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   Chapter 5 A WINTER PICNIC-PARTY.

Winter Fun By William Osborn Stoddard Characters: 29747

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The Stebbins farm was not a large one, and neither its house nor barns compared well with Deacon Farnham's; but there was a great deal to be done in and around them, even in winter. Vosh was a busy boy, therefore, the next morning, and his mother was a busy woman; and it was not until an hour after breakfast that she said to him,-

"Now, Lavawjer, you jest hitch up that there new red cutter of yourn, and fetch it around. I want you to drive me to Benton Village, and, if I can't find what I want there, I'm goin' right on to Cobbleville."

Vosh had been thinking up a series of excuses for going over to the deacon's, but he made no mention of them; and it was a credit to him that his new turnout was so soon standing, all ready, by the front gate.

It was not a bad idea, that his first long drive in it should be with his mother; but he had a string of surprises before him that day.

The first came in the fact that his mother was unaccountably silent, and that, whenever she did open her lips, she had something to say about economy. Then she talked a little of the wickedness and vanity of buying or wearing any thing "just for show." City people, she freely declared, were doing that very thing all the while, and she was glad enough no one alive could accuse her of it.

Vosh was quite sure she was right; but he could not help, when they drove by Deacon Farnham's, and he saw the girls at the window, being a little glad that his cutter was of so bright a red, and so remarkably well varnished.

Benton Village was right down there in the valley, and the sorrel colt pulled them there in so short a time that it was no sleigh-ride at all.

Mrs. Stebbins said as much, after she had bought some tea and sugar at one store, and some raisins and some coffee at another.

"They haven't got what I want, Lavawjer. You kin drive right along to Cobbleville. There never was better sleighin', not even when I was a gal."

That was a great deal for her to admit, and Vosh put the colt to his very best speed along the well-travelled road to Cobbleville. That was several long miles, but they were strangely silent ones.

"Where shall I pull up, mother?" asked Vosh as they drove into the one long street of the village.

"You kin make your first stop right there, at old Gillis's harness-shop. I want to look at some o' them things in his front winder."

Something or other must have winked at Vosh; for he was out of that cutter, and had his colt hitched in front of Gillis's, in about half his usual time.

"Lavawjer," she said to him as she paused on the sidewalk, "don't you ever buy a thing just for show. You mustn't ever let your vanity get the best of you."

Two minutes later she was holding in her right hand a very useful string of sleigh-bells, and saying to him,-

"Now, Lavawjer, if you're ever drivin' along after dark, you won't be run into. Anybody'll know you're there, by the jingle. I'll kinder feel safer about ye."

Vosh thought he had not often seen less vanity in any thing than there was in those bells, and he was thinking of going right out to put them on the sorrel, when his mother exclaimed,-

"There! that's what I've been a-lookin' for,-that there red hoss-blanket, with the blue border and the fringe. Jest tell me what the price of it is."

It was only a very little, the best blanket in the shop; and she said to her son,-

"I don't know but it's kinder showy. You can't exactly help that. But it won't do for you to let that colt of yourn git warm, drivin' him sharp, and then let him catch cold when you hitch him. You must take keer of him, and see't he has his blanket on. You'll find it mighty useful."

"Guess I will!" said Vosh, with a queer feeling that he ought to say something grateful, and didn't know how. He was thinking about it, when his mother said to him,-

"That there headstall of yourn is gettin' cracked, and the check-rein might break some day. The rest of your harness'll do for a while. It's always safe to have your leather in good condition."

No doubt; and the sorrel colt was a different-looking animal when Vosh exchanged the head-gear he had worn coming, for the new rig the careful Mrs. Stebbins bought for him.

"Now, Vosh, there isn't any thing else I want in Cobbleville, but you may drive through the main street, and we'll take a look at the town."

He unhitched the colt, and sprang in after her. The new headstall, check-rein, and the bells were already in their places. The brilliant blanket was spread across their laps as they sat in the cutter. Vosh touched up the sorrel, and all the Cobbleville people who saw that turnout dash up the street for half a mile and back again were compelled to admit that it was decidedly a neat one.

"Now, Lavawjer," said his mother, "don't you never do nothin' jest for show. If you want to take Judith Farnham or her sister, or Penelope, or Susie Hudson, out a-sleighin', they won't need to turn up their noses at the rig you come after 'em in."

They had all been talking of Vosh and his mother that morning at Deacon Farnham's, and it was plain that the good qualities of the Stebbins family were fully understood by their next-door neighbors. The boys hoped Vosh would come over in the course of the day, but he did not. The next day was Saturday, and still he did not come. He was at work in his own barn, shelling corn for dear life, to let his mother know how fully he appreciated her generosity. He felt that it would take an immense deal of hard work to express all he felt about the bells and the blanket, not to speak of the bright bits of new harness.

The next day was Sunday, and Deacon Farnham's entire household went to meeting down at Benton Village. Almost all they saw of Vosh was when they turned around to look at the choir. Susie only did that once, for she somehow connected her catching his eye with the fact that he just then started on the wrong stanza of the hymn they were singing, and so got himself looked at by the choir-leader.

The next day, just after tea, Vosh came over "to have a word with Deacon Farnham," and he had an errand of some importance this time. Corry and Porter stood by, with their mouths wide open, while he delivered it. He was just inside the kitchen-door; and Susie and Pen were sitting on the other side of the stove, paring apples.

"There was a man came by to-day from one of the lumber camps way up among the mountains. He was on his way to town for supplies and things. He says the road to Mink Lake's good enough for a sleigh."

"All the way?" asked the deacon somewhat doubtfully.

"Every inch of it: I asked him. Now, why couldn't we go in for a mess of pickerel?"

"And a grand sleigh-ride!" exclaimed Corry.

"And an old-fashioned winter picnic!" added aunt Sarah Farnham. "How would you like that, Susie?"

"A winter picnic! I never heard of such a thing. How do you do it? Seems to me it would be splendid, if you could."

"A picnic, a picnic!" shouted Pen. "Fishing through the ice, Susie, and-and-there's ever so many other things.-Mother, can we go?"

Vosh Stebbins had spoken only about the pickerel, but the larger enterprise was what had really been upon his mind. Before he went home it had been thoroughly discussed, and pretty well arranged for.

"Corry," said Port after Vosh went away, "what sort of a place is Mink Lake?"

"It's the prettiest kind of a lake. It's a great place to go to in summer,-just crowded with fish."

"Is it far?"

"About eight or nine miles, right through the woods and around among the mountains. Crookedest road you ever saw. It's apt to be snowed up in winter; but we haven't had any deep snow yet, and it hasn't drifted much, somehow."

"What kind of fish,-trout?"

"Yes, there's trout, but there's more bass and pickerel and perch. You're apt to be awfully bothered with pumpkin-seeds in summer."

Port was silent. He wanted to ask about the pumpkins, and how the seeds could bother a fellow when he was fishing for trout. After a minute or so, he uttered one word,-

"Pumpkin-seeds?"

"Crowds of 'em. They're the meanest kind of fish. Bite, bite, bite, and you keep pulling 'em in, all the while you want something bigger."

"Can't you eat 'em?"

"Yes, they're good to fry, but they're full of bones. Not enough of 'em."

"They won't bite in winter, will they?"

"Hope not. Tell you what, Port, we're in for the biggest kind of a time."

That was an exciting evening. Nobody seemed to want to go to bed, and the semicircle around the fireplace talked of hardly any thing else but fishing and hunting. Deacon Farnham himself came out with some stories aunt Judith said she hadn't heard him tell for more than a year. Porter and Susie had no stories to tell, but they could listen. The former went to bed at last, with a vague feeling that he would rather go to Mink Lake. It was a good while before he got to sleep, and even then he had a wonderful dream. He dreamed he was trying to pull a fish as large as a small whale through a sort of auger-hole in some ice. He pulled so hard, he woke himself up; but he could roll over and go to sleep soundly, now the fish was gone.

The house was early astir in the morning; and Deacon Farnham's long, low box-sleigh, drawn by his two big black horses, was at the door by the time they were through breakfast. Mrs. Farnham had decided not to go, because, as she said,-

"It's Judith's turn. Somebody's got to stay and keep house."

It had required some argument to persuade aunt Judith that it was her duty to go, but she had taken hold of the preparations with a will. It was wonderful what an amount of wrapping-up she deemed necessary for herself and all the rest.

"Why, Judith," said the deacon, "it's a good deal warmer in the woods than it is out here."

"I've heerd tell so, and mebbe it's true, but I don't put any trust in it. I've no notion of bein' frost-bit before I get back."

There was little to be feared from the frost, with all the buffalo-robes and blankets and shawls and cloaks that were piled into that sleigh.

When its passengers were in, they made quite a party. There was the deacon (who insisted on driving), and aunt Judith, and Mrs. Stebbins and Vosh, and Corry, and Susie Hudson and Porter, and Penelope, in the sleigh, with Ponto all around outside of it; besides all the baskets of luncheon, the fishing-tackle, axes, and guns.

"You can't shoot fish," said Susie.

"May shoot something else," said Vosh. "There's no such thing as telling. It's a wild place."

"Susie!" exclaimed Pen, "didn't you know there were deer up at Mink Lake,-real deer?"

"Corry," whispered Port, "let's get one before we come home."

"Father's got his gun by him, all ready, but he won't let us get ours out till we reach the lake. He may get a shot at something as he drives along."

There was a sharp lookout for all kinds of wild animals, after the way began to wind among the piny woods, and through the desolate-looking "clearings" left by the choppers. The road was found even better than Vosh's news had reported it, and the black team pulled their merry load along quite easily.

The young folk soon got over the solemn feeling which came upon them when they found themselves actually in the great forest.

It was delightful to shout, and listen for echoes; and to sing, and know there was not a living pair of ears to hear, except those in the sleigh, and Ponto's.

It was about two hours after they left the farmhouse, and Port had just remarked,-

"Seems to me we've been going up hill all the time," when Corry suddenly exclaimed,-

"There it is! That's Mink Lake. It'll be down hill all the way going home. See it!"

"Lake!" said Port. "I don't see any lake. Oh, yes, I do! It's all ice and snow,-frozen clean over."

"And we haven't seen a single deer yet," said Susie sorrowfully.

"You can see some now, then," replied Vosh as he eagerly pointed forward. "See 'em, Susie? See 'em? Way down yonder on the ice."

"I see them!" shouted Pen. "One, two, three, four of 'em."

"Those black specks?" said Susie.

There they were indeed, and they were beginning to move rapidly across the ice; but they were too far away for any thing more than just to make out what they were.

Even Ponto continued to plod along soberly behind the sleigh. He was too old a dog to excite himself over any such distant and impossible game as that.

Deacon Farnham seemed to know exactly what he was about; for he drove right on where nobody else could see any road, until he stopped in front of a very small and very rudely made kind of house.

"Aunt Judith," asked Susie, "did anybody ever live here?"

"Live here, child? Why, that there's a choppers' shanty. It's for anybody that wants it, now they've done with it."

That was so, but it was not for the mere human beings of that picnic-party. The deacon took his horses from the sleigh, and led them in through the rickety door.

"They're a little warm," he said, "but they won't catch cold in there. I'll give 'em a good feed, Vosh, while you're starting a fire.-Get the guns and tackle out, Corry."

Vosh had had a hard struggle with himself that morning to leave his own horse and cutter at home; but his mother had settled it for him. She remarked,-

"I'd ruther be in the big sleigh with the folks, so I can hear what's goin' on. So would Susie Hudson, or aunt Judith Farnham. You'd be kind o' lonely. Besides, that little thing of yourn 'd be upsettin' twenty times, over them mountain roads."

He was ready with his axe now; and Porter Hudson opened his eyes at the rapidity with which a great fire was blazing on the snow, a little distance from the shanty.

"What are we to get into?" asked Port.

"We won't need any shelter," said aunt Judith. "When it's time for dinner, we can eat it in the sleigh."

They were not yet thinking of eating. The first business on hand was a trip to the lake. Vosh Stebbins took his axe with him, and he and the deacon each carried a long, wide board. Port managed not to ask what these were for, and he had not a great while to wait before he knew.

"Vosh," said the deacon, "the ice must be pretty thick. Hope we sha'n't have to chop a hole."

"There's one air-hole, away yonder. It doesn't look too wide."

"Shouldn't wonder if it'd do."

"Susie," said Pen, "don't you know? That's where all the fish come up to the top to get a breath of fresh air."

There was some truth in Pen's explanation, in spite of the laugh she got from Mrs. Stebbins. Susie said nothing, for she was all eyes at that moment. She thought she had never seen any thing stranger or more beautiful than that little lake, all frozen, with the hills around it, and the mountains beyond them. The broken slopes of the hills and mountains were covered with

white snow, green pines, spruces, hemlocks, and with the brownish gray of the other trees whose leaves had fallen from them. It was very wonderful and new to a young lady from the city.

"Most half the lake," said Vosh, "is smooth enough to skate on. If I'd ha' thought of that, I'd ha' brought along my skates."

It would have been worth while. Mink Lake was what some people call a "pond," and was hardly a mile wide by an irregular mile and a half long. There was an immense skating-rink there now, in spite of the snow which covered a large part of it.

Susie was just about to ask some more questions, when her uncle shouted,-

"This'll do, Vosh! Bring along your slide."

That was the board he was carrying, and its use was plain now. The air-hole was an opening in the ice, not more than two feet across, but the ice was thin at the edges of it. A heavy man, or a busy one, might break through, and let himself into a cold bath; but when those two "slides" were slipped along on either side of the hole, any one could walk right out, and drop in a hook and line safely enough.

"There, Susie," said Pen, "now we can keep our feet dry while we catch our fish."

"Now, folks!" exclaimed the deacon. "Two at a time. We'll take turns."

"Your turn's good till you've hooked a fish," said Vosh to Porter, as he handed him a line. "You and the deacon try it first."

It seemed very easy,-nothing to do but to stand on a dry board, and drop a line with a baited hook at the end of it through a two-foot hole in the ice. There was no long waiting to be done either.

"Father, father!" shouted Pen in a few moments. "You've got him!" There was a sort of electric shock went through the entire picnic; but the deacon jerked out a very good-looking fish with an unthankful look on his face.

"Nothing but a perch. He's a pound and a quarter, though.-Here, Mrs. Stebbins, take that other line, and see what you can do."

Mrs. Stebbins had talked quite industriously all the way, and even after they got upon the ice; but she stopped short the moment she took hold of that line. She had hardly dropped it in, before Porter Hudson exclaimed,-

"Corry, Corry!"

"Pull, Port! Pull! You've got a big one."

"So have I," screamed Mrs. Stebbins. "Deacon!-Vosh! It's awful! Come help me!"

"Pen," said Susie, "could it pull her through the hole?"

"Why, Susie!"

Pen's eyes and mouth were wide open; for both her cousin and Mrs. Stebbins were leaning back, and it seemed as if something down below were jerking at them.

"Wind it round your wrist, Port," said Corry. "Hang on!"

"Now, mother," said Vosh as he took hold of her line, "I declare, you have hooked a good one. I guess I'll pull him in for you."

It hardly seemed to cost him an effort to bring a great three-pound pickerel through the hole, and sling him out upon the ice.

"That's better than perch, deacon."

"Shall I help you, Port?" asked Corry.

"No, sir-e-e-e! I'll bring in my own fish."

"Hand over hand! Don't let him get away from you."

Port's blood was up, now he had seen that other pickerel landed, and he pulled with all his might.

"Now lift," said Vosh. "Don't let him rub his nose against the ice, or he'll break loose. Don't lean over too far. That's it."

It was splendidly exciting; and Port followed the directions given him, although his heart was beating quickly, and he thought he had never lifted any thing else quite so heavy as that fish.

"Out he comes!" he shouted.

"Hurrah for Port!" said aunt Judith. "It's the biggest one yet."

So it was; and a proud boy was Porter Hudson when Deacon Farnham declared that the great fish he had fought so hard with was a seven-pound pickerel.

"Now, aunt Judith, it's your turn next."

"Me, Corry? Me? What could I do with a cretur like that?"

"I'll help you if you get a big one. Here's your line: you must try."

She had to be coaxed a little more, but she consented, and Susie herself took the other line. The fish were biting hungrily; for in less than a minute aunt Judith gave a little scream and a jerk, and began to pull in her line; then another little scream and another jerk, and then,-

"Perch!" she exclaimed. "Ain't I glad it wasn't a pickerel!-Penelope, you can ketch the rest of my fish for me. I'll just look on."

Susie's face grew almost pale, as she stood there with her line in her hand, waiting for something to pull on it.

"Do they nibble first, Vosh?"

Hardly were the words out of her mouth, before her line was suddenly jerked away from her. Vosh had just time to catch hold of the piece of wood the rest of it was wound upon.

"I've lost him, I've lost him!"

"No, you haven't, but he's running pretty well. Guess I'd better snub him. He'd have cut your fingers with the line if you'd ha' tried."

Susie's soft white hands were hardly suited to work of that sort, and they were already getting a little cold. She was quite willing to pick up her muff, and slip them into it while Vosh pulled in her pickerel for her. It was a right good one too, only a little less weighty than Porter's.

Pen had now taken the line from aunt Judith, and she dropped her hook in very confidently.

"There isn't a scrap of bait on it," said Corry.

"Isn't there? I forgot that. Just wait a minute, and then I'll let you put some on."

Corry and the rest began to laugh, but Pen shouted again,-

"He's nibbling! Now he's biting! Oh, he's bit!"

So he had, bait or no bait; and she was quite strong enough to pull up a very handsome perch without help from anybody.

After that, Deacon Farnham and the boys had the fishing all to themselves. It was well there was enough of it to make it exciting; for it was wet, cold, chilly work. The fish were of several sorts and all sizes; and some of them rubbed themselves free against the icy edges of the hole, in spite of all that could be done. Before noon there was a considerable pile of them lying on the ice, and the fun of catching them had lost a little of its power to keep the cold away.

Long before the fishermen decided that they had caught enough, Mrs. Stebbins and aunt Judith and the girls got tired of looking on, and set out across the ice towards the sleigh and the very attractive-looking fire. The latter had been well heaped up at first, and was now blazing vigorously.

"We must have a good dinner ready for 'em," said aunt Judith when she turned away,-"all the fish they can eat."

"You carry one," said Mrs. Stebbins: "I'll take a couple more. The girls can help. We'll brile 'em, and we'll fry 'em, and we'll roast 'em in the ashes."

She tried to think of some other way, but she could not. She and aunt Judith were excellent cooks, and knew just what to do with fresh fish and such a fire. It was by no means their first picnic either, and the right things to cook with had not been left at home. Susie and Pen entered into the spirit of it with a vast deal of enthusiasm, but they were quite contented to let the more experienced cooks clean the fish.

"We're having the splendidest kind of a time, ain't we?" said Pen.

"Splendid! It's the first winter picnic I ever heard of."

"I never had one before, but I've heard mother tell of 'em."

There was plenty to do; and when at last the fishermen gave up dropping lines through the air-hole, and came plodding slowly back across the ice, there was all the dinner they could reasonably ask for, hot and smoking, and ready for them.

Such noble strings of fish they were dragging after them, and such hearty appetites they brought to that tempting "spread"!

There was hot coffee to be drank out of tin cups, fish in several styles of cookery, crisp fried pork, roasted potatoes, bread and butter, and last of all was some cold meat that nobody seemed to care for.

"Will there be any dessert?" asked Port.

"Aunt Judith's got some mince-pies warming on the log by the fire."

"What a dinner for the woods!"

"Woods! Why, the choppers have fresh fish and potatoes and coffee all the while, and sometimes they have venison."

"Game," said Port, "but no pie."

"Vosh," said Susie, "what has become of all your deer?"

Just at that moment they heard old Ponto barking away at a great rate in the woods near by; and Vosh sprang up, exclaiming,-

"He's treed something!"

"Guess he has," said the deacon. "Get your guns, boys. Load with buckshot."

"Mine's loaded," said Vosh.

"Mine'll be ready in a minute," said Corry. "Quick now, Port!"

"Hold on," said the deacon. "We must all have a share in the fun, if there is any."

It seemed to Susie and Pen that they could hardly wait for those two guns to be loaded; and Mrs. Stebbins exclaimed,-

"Judith, I do hate a gun; but I'm a-goin' with 'em. Ain't you?"

"Course I am. Just hark to that there dog!"

He must have shared in the general impatience, to judge by the noise he was making; and now there came another and a very curious kind of sound from that direction.

"It's a baby crying," said Pen.

"Or a cat," began Port.

"Sakes alive!" exclaimed Mrs. Stebbins. "I do believe the critter's gone and treed a wildcat."

"I guess that's it," said the deacon.

It was indeed that precisely.

They all kept together, as they waded through the snow to a spot about twenty rods into the woods, from which they could see old Ponto bounding hither and thither around the trunk of a tall maple-tree that stood by itself in the middle of an open space in the forest.

"No other tree handy for him to jump into," said Vosh. "There he is!"

"Where?" asked aunt Judith.

"See him? Up there on that big lower limb!"

"It's a good forty feet from the ground," said the deacon. "Come on, boys.-All the rest stay here."

"O Pen!" said Susie, "I do believe I'm afraid. Will he jump?"

"They'll shoot him down, and then Ponto'll grab him."

"He'd make short work of one dog, if he once got at him," said Corry. "Too much for Ponto."

There was little doubt of that, for it was a wildcat of the very largest size; not so dangerous an animal as a panther, but a terribly hard scratcher, and apt to require a great deal of killing.

He seemed even larger than he really was, as he drew himself up on the long, bare limb of the tree, and looked down so savagely upon his barking enemy.

It may be that the smell of the cookery, particularly of the fish, had tempted him so near the picnic. Then Ponto had scented him in turn, and had chased him into that solitary tree.

"Now, boys," said Deacon Farnham, "all around the tree! Fire as soon as you can after I do, but keep your second barrels. We may have to give him more lead, even if we knock him down."

Porter Hudson knew he was not one bit scared, and wondered why he should shake so when he tried to lift his gun and take aim. He was sure he could not shoot straight, and hoped the shot would scatter well.

"Now, boys!" Bang! went the deacon's gun; and the other three followed, aim or no aim. The wildcat replied with an angry scream, and began to tear the bark of the limb with his sharp, strong claws. How they would have gone through any kind of flesh!

That was only for a second or so; and then he suddenly gathered himself for a spring at the spot nearly under him, where Ponto was furiously barking.

Alas for the great cat of the woods! Too many buckshot had struck him, and he fell short of his mark in the snow.

Vosh had been watching, and he was nearest. Hardly did the wounded animal reach the snow, before Susie saw Vosh spring forward, and fire the second barrel of his gun.

"He's a real brave fellow."

"So he is," said Pen and aunt Judith; but Mrs. Stebbins was too proud of her boy to say a word.

That was very nearly enough. Corry ran forward, and Porter after him, and the deacon followed; but Ponto was ahead of them all, and it would not do to fire at any risk of shooting the brave old dog.

There was no fight left in the wildcat when Ponto's teeth were buried in his neck; and he therefore had all the fun and glory of a great shaking and growling and worrying, without any danger of being scratched.

"Drop him, Ponto, drop him!" said the deacon. "I don't want that skin spoiled: it's a fine one. We didn't put as many shot into him as I thought we would."

He was killed now, surely enough, however, and Vosh could carry him to the sleigh; and they could all go back, and eat more pie, and talk about bears and wolves and panthers, till the two girls felt like looking around at the woods to see if any of that sort of people were coming.

"We don't need any more fish," said aunt Judith: "we've more'n enough for the whole neighborhood."

"No, we don't," said the deacon. "What's more, it looks some like a snow-storm. We'd best be packing up for home."

Even that was grand fun; but it seemed almost a pity to leave so good a fire behind them to burn itself out all alone there in the snow, with nobody to sit around it, and cook, and tell stories.

"It's a waste of wood," remarked aunt Judith regretfully.

If the road had been "all up hill" coming to the lake, it was just as much all down hill going home again; and that sleigh-ride was about as good as any other part of the picnic.

They all thought so until they reached the farmhouse, and found what a splendid supper Mrs. Farnham had prepared for them. It was very nearly a wonder to all of them, afterwards, how it was possible they should have been so very ravenously hungry twice in the selfsame day.

"I guess it's the picnic," said Pen.

"No," said Corry, "that wouldn't be enough: it's the wildcat."

Deacon Farnham and the boys spent a great deal of time that evening over the skin of the wildcat. There was some talk of having it stuffed; but, on mature deliberation, that idea was given up. One reason was that nobody in that neighborhood knew how. Aunt Judith doubted if that fine specimen of wild fur would ever be of any mortal use, but Susie came to the rescue with an old new idea.

"Why, aunt Judith," she said, "when it's all finished, there can be a fringe put on all around, and some strong canvas on the under side, and it would make a lamp-mat for a centre-table. I saw one once."

"In the city too? What won't they do next! And I suppose they paid a high price for it.-Joshaway, you cure the skin, and Sarah and I'll make a table-rug of it."

Fresh fish will keep a long time in cold weather, and a good part of the day's finny harvest was packed away for home consumption in both houses. Still, after supper, and tired as he was, poor Vosh had to pay one penalty of so much good luck. He had to hitch up the sorrel, and drive to the houses of half a dozen neighbors with presents of bass and pickerel and perch from Mink Lake. That was the very neighborly end of the grand winter picnic.

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