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urged us along. Once he said, " Yes, sir-ee." His
common word was " Sartain." He paddled, as usual,
on one side only, giving the birch an impulse by
using the side as a fulcrum. I asked him how the
ribs were fastened to the side rails. He answered, " I
don't know, I never noticed." Talking with him about
subsisting wholly on what the woods yielded, game,
fish, berries, etc., I suggested that his ancestors did
so ; but he answered that he had been brought up in
such a way that he could not do it. " Yes," said he,
" that 's the way they got a living, like wild fellows,
wild as bears. By George ! I shan't go into the woods
without provision, hard-bread, pork, etc." He had
brought on a barrel of hard-bread and stored it at
the carry for his hunting. However, though he was
a Governor's son, he had not learned to read.

At one place below this, on the east side, where the
bank was higher and drier than usual, rising gently
from the shore to a slight elevation, some one had felled
the trees over twenty or thirty acres, and left them
drying in order to burn. This was the only preparation
for a house between the Moosehead Carry and Che-
suncook, but there was no hut nor inhabitants there



120 THE MAINE WOODS

yet. The pioneer thus selects a site for his house,
which will, perhaps, prove the germ of a town.

My eyes were all the while on the trees, distinguish
ing between the black and white spruce and the fir.
You paddle along in a narrow canal through an endless
forest, and the vision I have in my mind's eye, still, is
of the small, dark, and sharp tops of tall fir and spruce
trees, and pagoda-like arbor-vitaes, crowded together on
each side, with various hard woods intermixed. Some
of the arbor- vitses were at least sixty feet high. The
hard woods, occasionally occurring exclusively, were less
wild to my eye. I fancied them ornamental grounds,
with farmhouses in the rear. The canoe and yellow
birch, beech, maple, and elm are Saxon and Norman,
but the spruce and fir, and pines generally, are Indian.
The soft engravings which adorn the annuals give no
idea of a stream in such a wilderness as this. The
rough sketches in Jackson's Reports on the Geology of
Maine answer much better. At one place we saw a
small grove of slender sapling white pines, the only
collection of pines that I saw on this voyage. Here
and there, however, was a full-grown, tall, and slender,
but defective one, what lumbermen call a konchus tree,
which they ascertain with their axes, or by the knots.
I did not learn whether this word was Indian or Eng
lish. It reminded me of the Greek Koyx>7, a conch or
shell, and I amused myself with fancying that it might
signify the dead sound which the trees yield when
struck. All the rest of the pines had been driven off.

How far men go for the material of their houses !
The inhabitants of the most civilized cities, in all ages,



CHESUNCOOK 121

send into far, primitive forests, beyond the bounds of
their civilization, where the moose and bear and savage
dwell, for their pine boards for ordinary use. And, on
the other hand, the savage soon receives from cities
iron arrow-points, hatchets, and guns, to point his
savageness with.

The solid and well-defined fir-tops, like sharp and
regular spearheads, black against the sky, gave a pecu
liar, dark, and sombre look to the forest. The spruce-
tops have a similar but more ragged outline, their
shafts also merely feathered below. The firs were
somewhat oftener regular and dense pyramids. I was
struck by this universal spiring upward of the forest
evergreens. The tendency is to slender, spiring tops,
while they are narrower below. Not only the spruce
and fir, but even the arbor- vitae and white pine, unlike
the soft, spreading second-growth, of which I saw
none, all spire upwards, lifting a dense spearhead of
cones to the light and air, at any rate, while their
branches straggle after as they may; as Indians lift the
ball over the heads of the crowd in their desperate
game. In this they resemble grasses, as also palms
somewhat. The hemlock is commonly a tent-like pyra
mid from the ground to its summit.

After passing through some long rips, and by a
large island, we reached an interesting part of the
river called the Pine Stream Deadwater, about six
miles below Ragmuff, where the river expanded to
thirty rods in width and had many islands in it, with
elms and canoe-birches, now yellowing, along the
shore, and we got our first sight of Ktaadn.



122 THE MAINE WOODS

Here, about two o'clock, we turned up a small
branch three or four rods wide, which comes in on the
right from the south, called Pine Stream, to look for
moose signs. We had gone but a few rods before we
saw very recent signs along the water's edge, the mud
lifted up by their feet being quite fresh, and Joe de
clared that they had gone along there but a short time
before. We soon reached a small meadow on the east
side, at an angle in the stream, which was, for the
most part, densely covered with alders. As we were
advancing along the edge of this, rather more quietly
than usual, perhaps, on account of the freshness of the
signs, the design being to camp up this stream, if it
promised well, I heard a slight crackling of twigs
deep in the alders, and turned Joe's attention to it;
whereupon he began to push the canoe back rapidly;
and we had receded thus half a dozen rods, when we
suddenly spied two moose standing just on the edge
of the open part of the meadow which we had passed,
not more than six or seven rods distant, looking round
the alders at us. They made me think of great fright
ened rabbits, with their long ears and half-inquisitive,
half -frightened looks ; the true denizens of the forest
(I saw at once), filling a vacuum which now first I
discovered had not been filled for me, moose-men,
wood-eaters, the word is said to mean, clad in a sort
of Vermont gray, or homespun. Our Nimrod, owing to
the retrograde movement, was now the farthest from the
game ; but being warned of its neighborhood, he hastily
stood up, and, while we ducked, fired over our heads
one barrel at the foremost, which alone he saw, though



CHESUNCOOK 123

he did not know what kind of creature it was ; where
upon this one dashed across the meadow and up a high
bank on the northeast, so rapidly as to leave but an
indistinct impression of its outlines on my mind. At
the same instant, the other, a young one, but as tall as
a horse, leaped out into the stream, in full sight, and
there stood cowering for a moment, or rather its dis
proportionate lowness behind gave it that appearance,
and uttering two or three trumpeting squeaks. I have
an indistinct recollection of seeing the old one pause
an instant on the top of the bank in the woods, look
toward its shivering young, and then dash away again.
The second barrel was leveled at the calf, and when
we expected to see it drop in the water, after a little
hesitation, it, too, got out of the water, and dashed up
the hill, though in a somewhat different direction. All
this was the work of a few seconds, and our hunter,
having never seen a moose before, did not know but
they were deer, for they stood partly in the water, nor
whether he had fired at the same one twice or not.
From the style in which they went off, and the fact
that he was not used to standing up and firing from a
canoe, I judged that we should not see anything more
of them. The Indian said that they were a cow and
her calf, a yearling, or perhaps two years old, for
they accompany their dams so long ; but, for my part,
I had not noticed much difference in their size. It was
but two or three rods across the meadow to the foot
of the bank, which, like all the world thereabouts, was
densely wooded ; but I was surprised to notice, that,
as soon as the moose had passed behind the veil of the



124 THE MAINE WOODS

woods, there was no sound of footsteps to be heard
from the soft, damp moss which carpets that forest,
and long before we landed, perfect silence reigned.
Joe said, " If you wound 'em moose, me sure get
'em."

We all landed at once. My companion reloaded ; the
Indian fastened his birch, threw off his hat, adjusted
his waistband, seized the hatchet, and set out. He told
me afterward, casually, that before we landed he had
seen a drop of blood on the bank, when it was two or
three rods off. He proceeded rapidly up the bank and
through the woods, with a peculiar, elastic, noiseless, and
stealthy tread, looking to right and left on the ground,
and stepping in the faint tracks of the wounded moose,
now and then pointing in silence to a single drop of
blood on the handsome, shining leaves of the Clintonia
borealis, which, on every side, covered the ground, or
to a dry fern stem freshly broken, all the while chewing
some leaf or else the spruce gum. I followed, watch
ing his motions more than the trail of the moose. After
following the trail about forty rods in a pretty direct
course, stepping over fallen trees and winding between
standing ones, he at length lost it, for there were many
other moose-tracks there, and, returning once more to
the last blood-stain, traced it a little way and lost it
again, and, too soon, I thought, for a good hunter, gave
it up entirely. He traced a few steps, also, the tracks
of the calf; but, seeing no blood, soon relinquished the
search.

I observed, while he was tracking the moose, a cer
tain reticence or moderation in him. He did not com-



CHESUNCOOK 125

municate several observations of interest which he made,
as a white man would have done, though they may have
leaked out afterward. At another time, when we heard
a slight crackling of twigs and he landed to reconnoi
tre, he stepped lightly and gracefully, stealing through
the bushes with the least possible noise, in a way in
which no white man does, as it were, finding a place
for his foot each time.

About half an hour after seeing the moose, we pur
sued our voyage up Pine Stream, and soon, coming to
a part which was very shoal and also rapid, we took
out the baggage, and proceeded to carry it round, while
Joe got up with the canoe alone. We were just com
pleting our portage and I was absorbed in the plants,
admiring the leaves of the Aster macrophyllus, ten
inches wide, and plucking the seeds of the great round-
leaved orchis, when Joe exclaimed from the stream
that he had killed a moose. He had found the cow
moose lying dead, but quite warm, in the middle of
the stream, which was so shallow that it rested on the
bottom, with hardly a third of its body above water.
It was about an hour after it was shot, and it was
swollen with water. It had run about a hundred rods
and sought the stream again, cutting off a slight bend.
No doubt a better hunter would have tracked it to this
spot at once. I was surprised at its great size, horse-
like, but Joe said it was not a large cow moose. My
companion went in search of the calf again. I took
hold of the ears of the moose, while Joe pushed his
canoe down-stream toward a favorable shore, and so
we made out, though with some difficulty, its long nose



126 THE MAINE WOODS

frequently sticking in the bottom, to drag it into still
shallower water. It was a brownish-black, or perhaps
a dark iron-gray, on the back and sides, but lighter
beneath and in front. I took the cord which served for
the canoe's painter, and with Joe's assistance measured
it carefully, the greatest distances first, making a knot
each time. The painter being wanted, I reduced these
measures that night with equal care to lengths and frac
tions of my umbrella, beginning with the smallest mea
sures, and untying the knots as I proceeded ; and when
we arrived at Chesuncook the next day, finding a two-
foot rule there, I reduced the last to feet and inches;
and, moreover, I made myself a two-foot rule of a thin
and narrow strip of black ash, which would fold up
conveniently to six inches. All this pains I took be
cause I did not wish to be obliged to say merely that
the moose was very large. Of the various dimensions
which I obtained I will mention only two. The distance
from the tips of the hoofs of the fore feet, stretched out,
to the top of the back between the shoulders, was seven
feet and five inches. I can hardly believe my own mea
sure, for this is about two feet greater than the height
of a tall horse. (Indeed, I am now satisfied that this
measurement was incorrect, but the other measures
given here I can warrant to be correct, having proved
them in a more recent visit to those woods.) The ex
treme length was eight feet and two inches. Another
cow moose, which I have since measured in those woods
with a tape, was just six feet from the tip of the hoof
to the shoulders, and eight feet long as she lay.

When afterward I asked an Indian at the carry how



CHESUNCOOK 127

much taller the male was, he answered, "Eighteen
inches," and made me observe the height of a cross-
stake over the fire, more than four feet from the ground,
to give me some idea of the depth of his chest. An
other Indian, at Oldtown, told me that they were nine
feet high to the top of the back, and that one which he
tried weighed eight hundred pounds. The length of
the spinal projections between the shoulders is very
great. A white hunter, who was the best authority
among hunters that I could have, told me that the male
was not eighteen inches taller than the female; yet he
agreed that he was sometimes nine feet high to the top
of the back, and weighed a thousand pounds. Only
the male has horns, and they rise two feet or more
above the shoulders, spreading three or four, and
sometimes six feet, which would make him in all,
sometimes, eleven feet high! According to this calcu
lation, the moose is as tall, though it may not be as
large, as the great Irish elk, Megaceros Hibernians, of a
former period, of which Mantell says that it " very far
exceeded in magnitude any living species, the skeleton "
being " upward of ten feet high from the ground to the
highest point of the antlers." Joe said, that, though
the moose shed the whole horn annually, each new
horn has an additional prong; but I have noticed that
they sometimes have more prongs on one side than on
the other. I was struck with the delicacy and tender
ness of the hoofs, which divide very far up, and the
one half could be pressed very much behind the other,
thus probably making the animal surer-footed on the
uneven ground and slippery moss-covered logs of the



128 THE MAINE WOODS

primitive forest. They were very unlike the stiff and
battered feet of our horses and oxen. The bare, horny
part of the fore foot was just six inches long, and the
two portions could be separated four inches at the
extremities.

The moose is singularly grotesque and awkward to
look at. Why should it stand so high at the shoulders ?
Why have so long a head ? Why have no tail to speak
of? for in my examination I overlooked it entirely.
Naturalists say it is an inch and a half long. It re
minded me at once of the camelopard, high before and
low behind, and no wonder, for, like it, it is fitted to
browse on trees. The upper lip projected two inches
beyond the lower for this purpose. This was the kind
of man that was at home there; for, as near as I can
learn, that has never been the residence, but rather the
hunting-ground of the Indian. The moose will, perhaps,
one day become extinct ; but how naturally then, when
it exists only as a fossil relic, and unseen as that, may
the poet or sculptor invent a fabulous animal with simi
lar branching and leafy horns, a sort of fucus or lichen
in bone, to be the inhabitant of such a forest as this!

Here, just at the head of the murmuring rapids, Joe
now proceeded to skin the moose with a pocket-knife,
while I looked on ; and a tragical business it was, to
see that still warm and palpitating body pierced with a
knife, to see the warm milk stream from the rent udder,
and the ghastly naked red carcass appearing from within
its seemly robe, which was made to hide it. The ball
had passed through the shoulder-blade diagonally and
lodged under the skin on the opposite side, and was



CHESUNCOOK 129

partially flattened. My companion keeps it to show to
his grandchildren. He has the shanks of another moose
which he has since shot, skinned and stuffed, ready to
be made into boots by putting in a thick leather sole.
Joe said, if a moose stood fronting you, you must not
fire, but advance toward him, for he will turn slowly
and give you a fair shot. In the bed of this narrow,
wild, and rocky stream, between two lofty walls of
spruce and firs, a mere cleft in the forest which the
stream had made, this work went on. At length Joe
had stripped off the hide and dragged it trailing to the
shore, declaring that it weighed a hundred pounds,
though probably fifty would have been nearer the truth.
He cut off a large mass of the meat to carry along, and
another, together with the tongue and nose, he put with
the hide on the shore to lie there all night, or till we
returned. I was surprised that he thought of leaving
this meat thus exposed by the side of the carcass, as
the simplest course, not fearing that any creature would
touch it ; but nothing did. This could hardly have hap
pened on the bank of one of our rivers in the eastern
part of Massachusetts; but I suspect that fewer small
wild animals are prowling there than with us. Twice,
however, in this excursion , I had a glimpse of a species of
large mouse.

This stream was so withdrawn, and the moose-tracks
were so fresh, that my companions, still bent on hunt
ing, concluded to go farther up it and camp, and then
hunt up or down at night. Half a mile above this, at a
place where I saw the Aster puniceus and the beaked
hazel, as we paddled along, Joe, hearing a slight rus-



130 THE MAINE WOODS

tling amid the alders, and seeing something black about
two rods off, jumped up and whispered, "Bear!" but
before the hunter had discharged his piece, he corrected
himself to " Beaver! " " Hedgehog!" The bullet
killed a large hedgehog more than two feet and eight
inches long. The quills were rayed out and flattened
on the hinder part of its back, even as if it had lain
on that part, but were erect and long between this and
the tail. Their points, closely examined, were seen to
be finely bearded or barbed, and shaped like an awl,
that is, a little concave, to give the barbs effect. After
about a mile of still water, we prepared our camp on
the right side, just at the foot of a considerable fall.
Little chopping was done that night, for fear of scaring
the moose. We had moose meat fried for supper. It
tasted like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor,
sometimes like veal.

After supper, the moon having risen, we proceeded
to hunt a mile up this stream, first " carrying " about
the falls. We made a picturesque sight, wending single
file along the shore, climbing over rocks and logs, Joe,
who brought up the rear, twirling his canoe in his
hands as if it were a feather, in places where it was
difficult to get along without a burden. We launched
the canoe again from the ledge over which the stream
fell, but after half a mile of still water, suitable for
hunting, it became rapid again, and we were compelled
to make our way along the shore, while Joe endeavored
to get up in the birch alone, though it was still very
difficult for him to pick his way amid the rocks in the
night. We on the shore found the worst of walking, a



CHESUNCOOK 131

perfect chaos of fallen and drifted trees, and of bushes
projecting far over the water, and now and then we
made our way across the mouth of a small tributary on
a kind of network of alders. So we went tumbling on
in the dark, being on the shady side, effectually scaring
all the moose and bears that might be thereabouts. At
length we came to a standstill, and Joe went forward
to reconnoitre; but he reported that it was still a con
tinuous rapid as far as he went, or half a mile, with no
prospect of improvement, as if it were coming down
from a mountain. So we turned about, hunting back
to the camp through the still water. It was a splendid
moonlight night, and I, getting sleepy as it grew late,
for I had nothing to do, found it difficult to realize
where I was. This stream was much more unfrequented
than the main one, lumbering operations being no longer
carried on in this quarter. It was only three or four
rods wide, but the firs and spruce through which it
trickled seemed yet taller by contrast. Being in this
dreamy state, which the moonlight enhanced, I did not
clearly discern the shore, but seemed, most of the time,
to be floating through ornamental grounds, for I
associated the fir-tops with such scenes ; very high
up some Broadway, and beneath or between their tops,
I thought I saw an endless succession of porticoes and
columns, cornices and faades, verandas and churches.
I did not merely fancy this, but in my drowsy state such
was the illusion. I fairly lost myself in sleep several
times, still dreaming of that architecture and the nobility
that dwelt behind and might issue from it: but all at
once I would be aroused and brought back to a sense



132 THE MAINE WOODS

of my actual position by the sound of Joe's birch horn
in the midst of all this silence calling the moose, ugh,
ugh, oo-oo-oo-QO-oo-oo, and I prepared to hear a furious
moose come rushing and crashing through the forest,
and see him burst out on to the little strip of meadow
by our side.

But, on more accounts than one, I had had enough
of moose-hunting. I had not come to the woods for
this purpose, nor had I foreseen it, though I had been
willing to learn how the Indian manoeuvred; but one
moose killed was as good, if not as bad, as a dozen.
The afternoon's tragedy, and my share in it, as it
affected the innocence, destroyed the pleasure of my
adventure. It is true, I came as near as is possible to
come to being a hunter and miss it, myself; and as it
is, I think that I could spend a year in the woods, fish
ing and hunting just enough to sustain myself, with
satisfaction. This would be next to living like a philo
sopher on the fruits of the earth which you had raised,
which also attracts me. But this hunting of the moose
merely for the satisfaction of killing him, not even
for the sake of his hide, without making any extraor
dinary exertion or running any risk yourself, is too
much like going out by night to some wood-side pasture
and shooting your neighbor's horses. These are God's
own horses, poor, timid creatures, that will run fast
enough as soon as they smell you, though they are nine
feet high. Joe told us of some hunters who a year or
two before had shot down several oxen by night, some
where in the Maine woods, mistaking them for moose.
And so might any of the hunters; and what is the



CHESUNCOOK 133

difference in the sport, but the name ? In the former
case, having killed one of God's and your own oxen,
you strip off its hide, because that is the common
trophy, and, moreover, you have heard that it may be
sold for moccasins, cut a steak from its haunches, and
leave the huge carcass to smell to heaven for you. It is
no better, at least, than to assist at a slaughter-house.

This afternoon's experience suggested to me how
base or coarse are the motives which commonly carry
men into the wilderness. The explorers and lumberers
generally are all hirelings, paid so much a day for their
labor, and as such they have no more love for wild
nature than wood-sawyers have for forests. Other white
men and Indians who come here are for the most part
hunters, whose object is to slay as many moose and
other wild animals as possible. But, pray, could not
one spend some weeks or years in the solitude of this
vast wilderness with other employments than these,
employments perfectly sweet and innocent and enno
bling ? -For one that comes with a pencil to sketch or
sing, a thousand come with an axe or rifle. What a
coarse and imperfect use Indians and hunters make of
nature ! No wonder that their race is so soon exter
minated. I already, and for weeks afterward, felt n^y
nature the coarser for this part of my woodland expe
rience, and was reminded that our life should be lived
as tenderly and daintily as one would pluck a flower.

With these thoughts, when we reached our camping-
ground, I decided to leave my companions to continue
moose-hunting down the stream, while I prepared the
camp, though they requested me not to chop much nor



134 THE MAINE WOODS

make a large fire, for fear I should scare their game.
In the midst of the damp fir wood, high on the mossy



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