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Canoeing in the Wilderness: (Henry David Thoreau Classics Collection) (Paperback)
I started on my third excursion to the Maine woods Monday, July 20, 1857, with one companion, arriving at Bangor the next day at noon. The succeeding morning, a relative of mine who is well acquainted with the Penobscot Indians took me in his wagon to Oldtown to assist me in obtaining an Indian for this expedition. We were ferried across to the Indian Island in a bateau. The ferryman's boy had the key to it, but the father, who was a blacksmith, after a little hesitation, cut the chain with a cold chisel on the rock. He told me that the Indians were nearly all gone to the seaboard and to Massachusetts, partly on account of the smallpox, of which they are very much afraid, having broken out in Oldtown. The old chief Neptune, however, was there still. The first man we saw on the island was an Indian named Joseph Polis, whom my relative addressed familiarly as "Joe." He was dressing a deerskin in his yard. The skin was spread over a slanting log, and he was scraping it with a stick held by both hands. He was stoutly built, perhaps a little above the middle height, with a broad face, and, as others said, perfect Indian features and complexion. His house was a two-story white one with blinds, the best-looking that I noticed there, and as good as an average one on a New England village street. It was surrounded by a garden and fruit trees, single cornstalks standing thinly amid the beans. We asked him if he knew any good Indian who would like to go into the woods with us, that is, to the Allegash Lakes by way of Moosehead, and return by the East Branch of the Penobscot.