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might know he was not so sad a fellow after all. Now, his soft, flute-like notes fairly melted in his throat; then he drew out a long violin strain, the whole length of his bow; then a blast on his trumpet roused all the birds. He was “ everything by turns, and nothing long." After completing his performance, away he went, and his place, in a moment almost, was occupied by another, repeating the medley, for the whole wood was alive with them.
Scores of blue-jays, in the tops of the trees, were picking away at the tender buds. The robin, that household bird, first loved by our children, was also here. Sitting alone and apart, in a reverie, and blowing occasionally his mellow pipe, he seemed to exist only for his own comfort, and to forget that he was one of the choristers of the wood. Woodpeckers were flitting hither and thither ; troops of quails whistled in the distance; the oriole streamed out his bright light through the green branches; there was a winnowing of wings, a dashing of leaves, as birds came rushing in and out. It was their festival.
Reader, such was the scene presented to my eye the day I first looked upon the piece of wild land upon which I finally settled and improved. I had just arrived from an Eastern village, where I was born, and "brought up," as the phrase is. A somewhat broken fortune, and breaking health had driven me from it, with a moderate family, to seek a spot elsewhere; and I resolved to try the Great West, that paradise (if the word of people who never saw it, is to be taken) where the surplus population of a portion of the world have found a home.
The change was great. But great as it was, I resolved to endure it. So at it I went. I procured “ help,” girdled the trees, put a breaking team of twelve yoke of cattle on the ground, tore it up, fenced the land, raised a log-house, and in the fall I had a crop of wheat growing, the withered oak-trees standing guard over it. My family, consisting of a wife and three children, a boy of eight, and two girls of twelve and ten, were removed to their new quarters, and I had thus fairly begun the world again, and all things were as new about me as if I had just been born into it.
During the summer, I had an opportunity of studying the general character of the inhabitants of Puddleford, and its surrounding country population. Like most Western settlements, it was made up of all kinds of materials, all sorts of folks, holding every opinion. More than a dozen States had contributed to make up its people. Society was exceedingly miscellaneous. The keen Yankee, the obstinate Pennsylvanian, and the reckless Southerner were there. Each one of these persons had brought along with him his early habits, and associations—his own views of business, law and religion. When thrown together on public questions, this composition boiled up like a mixture of salts and soda. Factions, of course, were formed among those, whose early education and habits were congenial; divisions were created, and a war of prejudice and opinion went on from month to month, and
The New-England Yankee stood about ten years ahead of the Pennsylvania German, in all his ideas of progress, while the latter stood back dogged and sullen, attached to the customs of his fathers. Another general feature consisted in this, that there was no perinanency to society. The inhabitants were constantly changing, pouring out and in, like the waters of a river; so that a complete revolution took place every four or five years. Every body who remained in Puddleford expected to remove somewhere else very soon. They were merely sojourners, not residents. There was no attachment to, or veneration for the past of Puddleford, because Puddleford had no past. The ties of memory reached to older States. There stood the church that sheltered the infant years of Puddleford's population, and there swung the bell that tolled their fathers and fathers' fathers to the tomb. There was the long line of graves, running back a hundred years, where the sister of yesterday, and the ancestor whose virtues were only known through tradition, were buried. There tottered the old homestead which had passed through the family for generations, filled with heir-looms that had become sacred. The school-house was there, where the village boys shouted together. Looking back from a new country, where all is confusion, to an old one, where figures have the stability of a painting, objects which were once trivial, start out upon the canvas in bolder relief. The venerable, gray-headed pastor, who appeared regularly in the village pulpit for half a century, to impart the word of life, rises in the memory, and stands fixed there like a statue. The quaint cut
The quaint cut of his coat, the neat tie of his neck-cloth, the spectacles resting on the tip of his nose, his hums and haws, his eye of reproof, his gestures of vengeance, are now living things—are preaching still. We see again the changing crowd, that year after year went in and out of that holy place; the spot where the old deacon sat, his head resting on a pillar, his tranquil face turned upward, his mouth open, enjoying a doze as he listened to the sermon. We recollect the gay bridal, the solemn funeral, the buoyant face of the one, the still, cold one of the other. We even remember the lame old sexton, who rang the bell, and went limping up to the burying ground, with a spade upon his shoulder. Even he, of no consequence when seen every day, is transformed by distance, and mellowed by memory into a real being. And then there are the hills and streams, and waterfalls, that shed their music through our boyish souls, until they became a part of our very existence. No man ever lived who entirely forgot these things, suppressed though they might be, by the cares and anxieties of maturer years. And no circumstance so likely to bring them all up, glowing afresh, as a removal to a new country. Of course, no one was attached to Puddleford, as a locality, any more than the wandering Arab is attached to the particular spot where he pitches his tent and feeds his camels.
But I will not go into particulars with the Puddlefordians at present. During the summer, my acquaintance with Venison Styles had ripened into a deeper affection for the old hunter. I accepted his invitation to visit him, and found him sheltered in the depths of the forest, and nestled in a valley, his hut overshadowed by great trees, which were filled with birds pouring forth their songs. A little brook tinkled down the slope by his hut, singing all kinds of woodland tunes, as the breeze swelled and died along its banks. The squirrels were chatting their nonsense, and the rolling drum of the partridge was heard almost at his
door. Venison was a hunter, a fisher, and a trapper.
The inside walls of his cabin were hung about with rifles, shot-guns, and fishing rods, which had been accumulating for years. Deerhorns and skins lay scattered here and there, the trophies of the chase. Seines for lakes, and scoop-nets for smaller streams were drying outside
the trees. Venison kept around him a brood of lazy, lounging, goodfor-nothing boys, of all ages, about half-clothed, who followed the business of their father. This young stock were growing up as he had grown, to occupy somewhere their father's position, and lead his life. They lived just as well as the hounds, for all stood on an equality in the family. These ragamuffins were perfect masters of natural history. There was not an instinct or peculiarity belonging to the denizens of the woods and streams which they did not perfectly understand. They seemed to have penetrated the secrecy of animal life, and. fathomed it throughout. Birds, and beasts, and fish were completely within their power; and there was a kind of matter-ofcourse success with them in their capture that was absolutely provoking to a civilized hunter.
THE FAMINE.FROM HIAWATIA-LONGFELLOW.
O the long and dreary Winter!
Hardly from his buried wigwam
O the famine and the fever!
All the earth was sick and famished;
Into Hiawatha's wigwam
And the foremost said : “ Behold me!
And the lovely Minnehaha
Lay down on her bed in silence,
Forth into the empty forest
Wrapped in furs and armed for hunting,
Gitche Manito, the Mighty !"
Give your children food, O father!
Through the far-resounding forest,
In the wigwam with Nokomis, With those gloomy guests that watched her, With the Famine and the Fever, She was lying, the Beloved, She the dying Minnehaha.