The Path of Duty, and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 310 pages of information about The Path of Duty, and Other Stories.
over the earth, and the night-owls set up their discordant screams, my fears reached a climax.  I had never before listened to their hideous noise, and had not the slightest idea of what it was.  I had often heard old hunters speak of a wild animal, called the catamount, which they allowed had been seen in the Canadian forests during the early settlement of the country.  I had heard this animal described as being of large size, and possessing such strength and agility, as enabled them to spring from the boughs of one tree to those of another without touching the ground, and at such times their savage cries were such as to fill the heart of the boldest hunter with terror.  I shall never forget the laugh which my grown-up brothers enjoyed at my expense when trembling with terror, I enquired if they thought a catamount was not approaching among the tree-tops.  “Do not be alarmed,” said they, “for the noises which frighten you so much proceeds from nothing more formidable than owls.”  Their answer, however, did not satisfy me, and I kept a sharp look-out among the branches of the surrounding trees lest the dreaded monster should descend upon us unawares.  Old Rufus was boiling sap, half a mile from us, and it was a joyful moment to me, when he suddenly approached us, out of the darkness, saying, “Well boys don’t you want company?  I have got my sap all boiled in, and as I felt kinder lonesome, I thought I would come across, and sleep by your shanty fire.”  The old man enquired why I seemed so much terrified, and my brothers told him that I would persist in calling a screech-owl, a catamount.  Old Rufus did not often laugh, but he laughed heartily on this occasion, and truly it was no wonder and when he corroborated what my brothers had already told me, I decided that what he said must be true.  His presence at once gave me a feeling of protection and security and creeping close to his side on the cedar boughs which formed our bed, while the immense fire blazed in front of our tent, I soon forgot my childish fears, in a sound sleep which remained unbroken till the morning sun was shining brightly above the trees.  But it was long before I heard the last of the night I spent in the bush; and as often as my brothers wished to tease me, they would enquire if I had lately heard the cries of a catamount?  Time passed on till I grew up, and leaving the paternal home went forth to make my own way in the world.  Old Rufus still resided in R. When a child I used to fancy that he would never seem older than he had appeared since my earliest recollection of him; but about the time I left home there was a very observable change in his appearance.  I noticed that his walk was slow and feeble, and his form was bending beneath the weight of years and his hair was becoming white by the frosts of time.  I occasionally visited my parents, and during these visits I frequently met with my old friend; and it was evident that he was fast losing his hold of life.  He still resided alone much against
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The Path of Duty, and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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