|Vol. I.—No. 49.
||Published by HARPER & BROTHERS, New York.
||Price Four Cents.
|Tuesday, October 5, 1880.
||Copyright, 1880, by Harper & Brothers.
||$1.50 per Year, in Advance.
|FRED'S PERILOUS ESCAPE.—Drawn by C. Graham.
HANGING BY A THREAD.
A Canadian Story.
BY DAVID KER.
"Well, boys, what do you think of this for a play-ground? Something like, ain't it?"
And well might Tom Lockyer say so. To be out in the woods on a fine summer morning, with the whole day clear, is a pleasure which any boy can appreciate, more especially such an active one as Master Tom; and he and his two cousins had certainly enjoyed it to the utmost. Ever since breakfast they had been scampering through the woods like wild-cats, climbing trees, tearing through briers, scrambling up and down rocks, chasing each other in and out of the thickets, and making the silent forest ring with their shouts and laughter.
Tom had good reason to remark, with a broad grin, that nothing was left undamaged except their lunch bags; for all three were muddy from head to foot, ragged as scarecrows, and so scratched that their hands and faces looked just like railway maps done in red ink. But none the less were they all fully persuaded that they had been enjoying themselves immensely, and were quite ready to begin again as soon as they could find breath to do so.
"Here's the place for us to lunch, my boys!" cried Tom, flinging himself down upon the soft turf that carpeted the summit of the ridge which they had just climbed. "This is one of our best views, and you can feast your eyes and teeth together."
It was, indeed, a splendid "look-out place." The opposite face of the ridge went sheer down to the edge of the river, which, narrowed at this point to less than half its usual width by the huge black cliffs that walled it in, went rushing and foaming through a succession of furious rapids for nearly a quarter of a mile, plunging at length in one great leap over a precipice of nearly a hundred feet—a perfect Niagara in miniature.
"I say, Tom, old fellow, didn't you tell us that you went canoeing along this river every summer? You don't mean to say, surely, that you can take a canoe over that water-fall?"
"Not exactly," laughed Tom; "that would be a little too much of a good thing. Whenever we come to anything of this sort, we make a portage, as the French boatmen say—carry our canoes round by land, and then launch them again below the fall. There's a snug little path just round the corner, and as soon as we're through with lunch we'll just go down and look about us."
Tom's "snug little path" proved to be very much like the stair of a ruined light-house, and would have seemed to most people almost as bad as going down the precipice itself. But Charlie and Harry Burton, though new to the rocks of the Severn, had had plenty of climbing elsewhere, while as for Tom himself, he could have scaled anything from a church steeple to a telegraph pole.
The view was certainly well worth the trouble. Just at the break of the fall the stream was divided by a small rocky islet crested with half a dozen tall pines, the "Goat Island" of this toy Niagara. In the few rays of sunlight that struggled down into the gloomy gorge the rushing river with its sheets of glittering foam, and the bright green ferns and mosses that clung to the dark cliffs around, and the shining arch of the fall itself, and the rocks starting boldly up in mid-stream, tufted with clustering leaves, made a splendid picture.
Close to the water's edge ran a kind of terrace, formed by the sliding down of the softer parts of the cliff; and along this the three walked till they came right abreast of the fall.
"Hollo!" cried Harry, suddenly, "didn't you say that nobody ever shot these rapids? Why, there's a fellow trying it now!"
There, sure enough, as he pointed up the stream, appeared a canoe with a single figure in it, shooting down the river like an arrow, and already close upon the edge of the rapids.