Click here to Download The Wendigo PDF Book by Algernon Blackwood English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 37.
A considerable number of hunting parties were out that year without finding so much as a fresh trail; for the moose were uncommonly shy, and the various Nimrods returned to the bosoms of their respective families with the best excuses the facts of their imaginations could suggest. Dr. Cathcart, among others, came back without a trophy.
The Wendigo PDF Book by Algernon Blackwood
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But he brought instead the memory of an experience which he declares was worth all the bull moose that had ever been shot. But then Cathcart, of Aberdeen, was interested in other things besides moose—amongst them the vagaries of the human mind. This particular story, however.
Found no mention in his book on Collective Hallucination for the simple reason (so he confided once to a fellow colleague) that he himself played too intimate a part in it to form a competent judgment of the affair as a whole…. Besides himself and his guide, Hank Davis, there was young Simpson, his nephew, a divinity student destined for the “Wee Kirk” (then on his first visit to Canadian backwoods.
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And the latter’s guide, Défago. Joseph Défago was a French “Canuck,” who had strayed from his native Province of Quebec years before, and had got caught in Rat Portage when the Canadian Pacific Railway was a-building; a man who, in addition to his unparalleled knowledge of wood-craft and bush-lore, could also sing the old voyageur songs and tell a capital hunting yarn into the bargain.
He was deeply susceptible, moreover, to that singular spell which the wilderness lays upon certain lonely natures, and he loved the wild solitudes with a kind of romantic passion that amounted almost to an obsession. The life of the backwoods fascinated him—whence, doubtless, his surpassing efficiency in dealing with their mysteries.
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On this particular expedition he was Hank’s choice. Hank knew him and swore by him. He also swore at him, “jest as a pal might,” and since he had a vocabulary of picturesque, if utterly meaningless, oaths, the conversation between the two stalwart and hardy woodsmen was often of a rather lively description.
This river of expletives, however, Hank agreed to dam a little out of respect for his old “hunting boss,” Dr. Cathcart, whom of course he addressed after the fashion of the country as “Doc,” and also because he understood that young Simpson was already a “bit of a parson.” He had, however, one objection to Défago, and one only—which was.
That the French Canadian sometimes exhibited what Hank described as “the output of a cursed and dismal mind,” meaning apparently that he sometimes was true to type, Latin type, and suffered fits of a kind of silent moroseness when nothing could induce him to utter speech. Défago, that is to say, was imaginative and melancholy. The Wendigo PDF Book
And, as a rule, it was too long a spell of “civilization” that induced the attacks, for a few days of the wilderness invariably cured them. This, then, was the party of four that found themselves in camp the last week in October of that “shy moose year” ‘way up in the wilderness north of Rat Portage—a forsaken and desolate country.
There was also Punk, an Indian, who had accompanied Dr. Cathcart and Hank on their hunting trips in previous years, and who acted as cook. His duty was merely to stay in camp, catch fish, and prepare venison steaks and coffee at a few minutes’ notice. He dressed in the worn-out clothes bequeathed to him by former patrons.
And, except for his coarse black hair and dark skin, he looked in these city garments no more like a real redskin than a stage Negro looks like a real African. For all that, however, Punk had in him still the instincts of his dying race; his taciturn silence and his endurance survived; also his superstition. The Wendigo PDF Book
The party round the blazing fire that night were despondent, for a week had passed without a single sign of recent moose discovering itself. Défago had sung his song and plunged into a story, but Hank, in bad humor, reminded him so often that “he kep’ mussingup the fac’s so, that it was ‘most all nothin’ but a petered-out lie.”
That the Frenchman had finally subsided into a sulky silence which nothing seemed likely to break. Dr. Cathcart and his nephew were fairly done after an exhausting day. Punk was washing up the dishes, grunting to himself under the lean-to of branches, where he later also slept. No one troubled to stir the slowly dying fire.
Overhead the stars were brilliant in a sky quite wintry, and there was so little wind that ice was already forming stealthily along the shores of the still lake behind them. The silence of the vast listening forest stole forward and enveloped them. For this “divinity student” was a young man of parts and character, though as yet, of course, untraveled. The Wendigo PDF Book
And on this trip—the first time he had seen any country but his own and little Switzerland—the huge scale of things somewhat bewildered him. It was one thing, he realized, to hear about primeval forests, but quite another to see them. While to dwell in them and seek acquaintance with their wild life was, again.
An initiation that no intelligent man could undergo without a certain shifting of personal values hitherto held for permanent and sacred. Simpson knew the first faint indication of this emotion when he held the new .303 rifle in his hands and looked along its pair of faultless, gleaming barrels. The three days’ journey to their headquarters, by lake and portage, had carried the process a stage farther.
And now that he was about to plunge beyond even the fringe of wilderness where they were camped into the virgin heart of uninhabited regions as vast as Europe itself, the true nature of the situation stole upon him with an effect of delight and awe that his imagination was fully capable of appreciating. It was himself and Défago against a multitude—at least, against a Titan! The Wendigo PDF Book
The bleak splendors of these remote and lonely forests rather overwhelmed him with the sense of his own littleness. That stern quality of the tangled backwoods which can only be described as merciless and terrible, rose out of these far blue woods swimming upon the horizon, and revealed itself. He understood the silent warning.
He realized his own utter helplessness. Only Défago, as a symbol of a distant civilization where man was master, stood between him and a pitiless death by exhaustion and starvation. It was thrilling to him, therefore, to watch Défago turn over the canoe upon the shore, pack the paddles carefully underneath, and then proceed to “blaze” the spruce stems for some distance on either side of an almost invisible trail.
With the careless remark thrown in, “Say, Simpson, if anything happens to me, you’ll find the canoe all correc’ by these marks; —then strike doo west into the sun to hit the home camp agin, see?” It was the most natural thing in the world to say, and he said it without any noticeable inflexion of the voice. The Wendigo PDF Book Download
Only it happened to express the youth’s emotions at the moment with an utterance that was symbolic of the situation and of his own helplessness as a factor in it. He was alone with Défago in a primitive world: that was all. The canoe, another symbol of man’s ascendancy, was now to be left behind.
Those small yellow patches, made on the trees by the axe, were the only indications of its hiding place. Meanwhile, shouldering the packs between them, each man carrying his own rifle, they followed the slender trail over rocks and fallen trunks and across half-frozen swamps; skirting numerous lakes that fairly gemmed the forest, their borders fringed with mist.
And towards five o’clock found themselves suddenly on the edge of the woods, looking out across a large sheet of water in front of them, dotted with pine-clad islands of all describable shapes and sizes. “Fifty Island Water,” announced Défago wearily, “and the sun jest goin’ to dip his bald old head into it!” he added, with unconscious poetry; and immediately they set about pitching camp for the night. The Wendigo PDF Book Download
When a somewhat unordinary emotion has disappeared, the mind always finds a dozen ways of explaining away its causes …Simpson lit a last pipe and tried to laugh to himself. On getting home to Scotland it would make quite a good story. He did not realize that this laughter was a sign that terror still lurked in the recesses of his soul—that, in fact.
It was merely one of the conventional signs by which a man, seriously alarmed, tries to persuade himself that he is not so. Défago, however, heard that low laughter and looked up with surprise on his face. The two men stood, side by side, kicking the embers about before going to bed. It was ten o’clock—a late hour for hunters to be still awake.
“What’s ticklin’ yer?” he asked in his ordinary tone, yet gravely. “I—I was thinking of our little toy woods at home, just at that moment,” stammered Simpson, coming back to what really dominated his mind, and startled by the question, “and comparing them to—to all this,” and he swept his arm round to indicate the Bush. The Wendigo PDF Book Download
A pause followed in which neither of them said anything. “All the same I wouldn’t laugh about it, if I was you,” Défago added, looking over Simpson’s shoulder into the shadows. “There’s places in there nobody won’t never see into —nobody knows what lives in there either.” “Too big—too far off?” The suggestion in the guide’s manner was immense and horrible.
Défago nodded. The expression on his face was dark. He, too, felt uneasy. The younger man understood that in a hinterland of this size there might well be depths of wood that would never in the life of the world be known or trodden. The thought was not exactly the sort he welcomed. In a loud voice, cheerfully, he suggested that it was time for bed.
But the guide lingered, tinkering with the fire, arranging the stones needlessly, doing a dozen things that did not really need doing. Evidently there was something he wanted to say, yet found it difficult to “get at.” Thus, it seemed to him, at least. Yet it was true that the lap of the water, just beyond the tent door. The Wendigo PDF Book Download
Still beat time with his lessening pulses when he realized that he was lying with his eyes open and that another sound had recently introduced itself with cunning softness between the splash and murmur of the little waves. And, long before he understood what this sound was, it had stirred in him the centers of pity and alarm.
He listened intently, though at first in vain, for the running blood beat all its drums too noisily in his ears. Did it come, he wondered, from the lake, or from the woods?… Then, suddenly, with a rush and a flutter of the heart, he knew that it was close beside him in the tent; and, when he turned over for a better hearing, it focused itself unmistakably not two feet away.
It was a sound of weeping; Défago upon his bed of branches was sobbing in the darkness as though his heart would break, the blankets evidently stuffed against his mouth to stifle it. And his first feeling, before he could think or reflect, was the rush of a poignant and searching tenderness. This intimate, human sound, heard amid the desolation about them, woke pity. The Wendigo PDF Book Free
It was so incongruous, so pitifully incongruous—and so vain! Tears—in this vast and cruel wilderness: of what avail? He thought of a little child crying in mid-Atlantic…. Then, of course, with fuller realization, and the memory of what had gone before, came the descent of the terror upon him, and his blood ran cold.
“Défago,” he whispered quickly, “what’s the matter?” He tried to make his voice very gentle. “Are you in pain—unhappy—?” There was no reply, but the sounds ceased abruptly. He stretched his hand out and touched him. The body did not stir. “Are you awake?” for it occurred to him that the man was crying in his sleep.
“Are you cold?” He noticed that his feet, which were uncovered, projected beyond the mouth of the tent. He spread an extra fold of his own blankets over them. The guide had slipped down in his bed, and the branches seemed to have been dragged with him. He was afraid to pull the body back again, for fear of waking him. The Wendigo PDF Book Free
One or two tentative questions he ventured softly, but though he waited for several minutes there came no reply, nor any sign of movement. Presently he heard his regular and quiet breathing, and putting his hand again gently on the breast, felt the steady rise and fall beneath. “Let me know if anything’s wrong,” he whispered, “or if I can do anything.
Wake me at once if you feel—queer.” He hardly knew what to say. He lay down again, thinking and wondering what it all meant. Défago, of course, had been crying in his sleep. Some dream or other had afflicted him. Yet never in his life would he forget that pitiful sound of sobbing.
And the feeling that the whole awful wilderness of woods listened…. His own mind busied itself for a long time with the recent events, of which this took its mysterious place as one, and though his reason successfully argued away all unwelcome suggestions, a sensation of uneasiness remained, resisting ejection, very deep-seated— peculiar beyond ordinary. The Wendigo PDF Book Free