Nevertheless, all voted the
meal excellent, perhaps due to the appetites developed by long delay
and open air. During the afternoon, still showery, the members of the
quartette evinced their individual tastes. Adelaide wandered about and
finally succeeded in chopping off two pieces of firewood. Walt fixed
and refixed his tent and bed, Billy sketched and bedeviled everybody,
and Prof tended fire and dried out clothes, scorching the bottom of one
shirt and the foot of one stocking. Supper found the party somewhat
depressed but refusing to admit it. After a light meal, for campers! we
retired. The night was hot and still with occasional showers and misty
moonlight. Adelaide and Walter made out pretty well, but Billy and Prof
had a poor night, the latter driven first into a small corner of the
canoe and finally out-of-doors by Billy's antics and the heat!
Wednesday, Aug. 29th
Morning broke at last, however, with
gray unbroken sky and rain, persistent but not very heavy. Breakfast
was accomplished without much trouble and then the campers occupied
themselves with various avocations, coming together occasionally to
discuss weather signs and buoy up hopes for the future.
Adelaide and Walter paddled over to
the gushing spring in the sand beach for a supply of fresh water and
foregathered with some natives. One of the latter, a crabber, foretold
a clearing "blow" at about two o'clock, but the "blow" did not occur,
and, although the rain ceased the skies refused to clear. Prof cut
firewood and Billy assisted by felling a dead red cedar and cutting it
up for a fragrant camp-fire after supper. Billy also manufactured a
cedar bow and provided with an arrow amused himself and endangered camp
equipment and companions. A trip to the von Schwerdtners was proposed
-- Adelaide had set her mind on roast corn -- but Prof declared himself
too tired after lack of rest last night to undertake the trip, so it
During the day Walt and Prof shaved
and were pronounced much improved in beauty. Late in the afternoon we
all took a swim -- a very brief one for the day was cheerless. After
the swim, Billy rounded up four white China ducks from St. Helena and
drove them along the beach toward camp, but failed to induce them to
surmount a log lying in the way. We had a New England supper of pork,
beans, and brown bread, "topped off" with fig pudding and hot drinks.
While this agreeable process was
taking place, the clouds broke and the rose tints of sunset still
further cheered the voyagers' hearts. It grew rapidly cooler and the
quartette prepared for a good night's sleep. Billy and Prof rearranged
their sleeping quarters to pack themselves away after the manner of
sardines in a box. But in the midst of cheerful thoughts and
anticipations, while Prof was ensconced in the canoe tent giving a
final touch to his bed, alas! down came the rain again in a sharp,
though brief, shower. When it was over Walt and Billy went to bed,
while Adelaide and Prof sat for a time by the brightly blazing cedar
fire until Prof had finished his coffee and cigarette.
Then they, too, sought repose as the
stars came out, and happily found it -- at least the Prof did -- no
mosquitoes, no kicks from Billy, and so cool an air that blankets were
necessary for comfort. In the night the Prof heard the hoot of a horned
or barred owl and Adelaide saw a muskrat making an examination of our
Thursday, Aug. 30th
The campers woke to a strange
experience -- to wit, the sunshine gilding beach, tents, and last
night's raindrops. Everyone turned out readily -- the Philadelphians
first this morning, and it-ho! for breakfast and a new start up the
river. Packing occupied some time and the accumulated moisture in the
atmosphere took Old Sol and the West Wind two or three hours to clear
away in grey misty masses.
But when duffel was stowed and we
were at last upon our way, the clouds gradually disappeared and blue
sky and bright sunshine enlivened the moving picture of wooded shore,
sandy point, and reddish bluff as we made our way under paddle and sail
-- more paddle than sail today -- out into the Severn and on
northwestward. The two captains of the new canoe could not agree as to
the proper method of sailing, but, as usual, Prof gave way to Billy,
who was steering, with the result that the Unka had a nice, lazy paddle
along shore and reached Valentine's Creek some time before they
A search of the shores of the creek
revealed a fairly convenient and sightly camping ground. Luncheon was
eaten under the shade of a locust and a pine with a water outlook each
way. The "Hikelite" and the tarpaulin were pitched and then Adelaide
and Walter departed in the Unka en route for Severn Park and bread,
fruit, and "Pet," while Billy and Prof sketched, wrote up "log" and
otherwise employed themselves.
Among other things they explored the
headwaters of Valentine's Creek and made way with difficulty through
masses of waterweed. Prof thought he saw ahead a marsh wren's nest and
Billy was determined to see it close at hand. When the boat would
advance no farther into the weeds and mud under paddle, he kindly
offered to tow it and before Prof could check him, stepped overboard.
Fortunately he went one leg at a time for the forward leg met no
effective resistance and plunged full length into the soft mire. Billy
was only saved from combined drowning and burial by clinging to the
The trippers to Severna returned with
bread, rolls, "pet," and fruit. A swim was followed by supper and all
hands "turned in," chiefly to escape the attacks of hungry mosquitoes.
After the Prof was in the canoe tent Billy pushed the boat off shore
and pulled it into the rushes but sideways to the shore. All were soon
plunged into dreamless sleep, but Billy and Prof awoke at midnight to
find their floating bed careened to an angle of forty-five degrees. The
tide had gone out! However, in spite of the trying conditions, they
managed to stow themselves so as to fall asleep again.
Friday, Aug. 31st
The canoeists awoke to a misty world,
grass, leaves, tents dripping with dew and the sun showing pale and
ghostly through the clouds of steam rising from both land and water.
Billy and Prof took a morning "dip," or rather "splash," inside the
barrier of uninviting weeds. After breakfast and the usual packing the
four turned their prows and thoughts up the river for the final
exploration of the Severn.
From Valentine's Creek onward the
river is narrow with numerous bluffs and sand banks where a peculiar
variety of sand is or has been excavated for glass or porcelain making.
This part of the river, too, is more generously provided with pines and
cedars and their picturesque forms and spicy odors added a pleasing
variety to the trip.
Passing Whitney's and Indian Landing,
the former provided with a cable ferry and the latter adorned by
several small islands, the party reached the end of the river proper.
Here between acres of bright green wild oats we entered Severn Run.
Severn Run proved both interesting
and charming. There was a good depth of water although the stream was
at times nearly choked by the rank growth of reeds and wild oats.
Twisting and turning up the sinuous waterway, we caught constantly
changing views of the forest -- covered higher banks to right and left.
Flocks of red-winged blackbirds rose chattering as we advanced; we
scared into spasms of flight the yellow-legged "quawks" and
occasionally a great blue heron rose on wide beating wings or a muskrat
splashed amid the rushes close beside us. Once a bald headed eagle
soared into the blue, and several ospreys fled from us with shrill
Presently the bushes grew higher, water
loving trees appeared on the bank, and leaving the broad marshes
astern, we entered the wooded alluvial region -- the pequoson, as it is
called about Chesapeake Bay. Here was lovely play of lights and
shadows, tangled vines draped the trees in shining green mantles,
graceful royal ferns dip their fronds in the ever-flowing stream, dark
blue viburnum berries hung in masses, and here and there gleamed,
orange red, the seed clusters of the swamp magnolia. For two miles or
more we enjoyed this novel canoeing and then reluctantly turned
backward, warned by the midday sun that we must retrace our steps, or
rather our strokes.
After reaching the river again, we
stopped on a diminutive island for lunch and then again took to paddle
and oar, making way steadily though leisurely downward.
We stopped at Whitney's landing and
replenished our canteens with water from a cool, clear spring
overarched by dense foliage of ferns and trees draped in shining masses
of greenbriar. Backward we went with the pleasant breeze in our faces
and the same glimpses of cedar-accentuated points and pine-clad bluffs
into Round Bay and to our old camp site.
While Walter and Billy took a swim
from the Unka, Adelaide straightened out tent and duffel and Prof
collected wood and built supper fire. Again we dallied over the evening
meal under the low drooping chestnut oaks as the evening shadows
deepened and went to bed under the peeping stars, tired but happy.