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A Holiday In A Vacation
by [?]

The place where we came out was not attractive; but nothing is more foolish than to go on looking for a pretty camp-ground after daylight has begun to wane. When the sun comes within the width of two paddle-blades of the horizon, if you are wise you will take the first bit of level ground within reach of wood and water, and make haste to get the camp in order before dark. So we pitched our blue tent on the beach, with a screen of bushes at the back to shelter us from the wind; broke a double quantity of fir branches for our bed, to save us from the midnight misery of sand in the blankets; cut a generous supply of firewood from a dead pine-tree which stood conveniently at hand; and settled down in comfort for the night.

What could have been better than our supper, cooked in the open air and eaten by fire-light! True, we had no plates–they had been forgotten–but we never mourned for them. We made a shift to get along with the tops of some emptied tin cans and the cover of a kettle; and from these rude platters, (quite as serviceable as the porcelain of Limoges or Sevres) we consumed our toast, and our boiled potatoes with butter, and our trout prudently brought from Horseshoe Lake, and, best of all, our bacon.

Do you remember what Charles Lamb says about roast pig? How he falls into an ecstasy of laudation, spelling the very name with small capitals, as if the lower case were too mean for such a delicacy, and breaking away from the cheap encomiums of the vulgar tongue to hail it in sonorous Latin as princeps obsoniorum! There is some truth in his compliments, no doubt; but they are wasteful, excessive, imprudent. For if all this praise is to be lavished on plain, fresh, immature, roast pig, what adjectives shall we find to do justice to that riper, richer, more subtle and sustaining viand, broiled bacon? On roast pig a man can not work; often he can not sleep, if he have partaken of it immoderately. But bacon “brings to its sweetness no satiety.” It strengthens the arm while it satisfies the palate. Crisp, juicy, savory; delicately salt as the breeze that blows from the sea; faintly pungent as the blue smoke of incense wafted from a clean wood-fire; aromatic, appetizing, nourishing, a stimulant to the hunger which it appeases, ’tis the matured bloom and consummation of the mild little pig, spared by foresight for a nobler fate than juvenile roasting, and brought by art and man’s device to a perfection surpassing nature. All the problems of woodland cookery are best saved by the baconian method. And when we say of one escaping great disaster that he has “saved his bacon,” we say that the physical basis and the quintessential comfort of his life are still untouched and secure.

Steadily fell the rain all that night, plentiful, persistent, drumming on the tightened canvas over our heads, waking us now and then to pleasant thoughts of a rising stream and good water for the morrow. Breaking clouds rolled before the sunrise, and the lake was all a-glitter when we pushed away in dancing canoes to find the outlet. This is one of the problems in which the voyager learns to know something of the infinite reserve, the humorous subtlety, the hide-and-seek quality in nature. Where is it–that mysterious outlet? Behind yonder long point? Nothing here but a narrow arm of the lake. At the end of this deep bay? Nothing here but a little brook flowing in. At the back of the island? Nothing here but a landlocked lagoon. Must we make the circuit of the whole shore before we find the way out? Stop a moment. What are those two taller clumps of bushes on the edge of this broad curving meadow–down there in the corner, do you see? Turn back, go close to the shore, swing around the nearer clump, and here we are in the smooth amber stream, slipping silently, furtively, down through the meadow, as if it would steal away for a merry jest and leave us going round and round the lake till nightfall.