In the dim morning light they walked briskly to a little cove in the river, where Micah’s birchen canoe lay, and found it already stored with supplies for the excursion. There were bags of provisions, cooking utensils, a small tent, neatly folded, Micah’s old Dutch rifle, fishing tackle, and other articles of minor account.
“Ever traviled much in a canoo?” inquired Micah.
“None at all”, replied John.
“Well, then I’ll jest mention, yeou needn’t jump into it, like a catameount rampagin’ arter fodder. Yeou step in kinder keerful and set deown and don’t move reound more’n ye ken help. It’s a mighty crank little critter, I tell ye. ’Twould be tolable unconvenient to upset and git eour cargo turned into the stream”.
“It would indeed!” said John. “I’ll obey orders, Mummychog”.
John entered the canoe with tact, apparently to Micah’s satisfaction and soon they were gliding down the river, now, owing to the long-continued drought, considerably shrunk within its banks.
Just as night gave its parting salute to the advancing day, the voyagers passed into a region densely wooded down to the water’s edge. Oaks, elms, and maples, birches of different sorts, willows and cranberry, grew in wild luxuriance along the margin, tinged with the rich hues of autumn. A thousand spicy odors exhaled from the frostbitten plants and shrubs, filling the senses with an intoxicating incense. When the rising sun shot its level rays through the trees, the clear stream quivered with golden arrows.
John viewed the scenes through which they glided with eager eye.
Micah’s countenance expressed intense satisfaction. He sat bolt upright in the stern of the canoe, steering with his paddle, his keen bullet eyes dancing from side to side examining every object as they passed along. Both were silent.
At length, Micah exclaimed, “Well, Captin’, this is the pootiest way of livin’ I know on, any heow. My ’pinion is that human natur was meant to live reound on rivers and in the woods, or vyagin’ on lakes, and sech. I never breathe jest nateral and lively, till I git eout o’ between heouse walls into the free air”.
“’Tis a glorious life, Micah! I agree to it”.
“Hark!” said Micah! “Got yer piece ready? Maybe you’ll hev’ a chance to bring sumthin’ deown. I heerd an old squaw holler jest neow”.
“I’m ready”, said John. “But I didn’t hear any sound. What was it like?”
“O! kinder a scoldin’ seound. Cawcawee! cawcawee! Don’t yer hear the critter reelin’ of it off? Ha! ‘tis dyin’ away, though. We shall hear it agin, by and by”.
“An old squaw”, said John, as the excitement the prospect of a shot had raised in his mind subsided. “Do you have such game as that, in Miramichi? I’ve heard of witches flying on broomsticks through the air, but didn’t know before that squaws are in the habit of skylarking about in that way”.