“We ought to be decent kind of fellows after this,” said Cyrus, when the little service was over.
And the doctor answered,—
“I tell you, boy, the church was never built where a man feels so ready to worship the God-Father in spirit and in truth as he does in the wild woods.”
And looking on the six fresh, manly faces before him, Dr. Phil saw that this happy woodland trip would have grander results than adding to the campers’ inches and to the breadth of their shoulders. For each one of them had realized this morning that behind all strength and beauties of forest growth, behind their own souls’ gladness, was a Presence which they could “almost palpably feel.”
Speculations about the journey, and in especial about the corduroy road, were rife in the boys’ minds during the forty and odd hours which elapsed between the Sunday service and the time of their start.
The travellers met at the settler’s cabin early on Tuesday morning, having broken camp shortly after daybreak. On Monday evening Cyrus and Neal, with Uncle Eb, had returned to the bark hut to pack their knapsacks, and make ready for a forward march. On the way thither, it being just the hour for the deer to be running,—that is, descending from the hills for an evening meal,—Neal got a successful shot at a small two-year-old buck. This was a stroke of luck for the campers, and a necessary deed of death. It supplied them with venison for their journey; and, as Cyrus said, “they had already put a shamefully big hole in Dr. Phil’s stores, and must procure a respectable supply of meat to make up for it.”
It also provided Tiger with plenty of bones to crunch during his master’s absence; for the dog was left behind in charge of the hut, as indeed he often was for a week or more while Uncle Eb was away guiding. The sportsmen who engaged the latter’s services were generally averse to the creature’s presence with the party, lest he should scare their game.
Cyrus and Neal bade him a pathetic farewell, remembering the exciting fun he had given them with the raccoon. Dol sent him lots of approving messages, which were duly delivered, with rough pats and shakes, by Uncle Eb, who fully believed that the brute understood every word of them. Indeed, the sign language of Tiger’s expressive tail confirmed this opinion.
Dol had remained at the log camp with his new friends, Dr. Phil thinking it well that he should rest his feet until the morning of the start. His brother promised to bring his knapsack and rifle to the settler’s cabin. Uncle Eb repossessed himself of his shot-gun, pouch, and powder-horn, which he carried back to his hut, and left under Tiger’s protection, telling Dol that “if he wanted to bag any more black ducks he’d have to give ’em a dose wid de rifle, for he warn’t a-goin’ to lug dat ole fuzzee t’rough de woods.”