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shower coming up just then, the Indian crept under his
canoe, while we, being protected by our rubber coats,
proceeded to botanize. So we sent him back to the camp
for shelter, agreeing that he should come there for us
with his canoe toward night. It had rained a little in the
forenoon, and we trusted that this would be the clear-
ing-up shower, which it proved; but our feet and legs
were thoroughly wet by the bushes. The clouds breaking
away a little, we had a glorious wild view, as we ascended,
of the broad lake with its fluctuating surface and numer
ous forest-clad islands, extending beyond our sight both
north and south, and the boundless forest undulating
away from its shores on every side, as densely packed
as a rye-field, and enveloping nameless mountains in
succession; but above all, looking westward over a large
island, was visible a very distant part of the lake, though
we did not then suspect it to be Moosehead, at first
a mere broken white line seen through the tops of the
island trees, like hay-caps, but spreading to a lake when
we got higher. Beyond this we saw what appears to be
called Bald Mountain on the map, some twenty-five
miles distant, near the sources of the Penobscot. It was
a perfect lake of the woods. But this was only a tran
sient gleam, for the rain was not quite over.

Looking southward, the heavens were completely
overcast, the mountains capped with clouds, and the
lake generally wore a dark and stormy appearance, but



194 THE MAINE WOODS

from its surface just north of Sugar Island, six or eight
miles distant, there was reflected upward to us through
the misty air a bright blue tinge from the distant unseen
sky of another latitude beyond. They probably had a
clear sky then at Greenville, the south end of the lake.
Standing on a mountain in the midst of a lake, where
would you look for the first sign of approaching fair
weather? Not into the heavens, it seems, but into the
lake.

Again we mistook a little rocky islet seen through the
"drisk," with some taller bare trunks or stumps on it,
for the steamer with its smoke-pipes, but as it had not
changed its position after half an hour, we were unde
ceived. So much do the works of man resemble the
works of nature. A moose might mistake a steamer for
a floating isle, and not be scared till he heard its puffing
or its whistle.

If I wished to see a mountain or other scenery under
the most favorable auspices, I would go to it in foul
weather, so as to be there when it cleared up; we are
then in the most suitable mood, and nature is most fresh
and inspiring. There is no serenity so fair as that which
is just established in a tearful eye.

Jackson, in his Report on the Geology of Maine, in
1838, says of this mountain: "Hornstone, which will
answer for flints, occurs in various parts of the State,
where trap-rocks have acted upon silicious slate. The
largest mass of this stone known in the world is Mount
Kineo, upon Moosehead Lake, which appears to be
entirely composed of it, and rises seven hundred feet
above the lake level. This variety of hornstone I have



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 195

seen in every part of New England in the form of Indian
arrowheads, hatchets, chisels, etc., which were prob
ably obtained from this mountain by the aboriginal
inhabitants of the country." I have myself found hun
dreds of arrowheads made of the same material. It is
generally slate-colored, with white specks, becoming a
uniform white where exposed to the light and air, and
it breaks with a conchoidal fracture, producing a ragged
cutting edge. I noticed some conchoidal hollows more
than a foot in diameter. I picked up a small thin piece
which had so sharp an edge that I used it as a dull knife,
and to see what I could do, fairly cut off an aspen one
inch thick with it, by bending it and making many cuts ;
though I cut my fingers badly with the back of it in the
meanwhile.

From the summit of the precipice which forms the
southern and eastern sides of this mountain peninsula,
and is its most remarkable feature, being described as
five or six hundred feet high, we looked, and probably
might have jumped, down to the water, or to the seem
ingly dwarfish trees on the narrow neck of land which
connects it with the main. It is a dangerous place to try
the steadiness of your nerves. Hodge says that these
cliffs descend "perpendicularly ninety feet" below the
surface of the water.

The plants which chiefly attracted our attention on
this mountain were the mountain cinquefoil (Potentilla
tridentata), abundant and in bloom still at the very base,
by the waterside, though it is usually confined to the
summits of mountains in our latitude; very beautiful
harebells overhanging the precipice; bear-berry; the



196 THE MAINE WOODS

Canada blueberry (V actinium Canadense), similar to
the V. Pennsylvanicum, our earliest one, but entire-
leaved and with a downy stem and leaf (I have not seen
it in Massachusetts); Diervilla trifida; Microstylis
ophioglossoides, an orchidaceous plant new to us; wild
holly (N emopanthes Canadensis); the great round-
leaved orchis (Platanthera orbiculatd), not long in bloom;
Spiranthes cernua, at the top; bunchberry, reddening
as we ascended, green at the base of the mountain, red
at the top ; and the small fern Woodsia ilvensis, growing
in tufts, now in fruit. I have also received Liparis
liliifolia, or tway-blade, from this spot. Having explored
the wonders of the mountain, and the weather being
now entirely cleared up, we commenced the descent.
We met the Indian, puffing and panting, about one third
of the way up, but thinking that he must be near the top,
and saying that it took his breath away. I thought that
superstition had something to do with his fatigue. Per
haps he believed that he was climbing over the back of a
tremendous moose. He said that he had never ascended
Kineo. On reaching the canoe we found that he had
caught a lake trout weighing about three pounds, at the
depth of twenty-five or thirty feet, while we were on the
mountain.

When we got to the camp, the canoe was taken out
and turned over, and a log laid across it to prevent its
being blown away. The Indian cut some large logs of
damp and rotten hard wood to smoulder and keep fire
through the night. The trout was fried for supper. Our
tent was of thin cotton cloth and quite small, forming
with the ground a triangular prism closed at the rear end,



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 197

six feet long, seven wide, and four high, so that we could
barely sit up in the middle. It required two forked
stakes, a smooth ridge-pole, and a dozen or more pins
to pitch it. It kept off dew and wind, and an ordinary
rain, and answered our purpose well enough. We
reclined within it till bedtime, each with his baggage at
his head, or else sat about the fire, having hung our wet
clothes on a pole before the fire for the night.

As we sat there, just before night, looking out through
the dusky wood, the Indian heard a noise which he said
was made by a snake. He imitated it at my request,
making a low whistling note, pheet pheet, two
or three times repeated, somewhat like the peep of the
hylodes, but not so loud. In answer to my inquiries, he
said that he had never seen them while making it, but
going to the spot he finds the snake. This, he said on
another occasion, was a sign of rain. When I had
selected this place for our camp, he had remarked that
there were snakes there, he saw them. " But they
won't do any hurt," I said. "Oh, no," he answered,
"just as you say; it makes no difference to me."

He lay on the right side of the tent, because, as he
said, he was partly deaf in one ear, and he wanted to lie
with his good ear up. As we lay there, he inquired if I
ever heard "Indian sing." I replied that I had not
often, and asked him if he would not favor us with a
song. He readily assented, and, lying on his back, with
his blanket wrapped around him, he commenced a slow,
somewhat nasal, yet musical chant, in his own language,
which probably was taught his tribe long ago by the
Catholic missionaries. He translated it to us, sentence



198 THE MAINE WOODS

by sentence, afterward, wishing to see if we could remem
ber it. It proved to be a very simple religious exercise
or hymn, the burden of which was, that there was only
one God who ruled all the world. This was hammered
(or sung) out very thin, so that some stanzas well-nigh
meant nothing at all, merely keeping up the idea. He
then said that he would sing us a Latin song; but we
did not detect any Latin, only one or two Greek words
in it, the rest may have been Latin with the Indian
pronunciation.

His singing carried me back to the period of the dis
covery of America, to San Salvador and the Incas, when
Europeans first encountered the simple faith of the
Indian. There was, indeed, a beautiful simplicity about
it; nothing of the dark and savage, only the mild and
infantile. The sentiments of humility and reverence
chiefly were expressed.

It was a dense and damp spruce and fir wood in
which we lay, and, except for our fire, perfectly dark;
and when I awoke in the night, I either heard an owl
from deeper in the forest behind us, or a loon from a
distance over the lake. Getting up some time after mid
night to collect the scattered brands together, while my
companions were sound asleep, I observed, partly in
the fire, which had ceased to blaze, a perfectly regular
elliptical ring of light, about five inches in its shortest
diameter, six or seven in its longer, and from one eighth
to one quarter of an inch wide. It was fully as bright as
the fire, but not reddish or scarlet, like a coal, but a
white and slumbering light, like the glow-worm's. I
could tell it from the fire only by its whiteness. I saw at



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 199

once that it must be phosphorescent wood, which I had
so often heard of, but never chanced to see. Putting my
finger on it, with a little hesitation, I found that it was
a piece of dead moose-wood (Acer striatum) which the
Indian had cut off in a slanting direction the evening
before. Using my knife, I discovered that the light pro
ceeded from that portion of the sap-wood immediately
under the bark, and thus presented a regular ring at the
end, which, indeed, appeared raised above the level of
the wood, and when I pared off the bark and cut into the
sap, it was all aglow along the log. I was surprised to
find the wood quite hard and apparently sound, though
probably decay had commenced in the sap, and I cut
out some little triangular chips, and, placing them in the
hollow of my hand, carried them into the camp, waked
my companion, and showed them to him. They lit up
the inside of my hand, revealing the lines and wrinkles,
and appearing exactly like coals of fire raised to a white
heat, and I saw at once how, probably, the Indian jug
glers had imposed on their people and on travelers,
pretending to hold coals of fire in their mouths.

I also noticed that part of a decayed stump within
four or five feet of the fire, an inch wide and six inches
long, soft and shaking wood, shone with equal bright
ness.

I neglected to ascertain whether our fire had anything
to do with this, but the previous day's rain and long-
continued wet weather undoubtedly had.

I was exceedingly interested by this phenomenon, and
already felt paid for my journey. It could hardly have
thrilled me more if it had taken the form of letters, or



200 THE MAINE WOODS

of the human face. If I had met with this ring of light
while groping in this forest alone, away from any fire, I
should have been still more surprised. I little thought
that there was such a light shining in the darkness of
the wilderness for me.

The next day the Indian told me their name for this
light, artoosoqu 9 , and on my inquiring concerning
the will-o'-the-wisp, and the like phenomena, he said
that his "folks" sometimes saw fires passing along at
various heights, even as high as the trees, and making
a noise. I was prepared after this to hear of the most
startling and unimagined phenomena, witnessed by
"his folks;" they are abroad at all hours and seasons
in scenes so unfrequented by white men. Nature must
have made a thousand revelations to them which are
still secrets to us.

I did not regret my not having seen this before, since
I now saw it under circumstances so favorable. I was
in just the frame of mind to see something wonderful,
and this was a phenomenon adequate to my circum
stances and expectation, and it put me on the alert to see
more like it. I exulted like " a pagan suckled in a creed "
that had never been worn at all, but was bran-new, and
adequate to the occasion. I let science slide, and rejoiced
in that light as if it had been a fellow creature. I saw
that it was excellent, and was very glad to know that it
was so cheap. A scientific explanation, as it is called,
would have been altogether out of place there. That is
for pale daylight. Science with its retorts would have
put me to sleep ; it was the opportunity to be ignorant
that I improved. It suggested to me that there was



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 201

something to be seen if one had eyes. It made a believer
of me more than before. I believed that the woods were
not tenantless, but choke-full of honest spirits as good
as myself any day, not an empty chamber, in which
chemistry was left to work alone, but an inhabited
house, and for a few moments I enjoyed fellowship
with them. Your so-called wise man goes trying to per
suade himself that there is no entity there but himself
and his traps, but it is a great deal easier to believe the
truth. It suggested, too, that the same experience always
gives birth to the same sort of belief or religion . One reve
lation has been made to the Indian, another to the white
man. I have much to learn of the Indian, nothing of the
missionary. I am not sure but all that would tempt me
to teach the Indian my religion would be his promise to
teach me his. Long enough I had heard of irrelevant
things ; now at length I was glad to make acquaintance
with the light that dwells in rotten wood. Where is all
your knowledge gone to ? It evaporates completely, for
it has no depth.

I kept those little chips and wet them again the next
night, but they emitted no light.

SATURDAY, July 25.

At breakfast this Saturday morning, the Indian,
evidently curious to know what would be expected of
him the next day, whether we should go along or not,
asked me how I spent the Sunday when at home. I told
him that I commonly sat in my chamber reading, etc.,
in the forenoon, and went to walk in the afternoon. At
which he shook his head and said, " Er, that is ver bad."



202 THE MAINE WOODS

" How do you spend it ? " I asked. He said that he did
no work, that he went to church at Oldtown when he
was at home; in short, he did as he had been taught by
the whites. This led to a discussion in which I found my
self in the minority. He stated that he was a Protestant,
and asked me if I was. I did not at first know what to
say, but I thought that I could answer with truth that I
was.

When we were washing the dishes in the lake, many
fishes, apparently chivin, came close up to us to get the
particles of grease.

The weather seemed to be more settled this morning,
and we set out early in order to finish our voyage up
the lake before the wind arose. Soon after starting, the
Indian directed our attention to the Northeast Carry,
which we could plainly see, about thirteen miles distant
in that direction as measured on the map, though it is
called much farther. This carry is a rude wooden rail
road, running north and south about two miles, per
fectly straight, from the lake to the Penobscot, through
a low tract, with a clearing three or four rods wide;
but low as it is, it passes over the height of land there.
This opening appeared as a clear bright, or light, point
in the horizon, resting on the edge of the lake, whose
breadth a hair could have covered at a considerable
distance from the eye, and of no appreciable height. We
should not have suspected it to be visible if the Indian
had not drawn our attention to it. It was a remarkable
kind of light to steer for, daylight seen through a
vista in the forest, but visible as far as an ordinary
beacon at night.



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 203

We crossed a deep and wide bay which makes east
ward north of Kineo, leaving an island on our left, and
keeping up the eastern side of the lake. This way or that
led to some Tomhegan or Socatarian stream, up which
the Indian had hunted, and whither I longed to go. The
last name, however, had a bogus sound, too much like
sectarian for me, as if a missionary had tampered with it;
but I knew that the Indians were very liberal. I think I
should have inclined to the Tomhegan first.

We then crossed another broad bay, which, as we
could no longer observe the shore particularly, afforded
ample time for conversation. The Indian said that he
had got his money by hunting, mostly high up the West
Branch of the Penobscot, and toward the head of the
St. John; he had hunted there from a boy, and knew
all about that region. His game had been beaver, otter,
black cat (or fisher), sable, moose, etc. Loup-cervier (or
Canada lynx) were plenty yet in burnt grounds. For
food in the woods, he uses partridges, ducks, dried
moose-meat, hedgehog, etc. Loons, too, were good,
only " bile 'em good." He told us at some length how
he had suffered from starvation when a mere lad, being
overtaken by winter when hunting with two grown
Indians in the northern part of Maine, and obliged to
leave their canoe on account of ice.

Pointing into the bay, he said that it was the way
to various lakes which he knew. Only solemn bear-
haunted mountains, with their great wooded slopes,
were visible; where, as man is not, we suppose some
other power to be. My imagination personified the
slopes themselves, as if by their very length they would



204 THE MAINE WOODS

waylay you, and compel you to camp again on them
before night. Some invisible glutton would seem to drop
from the trees and gnaw at the heart of the solitary
hunter who threaded those woods; and yet I was
tempted to walk there. The Indian said that he had
been along there several times.

I asked him how he guided himself in the woods.
" Oh," said he, " I can tell good many ways." When I
pressed him further, he answered, " Sometimes I lookum
side-hill," and he glanced toward a high hill or moun
tain on the eastern shore, "great difference between
the north and south, see where the sun has shone most.
So trees, the large limbs bend toward south. Some
times I lookum locks" (rocks). I asked what he saw
on the rocks, but he did not describe anything in par
ticular, answering vaguely, in a mysterious or drawling
tone, " Bare locks on lake shore, great difference be
tween north, south, east, west, side, can tell what the
sun has shone on." " Suppose," said I, " that I should
take you in a dark night, right up here into the middle
of the woods a hundred miles, set you down, and turn
you round quickly twenty times, could you steer straight
to Oldtown ? " " Oh, yer," said he, " have done pretty
much same thing. I will tell you. Some years ago I
met an old white hunter at Millinocket; very good
hunter. He said he could go anywhere in the woods. He
wanted to hunt with me that day, so we start. We chase
a moose all the forenoon, round and round, till middle
of afternoon, when we kill him. Then I said to him,
'Now you go straight to camp. Don't go round and
round where we Ve been, but go straight.' He said, ' I



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 205

can't do that, I don't know where I am/ * Where you
think camp ? ' I asked. He pointed so. Then I laugh
at him. I take the lead and go right off the other way,
cross our tracks many times, straight camp." " How do
you do that?" asked I. "Oh, I can't tell you" he re
plied. " Great difference between me and white man."

It appeared as if the sources of information were so
various that he did not give a distinct, conscious atten
tion to any one, and so could not readily refer to any
when questioned about it, but he found his way very
much as an animal does. Perhaps what is commonly
called instinct in the animal, in this case is merely a
sharpened and educated sense. Often, when an Indian
says, " I don't know," in regard to the route he is to
take, he does not mean what a white man would by
those words, for his Indian instinct may tell him still as
much as the most confident white man knows. He does
not carry things in his head, nor remember the route
exactly, like a white man, but relies on himself at the
moment. Not having experienced the need of the other
sort of knowledge, all labeled and arranged, he has not
acquired it.

The white hunter with whom I talked in the stage
knew some of the resources of the Indian. He said that
he steered by the wind, or by the limbs of the hemlocks,
which were largest on the south side; also sometimes,
when he knew that there was a lake near, by firing his
gun and listening to hear the direction and distance of
the echo from over it.

The course we took over this lake, and others after
ward, was rarely direct, but a succession of curves from



206 THE MAINE WOODS

point to point, digressing considerably into each of the
bays; and this was not merely on account of the wind,
for the Indian, looking toward the middle of the lake,
said it was hard to go there, easier to keep near the
shore, because he thus got over it by successive reaches
and saw by the shore how he got along.

The following will suffice for a common experience
in crossing lakes in a canoe. As the forenoon advanced,
the wind increased. The last bay which we crossed
before reaching the desolate pier at the Northeast Carry
was two or three miles over, and the wind was south
westerly. After going a third of the way, the waves had
increased so as occasionally to wash into the canoe, and
we saw that it was worse and worse ahead. At first we
might have turned about, but were not willing to. It
would have been of no use to follow the course of the
shore, for not only the distance would have been much
greater, but the waves ran still higher there on account
of the greater sweep the wind had. At any rate it would
have been dangerous now to alter our course, because
the waves would have struck us at an advantage. It will
not do to meet them at right angles, for then they will
wash in both sides, but you must take them quartering.
So the Indian stood up in the canoe, and exerted all his
skill and strength for a mile or two, while I paddled
right along in order to give him more steerage-way. For
more than a mile he did not allow a single wave to strike
the canoe as it would, but turned it quickly from this
side to that, so that it would always be on or near the
crest of a wave when it broke, where all its force was
spent, and we merely settled down with it. At length I



THE ALLEGASH AND EAST BRANCH 207

jumped out on to the end of the pier, against which the
waves were dashing violently, in order to lighten the
canoe, and catch it at the landing, which was not much
sheltered ; but just as I jumped we took in two or three
gallons of water. I remarked to the Indian, " You man
aged that well," to which he replied, " Ver few men do
that. Great many waves; when I look out for one,
another come quick."

While the Indian went to get cedar bark, etc., to
carry his canoe with, we cooked the dinner on the shore,
at this end of the carry, in the midst of a sprinkling rain.

He prepared his canoe for carrying in this wise. He
took a cedar shingle or splint eighteen inches long and
four or five wide, rounded at one end, that the corners
might not be in the way, and tied it with cedar bark by
two holes made midway, near the edge on each side, to
the middle cross-bar of the canoe. When the canoe was
lifted upon his head bottom up, this shingle, with its
rounded end uppermost, distributed the weight over his
shoulders and head, while a band of cedar bark, tied to
the cross-bar on each side of the shingle, passed round
his breast, and another longer one, outside of the last,
round his forehead ; also a hand on each side-rail served
to steer the canoe and keep it from rocking. He thus
carried it with his shoulders, head, breast, forehead, and
both hands, as if the upper part of his body were all one
hand to clasp and hold it. If you know of a better way,
I should like to hear of it. A cedar tree furnished all the
gear in this case, as it had the woodwork of the canoe.


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