Perhaps these plans may seem strange coming from one who had almost grown old before he had been young. But I had made sure that Jerry should profit by my mistakes, growing slowly, built like the Benham Wall, of material that should endure the sophistries of the world and remain unbroken.
I worked Jerry hard that first winter and spring, and his physical condition showed that I had no need to fear for his health. And when the autumn came I decided to bring him face to face with nature when she is most difficult. I was a good woodsman, having been born and bred in the northern part of the state, and until I went to the University had spent a part of each year in the wilderness. We left Horsham Manor one October day, traveling light, and made for the woods. We were warmly clad, but packed no more than would be essential for existence. A rifle, a shotgun, an ax, and hunting knives were all that we carried besides tea, flour, a side of bacon, the ammunition and implements for cooking. By night we had built a rough shack and laid our plans for a permanent cabin of spruce logs, which we proposed to erect before the snow flew. Game was abundant, and before our bacon was gone our larder was replenished. I had told Radford of our plans and the gamekeepers were instructed to give us a wide berth. Jerry learned to shoot that year, not for fun, but for existence, for one evening when we came in with an empty game bag we both went to our blankets hungry. The cabin rose slowly, and the boy learned to do his share of work with the ax. He was naturally clever with his hands, and there was no end to his eagerness. He was living in a new world, where each new day brought some new problem to solve, some difficulty to be surmounted. He had already put aside childish things and had entered early upon a man’s heritage. There are persons who will say that I took great risks in thus exposing Jerry while only in his eleventh year, but I can answer by the results achieved. We lived in the woods from the fifteenth of October until a few days before Christmas. During that time we had built a cabin, ten feet by twelve, with a stone fireplace and a roof of clay; had laid a line of deadfalls, and rabbit snares; had made a pair of snowshoes and a number of vessels of birch bark, and except for the tea and flour had been self-supporting, items compensated for by the value of our labors.