Whatever may have been their origin

In the northern part of Minnesota is the greatest elevation of what
geologists denominate the eastern water-shed of our continent; lying
almost exactly in the centre of North America, here the streams that
flow to the north, east, and south, find their source. Lake Superior,
that adjoins this section on the east, is the chief of those magnificent
lakes that empty from one another into the St. Lawrence, and finally
wash the coast of Labrador. The Mississippi, taking its rise in the same
region and but a few miles away, flows southward with ever increasing
volume to the Gulf of Mexico, and then sweeping around Florida and
through the Atlantic, rejoins the waters of Lake Superior off
Newfoundland; while the Red River of the North, pursuing a contrary
course, empties into Hudson’s Bay and thence into the Northern Ocean.
These waters, starting from little rills and springs scarcely more than
a few steps apart, after wandering thousands of miles asunder come
together and commingle in the Northern Atlantic Ocean.

Here were the famous Indian portages. One from Lake Superior through
Pigeon River, Sturgeon Lake, and Rainy River into the Lake of the Woods,
has served to locate the boundary between two great nations, and is the
native highway between Hudson’s River and Hudson’s Bay. Another through
Brulé River leads into the head waters of the Mississippi, and thence,
by ascending the Missouri, to the rivers that empty into the Pacific
Ocean. These portages were traversed year after year by the aboriginal
inhabitants, who have left their tracks in the well-worn paths that are
still followed by the voyageurs, and are suggestive of easy grades to
those who wish to bind our country together by paddle-wheel and railroad

Lake Superior, with a surface six hundred feet above, and a bottom three
hundred feet below the level of the sea, stretches out in vastness and
splendor five hundred miles long by nearly two hundred broad, and holds
in its bosom islands that would make respectable kingdoms in the old
world. On the southern shore its sandstone rocks are worn by the waves
and storms into fantastic shapes, imitative of ancient castles or modern
vessels, or are hollowed out into deep caverns; on the north the bolder
shore rises into rugged mountains whose face has been seamed by the
moving ice-drift of former ages. In the country bordering upon the south
are located inexhaustible mines of copper and iron of immense value; and
along the northern coast are found agates and precious stones.

A hundred streams pour their contents into the great lake which, from
its enormous size and depth, retaining the temperature of winter through
the summer months, empties its clear, cold, transparent waters into the
river Ste. Marie. Not producing a large variety of fish, those that
dwell in its bosom are the finest of their species. The speckled trout,
the Mackinaw salmon, and the black bass are large and vigorous;
sturgeons are plentiful, although valueless except as an article of
food; and the white fish are the daintiest fresh-water fish in the

The forests are mainly composed of the sombre evergreen trees, relieved
frequently by the beautiful white birch, and along the low lands by a
considerable number of other varieties; the shore on the north is a bold
bluff five hundred feet high, but where it descends to the water it
forms occasionally tracts of fertile interval; on the south the coast is
more level and apparently more sterile. Both shores are as yet totally
uncultivated, and from the severity of the winters will probably long so

Immediately upon our arrival at the Sault we made our preparations for a
campaign against the fish, and engaged as guides Joseph Le Sayre, a
Melicete chief, and Alexis Biron, a Canadian half-breed. Old Joe, as we
called him, though he did not seem over forty, was a fine looking Indian
with an erect graceful shape, and pleasant open countenance; Alexis,
though apparently a good man, was not so prepossessing.

We embarked in a large, stout canoe, and paddling across the broken
water at the foot of the fall, commenced fishing the streams into which
the river is divided by numerous islands near the opposite shore. A
small, brown caddis fly, or, scientifically speaking, _phryganea_,
covered the water in myriads, was wafted along in clouds by the wind,
and settled upon the trees and rocks everywhere. Knowing that they
changed from a species of worm on rising to the surface, we selected
clear, calm spots and endeavored to examine the process. It was too
rapid for human eyesight; a spot of transparent water would be bare one
instant, and the next there would be upon its surface two or three
little creatures dancing about and trying their wings preparatory to a
bolder flight. We never managed to see the larva, but invariably beheld
the perfect fly appear instantaneously.

Their number was incalculable; living ones filled the air, were blown
along like moving sand, were carried into our faces so that we could
scarcely face the wind, and settled upon our boat; dead ones covered the
water in all directions, were devoured by the fish, especially the lake
herring, and were collected by the current in masses resembling
sea-weed. They were nearly the color of common brown paper throughout,
legs, wings, and body being of much the same hue. They arrive every year
at the same time and in about the same numbers. They last a week or so,
and although we found them the entire length of our subsequent trip,
their favorite locality seemed to be the Sault. They are used as bait
for the lake herring, which I believe is identical with the cisco, an
excellent fish closely resembling, and in my opinion equal, if not
superior to the white fish.

The trout usually begin taking the artificial fly in the early part of
July, but although we had been warned that they were not as yet rising
this year, we had no anticipation of the wretched luck that awaited us.
Notwithstanding the water seemed promising, and deep, dark holes,
beautiful eddies, and lively pools indicated success; and
notwithstanding continual changes of our flies, we only killed three
small fish. Perhaps the numerous natural insects, or the _larvæ_ from
which they were metamorphosed, proved a sufficient and preferable food;
we could not induce the trout to rise, and did not even see them

Exploring all the little streams of the Canadian side, hoping at every
cast to improve our luck, we worked our way slowly and arduously, for
the water was unusually low, against the current, and steadily ascending
with the strenuous efforts of our canoe men, who used stout poles for
the purpose, we at last emerged above the islands and at the head of the

Here the water of the lake, confined to the narrow channel, chafed
uneasily in tiny wavelets, as though conscious of the approaching
struggle. Above, the river stretched away to the westward, evidently
from a considerable elevation but comparatively smooth; nearer, it was
rushing like a mill-race; below it was broken into white waves, huge
cascades, and seething rapids. How wonderful is the change in the
appearance of water lying calmly in the lake, hurrying rapidly but
silently down a smooth slope, lashed into billows by the wind, toiling
among rocks or leaping over falls–but above all is it peculiar and
terrible in passing through broken descents! See it glide so deceitfully
smooth, but with such resistless power toward the rapids; notice its
tiny innocent ripples and childlike murmurs at your feet; see the pretty
rolling undulations. Trust yourself to its seductions. Now it has you in
its fearful current, now it drags you along, it clasps you struggling
and shrieking in its fierce embrace; it throws its white arms around
you, lashes itself into a fury, whirls you about in its powerful eddies,
sinks you down in its mighty whirlpools, dashes you against the rocks,
drags you along the jagged bottom, tosses you over the cascades, and
finally flings you torn, bleeding, disfigured, and lifeless to the
bottom of the tranquil pool at its base.

In the sunlight it resembles liquid crystal; flowing along placidly,
transparent as the diamond, it sweeps upon the rocky shoals and flies up
in a shower of purest pearls, alternately revealing or hiding some
monstrous gem to which it lends its reflective brilliancy; over the
limestone it is opal, over yellow rocks it becomes onyx, over the red,
ruby or garnet, over the green, emerald.

Bending and waving in ever varying beauty of form, but carrying in its
bosom or reflecting from its foam the sunlight fire, a thousand times
intensified, of precious stones.

As the day was well advanced, we determined to trust ourselves to the
unreliable element and run the rapids, which is one of the favorite
amusements of the adventurous. This can be made as dangerous as
desirable, according to the selection of route, either near shore, where
there is only the chance of an upset and a few bruises, or through the
centre, where it is certain death. We chose a middle course, but as near
the centre as our guides, who were not venturesome, would go. Crossing
over above the broken water to the American shore, the large,
high-sided, but fragile canoe was headed down stream, giving us a view
of the prospect before us.

Great ridges of white foam stretched at intervals almost from shore to
shore, while the darker water was broken into heavy waves, curling up
stream and ready to pour into the boat as it should rush downwards
through them. At first the canoe settled gently, making us plainly feel
that we were going down hill; then it gathered way as the current
increased, and went plunging on its course. The waves flew from our bow
or leaped over in upon us, the rocks glided by racing up stream,
whirlpools twisted us from side to side; we sprang over tiny cascades or
darted down slopes deep and dark, or shallow and feathery white with
foam; we rushed upon rocks where inevitable destruction seemed awaiting
us, and the shore, trees, and houses went tearing by; past the little
island at the head of the rapids, past the main fall, through foam and
spray, we dashed headlong, till the few minutes required for the entire
descent being exhausted, we glided calmly and quietly into the water

Looking back it seemed as though we gazed upon a hill covered with water
instead of up a river, and nothing but practical experience would
convince a tyro that it could be navigated in safety with a birch canoe.
Exhilarated with the pleasurable sensations we had enjoyed, and
satisfied that the trout were not in a rising mood that day at least, we
returned to the hotel.

The few fish we had killed were transferred by our host to the cook, and
reäppeared on table in fine style. After discussing an excellent dinner
and comparing notes with the other fishermen present, we accepted the
invitation of the canal superintendent to examine the locks and visit
his pond of tame trout. We found the canal an admirable structure,
expensively built, and of a size to accommodate the largest steamers
that navigate Lake Superior; not, however, being skilful in works of
that character, we felt more interest in the trout pond.

The latter was quite small, fed by a pipe from the canal that cast up a
jet in the centre, and was filled with over a hundred of fine, large,
active trout, weighing from one to four pounds. They were wonderfully
gentle, would feed from the hand, allow any one to scratch their sides
and lift them from the water, and if one end of the food was held fast,
they would tug like good fellows at the other. When we held a piece of
bait between the first finger and thumb, and at the same time presented
the little finger, they would frequently seize the latter by mistake;
and although on that occasion they let go instantly without doing the
least harm, the proprietor said when hungry they occasionally left the
marks of their teeth. It was extremely interesting to watch their
movements, as their appetites were never allowed to become ravenous and
produce quarrelling among themselves. They were magnificent fellows,
swimming about majestically, and coming to the surface in a fearless way
to return the gaze of the spectators.

The trout were mostly taken in nets from the canal when the water was
drawn off. They had been known to spawn, trying to ascend the jet for
that purpose, and depositing their eggs where the water fell; but the
spawn either was eaten by their comrades or failed to hatch. Under no
circumstances, however, would the young have lived among such rapacious

Having amused ourselves sufficiently with the tame trout, we turned our
attention once more to their wilder brethren; but as no better success
attended us than in the morning, we returned early to superintend the
capture of the white-fish. Every morning and evening the Indians and
half-breeds are seen by pairs in their canoes, one wielding a large net
with a long wooden handle, and the other plying the paddle. Ascending
cautiously to the eddy below some prominent rock, the net-man in the bow
peers into the troubled water, and having caught sight of the white-fish
lying securely in his haven of rest, casts the net over him. The moment
the net touches the water the other ceases paddling, and allows the
canoe to settle back with the current; the fish thus entangled in the
meshes is lifted out and thrown into the boat. The net is about four
feet across, the rim is of wood, and the handle is bent at the end so as
to afford a secure hold. Nothing but the practised eye of the native can
distinguish, amid the foam and spray and broken water, the dim and
varying outline of the fish. Many are frequently taken at one cast, and
they are sold, large and small, for five cents apiece.

Although undoubtedly delicious eating, fresh from the cold water of Lake
Superior, white-fish are not superior in flavor to their smaller
brethren, the lake herring. The latter, so closely resembling the former
as to be only distinguishable by the sharper projection of the lower
jaw, are taken with the natural brown fly that has been already
described. Differing little, if at all, from the cisco of Lake Ontario,
they rise with a bolder leap at the natural fly, and their break is as
vigorous and determined as that of the trout. They do not seem, except
on rare occasions, to take the artificial fly, but with bait not only
furnish pleasant sport for ladies, but an admirable dish for the table.

The lake herring is found in many of the extensive waters of the West,
but being smaller than the white-fish, is overshadowed by the reputation
of the latter. It is a pretty fish, bites freely and plays well, but
having to contend in delicacy against the white-fish, and in vigor
against the trout, it does not receive the attention it deserves. Early
in July they collect at the Sault in millions, filling every eddy of
the rapids and crowding the canal, and devour the dead and living
_phryganidæ_. Later they retire to deep water.

It being now apparent that the trout did not intend to accept our
delusions as veritable insects, and as fish of three and four pounds had
been taken with minnow, much to our envy, Don determined to try the
bait. There are several species of minnow captured from among the rocks
of the Sault in shrimp-nets, but the favorite is a peculiarly shaped
fish bearing the euphonious title of _cock-à-doosh_. What the name
signifies, either in French or Chippewa, we could not ascertain; but the
broad, round head and slim tail remind one of a pollywog, which of all
created things it most resembles. The cock-à-doosh is a muscular little
fellow, and not appearing to mind a hook thrust through him, furnishes a
lively, attractive bait.

At the suggestion of some gentlemen who were old habitués, and who
recommended to us a couple of men that had accompanied them on former
trips up the lake, we had determined to discard our present boatmen,
although without cause of complaint, and engage Frank and Charley Biron
to accompany us into the woods. We had laid in our supplies of food, all
of which, except the tent, the liquor, solidified milk, and a few
especial luxuries were purchased in the village stores, had made our
preparation for departure in the morning, and devoted the afternoon to
fishing the little rapids.

Our present men had already ascertained our intended change, and we had
hardly pushed off before old Joe began upon us. He spoke French, the
language of communication between the natives and travellers, and never
shall I forget his reproachful tone and manner. Perfectly respectful, he
pictured our enormities and unkindness in such eloquent words that we
hung our heads in shame.

Never before had he, the chief of the Melicetes, acquainted as he was
with the whole length of the lake, been displaced for younger men. The
young men were good voyageurs–that he did not dispute; but was it
reasonable to prefer them to one who had lived his whole life in the
woods, or was it right to brand with disgrace a guide who for two days
had served us, as we admitted, faithfully? Unusual, indeed, was it to
change the men, and should he have this discredit cast upon him? He had
not been engaged positively to accompany us; but had we not spoken to
him and asked his advice? Was he not justified in expecting it? He was
sorry and hurt that we should have done so; he had been pleased with us;
he knew that he could have pleased us; but could he rest under such an
imputation? Were younger men better boatmen than he? Were they better
acquainted with the lake? Were we dissatisfied with him so far? Why,
then, had we changed, unless indeed to offend him? His feelings were
wounded, and he felt sure that we must regret our injustice. If we said
that we had been advised to do so, it must have been by persons who did
not know him or had some unworthy object; and should we have done so
great a wrong without more inquiry? “No, _messieurs_; this is the first
time I have been turned away for younger men.”

It is impossible to give his language, for Joe, although usually
taciturn, burst forth with an overwhelming flow of eloquence, showed us
our conduct in such a light that we would gladly have retracted, and
compelled us to take refuge behind our ignorance of the customs of the
place. Disclaiming the intention to cast a slur upon him, we expressed
the fullest confidence in his abilities, and said that were it not too
late we should cancel our other engagement. Somewhat mollified, the
pleasant expression returned to the old brave’s countenance ere we
reached the little rapids, where the excitement of fishing diverted our

Don here met with his first success with the cock-à-doosh, striking and
killing, after a protracted struggle of twenty minutes, a fine trout of
three pounds. The rapidity of the current, which flowed deep and strong
without an eddy, gave the fish a great advantage, and tried the rod to
the utmost. The hook, from its size taking a better hold than the
diminutive fly-hooks, remained firm and enabled Don at last to bring his
prey to the net–and kill our first large fish in the waters of Lake

Having fished faithfully, but in vain, for a mate, although we saw in a
deep pool quite a number as large or larger, and as my fly would still
only attract the small ones, we headed once more up-stream. The two
miles’ return was slower than our descent, and gave us time to admire
the scenery, to watch the vessels passing through the narrow channel of
the shallow river, and note the decaying woodwork of the old fort that
once did good service against the Indian, but would be a ludicrous
structure in modern warfare. On arriving at the Sault the finishing
touches were given to our preparations for camping out, and a wagon
engaged to transport our stores by land to the head of the canal, where
our new men and their barge were to meet us early on the morrow. We
parted with Joe, who, however, that evening and next morning heaped
coals of fire on our heads by doing us innumerable little favors in the
way of suggestions, advice, and physical aid.

The day following, as the last article was placed upon the cart, we were
informed that neither eggs nor bread was to be had in the village. Our
horror, or rather mine–for Don little knew what a dearth of eggs
implied–can only be appreciated by an experienced cook; bread was a
minor matter, as we had ship-biscuit, but eggs were indispensable. It
appeared on inquiry that the baker had been heating his own coppers, as
the fast men express it, instead of his oven, and was now sleeping off
the effects of his debauch; and hens, feeling their importance in that
desolate country, only lay on special occasions.

While we were in a condition bordering upon despair, uncertain whether
to proceed, the steamer _Illinois_ hove in sight. Never was an arrival
more opportune, for one of the numerous ventures of the bar-keepers on
these vessels is to supply the country with eggs, and recollections of
the baskets full that we had seen hanging from the cross-beams of the
_City of Cleveland_ came vividly to our minds. Leaving Don to purchase
the eggs, I pushed on with the baggage. The former boarded the steamer
as soon as she touched the dock, and, rushing to the bar-keeper,
demanded eight dozen eggs. He was informed, however, that they were sold
by the basket, which contained fifteen dozen, and he could have no less.
Then it was that Don rose to the importance of the occasion. Others
might have doubted, hesitated, or failed to make the purchase at all;
but he, without a pause, grasped the basket, laid down the money, and
started for the head of the canal. Fifteen dozen eggs were a perfect
mine of comfort; in their golden bosoms lay undeveloped numberless
egg-noggs, delicious cakes, and appetizing omelets, and Don’s character
was established for ever.

The wind, strong and contrary, was dashing foam-crested waves against
the piers of the canal, threatening to make our journey a slow one; our
goods and chattels were safely and carefully stowed, filling the barge
as nearly as was desirable; we had even cast off and commenced our
voyage, when through the canal we saw approaching a tug-boat. She was
called the _Bacchus_, and, like her jolly prototype, willingly lent us
her aid; and giving us a tow, made our old boat, for that occasion at
least, a fast one. She tore her way along, crushing the waves with her
high bow, throwing a mass of white water from her propeller, and
carrying us in fine style past _Pointe aux Pins_, nearly ten miles of
our route.

Having left her, as our course now lay more to the northward, we managed
with hard rowing, very different from our previous gallant progress, to
reach _Pointe aux Chênes_ or Oak Point, in time for dinner. Looming up
at the distance of about six miles, rose abruptly to the height of five
hundred feet the bold promontory of _Gros Cap_, its round head enveloped
in driving fog. A scanty verdure of pines and firs covering its sides,
it stood out a bold landmark, being the first high land of the northern

About half-way between Pointe aux Chênes and Gros Cap lies a low and
narrow island, covered with small trees and underbrush, furnishing an
admirable camping-ground; and the wind increasing as the fog descended,
crawling slowly down the mountain sides, we could advance no further.

All day long canoes filled with Indians, taking advantage of the to them
favorable wind, passed us on their way to a grand council at Mitane. It
was wonderful where they could all come from; the men seemed to carry
their wives, papooses, and household gods, and were accompanied by
numberless dogs that ran along the shore; one party consisted of a squaw
seated at the bow to paddle, another in the stern to steer, and a brave
amidships fast asleep; the canoe was propelled by a blanket, used as a
sail. The Indians exhibit great skill in sailing so unsteady a boat as
a canoe; although to ordinary mortals it is difficult to stand up in
one, they manage to sail them in heavy winds and over a rough sea. This
art appears to be peculiar to them, for I have never known it attempted
by the Canadian voyageurs, nor even by the half-breeds.

The fogs rising from the cold waters of Lake Superior are frequent and
dense; on this occasion the moisture settled upon the bushes, fell from
the leaves in large drops, and dampened the boughs of which our bed was
to be composed. For this latter purpose, as there was no sapin on the
island, we were compelled to use oak sprouts, a substitute that Don at
first, attracted by its beauty and apparent comfort, approved, but
which, when before morning the leaves were pressed flat and the stems
made unpleasantly prominent, he anathematized vigorously.

After supper we wandered along the shore, picking up the queerly shaped
and oddly colored stones that abound on the Canadian side of the lake.
No agates nor amethysts, and none of the really beautiful pebbles, are
to be obtained south of Michipicotten, but everywhere are curious
specimens to be found. Carried, as it is supposed, by the ice-drift of
former ages from their natural beds, crushed by the moving mass, and
rounded by the beating waves, the hardest only survive, while the
strangest and most incongruous varieties are collected together. Meeting
with novel specimens at every step, we were continually rejecting what
we had just selected, till we hardly knew which were really the most

Next morning broke with the weather the same, but towards mid-day the
wind fell. Don had been gratified with his meals thus far, but on being
offered rice for breakfast, said that it reminded him of his European
experience, where rice was not considered fit to eat without being
filled with raisins and having goose-gravy for sauce. In fact, he did
not think he could eat it without these accompaniments. Before the trip
was over, however, he found that in spite of European authority and the
absence of goose-gravy, rice was quite palatable.

By hard work we reached the camping-ground at Gros Cap, a small island
almost adjoining the main land, which is too rocky and precipitous to
locate a tent, and having arranged our camp amid the driving fog,
essayed the fishing off the point. Fortune did not smile upon us; and
having killed one fish for supper, we were glad to escape from the cold,
damp air, and return to the warmth of the fire.

The appearance of the rocks in this region is remarkable. Not only are
they veined with metal and quartz, running in long seams, but they are
cut up by deep furrows, at the bottom of which are strewn broken and
pounded stones. The origin of the furrows, or scratches as the
geologists term them, has been differently explained; some writers
attributing them to the action of water, and others, with probably the
correct theory, alleging they were made by the ice-drift of former ages.
The ice-drift was the accumulation of snow and ice in the neighborhood
of the north pole, its increasing masses forcing their way towards
warmer latitudes, and carrying with them immense rocks and boulders. The
drift formerly extended far beyond its present limits, pouring into the
deep water of Lake Superior, and must have crushed and riven whatever
lay in its course–cutting deep furrows whenever the boulders it was
carrying came in contact with the unyielding native rock. The character
of the rifts, which do not resemble the effects of water, their
uniformity of direction, and the pounded character of the stones,
confirm this view.

Whatever may have been their origin, they are troublesome to cross,
forming as they do abrupt gullies running from high up the hills into
the deep water, and occurring at every few hundred feet. But where they
pass below the surface, they and the natural caverns worn by the waves
form admirable retreats for the timid trout. For the whole length of the
shore, the broken rocks lie piled up in the water, and at some places
extend far out; as they furnish the best locality for sport, although
generally the angler has but a short distance to cast, occasionally a
long stretch has to be made. The wind is frequently adverse or across
his line, and as he must reach a particular spot in spite of all
obstacles, his capabilities are often put to the severest test.

To encounter and overcome difficulty is the true sportsman’s delight,
almost as much so as to see the silver-sided beauties of the lake rise
suddenly from their fairy caverns and seize his fly, to feel them
struggling and fighting for their liberty, jumping again and again, and
finally to watch their fading brilliancy enveloped in the fatal net. The
trout of this region resemble the sea-trout of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
in their habits and appearance. They have the same pearly whiteness on
their sides and bellies, heightened by the minute specks of carmine; the
same vigor and dauntless courage, the same savage voracity, and the same
way of springing out of water when they are on the line. They rise
unexpectedly with a rapidity resembling fury, grasp their object with
determination, and on being struck, fight bravely. Their flesh, also, is
equally red and firm, their fins of a pure color but not quite so
delicate, and their shape identically similar. Of course they could
never have ascended from the sea, but are indebted for these
peculiarities to the pureness of the water of the lake, as the sea-trout
are to that of the gulf. And whereas the sea-trout lose their brilliancy
on ascending the rivers, so do these of the lake–a fact which we
afterwards ascertained–becoming even darker colored than their brethren
of the lower regions, and obtaining the reputation among the ignorant
natives, from their changed appearance, of being poisonous.

Another party of fishermen had located on Gros Cap island, our tents
being pitched within a few yards of each other, and we passed a pleasant
evening in their society; our pipes–for I had after much difficulty
persuaded Don that cigars were made for the club-house, not the
wilderness–suggested inquiries about the native weed called
Kinnikinnick, which the Indians in their grand peace councils used
before the advent of the white man, and which in a perverted form had
lent its name to the tobacco we were using. It appeared that the
identical weed was growing close around us, and although the Indians of
their party laughed with contempt at any one using it when pure tobacco
was to be had, we induced them to collect and prepare a small quantity.

The preparation consists of drying it thoroughly by the fire until it is
brown, and then pulverizing it by friction in a cloth. The operation was
soon completed, but, although we tried it mixed and unadulterated both,
we were forced to admit it had absolutely no flavor whatever. Perhaps it
wanted more time or care in the curing, as the men complained of the

Our new-made acquaintances left next morning early, and Don and myself
took a late breakfast and were joined by an unexpected visitor. A
quantity of cold potatoes and ship-biscuit, intended for our men’s
breakfast, had been temporarily placed on a neighboring log, and while
we were partaking of warmer edibles, a few steps off a pretty little
ground squirrel ran out, chirruped a merry good-morning, and proceeded
as a matter of right to help himself to the cold victuals. He was sleek,
bright-colored, and fat, evidently accustomed to many such repasts; and
after trying a piece of potato and finding it was good, he took up a
whole one in his mouth and ran off with it. It was larger than his head,
and looked droll enough in his mouth, stretched to the utmost; he had
not gone far before his sharp teeth cut through, and taking out a piece,
let the rest fall. Not taking the trouble to pick it up, he returned
with another little cry to the dish, and this time chancing on a smaller
one, carried it off in safety.

Having stowed that away, he returned, and being satiated with potatoes,
tasted the biscuit, which had been soaked in grease and was tender. The
piece he selected had a larger piece hanging to it, and to see him pull
the latter off with his fore-paws was highly amusing. The biscuit, on
trial, proving acceptable, with a little flirt and another cry, he
seized quite a large piece, and with a glance at us as much as to say,
“I am only taking a fair rent for the use of my land,” he ran off with
it in the same lively, confident way. It was a beautiful sight, and we
stopped our meal to watch his pranks.