or beside it, or at least within sight or sound of it.
The immensity of the sea had always silenced and overawed him, left him
cold in feeling. The river wooed him, caressed him, won his heart. It
was just big enough to love. It was full of charms and changes, of
varying moods and sudden surprises. Its voice stole in upon his ear with
a melody far sweeter and more subtle than the boom of the ocean. Yet it
was not without strength, and when it was swollen with the freshets of
the spring and brimming with the bounty of its sister streams, it could
dash and roar, boom and crash, with the best of them.
Stephen stood on the side porch, drinking in the glory of the sunrise,
with the Saco winding like a silver ribbon through the sweet loveliness
of the summer landscape.
And the river rolled on toward the sea, singing its morning song,
creating and nourishing beauty at every step of its onward path. Cradled
in the heart of a great mountain-range, it pursued its gleaming way,
here lying silent in glassy lakes, there rushing into tinkling little
falls, foaming great falls, and thundering cataracts. Scores of bridges
spanned its width, but no steamers flurried its crystal depths. Here and
there a rough little rowboat, tethered to a willow, rocked to and fro in
some quiet bend of the shore. Here the silver gleam of a rising perch,
chub, or trout caught the eye; there a pickerel lay rigid in the clear
water, a fish carved in stone: here eels coiled in the muddy bottom of
some pool; and there, under the deep shadows of the rocks, lay fat,
sleepy bass, old, and incredibly wise, quite untempted by, and wholly
superior to, the rural fisherman's worm.
The river lapped the shores of peaceful meadows; it flowed along banks
green with maple, beech, sycamore, and birch; it fell tempestuously over
dams and fought its way between rocky cliffs crowned with stately firs.
It rolled past forests of pine and hemlock and spruce, now gentle, now
terrible; for there is said to be an Indian curse upon the Saco,
whereby, with every great sun, the child of a paleface shall be drawn
into its cruel depths. Lashed into fury by the stony reefs that impeded
its progress, the river looked now sapphire, now gold, now white, now
leaden gray; but always it was hurrying, hurrying on its appointed way
to the sea.
After feasting his eyes and filling his heart with a morning draught of
beauty, Stephen went in from the porch and, pausing at the stairway,
called in stentorian tones: "Get up and eat your breakfast, Rufus! The
boys will be picking the side jams to-day, and I'm going down to work on
the logs. If you come along, bring your own pick-pole and peavey." Then,
going to the kitchen pantry, he collected, from the various shelves, a
pitcher of milk, a loaf of bread, half an apple-pie, and a bowl of
blueberries, and, with the easy methods of a household unswayed by
feminine rule, moved toward a seat under an apple-tree and took hisDownload<<BackPagesMainNext>>