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bent to the paddles, and drove the boat up the narrow creek with incredible speed.
I was so eager to get a shot at our pursuers, that I scarcely understood what he meant when, stopping suddenly, Antonio pressed his paddle in my hands, and, exchanging a few hurried words with the Poyer boy, each took a hatchet in his mouth and leaped overboard. I felt a sudden suspicion that they had deserted me, and remained for the time motionless. A moment after they called to me from the shore, “Paddle ! paddle !” and, at the same instant, I heard the blows of their hatchets ringing on the trunks of the mangroves. They were selling trees across the narrow creek, to obstruct the pursuit. I threw aside the paddle and seized my gun. Our pursuers heard the sound of the blows, and, no doubt knowing what was going on, raised loud shouts and made double speed. Kling ! kling! rang the hatchets on the hard wood. Oh, how I longed to hear the crash of the falling trees! Soon one of them began to crackle--another blow, and down it fell, the trunk splashing gloriously in the water. Another crackle, a rapid rustling of branches, and another splash in the water. It was our turn to shout now.
I gave Antonio and the Poyer boy each a hearty embrace, as dripping with water, they climbed back into our little boat. We now pushed a little up the stream, stopped close to the slimy bank, and awaited our pursuers. “Come on now," I shouted, “and not one of you shall pass that barrier alive.”
The first boat ran boldly up to the fallen trees, but the discharge of a single barrel of my gun sent it quickly back out of reach. We could hear a hurried conversation between the occupants of the first boat and those of the second. It did not last long, and when it stopped, Antonio, in a state of greater alarm than he had ever before shown, caught me by the arm and explained hurriedly that the second boat was going back, and that the narrow creek in which we were, no doubt communicated with the main water by another opening. Thus they designed to entrap us.
We, therefore, at once, took to our paddles, and emerged from our inhospitable retreat just in time to render it quite safe to send a farewell random shot, through the thick darkness, at the approaching boat.
Epicure, one fond of delicacies Exterminate, kill every one. (good things).
Operation, work, process. Curved, bent.
Reproduce, bear, produce again. Variegated, variously colored. Apparatus (plur. lls, pron. Laminæ, plates.
oos), machinery, appliance. FISHING FOR TURTLE. It was during the night that Antonio and Frank, who kept themselves concealed in the bushes, rushed out upon the turtles, and with iron hooks turned them on their backs, when they became powerless, and incapable of moving. The day following they dragged them to the most distant part of the island, where they “shelled” them—a cruel process, which it made my flesh creep to witness. Before describing it, however, I must explain that although the habits of all varieties of the turtle are much the same, yet their uses are very different. The large green turtle is best known; it frequently reaches our markets, and its flesh is esteemed by epicures as a great delicacy. The flesh of the smaller or hawk-bill variety is not so good, but its shell is most valuable, being both thicker and better colored. What is called tortoise-shell is not, as is generally supposed, the bony covering or shield of the turtle, but only the scales that cover it. These are thirteen in number-eight of them flat, and five a little curved. Of the flat ones four are large, being sometimes a foot long and seven inches broad, semi-transparent, elegantly variegated with white, red, yellow, and dark brown clouds, which are fully brought out when the shell is prepared and polished. These laminæ, as I have said, constitute the external coating of the solid or bony part of the shell ; and a large turtle produces about eight pounds of them ; the plates varying from an eighth to a quarter of an inch in thickness.
The fishers do not kill the turtles; did they do so, they would in a few years exterminate them. When the turtle is caught, they fasten him, and cover his back with dry leaves or grass, to which they set fire. The heat causes the plates to separate at their joints. A large knife is then carefully inserted horizontally beneath them, and the laminæ lifted from the back, care being taken not to injure the shell by too much heat, nor to force it off until the heat has fully prepared it for separation. Many
turtles die under this cruel operation; but instances are numerous in which they have been caught a second time, with the coating reproduced; but, in these cases, instead of thirteen pieces, it is a single piece. As I have already said, I could never bring myself to witness this cruelty more than once, and was glad that the process of “scaling” was carried on out of the sight of the hut. Had the poor turtles the power of shrieking, they would have made that barren island fearful with their cries of torture.
The apparatus for striking the turtle is a kind of harpoon, except that instead of being barbed, the point is an ordinary triangular file, ground exceedingly sharp. This, it has been found, is the only thing which will pierce the thick armour of the turtle; and, moreover, it makes so small a hole, that it seldom kills the green turtle, and very slightly injures the scales of the hawkbill variety, which furnishes the shell of commerce.
Regulate, guide methodically, or in Anon, again. a measured manner.
Maze, mass of confusion. Islets, little islands.
Transfix, stab. Predicated, stated, presumed. Disengage, loosen, free. Novel, new.
Harris stood in the bow of the pitpan, keeping a sharp lookout, holding his spear in his right hand, with his left hand behind him, where it answered the purpose of a telegraph to the two men who paddled. They kept their eyes fixed on the signal, and regulated their strokes, and the course and speed of the boat accordingly. Not a word was said, as it is supposed that the turtle is sharp of hearing. In this manner we paddled among the islets for half an hour, when, on a slight motion of Harris's hand, the men altered their course a little, and worked their paddles so slowly and quietly, as scarcely to cause a ripple. I peered ahead, but saw only what I supposed was a rock, projecting above the water. It was, nevertheless, a turtle floating lazily on the surface, as turtles are wont to do. Notwithstanding the caution of our approach, he either heard us or caught sight of the boat, and sank while we were fifty yards distant. There was a quick motion of Harris's manual telegraph, and the men began to paddle with the utmost rapidity, striking their paddles deep in the water. In an instant, the boat had darted over the spot where the turtle had disappeared, and I caught a hurried glimpse of him, making his way with a speed which quite upset my notions of the ability of turtles in that line, predicated upon their unwieldiness on land. He literally seemed to slide through the water.
And now commenced a novel and exciting chase. Harris had his eyes on the turtle, and the men theirs on Harris's telegraph hand. Now we darted this way, then that; slow one moment, rapid the next, and anon stock-still. The water was not so deep as to permit our scaly friend to get entirely out of reach of Harris's practised eye, although to me the bottom appeared to be a hopeless maze. As the turtle must rise to the surface sooner or later to breathe, the object of the pursuer is to keep near enough to transfix him when he reappears. Finally, after half an hour of dodging about, the boat was stopped with a jerk, and down darted the spear. As the whole of the shaft did not go uuder, I saw it had not failed to reach its object. A moment more and Harris had hold of the line. After a few struggles and vain attempts to get away, the tired turtle gave in, and tamely allowed himself to be conducted to the shore. A few sharp strokes disengaged the file, and he was turned over on his back on the sand, the very picture of utter helplessness, to await our return. I have a fancy that the expression of a turtle's head and half closed eyes, under such circumstances, is the super. lative of resignation.
Overrate, reckon too highly; opp. Pinions, wings.
underrate. Talons, claws.
Extricate, free, relcase.
SALMON. I HAVE often been struck with the singular attachment hunters occasionally have for some bird or animal, while all the rest of the species they pursue with deadly hostility. About five hundred yards from Beach's hut stands a lofty pine-tree, on which a grey eagle has built his nest annually during the nine years he has lived on the shores of the river Raquette. The Indian who dwelt there before him says, that the same pair of birds made their nest on that tree for ten years previous—making in all, nineteen years that they have occupied the same spot, and built on the same branch.
One day, however, Beach was near losing his bold eagle. He was lying at anchor fishing when he saw his favorite bird, high up in heaven, slowly sweeping round and round in a large circle, evidently awaiting the approach of a fish to the surface. For an hour or more he thus sailed with motionless wings above the water, when all at once he stopped and hovered a moment with an excited gesture; then, rapid as a flash of lightning, and with a rush of his broad pinions like the passage of a sudden gust of wind, came to the still bosom of the lake. He had seen a huge salmon-trout swimming near the surface; and plunging from his high watch-tower, drove his talons deep in his victim's back. So rapid and strong was his swoop, that he buried himself out of sight when he struck; but the next moment emerged into view, and, flapping his wings, endeavoured to rise with his prey.
But this time he had overrated his strength. In vain he struggled nobly to list the salınon from the water. The frightened and bleeding fish made a sudden dive, and took the eagle out of sight, longer than a quarter of a minute. Again they rose to the surface, and the strong bird spread out his broad dripping pinions; and, gathering force with his rapid blows, raised the salmon half out of water. The weight, however, was too great for him, and he sank again to the surface, beating the water into foam about him. The salmon then made another dive, and they both went under, leaving only a few bubbles to tell where they had gone down.
This time they were absent a full half minute, and Beach said he thought it was all over with his bird. He soon, however, reappeared, with his talons still buried in the flesh of his foe. and again made a desperate effort to rise. All this time the fish was shooting like an arrow through the lake, carrying his relentless foe on his back. He could not keep the eagle down, nor could the bird carry him up: so, now beneath, and now upon the surface, they struggled on, presenting one of the most singular, yet exciting spectacles that can be imagined. It was fearful to witness the blows of the eagle as he lashed the lake with his wings into spray, and made the shores echo with the report. At