Below is the text of an article describing a visit to the Aroostook and St.John River valleys in 1863.
The article was published in the October 1863 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine, pages 688-698. The author calls himself "Penman," but was actually 28-year-old Charles Hallock:
Born in New York City, educated at Yale and Amherst, and trained as a journalist, this ardent supporter of the Confederacy arrive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at about the time "Aroostook and Madawaska" appeared in Harpers. ... [H]e had reached Halifax via Bermuda, his base for running the blockade of the South while acting as editor of the Augusta, Georgia Chronicle and Sentinal. ... [Hallock] would spend the next three years in Halifax and Saint John as a shipping broker, setting up money exchange and editing, at times, the Saint John newspapers The Courier and The Telegraph as well as a magazine, The Humorist. ... Harpers was then at the height of its influence as a journal of opinion, read widely on both sides of the Atlantic... [Source: Thomas, pp.165-167]
Among the people mentioned by name are Bill Brannan, Jack Stewart, Jean Parent, Keegan, Father McKeagney.
Sections: Trip from Bangor to the Aroostook | Arrival
at Weston | Houlton | The Aroostook
War | Presque Isle | Grand
Falls | The Madawaska | Tobique
688 HARPER’S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE. AROOSTOOK AND THE MADAWASKA. JUST where the shadows of the tall hem- locks fall heaviest the confluent waters of the Mattawamkeag and Penobscot mingle in white foam, and the wavelets rippling over the stones murmur through the gloomy arch in sweet and soothing monotone. Penman is trailing his fly across the dark eddy that circles slowly through the piers of the bridge. Per- chance he may take a goodly trout before the dust is shaken from his traveling-coat, or the hell of the snug little inn rings out its summons to supper. It is one of those cool, delicious evenings which, in Maine, invariably succeed the sultry August day, when man and beast swelter under the thermometer at 9O° in the shade. The flaming red sun in the west has hobnobbed for a moment with the full yellow moon in the east, and is now dipped beneath the horizon; while the moon is mounting the arms of the tall hemlocks, step by step, and spangling the foam of the Mattawamkeag. A light breeze is stirring the trees, and the mosquitoes buzz spite- fully as they are driven, baffled, from their prey, careening like a ship in a gale. Cliquot now sits in the porch. Upon his ar- rival he took a couple of turns in the bar-room, ordered the best chamber at command, lighted his meerschaum, and then made his quarters upon the long wooden bench outside. Cliquot is a traveler, has crossed the ocean no one knows how many times. He has traveled in France, where he married a French lady; in South America, and in other parts of the world, hab- itable and inhabitable. Hence he has acquired a traveler’s virtues. He is never hurried, al- ways adapts himself to circumstances, does nothing out of turn, and endures the vicissi- tudes of a roving life with a quiet composure that insures him comfort and enjoyment every where. The Trip from Bangor to the Aroostook How our two travelers happened to be so- journers in this forest nook came about through a note of Penman’s addressed to Cliquot, pro- posing that they should make a tour of the Aroostook together. Cliquot readily assented, and the day of departure was set. So the lapse of time found them at Bangor, whence they traveled twelve miles by railroad to the Indian village of Old Town, upon the Penobscot, where a little stern-wheel steamboat was in waiting to take them on fifty miles further to Matta- wamkeag. A coach runs daily between the two points when the water is at a low stage, following the course of the river; but on this occasion it was doubtful if the boat could carry over the “rips,” and so both coach and boat ran, the former acting as a sort of tender to the latter. Off rumbled the coach over the highway, and away steamed the boat, sputter- ing and splashing, leaving the aboriginal set- tlement behind, with its little frame cabins, its huge wooden cross, its semi-civilized savages, its uncivil dogs, its birch canoes drawn high up on shore, and its groups of basket-making wo- men and demure-looking children, who shoot diminutive coin with bows and arrows at mar- velous distances. On they went, turning the bend in a great semicircle of white foam, wind- ing among picturesque islands, past Indian farms and white men’s farms, through rafts and lumbermen, putting wild ducks~ to flight, and waking echoes from shore to shore. A thick cloud of yellow dust rolled along the right bank, and kept pace with the white volume of foam that tumbled over the wheel at the stern and the black vapor that streamed out from the smoke-stack. “Let’s find the cook,” said Cliquot. “My stomach tells me it should be near the dinner- hour.” They went forward, and found several bales of dried codfish, barrels of flour, kegs of nails, and a party of river men playing “seven up.” Then they dove into a small apartment con- taining a stove and a bench, on which lay a stout figure in repose; next into a door ajar, which proved to he the ladies’ cabin, with a settle, two rocking-chairs, a small table, an al- manac, and a Bible; next into a door which disclosed the engine and a man with an oil- can; next around the stern of the boat with- out further discoveries, and back to the man with the can. “Engineer?” asked Cliquot. “No; he’s on deck.” “Where’s the cook? are we to have dinner soon ?“ “No dinner aboard this boat. When we get to Passadumkeag you can go ashore and get a bite.” “Where’s the captain ?“ “He’s on deck.” “Penman, let us go aloft and settle our fares with the captain.” There was but one person on deck, and his functions were obvious at a glance. He was engineer and pilot as well as captain. “You seem to have your hands full,” Cliquot remarked, as the captain tugged alternately at the tiller and an iron lever in front of him. The other nodded assent. “We stop at Passadumkeag for dinner?“ “Half an hour.” At Passadumkeag the passengers by stage and boat met for dinner. After consultation, Cliquot and his friend decided to stick to their craft, for the weather was intensely hot, and the roads insufferably dusty. So the stage rumbled on again, and the boat once more essayed to ascend the river. At the end of a few miles she stuck fast and the travelers then transferred them- selves to the stage. At the next landing, how- ever, she came steaming around an island, and they again took to the boat. Then they tried the stage again. Then they took to the boat. Then they mounted the stage, and at last drove up to the neat little inn where the Mattawam- keag tumbles into the Penobscot. AROOSTOOK AND THE MADAWASKA. 689 “Halloa!” cried Cliquot, sitting up in bed. “What’s the matter now ?“ “Three o’clock!” from outside the door. “Stage starts in fifteen minutes!“ “No breakfast?“ inquired Cliquot, when he had dressed and descended to the long ball, where the landlord stood with a dim candle. “No, Sir; it’s a rough road, and ‘twould be only a waste of victuals.” This is high latitude, and the silvery twilight is already suffusing the sky. The morning air is almost frosty, and penetrates over-coats and blankets. Over a succession of hills the coach creaks and rumbles, and presently enters the famed Aroostook. Even now has it invaded the home of the moose, the deer, the wolf, and the bear. When it had climbed a long, weary ascent, and the horses paused for rest, a pano- rama of rare beauty was revealed. On every side the mottled forest rose and fell in wave-like swells, and the mist that filled the intervals transformed the scenery into a tranquil ocean studded with green island gems. Soon the sun rose glowing hot, as if from a horizon of sky and sea, and when the mist rolled away bright lakes sparkled far down in the valleys, and from an occasional isolated clearing gleamed fields of golden grain. Before them, for many a mile and straight as a carpenter’s rule, lay their route, ais it was laid out by the Government for a military road, a mere rift through the high walls of forest. There are fresh deer tracks along the damp road, and- “Whose dogs are those ahead there, driv- er?” “Dogs! faugh! quick, Penman, your rific! Ah, there they dive into the woods! If I could have drawn a bead on one of those chaps, we might have claimed the bounty for a wolf-scalp.” “Were those really wolves, driver ?“ ‘‘You guessed about right there.’’ “I shouldn’t think they’d venture so near the settlements.” “Well, there ain’t many settlements just here-only a house now and then along the road. Back in there, and to the tother side, for thirty miles or more, there’s neither house nor shanty, unless it be a logging camp, and nary road either. Game is plenty enough in there. Penman suggested that it would be well to keep a sharp look-out, in case a similar oppor- tunity should offer. “It is a small chance if you see any thing,” said the driver; “but you’ll have sport enough at Grand Lake, where you say you’re going to. We’ll fetch to the turn-off by noon, and by night you’ll get there if you can find a wagon big enough to haul all this stuff of yourn.” Arrival at Weston Penman had arranged by letter with the good people of the Aroostook for a grand excur- sion to the lakes Chepetnacook and Madon- gamook, at such time as he should reach the rendezvous appointed. Accordingly, when he reached the little village of Weston, on the bor- ders of the Grand Lake (or Madongamook, as known by the red men of past generations), and prepared to domiciliate himself in a quiet little farm-house there, he was not surprised to find his friend Page present to share his fresh berries and bread and milk, and acknowledge verbally the receipt of his note from Bangor: “I shall reach Weston on Thursday evening, Providence and weather permitting.” “It’s all right,” he said, when be observed a shade of disappointment clouded his friend’s face. “The rest of the party will be here di- rectly. I am the avant courier, you see. Hist! they are coming now, and at no slow pace either. Two to one on the black mare. She’s a Mes- senger, you know, and Perrin’s first love. Jones drives a Black Hawk, and does hate to ride in any man’s dust; but he can’t beat the mare. There they are, neck and neck! Now come, my beauty See what horses are bred in the Aroostook! What turn-outs for a backwoods country! First, two light trotting wagons rattled up to the gate- way, each carrying two persons. Then came three two-seated carriages, with their comple- ments of three ladies and a gentleman. Next a top-buggy and two dashing Di Vernons, hand- ling the ribbons beautifully; and behind them the commissariat, with a stout team, carrying the public supplies. So gay a party has not dis- turbed the seclusion of the little hamlet for many summers. They are of the aristocracy of the Maine “plantations”-landed proprietors of a thousand acres, for whom a score of farm-serv- ants harvest their redundant crops, to fill the New Brunswick markets on the noble St. John; whose blooded stock find curious eyes at the county fairs, and upon whose bounteous tables sparkle wines of choicest brands, imported across the line duty free. There are ladies of refine- ment, with soft white hands, now equipped to “rough it” for a fortnight among the wilds of the Schoodac, miles away from the habitations of man-to lure the trout from his haunts, and coquette with the bears among the whortleber- ries that tint the islands of the “Wide Prospect Water.” Then there is the editor of the Aroos- took Times, who must return within the week to furnish his paper a full report of the excursion; an ex-M.C., and-there are others, twenty-two in all. But our Aroostookers are off for pleas- ure, and not for labor. They will not annoy themselves with the arduous duties of the camp, while Bill Brannan can be obtained as chief cook and bottle-washer, old Hinch and Smith for gen- eral camp work-to pitch the tents, build shan- ties, cut fire-wood, row the batteaux, etc., etc.- all old loggers together, who have often taken their turn at the frying-pan and the various chores of the “swamp.” Most important, too, are the services of tall Jack Stewart, who stands six feet six in his stockings-the best bear-hunt- er in the county, and who can paddle a canoe, call a moose, swing an axe, follow a blind trail, or hook a trout, as well as the best. Rare speci- men of the Aroostook native, “only nineteen years old.” 690 HARPER’S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE. And now, at early evening, when all had been made acquainted, and had partaken of a plain but excellent supper, Jones demanded the atten- tion of the excursionists. “Is every thing ready for an early start in the morning ?“ “Every thing.” “It is well. Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall start at four o’clock in the morning, so as to reach the camp on the lake, which is ten miles down, and have breakfast by seven. It is now nine o’clock. I would therefore earnestly ad- vise that all immediately retire, that there may be no laggards in the morning. As to sleeping accommodations, I will state that there are but five bedrooms at our disposal. As there are eleven ladies and several married gentlemen, it is proposed that all single ladies shall occupy apartments by themselves, and the others sleep together. Single gentlemen will, of course, be put to their own shifts, and take such accommo- dation as they can find.” At early morning the excursionists were driv- en a mile or two down to the lake, and their carriages then returned. The sun never rose more gorgeously upon the broad waters of Ma- dongamook. On the dead top of a tall pine that leaned over the lake a great eagle sat, com- placently surveying himself in the crimsoned suiface below. A couple of ducks got up and flapped out toward the middle, leaving parallel wakes as they flew; a king-fisher scolded sharp- ly as he mounted the scraggy limb of a hem- lock; and the hoarse voice of a blue crane came clear and full from the further shore of the cove. Forest and wave alike teemed with life, and the presence of man seemed to cause little alarm. Just in the edge of the woods a Methodist rabbit stood saying his prayers; a red squirrel ran down to the end of a limb, flirted his tail, and sat looking with unwinking eyes; and a bevy of fat young partridges ran skulking among the brush and moss-covered logs, two of which Pen- man shot with his revolver, and one Stewart knocked over with a stone. So was the peace of the forest outraged, and for a moment after the pistol’s report the solitude was frightened into silence. Then the clear notes of the song- sters rang out again, and the leaves were rustled by other agents than the passing breeze. But the beauties of the charming landscape were presently forgotten in the bustle of depart- ure. Precious little time it took to get under way, for many hands made light work. The ladies were comfortably bestowed in two large batteaux, while another received the luggage, tents, camp utensils, and provisions. Jack Stew- art was to go in a birch canoe. Penman frisked with delightful anticipation; for the sight of the frail craft revived many pleasant reminiscences of perilous voyages away up toward the sources of the Mississippi, and upon the wild streams that thread the “Big Woods” of Wisconsin. Romance is always associated with the birch canoe; for the little bark floats only where na ture reigns in her virgin beauty, and the air is odorous with the sweet scents of the forest. Like an arrow, and as noiselessly, the light canoe skims the glassy lake, and the only sounds that break the stillness are the gentle dip of the blade and the ripple that chuckles merrily under the stem. On-on, guided by firm and dex- trous hands, skirting beautiful white sand beaches, gracefully sweeping coves, and far- reaching points of land; under the shadows of densely - wooded hills, along the margins of peaceful islands, and out into the broad expanse of waters that stretch eight miles from shore to shore. Gradually the three dark specks in the distance increase in size, until the batteaux which had set out an hour before, with their parti-colored crews, are plainly discernible; and anon a wild chorus comes wafted over the water, clear and full. Now a sharp report rings out, and is echoed from the forest confines of the lake. “Ha! a deer! Cliquot, a deer! They have fired at him. See! he is in the lake! How he breasts the waves! and what a tumult of foam and bubbles be leaves behind him! They’ve missed him-he’s too far off! Shall we give chase, Stewart ?“ “It’s of no use; he’ll make the shore before we can get within range.” “Well, let him go, and a long life to him! What right have we to prove our skill at the cost of the noble creature’s happy existence ?“ Now rest the paddles, and let us float a while at ease. Such scenery should make the easel envious, and cap the poet’s wildest dream. What an Arcadia of romance! This lake is the central point of what, not many years ago, was a vast area of unbroken wilderness. Here the red men gathered around the council-fire, for uncounted generations, in their annual as- sembling; and the voices of their chiefs and the discordant cries of wild beasts alone dis- turbed the solitude. There is a dark column of smoke rising gently from behind the hills, but it is not from their camp-fires; for the pioneer is already making his clearings. Here, too, during the busy winters, the adjacent forests have rung for many a year with the crash of falling pines, where the lumberman wielded his ruthless axe; and in the early spring the lake has been covered with the rewards of his toil. floating down on their way through the St. Croix to the lumber-ports below. Yet the eagle still dares to build his nest among the rocks, and the bear and deer have not been frightened from their haunts. The Indians called this “Great- grandfather’s” Lake. They have gone; hut with- out the Fathers it is a Grand Lake still. Arrived at the foot of the lake the little fleet landed in a snug cove, whence a blind path led through the woods to an open glade which was selected for the camp site. Here legions of mosquitoes disputed possession, but they were soon repulsed by the smudges which were made and driven under cover. Breakfast dispatched, all addressed themselves to their respective du- ties. To build a fire and put up the tents was AHOOSTOOK AND THE MADAWASKA. 691 the work of but a few moments. Brannan and Hinch cut forks and cross-poles, and soon com- pleted the frame-work of along table and benches; while Smith and Stewart, who a short time since disappeared among the bushes, soon returned with long split shingles, with which they finish- ed this primitive furniture in most approved pic- nic style. But the shingles were dry, and apparently long cut. Whence came they? The Vandals had ravaged an old shanty of Dr. Bethune’s! This was a favorite resort of his, and for many a season had he made his camp here. Often large had he worshiped in these forest aisles, and found sermons in stones and in the running brooks, and good in every thing. Here many a speckled trout has risen to his subtle fly, and the great trout of the lake leaped from its trans- parent depths at his beck. Alas! dear old gness, nor divine! He has gone the way of all the earth, and the places that have known him shall know him no more. The settlers were wont to look for his coming, and rejoiced in his presence. The hardy lumbermen will miss his portly figure and genial face from their camps, and listen no more to his Sabbath teachings. But the future visitor to Grand Lake and the Schoodacs may chance to stumble upon some secluded camp of his, and contemplate with greater interest the ground he treads. So the ramblers dined from the Doctor’s shingles! How all the happy days were passed in this wilderness nook may not here be told detail-how the ladies essayed “the gentle art” (as if all the winning arts of the dear sex paled before this one!), and snared the speckled beauties with rod and reel; how they sported in the limpid water, culled flowers and berries, and wove wreaths and garlands; how the men fished and hunted, and staid ont o’ nights until the dear ones wept them lost forever, and returned laden with the spoils of their raids; how there were frequent excursions to unexplored beau- ties, in which both sexes joined; and how sly couples strolled away to leafy retreats, and came back to camp by different routes, as if they had not met before. Then there were romping games, and quiet games, and music, and cotil- lions upon the springy sward, and uncouth In- dian dances at evening in the glare of the blazing camp-fire, until the snapping wood had burned to embers, and tired nature demanded rest. As to fishing, who that has ever wet his line in these waters could thereafter be content to angle elsewhere? The orthodox sportsman may here roam from stream to stream, casting his fly at almost every throw with a certainty of success, over pools which might well excite the envy of many a trans-Atlantic angler. There is no other region east of the Rocky Mountains, in the United States, equal to it, unless it be in the almost primitive Big Woods of Wisconsin. Let the rambler make his camp on whatever lake or stream he will, it is all the same, whether it be in the St. Croix country, the re- gion of the wild Moosehead Lake, or the more northern waters of the Aroostook; along some one of the thousand romantic tributaries of the Penobscot, the Kennebec, and St. John, or on the margin of the magnificent lakes in which they invariably have their sources-lakes with euphonious names and unpronounceable names -Wassataquoik, Chesuncook, Mooseluckma- guntic, Bamedumpkok, Pangokwahem, Umsas- kis, Raumehemingamook! One of the most attractive regions to the sportsman, and per- haps the least frequented, is the chain of pic- turesque lakes which feed the Fish River-a large tributary of the St. John, and lying about fifteen miles north of latitude 47O° To speak of the numbers and size of the trout taken by Penman and his friends would only be adding to the already voluminous catalogue of fish stories. He never weighed his trout by guess, nor estimated the dimensions of that in- evitable big fish which he (in common with the brotherhood from time immemorial) hooked but unfortunately lost. But one morning he rose at daybreak, and went with Stewart in the ca- noe to the outlet of the lake; and while Jack held the birch with firmly-set pole in the swift- est rapid he trailed his “ibis” lightly across the dark eddy at the edge of the foam, and took therefrom eleven trout, with which he returned to camp. At breakfast they were laid in state upon the table, prepared in Brannan’s best style, and when the entire party-twenty-six in all- had eaten of the delicious viands there were fragments left. So the days glided merrily on, with incident but and adventure that must remain untold, until, on one beautiful morning, Penman and Cliquot bade adieu to their friends, and once more turn- ed their faces northward. Houlton Penman had humbugged Cliquot into the be- lief that they were to have log-cabin fare the rest of their journey, and that the remaining portion of the Aroostook was an almost unin- habited wilderness. He was consequently sur- prised as they approached Houlton, the capital of the county, to see fine farms and fields of golden grain, wheat, rye, barley, oats, and buck- wheat, and acres of luxuriant potatoes spread over the country in a rich mosaic of divers hues, capacious barns and pretentious houses, young orchards and pastures of cattle and sheep -evidences of the thrift of the settlers, and of the nutritious soil which has given the settling lands of the Aroostook their fame. The sur- face of the country was undulating, and trav- ersed by numerous streams that flow into the Meduxuekeag. Cliquot wondered that such abundant crops could be raised in so high a latitude, and that the culture of apples and plums promised such success. Penman ex- plained that the isothermal lines here dipped well to the southward, that the weather was warmer in the Aroostook in winter than it is two hundred miles farther south, and that wheat is not unfrequently sown as early as the middle April. He had known of fields yielding 692 HARPERS NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE. thirty bushels to the acre, and of oats not less than eighty bushels. But Cliquot’s surprise was increased when he entered the town of Houlton to see a brick-and-stone court-house of goodly dimensions and architecture, rows of hugs, - shops, mills, foundries, a newspaper and job printing-office, residences indicative of good taste and wealth, and a hotel of no mean pre- tensions, which promised “good entertainment for man and beast.” Here the travelers threw off their dusters, and having made their ablutions, lighted their pipes and took position on the piazza to await dinner. In the interval, stages arrived from the four cardinal points, and among the throng of passing vehicles were noticed occasional stylish teams and dashing private equipages, denoting thrift and trade. It was observed, too, that the inhabitants, while possessing many of the ele- ments of Yankee character, seemed more like the aristocracy of some old English town than the people of a newly-settled backwoods country. That their constant commercial and social inter- course with the neighboring Province of New Brunswick should have somewhat modified their national characteristics is not to be wondered at. Neither is it strange that their sympathies should have followed in the same direction, nor that, except in the matter of jurisdiction, this vast and fertile region is almost, if not quite, as really annexed to that province as if so stipu- lated in the treaty of 1842; since its natural channel for communication is through the St. John, and the artificial channels made to con- nect it with the southern part of the State proved inadequate to compete successfully with the first. It could not he expected that the traffic of the Aroostook would pass through the two great arteries that traverse it to Bangor, when the freight charges are three times as great as they are by the valley of the St. John. As to duties, the boundary line, never here a prac- tically serious obstacle to interchange of com- modities, has, since the Reciprocity Treaty went into operation, been little more than a nominal one. The Aroostook is thus made an isolated part of the Federal Domain. There is a marked indifference between its people and the people of the remainder of the State and of New England. How easily they can distinguish an “outsider” from a native! (All the rest of the United States is outside to them.) “Ah! you are from the outside, I observe. When did you come in? What is the news out West ?“ Now, where is that indefinite locality known as “out West ?‘ The inhabitant of Minnesota turns his face to the Roeky Mountains, and goes West. The citizen of Chicago goes West to the Mississippi. The native of New York migrates to Ohio, and goes West. The New Englander goes West to the Genesee Valley. The Ban- gorian goes West, and the Aroostooker goes to Bangor! Even the Federal currency is al- most unused here, and bills of banks outside of the State are generally refused. Cliquot wished change for a ten-dollar note, and received one dollar in Western money (a Bangor note), a fifty cent New Brunswick bill, a dollar and a half ditto, a pound note, and a most interesting col- lection of silver and copper coins, British shil- lings, sixpences, twenty cent pieces, two “York- ers’ (United States quarter dollars), and pen- nies as large as a quoit. Could there be more palpable evidence of the isolation of the Aroos- took from the States, and of its intimacy with the land of the Blue Noses? Our two adventurers passed three days in pleasant drives and successful angling of the streams in the vicinity of Houlton. Once they ascended an eminence near the old barracks, from which they obtained a most extensive view of the surrounding country, embracing perhaps one-third of the entire Aroostook region. It was a panorama of rare beauty that lay spread like a map before them. The atmosphere had a purplish, hazy hue, through which the sun- light fell in softened rays that toned down the inequalities of surface, so that the broad expanse seemed like a green rolling prairie, interspersed with sparkling lakes and streams. From ad- jacent hills spiral columns of smoke ascended like Indian signal-fires, and floated lazily away upon the still air. In the dim distance the faint outlines of isolated mountain peaks loomed up against the sky, and fifty miles away, barely dis- cernible to the naked eye, Mount Katahiden rested like a shadowy cloud upon the horizon. But with the aid of Cliquot’s telescope, the grand old mountain stood out in hold relief, and from its summit its coronal of everlasting snow gleamed with a fixed white light like the stars of an arctic sky. Thirty miles to the north- ward was Mars Hill, round as a hayrick, and famous as the point selected by the British com- missioners as the commencement of the heights of land forming the boundary of the United States. There are no mountain ranges in Maine. It is emphatically a country of lakes and streams. But the towering peaks stand out in solitary grandeur from the comparatively level tracts as if inviting wonder and admira- tion. Of these the number is large, and among the most prominent are Abraham, Sugar Loaf, Chase’s, Katabden, and Mount Blue. When our two heroes bad feasted their eyes upon the charming landscape they wandered thoughtfully over the parade-ground and through the old barracks of Fort Hancock, now fast crumbling to decay, but associated with one of the most eventful periods ia the history of the Pine-Tree State. Then they strolled on to what were once the officers’ quarters, and knock- ing summoned the old sergeant, from whose lips they gathered some tritely told incidents of the famous “Aroostook War.’ The horrors of that bloody struggle for tern- tonal acquisition have found small place in history, except as they have been recorded in State papers, and are not familiar to the present generation. The reader will therefore be thank- ful for the following succinct narration of its principal events, as they were received by Pen- AROOSTOOK AND THE MADAWASKA. 693 man from the then commander-in-chief of the United States forces and other prominent actors in that memorable drama. THE AROOSTOOK WAR. It was a wise policy that referred the settle- ment of the bonndary dispute to the arbitration of the King of the Netherlands; for who could decide more impartially in a matter where rivers and hills were in question than the sovereign of a country in which no rivers ran, and whose loftiest hills were the dykes that resisted the en- croachments of the sea? The referee did what others have done in like quandary-” split the difference”-which decision, as in all similar cases, of course pleased neither party. So the Blue Noses continued to cut timber, and the Yankees to claim jurisdiction, over the disputed territory. On some occasions our agents were seized and imprisoned, which served to aggra- vate existing troubles, until in the fall of 1838 the completion of the Aroostook road to the river of that name, over which the British claimed jurisdiction, brought matters to a crisis. Meanwhile the Government had constructed the military road to Houlton, and established a small garrison there. In November, Hamlin, the land agent, acting under Governor Kent, walked into a camp of about a dozen of the tres- passers with writs and a deputy-sheriff. The rough backwoodsmen demanded to know “his business.” He was “authorized by the Gov- ernor of Maine to arrest all trespassers by civil process.” The absurdity of this proposition was very apparent to the Blue Noses. They accord- ingly badgered the agent, laughed in his face, and, with common forest civility, told him to go to the most uncomfortable of places. Hamlin “didn’t see it in that light.” “Well, what will you do about it, supposing we won’t budge ?“ “Then I shall be compelled to get a military force.” But the Blue Noses stood their ground, and the agent caused writs to be served on them in due form. At this stage of affairs the matter was finally compromised, and the lumber poach- ers retired. The sheriff left a guard at the place, threatening to arrest them if they re- turned. Thus far there was nothing very alarming in the cloud that threatened. The Governor and his agent were pursuing a conciliatory policy which promised a suspension of all hostilities until such time as a perfect understanding could be had between the two Governments. The subject was also before Congress, and the Maine representatives had put matters right there. Moreover it had been stipulated by the agents of Her Majesty and of the United States, that if the New Brunswickers took timber from the disputed territory, and it was discovered, it was to be sold at auction by order of the Govern- ment and the money laid aside; or, at least, an account of it taken, so that it might be paid over to us at the final settlement of the bound- ary question. Thus matters stood when a change took phtce in the State Executive. Governor Fairfield and his agent, M’Intire, favored “coercion.” It was in the month of February, 1839, and the Legislature was in ses- sion, when a messenger arrived, post haste, with the startling intelligence that the trespassers had returned in full force! Then, in secret session, war was declared against New Bruns- wick and the whole Blue Nose race. An armed posse of citizens was raised in Bangor, 300 strong, and marched immediately to the seat of war. Before this formidable force the trespass- ers retired, retreating down the St. John River. Just here the tragedy commences. When the shades of night had overtaken the posse in their pursuit of the fugitives, and all was hushed in the camp, certain of the officers went to pay a friendly visit to the house of one Fitz Herbert, who lived just on the line, a half mile distant. But alas! the folly of trusting those who live upon the line! They are as uncertain as politicians “upon the fence.” Now it may be that Fitz Herbert was not a traitor to those who trusted him. Per- haps he was only a bit of a wag, or, perchance, being a neutral, he wished to keep the conflict from his own territory. Howbeit it came to pass that, while he entertained his guests with good cheer, he sent into the Province secretly and informed of the presence of the Yankees at his house; the result of which was that they were captured by the enemy and hurried down the river to Fredericktou. Then went Fitz Her- bert in breathless haste to the Federal camp. “Up, men, away! run for your lives, or all is lost! The British are coming! They have captured your officers, and carried them off! The woods are swarmjng with Blue Noses and Indians!” Then indeed there was “mounting in hot haste,” a hurried striking of tents, and a rapid retreat up the banks of the Aroostook. An ac- cidental discharge of a gun quickened their speed, and the ringing report of ice cracking in the sharp frosty air added wings to their flight, and they paused not in their career until a distance of sixty miles was left between them and the imaginary enemy. Now the storm of war burst upon the good people of Maine in all its fury. Such hostile demonstrations on the part of the enemy, and the total rout of the Posse, demanded the in- staut calling out of the militia of the State. From the head-quarters at Augusta four regi- ments were forthwith ordered; and on the 20th of February, in just four days after the order was issued, the troops assembled at the appoint- ed rendezvous in Bangor, fully armed and - equipped. The alacrity with which they re- sponded to the call, and the celerity with which so large a force was raised within an area of one hundred miles, a large portion of it forest and without facilities of travel, was most cred- itable to all parties. All was excitement in Bangor, business was suspended, and weeping friends gathered around those who had so sud- 694 HARPER’S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE. denly been summoned to brave the dangers of battle. From the stone steps of the Bangor House Major-General Hodgdon exhorted the assembled militia to deeds of valor in the com- ing contest. Then came the order to march. One regiment went to Calais to cut off imagin- ary reinforcements for the British, others to oth- er points, and one, by forced marches through the deep snow-drifts of the Aroostook, to Houlton and Fort Fairfield. History is painfully silent respecting the oper- ations of the three months’ campaign, and of the achievements of the army. The discipline of the camp is spoken of as excellent, though the use of a practice target representing the crowned head of Her Majesty has been justly roprehend- ed, since it was not only disrespectful to the sex, but served to exasperate the Blue Noses to an unnecessary degree. There are desultory ac- counts of a certain midnight alarm, a long march through a blinding snow-storm, and a desperate battle that was not fought only because the en- emy did not appear. This was the only serious engagement of the war. How General Scott was sent to mediate between the combatants, how the army was withdrawn from the field to partake of a cold collation at Bangor on the 10th of May, how the difficulty was finally settled be- tween the two countries, and how Uncle Sam was obliged to foot an expense account of $250,000, have long been historical facts con- nected with the “Aroostook War.” Presque Isle After a run across the line to Woodstock, seven miles distant, Penman and Cliquot re- turned to Houlton, and then took the stage for Presque Isle, a charming village on the Aroos- took River, where they, read the Pioneer, the northernmost paper printed in the United States, dined upon a luscious salmon taken with a fly from the river, contemplated a big Micmac In- dian, examined the model farms in the vicinity, and watched the gleamings of a brilliant aurora borealis; thence to Fort Fairfield, with its de- caying block-houses and ruined barracks; and thence, under arching trees, where luxuriant raspberry bushes by the wayside reached out their tempting fruit to the hand of the passing traveler, on to the beautiful Falls of the Aroos- took, at which they were fain to cast a fly for the luscious salmon that throng the dark pool below. The road for some distance skirted the verge of a precipice, and far down in the ravine could be heard the roar of the rushing stream, which was concealed from view by the dense foliage that intervened. But presently the fringe of trees terminated abruptly, and dis- closed a huge basin yawning at their very feet, at the bottom of which, perhaps two hundred feet below, the Aroostook Precipitated itself in a tumult of foam over a broken ledge of rocks. Both falls and stream looked insignificant by contrast with the vast amphitheatre that engulf- ed them. A heavy growth of evergreens en- circled the edge of the Titanic howl, defining more perfectly its remarkable proportions. Grand Falls The next day found them at the village of Grand Falls. Without bestowing more than a passing notice upon the cluster of small dingy buildings that comprise the county-seat of Vic- toria County, New Brunswick, and its motley population of French, English, Scotch, Irish, In- dians, and half-breeds, thsy sought out the inn, where they were waited upon by old Wilmot, the town-clerk-a clever sort of a character, hut saturated with “Medford” and English preju- dices-who extended to them the freedom of the town, and volunteered as their cicerone during their sojourn. His assiduous attentions, how- ever, discovered little of interest to the stran- gers, saving the fact that there seemed to be but two pricate buildings in the place, viz., the court-house and a church. The first was a huge wooden structure, isolated, gamboged, and im- posing, upon a bare hill in the centre of the town; the other a neat white edifice nestling among dark evergreens, but carefully set aside upon an almost inaccessible ledge beyond the corporate limits, with a wild ravine two hundred feet deepintervening. But the marvelous beau- ty of the surrounding scenery more than com- pensated for the ophthalmic twinge occasioned by the brown weather-beaten houses of the din- gy town. Let us now turn toward the little white church with its environment of trees, and the long line of hills behind that surge upward in dark billows of verdure. A new world in nature is before us. Against the back-ground of foliage a dense column of mist is ever rising, sparkling in the sunlight, and spanned by a rainbow arch that rests on abutments of fleecy clouds. A calm pervades the landscape, and through the still nit can be heard a hollow roar deep in the bowels of the earth; and if one will suspend his breath he can feel a tremor under his feet, as if caldrons were fiercely bubbling. At night, in their little room, the travelers heard the same dull roar, and were lulled to sleep by the droning mono- tone. Now the cause of the invisible phenom- enon was about to be manifested to them in a scene of wild commotion. They passed on, by a winding path, through a grove of cedars and spruce, the sound increasing momentarily, when their steps were suddenly arrested by a tremen- dous chasm which gaped heneath their feet, and, looking over the dizzy verge, the great cataract of the Grand Falls of the St. John burst upon their view in all its grandeur of thunder, foam, and ever-rising spray. Down a precipice of seventy feet it leaped, shivering itself into mist; then raged and whirled, piling itself into huge drifts of foam; then dove into the unfathomable depths of an inky pool; and, struggling a while, finally burst through the surface, and foamed away, over a succession of falls and rapids, through a contracted channel, whose perpendic- ular walls are two hundred feet high! Niagara is grand and sublime, overpowering the sense by its immensity of volume; but the Grand Falls are fearfully romantic; for the precipitous cliffs that confine the cataract are fringed with forest ABOOSTOOK AND THE MADAWASKA. 695 trees, which overhang the very brink, and add a wildness and beauty to the picture which Niag- ara does not possess. But the stand-point from which to obtain the most impressive view is at the bottom of the abyss below. The descent is difficult and even perilous. Man is a small atom down there, looking up at the blue sky above him through that great rift. The black, impending rocks threaten to crush him; tall, scraggy pines stretch out their long arms threat- eningly toward him; the reverberating thunder deafens him; his breathing becomes difficult; and the seething torrent rushing by seems about to sweep the rocky bed from beneath his feet. The whole earth trembles. Not a bird or living creature is to be seen. Even the fleecy clouds above seem anxious to avoid the place, and scud quickly across the gulf. In the spring, when freshets above swell the impetuous volume of water, the fury of the torrent is even more ter- rific. Pent up within the narrow gorge, and unable to discharge itself through the natural passage, it is forced upward in immense surging billows, subsiding and heaving with each suc- cessive flood that plunges over the Falls. THE MADAWASKA. Now pass we to a more tranquil scene. It is eventide. The declining sun has spread his crimson sheen over one half the placid bosom of the broad St. John, while the other flows un- der the shadow of the high impinging bluff. A light pirogue glides swiftly by, leaving a gentle ripple astern, and a swallow is skimming the surface, dropping crystals from his wing-tips as he flies. Just here the river sweeps with a ma- jestic bend on its way to the cataract; and standing upon the grassy bank at the curve, we gaze far up its glistening channel into an open- ing vista of gently sloping hills and meadows, that dip smooth and velvety to the river’s rim- of cultivated farms, with their neat white cot- tages, their orchards, and fields of ripening grain. Over all a Sabbath serenity is diffused, and grassy knoll and leafy wood are embathed in a soft and subdued lustre. We seem to have been suddenly transported by some wand of en- chantment into another country, the smoothness of the fields, the absence of woods, the evidences of long-tilled lands, contrast so strangely with the tangled forests and new clearings only a few miles back. But pause! This fertile and en- chanting valley was settled almost a century ago! Here was heard the sound of the loom, the ring of the axe, and the busy hum of labor, when all around was a wilderness-when thousands of square miles of primitive forest intervened be- tween its people and civilization, and the only highway to the outer world was the smoothly- flowing river before their doors. We are now about to tread the almost classic ground of Aca- dia-land of a hundred romances. Before us are the golden portals of the Madawaska! Shall we repeat the oft-told story of the suf- ferings of the early Acadians? Of the invasion of their peaceful homes by fleets from over the sea, and fleets from the Puritan shores of New England? Of deceit, cruelty, rapine, and the slaughter of an unoffending people, whose pa- triarchal simplicity, kindness, and virtues won the love of savages-who never wronged by word or blow, and who even refused to take up arms in their own defense, preferring rather to die by their faith than shed the blood of other men? Of the fall of Louisburg and the tragedy of Grand Prè, embalmed in the touching poem of Evangeline? Let the wrongs of a hundred and fifty years be blotted from memory. Of the exiles some fifty families found their way to Fredericton, New Brunswick; but they did not long remain there unmolested, for in 1783 they were again driven out and fled up the river to their present settlement of Madawaska. Here at least they were secure from the inroads of British fleets, for no vessel could pass the Falls. Here, in the unexplored wilderness, they hoped to be no longer in any body’s way. The days of persecution have long since passed. In their peaceful homes on the banks of the pic- turesque St. John these simple people now pur- sue their daily avocations as happily as before the advent of the English ships at Gaspereau’s mouth. Could the breath of life be breathed into those who suffered and died, and they in the flesh be transported hither, their faces would kindle with surprise that time had wrought so few changes during their long absence-so per- fectly have their descendants retained the pecu- liarities of former days - their style of dress, mode of cooking, the forms of their houses, the antique-looking wind-mills for threshing grain, the clumsy wains, and rude cabriolets. The settlement extends along the river for sixty miles, on both sides, though the larger portion of its 6000 inhabitants are on the New Bruns- wick side. The road runs parallel with the river, perhaps half a mile distant, but the houses are for the most part riparian, with projecting roofs, and porticoes overlooking the smooth lawns that slope to the margin, and outdoor seats, where now, as in the olden time, gossiping looms are heard “mingling the noise of their shuttles with the whir of the wheels.” Here the family sit at evening and receive the calls of their neighbors who come in boats; for the river is the thoroughfare most used by the Aca- dians in their daily intercourse with each other. The interval between it and the road is a con- tinuous line of pastures and cultivated fields. There are farms, too, on the other side of the road, and an occasional farm-house; but only a mile or two back is the dark belt of timber that bounds the Aroostook wilderness, and beyond are the homes of the moose, the bear, and the cariboo. “Ah! here comes a ‘cabrowit!’ To the left, Cliquot, you remember. What a clumsy- looking two-wheeled craft it is, like the old chaise our great - grandmothers knew! Now tip your felt as gracefully as you can. Salute! it is the custom here. Jove! did you see those 696 HARPER’S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE. faces? those dark lustrous eyes? that olive tint and carmine blush, like the velvet cheek of the ripest peach? Those are Acadian Evangelines, true to tradition. We shall see others soon. Here come two cavaliers, in full panoply of homespun blue and straw-hats as large as a Mexican sombrero. Did ever Gaucho sit more lightly in the saddle? Is it possible that we are in Maine? in Puritan New England? Those are not Yankee faces. Here they are at hand.” “Bon soir, messieurs. Quelle distance a chez de Jean Paraut? Je souhait y rester à.” “Goodness, Penman! do you call that French? You wouldn’t murder the tongue before their eyes I” “Pshaw! That’s better French than half of them speak. It’s only a patois they parley- voo; though they can speak their native tongue with Parisian elegance, as you will see by-and- by. But yonder is Jean’s, just rising the knoll. Get on, pony!“ The neatly white-washed house to whose door they drove promised substantial comforts for tired and hungry travelers; and confident of a hearty welcome, they mounted the steps and knocked. Presently the door was opened by an impassive little Frenchman with a melancholy face and dark-blue homespun trowsers, who re- ceived them with a quiet recognition, and, with a step as cat-like as an undertaker’s at a funer- al, ushered them into the presence of a pensive- looking Madame in plaited hair and blue woolen petticoat, and a group of reserved and thoughtful children in blue. Then they seated themselves upon a low wooden settle, and Cliquot com- menced a conversazione with the host and host- ess, who presently brightened into something like the vivacity which is said to he a national trait of the Frenchman; but Penman, who un- derstood French imperfectly, contented himself with a cursory examination of the spacious apart- ment in which he found himself while the chil- dren prepared the supper. The house itself was built of squared logs, a single story high, and divided into two apartments, perhaps twenty feet square. From his wooden-bottomed seat, then, Penman thoughtfully contemplated the huge Canadian stove, six feet high, that stood in the partition wall, so as to warm both rooms alike, and calculated the number of cords of wood that would be required to feed the monster during a six months’ winter, and its cost at New York market prices. Then he looked at the loom and the spinning-wheel, and thought of Longfellow’s Evangeline; at the antique chairs, and the bedsteads set into the walls like berths; at the little rudely-carved crucifixes, and the pictures of the Virgin and saints that ornament- ed the room. He watched the ghost-like move- ments of the softly-tripping enfants as they pre- pared the supper; and anon stole glances at the plump little hostess in kirtle and snow-white cap. While he waited and watched a strong savor of garlic pervaded the room, and there was a hissing and sputtering of melted fat with- out. Then presently came a little voice, low and musical: “Messieurs, your supper is ready.” Penman and Cliquot drew their chairs to the table, and with eager eyes and sharp appetite surveyed the board. Penman plunged his spoon into a dish of unctuous compound, and presently filled his mouth. He gasped, choked, and sim- ply said, “A glass of water, if you please, my dear.” Then he tried a dish of what seemed to be minced eggs afloat in pork fat. A taste ex- plained the odor of garlic that prevailed. Next he spread a slice of buckwheat bread - sour, black, and gangrened, and of the consistency of lead. Then he transferred a couple of grid- dled cakes to his plate, which having tasted cautiously, he dosed with maple molasses, and washed down with a decoction of barley, nick- named coffee, and said, “Another glass of water, if you please.” Then he rested knife and fork, and gazed af- fectionately after the retreating figure of his lithe-limbed attendant, and thus apostrophized: “Can it be possible that barley, buckwheat bread, and garlic enter into the organism of that sylph-like creature-into the jet of her lus- trous eyes, the peach-blow of her cheeks, and the Æolian of her musical voice? Or is she an exception to the law that assimilates body and mind with that which sustains them? Is it on such diet that all the Acadian beauties of past generations have fed ?“ But Penman and Cliquot made a tolerable supper of the fresh milk dud eggs, and were grateful-for a meal ever so humble, with an open heart, is better relished than a feast given grudgingly, and mine host’s hospitality was as unqualified as his surprise at the injustice done the bounteous repast. Kind-hearted Jean Pa- rant! He pressed his guests to tarry another day, promising them a thumping fandango in the evening if they remained; but haste com- pelled them to go on, and so the door closed softly behind them. Simple-minded Jean Pa- rant! May his large barns be ever filled, and no visions of English invaders disturb his slum- bers! Get on, pony!” Now we come to Keagan’s house. That is not a French name. It has more the ring of the “rich brogue.” “How do you do, Mr. Keagan?” “Hut! Long life to your honors! an’ how do yees do this morning? When did ye come down?“ “Yesterday. We lodged at Paraut’s last night. How is Mrs. Keagan?“ “She’s well. Come in a bit till ye see the mistress. Don’t say ‘No’ now-come. We’ll take a sup.“Thank you; but we must go on. When we return, perhaps. Do you know if Father M ‘Keagucy is at the lower chapel?“ “I believe he is, then; I’m not sure, but I think he is.” “Mr. Keagan, what do you call yourself-an AROOSTOOK AND THE MADAW4SKA. 697 Irishman, a Frenchman, or a Yankee? for you live in the States, you know.” “Bother me hut ‘twould be hard to tell. Faith, then, I’m an American - Irish - French- man.” - “Or an Irish-French-Yankee ?“ “No, Sir! The Yankee first-I puts the Yankee first. Shure, doesn’t I vote? An’ ye won't come in? Well, then, good luck to yees! Good-by!” Father M’Keagney was a priest of fine edu- ration and refinement. He received his visitors most cordially, pipe in mouth, and invited them to his pretty Norman cottage, where he offered them pipes and wine of choicest vintage. Then they sat by the windows that overlooked the beautiful St. John, and conversed long and free- ly upon matters temporal and spiritual. It was a rare treat for him to meet with gentlemen of intelligence and education. “Father,” said Penman, as he surveyed the charming landscape, “you have a delightful place to live in here.” “A delightful place to die in!“ he responded, with a tone of dejection. Though self-exiled to missionary labor among an ignorant and perhaps uncongenial people, he seemed to yearn for the more refined society of his own country. And he did die there. The next summer he passed to his eternal rest, la- mented by his little flock. “By-the-way, we are to have a wedding here to-day,” he said. “Will you attend? I per- ceive the people are already assembling.” The visitors assented, and passing out upon the lawn hefore the chapel they discovered little groups of peasants in blue homespun gathered near, all moving about ia their quiet way, or sitting upon the grass conversing in undertones; and their faces, though cheerful, were very much like the thoughtful, serious faces at Jean Pa- rant’s. Presently the chapel-bell rang, and they entered quietly. The building was of wood, with a spire surmounted by a curiously ornate iron cross, and not unlike some old-fashioned New England meeting-house. The interior lacked expensive decoration, coarse engravings in huge black frames supplying the place of cus- tomary oil-paintings; and the altar was very plain. The most unusual feature was un im- mense iron stove, perched in mid-air over the middle aisle, upon pillars seven feet high, this position being necessary to secure even moder- ate warmth during the bitter cold of the winter season. Now enter Claude and Marie, hand in hand, clad in the universal blue-Marie in kirtle and petticoat, guileless of hoops-and take their po- sition before the altar, kneeling for prayer and throughout the service, and receiving meekly the final admonition of the priest. At the con- clusion the wedded pair were saluted by the fa- ther and all who were assembled. It was a sim- ple ceremony. The twain were made one, and then retired with their friends to prepare for the celebration that always follows so important an event. Terpsichore is queen in Madawaska, and governs almost every action in everyday life. Miserable indeed would these happy Aca- dians be without the everlasting fandango and accompanying fiddle. Every birth, every mar- riage, the raising of a building, with its each subsequent stage of progress, the ingathering of the crops, and every maple-sugar bee, are sev- erally and duly celebrated by a fandango, at which both old and young are present in full participation. Ah! these boatmen of the St. John are inveterate skippers! We will attend the fandango this evening, since an invitation is a courtesy always extend- ed to strangers. There is a fog to-night, but it will not affect the festivities. Had Penman and his friend been unattended sense of hearing would alone have guided them to the place selected; for long before they reached the spot the twang of the fiddle and ‘the regular beat of shuffling feet, as if a score of looms were set to music, caine borne to their ears upon the still night air. Gradually the sounds increased, and soon two nebulous shafts of light streamed out into the mist, athwart which dusky shadows seemed per- petually flitting. Presently the sense of smell aided to guide their steps to the portal-rank fumes of mingled exhalations wafted from with in. These meteorological phenomena and a hasty survey of the interior suggested a retreat; but their little chaperon led them on, and by dint of persuasion, elbows, and appeals, an en- try was effected, and the already compact mass of human bodies compressed to the extent re- quired to admit the cubic inches of the new- comers. Presently the catgut ceased to serape, the dancing stopped, and the stalwart maitre de dense immediately plowed his way to the dis- tinguished guests, and, with native politeness, proceeded to oust the occupants of seats to make room for them. “Be seated, gentlemen. I beg you don’t stand.” The momentary confusion over, the dance is resumed. Through the blue cloud of tobacco smoke are discerned dusky figures in variegated shirts and tro~vsers and parti-colored petticoats, sitting, closely packed, upon long benches and upon the floor, and standing along the walls; ~vhile through the crevices in the loft above, and through the ladder-hole, curious eyes are peer- ing. Upon an elevated seat in one corner a lady, with comely features and coronet of glossy braided hair, is drawing music from a clear- toned violin, and betimes accompanying it with a warbling voice hardly distinguishable from its counterpart. Not a smile or a word does she deign to bestow upon the serious-looking circle around, but addresses herself diligently to the duty she is selected to perform. With diffi- culty the crowd is pressed back to permit space for the dancers-a space not more than six feet in diameter. Now comes a tall man leading a little rosy-cheeked maiden (the newly-wedded pair) and takes his place on the floor; next 698 HARPER’S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE. a little man, puffing, elbowing, and dragging through the crowd, as a tug-hoat draws a ship, a tall lass, with features and gown like an army nurse’s, and places her in position. Two more couples follow, and the set is complete. Now all is hushed save an occasional whisper. No one smiles. It is as solemn as a Quaker meet- ing. The dance commences with a preliminary shuffle, the partners facing each other, and so close that a hoop might he slipped over the two. Then heel and toe begin to tap, slowly at first, hut soon faster and faster, and louder and loud- er, until they rattle on like a frightened loco- motive, or a watch with a broken mainspring- never ceasing, scarcely moving from the spot, but bobbing up and down with distressing per- severance, until the breath comes short. Then they shift positions and repeat, cross over and repeat, back to place and repeat. The music flags, tired nature demands a pause, the watch runs down, and they give place to others. Dur- ing a lull conversation revives, and frequent re- sort is had to a cupboard in the adjoining room. The maitre de dense approaches, and addresses the strangers with a smile: “If you wish some rum, here it is. Help yourselves. Or if you wish to dance I will get you partners. We desire that you should enjoy yourselves. Don’t go away dissatisfied.” Anon the dancing is resumed, and the war- bling and fiddling in the corner begins again. Another half hour of patient, lahorious gayety succeeds. Meanwhile Penman sits restless and fidgeting. Unconciously his feet begin to tap to the music, for the jig is really a lively one. He watches each motion of the dancers, and chafes like a steed under the curb. Presently the dancing ceases, but the music still goes on. The arena is clear. Penman makes a bound into the middle of the ring, bows, and commences a lively “walkaround.” The fiddle at once catches the inspiration, and scrapes with redoubled vigor. The crowd presses nearer. Now he wheels to place, shuffles, and warms up to his work with every limb and muscle in motion. Down go his feet with a clatter like a threshing machine. He twists, thumps, twirls, and pirouettes through jig, hornpipe, reel, and the whole alphabet of fancy steps, executed in double-shuffle and pig- eon-wing, and finally winds up with an inimit- able pas seal amidst the acclamations of the ad- miring throng. Never was there such a “break- down” in Madawaska. Now he wipes his brow and retires, the crowd opening a passage for this new star in the Arcadian firmament. Present- ly the master of ceremonies looks for him in his accustomed seat, but he has vanished like a meteor from the heavens. Cliquot has gone too. All night long the fiddle fiddles, the dancers dance, and when the morning dawns upon the few who still linger, moving feebly and well- nigh exhausted, the two strangers are far on their way up the smoothly-flowing river. Little of incident occurred to vary their some- what monotonous journey through the Mada- waska, for the features of the landscape through- out the settlement are much the same. At in- tervals a huge wind-mill threw out its long arms to the breeze, and turned slowly around. Here was another chapel. Anon a sparkling stream crossed the road and tumbled into the St. John. But all was quiet, profoundly quiet. Would the denizen of the busy metropolis obtsAn some idea of perfect tranquillity, let him visit the ancient, peaceful settlement of Madawaska. The travelers did not tarry long among this peculiar people, for Cliquot, though interested at first, soon found the country “too dooced slow,” and buckwheat bread and garlic did not agree with Penman’s digestion. One fine morn- ing found them seated upon the top of an H. B. M. mail-coach, rattling over the hard and level road that runs beside the St. John to Woodstock and Frederickton. Tobique At Tobique they watched the Micmacs spear- ing salmon by torchlight, and would fain have lingered there a while. That they did not, was doubtless for good and sufficient reasons best known to themselves. Upon the deck of the. steamer that runs to the city of St. John they often recalled the little incidents of their jour- ney, and they will ever remember with pleasure their visit to the wild Aroostook and the peace- ful Madawaska.
Return to the Upper St.John River valley
Last revised 10 Sep 2004
© 2004 C. Gagnon