INTO THE WOODS
Theo Swift dropped into a chair before the blazing fire in the log cabin, and drew a long breath of delight. At last his dream had come true; he was in the heart of the Maine woods! It was a wonderful experience for a boy of his age to be his father's companion on a fishing trip. Each spring when Dr. Swift had packed his tackle for his annual vacation into the wilderness, and Theo had looked on with hungry eyes as the rods, flies, and tramping boots had been stowed away in the canvas grips, his father had said:
"Wait until you are a bit older, son, and you shall go with me."
And now that day had come, and here he was! It seemed too good to be true.
He glanced up to find his father smiling down at him.
"Well?" questioned the older man. "What do you think of the camp? Does it come up to your expectations?"
"I should say it did!" Theo managed to gasp. "It is great, Father!"
"Think you can be contented here for a month?"
"Contented!" laughed Theo.
"You won't be getting lonesome and wishing you were back in New York?"
"Well, I hope you'll have a good time. Certainly with plenty of fishing and tramping you should. You will find Manuel, our Indian guide, a never-ending source of entertainment; he can do everything from dressing a moose to building a canoe. There isn't a trail through these woods that he couldn't travel blindfolded. You will be perfectly safe with him; only you must do exactly as he says, no matter how silly his orders may seem. He knows the woods better than you do—or than I do, for that matter. Remember you are no longer on Fifth Avenue, where you can call a policeman or a taxicab if you get lost. This vast forest is an entirely different proposition."
"How still it is," he said softly.
"Yes," rejoined his father; "that is why it means to me something that no other place can. After the rush of the city, the jangle of telephones, the constant sight of sick people, there is nothing to compare with the restfulness of these woods."
The Doctor, who had been standing with his back to the fire, his hands clasped behind him, drew out his pipe, lighted it, and puffed a ring of smoke into the air.
"You have had a very busy year, Father."
"Yes, and I fancy there will be a still busier one ahead. Before I attack it I feel that it is my duty to get a good rest. In these war days a doctor never knows where he may be needed to serve. Thus far my place seems to have been at a home hospital. With eight of our operating staff in France it has meant much extra work, too. Not that I am complaining of that. I am only too glad to do my bit wherever it is. But I had got to the point where I felt that the man who can give the best service is the man who does not allow himself to become too fagged. So I determined to take my usual vacation even though on the face of it it seemed a crime to devote myself to nothing but fishing for a whole month."
Theo glanced into the face of the big, earnest man before him; he felt suddenly very grown up....