酷兔英语



THE SNOWSHOE TRAIL

by

EDISON MARSHALL

Author of "The Strength of the Pines,"

"The Voice of the Pack," etc.

With Frontispiece by Marshall Frantz

A.L. Burt Company Publishers, New York

Published by arrangement with Little, Brown and Company.

Copyright 1921, By Little, Brown, and Company.

All rights reserved

To Agnes, of the South--this story of the North

The Snowshoe Trail

I

It was not the first time that people of the forest had paused on the

hill at twilight to look down on Bradleyburg. The sight always seemed

to intrigue and mystify the wild folk,--the shadowed street, the spire

of the moldering church ghostly in the half-light, the long row of

unpainted shacks, and the dim, pale gleam of an occasional lighted

window. The old bull moose, in rutting days, was wont to pause and

call, listen an instant for such answer as the twilight city might give

him, then push on through the spruce forests; and often the coyotes

gathered in a ring and wailed out their cries over the rooftops. More

than once the wolf pack had halted here for a fleeting instant; but they

were never people to linger in the vicinity of men.

But to-night it was not one of these four-footed wild folk--this tall

form--that emerged from the dark fringe of the spruce forest to gaze

down at the town. But he was none the less of the forest. Its mark was

upon him; in the silence of his tread, the sinuous strength of his

motions; perhaps it lay even in a certain dimness and obscurity of

outline, framed by the thickets as he was, that was particularly

characteristic of the wild denizens of the woods. But even in the

heavy shadows his identity was clear at once. He was simply a

woodsman,--and he held his horse by the bridle rein.

The long file of pack horses behind him halted, waiting for their master

to go on. He stood musing, held by the darkened scene below him. Hard

to read, in the deepening shadows, was the expression on his bronzed

face. It revealed relief, of course, simple and heartfelt joy at the

sight of his destination. Men do not wander over the blazed trails of

the North Woods and not feel relief at the journey's end. There was a

hint of fatigue in his posture, the horses' heads were low; and the

shacks below meant food and rest. But there was also a pensiveness, a

dreamy quietude in his dark eyes that revealed the greater sweep of his

thoughts.

He had looked down on Bradleyburg on many previous occasions, but the

scene had never impressed him in quite this way before. Already the

shadows had crept out from the dark forests that enclosed the little

city and had enfolded it in gloom: the buildings were obscured and the

street was lost, and there was little left to tell that here was the

abode of men. A dim light, faint as the glowing eyes of the wild

creatures in the darkness, burned here and there from the window of a

house: except for this the wilderness would have seemed unbroken.

"It's getting you down," the man muttered. "It's closing you in and

smothering you--just as it has me."

Perhaps, had his words carried far enough in the silence, the

townspeople in the houses below wouldn't have understood. His horses,

sniffing at his knees, did not seem to hear. But the woodsman could not

have made himself any clearer. Words never come easy to those that

dwell in the silences of the North. To him it seemed that the twilight

was symbolic of the wilderness,--stealing forth with slow

encroachments until all of the little town was enfolded within itself.

It was a twilight city, the little cluster of frame shacks below him.

It could be brave and gay enough in the daylight, a few children could

play in its streets and women could call from door to door, but the

falling darkness revealed it as it was,--simply a fragment that the

dark forests were about to claim. The day was done in Bradleyburg; as

in the case of many of the gold camps of the North the wilderness was

about to take back its own.

It had had a glorious past, this little city lost in the northern

reaches of the Selkirks. In the man's own boyhood it had been one of

the flourishing gold camps of the North; and miners had come from all

over the continent to wash the gravel of its streams. In all directions

up the hillside the tents and shacks had stretched, dance halls were

gay, freighters plied along the winding road to the south. The man's

mother had been one of the first women in the camp; and one of the last

to go. The mines were fabulously rich; tens of thousands in dust were

often taken in a single day by a lone miner, fortunes were made and lost

at the gambling tables, and even the terrible winters could not triumph

over the gold seekers. But in a little while the mines gave out, one

terrible winter night the whole town was destroyed by fire, and now that

the miners were drifting to other camps, few of the shacks were rebuilt.

Of the six thousand that had been, scarcely threescore remained. A few

trappers ran their lines out from the town, a few men had placer claims

in the old diggings, two or three woodsmen made precarious livings as

guides for such wealthy men as came to hunt moose and caribou, and

Bradleyburg's course was run. The winter cold had triumphed at last,

and its curse was over the city from October till June. The spruce

forest, cleared away to make room for the cabins, had sprung up again

and was steadily marching toward the main street of the town.

But the man on the hilltop felt no regret. Except for a few memories of

his young days he had no particular fondness for the little cluster of

shacks. Long ago the wilderness had claimed him for its own; his home

was the dark forest from which even now he was emerging. Bradleyburg

was simply his source of supplies and his post office, the market for

his furs. He had reached back and stroked the warm nose of his horse.

"Another half mile, old fellow," he said gently. "Then oats--rice and

meat for me at Johnson's--and oats--honest-to-goodness oats--for

you. What you think about that, eh, Mulvaney? Then show a little speed

this last half-mile."

The man swung on his horse, and even the cattlemen of the plains would

have found something to admire in the ease and grace with which his body

slipped down into the saddle. The horse moved forward, the pack animals

pushed on behind him. A few minutes later they had swung down into the

still street of the town. Tired as he was, his hands were swift and

strong as he unpacked the animals and tied them in the bar back of

Johnson's,--the little frontier inn. As always, after the supper

hour, a group of the townsmen were gathered about the hotel stove; and

all of them spoke to him as he entered. He stood among them an instant,

warming his hands.

They had few words at first. The lesson of silence is taught deeply and

sure in the North. The hostess went to her kitchen to order the man's

supper, the townsmen drew at their pipes.

"Well, Bill," one of them asked at last, "how's everything with you?"

It was not the usual how-d'ye-do of greeting. The words were spoken in

actual question, as if they had special significance.

The man straightened, turning sober eyes. "Nothing startling yet," he

replied.

"In after supplies?"

"Yes--and my mail."

There was a long pause. The conversation was apparently ended. Bill

turned to go. A stranger spoke from the other side of the fire.

"How's Grizzly River?" he asked. Bill turned to him with a smile.

"Getting higher and higher. All the streams are up. You know that

bald-faced bay of Fargo's?"

Fargo was the Bradleyburg merchant, and the stranger knew the

horse,--one of the little band that, after the frontier custom,

Fargo kept to rent. "Yes, I remember him."

"Well, I've got him this fall. You know he's a yellow cuss."

The stranger nodded. In this little community the dumb brutes were

almost as well known as the human inhabitants. The meaning was wholly

plain to him too, and the term did not apply to the horse's color.

Yellow, on the frontier, means just one thing: the most damning and

unforgivable thing of all. When one is yellow he gives up easily, he

dares not lift his arms to fight, and the wilderness claims him quickly.

"There's a little creek with a bad mudhole just this side of the ford,"

Bill went on. "All the horses got through but Baldy, and he could have

made it easy if he'd tried. But what did he do but just sit back on his

haunches in the mud, like an old man in a chair, his head up and his

front legs in his lap, and just give up? Quite a sight--that horse

sitting in the mud. I had to snag him out."

The others smiled, but none of them with the brilliance of the

story-teller himself. The wilderness picture--with the cowardly horse

sitting in the mud--was again before his eyes; and none of the

hardship of the journey could cost him his joy in it. Bill Bronson was

no longer just a dim form on the twilight hilltop. The lamplight showed

him plain. In this circle of townspeople he was a man to notice twice.

The forests had done well by him. Like the spruce themselves he had

grown straight and tall, but his form was sturdy too. There was a lithe

strength about him that suggested the larger felines; the hard trails

of the forest had left not a spare ounce of flesh on his powerful

frame. His mold, except for a vague and indistinct refinement

in his long-fingered and strong hands, was simply that of a

woodsman,--sturdy, muscular, untiring. His speech was not greatly

different from that of others: the woodspeople, spending many of the

long winter days in reading, are usually careless in speech but rarely

ungrammatical. His clothes were homely and worn. He wore a blue

mackinaw over a flannel shirt, dark trousers and rubber boots: garments

that were suited to his life.

But it was true that men looked twice into Bill Bronson's face. His

features were rugged, now his mouth and jowls were dark with beard, yet

written all over his sunburned face was a kindliness and gentleness that

could not be denied. There was strength and good humor in plenty; and

it was hard to reconcile these qualities with an unquestioned

wistfulness and boyishness in his eyes. They were dark eyes, the eyes

of a man of action who could also dream, kindly, thoughtful eyes which

even the deep shadows of the forest had not blinded to beauty.

As he waited for his meal he crossed the dark road to the little

frontier post office, there to be given his two months' accumulation of

letters. He looked them over with significant anxiety. There were the

usual forders from fur buyers, a few advertisements and circulars, and a

small batch of business mail. The smile died from his eyes as he read

one of these communications after another. Their context was usually

the same,--that his proposition did not look good, and no investment

would be made in a plan as vague as his. The correspondents understood

that he had been grubstaked before without result. They remained,

however, his respectfully,--and Bill's great hand crumpled each in

turn.

Only one letter remained, written in an unknown hand from a far-off

city; and it dropped, for the moment, unnoticed into his lap. His eyes

were brooding and lifeless as he stared out the hotel window into the

darkened street. There was no use of appealing again to the business

folk of the provincial towns; the tone of their letters was all too

decisive. The great plans he had made would come to nothing after all.

His proposition simply did not hold water.

He had been seeking a "grubstake,"--some one to finance another

expedition into the virgin Clearwater for half of such gains as he

should make. In a few weeks more the winter would close down; the

horses, essential to such a trip as this, had to be driven down to the

gate of the Outside,--three hundred miles to the bank of a great

river. He had time for one more dash for the rainbow's end, and no one

could stake him for it. He had some food supplies, but the horse-rent

was an unsolved problem. He could see no ray of hope as he picked up,

half-heartedly, the last letter of the pile.

But at once his interest returned. It had been mailed in a far distant

city in the United States, and the fine, clear handwriting was obviously

feminine. He didn't have to rub the paper between his thumb and

forefinger to mark its rich, heavy quality and its beauty,--the

stationery of an aristocrat. The message was singularly terse:

My Dear Mr. Bronson:

I am informed, by the head of your provincial game commission, that

you can be employed to guide for hunting parties wishing to hunt in the

Clearwater, north of Bradleyburg. I do not wish to hunt game, but I do

wish to penetrate that country in search of my fiance, Mr. Harold

Lounsbury, of whom doubtless you have heard, and who disappeared in the

Clearwater district six years ago. I will be accompanied by Mr.

Lounsbury's uncle, Kenly Lounsbury, and I wish you to secure the outfit

and a man to cook at once. You will be paid the usual outfitter's rates

for thirty days. We will arrive in Bradleyburg September twentieth by

stage. Yours sincerely, Virginia Tremont.

Bill finished the note, pocketed it carefully, and a boyish light was in

his eyes as he shook fragranttobacco into his pipe. "The way out," he

told himself. "She won't care if I do my prospecting the same time."

His thought swung back to a scene of many Septembers before, of a camp

he had made beside a distant stream and of a wayfarer who had eaten of

his bread and journeyed on,--never to pass that way again. There had

been one curious circumstance connected with the meeting, otherwise it

might not have lingered so clearly in Bill's memory. It had seemed to

him, at the time, that he had encountered the stranger on some previous

occasion. There was a haunting familiarity in his face, a fleeting

memory that he could not trace or identify. Yet nothing in the

stranger's past life had offered an explanation. He was a newcomer, he

said,--on his first trip north. Bill, on the other hand, had never

gone south. It had been but a trick of the imagination, after all. And

Bill did not doubt that he was the man for whom the girl sought.

The little lines seemed to draw and deepen about the man's eyes. "Six

years--but six years is too long, for Clearwater," he murmured. "Men

either come out by then, or it gets 'em. I'm afraid she'll never find

her lover."

* * * * *

He went to make arrangements with Fargo, the merchant, about supplies.

At midnight he sat alone in the little lobby of the inn; all the other

townsmen had gone. The fire was nearly out; a single lamp threw a

doubtful glow on the woodsman's face. His thoughts had been tireless

to-night. He couldn't have told why. Evidently some little event of

the evening, some word that he had not consciously noticed had been the

impulse for a flood of memories. They haunted him and held him, and he

couldn't escape from them.

His thought moved in great circles, always returning to the same

starting point,--the tragedy and mystery of his own boyhood. He knew

perfectly that there was neither pleasure nor profit in dwelling upon

this subject. In the years that he had had his full manhood he had

tried to force the matter from his thoughts, and mostly he had

succeeded. Self-mastery was his first law, the code by which he lived;

and mostly the blue devils had lifted their curse from him. But they

were shrieking from the gloom at him to-night. In the late years some

of the great tranquility of the forest had reposed in him and the bitter

hours of brooding came ever at longer intervals. But to-night they held

him in bondage.

It was twenty-five years past and he had been only a child when the

thing had happened. He had been but seven years old,--more of a baby


生词表:
  • arrangement [ə´reindʒmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.整理;排列;筹备   (初中英语单词)
  • twilight [´twailait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.黎明;黄昏   (初中英语单词)
  • occasional [ə´keiʒənəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.偶然的;临时的   (初中英语单词)
  • instant [´instənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.立即的 n.紧迫;瞬间   (初中英语单词)
  • linger [´liŋgə] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.逗留;留恋;拖延   (初中英语单词)
  • waiting [´weitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.等候;伺候   (初中英语单词)
  • relief [ri´li:f] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.救济;援救;减轻   (初中英语单词)
  • wander [´wɔndə, ´wɑ:n:dər] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.徘徊;流浪   (初中英语单词)
  • previous [´pri:viəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.先,前,以前的   (初中英语单词)
  • wilderness [´wildənis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.荒地,荒野   (初中英语单词)
  • cluster [´klʌstə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.一串 v.群集;丛生   (初中英语单词)
  • daylight [´deilait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.日光;黎明   (初中英语单词)
  • fragment [´frægmənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.碎片;破片;断片   (初中英语单词)
  • glorious [´glɔ:riəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.光荣的;辉煌的   (初中英语单词)
  • continent [´kɔntinənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.大陆,陆地   (初中英语单词)
  • hillside [´hilsaid] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.山腰   (初中英语单词)
  • wealthy [´welθi] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.富有的;丰富的   (初中英语单词)
  • steadily [´stedili] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.坚定地;不断地   (初中英语单词)
  • gently [´dʒentli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.温和地;静静地   (初中英语单词)
  • saddle [´sædl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.鞍子 v.装鞍(于)   (初中英语单词)
  • frontier [´frʌntiə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.国境;边疆;边界   (初中英语单词)
  • spoken [´spəukən] 移动到这儿单词发声  speak的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • circle [´sə:kəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.圆圈 v.环绕;盘旋   (初中英语单词)
  • reading [´ri:diŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(阅)读;朗读;读物   (初中英语单词)
  • careless [´keəlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.粗心的;草率的   (初中英语单词)
  • trousers [´trauzəz] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.裤子,长裤   (初中英语单词)
  • rubber [´rʌbə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(摩)擦的人;橡皮   (初中英语单词)
  • anxiety [æŋ´zaiəti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.挂念;渴望;焦虑的事   (初中英语单词)
  • finance [´fainæns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.财政;金融 vt.资助   (初中英语单词)
  • essential [i´senʃəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.必需的 n.要素,要点   (初中英语单词)
  • driven [´driv(ə)n] 移动到这儿单词发声  drive 的过去分词   (初中英语单词)
  • handwriting [´hænd,raitiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.笔迹;书法   (初中英语单词)
  • doubtless [´dautlis] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.无疑地;大概,多半   (初中英语单词)
  • virginia [və´dʒinjə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.佛吉尼亚(州)   (初中英语单词)
  • tobacco [tə´bækəu] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.烟草(叶);卷烟   (初中英语单词)
  • stream [stri:m] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.河 vi.流出;飘扬   (初中英语单词)
  • otherwise [´ʌðəwaiz] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.另外 conj.否则   (初中英语单词)
  • identify [ai´dentifai] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.认出;鉴定;验明   (初中英语单词)
  • explanation [,eksplə´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.解释;说明;辩解   (初中英语单词)
  • imagination [i,mædʒi´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.想象(力)   (初中英语单词)
  • midnight [´midnait] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.午夜;漆黑   (初中英语单词)
  • evidently [´evidəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.明显地   (初中英语单词)
  • haunted [´hɔ:tid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.常出现鬼的,闹鬼的   (初中英语单词)
  • tragedy [´trædʒidi] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.悲剧;惨案;灾难   (初中英语单词)
  • mystery [´mistəri] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.神秘;秘密;故弄玄虚   (初中英语单词)
  • dwelling [´dweliŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.住所;寓所   (初中英语单词)
  • mostly [´məustli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.主要地;多半;通常   (初中英语单词)
  • spruce [spru:s] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.云杉木 a.&v.整洁   (高中英语单词)
  • fringe [´frindʒ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.穗;边缘;刘海   (高中英语单词)
  • bridle [´braidl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.(马)笼头;束缚   (高中英语单词)
  • destination [,desti´neiʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.目标地   (高中英语单词)
  • fatigue [fə´ti:g] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&vt.(使)疲劳(劳累)   (高中英语单词)
  • boyhood [´bɔihud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.少年时代(期)   (高中英语单词)
  • gravel [´grævəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.砾石 vt.铺砾石   (高中英语单词)
  • sprung [sprʌŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  spring的过去分词   (高中英语单词)
  • hostess [´həustis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.女主人;旅馆女老板   (高中英语单词)
  • startling [´stɑ:tliŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.惊人的   (高中英语单词)
  • apparently [ə´pærəntli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.显然,表面上地   (高中英语单词)
  • grizzly [´grizli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.灰(白)色的,灰白的   (高中英语单词)
  • community [kə´mju:niti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.团体;社区;公众   (高中英语单词)
  • sturdy [´stə:di] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.坚强的;坚定的   (高中英语单词)
  • muscular [´mʌskjulə] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.肌肉的;强有力的   (高中英语单词)
  • homely [´həumli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.朴素的;不漂亮的   (高中英语单词)
  • rugged [´rʌgid] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不平的;粗犷的   (高中英语单词)
  • reconcile [´rekənsail] 移动到这儿单词发声  vt.调和;使和谐   (高中英语单词)
  • thoughtful [´θɔ:tfəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.深思的;体贴的   (高中英语单词)
  • significant [sig´nifikənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.重要的;意义重大的   (高中英语单词)
  • proposition [,prɔpə´ziʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.提议;主张;陈述   (高中英语单词)
  • virgin [´və:dʒin] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.处女(般)的 n.处女   (高中英语单词)
  • commission [kə´miʃən] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.委任(状) vt.委任   (高中英语单词)
  • penetrate [´penitreit] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.贯穿;穿透;渗透   (高中英语单词)
  • sincerely [sin´siəli] 移动到这儿单词发声  ad.真诚地;诚恳地   (高中英语单词)
  • fragrant [´freigrənt] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.芳香的,芬芳的   (高中英语单词)
  • newcomer [´nju:,kʌmə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.新来的人;移民   (高中英语单词)
  • deepen [´di:pən] 移动到这儿单词发声  v.加深;加浓   (高中英语单词)
  • manhood [´mænhud] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.人格;男子气概   (高中英语单词)
  • vicinity [vi´siniti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.邻近,附近,接近   (英语四级单词)
  • obscurity [əb´skjuəriti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.暗(淡);朦胧;含糊   (英语四级单词)
  • precarious [pri´keəriəs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.不安定的;危险的   (英语四级单词)
  • cowardly [´kauədli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.&ad.胆小的(地)   (英语四级单词)
  • flannel [´flænl] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.法兰绒   (英语四级单词)
  • gentleness [´dʒentlnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.温和,温柔   (英语四级单词)
  • lifeless [´laifləs] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.无生命的,无生气的   (英语四级单词)
  • provincial [prə´vinʃəl] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.省的 n.外省人   (英语四级单词)
  • aristocrat [´æristəkræt] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.贵族   (英语四级单词)
  • boyish [´bɔiiʃ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.少年的;幼稚的   (英语四级单词)
  • tranquility [træŋ´kwiliti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.安静;平静;安宁   (英语四级单词)
  • snowshoe [´snəuʃu:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.雪鞋 vi.穿着雪鞋走   (英语六级单词)
  • ghostly [´gəustli] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.鬼的;朦胧的   (英语六级单词)
  • fleeting [´fli:tiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  a.飞逝的,疾驰的   (英语六级单词)
  • identity [ai´dentiti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.身份;同一性;一致   (英语六级单词)
  • posture [´pɔstʃə] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.姿势 v.故作姿态   (英语六级单词)
  • threescore [´θri:skɔ:] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.&a.六十(的)   (英语六级单词)
  • hilltop [´hil´tɔp] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.山顶   (英语六级单词)
  • fondness [´fɔndnis] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.蠢事;溺爱;嗜好   (英语六级单词)
  • brilliance [´briljəns] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.光辉,辉煌   (英语六级单词)
  • hunting [´hʌntiŋ] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.打猎   (英语六级单词)
  • familiarity [fə,mili´æriti] 移动到这儿单词发声  n.熟悉;新近;随便   (英语六级单词)

  • 上传人 欢乐鱼 分享于 2017-06-26 18:32:12
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