There was a big gale of laughter over Herb Real’s gallant admiration for the other sex, and the sigh which accompanied his expression of it. He joined in the mirth himself, though he walked off to make camp, muttering:—
“Sho! You city fellows think that because I’m a woodsman I never heard of love-making in my life.”
“Perhaps there is a little girl at some settlement waiting for a home to be fixed up out of guide’s fees,” retorted Cyrus.
And the three shouted again for no earthly reason, save that the stimulus of forest air and good circulation was driving the blood with fine pressure through their veins, and life seemed such a glorious, unfolding possession—full of a wonderful possible—that they must hold a sort of jubilee.
Herb, who perhaps in his lonely hours in the woods did cherish some vision such as Cyrus suggested, was so infected with their spirit, that, as he swung his axe with a giant’s stroke against a hemlock branch, he joined in with an explosive:—
This startled the trio like the bursting of a bomb, and trebled their excitement; for their guide, when abroad, had usually the cautious, well-controlled manner of the still-hunter, who never knows what chances may be lurking round him which he would ruin by an outcry.
“Quit laughing, boys,” he said, recovering prudence directly he had let out his yell. “Quit laughing, I say, or we may call moose here till crack o’ doom without getting an answer. I guess they’re all off to the four winds a’ready, scared by our fooling.”
TREED BY A MOOSE.
“I told you so, boys,” breathed the guide two hours later, with an overwhelming sigh of regret, after he had given his most fetching calls in vain. “I told you so. There ain’t anything bigger’n a buck-rabbit travelling. That tormented row we made scared every moose within hearing.”
Herb was standing on the ground, horn in hand, screened by the great shadows of a clump of hemlocks; the three were perched upon branches high above him, a safe post of observation if any moose had answered.
“You may as well light down now,” he continued, turning his face up, though the boys were invisible; “I ain’t a-going to try any more music to-night. I guess we’ll stretch ourselves for sleep early, to get ready for a good day’s work to-morrow. An eight-mile tramp will bring us to the first heavy growth about the foot of Katahdin, and I’ll promise you a sight of a moose there.”
His companions dropped to earth; and the four sought the shelter of their tent, which had been pitched a few hundred yards from the calling-place. Some dull embers smouldered before it; for Herb, even while preparing supper, had kept the camp-fire very low, lest any wandering clouds of smoke should interfere with the success of his calling.