The Reward of Virtue

M. R. S. ANDREWS January 1 1909

The Reward of Virtue

M. R. S. ANDREWS January 1 1909
  • THIS is a story about my guide, Josef Vezina. He’s a corking guide and a wonder at hunting, and all sorts of a good fellow besides, but he’s a French-Canadian habitant, and that means that he’s blind as a bat to some ideas perfectly evident to us. So he did a stunt last autumn one day, all out of kindness of heart, which came near getting me into a nasty hole, and would, if my friend, Arthur Shackleton, my roommate at college last year, hadn’t been the best ever, and too square himself to think unsquareness of another fellow. It turned out only a joke on me after it was straightened out, but I was feeling rather shy for a while along at first.

I ought to give some idea of the sort Josef is. Well, to look at he’s a tail lean, powerful chap of twenty-four, with slim hips and big shoulders, and black hair, and large, light blue eyes which are simply marvelous. They are wide open always, and snap back and forth over everything like lightning, and there isn’t a visible object for miles that they miss. Why, one day out on the lake in a canoe, fishing, Josef said, in his soft respectful voice :

“M’sieur Bob!”

And I answered “Oui—what is A Josef?”

“If M’sieur will look—so—in the line of my paddle”—he held it out as lightly as a pencil—‘V’la un oiseau-de-proie”— hawk—“on the tree across the lake.”

I looked till my eyeballs popped, and not a blessed bird could I see for minutes, and then, with much directing from Josef,

I caught sight of a lump with a wriggle to it, on the top branch of a spruce like a thousand other spruces, halfway up a hillside.

It’s a treat to see him bend over a dim footprint in the moss, deep in the woods, and to watch those search-light eyes widen and brighten, and notice how he puts his rough fingers down as delicately as a lady. Then in a minute he’ll blink a quick glance and say quietly :

“Un orignal, M’sieur Bob—a moose. There is about an hour that he passed. It is a middle one, and he was not frightened. He but trotted.”

At first I used to say “Gosh ! how can you tell all that, Josef?” and he would shrug his shoulders and look embarrassed.

“But it is easy—c’est facile—M’sieur. The print is not large or deeply sunken —cale—so the animal is of medium size. The marks are close together—he did not jump long jumps as one does to hurry, when effraye. And the left hind foot and right fore foot come side by side—an animal trots so.”

“And the hour, Josef?”

For the life of him he can’t exactly explain that, but two or three times his guesses have been exactly verified. He murmurs something about whether the fern is withered which the moose crushed into his step, and whether a leaf or little twigs have fallen into it, but he lets a lot go unexplained. I reckon it’s judgment that’s come to be instinct by practice and thinking about it. For I believe he dreams hunting, he’s so crazy on the subject, and he’s sure a shark at it, too.

He’s a shy fellow and won’t talk to most people, but he’s got used to me because we’ve gone off on trips. Being in the woods alone with a person, camping in one tent at night, and tramping in one another’s steps all day long; putting up with short rations and discomfort, and then having the fun and glory of killing a caribou, or getting a five-pound trout together—that game makes you feel as if you knew the other fellow pretty well. Especially if it rains—Holy Ike! We did have rain on one trip to drown a frog. Three days of it. We were off to find a lake up the right branch of the Castor Noir River, and we didn’t find it at all that “escousse”—as the guides say —and we got wetter every step and didn't get dry at night so you’d notice it, and. altogether it was a moist and melancholy excursion. But Josef was such a brick that I had a good time anyway—I’ve discovered that there are many varieties of good times and there’s one tied up in about every package, if you’ll look hard, and shake it out. So we used to have lots of fun building a whooping blaze at night near some little green mossy arrangement of a brook, and making it go in spite of the rain—Josef’s a wizard at that. We’d get the tent up and chop for the all-night fire, and dry out our clothes and things—it’s wonderful how much you can. And then we’d have supper, and I never hope to taste anything as good as that fried bacon with corn-meal flapjacks. Maple sugar’s fine mixed right in, too—we didn’t stop for courses. I’ve had meals at Sherry’s and they’re not in it with our bacon and flapjacks. Then Josef would fumble in his soggy pocket and bring out an old black pipe, and fumble in another pocket and bring out a marbled plug of tobacco, and slice off some with his ferocious hunting knife, out of the caribou skin case with fringe of the hide, which he wears always on his belt. Then, when he’d lit up he’d start in to amuse me—I think he was deadly afraid I’d get bored before we found that lake. He’d tell me anything on an evening off in the woods like that by ourselves—especially, as I said, if it rained. He told me about his sweetheart who died, and about the hundred dollars he’d saved up in five years and then had to pay the doctor from Quebec when his father was awfully ill. He’s had a hard time in some ways, that Josef —yet he has his hunting, which is a great pleasure. I’d tell him about college and big cities, where he’s never been in his life, not even to Quebec, and he’d ask the simplest, most child-like questions about things, so that sometimes it made me feel sorry and a bit ashamed somehow to have had all the chances.

After we’d talked a while that way I’d get him to sing for me, for he’s got a corking voice and they are all musical, these habitants. Some of the airs were fascinating, and the words, too, and afterward I got him to write down a few for me. The one I liked best began this way:

Les grands betes se promènent

Le long de leur foret—

C’est aux betes une salle—

Le foret, c’est leur salle;

Et le roi de la salle C’est le Roi Orignal.


Chanceux est le chasseur

Et louable, qui est capable

Vaincre le Roi Orignal.

I had a bit of trouble making out the words because he spells his own style and splits up syllables any way that it sounds to him. I’d like to give some of it the way he wrote it, for it sure was queer, but I’d feel as if I were playing a mean trick on poor old Josef if I did that. When he brought the songs to me, written on a piece of brown paper that came around a can of pork and beans, he shrugged his shoulders in an embarrassed way and blinked those enormous light eyes half a dozen times fast, and said :

“Sais pas, if M’sieur is capable to read my writing. I do not write very well— me.” Then the shoulder stunt. “M’sieur will pardon, as I have had little of instruction. I was the eldest and could go to the school but two years. It was necessary that I should work and gain money. Therefore M’sieur will pardon the writing.” And you bet I pardoned it, and you see I can’t make a joke of it after that.

All this song and dance is just to explain how Josef and I got to be a good pair, so that he’d get up any hour of the night to hunt with me, and jump at the chance ; and would always manage to get me the best pool on a river for fishing, and never let me realize that I was hogging things till after I’d done it. Sometimes the other guides were up in the air at him, but Josef didn’t mind. However, the one chance that was apparently the ambition of his life he’d never yet been able to give me, and that was to kill a moose. I’d been pretty slow at getting even a caribou, and missed one or two somehow—they’re darned easy things to overshoot, for all they’re so big. But that I’d finally accomplished, and I drew a good head with thirty points to the panaches—horns—so Josef’s mind was at rest so far. At the present moment the principal reason he was living—you’d think—was that I should get “unoriginal,” and I didn’t have any objections myself either.

That’s the way things stood when Arthur Shackleton came up to the camp. Shacky’s the best sport going, but a greenhorn in the woods—he’d tell you so himself promptly. I saw Josef sizing him up with those huge shy eyes, as Shacky stood on the dock and fired my 30-40 Winchester at a target before we started out on the trip I’m going to tell about. Josef had one foot in the canoe, loading pacquetons into it, busy as a beaver and silent as the grave, and almost too shy to glance at the bunch of “Messieurs” who were popping the guns—all the same he didn’t miss a motion. He knew perfectly that Shacky had to be shown the action of the Winchester—how you saw the guard to load, and then saw it again to throw out the shell and put in a fresh cartridge. If it had been the Archangel Michael, Josef wouldn’t have taken much stock in a fellow who didn’t understand the Winchester action, and that afternoon poor old Shacky settled himself. W’d been traveling all day, paddling in canoes and tramping on portages, and we’d gone through two or three lakes and were now working up a little river full of rapids, but with long “eaux morts” between them. We were getting to the end of such a dead-water, and Shacky’s canoe was in front, with a guide in bow and stern, and him in the middle, with a rifle. We were behind, but neither of Shacky s guides, Blanc or Zoetique, saw the caribou till Josef gave a blood curdling whisper that waked them up :

“C—caribou ! C—-caribou !”

And, sure enough, there it was, but so hidden in the branches on the left bank that no eyes but those big microscopes of Josef’s could have picked out the beast. The stream narrowed just there and a ripple of water dashed over the stones between alders on one side, where the caribou was, and a pebbly shore in front of alders, on the other. Of course the animal, heard Josef’s whisper—that couldn’t be helped. And what do you think he did? They’re crazy in the head, those caribou. He gave a leap out of the alders that hid him, and jumped across the rapids with a tremendous splashing, and stopped on the pebbles in full sight of the audience, and stared at us. I suppose he didn’t know where the trouble was coming from —or else he didn’t know it was trouble, and liked our looks—but that question can’t be settled this side of the grave. Anyhow, Zoetique swung the canoe around with one mighty stroke so that Shacky had a nice left-hand shot, and the caribou stood as if trained and waited for him to be good and ready ; and poor old Shacky proceeded to profit by my lessons on the Winchester. He put the rifle to his shoulder and sighted with care, and started in and worked the lever back and forth, back and forth, till he’d loaded and thrown out all five cartridges—and never once touched the trigger. The caribou stood petrified with astonishment while he went through with this supporting performance, making a most unholy racket of course. And when he’d quite finished and the last cartridge lay in the bottom of the boat—they rained all over him— then the beast stuck out his nose and took to the underbrush, a perfectly good caribou still. It sounds like an impossibility, but it’s an absolutely true tale— it was a pure case of blue funk of course. And he wasn’t used to guns—it’s an outrage to bring a boy up like that.

Well, old Shacky was as game as they make ’em about it, and apologized profusely for wasting good meat, and never whined a whine on his own account. But that didn’t help with Josef. I explained at length how the M’sieur was new to the gun, but when his big eyes lighted on Shacky I saw such contempt in them I was dreadfully afraid Shacky’d see it too. He’d queered himself all right, and I believe Josef would have hated to guide for him at three dollars a day, he despised him so. Yet that’s putting it strong— there aren’t many things the French-Canadians won’t do for money, poor fellows. Anyway, as things were, Josef never looked at Shacky, and acted, as far as he decently could, as if he wasn’t there.

We came to the lake where we were to camp, and the four men put up the tents, and we settled things, and then Josef sneaked off in a canoe alone to see what the signs were for game. We’d planned to hunt first on the Riviere aux Isles, the inlet to this lake, which was said to be broad and grassy in spots.

It was clean dark when Josef got back, and when he walked into the firelight his eyes looked like electric lights—blazing, they were. I never saw such extraordinary eyes. Some old cave-dweller that had to kill to eat, and depended on his quicker vision for a quicker chance than the next cave-dweller, may have had that sort—but I’ve never seen the like.

“Did you find good ‘pistes,’ Josef?” I asked him.

He had stopped on the edge of the light, shabby and silent and respectful in his queer collection of old clothes, his straight black hair sticking all ways, like a kingfisher’s feathers, under his faded felt hat. I tell you he was a picture, with his red bandanna knotted into his belt on one side and the big skin knife-sheath with its leather fringe on the other. That knife gave a savage touch to his makeup. But he stood erect and light and powerful, a bunch of steel springs there’s nothing to pity Josef about on the physical question. He was shy because of Shacky’s being there, but when I asked about the “pistes”—signs you know —up went his shoulders and out went his hands—he was too excited to think of anything but the hunting.

“Mais des pistes, M’sieur Bob! C’est effrayant ! C’est épouvantable !”

Then he went on to tell me, with hands and shoulders going and his low voice chipping in with the cracking of the fire. It seems that, as there was a light drizzle falling, which would wipe out his scent, he had landed on the shore of the wide-water of the Riviere aux Isles near where he thought the beasts might come in. And he had found signs to beat the band—runways cut wide and brown with steady use, and huge prints of both caribou and moose. But what excited him particularly was that, according to his statement, there was a big moose which watered there every day.

“He is there to-day about 10 o'clock in the morning. He was there yesterday. There is also a grosse piste of day before yesterday,” he exploded at me in mouthfuls of words. “He walks up the pass—I have seen his steps all along— I have followed. It is necessary that M’sieur Bob shall go there of a good hour tomorrow morning and wait till the great one comes up the river. It is a shot easy for M’sieur Bob from the wide-water to the place where that great one comes. In that manner M’sieur Bob will kill a large moose—erais—but yes.”

“Hold on there a second, Josef,” I halted him. “M’sieur Shackleton’s got to have the first chance—he’s my guest,” and then I stopped, for not only was Josef looking black murder, but Shacky threw his boot at me.

“No you don’t,” said Shacky. “No more ruined chances and healthy wild beasts for mine. I won’t go, and that’s all. If you’ve got a good harmless spot with one caribou track to amuse me, and you'll let me sit and work a crank, I’ll do that fast enough. But as for throwing away any more meat, I plain won’t.”

“Oh, cut it out, Shacky,” I adjured him. “It was only a cow caribou any way, and you’ll be steady as an old soldier next time”—but he wouldn’t listen to me.

Then I labored with him, and finally after much agony we came to an agreement. There was a place. Lac M’sieur, a little pond to the east, which we had every reason to believe would be fine hunting. It was good country, and might beat out Josef’s place, only we didn’t know for sure. So I terrorized Shacky into a consent to draw lots, the winner to have the choice. We drew, and I won the choice. Josef stood there waiting, his eyes snapping and gleaming and watching every movement—he could understand enough English to follow, though he couldn’t speak any. He saw that I had the long stick and he flashed a glance of unconcealed rapture at me.

“At what hour is it light, Josef?” I asked him.

“One can see enough to go en canot— in the boat—at three hours and a half,” —he answered happily. “I will wake M’sieur Bob at that hour, is it?”

I really hated to disappoint the chap, he was so tickled to death and so certain I’d get my moose. So I spoke very gently. “I’m sorry, Josef, but we’re not going en canot, you and I. M’sieur Shackleton and Zoetique will go to the river and we’ll go to Lac M’sieur, and rake out a moose before they do.”

“Oh come,” burst in Shacky. “This is a crime. I simply can’t”—but I interrupted.

“Shut up, dear one,” I said politely. “You talk like a tea-pot in early June. It’s my choice, and I choose Lac M’sieur.”

Josef bent over with a quick swoop, and picked up the two sticks and held out the long one. “Pardon, ' M’sieur Bob. It is this one that M’sieur drew?”

“Yes,” I said. It came hard to rub it into the fellow and I was just a little sick myself, I’ll own, to have to throw away that moose on Shacky’s fireworks. “Yes,” I said.

“And it is for M’sieur to choose?” he asked, blinking.

“Yes,” I agreed again—I let him fight it out his own way.

“Then—Mon Dieu ! M’sieur Bob will choose the river. It is certain that M’sieur will there kill the great moose.”

Well, I had to send him off sulky and raging, and entirely uncomprehending. He simply couldn’t grasp why, when I had fairly drawn the choice, I should throw it away on such a thing as Shacky. I couldn’t put a glimmer of it into him, either.

At gray dawn, out of the underbrush there was a low call of “M’sieur!” repeated more than once before it got us up. We crawled shiveringly into our clothes by a smoky fire kicked together from last night’s logs ; we had hot chocolate and not much else out in the open ; and off we went, Shacky and his guide up the lake in a boat, and Josef and I through the woods that seemed to have a deathly stillness in them as if all the little wild creatures were sound asleep that make an underbuzz in the daytime.

A little cold light was leaking, up in the branches, but down where he walked it was dark—mostly I couldn’t see the plaques—blazes on the trees, plaques are. But you couldn’t fool Josef—he went straight from one to another as if it was a trodden portage. My ! but he sure was in an ugly temper. Once when he whipped his axe out of his belt and clipped a branch in our way, I just knew he wished it was Shacky he was chopping at. The light brightened as we went and before we got to Lac M’sieur I could see the sights of my rifle. As we came to the lake, the tree trunks stood black and sharp against a white wall of mist hanging solid on the water; above that the mountains showed black again, on the sunrise—only the sun wasn’t risen. The marsh grasses were stiff with frost and when you stepped the marsh was crisp. We walked to the east side to get a good watch ; we settled ourselves, and the sun came up behind us as we sat shivering with cold. First it lit the tops of the mountains across, and then crawled down the trees and lay on the water in a band. The stiff grasses suddenly stood up white in masses, and then as the sun hit them the frost melted, and they turned yellow. I wish I could tell how pretty it was and describe the feeling it gives you of the world’s being just made that morning expressly for you to play with.

We watched there till the light shone high and came shooting through the branches where we sat straddling two logs, and the minute it touched us it grew so warm we had to shed our sweaters—about seven o’clock, I think. And about then Josef got restless. He picked twigs, and he crawled about, and he kept looking at his big silver watch as if he had a train to catch. Finally, he took out his pipe and began feeling in his pockets for tobacco—the flies were chewing us by then. But I couldn’t have that—it’s a crime to smoke on a hunt, because the caribou have wonderful noses and scent things a long way off if the wind is to them.

“C’est bien dangereux,” I whispered.

Then Josef whispered back that this lake was no good—he didn’t think we’d see anything.

“What can we do about it?” I asked him. I didn’t agree, yet I trusted Josef’s judgment more than my own, and he knew it, blame him. He shrugged his shoulders.

“Sais pas !” he said, and then he changed his manner. “If M’sieur Bob wishes, there is another pond where one might have a chance.”

“What distance?” I asked.

“Sais pas,” said Josef. “It might be an hour, it might be more. I believe Avell that M’sieur will kill a moose if he should go to that pond.”

“All right,” I said. “Come on.”

So we crept off through the beaver meadows edging the lake, where every step comes “galoomph” out of soggy moss. Josef gave me a peach of a walk that morning. The sun went under and he had the compass, so I lost directions and we had a lot of bad going—windfalls and spruce thickets and marshes— all sorts. We walked forever, it seemed to me, more than an hour any way. But finally, we came out, around nine o’clock, on a little pond like a million others in Canada, which looked the real thing. There seemed to be quite a big inlet up at the end where we were. Here’s a map to show how the thing lay :

We watched at the cross-marked spot and from there you could shoot all over the pond and up the opening which seemed the inlet.

I could judge at a glance that the place was good for game. Opposite us, two hundred yards across water, lay a bank

of mud Avith lily-pads and grass, and that bank Avas trampled like a cow yard. From Avhere I stood I could see huge sunken hoofprints, lapping, and the mud thrown up on the edges, not caked or dry even —done inside a few hours. The big roots of the water-lilies had been dragged up —they look like snake pineapples—and partly eaten and left floating—that’s the stunt of only a caribou or moose. I patted Josef on the shoulder silently, and his big eyes flashed as if he was satisfied. We selected a stump with some thin bushes in front, Avhere I Avas screened, yet could swing my gun all around the place, and Josef effaced himself back of me, and Ave sat there and waited.

Not long. We hadn’t been there over five minutes, and I hadn’t stopped jumping at the sound of the water on a big stone below, and the sudden breeze through the trees back of me, and a squirrel Avho kept breaking twigs sharply and then scolding me about it—when all at once there was a thundering, unmistakable crack across the pond, in the trees close to the shore. My heart gaAre a pole-vault—I reckon everybody’s does at that sound—and I heard a breath from Josef :

“Orignal.”

Neither of us stirred a finger. It was still as the grave for a second. There Avas another great crack, and then a huge rustling and breaking together, unguarded and continued. My eyes Avere glued on the thick screen of alders, and the alders parted, and out from them stepped the most magnificent brute I ever saw alive—a huge moose with spreading antlers that seemed ten feet across. As big as a horse he was, and looked bigger because he stood higher and because of the antlers. My ! what a picture that made. He waded grandly into the water, making a terrific rumpus of splashing, and then, as I sighted down the barrel,. I feit Josef’s finger light on my arm.

“Il va marcher—he’s going to walk up the shore Wait till he turns.”

It was plain that he wanted me to have a broad-side shot, and while it wasn’t flattering, yet I didn’t care to take chances on this moose myself. I lowered the rifle. The beast put down that gorgeous head and tore up a lily and tossed it on the water, and then bit off a piece of the root and munched it. It was hard to wait while his lordship lunched ; I was so afraid I’d lose him I nearly exploded. But in a minute he turned and began to wade again arrogantly and deliberately up stream—it was plain he felt himself cock of the walk and the monarch of the forest all right. Then Josef’s finger touched me again, and he grunted—I think he was beyond words. I lifted the rifle and held on to the back of his head and pulled the trigger. The stillness sure was smashed to pieces by the roar of that rifle shot. I reloaded instantly, but Josef yelled:

“Vous l’avez, M’sieur Bob—you’ve got him.”

It was so, you know. Of course it was a fluke, but I hit him in the back of the head where I’d held, and he dropped like a log. Well, for about five minutes things were mixed. Josef and I talked to each other and listened to ourselves and both of us were mad to get across that pond to where the big moose lay, still and enormous—but we hadn’t any boat. We didn’t dare start to walk around it, for fear the moose might not be quite dead and might get up and make off while we were in the woods. So we stood and waited, ready to plunk him if he stirred.

“Where the dickens in Canada are we, anyway?” I burst at Josef in English— but he understood.

“It is a place not too far from camp, M’sieur Bob,” he answered quietly. “If but we might have a canoe, a c’t heuremais v’la”—he broke off.

And, please the pigs, I lifted my eyes and there was a canoe paddling down the inlet, and in the canoe sat old Shackv and Zoetique.

“Where in time did you drop from?” I howled, and then, with my hands around my mouth, “I’ve killed a moose ! I’ve killed a moose ! There he is !”

Not a sound from Shacky or Zoetique —I couldn’t understand any of it. Vvliy were they there? Why weren’t they surprised to see us? Why didn’t the}r answer? However, they paddled steadily on, and as they got close I saw that Shacky was looking rather odd.

“What’s up,” I asked. “Can’t you talk English? Aren’t you glad I’ve killed him?”

“Fine!” answered Shacky with a sort of effort about it that I couldn’t make out. “Whooping good shot !” he said, and the boat ran in on the bank and I squatted on the bow to hold her. Shacky proceeded to get out, but he didn’t look at me, and Zoetique, who’s generally all smiles and winning ways, was black as thunder— there was something abnormal in the situation which I couldn’t get on to. “Corking good shot,” he went on in a forced sort of way. “The moose went down like the side wall of a church.” “How do you know?” I threw at him, for his manner irritated me.

“Know?” Shacky laughed a queer laugh. “Of course I know. Didn’t I see him ?”

“See him?” I repeated. “Where were you? What’s this lake anyway, and what are you doing here?”

Shacky looked at me hard enough then. “What in thunder do you mean?” he asked with an astonished stare.

“Mean? I mean that,” I yapped. “There’s something about this I don’t grasp. Do you know what this pond is? For I don’t.”

Shacky’s lower jaw actually dropped, the way you read about in books. He stood and gaped. “What ! you don’t— know—where you are?” he jerked out. “Why, this is the lower still-water of the Riviere aux Isles—just below where you sent me to watch, you know I gave a gulp ; he went on :

“We’ve been listening to that moose an hour—he walked in from way up the mountain—we’ve heard him crack all the way—he was just in sight around the turn when I heard you shoot and saw him fall. I had my gun cocked and was waiting till he got a few yards nearer.” With that Zoetique could no longer control himself, but burst in with voluble, broken-hearted indignation. “C’est b’ea malheur!” he moaned, gurgling like an angry dove. “M’sieur had well the intention to shoot straight—he would not have missed this time—M’sieur. M’sieur had examined and practised the movement of the carabine constantly—he now knows it comme il faut. Also I remarked the arm of M’sieur, it had the steadiness of a rock—I say it as at mass—it was in truth the moose of M’sieur. He would have gained great credit—also me his guide. So that it was a hard thing to have that moose torn from us at the point itself of gaining. C’est b’en malheur !” Now here’s the rest of the map to show how it was, and how we were both holding on that moose around a corner from each other. That beast’s last day had come all right, but I got the first crack it the trumpet of doom. Here’s the map :

When the business had filtered into my intellect I whirled on Josef.

“You knew where we were? You knew this was M’sieur Shackleton’s hunting ground? You brought me here to get that moose?” I flung at the fellow in nervous French, never stopping for tenses.

Josef shrugged his shoulders just a touch. “Sass peut” (Ca se peut) he murmured irresponsibly—which vs Canadian for “It may be.”

I could have choked him. To make me play a trick like that on poor old Shacky ! And with that Shacky spoke up like the white man he is.

“I guess we’re both stung, Bob,” and he banged me on the back. “But it is a thousand times better you should get it. I’d probably have missed again. It’s the reward of virtue ; you gave me your chance. Only I did want to redeem myself. I really was steady, and I’d been fussing with the gun till I knew it by heart. I was going to do it right or bust —you’ll give me credit for not being two fools, won’t you, Bob? But it’s the reward of virtue—that’s straight.”

I could nearly have cried. Poor old Shacky! when he was ready and nerved up, and that glorious moose within gun shot, to have me step in and snap him off his upper lip w-hen he was almost tasting him.

I was afraid to speak to Josef for a minute, I felt so much like killing him. I simply hustled those two guides, without another word about it, into the canoe and we crossed to where the moose lay, and the business of skinning the brute and cutting him up, and all that, took three good hours of hard work. But I was laying it up for Josef, I can tell you. I’d have dismissed him if it hadn’t been that at lunch, when the men were off, Shacky took me in hand and reasoned with me, and made me see, what indeed I knew, that Josef had acted up to his lights. He couldn’t understand our point of view if I talked to him a year, so it was no use talking. He had found that hunting place and he considered that he had a right to it for me, and that I should throw it away seemed to him pure childishness. By his code it was correct to circumvent me for my own good, and he had plain done it. Anyway I didn’t dismiss him, owing to Shacky, and also because I’m fond of him.

But I did give him an almighty serious lecture, which did no good at all. He was bursting with joy and quite ready to face small inconveniences, so he just shrugged his shoulders and blinked his light, big eves when I preached at him, and I don’t believe he listened to much of it. Zoétique was sore too, but Josef let the storm rage around him and was content.

And all the way down the river and through the lakes, as we went home 'n triumph with those huge antlers garnishing the middle of the boat, I heard old Josef humming to himself as he paddled stern back of me :

Chanceux est le chasseur

Et louable, qui est capable

Vaincre le Roi Orignal.