Page images

of all strong and goodly trees, pleasant to the eyes, or good for food, — stately palm and pine, strong ash and oak, scented citron, burdened vine there be any by man so deeply loved, by God so highly graced, as that narrow point of feeble green.

And well does it fulfill its mission. Consider what we owe merely to the meadow grass, to the covering of the dark ground by that glorious enamel, by the companies of those soft, and countless, and peaceful spears.

The fields! Follow forth but for a little time the thoughts of all that we ought to recognize in these words. All spring and summer is in them — the walks by silent and scented paths — the rests in noonday heat, — the joy of herds and flocks, — the power of all shepherd life and meditation,

- the life of sunlight upon the world falling in emerald streaks, and falling in soft blue shadows where else it would have struck upon the dark mold or scorching dust.

Pastures beside the pacing brooks, soft banks and knolls of lowly hills, thymy slopes of down, overlooked by the blue line of lifted sea, crisp lawns, all dim with early dew, or smooth in evening warmth of barred sunshine, dinted by happy feet, and softening in their fall the sound of loving voices — all these are summed in those simple words; and these are not all.

We may not measure to the full the depth of this heavenly gift in our own land, though still as we think of it longer, the infinite of that meadow sweetness, Shakespeare's peculiar joy, would open on us more and more; yet we have it but in part. Go out in the springtime among the meadows that slope from the shores of the Swiss lakes to the roots of the lower mountains.

i England.

There, mingled with the taller Gentians, and the white Narcissus, the grass grows deep and free; and as you follow the winding mountain paths, beneath arching boughs, all veiled with blossoms - - paths that forever droop and rise over the green banks and mounds sweeping down in scented undulation steep to the blue water, studded here and there with new-mown heaps filling all the air with fainter sweetness, – look up towards the higher hills, where the waves of everlasting green roll silently into their long inlets among the shadows of the pines; and we may perhaps at last know the meaning of those quiet words of the 147th Psalm, “He maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains.”



Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere;

By the dusty roadside,
On the sunny hillside,
Close by the noisy brook,

every shady nook,
I come creeping, creeping everywhere.



[ocr errors]

John S. C. ABBOTT was born at Brunswick, Maine, Sept. 18, 1805. His classical education was obtained at Bowdoin College. He is the author of numerous historical works and biographies, including a Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French Revolution of 1789, and a Life of George Washington.

He died at Fair Haven, Connecti. cut, June 17, 1877.

This extract is used by permission of Dodd, Mead and Company, from “ Christopher Carson.” Copyright, 1873, by Dodd, Mead and Company; Copyright, 1901, by Laura Abbott Buck.

Carson, with his two companions, . . . halted about two hours before sunset. While his comrades were arranging the camp, Carson set off with his rifle in pursuit of supper.

He had wandered about a mile from the camp, when he came upon the fresh tracks of elk. Following their trail for a little distance, he soon discovered a small herd of the beautiful animals grazing upon a hillside just on the edge of a grove. Moving with great care, he entered circuitously upon the covert of the trees, crept up within rifle range, selected the largest and fattest of the herd, and at the report of the rifle, the animal stood for a moment shivering as if struck by paralysis, and then dropped dead.

Carson was more than usually elated by his success. The party were all hungry. The region was extremely wild and barren, and there was great danger that they would have to go supperless to bed. Scarcely had the echo of his rifle shot died away, when Carson heard a terrific roar directly behind him. Instantly turning his head, he saw two enormous grizzly bears, coming down upon him at full speed, and at the distance of but a few rods.


The grizzly bear is a larger animal and far more ferocious than the black bear. A bullet seems to prick rather than to maim him, and he will attack the hunter with the most desperate and persevering fierceness. Carson was helpless. He had discharged his rifle. The brutes were close upon him, and there were two of them. They could outrun him. His fate seemed sealed.

For once Kit Carson was frightened; but not so much so as in the slightest degree to lose his selfpossession. With a lightning glance, his eye swept the grove, in search of a tree into whose branches he might climb. He saw one at a little distance, and rushed toward it, pursued by both of the monsters, growling and gnashing their teeth.

With wonderful agility, he sprang and caught the lower branch and drew himself up into the tree just in time to escape the blow which one of the bears struck at him with his terrific claws. But he had by no means obtained a place of safety. He had been compelled to drop his rifle in his flight. The grizzly bear can climb a tree far more easily than can a man. He was too far distant from the camp to hope for aid from that quarter. Again it seemed that a dreadful death was inevitable.

The bears hesitated for a moment, growling and showing their claws and their white teeth. Quick as thought Carson cut from the tree and trimmed a stout cudgel, which would neither break nor bend. Soon one of the bears commenced climbing the tree. The nose of the bear is very tender and is the only spot vulnerable to blows.

Cudgel in hand, Carson took his stand upon one of the branches, and as soon as the bear's head came within reach, assailed him with such a storm of blows that he dropped howling to the ground. The other then made the attempt to climb the tree, and encountered the same fate. The blows which the sinewy arm of Carson had inflicted, evidently gave the animals terrible pain.

They filled the forest with their howlings, and endeavored to bury their snouts beneath the sod. For some time they lingered around the tree, looking wistfully at their prey, as if loath to leave it. But they did not venture to incur a repetition of the chastisement they had already received.

already received. At length, with an almost ludicrous aspect of disconsolateness, they slowly retired into the forest.

John S. C. ABBOTT.

« PreviousContinue »