SURPRISED AND CAPTURED
“Twenty paces to a hackmatack tree, north,” read Jamie. He drew from his pocket the little compass Doctor Joe had given him, and took the direction.
“That’s the way she goes, the way the needle points,” he said to himself. “I’ll pace un off. North is the way she goes first.”
But an obstacle presented itself. The northern face of the rock was irregular, and from end to end fully thirty feet in length. From what point of the rock was the northerly line to begin? Where should he begin to pace? Finally he selected a middle point as the most probable.
“‘Twill be from here,” he decided. “They’d never be startin’ the line from anywheres but the middle.”
Holding the compass in his hand that he might make no mistake, and trembling with the excitement of one about to make a great discovery, he paced to the northward, stretching his short legs to the longest possible stride, until he counted twenty paces. It brought him not to a hackmatack tree, but to the middle of several spruce trees. He returned to the rock and tried again. This time he was led to a tangle of brush to the left of the spruce trees into which his former effort had taken him. He was vastly puzzled.
“‘Tis something I does wrong,” he mused. “Doctor Joe were sayin’ the compass points right, and she is right. ’Tis wonderful strange though.”
He experimented again and discovered that if he did not hold the compass perfectly level the needle did not swing properly. In his excitement he had doubtless tipped the compass, and with the needle thus bound he had been led astray.
He climbed to the top of the rock, and placing his compass in a level position, permitted the needle to swing to a stationary position. He extracted a match from the tin box in his pocket and laid it upon the compass dial exactly parallel with the needle. Lying on his face, he squinted his eye along the match to a distant tree. Rising, he observed the tree that he might make no mistake, and returning to the face of the rock strode twenty of his best paces in the direction of the tree. Again he was disappointed. There was no hackmatack tree at the end of his line.
“Maybe he was a big man that does the pacin’ and takes longer paces,” he said to himself. “I’ll go a bit farther.”
He looked directly ahead, but saw no hackmatack within a reasonable extension of his twenty paces to account for the longer strides the original pacer may have taken. Much discouraged, he was about to return again to the rock when suddenly his eye fell upon a small and scarcely noticeable hackmatack six paces to the right of his north line and a little beyond him.
“That must be he, now!” he exclaimed. “’Tis the only hackmatack I sees hereabouts. ’Tis sure he! I’ll pace un back to the rock! If the tree’s nuth’ard from the rock, the rock’ll be south’ard from the tree. I’ll try pacin’ that way.”