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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/31

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27
THE GRAYLING

timber line, down to Lake Linderman, long and narrow, like a gigantic rock-bound ditch of the giants. Down the long shore of Lake Bennett, through scrub and swamp, birch and brambles. No wonder so many took to the ice, rotten though it be in early summer. No wonder so many tried to make rafts of logs, when the wind blew in the right direction. On and on down the straight shore of gusty Lake Bennett, two days' march it may be. Then you come to Caribou Crossing. The caribou is the native reindeer, and here in the interval between Lake Bennett and Lake Tagish, with Lake Marsh beyond, is the only place for 500 miles where a herd of caribou can cross the Yukon River. Let us cross it quickly, too, for the water is very cold, and deeper than a man or a caribou likes to wade. Here at Caribou Crossing lived and worked for a generation Father Bumpus, of blessed memory, bishop of the Yukon. And here still lives his charming wife, born to the soft skies of England and the gentle ways of English society, but here a power for good in the wilderness to which she gave her life. It seems to me that if the Church of England were all-wise, it would some time send his grace, the archbishop of Canterbury, to exchange places for a year with the bishop of Yukon. The bishop of the boundless hills would learn something in Canterbury, no doubt, but consider what the archbishop of Canterbury would learn were the seat of his diocese for a year at Caribou Crossing.

From the Caribou Crossing the river curves through the fir woods to the right—for we are below timber line again. Then it sways forward, running through a couple of lakes into a swift gorge—the famed and fated White Horse Rapids—below which it widens out into the immense Lake Labarge, which runs to the northward as far as the eye can see, and a good deal farther. Some men—about one in ten, perhaps—preferred to take their chances in running the White Horse Rapids, rather than to carry their belongings over the Caribou Hills. Some of these—one in two, perhaps—got through safely. The rest went to swell the romance, the terror, the tragedy of the gold of the Klondyke and the White Pass of the Yukon.

But the Caribou Crossing is full of fish, and some of these—lake trout, cisco, pike, ling, sculpin—take the hook when it is properly baited. You can stand on the little wharf in front of the Bishop's House, or on the bank in Skookum Jim's dooryard and cast for grayling and the grayling will respond. Better than this, you can cross the river and go a couple of miles across the field and around a bayou where the wood begins. In the little forest you will find a roaring brook and at the foot of a cascade you will find the grayling as eager as you are, and, if you are contented with a reasonable basket, you will fish awhile, then lie down on the heather and take for yourself something better than many fishes—that which Wordsworth called the "harvest of the quiet eye."