“If he happens to be an old bull, and gits his mad up, he may do that; it’s as likely as not,” chimed in Joe Flint, who was listening.
“Well, it there’s a man in Maine who can be warranted to start a moose, and to follow up his trail until he gets a sight of him, living or dead, that man is Herb Heal,” said the doctor. “And his adventures go ahead of those of any woodsman up to date. You must get him to tell you how he swam across a pond at the tail of a bull-moose, holding with his fingers and teeth to the creature’s long hair, then got astraddle of its back, and severed its jugular vein with his hunting-knife. How’s that! It was the liveliest swim I ever heard of. But I mustn’t spoil his yarns. He must tell them himself.
“A fine son of the woods is Herb Heal!” went on the speaker, with enthusiasm. “I ran across him first five years ago, when he was trapping for fur-bearing animals in the dense forests you mentioned near the foot of Mount Katahdin. He had a partner with him then, a half-breed Indian, whom woodsmen called ‘Cross-eyed Chris,’ a willing, plucky, honest fellow when he was sober. But he loved fire-water. Let him once taste spirits, or smell them, and he went clean crazy. He did a dog’s trick to Herb,—stole all his furs and savings, with a splendid pair of moose antlers, while he was away from camp one day, and skipped out of the State. Herb swore he’d shoot him. But I don’t think he has ever come across him since. And if he should, he wouldn’t stick to his threat. He’s not built that way.”
There was a general hum of interest over this story, which even Cyrus had not heard before.
“Now, how are you going to reach your camp on Millinokett Lake?” asked Dr. Phil, when the buzz had subsided. “That’s the next question.”
“We intend to tramp the entire distance by easy stages, and get there about the middle of October,” answered young Garst for himself and his comrades. “Uncle Eb will go along with us as guide; and he’ll supply a tent, so that we can rest for two or three nights at a time if we choose.”
“Hum!” said the doctor doubtfully, laying his hand on Dol’s shoulder. “This youngster oughtn’t to do much tramping for a few days, Cyrus. That deer-road did up his feet pretty badly. I’ll be travelling in your direction myself the day after to-morrow. I want to visit a farm-settlement within a dozen miles of the lake, where the farmer has a sickly child, the only treasure in his log shanty. The mite frets if Doc doesn’t come to see her once in a while.
“Therefore, I propose that we join forces, and press forward together. I guess I’ll keep my nephews out here for a week longer, and take the responsibility of their missing that time at school. Now that they have fallen in with your friends, it would be a shame to separate Young England and Young America without giving them a chance to get friendly.”
Here Dr. Phil beamed upon the five boys, who, after one night in the forest, sleeping in a light-hearted row on the evergreen boughs, with their feet to the fire, had reached a brotherly intimacy which years of city life might not have bred.