us a story, grandpapa.”
“One that will last all
the evening, chickens?”
“Yes, grandpapa, darling,”
said Jenny, while Jimmy clapped hands.
“What about?” said
the old lumber king.
“About when you were a
“When I was a boy,”
said the old gentleman, taking Jenny on his knee and
putting his arm round Jimmy, “the boys and girls
were as fond of stories as they are now. Once
when I was a boy I said to my grandfather, ‘Tell
me a story, grandpa,’ and he replied, ‘When
I was a boy the boys were as fond of stories as they
are now; for once when I was a boy I said to my grandfather,
“Tell me a story, grandpa,—”’”
“Why, it seems to go on
just the same story, grandpapa,” said Jenny.
“That’s not the
end of it, Jenny, dear,” said grandpapa.
“No-o?” said Jenny,
Jimmy said nothing. He
lived with his grandfather, and knew his ways.
Jenny came on visits only, and was not well enough acquainted
with the old gentleman to know that he would soon tire
of the old joke, and reward patient children by a good
“Shall I go on with the
story, Jenny?” said grandpapa.
“Oh, yes, grandpapa!”
“Well, then, when that
grandpa was a boy, he said to his grandfather,
‘Tell me a story, grandpapa,’ and his grandfather
Jenny soon listened with a demure
smile of attention.
“Do you like this story,
dear?” said grandpapa, after pursuing the repetition
for some minutes longer. [Page 220]
“I shall, grandpapa, darling.
It must be very good when you come to the grandfather
that told it. I like to think of all my grandfathers,
and great, great, great, greater, greatest, great, great-grandpapas
all telling the same story.”
“Yes, it’s a genuine
family story, Jenny, and you’re a little witch.”
The old gentleman kissed her. “Well, where
was I? Oh, now I remember! And that
grandpapa said to his grandfather, ‘Tell me a
story, grandpapa,’ and his grandpapa replied,
‘When I was a young fellow—’”
“Now it’s beginning!”
cried Jimmy, clapping his hands, and shifting to an
easier attitude by the old man’s easy-chair.
Grandpapa looked comically at
Jimmy, and said, “His grandfather replied, ‘When
I was a young fellow—’”
The faces of the children became
“‘One rainy day
I took my revolver—’”
cried Jenny. [Page 221]
“An American revolver,
“And did he tell the story
“But, grandpapa, darling,
that grandpapa was seventy-three grandpapas back!”
“About that, my dear.”
“I kept count, grandpapa.”
“And don’t you like
good old-fashioned stories, Jenny?”
“Oh, yes, grandpapa, but
the English language! Why it was more
than twenty-two hundred years ago, grandpapa, darling!”
“Ha! ha! You
never thought of that, Jimmy! Oh, you’ve
been at school, Miss Bright-eyes! Kiss me, you
little rogue. Now listen!
“When I was a
“You yourself, grandpapa?”
“Yes, Jenny.” [Page
“I’m so glad it
was you yourself! I like my own grandpapa’s
stories best of all.”
“Thank you, my dear.
After that I must be very entertaining.
Yes, I’ll tell my best story of all—and
Jimmy has never heard it. Well, when I was a young
fellow of seventeen I was clerk in a lumber shanty on
the Sheboiobonzhegunpashage- shickawigamog River.”
“How did you ever
learn that name, grandpapa, darling?” cried Jenny.
“Oh, I could learn things
in those days. Remembering it is the difficulty,
dear—see if it isn’t. I’ll give
you a nice new ten-dollar bill if you tell me that name
Jenny bent her brows and tried
so hard to recall the syllables that she almost lost
part of the story. Grandpapa went steadily on:—
“One day in February,
when it was too rainy for the men to work, and just
rainy enough to go deer-shooting if you hadn’t
had fresh meat for five months, I took to the woods
with my gun, revolver, hatchet, and dinner. All
the fore [Page 223] part of the day
I failed to get a shot, though I saw many deer on the
hemlock ridges of Sheboi—that’s the way
it begins, Jenny, and Sheboi we called it.
“But late in the afternoon
I killed a buck. I cut off a haunch, lifted the
carcass into the low boughs of a spruce, and started
for camp, six miles away, across snowy hills and frozen
lakes. The show-shoeing was heavy, and I feared
I should not get in before dark. The Sheboi country
was infested with wolves—”
a wolf story!” said Jimmy. Jenny shuddered
“As I went along you may
be sure I never thought my grandchildren would be pleased
to have me in danger of being eaten up by wolves.”
Jenny looked shocked at the
imputation. Grandpapa watched her with twinkling
eyes. When she saw he was joking, she cried: “But
you weren’t eaten, grandpapa. You were too
“Ah, I hadn’t thought
of that. Perhaps I’d [Page 224]
better not tell the story. You’ll have a
worse opinion of my courage, my dear.”
“Of course you had
to run from wolves, grandpapa!” said
the little girl.
“I’ll bet grandpapa
didn’t run then, miss,” said Jimmy.
“I’ll bet he shot them with his gun.”
you, grandpapa? There were too many. Of
course grandpapa had to run. That wasn’t
being cowardly. It was just—just—running.”
“No, Jenny, I didn’t
run a yard.”
“Didn’t I tell you?”
cried Jimmy. “Grandpapa shot them with his
“Then you must—No,
for you’re here—you weren’t eaten
up?” said wondering Jenny.
“No, dear, I wasn’t
“Oh, I know! The
wolves didn’t come!” cried Jimmy, who remembered
one of his grandpapa’s stories as having ended
in that unhappy way. [Page 225]
“Oh, but they did, Jimmy!”
“Why, grandpapa, what
did you do?”
“I climbed into a hollow
said both children.
“Now I’m going to
tell you a true wolf story, and that’s what few
grandpapas can do out of their own experience.
“I was resting on the
shore of a lake, with my snow-shoes off to ease my sore
toes, when I saw a pack of wolves trotting lazily toward
me on the snow that covered the ice. I was sure
they had not seen me. Right at my elbow was a
big hollow pine. It had an opening down to the
ground, a good deal like the door of a sentry-box.
“There was a smaller opening
about thirty feet higher up. I had looked up and
seen this before I saw the wolves. Then I rose,
stood for a moment in the hollow, and climbed up by
my feet, knees, hands, and elbows till I thought my
feet were well above the top of the opening. Dead
wood and dust fell as I ascended, but I hoped the wolves
had not heard me.” [Page 226]
“Did they, grandpapa?”
“Perhaps not at first,
Jenny. But maybe they got a scent of the deer-meat
I was carrying. At any rate, they were soon snapping
and snarling over it and my show-shoes. Gobble-de-gobble,
yip, yap, snap, growl, snarl, gobble—the
meat was all gone in a moment, like little Red Riding
The wolf didn’t eat little Red Riding Hood.
The boy came in time—don’t you remember?”
“Perhaps you never read
my Red Riding Hood, Jenny,” said the
old gentleman, laughing. “At any rate, the
wolves lunched at my expense; yet I hoped they wouldn’t
be polite enough to look round for their host.
But they did inquire for me—not very politely,
I must say. They seemed in bad humor—perhaps
there hadn’t been enough lunch to go round.”
“The greedy things!
A whole haunch of venison!” cried Jenny. [Page
“Ah, but I had provided
no currant jelly with it, and of course they were vexed.
If you ever give a dinner-party to wolves, don’t
forget the currant jelly, Jenny. How they yelled
That’s the way they went.
“And they also said, Yow—yow—there’s—yow—no—desser-r-rt—either—
yow—yow! Perhaps they wanted me to
explain. At any rate, they put their heads into
the opening—how many at once I don’t know,
for I could not see down; and then they screamed for
me. It was an uncomfortably close scream, chickens.
My feet must have been nearer them than I thought, for
one fellow’s nose touched my moccasin as he jumped.”
“O grandpapa! If
he had caught your foot!”
“But he didn’t,
Jenny, dear. He caught something worse.
When he tumbled back he must have fallen on the other
fellows, for there was a great snapping and snarling
and yelping all at once. [Page 228]
“Meantime I tried to go
up out of reach. It was easy enough; but with
every fresh hold I took with shoulders, elbows, hands,
and feet, the dead old wood crumbled and broke away,
so that thick dust filled the hollow tree.
“I was afraid I should
be suffocated. But up I worked till at last I
got to the upper hole and stuck out my head for fresh
air. There I was, pretty comfortable for a little
while, and I easily supported my weight by bending my
back, thrusting with my feet, and holding on the edge
of the hole by my hands.
“After getting breath
I gave my attention to the wolves. They did not
catch sight of me for a few moments. Some stood
looking much interested at the lower opening, as terriers
do at the hole where a rat has disappeared.
“Dust still came from
the hole to the open air. Some wolves sneezed;
others sat and squealed with annoyance, as Bruno does
when you close the door on him at dinner-time.
They were disgusted at my concealment. Of [Page
229] course you have a pretty good idea of
what they said, Jenny.”
The horrid, cruel things! What did they say?”
“Well, of course wolf
talk is rude, even savage, and dreadfully profane.
As near as I could make out, one fellow screamed, ‘Shame,
boy, taking an unfair advantage of poor starving wolves!’
It seemed as if another fellow yelled, ‘You young
coward!’ A third cried, ‘Oh, yes,
you think you’re safe, do you?’ A
we can wait till you come down!’”
Grandpapa mimicked the wolfish
voices and looks so effectively that Jenny was rather
“One old fellow seemed
to suggest that they should go away and look for more
venison for supper, while he kept watch on me.
At that there was a general howl of derision.
They seemed to me to be telling the old fellow that
they were just as fond of boy as he, and that they understood
his little game. [Page 230]
“The old chap evidently
tried to explain, but they grinned with all their teeth
as he turned from one to another. You must not
suppose, chickens, that wolves have no sense of humor.
Yet, poor things—”
“Poor things! Why,
“Yes, Jenny; so lean and
hungry, you know. Then one of them suddenly caught
sight of my head, and didn’t he yell! ‘There
he is—look up the tree!’ cried Mr. Wolf.
“For a few moments they
were silent. Then they sprang all at once, absurdly
anxious to get nearer to me, twenty-five feet or so
above their reach. On falling, they tumbled into
several heaps of mouths and legs and tails. After
scuffling and separating, they gazed up at me with silent
longing. I should have been very popular for a
few minutes had I gone down.”
Jenny shuddered, and then nestled
closer to her grandfather.
“Don’t be afraid,
Jenny. They didn’t eat me—not that
time. After a few moments’ [Page
231] staring I became very impolite.
‘Boo-ooh!’ said I. “Yah-ha-ha!’
said I. ‘You be shot!’ I cried.
They resented it. Even wolves love to be gently
“They began yelling, snarling,
and howling at me worse than politicians at a sarcastic
member of the opposite party. I imitated them.
Nevertheless, I was beginning to be frightened.
The weather was turning cold, night was coming on, and
I didn’t like the prospect of staying till morning.
“All of a sudden I began
laughing. I had till then forgotten my pistol
and pocketful of cartridges. There were seventeen
“Nice! Why, grandpa!”
“They seemed very
nice wolves when I recollected the county bounty of
six dollars for a wolf’s head. Also, their
skins would fetch two dollars apiece. ‘Why,’
said I, ‘my dear wolves, you’re worth one
hundred and thirty-six dollars.’
wish you may get it!’ said they, sneering. [Page
one hundred and thirty-six dollars,’ I repeated,
‘and yet you want to sponge on a poor boy for
a free supper! Shame!’”
“Did you say it out loud,
It’s a thing I might have said, you know; but
I didn’t exactly think of it at the time.
I was feeling for my pistol. Just as I tugged
it out of its case at my waist, my knees, arms, and
all lost their hold, and down I fell.”
Jenny nervously clutched him.
“I didn’t fall far,
pet. But the dust! Talk of sweeping floors!
The whole inside of the tree below me, borne down by
my weight, had fallen in chunks and dust. There
I was, gasping for breath, and the hole eight feet above
my head. The lower entrance was of course blocked
up by the rotten wood.”
“And they couldn’t
get at you?”
“No, Jimmy; but I was
in a dreadful situation. [Page 233]
At first I did not fully realize it. Choking for
air, my throat filled with particles of dry rot, I tried
to climb up again. But the hollow had become too
large. Nothing but a round shell of sound wood,
a few inches thick, was left around me. With feet,
hands, elbows, and back, I strove to ascend as before.
But I could not. I was stuck fast!
“When I pushed with my
feet I could only press my back against the other side
of the enlarged hole. I was horrified. Indeed,
I thought the tree would be my coffin. There I
stood, breathing with difficulty even when I breathed
through my capuchin, which I took off of my blanket
overcoat. And there, I said to myself, I was doomed
to stand till my knees should give way and my head fall
forward, and some day, after many years, the old tree
would blow down, and out would fall my white and r-rattling
grandpapa!” Jenny was trying to keep from crying.
“In spite of my vision
of my own skull and cross-bones,” went on grandpapa,
solemnly, “I was too young to despair wholly.
I was at first more annoyed than desperate. To
be trapped so, to die in a hole when I might have shot
a couple of wolves and split the heads of one or two
more with my hatchet before they could have had boy
for supper—this thought made me very angry.
And that brought me to thinking of my hatchet.
“It was, I remembered,
beneath my feet at the bottom of the lower opening.
If I could get a hold of it, I might use it to chop
a hole through my prison wall.
“But to burrow down was
clearly impossible. Nevertheless, I knelt to feel
the punky stuff under my feet. The absurdity of
trying to work down a hole without having, like a squirrel,
any place to throw out the material, was plain.
“But something more cheerful
occurred to me. As I knelt, an object at my back
touched my heels. It was the brass point of my
hunting-knife [Page 235] sheath.
Instantly I sprang to my feet, thrust my revolver back
into its case, drew the stout knife, and drove the blade
into the shell of pine.
“In two minutes I had
scooped the blade through. In five minutes I had
my face at a small hole that gave me fresh air.
In half an hour I had hacked out a space big enough
to put my shoulders through.
“The wolves, when they
saw me again, were delighted. As for me, I was
much pleased to see them, and said so. At the
compliment they licked their jaws. They thought
I was coming down, but I had something important to
“I drew my pistol.
It was a big old-fashioned Colt’s revolver.
With the first round of seven shots I killed three,
and wounded another badly.”
“Then the rest jumped
on them and ate them all up didn’t they, grandpapa?”
“No, Jimmy, I’m
glad to say they didn’t. [Page 236]
Wolves in Russian stories do, but American wolves are
not cannibalistic; for this is a civilized country,
“These wolves didn’t
even notice their fallen friends. They devoted
their attention wholly to me, and I assure you, chickens,
that I was much gratified at that.
“I loaded again.
It was a good deal of trouble in those days, when revolvers
wore caps. I aimed very carefully, and killed
four more. The other ten then ran away—at
least some did; three could drag themselves but slowly.
“After loading again I
dropped down, and started for camp. Next morning
we came back and got ten skins, after looking up the
“And you got only eighty
dollars, instead of one hundred and thirty-six, grandpapa,”
said Jimmy, ruefully.
“Well, Jimmy, that was
better than furnishing the pack with raw boy for supper.”
“Is that all, grandpapa?”
“Yes, Jenny, dear.”
“Do tell us another story.”
“Not to-night, chickens.
Not to-night. Grandpapa is old and sleepy.
Good night, dears; and if you begin to dream of wolves,
be sure you change the subject.”
Grandpapa walked slowly up stairs.
“Can you make
different dreams come, Jimmy?” said Jenny.
“You goose! Grandpapa
was pretending.” [Page 238]