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"THERE AT A TURN IN THE PATH, NOT TEN YARDS AHEAD STOOD A HUGE BEAR."
Most of the following sketches were made in the woods, with
the subjects themselves living just outside my tent door.
They are all life studies, and include also some of the
unusual life secrets of a score of animals and birds,—shy,
wild creatures, mostly, that hide from the face of man and
make their nests or their lairs deep in the heart of the
So far as the sketches have any unity, they are the result
of an effort on the part of the writer to get at the heart
of things and find
[viii] the meaning of certain puzzling ways of
birds and beasts. A suggestion, at least, of that meaning,
and also an indication of the scope and object of this book,
will be found in the first chapter, the Introduction to the
"School of the Woods."
As in previous volumes, the names herein used for birds and
animals are those given by the Milicete Indians. I use
these names partly for their happy memories; partly for the
added touch of individuality which they give to every
creature; but chiefly because they have the trick of
bringing the animal himself before you by some sound or
suggestion. When you call the little creature that lives
under your doorstep, that eats your crumbs and that comes
when you whistle certain tunes, a common Toad, the word
means nothing. But when Simmo speaks of K'dunk the Fat One,
I know something of what the interesting little creature
says, and just how he looks.
Two or three of these studies have already appeared in
various magazines. All the rest
[ix] come direct from my old
notebooks and wilderness records to these newer pages, where
the skillful pencil of my friend Mr. Charles Copeland makes
the animals live again and peep at me shyly from behind old
mossy logs, or glide away into their leafy solitudes,
halting, listening, looking back at me inquisitively—just as
they did in the wilderness.