It was all a mystery to Thayor, this finding a blind trail in the forest, but to the trapper it was as plain as a thoroughfare.
“’T won’t be long ’fore the old dog’ll git down to business this mornin’,” he muttered to Thayor in his low voice, as he steadied him along a slippery log. “The dog says Freme’s allys sot on keepin’ up too high. He thinks them deer is feedin’ on what they kin git low down in the green timber underneath them big slides. I ain’t of course, sayin’ nothin’ agin Freme. Thar ain’t a better starter in these hull maountins, only him and the old dog ain’t allus of the same idee.”
Presently Big Shanty Brook flashed ahead of them through the trees, and the trapper led the way out to a broad pool, a roaring cauldron of emerald green steaming in mist. Just above it lay a point of boulders out of which a dense clump of hemlocks struggled for a rough existence—the boulders about their gnarled roots splitting the course of the mountain torrent right and left.
“Thar, Mr. Thayor!” shouted the trapper in a voice that could be heard above the roar of water. “Guess you’ll be better off here whar ye kin see up and down—if the deer comes through here he’s liable to cross jest above whar ye see them cedars noddin’ to us, or like’s not he’ll take a notion to strike in a leetle mite higher up, and slosh down till he kin git acrost by them big rocks. Take your time, friend, and if ye see him comin’ your way, let him come on and don’t shoot till he turns and ye kin see the hull bigness of him.”
“I’ll do my best,” returned Thayor above the roar, as he settled himself behind the pile of driftwood the trapper had indicated. “But where are you going, Mr. Holt?”
“Me? Oh, further up. ’T ain’t likely he’ll come my way, but if ye was to miss him I’ll be whar he can’t git by without my gittin’ the gun on him if he undertakes to back track up the brook. Let’s see!” he exclaimed, after a moment’s hesitation, again casting his keen eyes over Thayor’s vantage point. “Guess ye’d be more comfortable, wouldn’t ye, if ye was to set over thar whar ye won’t git sloppin’ wet. Gosh! how she’s riz!” he remarked, as Thayor re-settled himself. “If you was to hear me shoot,” said the old man, as he took his leave, “come back up to whar I be. ’T ain’t more ’n half a mile.”
Thayor watched the gaunt figure of the trapper as he went off to his runway, leaping with his long legs from one slippery boulder to the next, as sure-footed as a goat—watched until he disappeared beyond the clump of torrent-scarred trees.
The man from the city was alone. He sat there listening and watching as eager as a boy. An hour passed. Time and again since he had taken up his vigil he had started up excitedly, glancing here and there, confident he heard the baying notes of a hound above the roar of Big Shanty. Voices, too, rang in his ears from out of that deceptive torrent as it boiled and eddied past him in the sunlight.