Shelves: horror , reviewed , classic-horror , october-country , read-in Algernon Blackwood had an interesting life - before he began to write weird stories he taught the violin, was a bartender, reported for the New York Times, operated a hotel and worked as a farmer in Canada; only in his late thirties did he return to England and started to write stories, using his many personal experiences for inspiration and combining them with his vivid imagination. In the Algernon Blackwood had an interesting life - before he began to write weird stories he taught the violin, was a bartender, reported for the New York Times, operated a hotel and worked as a farmer in Canada; only in his late thirties did he return to England and started to write stories, using his many personal experiences for inspiration and combining them with his vivid imagination. In the length of a short novella, Blackwood managed to craft a story which not only is eerie atmospheric to this day, but continues to influence contemporary writers of horror and weird fiction. A Wendigo is mostly associated with the vast and cold spaces of the North, where it hunted down those unlucky to stumble on its path.
|Country:||United Arab Emirates|
|Published (Last):||3 November 2008|
|PDF File Size:||7.15 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||19.81 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
A considerable number of hunting parties were out that year without finding so much as a fresh trail; for the moose were uncommonly shy, and the various Nimrods returned to the bosoms of their respective families with the best excuses the facts or their imaginations could suggest. Cathcart, among others, came back without a trophy; but he brought instead the memory of an experience which he declares was worth all the bull-moose that had ever been shot.
But then Cathcart, of Aberdeen, was interested in other things besides moose - amongst them the vagaries of the human mind. This particular story, however, found no mention in his book on Collective Hallucination for the simple reason so he confided once to a fellow colleague that he himself played too intimate a part in it to form a competent judgment of the affair as a whole. He was deeply susceptible, moreover, to that singular spell which the wilderness lays upon certain lonely natures, and he loved the wild solitudes with a kind of romantic passion that amounted almost to an obsession.
The life of the backwoods fascinated him - whence, doubtless, his surpassing efficiency in dealing with their mysteries. Hank knew him and swore by him.
He also swore at him, "jest as a pal might", and since he had a vocabulary of picturesque, if utterly meaningless, oaths, the conversation between the two stalwart and hardy woodsmen was often of a rather lively description. This river of expletives however, Hank agreed to dam a little out of respect for his old "hunting boss ", Dr. Cathcart, whom of course he addressed after the fashion of the country as "Doc"; and also because he understood that young Simpson was already a "bit of a parson".
And, as a rule, it was too long a spell of "civilisation" that induced the attacks, for a few days of the wilderness invariably cured them. There was also Punk, an Indian, who had accompanied Dr. Cathcart and Hank on their hunting trips in previous years, and who acted as cook.
He dressed in the worn-out clothes bequeathed to him by former patrons, and, except for his coarse black hair and dark skin, he looked in these city garments no more like a real redskin than a stage negro looks like a real African.
For all that, however, Punk had in him still the instincts of his dying race; his taciturn silence and his endurance survived; also his superstition. The party round the blazing fire that night were despondent, for a week had passed without a single sign of recent moose discovering itself.
Cathcart and his nephew were fairly done after an exhausting day. Punk was washing up the dishes, grunting to himself under the lean-to of branches, where he later also slept.
No one troubled to stir the slowly dying fire. Overhead the stars were brilliant in a sky quite wintry, and there was so little wind that ice was already forming stealthily along the shores of the still lake behind them. The silence of the vast listening forest stole forward and enveloped them. Hank broke in suddenly with his nasal voice. Simpson along in the small canoe, skip across the lake, portage over into Fifty Island Water, and take a good squint down that thar southern shore.
He was still offended, possibly, about his interrupted story. He looked over at his partner sharply. For Hank was recognised as general organiser of the hunt, and in charge of the party. Cathcart made no immediate reply, although the look had interested him enough at the time for him to make a mental note of it. The expression had caused him a passing uneasiness he could not quite account for at the moment.
A breath of wind stole out of the forest and stirred the embers into a passing blaze. But this time the nature of the look betrayed itself.
In those eyes for an instant, he caught the gleam of a man scared in his very soul. It disquieted him more than he cared to admit. Hank met his eye with something less than his usual frankness. Hank turned towards the doctor. He was just going to add something when he stopped abruptly and looked round. A sound close behind them in the darkness made all three start.
It was old Punk, who had moved up from his lean-to while they talked and now stood there just be- yond the circle of firelight - listening. And presently Dr. The doctor smiled as he noticed the details; but at the same time something deep within him - he hardly knew what - shrank a little, as though an almost imperceptible breath of warning had touched the surface of his soul and was gone again before he could seize it. He was not as steady a guide as Hank, for instance.
Further than that he could not get. He watched the men a moment longer before diving into the stuffy tent where Simpson already slept soundly. Hank, he saw, was swearing like a mad African in a New York nigger saloon; but it was the swearing of "affection". The ridiculous oaths flew freely now that the cause of their obstruction was asleep. Punk, too, a moment later followed their example and disappeared between his odorous blankets in the opposite direction.
Then sleep overtook him. He would know to-morrow. Hank would tell him the story while they trudged after the elusive moose. Deep silence fell about the little camp, planted there so audaciously in the jaws of the wilderness.
The lake gleamed like a sheet of black glass beneath the stars. The cold air pricked. In the draughts of night that poured their silent tide from the depths of the forest, with messages from distant ridges and from lakes just beginning to freeze, there lay already the faint, bleak odours of coming winter. White men, with their dull scent, might never have divined them; the fragrance of the wood-fire would have concealed from them these almost electrical hints of moss and bark and hardening swamp a hundred miles away.
But an hour later, when all slept like the dead, old Punk crept from his blankets and went down to the shore of the lake like a shadow - silently, as only Indian blood can move. He raised his head and looked about him. The thick darkness rendered sight of small avail, but, like the animals, he possessed other senses that darkness could not mute.
He listened - then sniffed the air. Motionless as a hemlock-stem he stood there. After five minutes again he lifted his head and sniffed, and yet once again.
A tingling of the wonderful nerves that betrayed itself by no outer sign, ran through him as he tasted the keen air. Then, merging his figure into the surrounding blackness in a way that only wild men and animals understand, he turned, still moving like a shadow, and went stealthily back to his lean-to and his bed.
And soon after he slept, the change of wind he had divined stirred gently the reflection of the stars within the lake. Rising among the far ridges of the country beyond Fifty Island Water, it came from the direction in which he had stared, and it passed over the sleeping camp with a faint and sighing murmur through the tops of the big trees that was almost too delicate to be audible.
The French Canadian and the man of Indian blood each stirred uneasily in his sleep just about this time, though neither of them woke.
Then the ghost of that unforgettably strange odour passed away and was lost among the leagues of tenantless forest beyond. In the morning the camp was astir before the sun. There had been a light fall of snow during the night and the air was sharp. Punk had done his duty betimes, for the odours of coffee and fried bacon reached every tent. All were in good spirits. The wintry sharpness of the air was tempered now by a sun that topped the wooded ridges and blazed with a luxurious warmth upon the world of lake and forest below; loons flew skimming through the sparkling spray that the wind lifted; divers shook their dripping heads to the sun and popped smartly out of sight again; and as far as eye could reach rose the leagues of endless, crowding Bush, desolate in its lonely sweep and grandeur, untrodden by foot of man, and stretching its mighty and unbroken carpet right up to the frozen shores of Hudson Bay.
Simpson, who saw it all for the first time as he paddled hard in the bows of the dancing canoe, was enchanted by its austere beauty.
His heart drank in the sense of freedom and great spaces just as his lungs drank in the cool and perfumed wind. Both were gay and light-hearted. On such occasions men lose the superficial, wordly distinctions; they become human beings working together for a common end. Superior knowledge, of course, assumed control, and the younger man fell without a second thought into the quasi- subordinate position. He only laughed, and liked it; then ceased to notice it at all. For this "divinity student" was a young man of parts and character, though as yet, of course, untravelled; and on this trip - the first time he had seen any country but his own and little Switzerland - the huge scale of things somewhat bewildered him.
It was one thing, he realised, to hear about primeval forests, but quite another to see them. While to dwell in them and seek acquaintance with their wild life was, again, an initiation that no intelligent man could undergo without a certain shifting of personal values hitherto held for permanent and sacred.
Simpson knew the first faint indication of this emotion when he held the new. And now that he was about to plunge beyond even the fringe of wilderness where they were camped into the virgin heart of uninhabited regions as vast as Europe itself, the true nature of the situation stole upon him with an effect of delight and awe that his imagination was fully capable of appreciating. The bleak splendours of these remote and lonely forests rather overwhelmed him with the sense of his own littleness.
That stern quality of the tangled backwoods which can only he described as merciless and terrible, rose out of these far blue woods swimming upon the horizon, and revealed itself. He understood the silent warning. He realized his own utter helplessness. Those small yellow patches, made on the trees by the axe, were the only indications of its hiding-place.
In a very few minutes, under those skilful hands that never made a movement too much or a movement too little, the silk tent stood taut and cosy, the beds of balsam boughs ready laid, and a brisk cooking-fire burned with the minimum of smoke. His small figure melted away like a shadow in the dusk, while Simpson noted with a kind of admiration how easily the forest absorbed him into herself.
A few steps, it seemed, and he was no longer visible. Yet there was little underbrush hereabouts; the trees stood somewhat apart, well spaced; and in the clearings grew silver-birch and maple, spear-like and slender, against the immense stems of spruce and hemlock.
But for occasional prostrate monsters, and the boulders of grey rock that thrust uncouth shoulders here and there out of the ground, it might well have been a bit of park in the Old Country. Almost, one might have seen in it the hand of man.
The perfume of charcoal and rain-soaked ashes still hung faintly about it. The dusk rapidly deepened; the glades grew dark; the crackling of the fire and the wash of little waves along the rocky lake shore were the only sounds audible. The wind had dropped with the sun, and in all that vast world of branches nothing stirred.
Any moment, it seemed, the woodland gods, who are to be worshipped in silence and loneliness, might sketch their mighty and terrific outlines among the trees. In front, through doorways pillared by huge straight stems, lay the stretch of Fifty Island Water, a crescent-shaped lake some fifteen miles from tip to tip, and perhaps five miles across where they were camped. A sky of rose and saffron, more clear than any atmosphere Simpson had ever known, still dropped its pale streaming fires across the waves, where the islands - a hundred, surely, rather than fifty - floated like the fairy barques of some enchanted fleet.
Fringed with pines, whose crests fingered most delicately the sky, they almost seemed to move upwards as the light faded - about to weigh anchor and navigate the pathways of the heavens instead of the currents of their native and desolate lake.
Blackwood’s “The Wendigo”
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www. The Wendigo I A considerable number of hunting parties were out that year without finding so much as a fresh trail; for the moose were uncommonly shy, and the various Nimrods returned to the bosoms of their respective families with the best excuses the facts of their imaginations could suggest. Cathcart, among others, came back without a trophy; but he brought instead the memory of an experience which he declares was worth all the bull moose that had ever been shot. But then Cathcart, of Aberdeen, was interested in other things besides moose—amongst them the vagaries of the human mind. This particular story, however, found no mention in his book on Collective Hallucination for the simple reason so he confided once to a fellow colleague that he himself played too intimate a part in it to form a competent judgment of the affair as a whole He was deeply susceptible, moreover, to that singular spell which the wilderness lays upon certain lonely natures, and he loved the wild solitudes with a kind of romantic passion that amounted almost to an obsession.
Blackwood was a major influence on many writers of the weird tale in the early years of the 20th Century, including H. Lovecraft and Robert E. It concerns a group on a moose hunting expedition in the Canadian wilderness. A psychiatrist, his nephew, two guides, and a cook are having no luck on their hunt, so they decide to split up.