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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/12

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living being. It was a fish, a curious little fellow, only half an inch long, with great, staring eyes which made almost half his length, and a body so transparent that he could not cast a shadow. He was a little salmon, a very little salmon, but the water was good, and there were flies, and worms, and little living creatures in abundance for him to eat, and he soon became a larger salmon. And there were many more little salmon with him, some larger and some smaller, and they all had a merry time. Those who had been born soonest and had grown largest used to chase the others around and bite off their tails, or, still better, take them by the heads and swallow them whole, for, said they, "Even young salmon are good eating." "Heads I win, tails you lose" was their motto. Thus, what was once two small salmon became united into one larger one, and the process of "addition, division, and silence," still went on.

By-and-by, when all the salmon were too small to swallow the others, and too large to be swallowed, they began to grow restless and to sigh for a change. They saw that the water rushing by seemed to be in a great hurry to get somewhere, and one of them suggested that its hurry was caused by something good to eat at the other end of its course. Then they all started down the stream, salmon-fashion, which fashion is to get into the current, head up-stream, and so to drift backward as the river sweeps along.

Down the Cowlitz River they went for a day and a night, finding much to interest them which we need not know. At last, they began to grow hungry, and, coming near the shore, they saw an angle-worm of rare size and beauty floating in an eddy of the stream. Quick as thought one of the boys opened his mouth, which was well filled with teeth of different sizes, and put it around that angle-worm. Quicker still he felt a sharp pain in his gills, followed by a smothering sensation, and in an instant his comrades saw him rise straight into the air. This was nothing new to them, for they often leaped out of the water in their games of hide-and-seek, but only to come down again with a loud splash not far from where they went out. But this one never came back, and the others went on their course wondering.

At last they came to where the Cowlitz and the Columbia join, and they were almost lost for a time, for they could find no shores, and the bottom and the top of the water were so far apart. Here they saw other and far larger salmon in the deepest part of the current, turning neither to the right nor left, but swimming straight on up just as rapidly as they could. And these great salmon would not stop for them, and would not lie and float with the current. They had no time to talk, even in the simple sign-language by which fishes express their ideas, and no time to eat. They had an important work before them, and the time was short. So they went on up the river, keeping their great purposes to themselves, and our little salmon and his friends from the Cowlitz drifted down the stream.