Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cloudy; he had left his pocket-compass at the camp; the forest spread in endless lines around him; he stood in helpless bewilderment and dismay.

All day he wandered blindly, and at nightfall found himself still in a hopeless solitude. Weary and hungry, he lay down at the foot of a great tree, and passed the night in broken slumbers. The next day he wandered onward in the same blind helplessness, reaching, in late afternoon, the waters of a forest pond, shadowed by thick pines, and with water-fowl on its brink. One of these he shot, kindled a fire and cooked it, and for the first time since his misadventure tasted food. At night there came on a cold rain, drenched by which the blanketless wanderer was forced to seek sleep in the open wood.

Another day of fruitless wandering succeeded; another night of unrefreshing slumber. Paths were found in the forest, but they had been made by other feot than those of men, and if followed would lead him deeper into the seemingly endless wild. Roused by the new day from his chill couch, the lost wanderer despairingly roamed on, now almost bopeless of escape. Yet what sound was that which reached his ear? It was the silvery tinkle of a woodland rill, which crept onward unseen in the depths of a bushy glen. A ray of hope shot into his breast. This descending rivulet might lead him to the river where the hunters lay encamped. With renewed energy he traced its course, making his way through thicket and glen, led ever onwards by that musical sound, till he found himself on the borders of a small lake, within which the waters of his forest guide were lost.

This lake, he felt, must bave an outlet. He circled round it, clambering over fallen trees and forcing his way through thorny vines, till he saw, amid roots of alder-bushes, a streamlet flow from the lakeside. This he hopefully followed. Not far had he gone before a dull roar met his ears, breaking the sullen silence of the woods. It was the sound of falling waters. He hastened forward. The wood grew thinner. Light appeared before him. Pushing gladly onward, he broke through the screening bushes and found himself on the edge of an open meadow, wild animals its only tenants, some browsing on the grass, others lurking in bushy coverts. Yet a more gladsome sight to his eyes was the broad river, which here rushed along in a turbulent rapid, whose roar it was which had come to his ear in the forest glades.

He looked about him. On the rocky river-bank was a portage-path made by Indian feet. The place seemed familiar. A second sweeping gaze; yes, here were points he had seen before. He was saved. Glad at heart, he camped upon the riverbrink, kindled a fire, cooked the remains of his game, and passed that night, at least, in dreamless sleep. With daybreak be rose, followed the river downwards, and soon saw the smoke of the Indian camp-fires ascending in the morning air. In a few moments he had joined his dusky friends, greatly to their delight. They had sought him everywhere in vain, and now chided him gently for his careless risk, declaring that thenceforth they would never suffer him to go into the forest alone.

SIR WILLIAM PHIPS AND THE

SILVER-SHIP.

The story of a poor boy, born on the edge of the wilderness, “at a despicable plantation on the river of Kennebec, and almost the farthest village of the eastern settlement of New England,"—yet who ended his life as governor and nobleman, is what we have to tell. It is one of the most romantic stories in history. He was born in 1651, being a scion of the early days of the Puritan colony. He came of a highly prolific pioneer family,-he had twenty brothers and five sisters,-yet none but himself of this extensive family are heard of in history or biography. Genius is too rare a quality to be spread through such a flock. His father was a gunsmith. Of the children, William was one of the youngest. After his father's death, he helped his mother at sheep-keeping in the wilderness till he was eighteen years of age, then there came “an unaccountable impulse upon his mind that he was born to greater matters.” The seed of genius planted in his nature was beginning to germinate.

The story of the early life of William Phips. may be told in a few words. From sheep-tending he turned to carpentry, becoming an expert ship-car

[graphic][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »