Paulist Fathers.

The Century, Volume 21 online

. (page 72 of 78)
Online LibraryPaulist FathersThe Century, Volume 21 → online text (page 72 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


stem reproof of such flippancy.

But, the next moment, she exchanged a
glance with Miss Pilcher.



Digitized by



Google



Digitized by



Googit



RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE UPPER HUDSON



857



The tears rose to Lucia*s eyes.

" Grandmamma," she said, her voice soft
and broken, " I think I should have been
more frank, if — if you had been kinder,
sometimes."

*' I have done my duty by you," said my
lady.

Lucia looked at her, pathetically.

" I have been ashamed to keep things
from you," she hesitated. " And I have
often told myself that — that it was sly to do
it — but I could not help it."

'* I trust," said my lady, " that you will be
more candid with Mr. Burmistone."

Lucia blushed guiltily.

" I — think I shall, grandmamma," she
said.

It was the Rev. Alfred Poppleton who
assisted the rector of St. James to marry
Jack Belasys and Octavia Bassett; and it
was observed that he was almost as pale as
bis surplice.

Slowbridge had never seen such a wed-
ding, or such a bride as Octavia. It was
even admitted that Jack Belasys was a
singularly handsome fellow, and had a
flashing, adventurous air, which carried all



before it. There was a rumor that he owned
silver mines himself, and had even done
something in diamonds, in Brazil, where he
had spent the last two years. At all events,
it was ascertained beyond doubt that, being
at last a married woman, and entitled to
splendors of the kind, Octavia would not lack
them. Her present to Lucia, who was one
of her bridesmaids, dazzled all beholders.

When she was borne away by the train,
with her father, and husband, and Miss
Belinda, whose bonnet- strings were bedewed
with tears, the Rev. Alfred Poppleton
was the last man who shook hands with
her. He held in his hand a large bouquet,
which Octavia herself had given him out of
her abundance. " Slowbridge will miss you,
Miss — Mrs. Belasys," he faltered. " I — I
shall miss you. Perhaps, we — may even
meet again. I have thought that, perhaps,
I should like to go to America."

And as the train puffed out of the station
and disappeared, he stood motionless for
several seconds; and a large and brilliant
drop of moisture appeared on the calyx of
the lily which formed the center-piece of his
bouquet.



RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE UPPER HUDSON.



l^^r^Sr-



THE CAMP AT NIGHT.



Have you ever run a rapid ? Have you
;ver rushed through a wilderness on a tor-
ent? Perhaps you have made a trip
hrough some river of Maine, where you sat
a a light birch canoe while two Indians
iteered you through the foam and waves,
i'ou have not forgotten the rush, the roar,
he daring. But what was your part in that
glorious time ? Your r61e resembled that of
the blankets. The taciturn savage guided
)rou with the certainty of fate ; he took you
vithin touch of the most manly adventures,
wid brought you back to the pursuit of
Vol. XXI.— 63.



humdrums. Meanwhile you sat through
them all, perfectly safe, perfectly idle, per-
fectly worthless. And now, having flown
with his wings, you crow over your achieve-
ment. This is not exactly the exploit to
fill a man with the utmost joy and pride. I
mean, by shooting a rapid, to take your life
and your boat into your own hands, and
run a swift, crooked, rocky stream unknown
to you. This will make your spirit bound
higher than the flight of a bird. Every
minute is a climax. It stops your breath in
the chill of approaching death ; it fires your

Digitized by V^OOQlC



Digitized by



Googit



RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE UPPER HUDSON



»S9



er bearings is therefore about thirty-two
iches ; and her floor is quite flat, and runs
rell forward and aft. These changes give
er greater stiffness and buoyancy, and make
er draw but Httle water. Her sheer is but
jven inches, yet this is found to be quite
iflicient, and her stem and stern-posts are
ut away somewhat ; she thus escapes much
f the tiresome opposition of a head wind,
id turns more readily under the paddle,
have altered the Shadow somewhat to
t her still better for running rapids. Her
at floor is excellent in giving her stiffness,
id keeping her well up on top of the
ater. I cut away her stern-post to make it



this country, where rapids are so prominent
a feature of the most delightful routes. As
*' carries '* are another important feature of
our canoeing, lightness is indispensable.
This is coupled with great strength in the
latest invention, the veneer canoes built at
Racine, Wisconsin. Thus much of my
companion, whose enthusiasm for adventure,
whose docility of temper, and whose beauty
I cannot recall without a twitter of emotion.
The choice of a route ought not to em-
barrass any one. For when you begin this
free cruising, the whole world seems made
for canoeing. Sea and lake offer wide water;
quiet livers invite you to lazy saunterings



A WARNING.



ie as the stem does, and I reduced her
el to a half inch ; tliis saves her from being
ught by cross-currents, and enables her to
m quickly. A canoe for the rapids and
50 for general cruising should have a " flat
rel," with a deep adjustable keel — made
three pieces for stowing below — to be
It on when cruising in ordinary Waters,
fie bow should flare off" aloft much more
an that of the original Shadow^ to save
T firom diving under too much when meet-
g the curling swells at the foot of every
oot. Such a model, in my opinion, unites
lalities that are particularly desirable in



through forest and plain; and mountain
streams hurrah to you for a breathless race
down a torrent. This latter challenge I
accepted from the Hudson — not from the old
river where it sinks into the sea, but from its
roaring, turbulent youths among the mount-
ains. The Boreas, the North, the Rocky,
the Cedar, and the Indian rivers are his
frolicking family. They escape from the
peaks of the Adirondacks, and rush with
foam and tumult at the head of the Hudson.
And the dignified old river you know below
Albany is all confused by their antics, and
obliged to join their turmoil. For twenty



Digitized by V^OOQlC



i



Digitized by



Googit



Digitized by



Googit



Digitized by



Googit



RUNNING THE RAPIDS (

lat makes it ; so, after deciding to pass it
n the left, I give a stroke with the paddle,
Dd send the canoe safely by it. But I sit
D low in the water that I cannot see far
head, to choose a route ; and we begin to
o quite fast in this current. So I back
rater to slow her, for fear of runnitig sud-
enly into some impassable place. Besides,
he turns more readily at low speed, and I
void rock after rock quite surely as we glide
long. Now and then we are completely
urprised. Certain smooth pieces of water in
rapid show a good channel. I took that
hort quiet stretch for such a place, and
teered toward it ; but now I find it is the
tddy below a great flat rock that hides the
well. So I back water with all speed. I
hen turn to the right through some rougher
vater. Farther down I see a breast- work
)f rocks and breakers extending from the
eft shore nearly across the stream. There
s no passage there ; I must cross to the right
jank. Safety depends on keeping the boat
beaded down stream ; for, if she lies across
the current while drifting, a rock may catch
the keel and capsize her instantaneously.
The current here is not the swiftest; so I
back water vigorously to stop her descent
on the rocks below. She gradually obeys,
and soon creeps up stream a little. Then I
turn her stem just a litde across stream to
the right, and continue backing. She thus
moves slowly across the river, but never
gets broadside to the current. When we
have reached a point right above the clear
channel, I give a stroke or two on the left
to turn her straight down stream, and in a
moment we go on again between the rocks
and the white-caps. But we are scarcely in
this channel before I see that the main body
of water is in the center of the river bed,
and that we cannot pass among the rocks
right ahead. The current here is too swift
to stem by backing. As, however, the
nearest channel to be reached is not very
far to the left, and is some distance below,
I turn her bow somewhat across the current
and make a bold rush down stream. But
the channel ahead is only four or five feet
^ide ; and if I steer badly there will be a
wrecked canoe in about ten seconds. We
fly past rocks, and over others just below
the keel.

The water is dangerously shallow. In
^^s critical course every stroke must be
carefully calculated. I dipped my paddle
too deep that time and lost a stroke ; for it
?truck a rock and shot out of the water as
*f flung upward by a treacherous hand.



Digitized by



Googit



Digitized by



Googit



RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE UPPER HUDSON



^(^^



peed, right down at the rock. She cannot
« turned in this short distance ; she flies as
trai^ht as an arrow to her destruction. But
; swing my left arm across my chest and
inter the port blade of the paddle diago-
lally into the water on the starboard side,
ier high speed makes the oblique blade
>ress against the water and haul her side-
rays, several feet to starboard. She shies
rem the rock in a single bound. I can
carcely breathe, and my blood boils with
ixcitement As she glides into the pool
>eIow the shoot, I let her drift about in the
ddy, while the paddles rest across the
ombing.

Now for the first time I have an oppor-
unity to look around. Where is the Rosa-
\et I had passed her stranded on a rock at
he top of the rift, while her captain labored
get her off. As this was not an uncom-
Qon trick with her perverse nature it gave
Qe no anxiety ; I sent the captain a ncd of
ncouragement and went on my way rejoic-
pg in a Shadow canoe. Looking up the
ift now from its foot, I wonder how a boat
ver got through it whole; and I feel like
matting the AlUgro on the back for her suc-
«ss. I suppose the Rosalie is hidden from
icw by the numerous bowlders studding the
>ed of the river, and making it look like a
MLirea field of rocks with foaming waves
)etweeD. As the day is neariy done, I land
m the beach to make camp and await the
RosalU, I had gathered a large pile of
rood for a camp-fire, and still the Rosalie
ras not visible, even fix)m the point above,
rhen I leveled a place on the sand for
aying our boats, and wondered if there
rould really be only one to occupy it.
Mnally I kindled the fire; and then went
ato Uie woods to cut some poles and
brked sticks for making camp. When I
etumcd, the other captain was just wading
the beach, and pulling the Rosalie by the
lose.

** Hurrah ! " I exclaimed, as I dropped the
IX and sticks, and hurried to the water. I
aw at a glance that something had hap-
)cned.

" There's not much hurrah here," said he,
ihivering with great animation.

« Why ? Whaf s the matter ? "

** She struck a rock up here, and capsized
laick as a wink. The water was deep and I
«^cnt all under. When I came up, my pad-
lie was gone too far for me to get it. I'm
t^-very sorry, — but this ends my trip." As
ic said this, he hitched up his trowsers with
^phasis.
Vol. XXL-



" Oh, well I " I replied, " I can soon make
you a paddle that will answer."

" Yes, I know ; but my time is about up,
and it wouldn't be worth while. I guess I'll
take the train on Monday, and go home."

We soon had the boats placed side by
side on the beach, about two feet apart, and
propped up to lie level. We then took out
their cargoes, and removed the hatches and
back-boards to leave the well empty for a
bed. A small mattress of cork shavings
and a blanket were arranged on the bottom.
Then a piece of unbleached sheeting, oiled,
seven feet by nine, was spread over the
boats on poles, in such a way as to form a
tent covering the wells. Better beds, and
a better camp for storm or stmshine, need
not be offered to tired men. We soon had
a good supper stowed away, and the wet
cargo of the Rosalie hung on poles about
the fire. After toasting ourselves an hour,
and discussing the maneuvers of canoes in
rapids, we turned in for a long night of
sound sleep. As the next day was Sunday,
we still prolonged the period of rest, while
the Rosalie and her captain prepared to
depart by rail. She traveled as freight the
rest of the way to New York, about 200
miles, for eighteen dollars. Why railroads
should make such exorbitant charges on
light canoes is a matter for disgust, wonder,
and war.

The Allegro resumed her course in good
spirits on Monday morning, notwithstanding
the loss of our companion. She was eager
for more rapids, more exploits on the wing.
We were not long in reaching the " Horse
Race," below Riverside. That rift is the
most rapid on the river. Its name suggests
its motion, but not by any means its wild
and tumultuous course. Perhaps Mazep-
pa's Race would be better, if one holds to
the analogy. The mountains on each hand
are bold, high, and dark with forest or with
barren rocks. The scene is gloomy, inhospi-
table, even without the dismal voice of the
torrent. As I approach the head of the rift,
I cannot see the foot, for the river falls with
an ominous and hidden descent. I throw
off the apron in front of me and stand up
in the canoe to get a view. There are plenty
of rocks ahead — ^with white-capped swells.
But the water is evidently deeper than I
found it on the Spruce Mountain rift, not
quite so much broken by rocks, and the
channels are somewhat wider. Moreover,
I see the rift has no actual falls at the lower
end, but a rapid descent of foaming swdb
among hidden rocks. That lively place

Digitized by V^OOQlC



B66



RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE UPPER HUDSON.



must be entered at a given point ; and that
point is just below a rough-and-tumble pas-
sage that may derange all my calculations.
Here will be sharp work ! I run her up to
the shore, to stow the baggage differently,
that I may kneel in the after end of the
cockpit; she now raises her head more
out of water, is more easily turned, and on
my knees I can see farther ahead, and also
exert much more strength on the paddle.
The usual difficulty of choosing the coiurse
is increased by a glare of sunlight, and
by a strong head-wind. This blows the
light canoe about, and makes it hard to
steer just where the greatest accuracy is
necessary. Moreover, it makes the surface
of the water wonderfully deceptive just
where the greatest dangers are concealed.
You judge of rapid water by the appear-
ance of its surface. The face of a nver is
lull of character. Here it sleeps, while
curling dimples come and go with dreams
of sylvan beauties resting on its breast.
There it awakens to merry life. Further
on, where the combat rages, every feature
is in the tumiilt of passion. And a prac-
ticed eye reads aU this as he runs, and
governs his course accordingly. The head
of a rift is often smooth, with a wedge-
shaped " apron " marking the course of the
channel. The central, main part of the rift
is a confused mass of eddies, white-capped
waves, and swift shoots. The foot is a swift
rush of deep water marked with high, sharp-
topped swells quite regular in succession.
The deep pool below is quiet, with dark
eddies and flecks of foam. Besides these
general features, which vary much according
to the geological formations, a rapid is full
of important details. Every hidden rock
marks the siur^e in a way that shows the
depth of water and the velocity of the cur-
rent. A rock in a deep, slow current figures
the quiet surface with delicate lines and
small eddies; in water a little swifter, it
makes a round, smooth hood of water over
its head, and small ripples below ; in a rapid,
strong current, it makes a foaming, crested
wave and an eddy setting upstream ; and,
in a steep descent, it throws the water
into high, tumultuous seas. Thus you
estimate the nature of the water by signs,
forms, and colors of waves and eddies,
that are quite reliable guides. But the
high wind to-day changes everything. On
still water it rolls up waves that belong
to a deep, swift channel; on swift, clear
shoots it makes white-capped waves that
indicate large rocks ; and on rocky courses



it tumbles up the water in complete con-
fiision. The rocks thus seem to mo?e
about the stream, like sunken moDstec
seeking prey. So the couxse is fiiB of
surprises. I suddenly find a huge bowkkr
right ahead, where I believed there was deai
water. I get to a line of breakers where I
expect to strand, but glide through rough,
deep water. I lie back in imagined safety
while running down a uniform shoot, hot
all at once find a huge rock dose to mj
side. Nevertheless, the eye soon becomes
accustomed to the change of signs, and
estimates the colors and forms on a net
scale. But at last I am near the end of
the Horse Race. I have not approached
the last swift rush of water in the right
place ; in avoiding some heavy seas in mid-
channel, I kept too near a large eddy, set-
ting upstream below a rock, and the upward
current striking the bow turned the canoe
almost about, and so took her out of the
course. A glance at the tumultuous breakes
and high swells ahead reveals one nanov
passage between two bowldos. I strike
quick and hard, and, with the help of good
luck, dart into the main channd Heie
the rush almost takes my breath. For a
moment destruction seems perfectly certain.
The ciurent is a mass of foaming warn
over rocks. But the water is deeper thaa
I thought from its broken and discolored
surface. We rush on, through sw^ thii
roll the canoe from one side to the other.
wash her decks, and toss us about in the
most startling maimer. The race iv
swift, though short, and we glide out at
last on the still pool below with the datka
and gratitude of victors.

The s^timents are strangely stirred a
such a trip alone, down an unknown rapid
The feeling of danger, the isolation in wM
surroimdings, the intense mental and phjs*
cal activity, all unite to form a veiy ei-
ceptional experience. There is no tiiK
for ennui and ordinary loneliness. Yo*
are too keenly sensitive, too profoowSj
moved, for anything commonpUce. 1^
dominant feeling is gratitude for your pffr
ervation, and for your delights. Scarcdr
less strong is the yearning for compao*
ionship. Pride over the achicvemeoi*
not uiiknown, and affection for your cafi*
wells up again and again as you ((«^
paddle her through still waters or an»w
drive her through new dangers. ^^
shot down the rift and under the bf*^
at the Glen, I kept thinking: "Ok*
some one to tell it to— some boy, p- ^

Digitized by V^OOQlC



RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE UPPER HUDSON



867



[lis prime !'' So I landed, and, instead
)f cooking my solitary meal, I went to a
loose in search of dinner and a pair of
ars. I was at once fully supplied in both
Tgards at a full table. Then we all went
iown to the river to see the Allegro,
\s I narrated her exploits on the rifts, the
)oys' eyes dilated with wonder and hero-
irorship. When I reSmbarked, one of
hem said : " So your friend went home,
rh! But you're goin* to grit her through,
lint you ? " That boy would have given
ill his mother's cakes and kisses to go
irith me, and I would certainly have ac-
xpted such an offer. But I soon pushed
"fi, and resumed my solitary yet delightful
juise. That evening, as the sun went
Iown in a glowing sky, I wandered again
farough corn-fields and an orchard in search
)f some humah being and some potatoes.
\o aged woman, preparing supper in a
armer's kitchen, listened to my requests
or food, but gave me little encouragement.
The farmer's wife at last came to the door
md explained that the hens had failed, that
he bread had disappeared, and that the
x>tato-bug was the only responsible party
n that township ; but I must have had an
itmosphere of canoe about me, for, after a
cw minutes, she kindly divided her stores
tad gave me six eggs, half a loaf, and five
)otatoes. I picked up some apples in the
>rcbard, and returned to my boat on the
)ank of the river. In the evening, as I
nis eating my supper by the camp-fire, the
imner and his son appeared on die scene,
rhey had been attracted by the blaze, and
lad come to know where it was. My ex-
)lanation re-assured them, and finally we
lad a pleasant chat by the fire. He urged
ne to come to his house for the night ; but,
ailing in this kindness, he insisted that I
ifaould come up for breakfast So, after
dl, I did not spend a lonely evening. The
lext morning, at breakfast, our visit was
dli more social The old farm-house was
n neater trim and the ladies were more
rordial than before. We were scarcely
«atcd at table before I realized that I had
mtered no common situation.

Mine hostess, in the kindness of her
leart, had prepared a bountiful, excellent,
uid varied breakfast. I had come to it
inth the greatest zest of social and physical
hunger. Every condition, therefore, prom-
sed one of those phenomenal meals that are
the joy of a canoeist and the pride of any
(wealthy man. Now mine host was a man of
Kmnd sense and quite miscellaneous read-



ing. He had a head and face of the
Andrew Jackson type, showing keen per-
ceptions and a persistent will. We com-
menced with broiled chicken, and the
comfortable silence of serious minds. But
soon he said :

" Well, now, you foUow books, and know
how to judge them ; and Fd like to find out
just the truth on one thing : Isn't Pope the
greatest poet that ever lived ? "

I had to relinquish my succulent second
joint, and venture on the most perilous
passage of my cruise. For I know more
of rocks and rapids, and care more for
them, than for books. So my opinion could
scarcely fulfill my host's expectations in re-
gard to its infaUibiUty. Yet how could I
disappoint his literary interest ? I did not.

"Wont you have some more baked po-
tatoes? Now I want a poet to teach me
something new. That's why .every line of
Pope satisfies me. What do you think of
Homer? I can't get much interested in
him. Perhaps he's too big — ^like them big
trees in CaHfomia, it takes two men and a
boy to see to the top of him."

I never before was so devoted to a bare
chicken-bone. I nibbled and scraped so
assiduously that I found time for only a
word or two.

" Have some more baked potatoes. Now,
really, Shakspere, he is no doubt a great
senius ; but I can't find so much real sense
m his plays as in Pope's works. What
do you think of him ? "

The steaming buckwheat Cakes gave me
a momentary diversion; but the feast of
reason soon resumed its supremacy. We
had Bums and Pope, B3rron and Pope,
Longfellow and Pope. Then came Darwm-
ism, predestination, Beecher, the Southern
questions, the new political party, and
Edison's inventions. But I struggled man-
fully through it all, and at the end I felt a
fiill measure of success. The family accom-
panied me to the shore to see the Allegro^
and get a glimpse of her independent,
roaming life. My interesting visit ended
with their best wishes, as J stowed in the
locker potatoes, apples, and green com, and
regretfully shoved oflf for furtSher adventures.
These hap-hazard peeps through back-
doors are one of the most entertaining
features of a canoe craise. You have the
keenest relish for the companionsliip and
the hospitality ; and you see characters in
their plain realities, without the mask of
ceremony.

The Hudson about Thurman changes

Digitized by V^OOQlC



Digitized by



Googit



RUNNING THE RAPIDS OF THE UPPER HUDSON



869



passed not quite in the center of the angle
3f waves; for she rolled up one side with
I jerk that startled me, but fortunately
iid not throw me off my balance. A
noraent later she floated quietly on the
[)Ool below the bridge, and turned around
jnth the current while I took breath. Some
people on the bridge peered over the rail-
Jig, and the ladies at the falls waved their
landkerchiefe. The passage was short, but
iwift, and exciting; and its successful ter-
nination was not the worst of it.

The Hudson returns, at Jessup's Land-
ng, to the ways of its youth, by plunging
lown a great fall and then running seven
niles as a wild rapid between high mount-
lins. I unwisely followed the counsel of
he most prudent villagers instead of the
nost enterprising, and had my canoe carted
bur miles down the river to New Bridge,
rhis mistake lost me over three miles of
trong, swift water, deeper and safer than
he rifts about Riverside and the Glen,
kt I made up the loss by camping here
everal days and hunting gray squirrels.
The mountains about are delightful hunt-
Dg-grounds. Every peak commands an



Online LibraryPaulist FathersThe Century, Volume 21 → online text (page 72 of 78)