Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/13

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3
STORY OF A SALMON.

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. And the shores disappeared, and the water began to have a different and peculiar flavor—a flavor which seemed to the salmon much richer and more inspiring than the glacier-water of their native Cowlitz. And 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 for dinner. There were great companies of delicate sardines and herring, green and silvery, and it was such fun to chase them and to capture them!

Those who eat only sardines, packed in oil by greasy fingers, and herrings dried in the smoke, can have little idea how satisfying it is to have one's stomach full of them, plump and sleek, and silvery, fresh from the sea.

Thus they 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 throats of the salmon, with their precious stomachs 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, and 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 forty pounds' weight, shining and silvery as 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 sunward," and the cold snow-waters ran down from the mountains and into the Columbia River, and made a freshet on the river, and the high water went far out into the sea, and out in the sea our salmon felt it on his gills; and he remembered how the cold water used to feel in the Cowlitz when he was a little fish, and in a blundering, fishy fashion he thought about it, and wondered whether the little eddy looked as it used to, and whether caddice-worms and young mosquitoes were really as sweet and tender as he used to think they were; and he thought some other things, but, as a salmon's mind is located in the optic lobes of his brain, and ours in a different place, we can not be