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in the sand a number of little orange-colored globules, each about as large as a pea. These were not much in themselves, but great in their possibilities. In the waters above them little suckers and chubs and prickly sculpins strained their mouths to draw these globules from the sand, and vicious-looking crawfishes picked them up with their blundering hands and examined them with their telescopic eyes.
But one, at least, of the globules escaped their curiosity, else this story would not be worth telling. The sun shone down on it through the clear water, and the ripples of the Cowlitz said over it their incantations, and in it at last awoke a living being. It was a fish, a curious little fellow, not half an inch long, with great, staring eyes, which made almost half his length, and with 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. Then 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 a single larger one, and the process of “addition, division, and silence" still went on.
By-and-by, when all the salmon were too large to be swallowed, they began to grow restless. They saw that the water rushing by seemed to be in a great hurry to get somewhere, and it was somehow 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 thus to drift backward as the river sweeps along.
Down the Cowlitz River the salmon 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 them opened his mouth, which was well filled with teeth of different sizes, and put it around the angleworm. 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 to the left, but swimming right on up-stream 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 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.
By-and-by the water began to change. It grew denser, and no longer flowed rapidly along; and twice a day it used to turn about and flow the other way. Then the shores disappeared, and the water began to have a different and peculiar favor, - a flavor which seemed to the salmon much richer and more inspiring than the glacier-water of their native Cowlitz. There were many curious things to see, - crabs with hard shells and savage faces, but so good when crushed and swallowed! Then there were luscious squid swimming about; and, to a salmon, squid are like ripe peaches and cream. There were great companies of delicate sardines and herring, green and silvery, and it was such fun to chase and capture them! Those who eat sardines packed in oil by greasy fingers, and herrings dried in the smoke, can have little idea how satisfying it is to have a meal of them, plump and sleek and silvery, fresh from the sea.
Thus the salmon chased the herrings about, and had a merry time. Then they were chased about in turn by great sea-lions, — swimming monsters with huge half-human faces, long thin whiskers, and blundering ways. The sea-lions liked to bite out the throat of a salmon, with its precious stomach full of luscious sardines, and then to leave the rest of the fish to shift for itself. And the seals and the herrings scattered the salmon about, till at last the hero of our story found himself quite alone, with none of his own kind near him. But that did not trouble him much, and he went on his own way, getting his dinner when he was hungry, which was all the time, and then eating a little between meals for his stomach's sake.
So it went on for three long years; and at the end of this time our little fish had grown to be a great, fine salmon of twenty-two pounds' weight, shining like a new tin pan, and with rows of the loveliest round black spots on his head and back and tail. One day, as he was swimming about, idly chasing a big sculpin with a head so thorny that he never was swallowed by anybody, all of a sudden the salmon noticed a change in the water around him.
Spring had come again, and the south-lying snow-drifts on the Cascade Mountains once more felt that the “ earth was wheeling sunwards.” The cold snow waters ran down from the mountains and into the Columbia River, and made a freshet on the river. The high water went far out into the sea, and out in the sea our salmon felt it on his gills. He remembered how the cold water used to feel in the Cowlitz when he was a little fish. In a blundering, fishy fashion he thought about it; he wondered whether the little eddy looked as it used to look, and whether caddis-worms and young mosquitoes were really as sweet and tender as he used to think they were. Then he thought some other things; but as the salmon's mind is located in the optic lobes of his brain, and ours is in a different place, we cannot be quite certain what his thoughts really were.
What our salmon did, we know. He did what every grown salmon in the ocean does when he feels the glacier-water once more upon his gills. He became a changed being. He spurned the blandishment of soft-shelled crabs. The pleasures of the table and of the chase, heretofore his only delights, lost their charms for him. He turned his course straight toward the direction whence the cold water came, and for the rest of his life never tasted a mouthful of food. He moved on toward the river-mouth, at first playfully, as though he were not really certain whether he meant anything after all. Afterward, when he struck the full current of the Columbia, he plunged straightforward with an unflinching determination that had in it something of the heroic. When he had passed the rough water at the bar, he was not alone. His old neighbors of the Cowlitz, and many more from the Clackamas and the Spokan and Des Chûtes and Kootanie, - a great army of salmon, — were with him. In front were thousands pressing on, and behind them were thousands more, all moved by a common impulse which urged them up the Columbia.
They were all swimming bravely along where the current was deepest, when suddenly the foremost