CHAPTER IV. FROM LAKES GEORGE AND CHAMPLAIN TO THE HUDSON RIVER.

When I joined my travelling companion, David Bodfish, he grievously inveighed against the community of Whitehall because some dishonest boatmen from the canal had appropriated the stock of pipes and tobacco he had laid in for his three or four days' voyage to Albany. "Sixty cents' worth of new pipes and tobacco," said David, in injured tones, "is a great loss, and a Bodfish never was worth anything at work without his tobacco. I used to pour speerits down to keep my speerits up, but of late years I have depended on tobacco, as the speerits one gets nowadays isn't the same kind we got when I was a boy and worked in old Hawkin Swamp."

Canal voyaging, after one has experienced the sweet influences of lakes George and Champlain, is indeed monotonous. But to follow connecting watercourses it was necessary for the Mayeta to traverse the Champlain Canal (sixty-four) and the Erie Canal (six miles) from Whitehall to Albany on the Hudson River, a total distance of seventy miles.

There was nothing of sufficient interest in the passage of the canal to be worthy of record save the giving way of a lock-gate, near Troy, and the precipitating of a canal-boat into the vortex of waters that followed. By this accident my boat was detained one day on the banks of the canal. On the fourth day the Mayeta ended her services by arriving at Albany, where, after a journey of four hundred miles, experience had taught me that I could travel more quickly in a lighter boat, and more conveniently and economically without a companion. It was now about the first week in August, and the delay which would attend the building of a new boat especially adapted for the journey of two thousand miles yet to be travelled would not be lost, as by waiting a few weeks, time would be given for the malaria on the rivers of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, and even farther south, to be eradicated by the fall frosts. David returned to his New Jersey home a happy man, invested with the importance which attaches itself to a great traveller. I had unfortunately contributed to Mr. Bodfish's thirst for the marvellous by reading to him at night, in our lonely camp, Jules Verne's imaginative "Journey to the Centre of the Earth." David was in ecstasies over this wonderful contribution to fiction. He preferred fiction to truth at any time. Once, while reading to him a chapter of the above work, his credulity was so challenged that he became excited, and broke forth with, "Say, boss, how do these big book-men larn to lie so well? does it come nat'ral to them, or is it got by edication?" I have since heard that when Mr. Bodfish arrived in the pine-wood regions of New Jersey he related to his friends his adventures "in furrin parts," as he styled the Dominion of Canada, and so interlaced the facts of the cruise of the Mayeta with the fancies of the "Journey to the Centre of the Earth," that to his neighbors the region of the St. Lawrence has become a country of awful and mysterious associations, while the more knowing members of the community which David honors with his presence are firmly convinced that there never existed such a boat as the Mayeta save in the wild imagination of David Bodfish.

Mr. Bodfish's fictitious adventures, as related by him, covered many thousand miles of canoe voyaging. He had penetrated the region of ice beyond Labrador, and had viewed with complacency the north pole, which he found to be a pitch-pine spar that had been erected by the Coast Survey "to measure pints from." He roundly censured the crews of whale-ships which had mutilated this noble government work by splitting much of it into kindling-wood. Fortunately about two-thirds of Mr. Bodfish's audience had no very clear conceptions of the character of the north pole, some of them having ignored its very existence. So they accepted this portion of his narrative, while they rejected the most reasonable part of his story.

The Mayeta was sent to Lake George, and afterwards became a permanent resident. Two years later her successor, the Paper Canoe, one of the most happy efforts of the Messrs. Waters, of Troy, was quietly moored beside her; and soon after there was added to the little fleet a cedar duck-boat, which had carried me on a second voyage to the great southern sea. Here, anchored safely under the high cliffs, rocked gently by the loving waters of Lake George, rest these faithful friends. They carried me over five thousand miles, through peaceful rivers and surging seas. They have shared my dangers; they now share my peace.