“Another thing that pleases me,” continued my lady, “is the unbreakableness of the dishes. There are no nicks in the edges of the best plates here; and, oh! it is a happy thing to have a home without bric-a-brac. There is nothing here that needs to be dusted.”
“And no engagements for to-morrow,” I ejaculated. “Dishes that can’t be broken, and plans that can—that’s the ideal of housekeeping.”
“And then,” added my philosopher in skirts, “it is certainly refreshing to get away from all one’s relations for a little while.”
“But how do you make that out?” I asked, in mild surprise. “What are you going to do with me?”
“Oh,” said she, with a fine air of independence, “I don’t count you. You are not a relation, only a connection by marriage.”
“Well, my dear,” I answered, between the meditative puffs of my pipe, “it is good to consider the advantages of our present situation. We shall soon come into the frame of mind of the Sultan of Morocco when he camped in the Vale of Rabat. The place pleased him so well that he staid until the very pegs of his tent took root and grew up into a grove of trees around his pavilion.”
The guides were a little restless under the idle regime of our lazy camp, and urged us to set out upon some adventure. Ferdinand was like the uncouth swain in Lycidas. Sitting upon the bundles of camp equipage on the shore, and crying,—
“To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new,”
he led us forth to seek the famous fishing grounds on Lake Kenogami.
We skirted the eastern end of Lake St. John in our two canoes, and pushed up La Belle Riviere to Hebertville, where all the children turned out to follow our procession through the village. It was like the train that tagged after the Pied Piper of Hamelin. We embarked again, surrounded by an admiring throng, at the bridge where the main street crossed a little stream, and paddled up it, through a score of back yards and a stretch of reedy meadows, where the wild and tame ducks fed together, tempting the sportsman to sins of ignorance. We crossed the placid Lac Vert, and after a carry of a mile along the high-road toward Chicoutimi, turned down a steep hill and pitched our tents on a crescent of silver sand, with the long, fair water of Kenogami before us.
It is amazing to see how quickly these woodsmen can make a camp. Each one knew precisely his share of the enterprise. One sprang to chop a dry spruce log into fuel for a quick fire, and fell a harder tree to keep us warm through the night. Another stripped a pile of boughs from a balsam for the beds. Another cut the tent-poles from a neighbouring thicket. Another unrolled the bundles and made ready the cooking utensils. As if by magic, the miracle of the camp was accomplished.—
“The bed was made,
the room was fit,
By punctual eve the stars were lit”—