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though it had been raining in the morning, and went singing and shouting on our way, We dared the bob-cat to come out, we jeered at him, we taunted him with cowardice; and once, when we were resting, Grasshopper and I acted the scene, Grasshopper coming up to me on all-fours, and fixing a bob-cat gaze upon me as I stared at him, till he was ready to turn on his heel. So we walked along the hilly path, full of sport, when lo! just as I was calling out in my loudest voice, “ Robert ! Robert ! toi que j'aime," a veritable bob-cat crossed the path. We all turned to each other and whispered emphatically, - “Bob-cat ! ” We listened -- we heard the fellow go crunching through the forest and meaouing in the distance; we sat on a log, but in vain; six eyes, he reasoned, were too much for his two.
But it began to lower, then it rained, and in a few minutes our shoulders were wet through, We trudged on. We reached Sawyer's River at six o'clock, calculating that we had made thirteen miles. We held a council ; should we camp here in the hut? It could not be more than five miles further, two hours of daylight were left, and we surely could get through; so off we started again, watching the path carefully, for it was from this point that it was
doubtful. Sawyer's River kept crossing the path. We walked cautiously on. It came to be eight o'clock and we always seemed to be just on the point of seeing clear land ahead. We came now to a brook entering the river on our left. The path was all a maze, and reasoning sagely that the brook was going straight to Saco River, which ran by the road we were making for, we stepped into it and went kneedeep floundering down the current. We were now wet from top to toe, though it had stopped raining. A few rods of this short cut were enough, and we clambered on to the bank again, and with remarkable good fortune stumbled upon
the path once more. Then it grew darker ; we heard the roaring of water, and always thought we were coming to the Saco, and always found it to be Sawyer's. We stumbled along, Grasshopper in front, Little Muscle in the middle, and I behind. Then it was that enormous trees were found fallen across the path. Little sharp twigs stuck out from them. It must have been on these that I caught in clambering over, my knapsack banging against my sides, for one strap was broken, and tore those little patches, when Little Muscle laughed inside, and I sighed out. We stumbled on in the miry dark
We halted for Grasshopper to feel the path ahead with his feet, when he would hollo to us, and we would go to his voice, letting him start off again on fresh discovery. Finally, not even patient hunting seemed of any avail; we appeared to be in the path, and yet at its end. We leaned against a fallen tree and took counsel together. Should we follow our compass and push through the woods? It could not be more than three quarters of a mile more, surely. We were hungry, tired, and wet. It was after ten o'clock, so we agreed to camp out on the spot.
The Grasshopper had some matches, I had some birch-bark, Little Muscle had some newspaper, and one of us had a small pocket-knife. We dropped the knife at once and could not find it again; but there were some rotten trunks of trees standing about, wet and spongy, und we broke these down, and, after patient labor, made a fire. Then we made a corduroy bed of old trunks, and propped up some logs for seats, and made some clothes-poles on which we hung our raiment, while we roasted ourselves like savages. We spent the rest of the night drying each garment by turns. The Grasshopper and Little Muscle lay down ov the corduroy. I slept beautifully on a chip for
a minute and a half, when the heat from the fire stole through me.
At four in the morning we were nearly ready to start. Everything was dry, especially our mouths, which could find no water. I was lying down, for I felt like it. I heard a sound above me.
“Little Muscle,” said I, “what is that pattering?"
“Rain," said Little Muscle, and he took a pocket-handkerchief and spread it gently over me.
The contents of our knapsacks were spread about on the ground. In three minutes we were wet through, and so were all our things. We walked five miles by the path, and then came to the road. It rained the rest of the day. We went to bed at Old Crawford's, and pushed our clothes outside the door; and in the afternoon I read the newspaper aloud, while Grasshopper mended my trousers beautifully, and Little Muscle went to sleep.
AT CHRISTMAS TIME.
Midnight. THROUGH the frosty pane, I make out the shining stars, and in the dead of night, when others are sleeping, I keep watch. When one is ont-of-doors in the middle of the night he is surprised to see how differently everything looks, especially in moonlight. The buildings so high and strange, the trees muttering to each other, and bushes looking as if they were stealing out of the meadow to the road. And then at night, one looks up into the sky. There are no people, perhaps, about, to catch his eye, and his business does not keep him thinking with his eyes down, so he looks up and sees the countless stars. If he is on shipboard, he watches the mast drawing queer diagrams on the heaven, and tries to count the stars in some one patch. And here and there, over the surface of the globe, are dotted little towers, in which men sit and watch steadily with great telescopes, to see what more they can find out about those wonderful heavenly bodies. We seem at such times to be standing tiptoe or