Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
Little Rivers Henry van Dyke

VIII. Au Large

Page 3 of 15

Table Of Contents: Little Rivers

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

Every one feels the exhilaration of such a descent. I know a lady who almost cried with fright when she went down her first rapid, but before the voyage was ended she was saying:--

    "Count that day lost whose low, descending sun
    Sees no fall leaped, no foaming rapid run."

It takes a touch of danger to bring out the joy of life.

Our guides began to shout, and joke each other, and praise their canoes.

"You grazed that villain rock at the corner," said Jean; "didn't you know where it was?"

"Yes, after I touched it," cried Ferdinand; "but you took in a bucket of water, and I suppose your m'sieu' is sitting on a piece of the river. Is it not?"

This seemed to us all a very merry jest, and we laughed with the same inextinguishable laughter which a practical joke, according to Homer, always used to raise in Olympus. It is one of the charms of life in the woods that it brings back the high spirits of boyhood and renews the youth of the world. Plain fun, like plain food, tastes good out-of-doors. Nectar is the sweet sap of a maple-tree. Ambrosia is only another name for well-turned flapjacks. And all the immortals, sitting around the table of golden cedar-slabs, make merry when the clumsy Hephaistos, playing the part of Hebe, stumbles over a root and upsets the plate of cakes into the fire.

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

The first little rapid of the Grande Decharge was only the beginning. Half a mile below we could see the river disappear between two points of rock. There was a roar of conflict, and a golden mist hanging in the air, like the smoke of battle. All along the place where the river sank from sight, dazzling heads of foam were flashing up and falling back, as if a horde of water-sprites were vainly trying to fight their way up to the lake. It was the top of the grande chute, a wild succession of falls and pools where no boat could live for a moment. We ran down toward it as far as the water served, and then turned off among the rocks on the left hand, to take the portage.

These portages are among the troublesome delights of a journey in the wilderness. To the guides they mean hard work, for everything, including the boats, must be carried on their backs. The march of the canoes on dry land is a curious sight. Andrew Marvell described it two hundred years ago when he was poetizing beside the little river Wharfe in Yorkshire:--

    "And now the salmon-fishers moist
    Their leathern boats begin to hoist,
    And like antipodes in shoes
    Have shod their heads in their canoes.
    How tortoise-like, but none so slow,
    These rational amphibii go!"

Page 3 of 15 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
Little Rivers
Henry van Dyke

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004