Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/15

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5
STORY OF A SALMON.

cuts it into pieces just as long as a one-pound can. Then Ah Sam, with a butcher-knife, cuts these pieces into strips just as wide as the can. Then Wan Lee, the China boy, brings down from the loft, where the tinners are making them, a hundred cans, and into each can puts a spoonful of salt. It takes just six salmon to fill a hundred cans. Then twenty Chinamen put the pieces of meat into the cans, fitting in little strips to make them exactly full. Then ten more solder up the cans, and ten more put the cans in boiling water till the meat is thoroughly cooked, and five more punch a little hole in the head of each can to let out the air. Then they solder them up again, and, little girls paste on them bright-colored labels showing merry little Cupids riding the happy salmon up to the cannery-door, with Mount Rainier and Cape Disappointment in the background; and a legend underneath says that this is "Booth's" or "Badollet's Best," or "Hume's" or "Clark's," or "Kinney's Superfine Salt-water Salmon." Then the cans are placed in cases, forty-eight in a case, and five hundred thousand cases are put up every year. Great ships come to Astoria and are loaded with them, and they carry them away to London, and San Francisco, and Liverpool, and New York, and Sydney, and Valparaiso, and Skowhegan, Maine; and the man at the corner grocery sells them at twenty cents a can.

All this time our salmon is going up the river, escaping one net as by a miracle, and soon having need of more miracles to escape the rest; passing by Astoria on a fortunate day, which was Sunday, the day on which no man may fish if he expects to sell what he catches, till finally he came to where nets were few, and, at last, to where they ceased altogether. But here he found that scarcely any of his many companions were with him, for the nets cease when there are no more salmon to be caught in them. So he went on day and night where the water was deepest, stopping not to feed or loiter on the way, till at last he came to a wild gorge, where the great river became an angry torrent rushing wildly over a huge staircase of rocks. But our hero did not falter, and, summoning all his forces, he plunged into the Cascades. The current caught him and dashed him against the rocks. A whole row of silvery scales came off and glistened in the water like sparks of fire, and a place on his side became black and red, which, for a salmon, is the same as being black and blue for other people. His comrades tried to go up with him; and one lost his eye, one his tail, and one had his lower jaw pushed back into his head like the joints of a telescope. Again he tried to surmount the Cascades, and at last he succeeded, and an Indian on the rocks above was waiting to receive him. But the Indian with his spear was less skillful than he was wont to be, and our hero escaped, losing only a part of one of his fins, and with him came one other, and henceforth these two pursued their journey together.

Now a gradual change took place in the looks of our salmon. In the sea he was plump and round and silvery, with delicate teeth, and