A LITTLE CARIBOU QUARREL.
But things on this old planet seemed even enough the next day, when, after a dozen hours of much needed sleep, the campers’ eyes opened upon a scene which might have stirred any sluggish blood—and they were not sluggards.
A fresh breath of frost was in the air to quicken circulation and hunger. Under a smiling sun an October breeze frolicked through leaves with tints of fire and gold, humming, while it swiftly skimmed over their beauties, as if it was reading a wind’s poem of autumn.
Katahdin looked as though it had suddenly taken on the white crown of age, with age’s stately calm. The weather had grown colder during the night. Summer—the balmy Indian summer, with its late spells of sultriness—had taken a weeping departure yesterday. To-day there was no threatening of rain-storm or slide. The mountain’s principal peaks had fleecy wraps of snow.
“Ha! Old Katahdin has put on its nightcap,” exclaimed Cyrus, when the trio issued from their tent in the morning. “Listen, you fellows! This is the 21st of October. I propose that we start back to our home-camp to-morrow. It will take us two days to reach Millinokett Lake. Then we’ll set our faces towards civilization the first week in November, or thereabouts.”
“Oh, bother it! So soon!” protested Dol.
“Now, Young Rattlebrain,”—Garst took the calm tone of leadership,—“please consider that this is the first time you’ve camped out in Maine woods. You might find it fun to be snowed up in camp during a first fall, and to tramp homewards through a thawing slush. But your father wouldn’t relish its effects on your British constitution. And out here—once we’re well into November—there’s no knowing when the temperature may drop to zero with mighty short notice. I’ve often turned in at night, feeling as if I were on ‘India’s coral strands’ and woke up next morning thinking I had popped off in my sleep to ‘Greenland’s icy mountains.’ Herb Heal! you know what tricks a thermometer, if we had one, might play in our camp from this out; talk sense to these fellows.”
Herb, who had risen an hour before his charges, had already fetched fresh water, coaxed up the fire, and was busily mixing flapjacks for breakfast. His ears, however, had caught the drift of the talk.
“Guess Cyrus is right,” he said. “Seeing as it’s the first time you Britishers have slept off your spring mattresses, I’d say, light out for the city and steam-heat afore the snow comes. Oh! you needn’t get your mad up. I ain’t thinking you’d growl at being snowed in. I know better.
“By the great horn spoon! I b’lieve I’ll go right along to Greenville with you,” exclaimed the guide a minute later. “I might get a chance to pick up a bargain of a second-hand rifle there. And I guess you’d be mighty sick o’ your luck, Dol, if you had to lug them moose-antlers part o’ the way yerself. I ain’t stuck on carrying ’em either, if we can get a jumper.”