two-pound ax and a sheath knife. In his pocket reposed a compass, an air-tight tin of matches, and a map drawn on oiled paper of a district divided into sections. Some few of the sections were colored, which indicated that they belonged to private parties. All the rest was State or Government land. He carried in his hand a repeating rifle. The pack, if opened, would have been found to contain a woolen and a rubber blanket, fishing tackle, twenty pounds or so of flour, a package of tea, sugar, a slab of bacon carefully wrapped in oiled cloth, salt, a suit of underwear, and several extra pairs of thick stockings. To the outside of the pack had been strapped a frying pan, a tin pail, and a cup. </p> <p> For more than a week Thorpe had journeyed through the forest without meeting a human being, or seeing any indications of man, excepting always the old blaze of the government survey. Many years before, officials had run careless lines through the country along the section-boundaries. At this time the blazes were so weather-beaten that Thorpe often found difficulty in deciphering the indications marked on them. These latter stated always the section, the township, and the range east or west by number. All Thorpe had to do was to find the same figures on his map. He knew just where he was. By means of his compass he could lay his course to any point that suited his convenience. </p> <p> The map he had procured at the United States Land Office in Detroit. He had set out with the scanty equipment just described for the purpose of "looking" a suitable bunch of pine in the northern peninsula, which, at that time, was practically untouched. Access to its interior could be obtained only on foot or by river. The South Shore Railroad was already engaged in pushing a way through the virgin forest, but it had as yet penetrated only as far as Seney; and after all, had been projected more with the idea of establishing a direct route to Duluth and the copper districts than to aid the lumber industry. Marquette, Menominee, and a few smaller places along the coast were lumbering near at home; but they shipped entirely by water. Although the rest of the peninsula also was finely wooded, a general impression obtained among the craft that it would prove too inaccessible for successful operation. </p> <p> Furthermore, at that period, a great deal of talk was believed as to the inexhaustibility of Michigan pine. Men in a position to know what they were talking about stated dogmatically that the forests of the southern peninsula would be adequate for a great many years to come. Furthermore, the magnificent timber of the Saginaw, Muskegon, and Grand River valleys in the southern peninsula occupied entire attention. No one cared to bother about property at so great a distance from home. As a consequence, few as yet knew even the extent of the resources so far north. </p> <p> Thorpe, however, with the far-sightedness of the born pioneer, had perceived that the exploitation of the upper country was an affair of a few years only. </p> <p> The forests of southern Michigan were vast, but not limitless, and they had all passed into private ownership. The north, on the other hand, would not prove as inaccessible as it now seemed, for the carrying trade would some day realize that the entire waterway of the Great Lakes offered an unrivalled outlet. With that elementary discovery would begin a rush to the new country. Tiring of a profitless employment further south he resolved to anticipate it, and by acquiring his holdings before general attention should be turned that way, to obtain of the best. </p> <p> He was without money, and practically without friends; while Government and State lands cost respectively two dollars and a half and a dollar and a quarter an acre, cash down. But he relied on the good sense of capitalists to perceive, from the statistics which his explorations would furnish, the wonderful advantage of logging a new country with the chain of Great Lakes as shipping outlet at its very door. In return for his information, he would expect a half interest in the enterprise. This is the usual method of procedure adopted by landlookers everywhere. </p> <p> We have said that the country was quite new to logging, but the statement is not strictly accurate. Thorpe was by no means the first to see the money in northern pine. Outside the big mill districts already named, cuttings of considerable size were already under way, the logs from which were usually sold to the mills of Marquette or Menominee. Here and there along the best streams, men had already begun operations. </p> <p> But they worked on a small scale and with an eye to the immediate present only; bending their efforts to as large a cut as possible each season rather than to the acquisition of holdings for future operations. This they accomplished naively by purchasing one forty and cutting a dozen. Thorpe's map showed often near the forks of an important stream a section whose coloring indicated private possession. Legally the owners had the right only to the pine included in the marked sections; but if anyone had taken the trouble to visit the district, he would have found operations going on for miles up and down stream. The colored squares would prove to be nothing but so many excuses for being on the ground. The bulk of the pine of any season's cut he would discover had been stolen from unbought State or Government land. </p> <p> This in the old days was a common enough trick. One man, at present a wealthy and respected citizen, cut for six years, and owned just one forty-acres! Another logged nearly fifty million feet from an eighty! In the State to-day live prominent business men, looked upon as models in every way, good fellows, good citizens, with sons and daughters proud of their social position, who, nevertheless, made the bulk of their fortunes by stealing Government pine. </p> <p> "What you want to-day, old man?" inquired a wholesale lumber dealer of an individual whose name now stands for domestic and civic virtue. </p> <p> "I'll have five or six million saw logs to sell you in the spring, and I want to know what you'll give for them." </p> <p> "Go on!" expostulated the dealer with a laugh, "ain't you got that forty all cut yet?" </p> <p> "She holds out pretty well," replied the other with a grin. </p> <p> An official, called the Inspector, is supposed to report such stealings, after which another official is to prosecute. Aside from the fact that the danger of discovery is practically zero in so wild and distant a country, it is fairly well established that the old-time logger found these two individuals susceptible to the gentle art of "sugaring." The officials, as well as the lumberman, became rich. If worst came to worst, and investigation seemed imminent, the operator could still purchase the land at legal rates, and so escape trouble. But the intention to appropriate was there, and, to confess the truth, the whitewashing by purchase needed but rarely to be employed. I have time and again heard landlookers assert that the old Land Offices were rarely "on the square," but as to that I cannot, of course, venture an opinion. </p> <p> Thorpe was perfectly conversant with this state of affairs. He knew, also, that in all probability many of the colored districts on his map represented firms engaged in steals of greater or less magnitude. He was further aware that most of the concerns stole the timber because it was cheaper to steal than to buy; but that they would buy readily enough if forced to do so in order to prevent its acquisition by another. This other might be himself. In his exploration, therefore, he decided to employ the utmost circumspection. As much as possible he purposed to avoid other men; but if meetings became inevitable, he hoped to mask his real intentions. He would pose as a hunter and fisherman. </p> <p> During the course of his week in the woods, he discovered that he would be forced eventually to resort to this expedient. He encountered quantities of fine timber in the country through which he travelled, and some day it would be logged, but at present the difficulties were too great. The streams were shallow, or they did not empty into a good shipping port. Investors would naturally look first for holdings along the more practicable routes. </p> <p> A cursory glance sufficed to show that on such waters the little red squares had already blocked a foothold for other owners. Thorpe surmised that he would undoubtedly discover fine unbought timber along their banks, but that the men already engaged in stealing it would hardly be likely to allow him peaceful acquisition. </p> <p> For a week, then, he journeyed through magnificent timber without finding what he sought, working always more and more to the north, until finally he stood on the shores of Superior. Up to now the streams had not suited him. He resolved to follow the shore west to the mouth of a fairly large river called the Ossawinamakee.* It showed, in common with most streams of its size, land already taken, but Thorpe hoped to find good timber nearer the mouth. After several days' hard walking with this object in view, he found himself directly north of a bend in the river; so, without troubling to hunt for its outlet into Superior, he turned through the woods due south, with the intention of striking in on the stream. This he succeeded in accomplishing some twenty miles inland, where also he discovered a well-defined and recently used trail leading up the river. Thorpe camped one night at the bend, and then set out to follow the trail. </p> <pre xml:space="preserve"> * Accent the last syllable. </pre> <p> It led him for upwards of ten miles nearly due south, sometimes approaching, sometimes leaving the river, but keeping always in its direction. The country in general was rolling. Low parallel ridges of gentle declivity glided constantly across his way, their valleys sloping to the river. Thorpe had never seen a grander forest of pine than that which clothed them. </p> <p> For almost three miles, after the young man had passed through a preliminary jungle of birch, cedar, spruce, and hemlock, it ran without a break, clear, clean, of cloud-sweeping altitude, without underbrush. Most of it was good bull-sap, which is known by the fineness of the bark, though often in the hollows it shaded gradually into the rough-skinned cork pine. In those days few people paid any attention to the Norway, and hemlock was not even thought of. With every foot of the way Thorpe became more and more impressed. </p> <p> At first the grandeur, the remoteness, the solemnity of the virgin forest fell on his spirit with a kind of awe. The tall, straight trunks lifted directly upwards to the vaulted screen through which the sky seemed as remote as the ceiling of a Roman church. Ravens wheeled and croaked in the blue, but infinitely far away. Some lesser noises wove into the stillness without breaking the web of its splendor, for the pine silence laid soft, hushing fingers on the lips of those who might waken the sleeping sunlight. </p> <p> Then the spirit of the pioneer stirred within his soul. The wilderness sent forth its old-time challenge to the hardy. In him awoke that instinct which, without itself perceiving the end on which it is bent, clears the way for the civilization that has been ripening in old-world hot-houses during a thousand years. Men must eat; and so the soil must be made productive. We regret, each after his manner, the passing of the Indian, the buffalo, the great pine forests, for they are of the picturesque; but we live gladly on the product of the farms that have taken their places. Southern Michigan was once a pine forest: now the twisted stump-fences about the most fertile farms of the north alone break the expanse of prairie and of trim "wood-lots." </p> <p> Thorpe knew little of this, and cared less. These feathered trees, standing close-ranked and yet each isolate in the dignity and gravity of a sphinx of stone set to dancing his blood of the frontiersman. He spread out his map to make sure that so valuable a clump of timber remained still unclaimed. A few sections lying near the headwaters were all he found marked as sold. He resumed his tramp light-heartedly. </p> <p> At the ten-mile point he came upon a dam. It was a crude dam,&mdash;built of logs,&mdash;whose face consisted of strong buttresses slanted up-stream, and whose sheer was made of unbarked timbers laid smoothly side by side at the required angle. At present its gate was open. Thorpe could see that it was an unusually large gate, with a powerful apparatus for the raising and the lowering of it. </p> <p> The purpose of the dam in this new country did not puzzle him in the least, but its presence bewildered him. Such constructions are often thrown across logging streams at proper intervals in order that the operator may be independent of the spring freshets. When he wishes to "drive" his logs to the mouth of the stream, he first accumulates a head of water behind his dams, and then, by lifting the gates, creates an artificial freshet sufficient to float his timber to the pool formed by the next dam below. The device is common enough; but it is expensive. People do not build dams except in the certainty of some years of logging, and quite extensive logging at that. If the stream happens to be navigable, the promoter must first get an Improvement Charter from a board of control appointed by the State. So Thorpe knew that he had to deal, not with a hand-to-mouth-timber-thief, but with a great company preparing to log the country on a big scale. </p> <p> He continued his journey. At noon he came to another and similar structure. The pine forest had yielded to knolls of hardwood separated by swamp-holes of blackthorn. Here he left his pack and pushed ahead in light marching order. About eight miles above the first dam, and eighteen from the bend of the river, he ran into a "slashing" of the year before. The decapitated stumps were already beginning to turn brown with weather, the tangle of tops and limbs was partially concealed by poplar growths and wild raspberry vines. Parenthetically, it may be remarked that the promptitude with which these growths succeed the cutting of the pine is an inexplicable marvel. Clear forty acres at random in the very center of a pine forest, without a tract of poplar within an hundred miles; the next season will bring up the fresh shoots. Some claim that blue jays bring the seeds in their crops. Others incline to the theory that the creative elements lie dormant in the soil, needing only the sun to start them to life. Final speculation is impossible, but the fact stands. </p> <p> To Thorpe this particular clearing became at once of the greatest interest. He scrambled over and through the ugly debris which for a year or two after logging operations cumbers the ground. By a rather prolonged search he found what he sought,&mdash;the "section corners" of the tract, on which the government surveyor had long ago marked the "descriptions." A glance at the map confirmed his suspicions. The slashing lay some two miles north of the sections designated as belonging to private parties. It was Government land. </p> <p> Thorpe sat down, lit a pipe, and did a little thinking. </p> <p> As an axiom it may be premised that the shorter the distance logs have to be transported, the less it costs to get them in. Now Thorpe had that very morning passed through beautiful timber lying much nearer the mouth of the river than either this, or the sections further south. Why had these men deliberately ascended the stream? Why had they stolen timber eighteen miles from the bend, when they could equally well have stolen just as good fourteen miles nearer the terminus of their drive? </p> <p> Thorpe ruminated for some time without hitting upon a solution. Then suddenly he remembered the two dams, and his idea that the men in charge of the river must be wealthy and must intend operating on a large scale. He thought he glimpsed it. After another pipe, he felt sure. </p> <p> The Unknowns were indeed going in on a large scale. They intended eventually to log the whole of the Ossawinamakee basin. For this reason they had made their first purchase, planted their first foot-hold, near the headwaters. Furthermore, located as they were far from a present or an immediately future civilization, they had felt safe in leaving for the moment their holdings represented by the three sections already described. Some day they would buy all the standing Government pine in the basin; but in the meantime they would steal all they could at a sufficient distance from the lake to minimize the danger of discovery. They had not dared to appropriate the three mile tract Thorpe had passed through, because in that locality the theft would probably be remarked, so they intended eventually to buy it. Until that should become necessary, however, every stick cut meant so much less to purchase. </p> <p> "They're going to cut, and keep on cutting, working down river as fast as they can," argued Thorpe. "If anything happens so they have to, they'll buy in the pine that is left; but if things go well with them, they'll take what they can for nothing. They're getting this stuff out up-river first, because they can steal safer while the country is still unsettled; and even when it does fill up, there will not be much likelihood of an investigation so far in-country,&mdash;at least until after they have folded their tents." </p> <p> It seems to us who are accustomed to the accurate policing of our twentieth century, almost incredible that such wholesale robberies should have gone on with so little danger of detection. Certainly detection was a matter of sufficient simplicity. Someone happens along, like Thorpe, carrying a Government map in his pocket. He runs across a parcel of unclaimed land already cut over. It would seem easy to lodge a complaint, institute a prosecution against the men known to have put in the timber. BUT IT IS ALMOST NEVER DONE. </p> <p> Thorpe knew that men occupied in so precarious a business would be keenly on the watch. At the first hint of rivalry, they would buy in the timber they had selected. But the situation had set his fighting blood to racing. The very fact that these men were thieves on so big a scale made him the more obstinately determined to thwart them. They undoubtedly wanted the tract down river. Well, so did he! </p> <p> He purposed to look it over carefully, to ascertain its exact boundaries and what sections it would be necessary to buy in order to include it, and perhaps even to estimate it in a rough way. In the accomplishment of this he would have to spend the summer, and perhaps part of the fall, in that district. He could hardly expect to escape notice. By the indications on the river, he judged that a crew of men had shortly before taken out a drive of logs. After the timber had been rafted and towed to Marquette, they would return. He might be able to hide in the forest, but sooner or later, he was sure, one of the company's landlookers or hunters would stumble on his camp. Then his very concealment would tell them what he was after. The risk was too great. For above all things Thorpe needed time. He had, as has been said, to ascertain what he could offer. Then he had to offer it. He would be forced to interest capital, and that is a matter of persuasion and leisure. </p> <p> Finally his shrewd, intuitive good-sense flashed the solution on him. He returned rapidly to his pack, assumed the straps, and arrived at the first dam about dark of the long summer day. </p> <p> There he looked carefully about him. Some fifty feet from the water's edge a birch knoll supported, besides the birches, a single big hemlock. With his belt ax, Thorpe cleared away the little white trees. He stuck the sharpened end of one of them in the bark of the shaggy hemlock, fastened the other end in a crotch eight or ten feet distant, slanted the rest of the saplings along one side of this ridge pole, and turned in, after a hasty supper, leaving the completion of his permanent camp to the morrow. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0017" id="link2HCH0017"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter XVII </h2> <p> In the morning he thatched smooth the roof of the shelter, using for the purpose the thick branches of hemlocks; placed two green spruce logs side by side as cooking range; slung his pot on a rod across two forked sticks; cut and split a quantity of wood; spread his blankets; and called himself established. His beard was already well grown, and his clothes had become worn by the brush and faded by the sun and rain. In the course of the morning he lay in wait very patiently near a spot overflowed by the river, where, the day before, he had noticed lily-pads growing. After a time a doe and a spotted fawn came and stood ankle-deep in the water, and ate of the lily-pads. Thorpe lurked motionless behind his screen of leaves; and as he had taken the precaution so to station himself that his hiding-place lay downwind, the beautiful animals were unaware of his presence. </p> <p> By and by a prong-buck joined them. He was a two-year-old, young, tender, with the velvet just off his antlers. Thorpe aimed at his shoulder, six inches above the belly-line, and pressed the trigger. As though by enchantment the three woods creatures disappeared. But the hunter had noticed that, whereas the doe and fawn flourished bravely the broad white flags of their tails, the buck had seemed but a streak of brown. By this he knew he had hit. </p> <p> Sure enough, after two hundred yards of following the prints of sharp hoofs and occasional gobbets of blood on the leaves, he came upon his prey dead. It became necessary to transport the animal to camp. Thorpe stuck his hunting knife deep into the front of the deer's chest, where the neck joins, which allowed most of the blood to drain away. Then he fastened wild grape vines about the antlers, and, with a little exertion drew the body after him as though it had been a toboggan. </p> <p> It slid more easily than one would imagine, along the grain; but not as easily as by some other methods with which Thorpe was unfamiliar. </p> <p> At camp he skinned the deer, cut most of the meat into thin strips which he salted and placed in the sun to dry, and hung the remainder in a cool arbor of boughs. The hide he suspended over a pole. </p> <p> All these things he did hastily, as though he might be in a hurry; as indeed he was. </p> <p> At noon he cooked himself a venison steak and some tea. Then with his hatchet he cut several small pine poles, which he fashioned roughly in a number of shapes and put aside for the future. The brains of the deer, saved for the purpose, he boiled with water in his tin pail, wishing it were larger. With the liquor thus obtained he intended later to remove the hair and grain from the deer hide. Toward evening he caught a dozen trout in the pool below the dam. These he ate for supper. </p> <p> Next day he spread the buck's hide out on the ground and drenched it liberally with the product of deer-brains. Later the hide was soaked in the river, after which, by means of a rough two-handled spatula, Thorpe was enabled after much labor to scrape away entirely the hair and grain. He cut from the edge of the hide a number of long strips of raw-hide, but anointed the body of the skin liberally with the brain liquor. </p> <p> "Glad I don't have to do that every day!" he commented, wiping his brow with the back of his wrist. </p> <p> As the skin dried he worked and kneaded it to softness. The result was a fair quality of white buckskin, the first Thorpe had ever made. If wetted, it would harden dry and stiff. Thorough smoking in the fumes of punk maple would obviate this, but that detail Thorpe left until later. </p> <p> "I don't know whether it's all necessary," he said to himself doubtfully, "but if you're going to assume a disguise, let it be a good one." </p> <p> In the meantime, he had bound together with his rawhide thongs several of the oddly shaped pine timbers to form a species of dead-fall trap. It was slow work, for Thorpe's knowledge of such things was theoretical. He had learned his theory well, however, and in the end arrived. </p> <p> All this time he had made no effort to look over the pine, nor did he intend to begin until he could be sure of doing so in safety. His object now was to give his knoll the appearances of a trapper's camp. </p> <p> Towards the end of the week he received his first visit. Evening was drawing on, and Thorpe was busily engaged in cooking a panful of trout, resting the frying pan across the two green spruce logs between which glowed the coals. Suddenly he became aware of a presence at his side. How it had reached the spot he could not imagine, for he had heard no approach. He looked up quickly. </p> <p> "How do," greeted the newcomer gravely. </p> <p> The man was an Indian, silent, solemn, with the straight, unwinking gaze of his race. </p> <p> "How do," replied Thorpe. </p> <p> The Indian without further ceremony threw his pack to the ground, and, squatting on his heels, watched the white man's preparations. When the meal was cooked, he coolly produced a knife, selected a clean bit of hemlock bark, and helped himself. Then he lit a pipe, and gazed keenly about him. The buckskin interested him. </p> <p> "No good," said he, feeling of its texture. </p> <p> Thorpe laughed. "Not very," he confessed. </p> <p> "Good," continued the Indian, touching lightly his own moccasins. </p> <p> "What you do?" he inquired after a long silence, punctuated by the puffs of tobacco. </p> <p> "Hunt; trap; fish," replied Thorpe with equal sententiousness. </p> <p> "Good," concluded the Indian, after a ruminative pause. </p> <p> That night he slept on the ground. Next day he made a better shelter than Thorpe's in less than half the time; and was off hunting before the sun was an hour high. He was armed with an old-fashioned smooth-bore muzzle-loader; and Thorpe was astonished, after he had become better acquainted with his new companion's methods, to find that he hunted deer with fine bird shot. The Indian never expected to kill or even mortally wound his game; but he would follow for miles the blood drops caused by his little wounds, until the animals in sheer exhaustion allowed him to approach close enough for a dispatching blow. At two o'clock he returned with a small buck, tied scientifically together for toting, with the waste parts cut away, but every ounce of utility retained. </p> <p> "I show," said the Indian:&mdash;and he did. Thorpe learned the Indian tan; of what use are the hollow shank bones; how the spinal cord is the toughest, softest, and most pliable sewing-thread known. </p> <p> The Indian appeared to intend making the birch-knoll his permanent headquarters. Thorpe was at first a little suspicious of his new companion, but the man appeared scrupulously honest, was never intrusive, and even seemed genuinely desirous of teaching the white little tricks of the woods brought to their perfection by the Indian alone. He ended by liking him. The two rarely spoke. They merely sat near each other, and smoked. One evening the Indian suddenly remarked: </p> <p> "You look 'um tree." </p> <p> "What's that?" cried Thorpe, startled. </p> <p> "You no hunter, no trapper. You look 'um tree, for make 'um lumber." </p> <p> The white had not begun as yet his explorations. He did not dare until the return of the logging crew or the passing of someone in authority at the up-river camp, for he wished first to establish in their minds the innocence of his intentions. </p> <p> "What makes you think that, Charley?" he asked. </p> <p> "You good man in woods," replied Injin Charley sententiously, "I tell by way you look at him pine." </p> <p> Thorpe ruminated. </p> <p> "Charley," said he, "why are you staying here with me?" </p> <p> "Big frien'," replied the Indian promptly. </p> <p> "Why are you my friend? What have I ever done for you?" </p> <p> "You gottum chief's eye," replied his companion with simplicity. </p> <p> Thorpe looked at the Indian again. There seemed to be only one course. </p> <p> "Yes, I'm a lumberman," he confessed, "and I'm looking for pine. But, Charley, the men up the river must not know what I'm after." </p> <p> "They gettum pine," interjected the Indian like a flash. </p> <p> "Exactly," replied Thorpe, surprised afresh at the other's perspicacity. </p> <p> "Good!" ejaculated Injin Charley, and fell silent. </p> <p> With this, the longest conversation the two had attempted in their peculiar acquaintance, Thorpe was forced to be content. He was, however, ill at ease over the incident. It added an element of uncertainty to an already precarious position. </p> <p> Three days later he was intensely thankful the conversation had taken place. </p> <p> After the noon meal he lay on his blanket under the hemlock shelter, smoking and lazily watching Injin Charley busy at the side of the trail. The Indian had terminated a long two days' search by toting from the forest a number of strips of the outer bark of white birch, in its green state pliable as cotton, thick as leather, and light as air. These he had cut into arbitrary patterns known only to himself, and was now sewing as a long shapeless sort of bag or sac to a slender beech-wood oval. Later it was to become a birch-bark canoe, and the beech-wood oval would be the gunwale. </p> <p> So idly intent was Thorpe on this piece of construction that he did not notice the approach of two men from the down-stream side. They were short, alert men, plodding along with the knee-bent persistency of the woods-walker, dressed in broad hats, flannel shirts, coarse trousers tucked in high laced "cruisers "; and carrying each a bulging meal sack looped by a cord across the shoulders and chest. Both were armed with long slender scaler's rules. The first intimation Thorpe received of the presence of these two men was the sound of their voices addressing Injin Charley. </p> <p> "Hullo Charley," said one of them, "what you doing here? Ain't seen you since th' Sturgeon district." </p> <p> "Mak' 'um canoe," replied Charley rather obviously. </p> <p> "So I see. But what you expect to get in this Godforsaken country?" </p> <p> "Beaver, muskrat, mink, otter." </p> <p> "Trapping, eh?" The man gazed keenly at Thorpe's recumbent figure. </p> <p> "Who's the other fellow?" </p> <p> Thorpe held his breath; then exhaled it in a long sigh of relief. </p> <p> "Him white man," Injin Charley was replying, "him hunt too. He mak' 'um buckskin." </p> <p> The landlooker arose lazily and sauntered toward the group. It was part of his plan to be well recognized so that in the future he might arouse no suspicions. </p> <p> "Howdy," he drawled, "got any smokin'?" </p> <p> "How are you," replied one of the scalers, eying him sharply, and tendering his pouch. Thorpe filled his pipe deliberately, and returned it with a heavy-lidded glance of thanks. To all appearances he was one of the lazy, shiftless white hunters of the backwoods. Seized with an inspiration, he said, "What sort of chances is they at your camp for a little flour? Me and Charley's about out. I'll bring you meat; or I'll make you boys moccasins. I got some good buckskin." </p> <p> It was the usual proposition. </p> <p> "Pretty good, I guess. Come up and see," advised the scaler. "The crew's right behind us." </p> <p> "I'll send up Charley," drawled Thorpe, "I'm busy now makin' traps," he waved his pipe, calling attention to the pine and rawhide dead-falls. </p> <p> They chatted a few moments, practically and with an eye to the strict utility of things about them, as became woodsmen. Then two wagons creaked lurching by, followed by fifteen or twenty men. The last of these, evidently the foreman, was joined by the two scalers. </p> <p> "What's that outfit?" he inquired with the sharpness of suspicion. </p> <p> "Old Injin Charley&mdash;you remember, the old boy that tanned that buck for you down on Cedar Creek." </p> <p> "Yes, but the other fellow." </p> <p> "Oh, a hunter," replied the scaler carelessly. </p> <p> "Sure?" </p> <p> The man laughed. "Couldn't be nothin' else," he asserted with confidence. "Regular old backwoods mossback." </p> <p> At the same time Injin Charley was setting about the splitting of a cedar log. </p> <p> "You see," he remarked, "I big frien'." </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2HCH0018" id="link2HCH0018"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> Chapter XVIII </h2> <p> In the days that followed, Thorpe cruised about the great woods. It was slow business, but fascinating. He knew that when he should embark on his attempt to enlist considerable capital in an "unsight unseen" investment, he would have to be well supplied with statistics. True, he was not much of a timber estimator, nor did he know the methods usually employed, but his experience, observation, and reading had developed a latent sixth sense by which he could appreciate quality, difficulties of logging, and such kindred practical matters. </p> <p> First of all he walked over the country at large, to find where the best timber lay. This was a matter of tramping; though often on an elevation he succeeded in climbing a tall tree whence he caught bird's-eye views of the country at large. He always carried his gun with him, and was prepared at a moment's notice to seem engaged in hunting,&mdash;either for game or for spots in which later to set his traps. The expedient was, however, unnecessary. </p> <p> Next he ascertained the geographical location of the different clumps and forests, entering the sections, the quarter-sections, even the separate forties in his note-book; taking in only the "descriptions" containing the best pine. </p> <p> Finally he wrote accurate notes concerning the topography of each and every pine district,&mdash;the lay of the land; the hills, ravines, swamps, and valleys; the distance from the river; the character of the soil. In short, he accumulated all the information he could by which the cost of logging might be estimated. </p> <p> The work went much quicker than he had anticipated, mainly because he could give his entire attention to it. Injin Charley attended to the commissary, with a delight in the process that removed it from the category of work. When it rained, an infrequent occurrence, the two hung Thorpe's rubber blankets before the opening of the driest shelter, and waited philosophically for the weather to clear. Injin Charley had finished the first canoe, and was now leisurely at work on another. Thorpe had filled his note-book with the class of statistics just described. He decided now to attempt an estimate of the timber. </p> <p> For this he had really too little experience. He knew it, but determined to do his best. The weak point of his whole scheme lay in that it was going to be impossible for him to allow the prospective purchaser a chance of examining the pine. That difficulty Thorpe hoped to overcome by inspiring personal confidence in himself. If he failed to do so, he might return with a landlooker whom the investor trusted, and the two could re-enact the comedy of this summer. Thorpe hoped, however, to avoid the necessity. It would be too dangerous. He set about a rough estimate of the timber. </p> <p> Injin Charley intended evidently to work up a trade in buckskin during the coming winter. Although the skins were in poor condition at this time of the year, he tanned three more, and smoked them. In the day-time he looked the country over as carefully as did Thorpe. But he ignored the pines, and paid attention only to the hardwood and the beds of little creeks. Injin Charley was in reality a trapper, and he intended to get many fine skins in this promising district. He worked on his tanning and his canoe-making late in the afternoon. </p> <p> One evening just at sunset Thorpe was helping the Indian shape his craft. The loose sac of birch-bark sewed to the long beech oval was slung between two tripods. Injin Charley had fashioned a number of thin, flexible cedar strips of certain arbitrary lengths and widths. Beginning with the smallest of these, Thorpe and his companion were catching one end under the beech oval, bending the strip bow-shape inside the sac, and catching again the other side of the oval. Thus the spring of the bent cedar, pressing against the inside of the birch-bark sac, distended it tightly. The cut of the sac and the length of the cedar strips gave to the canoe its graceful shape. </p> <p> The two men bent there at their task, the dull glow of evening falling upon them. Behind them the knoll stood out in picturesque relief against the darker pine, the little shelters, the fire-places of green spruce, the blankets, the guns, a deer's carcass suspended by the feet from a cross pole, the drying buckskin on either side. The river rushed by with a never-ending roar and turmoil. Through its shouting one perceived, as through a mist, the still lofty peace of evening. </p> <p> A young fellow, hardly more than a boy, exclaimed with keen delight of the picturesque as his canoe shot around the bend into sight of it. </p> <p> The canoe was large and powerful, but well filled. An Indian knelt in the stern; amidships was well laden with duffle of all descriptions; then the young fellow sat in the bow. He was a bright-faced, eager-eyed, curly-haired young fellow, all enthusiasm and fire. His figure was trim and clean, but rather slender; and his movements were quick but nervous. When he stepped carefully out on the flat rock to which his guide brought the canoe with a swirl of the paddle, one initiated would have seen that his clothes, while strong and serviceable, had been bought from a sporting catalogue. There was a trimness, a neatness, about them. </p> <p> "This is a good place," he said to the guide, "we'll camp here." Then he turned up the steep bank without looking back. </p> <p> "Hullo!" he called in a cheerful, unembarrassed fashion to Thorpe and Charley. "How are you? Care if I camp here? What you making? By Jove! I never saw a canoe made before. I'm going to watch you. Keep right at it." </p> <p> He sat on one of the outcropping boulders and took off his hat. </p> <p> "Say! you've got a great place here! You here all summer? Hullo! you've got a deer hanging up. Are there many of 'em around here? I'd like to kill a deer first rate. I never have. It's sort of out of season now, isn't it?" </p> <p> "We only kill the bucks," replied Thorpe. </p> <p> "I like fishing, too," went on the boy; "are there any here? In the pool? John," he called to his guide, "bring me my fishing tackle." </p> <p> In a few moments he was whipping the pool with long, graceful drops of the fly. He proved to be adept. Thorpe and Injin Charley stopped work to watch him. At first the Indian's stolid countenance seemed a trifle doubtful. After a time it cleared. </p> <p> "Good! he grunted. </p> <p> "You do that well," Thorpe remarked. "Is it difficult?" </p> <p> "It takes practice," replied the boy. "See that riffle?" He whipped the fly lightly within six inches of a little suction hole; a fish at once rose and struck. </p> <p> The others had been little fellows and easily handled. At the end of fifteen minutes the newcomer landed a fine two-pounder. </p> <p> "That must be fun," commented Thorpe. "I never happened to get in with fly-fishing. I'd like to try it sometime." </p> <p> "Try it now!" urged the boy, enchanted that he could teach a woodsman anything. </p> <p> "No," Thorpe declined, "not to-night, to-morrow perhaps." </p> <p> The other Indian had by now finished the erection of a tent, and had begun to cook supper over a little sheet-iron camp stove. Thorpe and Charley could smell ham. </p> <p> "You've got quite a pantry," remarked Thorpe. </p> <p> "Won't you eat with me?" proffered the boy hospitably. </p> <p> But Thorpe declined. He could, however, see canned goods, hard tack, and condensed milk. </p> <p> In the course of the evening the boy approached the older man's camp, and, with a charming diffidence, asked permission to sit awhile at their fire. </p> <p> He was full of delight over everything that savored of the woods, or woodscraft. The most trivial and everyday affairs of the life interested him. His eager questions, so frankly proffered, aroused even the taciturn Charley to eloquence. The construction of the shelter, the cut of a deer's hide, the simple process of "jerking" venison,&mdash;all these awakened his enthusiasm. </p> <p> "It must be good to live in the woods," he said with a sigh, "to do all things for yourself. It's so free!" </p> <p> The men's moccasins interested him. He asked a dozen questions about them,&mdash;how they were cut, whether they did not hurt the feet, how long they would wear. He seemed surprised to learn that they are excellent in cold weather. </p> <p> "I thought ANY leather would wet through in the snow!" he cried. "I wish I could get a pair somewhere!" he exclaimed. "You don't know where I could buy any, do you?" he asked of Thorpe. </p> <p> "I don't know," answered he, "perhaps Charley here will make you a pair." </p> <p> "WILL you, Charley?" cried the boy. </p> <p> "I mak' him," replied the Indian stolidly. </p> <p> The many-voiced night of the woods descended close about the little camp fire, and its soft breezes wafted stray sparks here and there like errant stars. The newcomer, with shining eyes, breathed deep in satisfaction. He was keenly alive to the romance, the grandeur, the mystery, the beauty of the littlest things, seeming to derive a deep and solid contentment from the mere contemplation of the woods and its ways and creatures. </p> <p> "I just DO love this!" he cried again and again. "Oh, it's great, after all that fuss down there!" and he cried it so fervently that the other men present smiled; but so genuinely that the smile had in it nothing but kindliness. </p> <p> "I came out for a month," said he suddenly, "and I guess I'll stay the rest of it right here. You'll let me go with you sometimes hunting, won't you?" he appealed to them with the sudden open-heartedness of a child. "I'd like first rate to kill a deer." </p> <p> "Sure," said Thorpe, "glad to have you." </p> <p> "My name is Wallace Carpenter," said the boy with a sudden unmistakable air of good-breeding. </p> <p> "Well," laughed Thorpe, "two old woods loafers like us haven't got much use for names. Charley here is called Geezigut, and mine's nearly as bad; but I guess plain Charley and Harry will do." </p> <p> "All right, Harry," replied Wallace. </p> <p> After the young fellow had crawled into the sleeping bag which his guide had spread for him over a fragrant layer of hemlock and balsam, Thorpe and his companion smoked one more pipe. The whip-poor-wills called back and forth across the river. Down in the thicket, fine, clear, beautiful, like the silver thread of a dream, came the notes of the white-throat&mdash;the nightingale of the North. Injin Charley knocked the last ashes from his pipe. </p> <p> "Him nice boy!" said he. </p> <p>
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