The tea was black tea, without milk to color or sugar to sweeten it, and two tin dippers were our tea-cups. The various evergreens, many of which are rare with us,—delicate and beautiful specimens of the larch, arbor-vitæ, ball-spruce, and fir-balsam, from a few inches to many feet in height—lined its sides, in some places like a long, front yard, springing up from the smooth grass-plots which uninterruptedly border it, and are made fertile by its wash; while it was but a step on either hand to the grim, untrodden wilderness, whose tangled labyrinth of living, fallen, and decaying trees only the deer and moose, the bear and wolf, can easily penetrate. Man was not to be associated with it. The carry around Pockwockomus Falls was exceedingly rough and rocky, the batteau having to be lifted directly from the water up four or five feet on to a rock, and launched again down a similar bank. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there.
He had a whole heaven and horizon to himself, and the sun seemed to be journeying over his clearing only the livelong day. Thus we regaled ourselves, drinking meanwhile at the spring, till one man's pack, at least, was considerably lightened, when we again took up our line of march. They carried into Millinocket Lake, which is on another stream, and is ten miles square, and contains a hundred islands. I have made a short excursion into the new world which the Indian dwells in, or is. They did not invite us into their houses, but met us outside.
There were very few houses along the road, yet they did not altogether fail, as if the law by which men are dispersed over the globe were a very stringent one, and not to be resisted with impunity or for slight reasons. The woods expedition ended on August 3 and on the morning of August 4, Thatcher, Thoreau's uncle who lived in Bangor , Hoar and Thoreau rode to Pushaw Lake and stayed in and around Bangor until the 7th. A torrent, which proved to be the same we had crossed, was seen tumbling down in front, literally from out of the clouds. It was while we were engaged in this operation that our companions arrived. The country is an archipelago of lakes,—the lake-country of New England. Caucuses they have had, it seems, and caucuses they are to have again,—victory and defeat. There was really danger of their losing their sublimity in losing their power to harm us.
The fire-place, the most important place of all, was in shape and size like the chimney, and directly under it, defined by a log fence or fender on the ground, and a heap of ashes, a foot or two deep, within, with solid benches of split logs running round it. Some were dispersed to fetch in dead trees and boughs, while Uncle George felled the birches and beeches which stood convenient, and soon we had a fire some ten feet long by three or four high, which rapidly dried the sand before it. They told us that one wore out in two years, or often in a single trip, on the rocks, and sold for from fourteen to sixteen dollars. The occupant soon appeared, with a long pole in his hand, with which he beat off the dogs, while he parleyed with us. The roof and sides were covered with the same, instead of shingles and clapboards, and some of a much thicker and larger size were used for the floor.
We have advanced by leaps to the Pacific, and left many a lesser Oregon and California unexplored behind us. There were these two houses only there, his low hut and the eagles' airy cart-load of fagots. The Millinocket is a small, shallow, and sandy stream, full of what I took to be lamprey-eels' or suckers' nests, and lined with musquash cabins, but free from rapids, according to Fowler, excepting at its outlet from the lake. Normal Hardbound Edition is also available on request. The supply is always equal to the demand, and these hungry men think a good deal of getting their money's worth. This dam is a quite important and expensive work for this country, whither cattle and horses cannot penetrate in the summer, raising the whole river ten feet, and flooding, as they said, some sixty square miles by means of the innumerable lakes with which the river connects. When I asked McCauslin why more settlers did not come in, he answered, that one reason was, they could not buy the land, it belonged to individuals or companies who were afraid that their wild lands would be settled, and so incorporated into towns, and they be taxed for them; but to settling on the States' land there was no such hinderance.
We were, on the whole, rather an invalid party, and could render our boatmen but little assistance. I will describe particularly how we got over, some of these portages and rapids, in order that the reader may get an idea of the boatman's life. But there is the rough voice of Uncle George, who commands at the frying-pan, to send over what you 've got, and then you may stay till morning. They are fond of the water, and visit all these island-meadows, swimming as easily from island to island as they make their way through the thickets on land. But I had already seen that Maine country when I turned about, waving, flowing, rippling, down below. The sun was just going down behind them, and gilding the whole scene with its parting rays.
He was at this time engaged in cutting the native grass,—rush-grass and meadow-clover, as he called it,—on the meadows and small, low islands of this stream. The bear and deer are still found within its limits; and the moose, as he swims the Penobscot, is entangled amid its shipping, and taken by foreign sailors in its harbor. Shouldst thou freeze or starve, or shudder thy life away, here is no shrine, nor altar, nor any access to my ear. Here Uncle George had seen trout caught by the barrelful; but they would not rise to our bait at this hour. While he went ahead with the axe, and lopt off the smallest twigs of the flat-leaved cedar, the arbor-vitæ of the gardens, we gathered them up, and returned with them to the boat, until it was loaded.
As we poled up a swift rapid for half a mile above Aboljacarmegus Falls, some of the party read their own marks on the huge logs which lay piled up high and dry on the rocks on either hand, the relics probably of a jam which had taken place here in the Great Freshet in the spring. Supper was eaten off a large log, which some freshet had thrown up. Ducks were sailing here and there on its surface, and a solitary loon, like a more living wave,—a vital spot on the lake's surface,—laughed and frolicked, and showed its straight leg, for our amusement. The boatmen ran down Passamagamet, and, soon after. This was the readable, or reading matter, in a lumberer's camp in the Maine woods, thirty miles from a road, which would be given up to the bears in a fortnight. When next we awoke, the moon and stars were shining again, and there were signs of dawn in the east.
The largest are nearly as large as a horse, and weigh sometimes one thousand pounds; and it is said that they can step over a five-feet gate in their ordinary walk. At first the red clouds hung over the western shore as gorgeously as if over a city, and the lake lay open to the light with even a civilized aspect, as if expecting trade and commerce and towns and villas. This is the new all-American family—multicultural, proud, spirited—one which never takes life for granted. First we came to Passamagamet Lake, then to Passamagamet Falls, then to Passamagamet stream, emptying in. The falls of the same name, where we stopped to dine, are considerable and quite picturesque. Even the Penobscot and St. Every log is marked with the owner's name, cut in the sapwood with an axe or bored with an auger, so deep as not to be worn off in the driving, and yet not so as to injure the timber; and it requires considerable ingenuity to invent new and simple marks where there are so many owners.