By a little trout brook in a low part of the woods adjoining the clearing, I had a good time pursuing and identifying a number of warblers,—the speckled Canada, the black-throated blue, the yellow-rumped, and Audubon’s warbler. The latter, which was leading its troop of young through a thick undergrowth on the banks of the creek where insects were plentiful, was new to me.
It being August, the birds were all moulting, and sang only fitfully and by brief snatches. I remember hearing but one robin during the whole trip. This was by the Boreas River in the deep forest. It was like the voice of an old friend speaking my name.
From Hewett’s, after engaging his youngest son,—the “Bub” of the family,—a young man about twenty and a thorough woodsman, as our guide, we took to the woods in good earnest, our destination being the Stillwater of the Boreas,—a long, deep, dark reach in one of the remotest branches of the Hudson, about six miles distant. Here we paused a couple of days, putting up in a dilapidated lumbermen’s shanty, and cooking our fish over an old stove which had been left there. The most noteworthy incident of our stay at this point was the taking by myself of half a dozen splendid trout out of the Stillwater, after the guide had exhausted his art and his patience with very insignificant results. The place had a very trouty look; but as the season was late and the river warm, I knew the fish lay in deep water from which they could not be attracted. In deep water accordingly, and near the head of the hole, I determined to look for them. Securing a chub, I cut it into pieces about an inch long, and with these for bait sank my hook into the head of the Stillwater, and just to one side of the main current. In less than twenty minutes I had landed six noble fellows, three of them over one foot long each. The guide and my incredulous companions, who were watching me from the opposite shore, seeing my luck, whipped out their tackle in great haste and began casting first at a respectable distance from me, then all about me, but without a single catch. My own efforts suddenly became fruitless also, but I had conquered the guide, and thenceforth he treated me with the tone and freedom of a comrade and equal.
One afternoon, we visited a cave some two miles down the stream, which had recently been discovered. We squeezed and wriggled through a big crack or cleft in the side of the mountain for about one hundred feet, when we emerged into a large dome-shaped passage, the abode during certain seasons of the year of innumerable bats, and at all times of primeval darkness. There were various other crannies and pit-holes opening into it, some of which we explored. The voice of running water was everywhere heard, betraying the proximity of the little stream by whose ceaseless corroding the cave and its entrance had been worn. This streamlet flowed out of the mouth of the cave, and came from a lake on the top of the mountain; this accounted for its warmth to the hand, which surprised us all.