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Chapter XV

Big Injin And Heap Big Slide

From "The Catskills" (1918)
By T. Morris Longstreth

Dame Nature -- like other dames-prefers not to wear the same costume twice. Brute and I saw enough valleys to convince us that the world was one vast gutter. Up glens, down ravines, along valleys did we traipse, pack-a-back, by day and by night, until we wondered how the region got to be called the Catskill Mountains. Mountains rose here and there, but the valleys were one continuous performance. The mountains rose merely to oblige the valleys, to bring them into relief, and in return the valleys led one insinuatingly into the mountains. How insinuatingly one could never guess until he came to the mouth of one and looked up. It was impossible to refuse the invitation-and always worded differently. For all their hundreds, we never saw two valleys alike. Dame Nature is the high priestess of versatility.

Shandaken is the village at the mouth of the Westkill Clove, and half way between the entrances to the Woodland and Big Injin valleys, the two ways of approach to Slide Mountain. We chose Big Injin -- named for a strapping redskin who got into trouble because he would murder people. The name, of course, has been banalized into Big Indian, just as in the Adirondacks we prefer to call the good and significant Tahawus Mt. Marcy. We shall continue to Germanize our imaginations until they starve to death, probably, or until somebody has the power to show us that there is a good deal in a name. Why hotel men, to mention just one class, should continue to propagate Hill Crests and Belle Vues by the hundreds, when they can make money out of names of distinction, is a conundrum that does not appeal to one proud of American wits.

Big Injin Valley begins with a curve that shuts it from the workaday world of road and rail. Having once wrapped itself satisfactorily in its air of seclusion, it starts off upon its mission of leading back into the heart of the wild country. The afternoon was as balmy as deceptive spring knows how to be. A wind, as tender as the bleat of a new-born lamb, played down the little side glens and whispered in the trees, until one was ready to believe its tale about summer being on the way. The stream curved from one side of the valley-bottom to the other, always clear, always rushing. Big Injin is the birth-dale of the Esopus, which conjures to my mind pictures equal in charm to those brought back by the mention of the Rondout, the Neversink, and the Schoharie.

We rounded curve after curve on the mounting road, always to find some charming slope ahead or some group of little hemlocks meeting together. Always there was some glimpse of the creek hurrying around the corner. Instead of the Mountains of the Sky, the Indians might have called the country the Land of Little Rivers, for down each glen sprang some brook to join the bright Esopus. Brute and I could not help exclaiming about their beauty, so intangible, so unpicturable.

It is for its streams that the Catskills has a right to be ranked with the great f amily of American parks. Their volume is not great compared to the waters of the Adirondacks or Canada, where the scale of things is beyond imagination. Neither is there unbroken forest large enough to earn the name of wilderness. The heart cannot leap as it does at the thought of the balsam-guarded glories of the Ausable and the Raquette, or the Abitibi and the Richelieu. But on a sunny afternoon in April, if you will go with me as I went with Brute, from glen to glen, each glittering with cascades, you will rejoice that New York City has such a wealth of beauty close at hand.

Half way up Big Injin is the little town of Oliverea, which the natives pronounce to rhyme with sea, and I don't see why they shouldn't. It boasts an engaging little schoolhouse, very white, with a yard, then already very green, on which three little boys were valiantly endeavoring to use a baseball bat -- the three being the entire boy population of the town, I suppose. Brute knocked out a few to them while I was making inquiries as to the accommodations farther along. We were ingenuously assured, with no reference to the truth, that we could easily find lodging farther up the road, or at least the man at the Club would take us in. The Club, it seemed, was half way up Slide. This, promising an early start on the morrow, cheered our legs, which were beginning to groan with the addition of every rod.

Big Injin Valley widens out at the top into an upland bowl. The Esopus falls away and is heard no more. In summer the view over the rolling hillsides presents great distances of melting contours. When we saw it we were chiefly concerned with the declining sun. The swelling tide of spring had not yet inundated the encompassing circlet of fields that heads the cultivable vale. We had again reached the snow-level. From time to time we had seen the gray sides of Panther heaving forests against the sky, but we had seen no Slide. We knew he must be ahead of us, for the map said so and the natives confirmed the map. But, though we had actually been ascending him for two hours, we had had no glimpse. Slide sidles behind other peaks. For years he had lived unsuspected by his tenants. With a final good-by to open fields, the Esopus, Big Injin Valley, and daylight, we entered the woods, tired, wet, hungry, and apprehensive.

The Winnisook Club is an exclusive affair headquartered on a little lake part way up Slide, surrounded by forests, miles from food and bed. Its cottages are cared for by an affable man and his wife, who, by rule, are not supposed to take in tramps, no matter how hungry. Luckily, we did not know this. Why the inhabitant of Oliverea did not tell us the truth of the matter I cannot fathom, and I shall not repeat Brute's reason.

The entrance to the Club forest is impressive. The trees are tall, the road winding. On that night, in addition to the awe of darkening wood, we felt a vague misgiving as of coming misadventure. If the caretaker should not be in, if he should not have enough food, if he should decline to house us -- these questionings came to our lips as the snow deepened and the steepness of the hill increased. "We can go on," said my legs to me, "but not an inch back."

How alternatives make cowards of us all! As long as there was a question of turning back and finding assured provender in distant Oliverea, or of plugging on and trusting to fortune, what a sickening seesaw our wills experienced! But when we had gone so far that there was no more question of retreat, how gay we became! There is sorcery in such a situation. Brute is the sort of chap to come completely under the spell. Fortune has but to waver, and he is after her like a terrier after a rat. Let a scrape get really absurd, and he is elated with a species of raging joy. His pulse beats to the impossible. And we all love him for it. That was why it was such fun to travel with him. In the last analysis, it is a safe tendency, too; for those who can be divinely foolish can also be supremely sensible.

Despite Brute's occasional jests, I pulled myself up that slope with a hang-dog sinking of the nerve. It was so steep for tired muscles, so dark when there might be no light to greet us. The Club must keep stout horses. Presently we came upon a man's tracks. He had been chopping. I can remember the appearance of his handiwork yet -- ash in fire-wood pieces, white as peppermint sticks. It made me savagely hungry.

At the last gasp of twilight and of my lamenting bellows, we reached the dammed pond on which the Club cottages look out. We tried several before we found the one inhabited by the caretaker. A very thin wisp of smoke came from the chimney. This was cheering. We knocked. No answer. Knocked again. No answer. This was not cheering. In that moment of waiting I realized how very tired I was. After the third knock we opened the door and walked in.

The kitchens of mountaineers are usually one extreme or another. They are filthy or very clean, welter of incapacity or a brightness to the soul, sty or a religion. This one was a religion. The black iron altar from which the incense arose had not been left overlong, for the wood coals were still hot. In one corner stood a table on which the gospel of good eating was thrice-daily preached. It was still set with the lesser tenets: a jug of maple syrup, a bottle of pickles, sugar. The pantry door was open, and no hart panted after the water-brooks more fervently than did our palates for the sustenance within. Yet in this inimitable paradise of plenty there was no inhabitant visible. The situation paralleled that of the original Garden in the week preceding Adam.

It was a delicate situation. Out West it is still entirely permissible to apply the golden rule. In the East the silver one has been adopted instead.

"Must we starve in sight of plenty?" I sighed.

"We'll explain that we aren't ordinary housebreakers."

"Suppose they shoot us first and then inquire?"

"Why can't we pay in advance?"

"Before being shot, you mean?"

"I'll stay with you," said Brute, with a sudden air of finality, putting some wood into the stove at the same time.

"You certainly won't go with me," I replied, trying to assume the same tone.

"Where do you suppose they keep the bacon?" Thus we were committed.

While supper was advancing we thought of many plans. Both to sit up and welcome the returning host. One to sit up, the other to sleep, turn about. Both to go to bed, leaving a note. We had a simple but substantial meal, and we made out a scrupulous bill to ourselves, paying it to the table in dimes and quarters, a pile of them by the lamp. The clock-hands went round, but nobody appeared. The heat of the room, the soothing meal, the pleasant reaction from indecision to commitment, from fatigue to sleepiness, all made staying up a further impossibility.

"I'll give this family ten minutes to come in and catch me awake. After that they can finish me off with a club and I'll not say a word."

I yawned an unmannerly, exuberant yawn.

"It's unreasonableble," I muttered, "if they're so finicky as to object to two, nice, pleasant, cultivated, amiable, and fatigued young-"

"Oh, cut it and give me a pencil."

I sleepily pitched Brute one, and he took a piece of paper, -- the side of a breakfast-food box it was, -- and printed:

    KINDLY DO NOT WAKEN
    WE CAN PAY

The idea was a good one. I took the other side of the box and wrote:

    PLEASE BE GENTLE. WE ARE HARMLESS TOURISTS

Then, with the ends of the box, we made two placards and placed them beside the little piles of coin:

    FOOD--LODGING

That done and our minds composed to sleep, there remained only the details of the exact location. We delicately reconnoitered the situation as far as it threw light on beds. Upstairs there were three rooms with a double bed each, and downstairs a crib, a couch, a window-seat, and an enormous arm-chair. It was a nice diplomacy that was required. How far could we trespass on the sanctity of the home and yet get a night's rest? The crib was out of the question, and I declined the arm-chair. We thought it wise to eliminate the upstairs beds. This left us the couch, the window-seat, and the floor.

We had just recovered from the last throes of debate and were partially prepared for windowseat and couch, when the kitchen door swung open, and in stepped a flannel-shirted gentleman, closely followed by a lady and two younger gentilities.

I say gentleman and lady descriptively, instead of man and woman, which they undoubtedly were, because of the not inconsiderable poise with which they met the situation. My visualization of a gentleman is very nearly that of a man walking into his own house at the dead of night to find it commandeered by two strangers, and yet whose equanimity is still equal to the shock.

There was a moment of polite expectancy, the moment in a Western story when the hero's eye flashes fire just before his gun does. The two boys stared from behind their mother. Then Mr. Short said:

"Making yourselves to home, boys?"

So, after all, there was no ranting to heaven, nothing theatrical except the entrance. We soon were explained. They laughed at our signs, and Mrs. Short brought out some gingerbread which we had overlooked, and which made a delectable addendum to our meal (as paid for). The boys, who were at the hero stage, were all eyes on Brute, who sat winking like a sleepy young giant, with his shirt open at the throat, his sleeves still rolled up-he had washed the dishes-showing wondrous muscle, or so they thought. And as he said droll things they stared.

There is nothing so beautiful as a boy's admiration for strength. I doubt whether Brute realized his enshrinement. He talked against sleep because he felt that he owed them more than money. But it makes a scene I shall be long forgetting: the hospitable kitchen, the wide-eyed youngsters, and the guide listening as Brute told them about our night on Huntersfield. His feet were high on the wood-box; the good nature of him shone through his weariness. His dark, tously hair and dark eyes made the necessary shadow to the light of his smile.

At length-at great length, it seemed to mewe were shown to real sheets, and we slept-for a moment. The sun-which, like the reputed American zeal, cannot be kept down-rising, we did too, confused at the shortness of the night, but obedient to Mr. Short's summons. There is much virtue in cold water. A little cold water put the sun in its place. We descended as fresh as if there had been no yesterdays. Mrs. Short's breakfast was ambitious, trying to be dinner. We did justice to its aspirations. As the boys saw us off, they said:

"Reckon you fellows'll be the first up Slide this season. Good luck."

People like that bring home the kindred of the world. In contrast to the apprehension with which we had approached the lonely little Club, we were going refreshed in body and reinforced in spirit. The earth, too, had been recreated by the night. Frost sparkled on everything. The air bit playfully. The universe shone as if it had just been turned out from a fresh lot of nebulae. The snow was hard, and easy to walk on.

The route from the Club led along the road for short way, then turned to the right and took to trail. As the boys had warned us, there were no footprints, but the blazes were readable. The map was sufficient commentary. To our left the woods sloped uniformly up; on the right they fell into a ravine. Here and there the forest cover parted f or a moment to let the eye rove over distances that were ever bluer and farther. It took about two hours to reach the top.

Unfortunately for the view in summer, Slide has no tower. There used to be one, but it has rotted. We felt our way to the highest point by following the old telephone wire that used to run to the tower. Even without that, it would not be very difficult to follow the spine of the horseback crest to the actual summit. For us it was very easy, as a digression to either side meant plunging into snow armpit deep. Rabbit tracks, deer tracks, even mouse and bird tracks, were common on the level top between the stunted conifers where the snow could not drift. Spring, which had been busy in Philadelphia for a full mouth, which had begun to run her green fingers through the woods of the valley below us, had never cast a look in Slide's direction. Except for the crust on the snow, which betokened some thaw, it might have been December on the ground. But not so in the air. The dazzle of a spring sun, a certain softness that would win yet from the hard heart of winter what was wanted, were all about. We reached the pile of stones supposed to be the apex of the ungainly mountain, and drew a deep breath. It had been without much effort, and, in the world of morals, should be without much reward. But there is some comfort for sinners in knowing that Nature gets along without morality. I have undergone every torture under heaven in trying to reach some peak, and had little for my pains. Again, I have strolled out upon some ledge and had the world at my f eet. There is no morality in Nature. But there is so much intelligence required to keep up with her that it is easier to follow the trails that we call morals than to blaze new ways to the selfsame peaks. Quite without questioning as to whether we had earned the view, we sat down on a near-by projection and began to absorb it.

It was still early morning. There was no stir of air. The influences of Nature were exactly counter-poised. Even the immense billows of mountains seemed just forever halted. Snow glitter answered back to sun, east to west, range in response to valley. It was impossible to realize that this whole accurately balanced contrivance was evolving at frenzied speed-hard to realize even that there were breezes in the valley and tides in the sea. Peace and calm beyond the senses to feel closed about us.

Views from the tops of mountains are among the most unsatisfying things that human beings toil to attain, and the higher the more unsatisfying. Lesser mountains immediately become despicable. The reach of sky, ordinarily big enough, one would think, expands to inconceivable and useless proportions. Instead of looking at the colored mosses at one's feet, which could be understood, one gazes into a vague wash of sentiment that leaves no effect on the memory. The wind usually precludes comfort. The home-going must soon be considered. As a waste of foot pounds of energy, mountaineering is nearly one hundred per cent. thorough. But as a bath to the spirit it is an efficient promoter of soul-health.

The easiest view from Slide is obtained from that projection on the east. We sat for a long while, watching the long ribbon of the Ashokan and the faint mists of morning lying in the troughs of the mountain-rollers. To the northeast rose terrace after terrace of the northern Catskills, tinged with a f aint, coppery blue. Then we changed over to the west, and looked down into wooded valleys where the morning was still young.

On the north side we looked over into the extraordinary gulf from which the mountain drew its name, part of the brow having yielded to the call of gravity and slipped to the base.

Early in the morning the three hundred miles of horizon visible from Slide paint a color picture to which one's sensibilities, keyed by the height, respond with pleasure. There are greens and blues, browns and oranges, violets and purples, yellow whites and innumerable gradations of unnamable tints. Sunset is a wide shimmer of color deepening from the east to west. Moonlight makes the valleys luminous with grays and velvet blacks. At noon the vales are in a stupor of light; at midnight they are lost in a dream of darkness over-watched by such a multitude of stars that there come new impressions of the Divine Authority. Slide is hard to reach, hard to see from, is remote and lonely; but in spring or summer, in snow-time or at the tide of flaming leaf, the view it gives over the ocean of visible atmosphere will never fail to repay. Enchantment ebbs and flows, if you but take the time to be enchanted.

If Brute and I had learned no other lesson from all our peaks, it was to surrender ourselves to the mountain in hand, to forget plans and times, and to let ourselves get thoroughly bewitched. If you carry up clothes enough to keep warm, the mountain will do the rest. As the morning lengthened I fell to watching the birds, of which there seemed an unusual number. A downy woodpecker was rejoicing in virgin territory, and some chickadees were apparently doing him the honors of the summit. So small, so hospitable, so cheerful! Brute answered their matter-of-fact burr, and attracted a kinglet from the void. A snow-bird seemed positively glad to see us, whisking about the stone-piles, but never getting far away.

But Brute did not talk. Talking, with him, was by no means a way of passing time, but rather a method of communicating something that he wanted to say. The advantages of this probably overbalance the disadvantages, but sometimes I would have liked just a little babbling for the sake of a voice. After he had his fill of the surrounding emptiness, he began to hunt up the names of the ranges on the map, and to put them in my note-book. I am giving them as I find them, reading from north to northeast and on around. If you can't get up Slide this may help to a slight visualization of the panorama:

Due north, a deep ravine, the rising shoulder of Panther, with Vly far off.

Panther Peak, a magnificent expanse of hardwood forest with a few conifers.

Shandaken Notch, steep walls and a hint of the farther valley.

Huntersfield (of nocturnal memory).

North Dome, actually domelike, falling into Broadstreet Hollow, with Mt. Richmond showing beyond.

Mt. Sheridan close, with Big Westkill's bulk high behind it.

Windham High Peak thirty miles away, with Hunter Mountain nearer, and Black Dome and Blackhead visible through Woodland Valley on the northeast.

Stony Clove, quickly rising to Plateau Mountain. Mt. Tremper nearer, and the Mink.

Kaaterskill High Peak in back of Mt. Pleasant.

Indian Head back of Mt. Tobias, a funny little melted ice-cream cone.

The sky-line here is easily the figure of a man lying down. It is known as the Old Man of the Mountains -- a magnificent welter of rounded lines.

Then comes the Overlook Mountain in the distance, the Wittenberg dark in the foreground, with a cleft where Woodstock lies.

Mt. Cornell.

Far to the east they say that you can see Mt. Everett in Massachusetts.

Mt. Ticetonyk next, and Kingston lying low, with Hussey's Hill and the great Reservoir appearing over Balsam Top.

Southeast lies High Point and Lake Mohonk, Break Neck, and far away Storm King of the Highlands.

Due south the long Shawangunk Range, with Cross Mountain and the slopes nearby where rise the waters of the Neversink.

Lone Mountain and the broad Table, with Peekamose beyond.

The rest of the horizon was hard to see because of trees. Double-Top was easily distinguishable to the west, with Graham next, and Hemlock in the foreground.

Big Injin and Eagle Mountain sitting, appropriately, on a nest of peaks of which the next to the last is Big Balsam.

Belle Ayre, with its tower, Big Injin Valley, and Lost Clove leading to Belle Ayre.

In the distance we could see Mt. Utsayantha watching over Stamford, then Bloomberg and Halcott, which spins the circle back to Panther and the great ravine.

It is a great sensation to live long at such an altitude, to eat one's lunch where eagles are out for theirs, between bites to devour the Berkshires with one's eyes, and to drink of the Hudson between cups of coffee. Finally Brute broke his reverie, motioning to the disappearing Storm King:

"It's not much use to boast of your silly little distances like that, when anybody can see mountains a hundred times as far."

"Are you wandering?" I asked.

He pointed up to where a lemon-colored moon hung like a cake-plate.

"There's mountains on that, you told me once," he gurgled, "and snow on Mars, and spots on the sun, and here you are cackling about seeing into seven States at once. When do you expect to grow up?"

My next move was not a reassuring answer to the query.

There are several ways of leaving Slide. In summer a blazed trail over the Wittenberg gives a better view of the Ashokan and takes you down into Woodland Valley. Then you can venture into the Peekamose region, or you can follow our up-trail back to the road and go on down the Neversink through Branch, surely one of the loveliest roads in the world. But we looked over the northern edge, and a twin-idea came to us simultaneously. Although bluebirds had long since come to the lowlands, the snow down that declivity was deep and smooth and fairly hard. It occurred to us that, instead of laboring up Wittenberg, it would be far more fun to slide down Slide. The slope of the horse's neck was just right for such a performance, and we could connect with the little brook that flows into Woodland Creek and so keep our bearings. Accordingly, leaving the crumbs for the chickadees and taking a last lungful of the view, we went over the top.

To enjoy the next twenty minutes with us, please imagine a mountain slope of about forty-five degrees and of astonishing smoothness. The snow blanket was not stone-hard, but packed just enough to sustain weight. On the slope grew small trees, the underbrush being snow-covered to a great extent. Kindly picture Brute and me starting down this wooded, crusted slope very gingerly at first, crouching on toes, soon allowing ourselves to attain greater speed, which was easily regulated by braking with our heels or by swinging around a smooth birch and beginning over again. The technique of this sport was speedily acquired. A slight bend forward would increase the speed at once. If there was a bush in the road, you could tack, or shut your eyes and go through. There was but one danger-to catch one 's leg beneath a limb fast in the snow at both ends. At our rate of falling, a leg could easily have been snapped without our noticing it, as it were.

But, as in running down a mountain, one does not count on being injured. The pace gets into the blood. We were able to keep parallel for some while; but Brute, the heavier, soon fell faster, in the path of the snowballs, which ricocheted ahead of us, heralding our coming. It was a grand game, this slide-and-stop method of falling down a mountain. We soon ],-new how fast we could go, and it was no inconspicuous speed. The hollow into which we were avalanching soon became obviously a stream-bed. Soon we heard the stream itself directly beneath us. Yet, since the crust held, we saw no reason why we should stop. My haunches grew wearier and wearier, but the spirit said, "On." We must have slid a mile. Certainly my gloves will never slide again.

In very good time we stopped. Five yards more and we should have made a waterfall of ourselves; for the brook, coming out of concealment, fell into a chasm, leaving us to pay for our fun by winding down its icy bed. How long we were doomed to curve as it curved, to make figure eights for fear of losing it, I cannot say. But this I will assert: if there is anything that doesn't know its mind, it is a stream of water.

I should never counsel anybody to ascend Slide from that side. Yet if anybody does he will see beautiful woods and crystal streams. We soon found the mountain-side supporting larger trees. The brook grew by running, and finally, where it f ound a mate in another brook, we slackened our pace to account for stock. Our packs were on our backs. Our bones were in their joints. God was in His heaven, and so were we. What more could be desired?

The laughing beauty of the halting-place went straight to our hearts. The two streams, released from their songless dream beneath ice, joined hands and dropped down the ravine together in an exhilaration of white light. Ice glittered from the ledges, snow shone back into the wood, the wood was itself white with the cream and ivory of birch, and the sun shone levelly through the trees. We sat on the roots of a great hemlock and basked in the perfection of life.

For a moment the warmth of the slide was in our blood; the chill of the frosted grottos had not yet begun to penetrate. For a silver moment we rested, dazzled, almost breathless from the very splendor of our repose. Then we moved on.

My memory has often gone back to that vision of untenanted fairyland, with its dim actual mountain bulking through the trees. I would like to lead people up that stream to that very spot, if there would be any chance of their seeing what Brute and I beheld. But it would never be the same. Nature is not only lavish beyond computation in her variety of gifts: she must even vary the variety until one's head spins in the bewilderment of riches. Mostly we do not heed, cannot heed, being so busy with stancher things than beauty. But when we need refreshment it will always be there, this eternal fountain of beauty flowing in countless places, most of them half hidden.

There was one more surprise reserved for us that day. We had bounded down that brook until we were weary, and the sun as well. We had crossed the trail and met Dougherty's Brook, as the good map said we would; but habitations seemed a world away. Suddenly a silent bird flew a few yards ahead of me, and stopped to stare. It was a sleek and ruddy robin, whom we blessed, for we knew that worms must be in sight. And worms meant food and lodging -- indirectly, of course. Occasionally one comes upon a robin in the deep wood -- usually a second son off seeking his fortune, or perhaps camping out. Mostly, however, a robin is the precursor of the cow-bell, a forerunner of friends at hand. Nor was our robin to betray our trust. Within three minutes we were talking to the children of the pioneer who lived farthest up Woodland Valley. Once more we were in spring. The snow was but a thin line along rock ledges, and once more we dared think how hungry we were.

 

We ordered supper by cubic measure, and in the faint glow of early evening continued our walk down the valley. The cake-plate moon had long since been put away, but there was a surprising store of light. No night in the open is dark unless it is clouded. Type cannot be read by starlight, but a watch-face can be made out on any ordinary night. Details of scenery are lost, but the dark of ranges, the light of rivers, show against the general blank. Starlight on a lake or a wide road is light enough to travel by. But at night the world is very large.

Woodland Valley was once and better named Snyder's Hollow. Some lily-livered namester with more sentimentality than sense did ill to deprive the late Snyder of his due. If he first settled in it, he was a discerning man and deserves the credit. If an impersonal name had to be found for the smiling curves and beckoning aisles of the valley, the first ass that brayed might have better taken Hee Haw Hollow to christen it with than the school-girlish and indistinguishable title of Woodland, where every other valley is woodland too.

This valley is a wander-way of sheer delight. You can loaf along it in the sunshine and watch the trout, or you can visit the little colony and talk with its founder, or explore into its streamenlivened recesses. At its head the Wittenberg is its dark guardian, and Cross and Pleasant stand. From the last a ridge runs out a protecting arm along the entire valley, while on its western side great Panther sends out buttress after buttress to shelter it f rom storms. Into it flows the Panther Kill, another cherubic, laughing brook, wilful as an Indian child. The vistas up these valley arms are altogether lovely. I have yet to find a fellow tramp who has not left part of his heart up Woodland Valley.

We were again upon the Esopus, to which we had said dubious au revoir the night before. By arrangement rather than by desire, we stopped at the Phoenicia post-office. The summons was there, three days old. Brute's sister had recovered from the measles, and his presence was requested. It was a dreadful blow, coming on top of so much pleasure. His feet were wet, his clothes were muddy, his hat was torn, his face was scratched, and I am not sure that his undersitting was not the sufferer from too much Slide; but the boy proper was in the rich and perfect bloom of health. He did not speak for a little, nor did I feel like conversation. The wealth of the last three weeks, on the interest from which I could support many a happy memory, had been so silently accumulating that I had not realized how much of it I was in debt to Vreeland for.

He took the early morning train.

"Remember the ninth of June," I called to him.

"Call me a hop-toad if I 'm not there," he shouted back.

I strolled back to the empty town. There was a pleasant store, and the owner was intelligent on flies and full of tales about the recent trout-killings in the Esopus. I might have felt more disconsolate had not every once in a while the recollection of a certain agreement flashed across my mind with a joyous brain-wink: "Noon at the top-most rock of Shokan High Point on the ninth of June, shine or rain." 

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