The Black Duck Dinner

James Stevens. "The Black Duck Dinner."
American Mercury June 1924: 161-169.

Black Duck Hunt

The Black Duck Dinner

I first got news of Paul Bunyan when I went to work in an Oregon logging-camp. In the East he seems to be almost unheard of; even in the West, when one enters the cities, the mighty epic of his herculean deeds sinks to the whisper of a whisper. But in the logging-camps, even today, he remains as real as the trees themselves. Every logger in the Northwestern woods knows all about him-his Gargantuan stature and strength, his ear-splitting roar, his colossal deeds. Paul Bunyan is the traditional hero of the lumber jacks; he is the greatest of their contributions to American folklore; in him they see all their own robustious qualities, exaggerated almost to sublimity. Times have changed in the woods, and the rough-hewn loggers of tradition have begun to disappear, but even their well-barbered and regimented successors of today know Paul Bunyan. He is as much a part of the story of the winning of the West as Brigham Young or Buffalo Bill.

I first heard of him on sharp Autumn nights, sitting with my fellow "savages" around the bunkhouse stove, listening to Old Time Sandy. Sandy was the camp bard, and as his astounding tales of Bunyan's vast exploits poured out in the rich vernacular of the woodsman it seemed to me that no sagas of the olden days could be more exhilarating. When these tales originated, and where, I do not know. The oldest greybeards among the loggers knew nothing of their hero's beginnings; he was already a hero when they were striplings. Perhaps his creator borrowed a hint or two from "The Inestimable Life of the Great Gargantua"; perhaps not. As he stands today Bunyan is absolutely American from head to foot. He visualizes perfectly the American love of tall talk and tall doings, the true American exuberance and extravagance. He is really the creation not of one man, but of whole generations of men. Thousands of narrators by far-flung campfires have contributed their mites to the classical picture of him.

There are no stories about Paul Bunyan as a child; he is supposed to have sprung into life full-grown. There are various estimates of his size, and always they are given in the logger fashion of measuring a log in ax-handle lengths. The favorite estimate is that ninety-seven ax-handles would scarcely span him from hip to hip. His beard was as long as it was wide, and as wide as it was long. He combed it and his curly black hair with a young pine tree. He spoke commonly in gentle tones, but his voice, when he loosed it, was like the rumbling of thunder, and if by chance he bellowed from rage or pain acres of trees crashed to the ground, bunkhouses were flattened and common folk were stunned. Fortunately, though he was without sentimental geniality, he had a tolerant and considerable soul. But he was not a humanitarian; his ruling passion was the passion of toil, which catches its fire from exulting muscular energy. He thought it a privilege to perform the grand and thrilling labor of the woods, and when his loggers failed to work with his own exuberant pride, as would happen once or twice a season, he would banish them to camp and with a joyous exertion of his prodigious powers himself accomplish all their tasks.

His subordinates were much grander persons than ordinary men, but in size they were all dwarfed by their chief. The Big Swede's title of foreman was only honorary; his main duty was to care for the blue ox. Johnny Inkslinger, the scribe, had all the virtues the modern camp clerk is thought to lack. There was never a shortage of pay when he was in camp, and never an overcharge, although he alone had to keep the records of thousands of men. Nor was there ever an error in his accounts of millions of feet of logs. As he used two barrels of ink a month you can imagine what figuring he had to do! Beside, he was the camp dentist and surgeon, and in this capacity he made innumerable and incredible cures-cases which even a chiropractor would flee from.

The only creature in camp equal in size to Bunyan was Babe, the blue ox. Nothing is known of Babe's ancestry, but he was certainly of noble and august parentage. All that is certain is that he was born the Winter of the blue snow, hence his unique color, and that Bunyan reared him from infancy with solicitous care. Babe repaid this care with an extravagance of affection that was ofttimes embarrassing. The great logger's only weakness was ticklishness, particularly about the neck, and the blue ox had a perverse passion for caressing that region with his tongue. Paul Bunyan never resented this attempt on his dignity, but he avoided it whenever possible. The blue ox was unfailingly obedient, tireless and patient. It was his task to skid the felled and trimmed trees from the stumps to the rollways by the rivers, where they were stored for the drives. The timber of nineteen States, save a few scant sections, so the old loggers declare, was skidded from the stumps by the all-powerful Babe.

In Paul Bunyan's camp there was a great cookhouse with a kitchen like another Mammoth Cave, and a dining hall wherein, under huge and lofty beams, the tables were ranged like the ranks of an army corps drawn up for parade on a plain. Here were served huge and incomparable Sunday dinners and the simpler week-day meals, of which the breakfasts of ham and eggs, hot cakes and coffee are most highly praised. Paul Bunyan invented a machine for the mixing of the hot cake batter, so perfectly devised that paving contractors now employ small models of it for mixing cement. The range on which a battalion of cooks fried the hot cakes was greased by a ski champion from Norway who skiied to and fro with sides of bacon strapped to his feet. And that the men in the far end of the cookhouse might be served before the hot cakes cooled, the flunkies speeded on roller skates. It required a crew of eleven teamsters with teams and scrapers to keep the yard back of the cookhouse cleared of coffee grounds and egg shells.

But do not imagine that because Paul Bunyan's camp was a logger's dream of paradise there was any luxurious leisure in it. He worked his men twelve hours a day, and they would have been astounded by any idea of working less. And they would have been perplexed by any other scheme to ease their lot. If there were not to be great exertions, they would have asked, why their sturdy frames, their eager muscular force? If they were not meant to face hazards, why was daring in their hearts? A noble breed, those loggers of Paul Bunyan's, greatly worthy of their captain! He himself told them in a speech he made at the finishing of the Onion river drive that they were "a good band of bullies, a fine bunch of savages." I should like to quote this speech in its entirety for it celebrated the accomplishment of a historical logging enterprise, and it was a master oration which showed the full range and force of Paul Bunyan's intellectual powers. But as nine days and eight nights were required for its delivery, it is obvious that no publication save the Congressional Record could print it. It was at this time that Paul Bunyan served his great black duck dinner.

Paul Bunyan wears a suit


The speech ended on a Tuesday, and until the following Saturday morning there were no sounds save the snores of weary man and the scratching of the sleepless Johnny Inkslinger's pen. By Saturday noon he had a time-check and a written copy of the oration for every man in camp. The loggers then prepared for a blow-in down the river, while Paul Bunyan and the Big Swede moved the camp. After dinner the industrious Swede, using a fire hose, a ton of soap, and a tank of hair tonic, began to give the blue ox his Spring cleaning, and Johnny Inkslinger turned in for the three hours of sleep which he required each week. Paul Bunyan was arranging his personal belongings for the move and musing on his recent accomplishment. He had never driven logs down a rougher or more treacherous stream than Onion River. And the hills over which the timber had been skidded were so rocky and steep that they tried even the strength of the blue ox. Worst of all was the rank growth of wild onions that had covered the ground. They baffled all attempts to fell the trees at first, for they brought blinding floods of tears to the loggers' eyes and made their efforts not only futile but dangerous. When the Big Swede was standing on a hillside one day, dreaming of the old country, he failed to observe a blinded logger come staggering up the slope, and he did not hear him mumble, "This looks like a good stick." Not until the logger had chopped an undercut in the leg of his boot had the Big Swede realized his peril. Paul Bunyan, baffled by such incidents, was about to abandon the whole operation when the alert Johnny Inkslinger heard of the failure of the Italian garlic crop. He quickly made a contract with the Italian government, which sent over shiploads of laborers to dig up the wild onions and take them home as a substitute for the national relish. When this had been accomplished it was possible to log off the country.

There had been other difficulties to overcome, too, and as Paul Bunyan spread out a tarpaulin and prepared to roll up his boots and work-clothes, he remembered them and praised the saints that they were ended. The next job offered the best promise of simple and easy logging that he had encountered since he logged off the level lands of Kansas. For miles the land rose in gentle slopes from a wide and smoothly flowing river; there was no brush or noxious vegetation among the clean, straight trees; and, best of all, the timber was of a species now extinct, the Leaning Pine. The trees of this variety all leaned in the same direction, and it was thus possible to fell them accurately without the use of wedges. Paul Bunyan was sure of a season's record on this new job. He thought of the fresh brilliancy it would give his fame, and like a row of snowy peaks glimpsed through the spaces of a forest, his teeth glittered through his beard in a magnificent smile. But another thought quickly sobered his countenance. "Those good bullies of mine!" The words came in a gusty murmur. He dropped the tarpaulin and strode over to the cookhouse. Hot Biscuit Slim, his kitchen chief, came forth to meet him. There was a knowing look in the cook's eyes.

"It's to be a great Sunday dinner tomorrer?" he asked, before Paul Bunyan could speak.

"The greatest Sunday dinner ever heard of," said Paul Bunyan. "I want this to be remembered as the noblest meal ever served in a logging camp. My loggers shall feast like the victorious soldiers of old time. It is a natural privilege of heroes to revel after conquest. Remember, as you prepare this feast, that you may also be making immortal glory for yourself."

"You jest leave it to me, Mr. Bunyan!" answered Slim. "If the baker'll do his part with the cream puffs, cakes and pies, I promise you I'll make 'em a meal to remember. First, oyscher stew, an' then for vegytables, cream' cabbage, of course, mash' potatoes an' potato cakes, lettuce an' onions-"

"No onions!" thundered Paul Bunyan. There was a terrific crash in the kitchen as hundreds of pans and skillets were shaken to the floor.

"Uh-I forgot," stammered Slim. "Well, anyway, they'll be oyscher soup, vegytables, sauces, puddin's, hot biscuits, an' meat in dumplin' stew an' mulligan stew, an' they'll be drippin' roasts, all tender an' rich seasoned-oh, the meat that I'll give 'em! the meat-" he paused sharply, shivered as though from a physical shock, and misery glistened in his eyes-"only-uh-only-"

"Only you have no meat," said Paul Bunyan gently.

"I'm admittin' it," said Slim wretchedly. "Honest, Mr. Bunyan, no matter how I try I jest can't remember to order meat, 'specially for Sunday dinner. I can remember vegytables, fruit an' greens easy as pie, but, by doggy, I always forget meat. I ain't pertendin' a cook's worth keepin' who can't remember meat, no matter how good he is at a fixin' it. I wouldn't blame you if you fired me right off, Mr. Bunyan."

Slim leaned against the toe of the hero's boot and wept.

"That means that I must rustle deer and bear," said Paul Bunyan patiently. "Well, bear meat and venison will make a royal feast when they have passed through your kettles and ovens. Light the fires, go ahead with your plans; you may yet make history tomorrow!"

He turned away, and Hot Biscuit Slim watched him worshipfully until he was a dim figure on distant hills.

"I'd do anything for a boss like that," he said resolutely. "I'll learn to remember meat, by doggy, I will!"

Rumors of the marvelous dinner that was being planned reached the bunkhouses, and thoughts of their coming blow-in were abandoned by the loggers as they indulged in greedy imaginings of the promised delights. The day went slowly; the sun seemed to labor down the western sky. Before it sank soft clouds obscured its light, bringing showers and early shadows.

At the approach of darkness Paul Bunyan began his return march to the camp. He was vastly disappointed by the meager results of his hunt. Although he had gone as far as the Turtle River country, he had snared but three deer and two small bears. These only filled a corner of one pocket of his mackinaw, and they would provide but a mere shred of meat apiece for his men. Paul Bunyan did not feel that he had done his best; he was not one to rest on feeble consolations. As he journeyed on he was devising other means to carry out his plan for a memorable and stupendous feast. And ere he was within an hour of the camp the Big Swede was unconsciously outlining the solution of the problem for him.

Johnny Inkslinger


The Swede went to the stable some time after supper to see that Babe was at ease for the night. The clouds were thinning now, and when he opened the stable door soft light poured in on the blue ox, making lustrous spots and streaks on his sleek sides. He turned his head, his bulging blue eyes shining with gentleness and goodwill, and his tongue covered the foreman's face in a luscious caress.

"Har, now," remonstrated the Big Swede.

As he solemnly wiped his face he sniffed the fragrance of Babe's breath and stared with a feeling of envy at the clean, glowing hair. When he had finished his inspection and left the stable, it was evident that he was wrestling with some laborious problem. His whole face was tense with a terrific frown; he scratched his sides vigorously and breathed deeply of the air, sweet with the odors of washed earth. The purity of the Spring weather, the fresh cleanliness it gave the world, and the aroma and sleekness of the blue ox had brought the Big Swede to face his own sore need of a washing. He dreaded it as an ordeal, and for that reason he wished he might accomplish it immediately. He wandered aimlessly on, tormented by an unaccustomed conflict of the soul and the flesh, and at last he came to the edge of a cliff. He stared in surprise at the appearance of a lake below. He could not remember that large a body of water near the camp. But the Big Swede had no room for more than one emotion at a time, and a violent resolve now smothered his surprise.

"Yah, aye do him now," he muttered.

He disrobed swiftly and ran to a rock that jutted from the cliff. Swinging his fists, he leaped twice into the air; the second time he flung himself outward in a magnificent dive, his body made a great curve, and then, head first, he plunged downward. But there was no tumultuous surge and splash of waters as a climax to this splendid dive. Instead, the Big Swede's head struck white canvas with a dull, rending impact-for he had mistaken Paul Bunyan's tarpaulin for a lake! The force of his plunge drove him through the canvas and half-buried him in the soft earth underneath. His arms were imprisoned, but his legs waved wildly, and his muffled bellows shook the earth. A prowling logger saw what seemed to be shining marble columns dancing in the moonlight and felt the ground trembling under his feet.

"It can't be," he thought bravely.

Just then the Big Swede made another heroic effort to yell for help, and the logger was shaken from his feet. He jumped up and ran to Johnny Inkslinger with an alarming tale of dancing ghosts that shook the earth. The timekeeper, after sharpening twenty-seven pencils to use in case it was necessary to make a report on the spot, started with his medicine case for the place where the logger had directed him. When nearly there he remembered that he had failed to bring his ten-gallon carboy of alcohol, which, next to Epsom salts, he considered the most important medicine in his chest. He ran back for it, and by the time he finally reached the Big Swede, that unfortunate's bellows had diminished to groans, and his legs waved with less and less gusto. After thoroughly examining and measuring the legs Johnny deemed the proof positive that they belonged to the Big Swede. Then he got busy with paper and pencil and figured for half an hour. "According to the strictest mathematical calculations," he announced, "the Big Swede cannot continue to exist in his present position; consequently, he must be extricated. I have considered all known means by which this may be accomplished, and I have arrived at a scientific conclusion. I direct that the blue ox and a cable be brought here at once."

When the loggers had obeyed this command, Johnny made a half-hitch with the cable around the Big Swede's legs, which were waving very feebly now, and in two seconds, amid a monstrous upheaval of dirt and a further rending of the canvas, the Big Swede was dragged out. For a few moments he spat mud like a river dredge; then Johnny proffered him the ten-gallon carboy of alcohol. It was drained at a gulp, and then, with aid from the timekeeper, he was able to stagger to his shanty. When Paul Bunyan reached the camp the Big Swede was lying on his bunk, bundled in bandages from head to foot. Johnny Inkslinger was still busily attending him; bottles of medicine, boxes of pills, a keg of Epsom salts, rolls of bandages, and surgical implements were heaped about the room. The timekeeper gave a detailed account of what had happened, and then Paul Bunyan questioned the victim, who answered briefly, "Aye yoomped, an' aye yoomped, an'-yeeminy!"

Johnny Inkslinger gave his chief a voluminous report of the Big Swede's fractures, sprains and contusions.

"He is also suffering from melancholia because he is still unwashed," said Johnny. "But I think I'll restore him. I've dosed him with all my medicines and smeared him with all my salves. I'd have manipulated his spine, but confound him, he strained his back and he threatens violence when I touch it. But I have many formulae and systems. He shall live."

"Surely," said Paul Bunyan. "A man is the hardest animal to kill there is."

Saying this, he arose from before the shanty door and thought again of this unrealized plan. He remembered the wordless dejection of Hot Biscuit Slim on receiving the scanty supply of deer and bear meat. He determined that the Sunday dinner should yet be as he had planned it; otherwise it would be a bad augury for great achievements in his new enterprise. He walked slowly towards his headquarters, pondering various schemes that came to mind.

When he reached the white sheet of canvas he was astonished by its deceptive appearance. It had a silvery glitter in the moonlight, for its surface still held the moisture of the showers. Small wonder, thought Paul Bunyan, that the Big Swede had dived into it; never was a lake more temptingly beautiful or seemingly more deep. He was gazing at the torn and the huge cavity made in the ground by the Big Swede, when he heard a great chorus of shrill and doleful voices in the sky. He looked up and saw an enormous flock of black ducks in swerving flight. They had lost their way in the low-hanging clouds at dusk, and now they were seeking a resting place.

Here, thought Paul Bunyan at once, is a noble offering of chance. Was a black duck more acute than the Big Swede, that the bright, moist canvas would not deceive him also? And once deceived, would not the ensuing dive be fatal? Wasn't a black duck's neck of more delicate structure than the Big Swede's, and wouldn't it surely break when it struck the tarpaulin? This variety of black duck grew as big as a buzzard, and here they were so numerous that clouds of them darkened the moon. Now to deceive them. Paul Bunyan could mimic the voices of all the birds of the air and all the beasts of the fields and woods, save only that of the blue ox, who always replied with a jocular wink when his master attempted to simulate his mellow moo. In his moments of humor Paul Bunyan declared that he could mimic fish, and one Sunday when he imitated a mother whale bawling for her calf the loggers roared with merriment for seventeen hours, and were only sobered then by exhaustion. His voice had such power that he could not counterfeit the cry of a single small creature, but only the united cries of flocks or droves. So he now mimicked perfectly the chorus that rang mournfully in the sky, and at the same time he grasped the edge of the tarpaulin and fluttered it gently.

The effect was marvelous. Now indeed was the canvas a perfect imitation of water. Had you been standing by the sole of Paul Bunyan's boot and seen the gentle flutter you would have been sure that you were watching a breeze make pleasant ripples on the surface of a lake. Ere long the black ducks were enchanted by the sight and sound, and Paul Bunyan heard a violent rush of air above him as of a hurricane sweeping a forest. Another instant and the canvas was black with feathered forms. Paul Bunyan grasped the four corners of the tarpaulin, swung the bundle over his shoulder and strode home to the cookhouse. Hot Biscuit Slim was called forth, and when he saw the mountainous pile of black ducks that filled the kitchen yard he became hysterical with delight. He called out the assistant cooks, the flunkies and dishwashers, and led by Cream Puff Fatty, the baker, the white-clad underlings streamed for eleven minutes from the kitchen door. The chief cook then made them a short but inspiring speech and fired them with his own fierce purpose to make culinary history.

Paul Bunyan listened for a moment, and then sought repose, with peace in his benevolent heart.

Smoke Paul Bunyan Hay


All night fires roared in the ranges as preparations went on for the great dinner. Vegetables were brought from the storehouse, potatoes were pared and washed, utensils and roasting pans were made ready, and sauces and dressings were devised. The black ducks were cleaned, scalded and plucked in the kitchen yard.

Next morning most of the loggers stayed in their bunks, and those who did come to breakfast ate sparingly, saving their appetites. Time passed quietly in the camp. The loggers washed and mended their clothes and greased their boots; they shaved and bathed and then stretched out on their blankets and smoked. They were silent and preoccupied, but now and again a breeze blowing from the direction of the cookhouse would cause them to sigh. What enchantment was in the air, so redolent with the aroma of roasting duck and stewing cabbages, so sharply sweet with the fragrance of hot ginger and cinnamon from the bakery where Cream Puff Fatty fashioned his creations! A logger who was shaving would take a deep breath of this incense, and the blood would trickle unnoticed from a slash in his cheek; another, in his bunk would let his pipe slip from his hand and enjoy ardent inhalations, blissfully unaware of his burning shirt; yet another, engaged in greasing his boots, would halt his task and sit in motionless beatitude, his head thrown back, his eyes closed, quite unconscious of the grease that poured from a tilted can into a prized boot.

At half past eleven the hungriest of the loggers began to mass before the cookhouse door, and as the minutes passed the throng swiftly increased. At five minutes to noon all the bunkhouses were empty and the furthest fringe of the crowd was far up Onion River Valley. The ground shook under a restless trampling, and the faces of the loggers were glowing and eager as they hearkened to the clatter and rumble inside the cookhouse, where the flunkies, led by the Galloping Kid on his white horse, were rushing the platters and bowls of food to the tables. Tantalizing smells wafted forth from the steaming dishes. The loggers grew more restless and eager; they surged to and fro in a tidal movement; jests and glad oaths made a joyous clamor over the throng. This was softened into a universal sigh as the doors swung open at last and Hot Biscuit Slim, in spotless cap and apron, appeared wearing the impressive mien of a conquering general. He lifted an iron bar with a majestic gesture, paused for dramatic effect amid a breathless hush, and then struck a resounding note from the steel triangle that hung from the wall. At the sound a heaving torrent of men began to pour through the doors in a rush that was like the roaring plunge of water when the gate of a dam is lifted. The chief cook continued to pound out clanging rhythms until the last impatient logger was inside.

When Hot Biscuit Slim reentered the cookhouse he was reminded of a forested plain veiled in thin fog as he surveyed the assemblage of darkly clad figures, wreathed with white and fragrant blooms of steam. His impression was made the more vivid when the loggers plunged their spoons into the deep bowls of oyster soup, for the ensuing sounds seemed like the soughing of winds in the woods. The chief cook marched to the kitchen with dignity and pride, glancing to right and left at the tables that held his masterwork. He asked for no praise or acclaim; the ecstasy that now transfigured the plainest face was a sufficient light of glory for him.

The soup bowls pushed aside, the loggers began to fill their plates, which were of such circumference that even a long-armed man could hardly reach across one. The black ducks, of course, received first attention. And great as the plates were, by the time one was heaped with a brown fried drumstick, a ladle of duck dumplings, several large fragments of duck fricassee, a slab of duck baked gumbo style, a rich portion of stewed duck, and a mound of crisp brown dressing, all immersed in golden duck gravy, a formidable space was covered. Yet there was room for tender leaves of odorous cabbage beaded and streaked with creamy sauce; for mashed potatoes which seemed like fluffs of snow beside the darkness of duck and gravy; for brittle and savory potato cakes, marvelously right as to texture and thickness; for stewed tomatoes of a sultry ruddiness, pungent and ticklish with mysterious spices; for baked beans, plump peas, sunny apple sauce and buttered lettuce, not to mention various condiments. Squares of cornbread and hot biscuits were buttered and leaned against the plate; a pot-bellied coffee-pot was tilted over a gaping cup, into which it gushed an aromatic beverage of drowsy charm; a kingly pleasure was prepared. More than one logger swooned with delight this day when his plate was filled and he bent over it for the first mouthful with the joy of a lover claiming a first embrace.

In the kitchen the chief cook, the baker and their helpers watched and listened. At first the volume of sounds that filled the vast room was like the roar and crash of an avalanche, as dishes were rattled and banged about. Then the duck bones crackled like the limbs of falling trees. At last came a steady sound of eating, a sound of seventy threshing machines devouring bundles of wheat. It persisted far beyond the usual length of time, and Hot Biscuit Slim brought out his field glasses and surveyed the tables. The loggers were still bent tensely over their plates, and their elbows rose and fell with an energetic movement as they scooped up the food with undiminished vigor.

"Still eatin' duck," marveled Hot Biscuit Slim.

"They won't be more'n able to smell my cream puffs," said the baker enviously.

The loggers ate on. They had now spent twice their usual length of time at the table.

"Still eatin' duck," reported Hot Biscuit Slim.

That no one might see his grief Cream Puff Fatty moved to a dark corner. He was now certain that none of the loggers could have room for his pastries. They ate on. They had now spent three times their usual length of time at the table. The baker was sweating and weeping; he was soaked with despair. Then suddenly:

"They're eatin' cream puffs!" cried Hot Biscuit Slim.

Cream Puff Fatty could not believe it, but a thrill of hope urged him to see for himself. True enough, the loggers were tackling the pastries at last! On each plate cream puffs lay in golden mounds. As the spoons struck them their creamy contents oozed forth from breaks and crevices. Stimulated by their rich flavor, the loggers ate on with renewed gusto. They had now stayed four times as long as usual at the table. Other enchantments still kept them in their seats: lemon pies with airy frostings, glittering cakes of many colors, slabs of gingerbread, soft cinnamon rolls, doughnuts as large as saucers, and so soft and toothsome that a morsel from one melted on the tongue like cream. So endearing were the flavors of these pastries that the loggers consumed them all.

Cream Puff Fatty and Hot Biscuit Slim solemnly shook hands. There was glory enough for both of them.


At last there were no sounds at the tables save those of heavy breathing. The loggers arose in a body and moved sluggishly and wordlessly from the cookhouse. They labored over the ground towards the bunkhouses as wearily as though they had just finished a day of deadening toil. Soon Onion River Valley resounded with their snores and groans....

At supper time, when Hot Biscuit Slim rang the gong, Cream Puff Fatty stood by his side. This was to be the supreme test of their achievement. For five minutes the chief cook beat the triangle, and then a solitary logger appeared in the door of a bunkhouse. He stared at them dully for a moment and then staggered back into the darkness. This was indeed a triumph! Great as other feasts in the cookhouse had been, never before had all of the loggers been unable to appear for supper. This was a historic day. Cream Puff Fatty and Hot Biscuit Slim embraced and mingled rapturous tears....They had intimations of immortality....

For five weeks the loggers lay in a delicious torpor, and then Johnny Inkslinger brought them from their bunks with doses of alcohol and Epsom salts. By this time the Big Swede had recovered from his injuries, and Paul Bunyan waited no longer to move his camp. The buildings, which rested on skids, were connected by cables, and the blue ox hauled them over the hills to the new job.

Nothing marred the beauty of that Summer; stirring breezes blew all the days over the loggers as they felled the Leaning Pine trees in perfect lines on the grassy slopes. The blue ox waxed fat with the ease of his labor. Weeks passed without the Big Swede having a serious accident. Dust gathered on Johnny Inkslinger's medicine case. Hot Biscuit Slim never once failed to remember meat. And a record number of logs were piled above the rollways. Paul Bunyan planned a great drive with prideful confidence that it would be the glorious climax of a historic season. But here fortune deserted him, for after driving the logs for nine days, and seeing an exact repetition of scenery three times, he surveyed the placid river and found it to be round; he had been driving the logs in a circle!

Nothing daunted, he thereupon determined to saw the logs and transport the lumber overland, and he erected his famed sawmill, which was nineteen stories high, with each bandsaw running through all the floors. A description of the original machines and devices used in this mill would fill the pages of a mail order catalogue. It is needless to say that it operated perfectly. The only great difficulty Paul Bunyan had to overcome originated from the smokestacks. He was compelled to equip them with hinges and drawbridge machinery so that they could be lowered to let the clouds go by.

Query and Comment to MightyBUNYAN at