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“ If you
fire begin to roar already, and I know by experience that when the flames once get fairly into the prairie grass, it is no sloth that can outrun it."
“Do you call this a fire ?” said the old man. had seen what I have witnessed in the Eastern hills, when 5 mighty mountains were like the furnace of a smith, you would have known what it was to fear the flames and to be thankful that you were spared! Come, lads, come ; 't is time to be doing now, and to cease talking; for yonder curling flame is truly coming on like a trotting 10
Put hands upon this short and withered grass where we stand, and lay bare the earth.” « Would
you think to deprive the fire of its victims in this childish manner ?” exclaimed Middleton.
A faint but solemn smile passed over the features of 15 the old man as he answered: “Your grandfather would have said that when the enemy was nigh a soldier could do no better than to obey."
The captain felt the reproof, and instantly began to imitate the industry of Paul, who was tearing the decayed 20 herbage from the ground in a sort of desperate compliance with the trapper's direction. Even Ellen lent her hands to the labor, nor was it long before Inez was seen similarly employed, though none amongst them knew why or wherefore. When life is thought to be the reward of 25 labor, men are wont to be industrious. A very few moments sufficed to lay bare a spot of some twenty feet
in diameter. Into one edge of this little area the trapper brought the females, directing Middleton and Paul to cover their light and inflammable dresses with the
blankets of the party. So soon as this precaution was 5 observed, the old man approached the opposite margin of the grass,
which still environed them in a tall and dangerous circle, and selecting a handful of the driest of the herbage, he placed it over the pan of his rifle.
of his rifle. The light combustible kindled at the flash. Then he placed the 10 little flame in a bed of the standing fog, and withdrawing
from the spot to the center of the ring, he patiently awaited the result.
The subtle element seized with avidity upon its new fuel, and in a moment forked flames were gliding among 15 the grass, as the tongues of ruminating animals are seen
rolling among their food, apparently in quest of its sweetest portions.
“Now," said the old man, holding up a finger, and laughing in his peculiarly silent manner,
you shall see 20 fire fight fire! Ah's me! many is the time I have burnt a smutty path from wanton laziness to pick my way.”
“But is this not fatal ?” cried the amazed Middleton; “are you not bringing the enemy nigher to us instead of avoiding it ?”
“Do you scorch so easily? your grandfather had a tougher skin. But we shall live to see — we shall all live to see.”
The experience of the trapper was in the right. As the fire gained strength and heat, it began to spread on three sides, dying of itself on the fourth for want of aliment. As it increased, and the sullen roaring announced its power, it cleared everything before it, leaving 5 the black and smoking soil far more naked than if the scythe had swept the place. The situation of the fugitives would have still been hazardous had not the area enlarged as the flame encircled them. But by advancing to the spot where the trapper had kindled the grass, they 10 avoided the heat, and in a very few moments the flames began to recede in every quarter, leaving them enveloped in a cloud of smoke, but perfectly safe from the torrent of fire that was still furiously rolling onwards.
nimble coruscations : the shooting lights of the aurora borealis. sensibly: visibly. — your grandfather : Keywood, a character in “The Last of the Mohicans.” See Book Six, page 93.— fog : dead grass.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
RALPH WALDO Emerson, born in Boston in 1803, was a famous lecturer and writer. For the greater part of his life his home was in Concord, Massachusetts, where he died in 1882. He is often called a seer
who sees into men's hearts and understands God's truths. Emerson taught 5 the world many lessons; one of them, which had already been put into
words by Wordsworth, was that plain living and high thinking go well together. He was loved and respected by all who knew him.
Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days,
hypocrit’ic: playing a part. The poet figures the Days as actors in a drama. - dervishes : Turkish or Persian monks who profess great poverty.
- pleached : shaded by interwoven branches. herbs and apples : what does the poet symbolize here ?- fillet: a little band, confining the hair.
A CHINESE CAT
PIERRE LOTI (pėâr lo-té') is the assumed name of Julien Viaud (zhool'yăn vé-o), a French writer and naval officer.
NOTE. - At the close of a battle in the Yellow Sea a forlorn cat leaped from a Chinese junk to the French warship on which Pierre Loti was serving, and took refuge in his cabin.
I remember the first day that our relations became truly affectionate. It was on the open ocean, on a dreary day in September. The first fogs of autumn had already risen over the cold, rough sea. In this climate the chill and the cloudy skies come quickly, bringing to us Euro- 10 pean travelers a melancholy so much the greater because we feel ourselves far from home.
We were traveling eastward, and my cabin grew darker and darker as the waves swept across the closed porthole. I was writing at my little desk when suddenly Moumoutte 15 stole out of the shadow, stretching as if to give herself time to reflect. She held one of her paws in the air for several seconds with truly Oriental grace before deciding where to place it for the next step. All this time she watched me earnestly with a look of interrogation.
What could she want? Evidently she was not hungry. She had had her dinner. What was the matter then ?
She came close to me and continued to watch me. She knew that I was capable of pity and that I understood her