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I suspect I did not effect the changes very steadily, for che trout began to jump about in the pail and fly out into the mud. The gridiron got uneasy, and played against my side like a steam-flapper. In fact, the whole baggage seemed endowed with supernatural powers of motion. The excitement was contagious. In a moment, every article was jumping about like mad. I, in the meantime, continued to dance a hornpipe on the slippery roots.
Now I am conscientiously opposed to dancing. I never danced. I didn't want to learn. I felt it was wicked for me to be hopping around on that root so.
What an example, I thought, if John should see me! What would my wife say? What would my deacons say? I tried to stop. I couldn't. I had an astonishing dislike to sitting down. I thought I would dance there forever, rather than sit down,-deacons or no deacons.
The basket now weighed any imaginable number of pounds. The trout were leaping about my head, as if in their native element. The gridiron was in such rapid motion that it was impossible to distinguish the bars. There was, apparently, a whole litter of pigs in the porkbag. I could not stand it longer. I concluded to rest awhile. I wanted to do the thing gracefully. I looked around for a soft spot, and, seeing one just behind me, I checked myzelf. My feet flew out from under me. They appeared to be unusually light. I don't remember that I ever sat down quicker. The motion was very decided. The only difficulty I observed was, that the seat I had gracefully settled into had no bottom.
The position of things was extremely picturesque. The oars were astride my neck, as usual. The trout-pail was bottom up, and the contenis lying about almost anywhere. The boots were hanging on a dry limb overhead. A capital idea,— I thought of it as I was in the act of sitting down. One piece of pork lay at my feet, and another was sticking up, some ten feet off, in the mind. It looked very queer,--slightly out of place. With the same motion with which I hung my boots on a limb, as I seated
myself, I stuck my rifle carefully into the mud, muzzle duwnward. I never saw a gun in that position before. It struck me as being a good thing. There was no dinger of its falling over and breaking the stock. The first thing I did was to pass the gridiron under me. When that feat had been accomplished, I felt more composed. It's pleasant för a man in the position I was in to feel that he has something under him. Even a chip or a small stump would have felt comfortable. As I sat thinking how many uses a gridiron could be put to, and estimating where I should then have been if I hadn't got it under me, I heard John forcing his way, with the boat on his back, through the thick undergrowth.
It won't do to let John see me in this position,” I said; and so, with a mighty effort, I disengaged myself from the pack, flung off the blanket from around my neck, and, seizing hold of a spruce limb, which I could fortunately reach, drew myself slowly up. I had just time to jerk the rifle out of the mud, and fishi up aboui half of the trout, when John came struggling along.
“ John," said I, leaning unconcernedly against a tree, as if nothing had happened,“ John, put down the boat, here's a splendid spot to rest.”
“Well, Mr. Murray," queried Jolin, as he emerged from under the boat, "how are you getting along?"
“ Capitally!” said I; "the carry is very level when you once get down to it. I felt a little out of breath, and thought I would wait for you a few moments.”
“What's your boots doing up there in that tree?” exalaimed John, as he pointed up to where they hung dangling from the limb, about fifteen feet above our heads.
Boots doing!” said I,“ why they are hanging there, don't you see? You didn't suppose I'd drop them into this mud, did you?”
“Why, no," replied John, “I don't suppose you would; but how about this?” he continued, as he stooped down and pulled a big trout, tail foremost, out of the soft muck; “how did that trout come there?”
“It must have got out of the pail, somehow," I responded. “I thought I heard something drop just as I sat down.”
What in thunder is that, out there?” exclaimed John, pointing to a piece of pork, one end of which was sticking about four inches out of the water; is that pork ?"
"Well, the fact is, John, returned I, speaking with the utmost gravity, and in a tone intended to suggest a mystery,—“the fact is, John, I don't quite understand it. This carry seems to be all covered over with pork. I wouldn't be surprised to find a piece anywhere. There is another junk, now," I exclaimed, as I plunged my moccasin into the mud and kicked a two-pound bit toward him ; "it's lying all around here loose.”
I thought John would split with laughter, but my time came, for as in one of his paroxysms he turned partly around, I saw that his back was covered with mud clear up to his hat.
“Do you always sit down on your coat, John," I inquired, “when you cross a carry like this ? ”
"Come, come," rejoined he, ceasing to laugh from very exhaustion, “take a knife or tin plate, and scrape the muck from my back. I always tell my wife to make my clothes a ground color, but the color is laid on a little too thick this time, any way.”
“John” said I, after having scraped him down, "take the paddle and spear my boots off from that limb up there, while I tread out this pork.”
Plunging into the slough, balancing here on a bog and there on an underlying root, I succeeded in concentrating the scattered pieces at one point. As I was shying the last junk into the bag, a disappointed grunt from John caused me to look around. I took in the situation at a glance. The boots were still suspended from the limb. The paddle and two oars bad followed suit, and lay cogily amid the branches, while John, poising himself dexterously on the trunk of a fallen spruce, red in the face and vexed at his want of success, was whirling the frying-pan over his head, in the very act of letting it drive at the boots.
"Go in, John!" I shouted, seizing hold of the gridiron with one hand and a bag of bullets with the other, while tears stood in my eyes from very laughter; "when we've got all the rest of the baggage up in that hemlock, I'll pass up the boat, and we'll make a camp."
The last words were barely off my lips, when John, having succeeded in getting a firm footing, as he thought, on the slippery bark, threw all his strength into the cast, and away the big iron pan went whizzing up through the branches. But, alas for human calculation! the rotten bark under his feet, rent by the sudden pressure as he pitched the cumbrous missile upward, parted from the smooth wd, and John, with a mighty thump which seemed almost to snap his head off, came down
the trunk; while the frying pan, gyrating like a brokenwinged bird, landed rods away in the marsh. By this time.John's blood was up, and the bombardinent began in earnest. The first thing he laid his hand on was the coffee-pot. I followed suit with the gridiron. Then my fishing-basket and a bag of bullets mounted upward. Never before was such a battle waged, or such weapons used. The air was full of missiles. Tin plates, oar-locks, the axe, gridiron, and pieces of pork, were all in the air at once.
the contest would have continued I cannot tell, had it not been brought to a glorious termination ; for at last the heavy iron camp-kettle, hurled by John's nervous wrist, striking the limb fair, crashed through like a forty-pound shot, and down came boots, oars, paddle, and all. Gathering the scattered articles together, we took our respective burdens and pushed ahead. Weary and hot, we reached at length the margin of the swamp, and our feet stood once more upon solid ground.
-Adventures in the Wilderness.