Last night in the tent he had had the same fear. He never had it except at night. It was more a realization than a fear at first. But it was always on the edge of fear and became fear very quickly when it started. As soon as he began to be really frightened he took the rifle and poked the muzzle out the front of the tent and shot three times. The rifle kicked badly. He heard the shots rip off through the trees. As soon as he had fired the shots it was all right.

He lay down to wait for his father’s return and was asleep before his father and uncle had put out their jack light on the other side of the lake.

“Damn that kid,” Uncle George said as they rowed back. “What did you tell him to call us in for? He’s probably got the heebie-jeebies about something.”

Uncle George was an enthusiastic fisherman and his father’s younger brother.

“Oh, well. He’s pretty small,” his father said.

“That’s no reason to bring him into the woods with us.”

“I know he’s an awful coward,” his father said, “but we’re all yellow at that age.”

“I can’t stand him,” George said. “He’s such an awful liar.”

“Oh, well, forget it. You’ll get plenty of fishing any­way.”

They came into the tent and Uncle George shone his flashlight into Nick’s eyes.

“What was it, Nickie?” said his father. Nick sat up in bed.

“It sounded like a cross between a fox and a wolf and it was fooling around the tent,” Nick said. “It was a little like a fox but more like a wolf.” He had learned the phrase “cross between” that same day from his uncle.

“He probably heard a screech owl,” Uncle George said.

In the morning his father found two big basswood trees that leaned across each other so that they rubbed together in the wind.

“Do you think that was what it was, Nick?” his father asked.

“Maybe,” Nick said. He didn’t want to think about it.

“You don’t want to ever be frightened in the woods, Nick. There is nothing that can hurt you.”

“Not even lightning?” Nick asked.

“No, not even lightning. If there is a thunder storm get out into the open. Or get under a beech tree. They’re never struck.”

“Never?” Nick asked.

“I never heard of one,” said his father.

“Gee, I’m glad to know that about beech trees,” Nick said.

Now he was undressing again in the tent. He was conscious of the two shadows on the wail although he was not watching them. Then he heard a boat being pulled up on the beach and the two shadows were gone. He heard his father talking with someone.

Then his father shouted, “Get your clothes on, Nick.”

He dressed as fast as he could. His father came in and rummaged through the duffel bags.

“Put your coat on, Nick,” his father said.

Indian Camp

At the lake shore there was another rowboat drawn up. The two Indians stood waiting.

Nick and his father got in the stern of the boat and the Indians shoved it off and one of them got in to row. Uncle George sat in the stern of the camp rowboat. The young Indian shoved the camp boat off and got in to row Uncle George.

The two boats started off in the dark. Nick heard the oarlocks of the other boat quite a way ahead of them in the mist. The Indians rowed with quick choppy strokes. Nick lay back with his father’s arm around him. It was cold on the water. The Indian who was rowing them was working very hard, but the other boat moved farther ahead in the mist all the time.

“Where are we going, Dad?” Nick asked.

“Over to the Indian camp. There is an Indian lady very sick.”

“Oh,” said Nick.

Across the bay they found the other boat beached. Uncle George was smoking a cigar in the dark. The young Indian pulled the boat way up the beach. Uncle George gave both the Indians cigars.

They walked up from the beach through a meadow that was soaking wet with dew, following the young Indian who carried a lantern. Then they went into the woods and followed a trail that led to the logging road that ran back into the hills. It was much lighter on the logging road as the timber was cut away on both sides. The young Indian stopped and blew out his lantern and they all walked on along the road.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98

Categories: Hemingway, Ernest