Stickeen, John Muir, 1909
1. In the summer of 1880 I set out from Fort Wrangel in a canoe to continue the exploration of
2. the icy region of southeastern Alaska, begun in the fall of 1879. After the necessary provisions,
3. blankets, etc., had been collected and stowed away, and my Indian crew were in their places
4. ready to start, while a crowd of their relatives and friends on the wharf were bidding them
5. good-by and good-luck, my companion, the Rev. Young, for whom we were waiting, at last
6. came aboard, followed by a little black dog, that immediately made himself at home by curling
7. up in a hollow among the baggage.
8. ...His master assured me that he would be no trouble at all; that he was a perfect wonder of
9. a dog, could endure cold and hunger like a bear, swim like a seal, and was wondrous wise and
10. cunning, etc., making out a list of virtues to show he might be the most interesting member
11. of the party.
12. Nobody could hope to unravel the lines of his ancestry. ...At first sight his only noticeable
13. feature was his fine tail, which was about as airy and shady as a squirrel’s, and was carried
14. curling forward almost to his nose. On closer inspection you might notice his thin sensitive
15. ears, and sharp eyes with cunning tan-spots above them.
16. ...He was adopted with enthusiasm by the Stickeen Indians as a sort of new good-luck totem,
17. was named “Stickeen” for the tribe, and became a universal favorite; petted, protected, and
18. admired wherever he went, and regarded as a mysterious fountain of wisdom.
19. I planned a far-and-wide excursion for the morrow.I awoke early, called not only by the glacier,
20. which had been on my mind all night, but by a grand flood-storm. The wind was blowing a gale
21. from the north and the rain was flying with the clouds in a wide passionate horizontal flood,
22. as if it were all passing over the country instead of falling on it. I had intended making a cup
23. of coffee and getting something like a breakfast before starting, but when I heard the storm
24. and looked out I made haste to join it; for many of Nature’s finest lessons are found in her
25. storms, and if careful to keep in right relations with them, we may go safely abroad with them,
26. rejoicing in the grandeur and beauty of their works and ways, and chanting with the old
27. Norsemen, “The blast of the tempest aids our oars, the hurricane is our servant and drives us
28. whiter we wish to go.”
29. Stickeen left his bed in the tent and came boring through the blast after me. ...Nature, it seems,
30. was at the bottom of the affair, and she gains her ends with dogs as well as with men, making
31. us do as she likes, shoving and pulling us along her ways, however rough, all but killing us at
32. times in getting her lessons driven hard home. After I had stopped again and again, shouting
33. good warning advice, I saw that he was not to be shaken off; as well the earth try to shake off
34. the moon.
35. At length our way was barred by a very wide and straight crevasse, which I traced rapidly
36. northward a mile or so without finding a crossing. In all this distance there was only one place
37. where I could possibly jump it, but the width of this jump was the upmost I dared attempt, while
38. the danger of slipping on the farther side was so great that I was loath to try it. One is liable to
39. underestimate the width of crevasses where the magnitudes are great. I was eager to go on.
40. But this wide jump was a dreadful obstacle.
41. At length, because of the dangers already behind me, I determined to venture against those
42. that might ahead, jumped and landed well.
43. But poor Stickeen, the wee, hairy, sleekit beastie, think of him! This was the first time I had
44. seen him gaze deliberately into a crevasse, or into my face with an eager, speaking, troubled look.
45. That he should have recognized and appreciated the danger at first glance showed wonderful
46. sagacity. At last, with the courage of despair, hushed and breathless, he crouched down on the
47. brink in the hollow I made for my knees, pressed his body against the ice as if trying to get the
48. advantage of the friction of every hair, gazed into the first step, put his little feet together, and
49. slid them slowly, slowly over the edge and down into it. Here he halted in dead silence, and it
50. was here I feared he might fail, for dogs are poor climbers. Then suddenly up he came in a springy
51. rush, and whizzed past my head, safe at last.
Muir, John. Stickeen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Hardcourt, 1909. Gutenberg.org. The Project Gutenberg. Web. 4 May 2016.
The author's diction used to describe Stickeen in paragraphs 3 and 4 (lines 12-18) characterizes him as