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A Holiday In A Vacation
by [?]

Easily and swiftly the canoes slide along with the little river, winding and doubling through the wide, wild field, travelling three miles to gain one. The rushes nod and glisten around us; the bending reeds whisper as we push between them, cutting across a point. Follow the stream; we know not its course, but we know that if we go with it, though it be a wayward and tricksy guide, it will bring us out–but not too soon, we hope!

Here is a lumberman’s dam, broad-based, solid, and ugly, a work of infinite labour, standing lonely, deserted, here in the heart of the wilderness. Now we must carry across it. But it shall help while it hinders us. Pry up the creaking sluice-gates, sending a fresh head of water down the channel along with us, lifting us over the shallows, driving us on through the rocky places, buoyant, alert, and rejoicing, till we come again to a level meadow, and the long, calm, indolent reaches of river.

Look on the right there, under the bushes. There is a cold, still brook, slipping into the lazy river; and there we must try the truth of the tales we have heard of the plentiful trout of Machias. Let the flies fall light by the mouth of the brook, caressing, inviting. Nothing there? Then push the canoe through the interlaced alders, quietly, slowly up the narrow stream, till a wider pool lies open before you. Now let the rod swing high in the air, lifting the line above the bushes, dropping the flies as far away as you can on the dark-brown water. See how quickly the answer comes, in two swift golden flashes out of the depths of the sleeping pool. This is a pretty brace of trout, from thirty to forty ounces of thoroughbred fighting pluck, and the spirit that will not surrender. If they only knew that their strength would be doubled by acting together, they soon would tangle your line in the roots or break your rod in the alders. But all the time they are fighting against each other, making it easy to bring them up to the net and land them–a pair of beauties, evenly matched in weight and in splendour, gleaming with rich iridescent hues of orange and green and peacock-blue and crimson. A few feet beyond you find another, a smaller fish, and then one a little larger; and so you go on up the stream, threading the boat through the alders, with patience and infinite caution, carefully casting your flies when the stream opens out to invite them, till you have rounded your dozen of trout and are wisely contented. Then you go backward down the brook–too narrow for turning–and join the other canoe that waits, floating leisurely on with the river.

There is a change now in the character of the stream. The low hills that have been standing far away, come close together from either side, as if they meant to bar any further passage; and the dreamy river wakes up to wrestle its way down the narrow valley. There are no long, sleepy reaches, no wide, easy curves, now; but sharp, quick turns from one rocky ledge to another; and enormous stones piled and scattered along the river-bed; and sudden descents from level to level as if by the broad steps of a ruined, winding stairway. The water pushes, and rushes, and roars, and foams, and frets–no, it does not fret, after all, for there is always something joyous and exultant in its voice, a note of the gaudia certaminis by which the struggle of life is animated, a note of confident strength, sure that it can find or make a way, through all obstacles, to its goal. This is what I feel in a river, especially a little river flowing through a rough, steep country. This is what makes me love it. It seems to be thoroughly alive, and glad to be alive, and determined to go on, and certain that it will win through.