He entered cheerfully and earnestly upon his studies, and more than a year was devoted to mathematics; but whenever it was possible he rambled about the country, using his eyes and fingers, collecting more specimens, and 15 sketching with such assiduity that when he left France, only seventeen years old, he had finished two hundred drawings of French birds. At this period he tells us that "it was not the desire of fame which prompted to this devotion; it was simply the enjoyment of nature." 20
A story is told of his lying on his back in the woods with some moss for his pillow and looking through a telescopic microscope day after day, to watch a pair of little birds while they made their nest. Their peculiar gray plumage harmonized with the color of the bark of the tree, so that it 5 was impossible to see the birds except by the most careful observation. After three weeks of such patient labor, he felt that he had been amply rewarded for the toil and sacrifice by the results he had obtained.
His power of observation gave him great happiness, from 10 the time he rambled as a boy in the country in search of treasures of natural history, till, in his old age, he rose with the sun and went straightway to the woods near his home, enjoying still the beauties and wonders of nature. His strength of purpose and unwearied energy, combined with 15 his pure enthusiasm, made him successful in his work as a naturalist; but it was all dependent on the habit formed in his boyhood—this habit of close and careful observation; and he not only had this habit of using his eyes but he looked at and studied things worth seeing, worth 20 remembering.
This brief sketch of Audubon's boyhood shows the predominant traits of his character—his power of observation, the training of the eye and hand—that made him in manhood "the most distinguished of American ornithologists," 25 with so much scientific ardor and perseverance that no expedition seemed dangerous or solitude inaccessible when he was engaged in his favorite study.
He has left behind him, as the result of his labors, his great book, The Birds of America, in ten volumes, and 30 illustrated with four hundred and forty-eight colored plates of over one thousand species of birds, all drawn by his own hand, and each bird represented in its natural size; also a Biography of American Birds, in five large volumes, in which he describes their habits and customs. He was associated with Dr. Bachman, of Philadelphia, in the preparation of a work on The Quadrupeds of America, in six 5 large volumes, the drawings for which were made by his two sons; and later on he published his Biography of American Quadrupeds, a work similar to the Biography of American Birds. He died at what is known as Audubon Park, on the Hudson, now within the limits of New York city, in 10 1851, at the age of seventy.
—The True Citizen.
1. Give a brief summation of Audubon's life. What does his name stand for?
2. How many birds can you identify by sight? By song? What winter birds do you know? What is the first migrant bird you see in the spring? Name some birds that stay with us the year round.
3. If you are interested in birds you will enjoy looking through Chapman's Bird-Life; Burroughs' Wake-Robin; Gilmore's Birds Through the Year; Blanchan's Bird Neighbors; Miller's The First Book of Birds. You should make a list of these in your notebook for summer reading.
4. In this connection make up a list of five poems about birds; five about flowers; five about trees. For good reading on trees, see Dorrance's Story of the Forest.
MEMORIAL DAY, 1917
BY WOODROW WILSON
Spoken at Arlington to the veterans of the Federal and Confederate armies. There were present men in khaki soon to carry the spirit of America to the battlefields of France.
Any Memorial Day of this sort is, of course, a day touched with sorrowful memory, and yet I for one do not see how we can have any thought of pity for the men whose memory we honor to-day. I do not pity them. I envy them, rather, because theirs is a great work for liberty 5 accomplished and we are in the midst of a work unfinished, testing our strength where their strength already has been tested. There is a touch of sorrow, but there is a touch of reassurance also in a day like this, because we know how the men of America have responded to the call of the 10 cause of liberty, and it fills our minds with a perfect assurance that that response will come again in equal measure, with equal majesty, and with a result which will hold the attention of all mankind.
When you reflect upon it, these men who died to preserve 15 the Union died to preserve the instrument which we are now using to serve the world—a free nation espousing the cause of human liberty. In one sense that great struggle into which we have now entered is an American struggle, because it is in defense of American honor and 20 American rights, but it is something even greater than that; it is a world struggle. It is a struggle of men who love liberty everywhere and in this cause America will show herself greater than ever because she will rise to a greater thing.
We have said in the beginning that we planned this great government that men who wish freedom might have a place of refuge and a place where their hope could be 5 realized, and now, having established such a government, having preserved such a government, having vindicated the power of such a government, we are saying to all mankind, "We did not set this government up in order that we might have a selfish and separate liberty, for we are 10 now ready to come to your assistance and fight out upon the fields of the world the cause of human liberty." In this thing America attains her full dignity and the full fruition of her great purpose.
1. During the World War, President Woodrow Wilson (1856- ) delivered several notable speeches. In fact, his ability to phrase a thought neatly, caused Europe to look upon him as the spokesman of the Allied cause. This extract from his speech in the cemetery at Arlington, Va., is a good example of his finished literary style. Compare it with Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. How are the two alike? How different?
2. How long before the delivery of this speech did the United States declare war against Germany? What references to this war are in the speech?
3. The cemetery at Arlington is a national burying ground of the fallen heroes of the Civil War. Read the line or lines that refer to them.
Life is a series of experiences. A few of these we call adventures because they are out of the ordinary. If, however, one is keen and alert, every experience is a fresh adventure. And excitement galore can be had by reading about the doings of other people. It is no longer necessary to hunt lions or to be adrift on an ice sheet to get the thrill of those who have experienced these things. Books, pictures, and theaters afford us ample means of enjoying in comfort the hour of high adventure of the other person.
A GRANDSTAND SEAT IN THE SKY
BY HOWARD MINGOS
"I don't know whether we can make it or not," said the pilot. "There's a forty-mile-an-hour wind up aloft, and we're going straight in the teeth of it. Maybe we'll have to turn back."
But we did not turn back, and at times before we had 5 covered the twenty-two miles separating New York from the army's Hazlehurst Field at Mineola, Long Island, I wished that we might turn round, if only for an instant, that I might adjust the fur-lined chin strap, the buckle of which snapped against my left ear with maddening persistency. 10
A half dozen times, perhaps, I had raised my left hand carefully, only to have it flapped back at me as if I were slapping myself in the face. For we were in the pilot's seat of America's largest bombing plane, grandstand seats with nothing between us and the show but air, of which 15 there was a plenty.
Captain Roy N. Francis, one of the best-known American pilots, had cautioned me against sticking out my arm or hand, because of the nine-foot propeller whirling alongside of me, and its tips fanned my elbow just two thousand 20 times a minute as I huddled in the seat with Francis to afford him more room.
You understand I wanted to make myself as small as possible, so that he might have more space in which to operate the controls. I had every reason to believe they 25 required minute attention if we were to remain rebounding about the skies from wind pocket to wind pocket five thousand feet above the flying field. I had forgotten our objective, which was Manhattan—the dreams of fifteen years about to be realized.
I particularly wanted to be ricocheting from the crest 5 of one air wave to another. It was the choice of alternatives, I concluded, for below us the crazy-quilted landscape of Long Island appeared to be anything but a soft place for landing. And there was a barn directly under us for several minutes—the same barn. I know it was a 10 barn because it had a fence around it; otherwise it might have been a dog's kennel—a lone dog's kennel at that—so tiny was it from our viewpoint.
I know we hung suspended over it for some time. I had an opportunity to review my entire past life, my good 15 deeds, of which there were few that I could recall at the moment, and my misdeeds, of which there were many. I pondered if they would miss me at the office. I thought of other offices and other fellows and the nature of their retrospection, fellows who had been in positions similar 20 to mine—and I knew where they were, or rather, where they were not.
Francis had pointed at me among four other prospective passengers standing about the great plane while they tuned up the motors. 25
"You there, little fellow, get in here beside me!"
I had shinnied up the stepladder and crawled in beside him, flattered at the distinction—the others took their places in other cockpits free from controls and instruments—and then I understood the reason for his choice. 30
Our flying suits were lined with fur, and bulky. The cockpit was narrow at best, and Francis is not a small man. So I huddled as far as possible at the side of the flyer's seat, my side of it. And then: "Keep your paws in, if you don't want them taken off with that propeller," he had shouted into my ear. "Sit tight!"
I sat tight. No shrimp ever had as many wrinkles as I. 5 I pulled my hand in a fraction of an inch, braced my legs against nothing in particular, while my back assumed the characteristics of a concertina, closed.
He had thrown back the throttle. There was a blast and a roar. I had the same lonesome feeling in the pit of my 10 stomach that had seized me when I first took the express elevator in the Woolworth Building.
It occurred to me to win the respect of the pilot by appearing confident. So I forced myself to peer over the side. The earth was dropping away so fast that it all seemed 15 like a nightmare. I felt as if I had been dreaming and had fallen out of bed.
"Grin at him," something told me. I grinned.
A dozen or more icicles immediately crunched between my teeth, pierced the roof of my mouth, and froze my 20 brain, while leaden drops of water percolated through it and trickled down my spine.
"Keep grinning!" that unconscious self put in again. The advice was useless. I couldn't have closed my mouth had I wanted to. Finally by bowing my head I shut my 25 jaws. Oh, for that chin strap which was whacking my face! It would have kept me warm. Despite the heat through which we had traveled in reaching Hazlehurst Field that morning, up here, a mile high, the air was cold.
I stole a sidelong glance at Francis from behind the 30 heavy goggles which some friendly stranger had fitted over my helmet. Francis was not looking at me.
Instead of watching and appraising me, as I had thought he was half turned round, gazing back along the fuselage or body, of our craft, for what reason I do not know.
I turned in my seat and looked back at the tail. Not seeing anything unusual, I sat back again. And there was 5 Francis with his head thrown back, gazing at the sky. His hands and feet were not touching the controls.
Every time we struck an air pocket I shuddered. For ten minutes, minutes which seemed hours, I huddled and shrank and shuddered. That was about all there 10 appeared to be in the flight for me—huddles, shrinks, and shudders.
That dog kennel of a barn gave me much to think about. The wind was dead against us. Our speedometer registered ninety miles an hour—and the wind pushing us 15 back at the rate of forty miles left us fifty miles an hour speed. It seemed like fifty feet to me, until I saw off in the distance ahead the silvery haze that hangs over New York like a mantle of mist. A moment later we made out Long Island Sound, laid out with all its little bays and harbors 20 just like a pattern of white paper fallen on the extreme edge of a Persian carpet. There were a few specks on it, and from them whisps of smoke drifted up, many times smaller than pipe smoke.
Bump! A slight jar. I looked at Francis. He was 25 gazing ahead unconcernedly.
Air pockets. We had dropped twenty feet on two separate occasions within the space of a moment. Great!
The machine was still intact. Good old machine! Nice old craft! . . . I felt like patting it on the nose and stroking 30 its sleek fabric back—that is, if it remained constant. If ever I craved constancy in anything, it was then.
Suddenly I relaxed. A feeling of delightful content surged through me. Approaching New York. Above the haze, out of all the hustle and bustle of the human maelstrom. That look of absolute futility I had seen on the faces in the subway, on the streets, in the early hours of 5 morning—these receded from memory. Life was good, after all. It was a wonderful thing if you viewed it correctly. And this was the way to view it.
Reflections of a bright young man being smeared all over the island were things of the past now, as on the right, 10 as far as we could see, the Bronx stretched away, monotonously, endlessly. I thought how much happier I was up there, looking at the Bronx, than if I were in the Bronx down there, looking up at me.
Straight down I made out a Sound steamer. Hell Gate 15 Bridge, a tiny thing like the toys in shop windows.
But the Bronx got me. I had heard much of the Bronx and once or twice had visited the Zoo. But I never conceived the Bronx as a few bushels of building blocks thrown down on a wide green lawn and tumbled about promiscuously. 20 They were blocks, too, whole city squares, miles and miles of squares.
And there was the Harlem River—and Harlem. I looked for the homes of the cliff dwellers. They were not there. The scenery was as flat as the side of a house. 25
Veering slightly to the left, a mere touch from Francis of the auto wheel in front of him, and we were speeding over the upper East Side. Now I knew, or thought I knew, the millions who reside there, more or less in a state of perpetual congestion. I had often pondered as to where 30 these millions hung their wash, when they washed. To-day I learned.
Arranged in crisscross rows, compactly and without wasting an inch of space, that I could see, the roofs of the East Side were literally covered, literally littered, with clothes of a sameness that made of whole blocks or squares an awning. Here and there a red shirt, the only outstanding 5 bit of color. At least I chose to assume that it was a shirt because I knew that down in those narrow streets, moving about like minute grains of sand guided only by the confines of the conventional walls, were people sweltering in the heat of a summer day, and they needed those shirts 10 another season.
We dropped lower. We saw between the lines of garments, as we gazed straight downward, a bed, another bed, then a cot, more beds, a chair or two, now and then a bit of green I took to be plants, occasionally a bit of carpet 15 on the roof—and babies. The ten or fifteen babies who do not spend their days in the middle of the streets are enjoying the pleasures of their own roof gardens. As far as we could see to the left it was the same—roofs and clothes and babies, divided into squares like cuts of frosted 20 cake.
We struck Fifth Avenue at 110 Street. To our right was Central Park. And it was not as large as the palm of one's hand. In fact it might have been a bare spot from which a few building blocks had been lifted, evenly and 25 without disturbing the sharply outlined sides and corners.
There was nothing to be seen of the beautiful drives. The wonderful trees were as clumps of sagebrush, the gathering spots mere splotches of gray in a patch of moldy green. The lakes and the reservoir were as bits of broken 30 glass with jagged edges and no reason on earth for their being there.
Below us we did make out a few of the taller buildings, but it required an effort and a prior knowledge of their location. Fifth Avenue, over which we were traveling at ninety miles an hour as we tacked across the pathway of the wind and sped southward, was like any other street 5 from that height. One could never recognize it as Fifth Avenue, though in front of the Public Library the limousines forming two thin lines like black threads helped identify it.
The Metropolitan tower was passed far more quickly than it requires in the telling. I looked ahead to see the wonderful 10 skyline down toward the Battery with its galaxy of skyscrapers. It was not there. Back over my shoulder I saw 42 Street and Broadway. Strange to relate, the great buildings on that side of town stood up in bold relief.
We could now take in both the North and East rivers and 15 all of New York Bay at a single glance. A mile above them, and we were following Broadway to Battery Park. We recognized the Woolworth tower. But the Statue of Liberty was far more prominent, standing alone and distinguished, ready to meet all comers. 20
The Woolworth Building was a disappointment. I had thought to see it at its best, gaze at it from all angles; but I became far more interested in the piers that curbed our little island of Manhattan, the ferryboats that plied like toy ships, leaving scarcely a wake that we could see. 25
I recalled that the giant Leviathan was due in, that noon, with several thousand soldiers. I scanned the bay for it. A moment later, when we had swung around in a wide circle and started back uptown, I saw it. The transport had been under us and we had not seen it. I knew there must 30 be thousands in Battery Park to greet the Leviathan and her heroes.
After straining my eyes I decided that the tiny specks at certain spots in the park where there were no trees must of a surety be human beings. But they were specks.
At this juncture all of us received a shock. The plane headed against the stiff west wind again, bumped into it 5 head first, and then keeled halfway over. Try tipping up on one runner of a rocking chair, try balancing yourself as you go whizzing through space. I realized then that if one were placed in a rocking chair in the tonneau of a motor car and the car rounded a corner say at thirty or 10 forty-five miles an hour, one might derive the same sensation.
Our bodies were tugging at the life belts that held us firmly in our seats. Every muscle in my body was taut. I held my breath. Would we turn over? Would something 15 snap and send us down? I looked to see where we would fall. We would have fallen a sheer 5000 feet, directly on the Woolworth tower, the entire building of which was little more than a toy. But we did not fall.
The wind was better to us now, being in the rear. Yet 20 we did not appear to be making more speed. We drifted along, apparently. A moment later we were over green fields again. Far ahead I saw a Long Island train, doubtless moving. My gaze wandered momentarily. I looked for the train. It was gone. I looked back. It was in 25 our rear, and still coming in our direction.
It seemed but a matter of a few breaths of piercingly cold air before we were circling Hazlehurst Field. A brief glide and we were coasting on the ground toward the exact spot we had left. I looked at the watch again. 30
We had traveled from New York to the field, a distance of twenty-two miles, at the rate of two miles and a half a minute. And my picture of Greater New York was that of a beautiful toy, a diamond sunburst glittering in a setting of purple and gold, a city full of windowpanes and skylights that throw back the rays of the sun—but a toy nevertheless, for verily I had beheld a city and had taken it in the 5 palm of my hand, gazed at it in wonder a moment, and had then put it back again.
—Motor Life. (Used by arrangement with Motor Life, New York city)
1. What was the extent of the airplane journey of the author? Had he ever been in an airplane before? How did he happen to sit with the pilot? How many people were in this plane?
2. What was the most exciting moment in his adventure? In about what year did this ride occur?
3. Pronounce and define: persistency, ricocheting, percolated, speedometer, maelstrom, promiscuously, recognize, tonneau.
4. If you have been close to an airplane tell what about it impressed you. What are airplanes used for now?
PRAYER FOR THE PILOT
BY CECIL ROBERTS
Lord of Sea and Earth and Air, Listen to the Pilot's prayer— Send him wind that's steady and strong, Grant that his engine sings the song Of flawless tone, by which he knows 5 It shall not fail him where he goes; Landing, gliding, in curve, half-roll— Grant him, O Lord, a full control, That he may learn in heights of Heaven The rapture altitude has given, 10 That he shall know the joy they feel Who ride Thy realms on Birds of Steel.
(Reprinted by permission of Frederick A. Stokes Company from Poems by Cecil Roberts.)
A BATTLE WITH A WHALE
BY FRANK T. BULLEN
Before the discovery of petroleum, whale oil was generally used for lighting. Whaling was then one of the big businesses of our country. Our whalers sought their game in all the waters of the world where the big animals were to be found. A whaling cruise usually lasted from two to five years. The following description of harpooning a whale is an actual experience of the author.
"There she white-waters! Ah, bl-o-o-o-o-w, blow, blow!" sang Louis; and then, in another tone, "Sperm whale, sir; lone fish, headin' 'beout east-by-nothe."
"All right. Way down from aloft," answered the skipper, who was already halfway up the main rigging; and 5 like squirrels we slipped out of our hoops and down the backstays, passing the skipper like a flash as he toiled upwards, bellowing orders as he went. Short as our journey down had been, when we arrived on deck we found all ready for a start. But as the whale was at least seven 10 miles away and we had a fair wind for him, there was no hurry to lower, so we all stood at attention by our respective boats, waiting for the signal. I found, to my surprise, that although I was conscious of a much more rapid heartbeat than usual, I was not half so scared as I 15 expected to be—that the excitement was rather pleasant than otherwise.
"Lower away boats!" came pealing down from the skipper's lofty perch, succeeded instantly by the rattle of the patent blocks as the falls flew through them, while the 20 four beautiful craft took the water with an almost simultaneous splash. The ship keepers had trimmed the yards to the wind and hauled up the courses, so that simply putting the helm down deadened our way and allowed the boats to run clear without danger of fouling one another. 5 To shove off and hoist sail was the work of a few moments, and with a fine working breeze away we went.
Our boat, being the chief's, had the post of honor; but there was now only one whale, and I rather wondered why we had all left the ship. According to expectations, 10 down he went when we were within a couple of miles of him, but quietly and with great dignity, elevating his tail perpendicularly in the air and sinking slowly from our view.
The scene was very striking. Overhead, a bright-blue sky 15 just fringed with fleecy little clouds; beneath, a deep-blue sea with innumerable tiny wavelets dancing and glittering in the blaze of the sun; but all swayed in one direction by a great solemn swell that slowly rolled from east to west, like the measured breathing of some world-supporting 20 monster. Four little craft in a group, with twenty-four men in them, silently waiting for battle with one of the mightiest of God's creatures—one that was indeed a terrible foe to encounter were he but wise enough to make the best use of his opportunities. 25
My musings were very suddenly interrupted. Whether we had overrun our distance, or the whale, who was not "making a passage" but feeding, had changed his course, I do not know; but anyhow he broke water close ahead, coming straight for our boat. His great black head, like 30 the broad bow of a dumb barge driving the waves before it, loomed high and menacing to me, for I was no longer forbidden to look ahead. But coolly as if coming alongside the ship, the mate bent to the big steer oar and swung the boat off at right angles to her course, bringing her back again with another broad sheer as the whale passed foaming. This maneuver brought us side by side with him before he 5 had time to realize that we were there. Up till that instant he had evidently not seen us, and his surprise was correspondingly great.
To see Louis raise his harpoon high above his head and with a hoarse grunt of satisfaction plunge it into the black, 10 shining mass beside him, up to the hitches, was indeed a sight to be remembered. Quick as thought he snatched up a second harpoon, and as the whale rolled from us it flew from his hands, burying itself like the former one, but lower down the body. The great impetus we had when we 15 reached the whale, carried us a long way past him, out of all danger from his struggles. No hindrance was experienced from the line by which we were connected with the whale, for it was loosely coiled in a space for the purpose in the boat's bow, to the extent of two hundred feet, and this was 20 cast overboard by the harpooner as soon as the fish was fast.
He made a fearful to-do over it, rolling completely over several times, backward and forward, at the same time smiting the sea with his mighty tail, making an almost 25 deafening noise and pother. But we were comfortable enough while we unshipped the mast and made ready for action, being sufficiently far away from him to escape the full effect of his gambols.
After the usual time spent in furious attempts to free 30 himself from our annoyance, he betook himself below, leaving us to await his return and hasten it as much as possible by keeping a severe strain upon the line. Our efforts in this direction, however, did not seem to have any effect upon him at all. Flake after flake ran out of the tubs until we were compelled to hand the end of our line to the second mate, to splice his own on to. Still it slipped away, and 5 at last it was handed to the third mate, whose two tubs met the same fate. It was now Mistah Jones's turn to "bend on," which he did with many chuckles, as of a man who was the last resource of the unfortunate. But his face grew longer and longer as the never-resting line continued 10 to disappear. Soon he signaled us that he was nearly out of line, and two or three minutes after, he bent on his "drogue" (a square piece of plank with a rope tail spliced into its center, and considered to hinder a whale's progress at least as much as four boats) and let go the end. 15 We had each bent on our drogues in the same way, when we passed our ends to one another. So now our friend was getting along somewhere below, with 7200 feet of one-and-a-half-inch rope, and weight additional equal to the drag of sixteen thirty-foot boats. 20
Of course we knew that unless he were dead and sinking he could not possibly remain much longer beneath the surface. The exhibition of endurance we had just been favored with was a very unusual one, I was told, it being a rare thing for a cachalot to take out two boats' lines before 25 returning to the surface to spout.
Therefore we separated as widely as was thought necessary, in order to be near him on his arrival. It was, as might be imagined, some time before we saw the light of his countenance; but when we did, we had no difficulty 30 in getting alongside of him again. My friend Goliath, much to my delight, got there first and succeeded in picking up the bight of the line. But having done so, his chance of distinguishing himself was gone. Hampered by the immense quantity of sunken line which was attached to the whale, he could do nothing and soon received orders to cut the bight of the line and pass the whale's end to us. 5
He had hardly obeyed, with a very bad grace, when the whale started off to windward with us, at a tremendous rate. The other boats, having no line, could do nothing to help; so away we went alone, with barely a hundred fathoms of line in case he should take it into his head to sound again. 10 The speed at which he went made it appear as if a gale of wind were blowing, and we flew along the sea surface, leaping from crest to crest of the waves with an incessant succession of cracks like pistol shots. The flying spray drenched us and prevented us from seeing him, but I fully 15 realized that it was nothing to what we should have to put up with if the wind freshened much. One hand was kept bailing out the water which came so freely over the bows, but all the rest hauled with all their might upon the line, hoping to get a little closer to the flying monster. 20 Inch by inch we gained on him. After what seemed a terribly long chase we found his speed slackening, and we redoubled our efforts.
Now we were close upon him; now, in obedience to the steersman, the boat sheered out a bit and we were abreast 25 of his laboring flukes; now the mate hurls his quivering lance with such hearty good will that every inch of its slender shaft disappears within the huge body.
"Lay off! Off with her, Louey!" screamed the mate; and she gave a wide sheer away from the whale, not a 30 second too soon. Up flew that awful tail, descending with a crash upon the water, not two feet from us.
"Out oars! Pull, two! starn, three!" shouted the mate; and as we obeyed, our foe turned to fight.
Then might one see how courage and skill were such mighty factors in the apparently unequal contest. The whale's great length made it no easy job for him to turn, 5 while our boat, with two oars a side and the great leverage at the stern supplied by the nineteen-foot steer oar, circled, backed, and darted ahead like a living thing animated by the mind of our commander. When the leviathan settled, we gave a wide berth to his probable place of ascent; 10 when he rushed at us, we dodged him; when he paused, if only momentarily, in we flew and got home a fearful thrust of the deadly lance.
All fear was forgotten now—I panted, thirsted, for his life. Once, indeed, in a sort of frenzy, when for an instant 15 we lay side by side with him, I drew my sheath knife and plunged it repeatedly into the blubber as if I were assisting in his destruction.
Suddenly the mate gave a howl: "Starn all—starn all! oh, starn!" and the oars bent like canes as we obeyed. 20 There was an upheaval of the sea just ahead; then slowly, majestically, the vast body of our foe rose into the air. Up, up it went, while my heart stood still, until the whole of that immense creature hung on high, apparently motionless, and then fell—a hundred tons of solid flesh—back 25 into the sea. On either side of that mountainous mass the waters rose in shining towers of snowy foam which fell in their turn, whirling and eddying around us as we tossed and fell like a chip in a whirlpool. Blinded by the flying spray, bailing for very life to free the boat from the water with 30 which she was nearly full, it was some minutes before I was able to decide whether we were still uninjured or not. Then I saw, at a little distance, the whale lying quietly. As I looked he spouted, and the vapor was red with his blood.
"Starn all!" again cried our chief, and we retreated to a considerable distance. The old warrior's practiced eye had detected the coming climax of our efforts, the dying agony, 5 or "flurry," of the great mammal. Turning upon his side he began to move in a circular direction, slowly at first, then faster and faster, until he was rushing round at tremendous speed, his great head raised quite out of water at times, clashing his enormous jaws. Torrents of blood 10 poured from his spout hole, accompanied by hoarse bellowings as of some gigantic bull, but really caused by the laboring breath trying to pass through the clogged air passages. The utmost caution and rapidity of manipulation of the boat was necessary to avoid his maddened 15 rush, but this gigantic energy was short-lived. In a few minutes he subsided slowly in death, his mighty body reclined on one side, the fin uppermost waving limply as he rolled to the swell, while the small waves broke gently over the carcass in a low, monotonous surf, intensifying the 20 profound silence that had succeeded the tumult of our conflict with the late monarch of the deep.
—The Cruise of the Cachalot.
1. Boats were always lowered when whales were sighted within rowing distance. Why? How many were lowered in this instance? How many men were in each? Who was in command of each?
2. There was considerable rivalry between the boats of the same ship to be the first to harpoon and the first to give the final lance thrust. Was there rivalry shown here?
3. How many feet of rope did the whale take out when he sounded? Reduce this to miles. How many feet of rope were there in each boat?
4. Find five words in the story for your classmates to define.
THE GLOVE AND THE LIONS
BY LEIGH HUNT
This is an old tale of adventure, the incident occurring in the days of chivalry. But it is of sufficient dramatic interest to cause Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Robert Browning each to use it also as the subject for a poem. As you read it try to picture the scene as it is developed line by line.
King Francis was a hearty king and loved a royal sport, And one day, as his lions fought, sat looking on the court. The nobles filled the benches, and the ladies in their pride, And 'mongst them sat the Count de Lorge with one for 5 whom he sighed; And truly 'twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show, Valor and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.
Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws; 10 They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws; With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another, Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous 15 smother; The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air; Said Francis then, "Faith, gentlemen, we're better here than there." 20
De Lorge's love o'erheard the king, a beauteous lively dame, With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes which always seemed the same; She thought, "The count, my lover, is brave as brave can 5 be; He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me; King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine; I'll drop my glove to prove his love; great glory will be mine." 10
She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled; He bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild; The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place, 15 Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady's face. "By Heaven," said Francis, "rightly done!" and he rose from where he sat; "No love," quoth he, "but vanity, sets love a task like 20 that."
1. Where did this incident take place? How do you know?
2. Imagine yourself in a seat near King Francis. Tell what is happening in the arena. Make your description vivid.
3. What is your opinion of the lady? Did De Lorge treat her properly? In answering this, consider the fact that he did the rash act simply as gallantry. What could he have done instead of going among the lions? Why did he choose to go?
4. Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) was an English poet, essayist, and critic. Most of his poetry is witty and clever.
HOW BUCK WON THE BET
BY JACK LONDON
Buck was a cross between St. Bernard and Scotch shepherd bloods, and a wonderful dog he was. He made a name for himself in Alaska, during the Klondike gold rush, and his owner, Thornton, was envied by all the miners in that land where dogs take the place of horses. Thornton once boasted that Buck could pull a thousand pounds on a sled—break it out and "mush," or draw, it a hundred yards. Matthewson bet a thousand dollars that he could not.
Matthewson's sled, loaded with a thousand pounds of flour, had been standing for a couple of hours, and in the intense cold (it was sixty below zero) the runners had frozen fast to the hard-packed snow. Men offered odds of two to one that Buck could not budge the sled. A quibble 5 arose concerning the phrase "break out." O'Brien contended it was Thornton's privilege to knock the runners loose, leaving Buck to "break it out" from a dead standstill. Matthewson insisted that the phrase included breaking the runners from the frozen grip of the snow. A majority of the 10 men who had witnessed the making of the bet decided in his favor, whereat the odds went up to three to one against Buck.
There were no takers. Not a man believed him capable of the feat. Thornton had been hurried into the wager, heavy with doubt; and now that he looked at the sled 15 itself, the concrete fact, with the regular team of ten dogs curled up in the snow before it, the more impossible the task appeared. Matthewson waxed jubilant.
"Three to one!" he proclaimed. "I'll lay you another thousand at that figure, Thornton. What d'ye say?"
Thornton's doubt was strong in his face, but his fighting spirit was aroused—the fighting spirit that soars above odds, fails to recognize the impossible, and is deaf to all save 5 the clamor for battle. He called Hans and Pete to him. Their sacks were slim, and with his own the three partners could rake together only two hundred dollars. In the ebb of their fortunes, this sum was their total capital; yet they laid it unhesitatingly against Matthewson's six 10 hundred.
The team of ten dogs was unhitched, and Buck, with his own harness, was put into the sled. He had caught the contagion of the excitement, and he felt that in some way he must do a great thing for John Thornton. Murmurs of 15 admiration at his splendid appearance went up. He was in perfect condition, without an ounce of superfluous flesh, and the one hundred and fifty pounds that he weighed were so many pounds of grit and virility. His furry coat shone with the sheen of silk. Down the neck and across the 20 shoulders, his mane, in repose as it was, half bristled and seemed to lift with every movement, as though excess of vigor made each particular hair alive and active. The great breast and heavy fore legs were no more than in proportion with the rest of the body, where the muscles 25 showed in tight rolls underneath the skin. Men felt these muscles and proclaimed them hard as iron, and the odds went down to two to one.
"Gad, sir! Gad, sir!" stuttered a member of the latest dynasty, a king of the Skookum Benches. "I offer 30 you eight hundred for him, sir, before the test, sir; eight hundred just as he stands."
Thornton shook his head and stepped to Buck's side.
"You must stand off from him," Matthewson protested. "Free play and plenty of room."
The crowd fell silent; only could be heard the voices of the gamblers vainly offering two to one. Everybody 5 acknowledged Buck a magnificent animal, but twenty fifty-pound sacks of flour bulked too large in their eyes for them to loosen their pouch strings.
Thornton knelt down by Buck's side. He took his head in his two hands and rested cheek on cheek. He did not 10 playfully shake him, as was his wont, or murmur soft love curses; but he whispered in his ear. "As you love me, Buck. As you love me," was what he whispered. Buck whined with suppressed eagerness.
The crowd was watching curiously. The affair was growing 15 mysterious. It seemed like a conjuration. As Thornton got to his feet, Buck seized his mittened hand between his jaws, pressing it with his teeth and releasing it slowly, half reluctantly. It was the answer, in terms not of speech but of love. Thornton stepped well back. 20
"Now, Buck," he said.
Buck tightened the traces, then slacked them for a matter of several inches. It was the way he had learned.
"Gee!" Thornton's voice rang out, sharp in the tense silence. 25
Buck swung to the right, ending the movement in a plunge that took up the slack and with a sudden jerk arrested his one hundred and fifty pounds. The load quivered, and from under the runners arose a crisp crackling.
"Haw!" Thornton commanded. 30
Buck duplicated the maneuver, this time to the left. The crackling turned into a snapping, the sled pivoting and the runners slipping and grating several inches to the side. The sled was broken out. Men were holding their breaths, intensely unconscious of the fact.
Thornton's command cracked out like a pistol shot. 5 Buck threw himself forward, tightening the traces with a jarring lunge. His whole body was gathered compactly together in the tremendous effort, the muscles writhing and knotting like live things under the silky fur. His great chest was low to the ground, his head forward and down, 10 while his feet were flying like mad, the claws scarring the hard-packed snow in parallel grooves. The sled swayed and trembled, half started forward. One of his feet slipped, and one man groaned aloud. Then the sled lurched ahead in what appeared a rapid succession of jerks, though it never 15 really came to a dead stop again—half an inch—an inch—two inches. The jerks perceptibly diminished; as the sled gained momentum he caught them up till it was moving steadily along.
Men gasped and began to breathe again, unaware that 20 for a moment they had ceased to breathe. Thornton was running behind, encouraging Buck with short, cheery words. The distance had been measured off, and as he neared the pile of firewood which marked the end of the hundred yards, a cheer began to grow and grow, which 25 burst into a roar as he passed the firewood and halted at command. Every man was tearing himself loose, even Matthewson. Hats and mittens were flying in the air. Men were shaking hands, it did not matter with whom, and bubbling over in a general incoherent babel. 30
But Thornton fell on his knees beside Buck. Head was against head, and he was shaking him back and forth. Buck seized Thornton's hand in his teeth. As though animated by a common impulse, the onlookers drew back to a respectful distance.
—The Call of the Wild.
(From The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, used by permission of The Macmillan Company, Publishers, and by arrangement with Mrs. Charmian K. London.)
1. Jack London (1867-1916) was a Californian by birth. He early began roving, and his voyages and tramps took him all over the world. He was a keen observer and a virile writer. The Call of the Wild is perhaps the best known of his many tales. You observe from the extract that his stories are full of action. They are moving pictures in words.
2. What was the situation that led up to the bet? Where is this event supposed to have taken place? Read the lines that show the men are miners.
3. How much was staked against Buck? Who was for the dog? Against him? How did he respond? How did the men who bet against Buck show they were good losers?
THE LOSS OF THE DRAKE
BY CHARLOTTE M. YONGE
The Newfoundland coast is a peculiarly dangerous one, from the dense fogs that are caused by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. These waters rushing up from the equator here come in contact with the cold currents from the pole. As they meet, they send up such heavy vapor 5 that day can sometimes scarcely be discerned from night; even at little more than arm's length objects cannot be distinguished, while from without, the mist looks like a thick, sheer precipice of snow.
In such a fearful fog, on the morning of the 20th of June, 10 1822, the small schooner Drake struck suddenly upon a rock and almost immediately fell over on her side, the waves breaking over her. Her commander, Captain Baker, ordered her masts to be cut away, in hopes of lightening her so that she might right herself, but in vain. One boat was washed away, another upset as soon as she was launched, and there remained only the small boat called the captain's gig. 5
The ship was fast breaking up; the only hope was that the crew might reach a small rock, the point of which could be seen above the waves at a distance that the fog made difficult to calculate, but that, it was hoped, might not be too great. A man named Leonard seized a rope and sprang 10 into the sea, but the current was too strong for him; he was carried away in an opposite direction and was obliged to be dragged on board again.
Then the boatswain, whose name was Turner, volunteered to make the attempt in the gig, taking a rope fastened 15 round his body. The crew cheered him after the gallant fashion of British seamen, though they were all hanging on by the ropes to the ship, with the sea breaking over them and threatening every moment to dash the vessel to pieces. Anxiously they watched Turner in his boat, as 20 he made his way to within a few feet of the rock. There the boat was lifted high and higher by a huge wave, then hurled down on the rock and shattered to pieces; but the brave boatswain was safe, and contrived to keep his hold of the rope and to scramble up on the stone. 25
Another great wave, almost immediately after, heaved up the remains of the ship and dashed her down close to this rock of safety. Captain Baker, giving up the hope of saving her, commanded the crew to leave her and make their way to the rock. For the first time he met with 30 disobedience. With one voice they refused to leave the wreck unless they saw him before them in safety. Calmly he renewed his orders, saying that his life was the last and least consideration, and they were obliged to obey, leaving the ship in as orderly a manner as if they were going ashore in harbor. But they were so benumbed with cold that many were unable to climb the rock and were swept off by 5 the waves; among these was the lieutenant.
Captain Baker last of all joined his crew. It was then discovered that they were at no great distance from the land, but that the tide was rising and that the rock on which they stood would assuredly be covered at high water. The 10 heavy mist and lonely coast gave scarcely a hope that help would come ere the slowly rising waters must devour them.
Still there was no murmur. Again the gallant boatswain, who still held the rope, volunteered to make an effort to save his comrades. With a few words of earnest prayer, 15 he secured the rope round his waist, struggled hard with the waves, and reached the shore, whence he sent back the news of his safety by a loud cheer to his comrades.
There was now a line of rope between the shore and the rock, just long enough to reach from one to the other when 20 held by a man at each end. The only hope of safety lay in working a desperate passage along this rope to the land. The spray was already beating over those who were crouched on the rock, but not a man moved till called by name by Captain Baker, and then it is recorded that not 25 one, so summoned, stirred till he had used his best entreaties to the captain to take his place; but the captain had but one reply: "I will never leave the rock until every soul is safe."
Forty-four stout sailors had made their perilous way to 30 shore. The forty-fifth looked round and saw a poor woman lying helpless, almost lifeless, on the rock, unable to move. He took her in one arm, and with the other clung to the rope. Alas! the double weight was more than the much-tried rope could bear; it broke halfway, and the poor woman and the sailor were both swallowed in the eddy.
Captain Baker and three seamen remained, utterly cut 5 off from hope of help. The men in best condition hurried off in search of help, found a farmhouse, obtained a rope, and hastened back; but long ere their arrival the waters had flowed above the head of the brave and faithful captain. All the crew could do was, with full hearts, to write 10 a most touching letter to an officer who had once sailed with them in the Drake, entreating him to represent their captain's conduct to the Lords of the Admiralty.
"In fact," said the letter, "during the whole business he proved himself a man whose name and last conduct 15 ought ever to be held in the highest estimation by a crew who feel it their duty to ask, from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that which they otherwise have not the means of obtaining; that is, a public and lasting record of the lion-hearted, generous, and the very unexampled 20 way in which our late noble commander sacrificed his life in the evening of the 20th of June."
This letter was signed by the whole surviving crew of the Drake, and in consequence, a tablet in the dockyard chapel at Portsmouth commemorates the heroism of Captain 25 Charles Baker.
—A Book of Golden Deeds.
1. Retell the main events of this story as briefly as you can. You can do this best by making a careful outline of the points set forth. Hand your topics to your teacher.
2. What is the rule aboard ship in case of abandoning the vessel? What accidents at sea do you know about?
THE WALRUS HUNT
BY ROBERT M. BALLANTYNE
The following episode is from Ungava: A Tale of Eskimo Land, a "classic" of the fifties and sixties. Ungava is full of thrilling adventure, based on the author's own experiences as a young fur trader in the Hudson Bay country. Ballantyne (1825-1894) belonged to the family of famous Edinburgh publishers that issued Scott's works.
Just prior to the incident quoted below, Annatock had discovered a walrus frozen to death and was engaged in chopping him up. Then appears walrus number two, who was thoroughly alive.
Not far from the spot where this fortunate discovery had been made, there was a large sheet of recently formed black ice, where the main ice had been broken away and the open water left. The sheet, although much melted by the thaw, was still about three inches thick, and quite 5 capable of supporting a man.
While Annatock was working with his back to this ice, he heard a tremendous crash take place behind him. Turning hastily round, he observed that the noise was caused by another enormous walrus, the glance of whose large round 10 eyes, and whose loud snort, showed clearly enough that he was not frozen like his unfortunate companion. By this time the little boy had come up with Edith and the sledge, so Annatock ordered him to take the dogs behind a hummock to keep them out of sight, while he selected several 15 strong harpoons and a lance from the sledge. Giving another lance to Peetoot, he signed to Edith to sit on the hummock while he attacked the grisly monster of the deep single-handed.
While these preparations were being made, the walrus dived, and while it was under water the man and the boy ran quickly forward a short distance and then lay down behind a lump of ice. Scarcely had they done so when the walrus came up again with a loud snort, splashing the water 5 with its broad, heavy flippers—which seemed a sort of compromise between legs and fins—and dashing waves over the ice as it rolled about its large, unwieldy carcass. It was truly a savage-looking monster as large as a small elephant and having two tusks of a foot and a half long. 10 The face bore a horrible resemblance to that of a man. Its crown was round and bulging, its face broad and massive, and a thick, bristling mustache—rough as the spines of a porcupine—covered its upper lip and depended in a shaggy dripping mass over its mouth. After spluttering 15 about a short time, it dived again.
Now was Annatock's time. Seizing a harpoon and a coil of line, he muttered a few words to the boy, sprang up, and running out upon the smooth ice, stood by the edge of the open water. He had not waited here more than a 20 few seconds when the black waters were cleft by the blacker head of the monster, as it once more ascended to renew its elephantine gambols in the pool.
As it rose the Eskimo threw up his arm and poised the harpoon. For one instant the surprised animal raised 25 itself breast-high out of the water and directed a stare of intense astonishment at the man. That moment was fatal. Annatock buried the harpoon deep under its left flipper. With a fierce bellow the brute dashed itself against the ice, endeavoring in its fury to reach its assailant; but the ice 30 gave way under its enormous weight, while Annatock ran back as far as the harpoon line would permit him.
The walrus, seeing that it could not reach its enemy in this way, seemed now to be actually endowed with reason. It took a long gaze at Annatock, and then dived. But the Eskimo was prepared for this. He changed his position hastily and played his line the meanwhile, fixing the point 5 of his lance into the ice in order to give him a more effective hold. Scarcely had he done so when the spot he had just left was smashed up, and the head of the walrus appeared, grinning, and bellowing as if in disappointment.
At this moment Peetoot handed his uncle a harpoon, and 10 ere the animal dived the weapon was fixed in his side. Once more Annatock changed his position; and once again the spot on which he had been standing was burst upwards. It was a terrible sight to see that unearthly-looking monster smashing the ice around it and lashing the blood-stained 15 sea into foam, while it waged such mortal war with the self-possessed and wary man. How mighty and strong the one! how comparatively weak and seemingly helpless the other! It was the triumph of mind over matter—of reason over blind brute force. 20
But Annatock fought a hard battle that day ere he came off conqueror. Harpoon after harpoon was driven into the walrus—again and again the lance pierced deep into its side and drank its lifeblood; but three hours had passed away before the dead carcass was dragged from the deep 25 by the united force of dogs and man.
—Ungava: A Tale of Eskimo Land.
1. Find the picture of a walrus, and tell what the animal looks like. Get a description of a walrus from your reference library, if possible.
2. Describe Annatock's method of hunting the walrus.
3. Be prepared to give a two-minute talk on the Eskimos, touching on race to which they belong, methods of obtaining food, and mode of living.
On a bright moonlight night, in the month of February, 1831, when it was intensely cold, the little brig which I commanded lay quietly at her anchors inside of Sandy Hook. We had had a hard time beating about for eleven days off this coast, with cutting northeasters blowing and 5 snow and sleet falling for the most part of that time.
Forward, the vessel was thickly coated with ice, and it was hard work to handle her as the rigging and sails were stiff and yielded only when the strength of the men was exerted to the utmost. When we at length made the port, 10 all hands were worn down and exhausted.
"A bitter cold night, Mr. Larkin," I said to my mate as I tarried for a short time upon deck. The worthy down-easter buttoned his coat more tightly around him, and looking up to the moon replied, "It's a whistler, Captain; and 15 nothing can live comfortably out of blankets to-night."
"The tide is running out swift and strong, and it will be well to keep a sharp lookout for this floating ice, Mr. Larkin," said I, as I turned to go below.
About two hours afterward I was aroused from a sound 20 sleep by the vigilant officer. "Excuse me for disturbing you, Captain," said he, as he detected an expression of vexation in my face, "but I wish you would turn out and come on deck as soon as possible."
"What's the matter, Mr. Larkin?" said I. 25
"Why, sir, I have been watching a large cake of ice, which swept by at a distance a moment ago, and I saw something black upon it, something that I thought moved. The moon is under a cloud and I could not see distinctly, but I believe there is a child floating out to the sea, this freezing night, on that cake of ice."
We were on deck before either spoke another word. 5 The mate pointed out with no little difficulty the cake of ice floating off to the leeward, with its white, glittering surface broken by a black spot.
"Get the glass, Mr. Larkin," said I; "the moon will be out of that cloud in a moment and then we can see distinctly." 10
I kept my eye upon the receding mass of ice while the moon was slowly working her way through a heavy bank of clouds. The mate stood by me with the glass, and when the full light fell upon the water with a brilliancy only 15 known in our northern latitudes, I put the glass to my eye. One glance was enough.
"Forward, there!" I hailed at the top of my voice; and with one bound I reached the main hatch and began to clear away the little cutter which was stowed in the ship's 20 yawl.
Mr. Larkin had taken the glass to look for himself. "There are two children on that cake of ice!" he exclaimed, as he hastened to assist me in getting out the boat.
The men answered my hail and walked quickly aft. In 25 a short space of time we launched the cutter, into which Mr. Larkin and myself jumped, followed by the two men who took the oars. I rigged the tiller, and the mate sat beside me in the stern sheets.
"Do you see that cake of ice with something black upon 30 it, my lads? Put me alongside of that and I'll give you a month's extra wages when you are paid off," said I.
They bent to their oars, but their strokes were uneven and feeble, for they were worn out by the hard duty of the preceding fortnight; and though they did their best, the boat made little more headway than the tide. It was a losing chase, and Mr. Larkin, who was suffering torture 5 as he saw how little we gained, cried out, "Pull, lads! I'll double the captain's prize; two months' extra pay. Pull, lads! pull for life!"
A convulsive effort at the oars told how willing the men were to obey, but the strength of the strong men was gone. 10 One of the poor fellows washed us twice in recovering his oar and then gave out, and the other was nearly as far gone. Mr. Larkin sprang forward and seized the deserted oar. "Lie down in the bottom of the boat," said he to the man; "and, Captain, take the other oar! We must row for ourselves." 15
I took the second man's place. Larkin had stripped off his coat, and as he pulled the bow, I waited for the signal stroke. It came, gently, but firm; and the next moment we were pulling a long, steady stroke, gradually increasing 20 in rapidity until the wood seemed to smoke in the row-locks. We kept time, each by the long, deep breathing of the other.
Such a pull! We bent forward until our faces almost touched our knees; and then throwing all our strength into 25 the backward movement, drew on the oar until every inch covered by the sweep was gained. Thus we worked at the oars for fifteen minutes, and it seemed to me as many hours. The sweat rolled off in great drops, and I was enveloped in a steam generated from my own body. 30
"Are we almost up to it, Mr. Larkin?" I gasped out.
"Almost, Captain," said he; "don't give up!"
The oars flashed as their blades turned up to the moonlight, for the men who plied them were fathers and had fathers' hearts.
Suddenly Mr. Larkin ceased pulling, and my heart for a moment almost stopped its beating; for the terrible thought 5 that he had given out crossed my mind. But I was reassured by his voice: "Gently, Captain, gently; a stroke or two more; there, that will do," and the next moment Mr. Larkin sprang upon the ice. I started up, and calling to the men to make fast the boat to the ice, followed him. 10
We ran to the dark spot in the center of the mass and found two little boys. The head of the smaller was resting in the bosom of the larger, and both were fast asleep. The lethargy which would have been fatal but for the timely rescue had overcome them. 15
Mr. Larkin grasped one of the lads, cut off his shoes, tore off his jacket, and then, loosening his own garments to the skin, placed the cold child in contact with his own warm body, carefully wrapping his overcoat around him. I did the same with the other child, and we then returned to the 20 boat.
The children, as we learned when we had the delight of restoring them to their parents, were playing on the cake of ice, which had jammed into a bend of the river about ten miles above New York. A movement of the tide set the 25 ice in motion, and the little fellows were borne away that cold night and would inevitably have perished but for Mr. Larkin's espying them as they were sweeping out to sea.
1. Daring rescues are countless. Do you know of any in your community—by police, firemen, or civilians?
2. What about the rescue described here is unusual?
DESCENDING THE GRAND CANON
One of the most daring voyages in the history of American exploration was Major John Wesley Powell's descent through the Grand Canon of the Colorado River, in 1869. The river had been discovered three hundred years before his memorable journey, but Major Powell was 5 the first to explore the magnificent gorge through which it flows and to report his findings to the world.
Major Powell was a scientist. The lack of knowledge about the Grand Canon was a challenge too strong for him to resist. With a party of ten picked men he started on 10 the perilous voyage, on May 24, 1869. He did not know that ahead of them was a seething stretch of water, two hundred miles in length, broken by rapids and waterfalls, teethed with jagged stones, and walled in by solid rock a mile high in places. 15
Into the canon shot the frail boats. Oars were soon broken on rocks, and new ones had to be made from drift logs. The constant hammering of the boats made them leaky. To calk the seams, the men had to climb thousands of feet to get resin from some stunted pine tree. 20 More than once a boat filled with water in a turbulent passage, but the swiftness of the current carried it to more placid waters below, where it could be bailed out.
The difficulties of the explorers were increased by the lack of daylight hours. The sun shines each day for only 25 a short time in the gorge, and twilight follows twilight in close succession. Moreover, the winding passage prevented a view ahead. Falls were guessed at by the roaring of waters reverberating against the walls of rock. Upon such a warning the boats were landed, and if there was ledge room to walk, the men carried and dragged their vessels around the danger spot. If there was no shelving 5 rock wide enough to permit a portage, the men climbed to a higher ledge and eased the boats over the falls with ropes. Sometimes nothing was left to do but to "shoot" the falls and trust to luck to get over without capsizing.
The food supply of the crew soon ran low. The flour 10 was water-soaked, the bacon became tainted, and much of the supply was lost by going overboard.
Short rations, scant sleep on damp ledges, and the hard labor of navigation soon told on the men. But most of them were of tried courage and endurance. One day they 15 came to a little patch of earth by the side of the river. On this some corn and squashes were growing—probably planted by Indian tribes living at the top of the gorge. The corn was too immature to be eaten; but the men enjoyed a feast of baked squash, even though the squashes 20 were green.
At the end of fifteen days all of their provisions were gone, excepting some heavy flour and dried apples. They had arrived at a place where they could climb out of the canon and the question arose as to seeing the voyage finished 25 or giving it up. Three men decided to give up; so they took their share of provisions and guns and climbed out, only to be killed shortly afterwards by the Indians. The remainder pursued their awful way, not knowing how much longer they must endure the terrible hardships. 30
Suddenly, on the sixteenth day, they emerged into an open space. The Grand Canon had been traversed!
Down the river they floated till the following day, when they found some settlers drawing in a fish net. These settlers had heard that Major Powell had been lost in the canon and were keeping a lookout for pieces of boats. Instead, a worn but victorious party confronted them. 5 Food in plenty was soon forthcoming, and the members of the party were feasted as heroes.
1. Give a two-minute talk on the Grand Canon, touching on location, general character, etc. Consult your geographies and reference books for material. Make your talk interesting.
2. Why did Major Powell undertake this dangerous trip? How many men went with him? How many deserted him? What were some of the troubles they encountered? How did the venture turn out?
3. Name some other famous explorers. Who discovered the north pole? The south pole? The Mississippi River? The Pacific Ocean?
NIGHT FISHING IN THE SOUTH SEAS
BY FREDERICK O'BRIEN
Mr. O'Brien spent some time among the South Sea Islands, and had many interesting adventures there. One of the most exciting was this encounter with a swordfish, which he relates in a delightful manner.
Red Chicken became my special friend and guide, and on one occasion it was our being together, perhaps, saved his life, and afforded me one of the most thrilling moments of my own.
He and I had gone in a canoe after nightfall to spear fish 5 outside the Bay of Virgins. Night fishing has its attractions in these tropics, if only for the freedom from severe heat, the glory of the moonlight or starlight, and the waking dreams that come to one upon the sea, when the canoe rests tranquil, the torch blazes, and the fish swim to meet the 10 harpoon. The night was moonless, but the sea was covered with phosphorescence, sometimes a glittering expanse of light, and again black as velvet except where our canoe moved gently through a soft and glamorous surface of sparkling jewels. A night for a lover, a lady, and a lute.
Our torch of coconut husks and reeds, seven feet high, 5 was fixed at the prow, so that it could be lifted up when needed to attract the fish or better to light the canoe. Red Chicken, in a scarlet pareu fastened tightly about his loins, stood at the prow when we had reached his favorite spot off a point of land, while I, with a paddle, 10 noiselessly kept the canoe as stationary as possible.
Light is a lure for many creatures of land and sea and sky. The moth and the bat whirl about a flame; the sea bird dashes its body against the bright glass of the lonely tower; wild deer come to see what has disturbed the dark 15 of the forest; and fish of different kinds leap at a torch. Red Chicken put a match to ours when we were all in readiness. The brilliant gleam cleft the darkness and sent across the blackness of the water a beam that was a challenge to the curiosity of the dozing fish. They hastened 20 towards us, and Red Chicken made meat of those that came within the radius of his harpoon, so that within an hour or two our canoe was heaped with half a dozen kinds.
Far off in the path of the flambeau rays I saw the swordfish leaping as they pursued small fish or gamboled for 25 sheer joy in the luminous air. They seemed to be in pairs. I watched them lazily, with academic interest in their movements, until suddenly one rose a hundred feet away, and in his idle caper in the air I saw a bulk so immense, and a sword of such amazing size, that the thought of danger 30 struck me dumb.
He was twenty-five feet in length, and had a dorsal fin that stood up like the sail of a small boat. But even these dimensions cannot convey the feeling of alarm his presence gave me. His next leap brought him within forty feet of us. I recalled a score of accidents I had seen, read, and heard of; fishermen stabbed, boats rent, steel-clad ships 5 pierced through and through.
Red Chicken held the torch to observe him better, and shouted: "Apau! Look out! Paddle fast away!"
I needed no urging. I dug into the glowing water madly, and the sound of my paddle on the side of the canoe 10 might have been heard half a mile away. It served no purpose. Suddenly half a dozen of the swordfish began jumping about us, as if stirred to anger by our torch. I called to Red Chicken to extinguish it.
He had seized it to obey when I heard a splash and the 15 canoe received a terrific shock. A tremendous bulk fell upon it. With a sudden swing I was hurled into the air and fell twenty feet away. In the water I heard a swish, and glimpsed the giant espadon as he leaped again.
I was unhurt, but feared for Red Chicken. He had 20 cried out as the canoe went under, but I found him by the outrigger, trying to right the craft. Together we succeeded, and when I had ousted some of the water, Red Chicken crawled in.
"Papaoufaa! I am wounded slightly," he said, as I 25 assisted him. "The Spear of the Sea has thrust me through."
The torch was lost, but I felt a big hole in the calf of his right leg. Blood was pouring from the wound. I made a tourniquet of a strip of my pareu and, with a small harpoon, 30 twisted it until the flow of blood was stopped. Then, guided by him, I paddled as fast as I could to the beach, on which there was little trouble in landing as the bay was smooth.
Red Chicken did not utter a complaint from the moment of his first outcry, and when I roused others and he was carried to his house, he took the pipe handed him and 5 smoked quietly.
"The Aavehie was against him," said an old man. Aavehie is the god of fishermen, who was always propitiated by intending anglers in the polytheistic days and who still has power. 10
There was no white doctor on the island, nor had there been one for many years. There was nothing to do but call the tatihi, or native doctor, an aged and shriveled man whose whole body was an intricate pattern of tattooing and wrinkles. He came at once, and with his clawlike 15 hands cleverly drew together the edges of Red Chicken's wound and gummed them in place with the juice of the ape, a bulbous plant like the edible taro. Red Chicken must have suffered keenly, for the ape juice is exceedingly caustic, but he made no protest, continuing to puff the pipe. Over 20 the wound the tatihi applied a leaf, and bound the whole very carefully with a bandage of tapa cloth, folded in surgical fashion.
—White Shadows in the South Seas.
1. What were the author and Red Chicken doing at the outset? Read the lines where the adventure begins.
2. Like most real adventures this one was all over in a moment. What happened? Why did it occur?
3. Spell, pronounce, and explain: phosphorescence, lure, stationary, propitiated, polytheistic, tattooing, caustic.
(Taken from O'Brien's White Shadows in the South Seas by permission of the publishers, The Century Co.)
A BALLAD OF EAST AND WEST
BY RUDYARD KIPLING
No man has written more stirring tales, in prose or verse, in recent times than Rudyard Kipling. Born (1865) in Bombay, India, the son of an Englishman in the civil service, he became steeped in the ways of the men of the East. Consequently his first writings were sketches of Anglo-Indian life, written for Indian newspapers with which he was connected. Then followed a series of books on Eastern themes, some in prose and others in verse. Among these was Departmental Ditties from which the following narrative poem is taken. Read it through first to get the story and the atmosphere in mind.
Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border side, And he has lifted the Colonel's mare that is the Colonel's pride: He has lifted her out of the stable door between the dawn and the day, 5 And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.
Then up and spoke the Colonel's son that led a troop of the Guides: "Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal 10 hides?"
Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar, "If ye know the track of the morning mist, ye know where his pickets are. 15
"At dusk he harries the Abazai—at dawn he is in Bonair; But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly, By the favor of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai. 5 But if he be passed the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then, For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal's men. There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low 10 lean thorn between, And ye may hear a breech bolt snick where never a man is seen."
The Colonel's son has taken a horse, and a raw, rough dun was he, 15 With the mouth of a bell, and the heart of Hell, and the head of the gallows tree. The Colonel's son to the fort has won, they bid him stay to eat— Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at 20 his meat.
He's up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly, Till he was aware of his father's mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai; Till he was aware of his father's mare with Kamal upon her 25 back, And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack. He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide. 30 "Ye shoot like a soldier," Kamal said. "Show now if ye can ride."
It's up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dust-devils go, The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren 5 doe. The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above, But the red mare played with the snaffle bars, as a maiden plays with a glove. 10 There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low, lean thorn between, And thrice he heard a breech bolt snick tho' never a man was seen.
They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs 15 drum up the dawn, The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn. The dun he fell at a watercourse—in a woeful heap fell he, And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the 20 rider free.
He has knocked the pistol out of his hand—small room was there to strive, "'Twas only by favor of mine," quoth he, "ye rode so long alive: 25 There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree, But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.
"If I had raised my bridle hand, as I have held it low, The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row: If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high, The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly." 5
Lightly answered the Colonel's son: "Do good to bird and beast, But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast. If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my 10 bones away, Belike the price of a jackal's meal were more than a thief could pay.
"They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered grain, 15 The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain. But if thou thinkest the price be fair,—thy brethren wait to sup. The hound is kin to the jackal spawn,—howl, dog, and 20 call them up! And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack, Give me my father's mare again, and I'll fight my own way back!" 25
Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet. "No talk shall be of dogs," said he, "when wolf and gray wolf meet. May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath; What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?"
Lightly answered the Colonel's son: "I hold by the blood of my clan: 5 Take up the mare of my father's gift—by God, she has carried a man!" The red mare ran to the Colonel's son and nuzzled against his breast, "We be two strong men," said Kamal then, "but she loveth 10 the younger best. So she shall go with the lifter's dower, my turquoise-studded rein, My broidered saddle and saddlecloth, and silver stirrups twain." 15
The Colonel's son a pistol drew and held it muzzle end, "Ye have taken the one from a foe," said he; "will ye take the mate from a friend?"
"A gift for a gift," said Kamal straight; "a limb for the risk of a limb. 20 Thy father has sent his son to me, I'll send my son to him!" With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain crest— He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest. 25 "Now here is thy master," Kamal said, "who leads a troop of the Guides, And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
"Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed. Thy life is his—thy fate it is to guard him with thy head. So thou must eat the White Queen's meat, and all her foes are thine, 5 And thou must harry thy father's hold for the peace of the Border line, And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power— Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged 10 in Peshawar."
They have looked each other between the eyes and there they found no fault, They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt; 15 They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod, On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the wondrous Names of God.
The Colonel's son he rides the mare and Kamal's boy the 20 dun, And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one. And when they drew to the Quarter Guard, full twenty swords flew clear— 25 There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer. "Ha' done! ha' done!" said the Colonel's son. "Put up the steel at your sides! Last night ye had struck at a Border thief—to-night 'tis a 30 man of the Guides!"
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat; But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor 5 Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
1. What do you think Kipling means by "East is East, and West is West"? Who in the poem represented the East? Who the West? Where is the scene of the poem laid?
2. What incident gave rise to the ride? Interpret the advice given by Mahommed Khan. What did he mean in lines 14-15, page 168, and lines 12-13, page 169?
3. What happened in the first lap of the ride? In the second? How was Mahommed Khan's advice shown to be true? What was the climax of the chase?
4. What happened when the two chief characters met face to face? What kind of man was Kamal? Prove your comments from the poem.
5. How did the whole affair turn out?
6. You doubtless have read Kipling's Jungle Books, and you will wish to read Captains Courageous, and some of his short stories like "Wee Willie Winkie."
Kipling married an American woman and lived for a time at Brattleboro, Vt. He now resides in England.
UNDER THE OPEN SKY
Love had he found in huts where poor men lie; His daily teachers had been woods and rills, The silence that is in the starry sky, The sleep that is among the lonely hills.
A NIGHT AMONG THE PINES
BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
This is an account of one night's camping-out experience in the mountains of southeastern France. Stevenson's only companion was Modestine, a donkey "not much bigger than a dog, the color of a mouse, with a kindly eye and a determined jaw." The selection is especially fine in its interpretation of night out of doors. Read it to gather the impressions that the sights and sounds made upon the author. Then read it to discover what you would have listened for (and probably heard) had you been in the same position.
From Bleymard after dinner, although it was already late, I set out to scale a portion of the Lozere. An ill-marked stony droveroad guided me forward; and I met nearly half a dozen bullock carts descending from the woods, each laden with a whole pine tree for the winter's firing. 5 At the top of the woods, which do not climb very high upon this cold ridge, I struck leftward by a path among the pines, until I hit on a dell of green turf, where a streamlet made a little spout over some stones to serve me for a water tap. "In a more sacred or sequestered bower . . . nor 10 nymph, nor faunus, haunted." The trees were not old, but they grew thickly round the glade; there was no outlook, except northeastward upon distant hilltops or straight upward to the sky; and the encampment felt secure and private like a room. By the time I had made my arrangements 15 and fed Modestine, the day was already beginning to decline. I buckled myself to the knees into my sack and made a hearty meal; and as soon as the sun went down, I pulled my cap over my eyes and fell asleep.
Night is a dead monotonous period under a roof; but in the open world it passes lightly, with its stars and dews and perfumes, and the hours are marked by changes in the face of Nature. What seems a kind of temporal death to people choked between walls and curtains, is only a light 5 and living slumber to the man who sleeps afield. All night long he can hear Nature breathing deeply and freely; even as she takes her rest, she turns and smiles; and there is one stirring hour unknown to those who dwell in houses, when a wakeful influence goes abroad over the sleeping 10 hemisphere, and all the outdoor world are on their feet. It is then that the cock first crows, not this time to announce the dawn, but like a cheerful watchman speeding the course of the night. Cattle awake on the meadows; sheep break their fast on dewy hillsides, and change to a new lair among 15 the ferns; and houseless men, who have lain down with the fowls, open their dim eyes and behold the beauty of the night.