A Michigan Man

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A pine forest is nature's expression of solemnity and solitude.Sunlight, rivers, cascades, people, music, laughter, or dancing couldnot make it gay. With its unceasing reverberations and its eternalshadows, it is as awful and as holy as a cathedral.Thirty good fellows working together by day and drinking together bynight can keep up but a moody imitation of jollity. Spend twenty-fiveof your forty years, as Luther Dallas did, in this perennial gloom, andyour soul--that which enjoys, aspires, competes--will be drugged as deepas if you had quaffed the cup of oblivion. Luther Dallas was counted oneof the most experienced axe-men in the northern camps. He could fella tree with the swift surety of an executioner, and in revenge for hismany arborai murders the woodland had taken captive his mind, capturedand chained it as Prospero did Ariel. The resounding footsteps ofProgress driven on so mercilessly in this mad age could not reach hisfastness. It did not concern him that men were thinking, investigating,inventing. His senses responded only to the sonorous music of the woods;a steadfast wind ringing metallic melody from the pine-tops contentedhim as the sound of the sea does the sailor; and dear as the odors ofthe ocean to the mariner were the resinous scents of the forest to him.Like a sailor, too, he had his superstitions. He had a presentiment thathe was to die by one of these trees--that some day, in chopping, thetree would fall upon and crush him as it did his father the day theybrought him back to the camp on a litter of pine boughs.One day the gang boss noticed a tree that Dallas had left standing in amost unwoodman-like manner in the section which was alloted to him."What in thunder is that standing there for?" he asked.Dallas raised his eyes to the pine, towering in stern dignity a hundredfeet above them."Well," he said, feebly, "I noticed it, but kind-a left it t' the last."
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